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Starry Eyes – Jenn Bennett

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

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

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

What could go wrong?

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

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

bookreview1

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it!

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

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BOOKS LIKE STARRY EYES

          

I Have Lost My Way – Gayle Forman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it

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

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BOOKS LIKE I HAVE LOST MY WAY

          

The Boyfriend Bracket – Kate Evangelista

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

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

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

bookreview1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Skip it.

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

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE BOYFRIEND BRACKET

          

In Her Skin – Kim Savage

In Her Skin – Kim SavageTitle: In Her Skin by Kim Savage
Publishing Info: March 27, 2018 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: March 25, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain is about to take on the biggest heist of her life: impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasn’t been easy, and Jo is hoping to cash in on a little safety, a little security. She finds her opportunity in the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family with ties to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine.

When Jo takes on Vivi's identity and stages the girl’s miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her back with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. As hidden crimes come to the surface, and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold onto an illusion of safety, or escape the danger around her before it’s too late.

bookreview1

This book was so binge-worthy and I didn’t want to put it down! The writing was interesting and kept the story moving with a few nice twists along the way! Once the book started getting into the meat of the plot, my mind started to turn towards some theories (which DUDE turned out to be correct and then some) and things got quite dark.

I really liked the fluidity of a lot of things, from relationships to plot to demeanor. There was room for so many things to develop and grow and change. I loved the interesting turns and it was so interesting to see what the book turned out to be underneath it all. Kim Savage gave readers a lot to play with and think about along the way and I love it when I’m provided with some clues to allow theories to develop.

I always have a hard time with the ending of darker concepts because I can never tell what I actually want to happen. Sometimes I feel satisfied with a happy conclusion and other times I feel happy with a shocking twist where everything falls apart. I obviously won’t say what happens in the end so as not to spoil, except that I found it to be satisfying and yet I still was looking for something more.

Overall, this was a really interesting and quick read for me! I didn’t want to put it down and I was totally sucked in. I had actually pictured the book going a bit differently with the way that the synopsis was arranged but I wasn’t disappointed with how it turned out! Even that little difference was a point of a twist for me so that was kind of neat!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dark concepts. Sometimes I Just need something a little dark and this book was really interesting with that ultimate darkness I was looking for!
Left Me Wanting More: Surprises in the end. I loved the twists in this book and yet I was still looking for something juuuust a bit more in the end.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This book was so easy to fly through because I didn’t want to put it down! It was interesting and engaging all the way through!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE IN HER SKIN

          

Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) – Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) – Maureen JohnsonTitle: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson
Publishing Info: January 16, 2018 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult
Date Completed: February 19, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. 

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

bookreview1

In my defense, I didn’t realize this was a series halfway through, so it did affect my reading experience BUT knowing that and getting to the ending was still preeeeetty disappointing. I love mysteries and read a lot of them and there are essentially two ways to end a book in a mystery series (to break it down to the bare bones): extend the mystery over the whole series OR have each book be one mystery that’s resolved in each novel. Obviously there are finer points than that, but those are essentially the two strategies here. TRULY DEVIOUS does not resolve in the first book, which is fine, but I was pretty disappointed at the lack of any closure whatsoever. We get some clues and Stevie comes to some conclusions but there’s really not even one answer to what happened in the present day or in the past. I was hoping for just one hint one way or another to bring some kind of closure to the book but still leading into the rest of the series and I really didn’t feel that at all.

I felt like the characters were more cohesive and realistic towards the end of the book — the beginning was kind of garbled with some of the students blending together but the personalities really started to shine towards the end. They were also all a little too quirky for my tastes, but you know how I get when a whole cast is quirky and not just a few select characters. I feel like it ruins the reality of that specialness and ends up just making everyone seem silly and unrealistic, though I guess this really was the school for the unique.

I also felt like there could have been a bit more history given in the flashbacks to the 1930s, just maybe some more for us to see how these two mysteries are connected, because we’re coming to that point even if we haven’t gotten there yet. I think it would have really tied the book together more for me and made me feel like we were going somewhere with the flashbacks. They’re definitely connected and that’s very obvious but I just wanted more to really tie them together.

I think the lack of any resolution just really let me down and left me feeling disappointed so I can’t say that I had fond feelings for the book, but I really do look forward to continuing the series knowing what I learned and what I’m in for!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique mysteries. It was interesting to see something from the past connected to something in the present like this!
Left Me Wanting More: Answers. I didn’t realize this was a series going into it but I still would have liked something to at least wrap up this book in some way.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I didn’t LOVE it but it was definitely interesting! I’m curious about the next book but I think this might be a more binge series since the first book didn’t really close anything.

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BOOKS LIKE TRULY DEVIOUS

          

Mini-Review: Don’t You Cry – Mary Kubica

Mini-Review: Don’t You Cry – Mary KubicaTitle: Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica
Publishing Info: May 17, 2016 by Harlequin
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 31, 2017
Related Posts: The Good Girl, Pretty Baby

In downtown Chicago, Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her roommate Quinn Collins to question how well she really knew her friend. Meanwhile, in a small town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more sinister.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger's spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us.

bookreview1

I’ve recently started in on Mary Kubica’s books in the last year or two and they’ve all been interesting thrillers. DON’T YOU CRY was the next book of hers on my list and I started it around Halloween to keep up with my spooky reading vibes!

DON’T YOU CRY was probably my least favorite Kubica book so far. The ending ended up being interesting but there was far less suspense, action, and intrigue than her previous books, in my opinion. I was kind of bored with the story line for a while and without knowing where it was going, I lost a little interest. Once it finally all came full circle, I did enjoy the ending and felt like most everything was resolved. I wasn’t fully satisfied with some of the rationale and I did miss some of the more psychological aspects involved in Kubica’s previous books. This still has some mind-messing but it was in a different way.

Multiple POVs are typical for Mary Kubica books but Alex’s POV felt a little more removed than usual, like he was too much of a secondary character, not being an actual player in the story itself until the end of the book. I felt like I wasn’t as involved as I usually was and this one just didn’t seem as cohesive as her previous books, and those pieces that come together at the end seemed a little too spread apart in this one.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Psychological thrillers. I’m a sucker for a good psychological thriller and I’ll always pick them up! I enjoy Mary Kubica’s books and even though this wasn’t my favorite, it was still enjoyable.
Left Me Wanting More: Movement. This one just didn’t seemed like it moved as much as I had hoped. There were some suspenseful moments but I hit some lulls.

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you enjoy Mary Kubica’s books, or books like GONE GIRL or THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, I think these books will be a hit!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE DON’T YOU CRY

          

Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons #2) – Marie Lu

Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons #2) – Marie LuTitle: Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons #2) by Marie Lu
Publishing Info: January 2, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Action/Adventure
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 26, 2017
Related Posts: Legend (Legend #1), Warcross (Warcross #1)

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city's elites are being executed as their mansions' security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family's fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he's forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city's most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce's only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

bookreview1

I’m not a big comic book/superhero person but I have enjoyed all of the Batman movies (well, I guess I should say the recent ones. (This is where Batman fans spit on me)) but I was definitely excited for the DC Icons series written by some big-name young adult authors! I also adore a good prequel so it was even more exciting to see how some of these superheroes got their beginning and reading their origin stories.

BATMAN was actually the book I was most excited for out of the four DC Icons novels. It’s the character I know the most about and the one I thought I would most enjoy, but very surprisingly, this book felt a little flat for me. Between Batman and Marie Lu, I was expecting a lot more from this book and I kind of feel like not a lot happened. I think it would have been fine (yet still underwhelming) if it had been a regular YA mystery/thriller but for it to be about Batman, it was really just missing that extra spark and that extra thrill. Marie Lu well represented Bruce Wayne’s need to save, help, and make the world a better place but BATMAN: NIGHTWALKER seemed a whole lot more psychological and less action/adventure, and the feel of the book just wasn’t there for me. Aside from a couple of high-speed driving scenes in fancy cars, there wasn’t much to speak of that was action-packed and Bruce spent a lot more time trying to figure out the mind of the antagonist than putting plans into action. There were mentions of the fancy Wayne technology but they weren’t really put to use as much as I had hoped.

I read some other reviews that praised the character development but I felt like quite a few of the characters were underdeveloped. I liked the inclusion of Harvey Dent, being a name that even a non-Batman fan knows, but that felt important to me and I felt like he didn’t get as much on-page time as I had hoped. I wished Bruce’s friend or Alfred or Lucius Fox would have been included more in the story since they’re such beloved names and characters, and I wished Bruce had more support from those who became his family after the death of his parents. Then again… It does seem almost a little fitting that Bruce handled so much on his own because that does seem true to character. He doesn’t seem like the kind who seeks out the help of others and takes care of things on his own. I guess I just wished I had seen more supporting characters get more involved.

I was sadly underwhelmed by BATMAN: NIGHTWALKER but I did still enjoy it. It wasn’t nearly what I was expecting or hoping for but I also think it’s still worth the read! It was fun to see Bruce Wayne/Batman’s origin story and although I had hoped for more, it was interesting to see how it all got started. Being from Marie Lu, whose other books that I’ve read I’ve really enjoyed, it just didn’t seem to come together in the stellar fashion that I’m used to.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Origin stories. I’m a sucker for a good prequel/origin story. Batman is one that I really enjoy so it was fun to see how the Batman concept got kicked off with a teenage Bruce Wayne.
Left Me Wanting More: Action. I just felt like not a whole lot happened and there were some serious thrills missing from this story.

Addiction Rating
Try it

Although it wasn’t what I was expecting, I think it’s worth the read to see the origins of Batman!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE BATMAN: NIGHTWALKER

          

Unearthed (Unearthed #1) – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Unearthed (Unearthed #1) – Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerTitle: Unearthed (Unearthed #1) by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Publishing Info: January 9, 2018 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 9, 2018
Related Posts: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Gemina (The Illuminae Files #1), These Broken Stars (These Broken Stars #1)

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...

bookreview1

First, let me say… I was NOT ready for that ending! I wasn’t paying attention to how much was left in the audiobook and I was so surprised and shocked and… well, you should have heard the string of curses I shouted in my car when I found out that was how this book ended! It’s been a long time since I’ve had such a reaction to a book so that was pretty awesome, actually. The ending definitely launched some more feelings that has me wanting to rate this a little bit higher, but there were also parts that I just didn’t click with as much. I DO think that’s because of my lack of focus, though, so I can’t fault the book for that.

I loved both Jules and Mia (Mia more) and I liked how the girl was the tough one and the guy was the academic. I didn’t quiiiite pick up on their chemistry but I didn’t not feel it either (if that makes any sense at all). I wasn’t super shipping them but I enjoyed their connection, and you know I like anything where there’s banter or a sort of hate-to-love concept, so that worked for me!

The world-building was awesome. I don’t always do aliens (which is also why I didn’t read THESE BROKEN STARS, which apparently now I have to) but certain authors are totally nailing that and making me enjoy things that I didn’t think I liked. The concept behind this book was super interesting and I loved how things are constantly discovered and how everything evolves throughout the book. I’m sure a lot of people saw what was coming but again, that’s kind of the glory of listening to audiobooks while I work — I’m listening to the story but I’m not thinking ahead because my brain is already multi-tasking, so I’m often super surprised by plot twists and crazy developments, and UNEARTHED? You totally got me. I had chills. I shouted! I was stunned. There were a lot of super awesome moments in this book that had me reacting which aside from rage at “bad” things in books, I haven’t done in a long time.

This is an awesome adventure book. It’s pitched as Indiana Jones meets Lara Croft in space. I don’t know Lara Croft but Indiana Jones is definitely a good comparison. It’s part treasure-hunting, a lot of history, and a whole lot of adventure, and I really enjoyed the pacing from start to finish. There were a couple of slow-ish spots right after the beginning when things are getting set up, but I connected to the characters and this world pretty quickly.

I really enjoyed this book and I’m SO happy to have found a book that evoked feelings from me that wasn’t a re-read, and feelings that weren’t just rage. For that alone, it deserves quite a bit of praise because I’ve had a hard time finding a book that does that to me, for really almost a year now (I had very few 4.5 – 5 star reads last year) and DUUUUDE do I really have to wait for the next book?!? UGHHH. I need it now. I need it yesterday. I need it before I had even finished this one.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Aliens. I’m not an alien book type person but this was done SO well. It almost had more a historical/world-building concept rather than just alien invasion.
Left Me Wanting More: Spark. I really did love almost everything but I wish I had FELT that spark more between Jules and Mia!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was soooo enjoyable and I had so much fun reading it! I had a couple of slower spots but really, it was so solid all-around.

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BOOKS LIKE UNEARTHED

          

Renegades (Renegades #1) – Marissa Meyer

Renegades (Renegades #1) – Marissa MeyerTitle: Renegades (Renegades #1) by Marissa Meyer
Publishing Info: November 7, 2017 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Superheroes
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 12, 2017
Related Posts: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2), , Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5), The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles #1.5), Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky (Lunar Chronicles #3.1), Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2), Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3), Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4), Stars Above (A Lunar Chronicles Collection), Heartless, Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve #1)

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

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This was incredibly enjoyable and I especially think fans of Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy will love it! The book had some great characters, a fun concept, intrigue, and a few good plot twists that we’ve enjoyed so much in Marissa Meyer’s other books! I really enjoyed this book from start to finish and as always, I regret that I didn’t have longer strings of uninterrupted time to read this so I wasn’t as distracted, but I did my best!

One thing Marissa Meyer always does a great job with is setting up a new world. Gatlon City easily came alive in my mind, as did the various locations within it, how everything looked, and all the details down to the Renegades uniforms. I’m always able to get such a clear picture in my mind and I love being able to be IN the story like that. I would have loved to get a little more info about prodigies and how they came to be. I’m pretty much always feeling like I need to know the reasons WHY worlds are the way they are in a lot of books lately, leading me to feel like I’m missing a tiny something and I definitely wanted more history of how this current world came to be, but there’s also a second book in which we can get a lot more backstory! It’s always hard with the first book in a series because I never know what’s been held back because of future twists or spoilers!

I LOVED reading from the perspective of an Anarchist (Nova) and a Renegade (Adrian) and seeing how their two worlds collided. It’s always so much fun to read the “villain” POV because you know I love villains with a soft heart or those morally grey areas, so I really enjoyed getting to know Nova in that respect! She deals with a lot of questions about herself and her life and I liked being able to see why she was on the side of the Anarchists and why her mission had meaning. I always like villains with a purpose and not just characters who are evil for the sake of being evil, so that was something I really enjoyed about all of the Anarchists. They all had their reasons for choosing that side and it was interesting to be able to see their human side!
The perspective of the Renegades through Adrian’s eyes was also incredibly interesting! He’s the son of the two “head honchos” of the Renegades council and so his part in missions becomes in more complicated. People wonder if he’s favored or given special treatment because of this and he also is “forced” (he chooses) to do things out of the public’s eye so he can do something anonymous for once. He aligns with the Renegades, of course, and has a special investment with his fathers being the leaders but like any typical teenager, he also veers off-course and tries to find himself, what’s important to him, and essentially rebels just a little bit when he feels he’s being left in the dark for no reason.

The forbidden romance aspect is always a favorite of mine and I loved the interactions between Nova and Adrian! I did wish for a bit more banter and for Nova to give him a bit more acid because I adore banter and it’s the best, end of story. But it was also something I loved so much about The Lunar Chronicles. Also, with so many different groups — Renegades, Anarchists, squads, teams, patrols, etc — I was kind of hoping for some more #squadgoals to appear in this book and the friendships fell just a little flat for me. They were enjoyable but I would have loved to see more interaction, with everyone really, to feel more of a tug at that forbidden romance and really pull at my emotions for Nova and Adrian, and to see more BFFs and squads who have each others back. These elements were surely there but I didn’t QUITE feel it at the level I was hoping for and have enjoyed so much in the past.

There were some really great twists here, some I saw coming and some I didn’t at all, and I loved all of them, big or small. This book was well thought out and executed and I had fun following this story throughout the first book! I can’t wait to see what else is in store for the series to come and I already really look forward to re-reading this on audio before book two comes out! I think my re-read will be even more enjoyable when I’m able to listen at a much more consistent pace than I was able to read my ARC. Always a big fan!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Superheroes. I haven’t read a lot of superhero books and this one was really fun! I especially enjoyed hearing from both the good and evil sides!
Left Me Wanting More: Squad goals. I really was expecting a little bit more from the friendships so that was one noticeable thing that was missing! Even with the focus on Nova and Adrian, I had hoped for those friendships to shine a little bit more.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Perfect for Marissa Meyer fans, fans of superheroes, or just anyone looking to enjoy a good read. I had so much fun reading this book and I’m so excited for its sequel!

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BOOKS LIKE RENEGADES

          

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares – Krystal Sutherland

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares – Krystal SutherlandTitle: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland
Publishing Info: September 5, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Psych/Mental Health, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 21, 2017

Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather met Death, her entire family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime—a fear that will eventually lead each and every one of them to their graves. Take Esther’s father, for instance: He’s an agoraphobe who hasn’t left the basement in six years. Then there’s her twin brother, Eugene, whose fear of the dark goes far beyond the things that go bump in the night. And her mother, Rosemary, is absolutely terrified of bad luck.

As for Esther, she’s managed to escape the curse…so far. She doesn’t yet have a great fear because she avoids pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, crowds—anything that might trigger a phobia is off-limits and is meticulously recorded in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.

Esther thinks she has it all figured out, until she’s reunited with an old elementary school classmate—and first crush—Jonah Smallwood. The encounter leaves her stranded at a bus stop and swindled out of her phone, all her cash, a Fruit Roll-Up she’d been saving, and her list—not to mention her dignity. But the theft is also the beginning of an unexpected friendship between the two, one that sends the pair on a journey of self-discovery as they try to break the curse that’s consumed Esther’s family. Together they face their greatest fears, one debilitating phobia at a time, only to discover the one fear they hadn’t counted on: love.

bookreview1

A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES wasn’t what I was expecting, and then it was, and then it wasn’t — all in a good way. I thought this would be heavy on the magical realism based on the synopsis and then it turned more realistic fiction for a while, and came back as a blend of both. There was a lot of care taken when writing this book and it really shows through each of the characters and their own personal situations. I was really impressed with it!

The characters of this book were so wonderful and real and had such amazing personalities. Every single one has their own thing they’re dealing with and Esther blames this on the family curse, but there’s a lot more beneath the surface than she understands and more importantly, is willing to face. It was interesting to see both sides of that concept — from the magical realism/curse side and from the realistic side that really tackled mental health head on. It was addressed so well and I felt like it was a very realistic representation. The magic is both real and also a coping mechanism/avoidance method and I really enjoyed the blend between the real and the imaginary. The reader is left wondering how much is really magic and that’s something I love about magical realism when it’s done well!

This is also one of those realistic fiction novels that’s great for those who aren’t normally contemporary romance readers. The family is quirky and fun to read, the plot of the book involves a lot of fun instances where characters face their fears (some of them silly), and there are some really great representations of mental health on many levels. I liked that there was an actual plot with an end goal of conquering fears and the way they tackled each one was fun and also beautiful.

The characters really brought this book to life, every single one unique and beautiful. I loved getting to know this family and the people who supported them. I laughed, I cried, I was afraid, and I was happy. This book took me through so many emotions and I’m so glad I read it!
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Kept Me Hooked On: Quirky Families. It takes a really good author to write a quirky family without having them be goofy or over-the-top. This family had their quirks but they were fun to get to know and it wasn’t in a crazy way. Everything just felt right.
Left Me Wanting More: Pages! I really, really enjoyed this book. I can’t think of anything I was missing! I would just want to keep reading more but I’m also glad that it was a stand-alone and wrapped up the way that it did.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

No matter which genres you enjoy, this is such a lovely book. I would definitely recommend it!

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BOOKS LIKE A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES