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Someone Knows – Lisa Scottoline

Someone Knows – Lisa ScottolineTitle: Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline
Publishing Info: April 9, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: March 29, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

From the New York Times-bestselling author comes a pulse-pounding domestic thriller about a group of friends who have been bound for twenty years by a single secret—and will now be undone by it. Someone Knows is an emotional exploration of friendship and family, as well as a psychological exploration of guilt and memory.

Twenty years ago, in an upscale suburb of Philadelphia, four teenagers spent a summer as closest friends: drinking, sharing secrets, testing boundaries. When a new boy looked to join them, they decided to pull a prank on him, convincing him to play Russian roulette as an initiation into their group. They secretly planned to leave the gun unloaded—but what happened next would change each of them forever.

Now three of the four reunite for the first time since that horrible summer. The guilt—and the lingering question about who loaded the gun—drove them apart. But after one of the group apparently commits suicide with a gun, their old secrets come roaring back. One of them is going to figure out if the new suicide is what it seems, and if it connects to the events of that long-ago summer. Someone knows exactly what happened—but who? And how far will they go to keep their secrets buried?

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This was my first Lisa Scottoline book, receiving it from the publisher as a review option. I decided to give it a try because I’ve been expanding my reading into more adult (vs YA) reads lately and mysteries/thrillers are definitely one of the places I expand to first! I’ve always been a big mystery/thriller reader and this one piqued my interest.

SOMEONE KNOWS had some interesting points but really, it just felt entirely too long. The book is about a secret that a group of friends (or I guess part of the point is that they’re all not really friends) has been keeping since they were fifteen and how it’s still affecting them as adults, or that’s how the synopsis reads. Really the book is split into two parts: a before, detailing the lives of the teens leading up to the secret, the secret itself, and part of it immediately after; and a “20 years later” which catches up with this group in their adult life. The first half was wholly dedicated to the kids as teens, which I don’t mind since I read YA all the time, but it was not at all what I was expecting and I don’t feel like that was the best way to structure this novel, or at least it felt too separate for my particular tastes. I had really expected this to focus much more on the adult lives of everyone, getting some more thriller aspects in there with how the secret haunted each person and who might spill the beans, MAYBE even keeping us in suspense of what this secret was. The beginning of the book does reveal it pretty quickly so that ended up not being a secret to the readers, although we did have to wait to see exactly how it happened and why.

What bothered me is that 60% of the book was dedicated to this “before” and we got the whole chunk of it all at once. The story was told chronically, which was fine, but I just felt like the “before” lasted way too long. There were a lot of different POVs which doesn’t bother me, but I did feel like a lot of them weren’t really necessary. I’m not even sure that all of the POVs of the main characters involved in this secret were even necessary with the way that the book was written. I can take or leave flashbacks but I think this book could have benefitted from either flashing back to the “before” throughout the book or even just having the characters reveal things throughout the book through plot and dialogue and not even having the whole “before”. It was far too much and far too long for my taste. It did add character development buuuuuut these characters really weren’t that deep for the most part anyway (are most 15-year-olds? Nah.) so it just felt like the focus was in the wrong place for me.

The “after” was okay… some things were messed up. Some things provided an interesting thrill. Mostly, it felt a little anticlimactic. I was hoping for some more natural suspense throughout the whole book and the beginning felt like far too much set-up with the ending trying to jam-pack in the excitement and curiosities.

I wasn’t really satisfied with this one and it didn’t really do a lot for me, but it was still a fine read. I still was engaged the whole time and got to know the characters, so it was pretty middle-of-the-road for me! I’m not sure if I’d directly recommend reading it but I also wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it either…

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult thrillers. I’ve been stepping out of my normal reads to try some new books! I’ve been having a great time expanding into adult mysteries and thrillers for a nice change of pace from YA.
Left Me Wanting More: Or really less… Instead of wanting more, I wanted a little less here. I didn’t think the beginning of the book was really necessary for it to be on its own. I wish the backstory would have been more woven in instead of a block of Before and a block of After.

Addiction Rating
Try it

While I wasn’t head-over-heels for this one, I also wouldn’t discourage someone from reading it either. It has its twists but I didn’t love the format and structure of the book, but that may not be the case for everyone!

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BOOKS LIKE SOMEONE KNOWS

             

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

             

Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons #4) – Matt de la Pena

Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons #4) – Matt de la PenaTitle: Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons #4) by Matt de la Pena
Publishing Info: March 5, 2019 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Superheroes
Date Completed: March 15, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

When the dawn breaks, a hero rises.

His power is beyond imagining.

Clark Kent has always been faster, stronger--better--than everyone around him. But he wasn't raised to show off, and drawing attention to himself could be dangerous. Plus, it's not like he's earned his powers . . . yet.

But power comes with a price.

Lately it's difficult to hold back and keep his heroics in the shadows. When Clark follows the sound of a girl crying, he comes across Gloria Alvarez and discovers a dark secret lurking in Smallville. Turns out, Clark's not the only one hiding something. Teaming up with his best friend, Lana Lang, he throws himself into the pursuit of the truth. What evil lies below the surface of his small town? And what will it cost Clark to learn about his past as he steps into the light to become the future Man of Steel? Because before he can save the world, he must save Smallville.

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This was a pretty disappointing installment in the DC Icons series and though I haven’t read Catwoman yet (I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on the audio), it’s the most disappointing. This book didn’t even feel like Superman’s origin story much at all. Aside from some of the things that even non-Superman fans know about him (strength, speed, x-ray vision), there really wasn’t much to show how Clark Kent started exploring his powers and what that meant to him as a person and especially as a teenager figuring out who he was and what he wanted to do with his life, which is even heavier than the normal coming-of-age story because of his powers and his potential.

Each of these books has a villain which, not being a comic book reader, I would say may or may not be the most “notorious” villain that we know from the comics or movies. We see Lex Luthor here but he’s not the main antagonist of the story, similar to seeing Harvey Dent in the Batman installment of this series. I don’t really know any other Batman villains so I don’t know if the one in this book is canon or not but he didn’t really feel very complex in any way. Actually, none of the characters seemed complex at all. For it being Clark Kent’s story, there wasn’t much personality packed in here and the side characters didn’t really provide much character growth either.

Some of this could have been overlooked if I had enjoyed the story, which I really didn’t connect with either. Matt de la Pena took this opportunity to explore some important issues of immigration and racism but it just didn’t fit with the Superman story for me and the way that it was incorporated actually felt more demeaning instead of eye-opening. I felt like we needed to actually spend time with Clark and his story (since this IS a book about Clark Kent/Superman after all), so trying to put all of those concepts and issues in this book left us with little time, only exploring the surface areas of these issues with some blanket statements that didn’t tackle the issue well. Maybe it could have worked better somehow but I felt like it was not adapted well into this book and some of the supernatural elements of the adaptation made it feel hokey, taking away from its importance.

This was just a big miss for me. I had hoped to enjoy reading more about Superman and getting to know Clark Kent’s story and I feel like there just wasn’t really much about him at all besides basic plot points that could have been shared in a few paragraphs or chapters.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Superheroes, I guess. I’m not a big comic person and I don’t follow a lot of superhero stories but I actually was interested in reading about Superman since I kind of had the tiniest of childhood connections to him, at least compared to the other DC Icons featured.
Left Me Wanting More: Superman Substance. I felt like this book wasn’t even about Clark Kent. The basics were involved but it didn’t really make me feel like the author knew or cared about writing the Superman origin story.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

Even if you have read the others, I still wouldn’t recommend this book. I was really disappointed in it in so many ways. I guess if you’re finishing the series, it’s worth it just to finish but I can’t make any promises that you’ll enjoy it, especially if you’re expecting a good Superman story.

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BOOKS LIKE SUPERMAN: DAWNBREAKER

             

99 Percent Mine – Sally Thorne

99 Percent Mine – Sally ThorneTitle: 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Publishing Info: January 29, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: January 10, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Hating Game

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

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THE HATING GAME sprang onto the scene as an adorable rom-com beloved by so many so the anticipation of 99 PERCENT MINE was naturally quite heightened. As much as I don’t like comparing two books that are in no way related, I admit that 99 PERCENT MINE fell incredibly short compared to my love for THE HATING GAME.

Firstly, 99 PERCENT MINE felt much more serious. THG was so cute, cheeky, fun, and had amazing tension. 99PM felt like it was much more in the way of a serious romance, despite Darcy’s cheek and sass. The difficult part for me is that I listened to this as an audiobook and the narrator was incredible boring and monotone and didn’t have the flirtatious fun that THG’s narrator did, so that affected my take on the tone entirely as well. She read it as a serious book so whether it was or not, that’s how I felt about it. Her narration affected me a lot, and not in a good way. It only exacerbated how much I wasn’t enjoying the plot and made for a difficult read. I really didn’t want to continue but pushing me forward was the fact that I knew I could finish quickly. My problem wasn’t the fact that it was a more serious book, but the cover matched that of THG with a sass and cuteness that didn’t really reflect the story inside. I was just expecting the same tone and it really wasn’t for me.

Okay, onto the story itself. I didn’t much like the feel of the characters and I hated how they treated each other. You know I love a good friends-to-more romance and the situation between Darcy and Tom was best friends as kids, reunited as adults and the tension is still there. He’s the only guy Darcy ever had strong feelings for and the childhood crush/teenage bigger crush carried into adulthood and Darcy still has it bad for this guy, all hidden under a very hard exterior. The hard exterior isn’t false — Darcy is tough and can handle herself, but it all felt like a bit TOO much. Leather pants, swearing (don’t get me wrong, I love swearing), teasing guys, a nipple ring… Meh. It just wasn’t for me and I just didn’t click with it. There was something that just felt really off about her character. Jamie (her twin) was a little too black-and-white, stripped down to the basics of a character. Tom was a little better but also still a little too melodramatic for my tastes. And I just hated the way everyone treated each other. Darcy basically tried to force Tom into liking her back (she knew he did but she put him in uncomfortable situations) and she and Tom were so afraid to talk to each other. It was constant aggressive moves, then not wanting to talk, hiding things from each other and making up for it afterwards. All of the relationships just made me cringe instead of having me swoon.

The book finally made up for it some in the end when the two do finally get together (no spoiler there, that’s the whole point of the book so if you don’t see that coming…..) and I finally got a feel for some of the chemistry without the secrets and non-sensical reluctance to be in a relationship. They both loved each other and the only thing holding them back was themselves. Meh.

I also really hated this dependency and ownership. The “99% mine” thing is kind of cute until you realize that Darcy actually wants to make Tom “hers” and keep him all for herself. She thinks her brother, who is best friends with Tom too, has too much of him and she keeps counting up the percentages until he’s all hers. It’s just such an unhealthy way to think of relationships and the fact that she couldn’t even share him with his friends was off-putting. I get a sibling rivalry of sorts, but Darcy and Jamie actually liked each other and had a good relationship (until a stupid fight which they have to overcome) so it bothered me that she wanted to steal Tom away from an important person in his life as well as hers, which would hurt her brother in the process too.
The dependency came in where both Darcy and Jamie felt they would die without Tom, Darcy quite literally with her heart condition… And that took it too far. Things can be romantic and her heart beating faster and responding to Tom was cute, but dying without him? I get the point being made, losing your soulmate and I suppose I do believe the possibility of dying of broken heart, so to speak, but it just didn’t fit in this situation and the concept just didn’t seem to jive. I never got a good handle on Darcy’s character with her pushing everyone away and then clinging so tightly.

The characters really didn’t pull me in and this is a character-driven novel so without some other plot (besides Darcy’s heart, which also irritated me because she could have taken care of herself but chose not to), I just didn’t connect with it. Thinking about two stars but I’m not sure yet.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult contemporary. I don’t read a lot of adult contemporary romances but I think I want to get into more cute and fun ones! This was an instant read for me thanks to THE HATING GAME and I think I’d like to read more cute contemps!
Left Me Wanting More: Chemistry. Among other things, I would have loved to see the chemistry sooner. There was too much time putting it off because the two main characters were afraid or hesitant. We missed so much good emotion time.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

There are so many mixed reviews on this book that I don’t know what to tell you! I felt let down and disappointed but other friends really loved it. I guess it depends on what you’re aiming to get from this book and I didn’t get it.

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BOOKS LIKE 99 PERCENT MINE

             

Mini-Review: Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet Evanovich

Mini-Review: Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet EvanovichTitle: Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 13, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Cozy Mystery
Date Completed: December 5, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1)

Stephanie Plum faces the toughest puzzle of her career in the twenty-fifth entry in Janet Evanovich's #1 New York Times bestselling series.

There's nothing like a good deli and the Red River Deli in Trenton is one of the best. World famous for its pastrami, cole slaw and for its disappearing managers. Over the last month, three have vanished from the face of the earth, the only clue in each case is one shoe that's been left behind. The police are baffled. Lula is convinced that it's a case of alien abduction. Whatever it is, they'd better figure out what's going on before they lose their new manager, Ms. Stephanie Plum.

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This was one of the more enjoyable story lines in the series without anything too wacky or crazy! In several of the more recent books, the plots just get too silly (especially anything involving animals), but LOOK ALIVE TWENTY-FIVE was one of the more grounded ones for me. I mean, I know they’re supposed to be a little silly and a whole lot of fun, but I can’t stand when monkeys start acting human-like, etc. I always love the wacky antics that these characters get up to on their own and this was one of the better Stephanie Plum reads for me!

I actually liked the diner aspect, which I didn’t think I would when it was first introduced. It allowed the characters to be silly without going way far over the top and added a fun, new atmosphere. It was fun to see where things went with this new atmosphere and added a new spin on the character relationships.

I’ve abandoned hope of a romance going anywhere (that seems to be the theme with these cozy mystery series — just draw things out as long as possible) so I just sit back and enjoy the show. Each time Stephanie moves forward with Morelli, she moves right back in the next book. At least the is one of the love triangles I actually kind of enjoy since I love Ranger (even if I don’t want Stephanie to mix and match love interests).

I also just love listening to these audiobooks. They’re so easy and fun and comfortable. Each one is an easy go-to read for me!

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Stephanie Plum series. Things do get a bit too silly for me at times, but then we have books like this one where it comes back to a more normal — but still fun — base. It’s what helps keep me interested in the series.
Left Me Wanting More: Commitment. I always wish for more commitment Stephanie/Morelli department. I’ll keep hoping even though it may never happen.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Let’s be honest, if you’re checking out a review for Stephanie Plum #25, you’re already into the series! Might as well continue and enjoy, and no matter what, they’re all quick reads!

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BOOKS LIKE LOOK ALIVE TWENTY-FIVE

          

Undying (Unearthed #2) – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Undying (Unearthed #2) – Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerTitle: Undying (Unearthed #2) by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Publishing Info: January 8, 2019 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Date Completed: December 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), Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3)

Trapped aboard the Undying's ancient spaceship and reeling from what they've learned there, scavenger Mia and academic Jules are plunged into a desperate race to warn their home planet of the danger humanity's greed has unleashed. From the mountains of Spain to the streets of Prague, the sequel to Unearthed is a white-knuckle ride that will send readers hurtling back to earth, and leave them breathless until the last page.

The earth's fate rests in Mia and Jules's hands in the epic conclusion to New York Times best-selling authors Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner's tomb-raiding sci-fi duology.

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UNEARTHED was one of my favorite books from 2018 so naturally I was dying to read UNDYING! The way UNEARTHED ended was such a killer and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next!

UNDYING was quite a solid progression in this series and had some great plot-building and overall concepts that continued building the series, but basically until this review was published, I didn’t realize this was the last book and that there were only two. The whole book read like it was going to be the second book in a series and it felt like a good stepping stone. It had some incredibly interesting elements that I was guaranteed to love, and I did, but I almost wished those things that had been revealed as things that had already happened in the past had been a main part of the book, because they were things I love reading about. (That’s a complicated sentence but without spoilers, it’s a little difficult to word, but you get what I mean.)

I loved the space/other planet element of UNEARTHED and it was part of what made me love the book so much with the added bonus of mysterious alien elements and a treasure hunting feel. UNDYING had a much different feel for me, and it wasn’t a bad thing but it didn’t have that same special feel that UNEARTHED did. The more I think about it, the more noticeable it feels so that’s kind of a bummer. I did still enjoy UNDYING and I liked where the series went, but it didn’t feel as magical and as exciting. Mild spoiler (sorry) to say that we make it back to Earth somewhat quickly in the beginning of the book and so that space element is lost and it just wasn’t as thrilling for me in that respect. The change of setting gave the book quite a different feel for me.

This is where my review gets extra complicated — The whole time I was reading this book, I was sure it was the second book in a trilogy. It just sounded and felt like it was and didn’t feel like it was leading towards the end. There was so much that was left to happen and I thought this was another one of those series (*cough* Renegades *cough*) that was advertised as two books but was getting stretched into three. That’s how not-a-last-book this felt. So as I was reading, I had many “second book” feelings. I was expecting a cliffhanger at the end like the crazy way we were left in UNEARTHED and I was disappointed at the lack of cliffhanger (so I guess thank goodness there wasn’t one). There kiiiind of was something that happened that was supposed to be shocking but I also kind of knew it wasn’t going to stick? (Another complicated non-spoilery sentence but you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it.) Especially me thinking it was only the second book, I just didn’t feel like it was something that would be permanent so I wasn’t too worried about the shocking moment. If I had known better, I would have been a bit more panicked. I also really loved that the other cliffhanger from book one was a reveal about the plot and history and we didn’t have that same sort of feel here. There were a lot of reveals within the book that were cool and surprising, but they were also surrounded by action so it didn’t have time for it to sink in, at least for me.

I have to say, the blow that this was the last book in the series really affected my love for it. I suppose if I had realized that as I was reading, it would have changed much except for my knowledge while I was reading it, and it may have actually taken away more enjoyment from my reading experience because it really didn’t feel like an ending at all. There was so much left to explore and there wasn’t enough time in UNDYING to cover it, or rather, the book could have spent more time with the neat reveals instead of holding them for the end if this was how it was all going to conclude. The more I think about UNDYING, the less excited I feel, sadly. It’s still quite a solid read and very enjoyable, but I just didn’t get that level of excitement or engagement that I was hoping to achieve here.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Sci-fi future. I love seeing how things “may be” in the future and what’s happening on out planet… and others. This series has a great way of making you think about everything and its consequences!
Left Me Wanting More: Space. I just loved the setting of being on another planet in the first book. So much. Being back on Earth here just didn’t have as much of a thrill.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It’s still worth the read but the more I think about it, the more upset I am that this was the ending. The first book was SO GREAT and this felt disappointing.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE UNDYING

             

Archenemies (Renegades #2) – Marissa Meyer

Archenemies (Renegades #2) – Marissa MeyerTitle: Archenemies (Renegades #2) by Marissa Meyer
Publishing Info: November 6, 2018 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Superheroes
Date Completed: October 20, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
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), Renegades (Renegades #1)

The Renegades Trilogy continues, in this fiercely awaited second installment after the New York Times-bestselling Renegades by Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles.

Time is running out.
Together, they can save the world.
But they each other's worst nightmare.

In Renegades, Nova and Adrian (aka Insomnia and Sketch) fought the battle of their lives against the Anarchist known as the Detonator. It was a short-lived victory.

The Anarchists still have a secret weapon, one that Nova believes will protect her. The Renegades also have a strategy for overpowering the Anarchists, but both Nova and Adrian understand that it could mean the end of Gatlon City - and the world - as they know it.

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Another extremely enjoyable book from Marissa Meyer! It’s so easy to fall into her worlds and be wholly absorbed, and I really enjoy every second that I spend with her characters. We get even more depth from Nova, Adrian, the Renegades, and even the Anarchists and I really appreciate how each character gets their own personality and highlights. The developments are artfully crafted so character history reveals are perfectly timed (I’m still waiting to see what Phobia is all about and I’m really hoping that’s revealed in the last book!) and how well the characters play off each other, especially the romance in this series. With all of the tension between Nova and Adrian and of course, their secret identities, I actually love how guarded they are and how slowly they’ve come together as a couple. It feels natural and wonderful not to rush them into anything more than what we’ve seen on these pages and I love that slow burn and forbidden romance all wrapped into one!

The action sequences are great too. Marissa Meyer’s books have always felt so cinematic to me and I can really picture exactly what’s going on in each scene. She has a great way of bringing readers right into the setting and blocking out the rest of the world. I’m so easily engaged in every piece and the action scenes are so fast-paced yet quite detailed that’s it’s easy to picture everything as it’s happening!

I do find myself missing the fact that this was originally supposed to be a duology, and I think it could have been done. I feel like the reveal moments for Adrian as The Sentinel and Nova as Nightmare are kind of dragging a little bit and there’s a little toomuch tension and anticipation at this point. I thought they’d be revealed to each other in the first book (back when I thought this was two books and it would have been a good place to leave RENEGADES) and it still continues on in ARCHENEMIES. It feels a bit too drawn out and it could have created other drama, action, and conflict here instead of this all coming out in the last book for what I expect will be quite the explosive conclusion.

I think that’s my only hang-up about this series, is that while I’m enjoying not rushing things, they do seem to be a bit too drawn out. I can’t shake the feeling that this could have been fit into two books, even if they were long ones (I guess even these books in the trilogy are 400+ pages!) and I don’t think I would have felt like I was missing things, but we’ll see how the third book goes and maybe the conclusion will make everything feel like it fits much better once we get all those reveals and action-packed moments!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Superheroes. I love the clash of heroes and villains in this book! It’s especially great to read both sides and see those lines blurred.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot movement. I felt like a few more things could have happened here to move the story forward. I’m always up for reading as much Marissa Meyer as possible but I felt like more could have happened in this book.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This whole series so far is worth the read, for sure. I always enjoy Marissa Meyer’s writing. So far it’s not my favorite of her works but I’ll read her books forever!

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BOOKS LIKE ARCHENEMIES

             

The Lying Woods – Ashley Elston

The Lying Woods – Ashley ElstonTitle: The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston
Publishing Info: November 13, 2018 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: September 9, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing #1), The Rules for Breaking (The Rules for Disappearing #2), This is Our Story

Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees' retirement accounts, Owen's father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout.

Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father's crimes. It's bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac--and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing.

Owen's only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets--and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he's claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past--and write a better future.

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I’ve been a fan of Ashley Elston’s since her debut novel, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING and I’ve enjoyed every book of hers since then! I jumped at the chance to read and review THE LYING WOODS when Disney-Hyperion presented me with the opportunity and I really enjoyed it!

THE LYING WOODS was an interesting read! At first it read a little more realistic fiction than mystery/thriller, taking its time to get into the story. There was always and underlying mystery, slowly being put together, but I did feel like this one took a little bit longer to get more into the mystery and investigation side of things. It was an interesting change of pace and really allowed readers to spend more time getting to know the main characters and their backgrounds. The history is a big part of this book and was important to keep it developing.

The end was really packed with punches! There were some clues and the mystery along the way but it wasn’t really about investigating and discovering like a lot of mystery/thrillers are, so when reveals and twists started popping up, it was a huge surprise! I loved how fast-paced it got towards the end and it was really exciting! The ending was really interesting and I loved how it all came together. I love those moments where facts are presented and you realize you should have known them the whole time. It’s so much fun to look back and see all the things that were there the whole time!

I’m definitely interested in everything that Ashley Elston writes and THE LYING WOOD was another enjoyable novel! It was an interesting and unique mystery/thriller that had some elements that I didn’t expect!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Various thriller styles. I feel like every Ashley Elston book has been a different style of mystery or thriller! Each book has a unique concept and pacing and THE LYING WOODS felt so unique!
Left Me Wanting More: Thrills. The end of the book was very exciting but I had wished there were a few more thrills in the beginning so it felt a little less realistic fiction and more mystery/thriller!

Addiction Rating
Read it

THE LYING WOODS was enjoyable, a quick read, and a great concept! I had a really great time reading it!

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BOOKS LIKE THE LYING WOODS

              

Blog Tour: Wildcard by Marie Lu | Reasons to Read the Series

Welcome to the blog tour for
WILDCARD by Marie Lu!

WILDCARD was one of my favorite reads of 2018 so far and I’m so honored to be on the blog tour for this amazing book! I loved this duology and it was such a great way to close out the series.

On today’s blog tour stop, I’m sharing reasons why I think readers should pick up this amazing set of novels, so if you need any convincing, here are some excellent reasons to read WARCROSS and WILDCARD!

  1. IT’S A TWO BOOK SERIES. I love duologies. It’s so great being able to have more than just one book but it’s not unnecessarily stretched out into three books when it doesn’t need to, and readers aren’t left hanging forever to find out what happens in the rest of the series! WARCROSS set things up beautifully and WILDCARD packed the rest of the punches to deliver some more excitement while still winding things down.
  2. IT’S JAM-PACKED FULL OF EXCITEMENT. Warcross in itself is a game, so each book has action of the plot itself, game scenes, and all of the drama that comes with both!
  3. TWISTS, SAY WHAAAAT! It takes a great author to pull off a great twist and Marie Lu has plenty within these pages. The twists are well-timed and shocking, but not over-the-top and fit right into the feel of the book while still being able to upend the entire plot.
  4. EMIKA IS AMAZING. Main character Emika Chen really brings the book to life! She’s sort of an outsider and misfit, making a living as a bounty hunter and is a self-proclaimed hacker when she ends up entangled within the world of Warcross. She’s confident, fierce, loyal, innovative, clever, adjust all-around amazing. She’s a wonderful character to follow throughout this journey .
  5. MORALLY GREY CHARACTERS ARE THE BEST. The Warcross duet has a few morally grey characters that make for interesting antagonists as well as protagonists. The characters who come to known as villains still have personal, positive sides and some of the protagonists end up making some decisions that put other characters in bad places. Neither side is all good or all bad, and it makes the series even better seeing this attention to each character and how many layers everyone really has.
  6. THE ROMANCE. Without giving anything away, there are also so many layers in the romance as well. It develops just perfectly with the right amount of infatuation, growing to a crush to a mutual attraction to more.
  7. YOU WON’T WANT TO PUT IT DOWN. These books are fun, easy to read, and you won’t want to stop reading! I listened to WARCROSS as an audiobook (which was also a wonderful experience) and read the WILDCARD ARC and I just didn’t want to stop reading either one. They both earned spots in my top reads of the year, respectively.

Have I convinced you to read these books yet? Hopefully just by saying that they were both in my top reads of 2017 and 2018, respectively, will have you interested! They’re such fun reads with some awesome sci-fi technology and so many amazing concepts all around. If you need more info, check out my review for WARCROSS and read more about WILDCARD below!

Blog Tour: Wildcard by Marie Lu | Reasons to Read the SeriesTitle: Wildcard (Warcross #2) by Marie Lu
Publishing Info: September 18, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, ALAAC18, BEA 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: August 12, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Legend (Legend #1), Warcross (Warcross #1), Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons #2)

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo's new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she's always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo's grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone's put a bounty on Emika's head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn't all that he seems--and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?


ABOUT MARIE LU

Marie Lu is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Young Elites series, as well as the blockbuster bestselling Legend series. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry as an artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing games, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles with her illustrator/author husband, Primo Gallanosa, and their dogs.

BLOG TOUR STOPS

I’m one of the last stops on the WILDCARD blog tour so make sure you stop by all of the other blogs & instagram pages of the other tour hosts!!

WARCROSS

WEEK ONE

September 3 – Read Voraciously – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
September 4 – Finding Wonderland – Reasons to Start Reading the Series
September 5 – Jo Loves to Read – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
September 6 – The Blonde Bookworm – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
September 7 – Velvet Spade Reads – Review + Favorite Quotes

WEEK TWO

September 10 – The Fandom – Character Appreciation Post
September 11 – Librarycutie – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
September 12 – Mike the Fanboy – Listicle: Read Warcross if you like the following
September 13 – Upon The Pages – Review
September 14 – _livelaughread – Creative Instagram Picture

WILDCARD

WEEK THREE

September 17 – The Life of a BookNerd Addict – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
September 18 – Hey Atlas – Creative Instagram Picture
September 19 – That’s Normal – Review
September 20 – Reading Forevermore – Creative Instagram Picture
September 21 – Lovely Loveday – Review

WEEK FOUR

September 24 – Chapter_Break – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
September 25 – Fan-Girl-Tastic – Favorite Quotes
September 26 – Lisa’s Lost in Lit – Creative Instagram Picture
September 27 – The Book Addict’s Guide – Reasons to Start Reading the Series
September 28 – @xenatine – Creative Instagram Picture


Thanks so much for checking out my stop on the blog tour today! Have you read and loved these books? Are they on your TBR?? Happy reading!

DNF Digest [6] – What the Woods Keep, The Casquette Girls

I didn’t intended on making “DNF Digest” a regular thing because honestly? I always hope to finish a book! Lately, though, I’ve been more inclined to mark a book as DNF because there are just soooo many books I need to read (you’ve seen my shelves) so I just can’t afford to be pushing through books that I’m really not enjoying. If I’ve read a lot of the book I finish, it’s sort of a policy of mine to try to write a small “review” saying why it didn’t work for me, but today’s collection of DNF round-ups didn’t quite warrant reviews because I didn’t make it as far as I’d hoped.

I haven’t decided to put any books aside for a long time, and these two are actually my first DNFs of 2018! I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks so usually I’m able to push through some of those that I’m not super crazy about, they’re just not “as bad” on audio, or maybe I just haven’t been picking books that I haven’t been able to finish! These next two I just decided to scrap due to how long they were taking me to read and once I stopped, I just didn’t want to come back to them.


Title: What the Woods Keep
Author: Katya de Becerral
Format I was reading: ARC, received from the publisher at BEA 2018
Started reading: August 25, 2018
Date marked as DNF: September 1, 2018
Marked DNF at: Page 170 (43%)
Reason for marking DNF: (My mini-review from Goodreads) I started reading this book a week before and after letting it sit and trying to get back to it, I’m still just not jiving with it and I don’t have it in me to push through more than half the book to finish. If I’m not enjoying the concept and writing by now, I’m not going to enjoy the rest of the book anyway.

The writing style is hard to follow, throwing things in where they may feel appropriate but not fitting into the time and place at all. There are things the reader should pick up but it doesn’t feel like the right place to introduce a new idea. The story is just ALL over the place and there are too many shock-value suspense moments inserted into the story that feels like a silly horror movie. It doesn’t work and wasn’t creepy.

The synopsis is also fairly misleading as far as tone and content go. The synopsis on the back of the ARC makes it seem like Hayden is returning to a creepy home and woods that are characters themselves — possessive, creepy, has its own secrets, but really that’s not the case. It seems like a Fall of the House of Usher concept and instead it veered off into dwarf race and weird fantasy that I just wasn’t into.

From all of that, I just decided that I probably wasn’t going to be enjoying the rest of the book and I doubt I’d be satisfied with the ending so I’d rather move on to books I might enjoy with this little reading time that I have to be attempting print ARCs.

Title: The Casquette Girls (The Casquette Girls #1)
Author: Alys Arden
Format I was reading: Audiobook, purchased from Audible
Started reading: September 12, 2018
Date marked as DNF: September 12, 2018
Marked DNF at: 50%
Reason for marking DNF: (My mini-review from Goodreads) THE CASQUETTE GIRLS is a 500+ page book (17+ hours on audiobook) so I still had 9+ hours left when I decided not to finish it. I made it halfway and still really nothing much has happened… The intro took forever and things took so long that I just got bored. Even at 50%, I barely know what the purpose of the book was. I thought this was supposed to be witchy and Adele randomly discovers that she can move metal (how it took her that long to realize that everything she was moving was metal, and that someone else had to tell her that UGH. That was ridiculously obvious) and then that’s it for a while. Okay, she can move metal and…? That’s all we get in the first half. By now we should at least know why or what a connection is or something to keep me interested. She experiments and hides it from everyone else and that’s it.

We get more info on the vampire side of things, but nothing except for exposition and old letters until 50% in as well.

Knowing how long this book is, I think it really could have used more editing. We could have condensed a LOT in the first half because it lost my interest completely. There was a lot about the arrival back to New Orleans, the description of destruction, intro to schools, side characters, etc that could have been combined in with other dialogue or action to make it feel less like an info dump. The first few chapters were JUST about coming back to New Orleans and it had already felt like too much at that point. I wanted to keep going to see if things would pick up and it just wasn’t what I was looking for.


I haven’t DNFed in so long that I feel like I could have finished these… But it really was the right decision to DNF. I just wasn’t enjoying WHAT THE WOODS KEEP and looking back, I don’t think I would enjoy going back to finish it. I still had nine hours left of THE CASQUETTE GIRLS when I felt like I should be close to finishing the book at that point and I was upset with the pacing. I think it would have been rough to finish either.