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The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) – Kristen Simmons

The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) – Kristen SimmonsTitle: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Publishing Info: May 14, 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Date Completed: May 30, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

bookreview1

I really wish that the synopsis of this book had made note of the Norse mythology inspiration because I honestly didn’t pick up on that at all but once I knew about it, it seemed really obvious and I think that would have been a fun thing to pick up as I was reading. That’s no fault of the author but I guess that’s what happens when I don’t do a lot of looking into things before I read a book (and I guess whoever’s in charge of making the synopsis/making sure that info is on Goodreads). I didn’t know about it until I started reading reviews after I was finished. Since I never read reviews before I start a book (in case of spoilers and I don’t want anyone to influence my opinion), there’s really no other way I would have known about that and I bet a lot of other people may not be aware either.

That may have helped how much I enjoyed the book but I still think I would have come out relatively the same. I was irritated that it was labeled as “Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean’s 11”. I don’t know PLL but Ocean’s 11 is one of my favorite movies and if we’re talking about the 2001 version…. that movie is WAY too sassy and not even close in tone. I was expecting some super clever sass, cheeky cons, and an overall heist feeling. This really wasn’t a heist book. I guess it was more of a “long con” but it wasn’t really a plan we were in on from the beginning and we learn a lot as the book progresses. This was just not the tone I was expecting and would compare it more to Deadly Class (the SyFy TV show), THE FIXER by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, TRUST ME, I’M LYING by Mary Elizabeth Summer, or new Adriana Mather book KILLING NOVEMBER. It wasn’t ALL serious but it certainly wasn’t quite as light or funny as I had expected.

Mostly, the book was just kind of slow. We picked up some interesting facts along the way, sure. But it unraveled a bit more like a mystery than a heist/con concept (which is more of what I was expecting with the Ocean’s 11 comparison) since we got some reveals about characters in the end and unraveled a little mystery that tied all of the characters together. It’s just a different way of putting that story together and it makes a difference of how I read/approach/experience a book.

I was also really disappointed that there wasn’t much happening to show us the school itself. It’s a con school which is AWESOME and really all we see are little snippets of Brynn’s intro to her classes with glimpses of what she might learn there but the book doesn’t really spend much time there at all. Aside from convening in each other’s rooms and using it as a base to get all of the students together, there wasn’t much about the school at all and it really felt like a missed opportunity. I felt like the book took entirely too long to set up Brynn’s family life and introduce the compromising situation that she’s in and I felt like things just dwelled there for an unnecessary amount of time. I get it. We’re supposed to be uncomfortable with Pete. She needs an escape. The school is it. But there was just too much time wasted in the beginning when the book could have set up that school world more to really pull readers in some more.

It seems like this book gets some mixed reviews. Its core was still solid and it had a clear story to tell. Some of my friends absolutely loved it and others, like me, felt a little underwhelmed. At least it seems like no one really hated it, which I agree with! There were a lot of good elements there and some appreciated the structure and tone more than I did, but if you don’t have the expectations that I carried into my read, maybe you’ll enjoy it more!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mythology retellings. I didn’t even realize this for what it was while I was reading but looking back, it was a fun way to adapt some Norse mythology as a modern retelling!
Left Me Wanting More: Time in this awesome school! I felt like it was a real missed opportunity to make this series about Vale Hall and then not even really spend time in this unique and interesting school! I really wanted to see more of the classes, especially in the first book.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I have a few friends who really loved this book. Maybe they knew more about it than I did before starting, maybe not, but it seems like I might be the minority with my reservations!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE DECEIVERS

             

The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners – Christina LaurenTitle: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Publishing Info: May 14, 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Date Completed: May 30, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

bookreview1

This book was so cute! Another great hit from Christina Lauren and I think maybe my favorite one yet. I adore a good hate-to-love story and this book was cute on so many different levels.

The beginning really reminded me THE HATING GAME with its adorable hateful tension and the way the two main characters, Olive and Ethan, interacted with each other. I think the beginning with that spiteful tension was one of my favorite parts of the book. The snark and sass was just perfect and it really had that HATING GAME vibe like I mentioned. I am glad that it sort of moved away from that feel because I wanted the book to be unique but I did also kind of miss it when it did haha!

I really loved the whole set-up of the book. How these two managed to get stuck together on a not-honeymoon was very cute and very well planned! The perfect way to stick them together and have everything really make sense, plus some funny family hijinks in the beginning as well. I would have liked to see maybe a little bit more family throughout the book but I also did like that it didn’t take away from the main characters and their story as well. They made little appearances here and there but I think that could have added a little more depth to the story by adding just a little more family history!

The romance was positively adorable and I loved every minute of it! The unfolding was just lovely and these two characters had great chemistry. I think I could have used juuuust a little more tension (I’m a sucker for that hate-to-love chemistry) but I did like spending sometime in the cute moments of the romance too!

I also really appreciated how there were other plots in the book as well, not just the romance. Olive is dealing with being laid off and finding a new job. There are stressors in her sister’s brand-new marriage and things that she finds out that are very concerning. All of these things also put a stress on her evolving relationship with Ethan. It’s a great mix of real-life feels and grounding real-life situations.

I highly recommend THE UNHONEYMOONERS and I can see why so many people have loved it already! I’m really enjoyed all of the Christina Lauren romances I’ve read and I think this is my favorite so far.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Hate-to-love romances. I love a good hate-to-love romance but there’s something so special when it’s done just right! Christina Lauren totally nailed this one and it was so much fun to read!
Left Me Wanting More: Family history. I feel like we could have had a few more appearances from the families since both of them played a role in the story. I would have loved that extra little layer of family/character/world building to really have me connect with the characters that much more.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was such a fun story and I really enjoyed it from start to finish! A lot of other readers have been enjoying it too so I don’t hesitate to recommend this one along with some other romance favorites if you’re looking for a fun love story this summer! (Or any time)

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BOOKS LIKE THE UNHONEYMOONERS

             

The Last Time I Saw You – Liv Constantine

The Last Time I Saw You – Liv ConstantineTitle: The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine
Publishing Info: May 7, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: March 23, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Dr. Kate English has it all. Not only is she the heiress to a large fortune; she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career, and a beautiful home anyone would envy.

But all that changes the night Kate’s mother, Lily, is found dead, brutally murdered in her own home. Heartbroken and distraught, Kate reaches out to her estranged best friend, Blaire Barrington, who rushes to her side for the funeral, where the years of distance between them are forgotten in a moment.

That evening, Kate’s grief turns to horror when she receives an anonymous text: You think you’re sad now, just wait. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll wish you had been buried today. More than ever, Kate needs her old friend’s help.

Once Blaire decides to take the investigation into her own hands, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems in Baltimore high society. As infidelity, lies, and betrayals come to light, and tensions rise to a boiling point, she begins to alienate Kate’s friends and relatives with her relentless, accusatory questions, as she tries to find Lily’s killer. The murderer could be anyone—friend, neighbor, loved one. But whoever it is, it’s clear that Kate is next on their list. . .

In The Last Time I Saw You, Liv Constantine takes the lightning pace of The Last Mrs. Parrish and raises the stakes, creating an exquisitely tension-filled and absorbing tale of psychological suspense in which innocent lives—and one woman’s sanity—hang in the balance.

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THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU was an interesting read! The book kicks off with the death of main character Kate’s mother who was well loved and well off when Kate finds out later that her mother was actually murdered. The book continues on with a killer tormenting and threatening Kate and Kate slowly starts to unravel. I wasn’t sure how much I’d be into the concept since the concept was dealing with the “high society” and I wasn’t sure how that would all play into it. I feel like those society rules make the characters feel a little stiffer and I did feel that with each of these characters, but it also adds to a more secretive element because with so many niceties and manners involved, there’s a lot of unspeakable things that get/stay hidden.

The suspect list went around and around a few times so I wasn’t really sure whodunnit or if there was even more than one person involved. It was also interesting with Kate possibly being an unreliable narrator. There was that added question if she WAS an unreliable narrator or if the perpetrator was doing all of these things to mess with her head. I actually really liked that addition to cast some extra doubt and throw the reader off-course if they already solved the mystery.

I almost wished there had been some other clues earlier on in the book, not necessarily to give things away but to give some better ties to the actual answer. I like being left in the dark and not being able to guess the ending but there were a few things that kind of came out of nowhere that were a little too covered up. It was interesting but I also didn’t quite love it — not in a bad way, just a personal preference.

This was a quick read for me! I felt like it took a while to really get into the fast-paced section of the book and wished the pacing had been a little bit quicker form the start, but it was an overall enjoyable read.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Brand-new adult thriller reads. I enjoy a lot of adult thrillers but this one was a totally random pick for me! I was able to select this one from a list of available audiobooks for review from the publisher so I wanted to try this one based off of its genre, not knowing the author or the title or even anyone who had read it first.
Left Me Wanting More: Reveals. I do like when I’m in the dark on the answers to the mystery but I also like being able to see some things revealed along the way to keep me interested and keep my mind racing. I could have used just a bit more.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It was a quick and enjoyable read, and while it wasn’t my favorite in a few different ways, it was still worth the read and I loved taking a chance on a new thriller book and author!!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU

             

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

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

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

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

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

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

bookreview1

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it

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

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE AURORA RISING

             

Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) – Suzanne Young

Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) – Suzanne YoungTitle: Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) by Suzanne Young
Publishing Info: March 19, 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 24, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Program (The Program #1), Just Like Fate

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

bookreview1

** This review WILL contain spoilers for the book. The paragraph with major spoilers is clearly marked. ** 

I was SUPER excited to pick up GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS expecting some crazy stuff because more than a few of my most trusted reviewers (and good friends) rated this book five stars so I was expecting to finally be in for a treat and not be the black sheep on a hyped book (again). Aaaand then came the awkward moment where I realized I’m yet again just not getting on the hype train.

There’s not really a good way to talk about this book without spoilers because yes, there is a Big Thing at the end of the book and sharing anything about it or noting any comparisons really gives the big reveal away so I’ll put that all in a spoiler tag later. The one comparison I can make that’s not a spoiler is that it reminded mea little bit of the Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano. GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS had a dystopian feel to it like The Chemical Garden books with that same concept of young girls being raised/made to be wives and sold off (or kidnapped) so it had me reeling all the way back to 2012 when I read the first book so hey, 7-year flashback going on and keeping that dystopian hype alive! I was expecting the book to be a little more thriller with some sci-fi aspects and it is creepy and mysterious but I think it feels much more dystopian/dark sci-fi than that thriller aspect, which is really what I was hoping for.

Once you understand the ending, it’s easier to look back at the whole book and see things in a different light, but I was so uncomfortable reading this book until we got to that point. There were some hints dropped but the book was really hard to read with how poorly these girls were treated. A lot of the hype and excitement of the book comes from the girls rising up and smashing the patriarchy but it was just so painful to witness them being treated like property (literally), sexually abused, and trained to be brainless and obedient. This went on for SO LONG throughout the book (okay, really literally through the end) so it was just so hard to read and I was so uncomfortable. There were little rebellions throughout but it was just a constant onslaught of abuse that I found it really difficult to enjoy.

THIS PARAGRAPH CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS. SKIP IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE THEM. Sooo the twist is that this book is basically kind of Westworld but without the western aspect. The girls have all been “born” in a lab with organs and skin that have been grown there but are full of wires that connect to a metal brain and it’s all artificial intelligence. It presents the same kind of question that Westworld did (or does… I stopped watching it because I also found that plot to be slow-moving to get on with the big picture) — when AI starts to adapt, think, learn, and love, it is human and does it have human rights, or is it essentially still just a machine? Is it both? There’s no doubt that these characters are humanized (clearly, since we’re not told that they’re AI until the end of the book) and there are a lot of complicated feelings involved! Did I love the twist? Ehhh. Does it lessen how poorly they were treated? I still felt greatly uncomfortable and didn’t feel any better about reading what I did just because they were AI. It does make more sense to go back and see the “logic” about why they were treated like property but all that really did for me was open up a whole other can of worms. I also kind of felt like it took too long to get there because I would have liked to explore that more in the book.

I don’t know where the series is going but I would have liked to get to the ending a little quicker so we could spend more time soaking it in and exploring those ideas. I suppose it is a series (which I didn’t realize when I first got the book but did know before I started it) so there’s still time for that. I feel like it COULD have been a stand alone. I don’t know where the rest of the series is going but I don’t have any desire to continue on with it, which is also why I rated it down to two stars instead of three. If I had more of a curiosity to continue, I probably would have felt like I was leaving it on a higher note but I just am not interested in more of this story.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dystopian reads! This was a little bit between dystopian and sci-fi and I had some major early 2000s – 2010s dystopian flashbacks!
Left Me Wanting More: Time away from abuse. Gosh, this book was hard to read with the main characters constantly being abused and controlled. I was uncomfortable for most of the book and it just made it so difficult. I get that that’s also the point but I was just constantly on edge in the way that it was presented for some reason.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

Some of my close reader friends really, really loved this one. I just had a hard time reading it. I say check things out and see what you think!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS

             

These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1) – Isabel Sterling

These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1) – Isabel SterlingTitle: These Witches Don't Burn (These Witches Don't Burn #1) by Isabel Sterling
Publishing Info: May 28, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Date Completed: May 20, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Hannah's a witch, but not the kind you're thinking of. She's the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she's ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly By Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah's concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah's sure it's the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she's going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem's witches become deadlier by the day.

Isabel Sterling's delightful, suspenseful debut is equal parts sweet romance and thrilling mystery. With everything she loves on the line, Hannah must confront this murderous villain before her coven--and any chance she has with the new girl--is destroyed.

bookreview1

This was such a fun, witchy read with a great diverse cast! I loved the Salem setting, the involvement of witch history, and the book’s own witchy story. Perfect for fans of books like UNDEAD GIRL GANG and HOW TO HANG A WITCH.

Author Isabel Sterling also did a great job of weaving in a mystery that kept me guessing! When a bad force enters town, first the main characters have to figure out what it is and then they have to figure out who it is, so there were many times where I had suspicions that were totally wrong (and one time I half-guessed correctly).

This was a quick, fun read with a cute romance to boot! With family and coven secrets involved, things get complicated and an ex who was a former best friend-turned-girlfriend who still wants Hannah back, there’s plenty of relationship story to keep readers of romantic plot lines involved too!

With the way things wrapped up here, I’m super curious to see what happens in book two! I wonder if it will follow further into this adventure or start a new concept with a new villain. There are many possibilities and I look forward to spending more time with these characters too!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Witchy Vibes & relationships! I really loved the magic involved and the coven/group vibes! There was a great realistic representation of romantic relationships, family relationships, and awesome friendships with so many layers amongst all of them!
Left Me Wanting More: Magic use. Don’t get me wrong, the magic use was pretty represented given that most of the main characters were essentially underage witches (is that my TGIF Sabrina talk showing?) but I’m greedy and I want all the magic!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was a fun, witchy story with some great characters and an exciting mystery! I definitely recommend it!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THESE WITCHES DON’T BURN

             

My Lovely Wife – Samantha Downing

My Lovely Wife – Samantha DowningTitle: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Publishing Info: March 26, 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

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We're your neighbors, the parents of your kid's friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

bookreview1

This book grabbed me with its description and Dexter comparison but it did stand on its own and was an original story. There were some pieces that I was able to pick out that should have been twists, but I was still okay with that! I think a lot of thriller readers will be able to spot things like that coming and see where the story is going, but there’s also still enough in the book that you just don’t know how it will end.

I actually really liked that this was from the husband’s point-of-view. It was just interesting in the way that the story was told and I liked that creepiness coming from Millicent instead of … him. I just realized that I don’t think his real name is ever used throughout the whole book, only aliases, which is a stunning fact that I never realized. This has actually happened to me before with a different book and now I’m questioning everything I just read. How does one read a whole book and not know the narrator’s name? AUTHORS, YOU’VE DONE IT AGAIN.

Anyway, there’s a whole lot going on in this book and it really is incredibly interesting. Even though the husband is the protagonist, it doesn’t mean he’s a hero. He’s still guilty of committing murder with his wife, even if we think she’s the colder, more heinous of the two throughout the book. By the end of the book, I was rooting for him, but should I have been? He still wanted to murder but the way things play out, you almost forget about all of that and want him to stay clear of danger and prison. It’s a really interesting back-and-forth that just really makes you constantly question the motives of each character.

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Kept Me Hooked On: A good “if you liked” comparison. I actually am glad that this one was compared to Dexter because it was definitely a draw for me! It was still unique enough that it didn’t feel like it was too similar to Dexter but it was also similar enough to recognize the appeal for Dexter fans and to be a solid rec.
Left Me Wanting More: Details? Dare I ask for more details in a murder book? I didn’t necessarily want to know ALL the gruesome details of what was going on but there were times when I was hoping for just a bit more to guide my feelings.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I really enjoyed this one! I do agree with the Dexter rec and I had a fun time reading (or listening to) this one and seeing where it would take me!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE MY LOVELY WIFE

             

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.

bookreview1

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