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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Try it

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

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BOOKS LIKE DON’T YOU CRY

          

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Try it

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

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BOOKS LIKE BATMAN: NIGHTWALKER

          

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it

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

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BOOKS LIKE UNEARTHED

          

Renegades (Renegades #1) – Marissa Meyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it!

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

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A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares – Krystal Sutherland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it!

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

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BOOKS LIKE A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES

          

Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2) – Adriana Mather

Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2) – Adriana MatherTitle: Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2) by Adriana Mather
Publishing Info: October 3, 2017 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Ghosts
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 16, 2017
Related Posts: How to Hang a Witch

The Titanic meets the delicious horror of Ransom Riggs and the sass of Mean Girls in this follow-up to the #1 New York Times bestseller How to Hang a Witch, in which a contemporary teen finds herself a passenger on the famous "ship of dreams"--a story made all the more fascinating because the author's own relatives survived the doomed voyage.

Samantha Mather knew her family's connection to the infamous Salem Witch Trials might pose obstacles to an active social life. But having survived one curse, she never thought she'd find herself at the center of a new one.

This time, Sam is having recurring dreams about the Titanic . . . where she's been walking the deck with first-class passengers, like her aunt and uncle. Meanwhile, in Sam's waking life, strange missives from the Titanic have been finding their way to her, along with haunting visions of people who went down with the ship.

Ultimately, Sam and the Descendants, along with some help from heartthrob Elijah, must unravel who is behind the spell that is drawing her ever further into the dream ship . . . and closer to sharing the same grim fate as its ghostly passengers.

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I really, really enjoyed HOW TO HANG A WITCH from Adriana Mather last year so I was so ready to pick up HAUNTING THE DEEP when I heard of its release! I started reading it close to Halloween, being that HOW TO HANG A WITCH was the perfect Halloween read. HAUNTING THE DEEP didn’t quite have the same vibe for me and it was still enjoyable, but I also felt like it was lacking quite a bit.

I felt like all of the work to incorporate the witch story line was kind of lost. There was still magic involved but HAUNTING THE DEEP was focused more on a ghostly plane versus a ghost being involved in a witchy story. Sam’s interactions with the Titanic and its passengers stretched the imagination a little bit more and moved from what I guess I’d call “believable magic” to a point where it was a bit too far-fetched for me. I also wasn’t as big of a fan of the Titanic concept as I was the connection to the Salem Witch trials.

What is very cool is that Adriana Mather writes these books in connection to her own family  history. Her relatives have some serious American historical roots and their actual involvement in the Salem Witch Trials and the Titanic inspired her writing for these books! It’s really neat to know that she has a personal connection to the stories.

The long triangle from the first book really kind of bothered me but I’m not feeling as bothered by it anymore. I’m still team Human versus team Ghost (the ghost thing is… weird?) but I guess we’ll see where things go! I like the connection but I wish it wasn’t like, a full-on romance thing here.

When it comes down to it, I just really missed the witchiness of the first book and especially reading it around Halloween, that’s just what I really wanted. I’m definitely going to read more from Adriana Mather because I can’t wait to see what else she’s writing about (she has a LOT of sweet family history) and I love the personal author’s notes at the end of these books to explain a lot of that too! I didn’t really connect with HAUNTING THE DEEP like I had hoped but I’m definitely in for the long haul with these books! addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: The Titanic. I hadn’t really given much thought to the Titanic outside of the movie, but it was actually really neat to get some more history about it in this book!
Left Me Wanting More: Witches. I just looooved that Craft meets Hocus Pocus vibe from the first book and it was really missing here, being about something totally different haha! It was just so much fun, though.

Addiction Rating
Check it out

Lots of fans of HOW TO HANG A WITCH seemed to enjoy this one and even reviewed that they enjoyed it better than the first, with improvements in writing and plot. For me, I was totally hung up on my witchy vibes. It was still enjoyable but I just wasn’t connected. I think totally worth checking out if you read the first (please read the first book first)!

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Mini-Review: Hardcore Twenty-Four – Janet Evanovich

Mini-Review: Hardcore Twenty-Four – Janet EvanovichTitle: Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 14, 2017 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Cozy Mystery
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 10, 2017
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), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1)

Trouble comes in bunches for Stephanie Plum. First, professional grave robber and semi-professional loon, Simon Diggery, won’t let her take him in until she agrees to care for his boa constrictor, Ethel. Stephanie’s main qualification for babysitting an extremely large snake is that she owns a stun gun—whether that’s for use on the wandering serpent or the petrified neighbors remains to be seen.

Events take a dark turn when headless bodies start appearing across town. At first, it’s just corpses from a funeral home and the morgue that have had the heads removed. But when a homeless man is murdered and dumped behind a church Stephanie knows that she’s the only one with a prayer of catching this killer.

If all that’s not enough, Diesel’s back in town. The 6-foot-tall, blonde-haired hunk is a man who accepts no limits—that includes locked doors, closed windows and underwear. Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli isn’t pleased at this unexpected arrival nor is Ranger, the high-powered security consultant who has his own plans for Stephanie.

As usual Jersey’s favorite bounty hunter is stuck in the middle with more questions than answers. What’s the deal with Grandma Mazur’s latest online paramour? Who is behind the startling epidemic of mutilated corpses? And is the enigmatic Diesel’s sudden appearance a coincidence or the cause of recent deadly events?

bookreview1

As always, the Stephanie Plum books are a lot of fun. This was such an easy-listening book that I could read while working and even though they all follow the same pattern, twenty-four books later I’m still enjoying them! I’m beginning to think Stephanie will never choose a dude but I think as long as I expect that, I won’t be disappointing myself. I was surprised to see Diesel back in this book and it was even more fun to see him in action after having caught up on the Lizzy & Diesel books.

There’s always something a little quirky in these books and I enjoyed the quirk this time. It was a zombie theme but I appreciated that there was more to the story and not actual zombies, since sometimes the quirk comes in the form of humanized monkeys and that gets irritating.

There’s always something new going on with these wacky characters and they always entertain me! It all generally fits the mold of a Stephanie Plum book and I’m never really blown away but the mysteries do keep me guessing (especially when my brain is half-focused on something else) and they’re just quick, easy, and fun.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Plum paranoia. The characters have a silly sense of paranoia when it comes to some of these cases but they remain entertaining! Sometimes it’s a little over-the-top but I’m usually laughing.
Left Me Wanting More: Commitment. I still want Stephanie and Joe to stay together already but I’m beginning to think she’ll never commit to anyone. I think I have to accept that… you know, 24 books in.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’re enjoying these books, they’re worth the read. They’re nothing that bowl me over but sometimes I just need quick, easy, and patterned reads and these always fit the bill! I love being able to finish them so quickly and return to characters I’ve spent so much time with.

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BOOKS LIKE HARDCORE TWENTY-FOUR

          

Last Seen Leaving – Caleb Roehrig

Last Seen Leaving – Caleb RoehrigTitle: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
Publishing Info: October 4, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, BEA 2016, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 14, 2017

Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

bookreview1

This was another solid young adult mystery/thriller for me! As with most YA mysteries, I did have a little bit of disbelief that the police didn’t get as involved as they should have but that’s been one of my hang-ups in YA mysteries. The police are often shutting kids down (which, fair, they don’t need to nor can they divulge information about cases to teenagers, no matter how involved they might have been) but too often things are left at a shut-down and then there’s no showing that the police were even investigating at all. Anyway, like usual, we’ll suspend that disbelief for the sake of it being a YA mystery.

Let’s also suspend the disbelief of Flynn’s language because like many John Green books, I don’t know anyone who speaks like that, teenager or adult. I’m not saying you have to be a word nerd in order to use “big words” but some of those words aren’t even in my vocabulary much less in a teen’s, so it was noticeable to me.
January also kind of reminded me of Alaska in LOOKING FOR ALASKA in the sense that I think I was supposed to like her but … I really didn’t. Was I supposed to like January? I can’t tell. She was kind of all over the place and obviously Flynn cares for her but there was also a lot of “January is so special” and some clear manipulation here that I ended up being suspicious of her instead of hoping this was all a big misunderstanding. I think it was also the narration and the was her tone was portrayed because it was a very haughty voice and I wasn’t a fan of her character because of it.

LAST SEEN LEAVING has been compared to GONE GIRL, which is always a huge comparison in my opinion because those are some big shoes to fill, but I also definitely see where that’s coming from. I hate when comparisons are made because then it MAKES me draw conclusions similar to the plot of the book it was compared to which can be spoilers, so boo on that affecting my reading experience, but that’s also part of what drew me in so beggars can’t be choosers! Anyway — I totally see the GONE GIRL comparison except that feel left me thinking it was going to be more sinister than it was. Don’t get me wrong, some very Not Okay things happen in this book and it gets troubling and complicated, but that thought misled me juuuust a bit.

Okay, enough with the complaining. I actually did enjoy this book so let’s talk about the nice things! I really liked Flynn’s character. It wasn’t to the point of gushing but I felt like he was pretty realistic, heroics aside, and I appreciated how he handled all of life’s complications, including a life-changing admission of his own. I really liked how he handled everything, from personal relationships to self-revelations to friendships to murder investigations — it may not have always been in the BEST way, but he always seemed realistic and I thought he did a pretty good job of staying true to himself. The secondary characters outside of Flynn didn’t have as much depth as I would have liked but I also felt them to be pretty realistic as well. I loved his parents and how involved they were in the book. It wasn’t a TON of page time but they were always there to support him no matter what was going on and it’s just always so nice to see that. I wished we had gotten to know Flynn’s friends a bit more and I know some people were upset with how Micah ended up treating him but again, I also don’t think it’s unrealistic. It may have not been the best way to support your friend but what teenager handles everything perfectly?

The mystery was definitely interesting and I was left guessing until the very end! I’m glad I was still surprised at how everything went down but there were a few twists and for some reason the way that they were all laid out, I was still expecting one more (as if that wasn’t all enough for me lol). I was aaaalmost satisfied with the ending but there was just something there that I was missing. Maybe I’ve been reading too many adult thrillers where EVERYONE is so messed up that I’m expecting characters to be even worse than they are. I was very surprised and it was something I never would have guessed, at least how the reveal happened, so that was really cool.

This book has a lot happening and a lot going for it and I was definitely interested from start to finish! There were many complex friendships and relationships, an interesting mystery, and a diverse cast of characters. I think it was a very solid read, even though I had a few hang-ups as mentioned above, but I know they’re more minor things that didn’t really take away from my overall feeling about the book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: YA mysteries. I enjoyed the way this book was put together! Mysteries can be tricky in YA, especially murder mysteries, but I thought this was done well!
Left Me Wanting More: Shock factor? Being compared to GONE GIRL kind of set me up for a huge shock. The ending was something I wasn’t anticipating but I wasn’t bowled over.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was a nice, solid read that I enjoyed and would recommend!

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BOOKS LIKE LAST SEEN LEAVING

          

This Darkness Mine – Mindy McGinnis

This Darkness Mine – Mindy McGinnisTitle: This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis
Publishing Info: October 10, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Psych/Mental Health, Realistic Fiction, Thriller, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 18, 2017
Related Posts: A Madness So Discreet, The Female of the Species

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

Edgar Award–winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a dark and gripping psychological thriller about a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.

bookreview1

I can’t even… what??? This book was not at all what I expected and without heading into spoiler-town (yet), I will say that I went through an array of feelings while reading it. Well hell, the book isn’t what I expected while reading it either. It was just… well-done, Mindy McGinnis. You have slayed me.

Okay, so avoiding spoilers for now, here’s what I can tell you about this book: it’s about a girl named Sasha who is the good girl, won’t even swear, is extremely dedicated to her music (clarinet) and works hard to the point of obsessing over being perfect with music, grades, and being good. Things start to take a turn when she discovers that she is (used to be) a twin, but her sister was never actually born and was absorbed in the womb. This is an actual thing that happens sometimes so okay. Sasha seems shaken by this information and tries to gather more information about her sister-that-could-have-been and things start to go haywire as she becomes entangled with a boy named Isaac, the stereotypical bad-boy with whom Sasha would never interact… except she has, and Isaac has proof. Sasha tries to figure out how and why and then we head into the twisty part of this book…

So up until this point, I was like eeeeeeehhhhahhhahhh I don’t know about this. I wasn’t super keen on the twin-thing being a big part of the story because I didn’t see that coming (yes, I KNOW it’s in the synopsis — reminder 184300495 that I go into books blind so I can be so very surprised by things like this and usually it creates for an even more amazing story because it was definitely a reveal that I was surprised by instead of knowing it was coming. See?) and like the obsessive person that Sasha is, she starts to take the investigation of her sister a little too far and takes on a little too much.

There are a LOT of spoilers I could talk about but won’t include them in here for those who haven’t read the book but be sure to check out my Goodreads review if you want to see what’s behind the spoiler tags there!

The book truly shook me with its ending but there were also parts that were just plain weird. It ended up totally coming together but I must admit that I was kind of like oooooookay for a few good sections of the book where I wasn’t sure how I felt. This book is one to mess with your head and your emotions and even if you’re not crazy about the beginning, it’s so worth finishing because you won’t want to miss that ending.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Twisted stories. This was a sort of psychological thriller that I was not expecting and I kiiiind of loved it. I love being surprised by something new and this was definitely different!
Left Me Wanting More: Realism? I mean, things got straight up WEIRD for a while. I guess the book sooort of lost me just for a bit but really, it all worked itself out.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

This gets kind of weird but WHOA the ending was totally worth it! Stick with it and you’ll be shocked.

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BOOKS LIKE THIS DARKNESS MINE

          

Blog Tour: Renegades by Marissa Meyer | Favorite Types of Villains

Welcome to the blog tour for
RENEGADES by Marissa Meyer

As I’m sure you well know, I’m a HUGE Marissa Meyer fan, with my fandom love dating back to The Lunar Chronicles and has continued ever since. I was so excited to hear about RENEGADES and of course, immediately jumped at the chance to participate in the blog tour when offered a spot by Fierce Reads/Macmillan Children’s!

One of my favorite part of any good book is a great villain. I love how complicated villains can be with intricate backstories, their villainous reasoning, the morally grey areas, and that dash of darkness that reels you in. Being an avid reader for so long as introduced me to so many different types of villains so I wanted to talk about a few of my favorites today, being that RENEGADES is actually largely from an Anarchist’s point-of-view with main character Nova being on the side of the bad guys!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

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

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

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

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


ABOUT MARISSA MEYER

MARISSA MEYER is the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles series, as well as the graphic novel Wires and Nerve: Vol. 1, and The Lunar Chronicles Coloring Book. Her first stand alone novel, Heartless, was also a #1 New York Times bestseller. She lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband and their two daughters.

TYPES OF VILLAINS

I took on the side of the Anarchists today, always loving a good villain! According to Huffpost (and originally posted on Screencraft), there are 15 different types of movie villains, but I would imagine that goes the same for books! That’s a lot for one blog post today so I’m just sharing a few of my favorites and some of my favorite villains that fit the profiles with some of my favorite reads!

THE ANTI-VILLIAN (also known as Anti-Hero) 

This is one of my absolute favorite types of villains and a lot of what we see in RENEGADES! RENEGADES has a split POV between Nova, one of the Anarchists, and Adrian, one of the Renegades. There’s a lot more to Nova than meets the eye so I might not call her an anti-hero/anti-villain, but the book sure does make you root for the Anarchists and see things from their perspectives! It’s one of my favorites because I love seeing how complex villains can be and how an author can appeal to a reader’s compassion by creating a villain you can sympathize with. | Example: The Anarchists in RENEGADES, Dexter from the Dexter series, Joe from YOU by Caroline Kepnes

THE AUTHORITY FIGURE

There’s something about an evil authority figure that just gets my skin crawling! Unlike the sympathetic anti-hero/anti-villain, the authority figure is just one I love to hate. They make a main character’s life horrible and there’s nothing they can even try to do about it, often pinning a main character under their thumb because disobeience leads to horrible consquences. | Examples: Benjamin Malvern in THE SCORPIO RACES, Professor Umbridge in Harry Potter

THE DISTURBED

There’s just something about a genuinely appalling villain that brings a story to the next level sometimes. In contrast to an anti-hero, the Disturbed villain may suffer from some psychological disorders that lead them down the path of villainy but the audience doesn’t root for this villain at all. They’re just plain crazy or messed up! | Examples: Levana in The Lunar Chronicles, Amy in GONE GIRL

THE MACHINE

This is one that doesn’t pop up on my list often, but when you read a series like The Illuminae Files, this type of villain is literally everything. How fascinating is a machine as a villain? They have a program and yet are still unpredictable and they’re nearly unstoppable. | Example: AIDEN from The Illuminae Files

THE PERSONIFICATION OF EVIL

And it doesn’t get more evil than evil itself represented in a character! You’ve gotta love a character/person/concept that you can clearly hate and push towards total annihilation. These characters are often horribly frightening, representing everything you could possibly hate and work against. | Examples: Osaron from the Shades of Magic trilogy, The King of Hybern from A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy


Thanks so much for checking out my stop on the blog tour today! I hope you enjoyed my favorite types of villains and I would love to hear yours as well! And don’t forget to pre-order RENEGADES, on sale 11/7/17! I just loved it and it was such a great read!