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Mini-Review: Dark Matter – Blake Crouch

Mini-Review: Dark Matter – Blake CrouchTitle: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Publishing Info: July 26, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: July 17, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

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DARK MATTER was a little different than I thought I’d be but it was so cinematic and entertaining with an excellent sci-fi thread! I was expecting it to be more psychological and almost a little scary like a thriller and it was much more sci-fi and alternate universe, which I also love. The book went through an number of different scenarios and changed tone a few times, still consistent with the Book’s overall tone but adapting with what the characters had experience and changing so we could follow what would happen next.

The audiobook was also highly entertaining and I was engaged the whole time! I think because of my expectations I was looking for some particular thrill in there but I really did enjoy it from start to finish, and I also really enjoyed Blake Crouch’s writing style! There was a lot of great story there and the details all felt pertinent.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Interesting sci-fi concepts. This book felt really unique and packed with sci-fi elements that I wasn’t even expecting!
Left Me Wanting More: Thrills. I thought this was going to have a few more thriller elements in it, and while it was jam-packed with things, for some reason I was just left wanting a little bit more.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I  really enjoyed this one and I think other sci-fi fans who like a fast-paced story will too!

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BOOKS LIKE DARK MATTER

             

Mini-Review: Trouble is a Friend of Mine (Trouble #1) – Stephanie Tromly

Mini-Review: Trouble is a Friend of Mine (Trouble #1) – Stephanie TromlyTitle: Trouble is a Friend of Mine (Trouble #1) by Stephanie Tromly
Publishing Info: August 4, 2015 by Penguin
Source: ALAMW15, Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: July 16, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Of course I didn’t like Digby when I first met him. No one does.

The first time Philip Digby shows up on Zoe Webster’s doorstep, he’s rude and he treats her like a book he’s already read and knows the ending to.

But before she knows it, Zoe’s allowed Digby—annoying, brilliant, and somehow…attractive? Digby—to drag her into a series of hilarious, dangerous, and only vaguely legal schemes all related to the kidnapping of a local teenage girl. A kidnapping that might be connected to the tragic disappearance of his little sister eight years ago. When it comes to Digby, Zoe just can’t say no.

But is Digby a hero? Or is his manic quest an indication of a desperate attempt to repair his broken family and exorcize his own obsessive-compulsive tendencies? And does she really care anyway?

This is a contemporary debut with razor-sharp dialogue, ridiculously funny action, and a dynamic duo you won’t soon forget.

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I had seen a lot of really good reviews for this book for some trusted reviewers so I was pretty bummed that this wasn’t what I expected. It had its laugh-out-loud moments but it was just a little too silly at times for me. Sometimes it felt like it was trying too hard and other times it really was as clever people praised it to be.

Overall though, I just really didn’t connect with the characters. They seemed too much like caricatures and not actual people. There was just too much going on and too much that didn’t seem believable. I doubt I’ll continue on. It was okay but I don’t feel the pull to keep going. I am glad that I read it though. I always want to read any clever, smart book and it did have its moments.

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Kept Me Hooked On: More YA mystery/thrillers with a side of comedy. I really love the comic relief in hijinks books. It’s such a fun way to keep things light in a dark situation.
Left Me Wanting More: Character depth. I just really didn’t connect to them and they often felt too surface-level.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I didn’t quite love this one but so many other people really praised it! Check out your favorite reviewers to see whose opinions you might fit with!

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BOOKS LIKE TROUBLE IS A FRIEND OF MINE

             

Legendary (Caraval #2) – Stephanie Garber

Legendary (Caraval #2) – Stephanie GarberTitle: Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber
Publishing Info: May 29, 2018 by Macmillan, Flatiron Books
Source: Scribd, ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: May 2, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Caraval (Caraval #1)

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister, Scarlett, from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice, but now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever...

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . the games have only just begun.

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I re-read CARAVAL in order to prepare for LEGENDARY and yeahhhh. I didn’t need to do that. Let’s back up and assess how this read went for me.

So CARAVAL? Was just an okay read for me. I wanted to love it and expected to but so much of it just felt messy (maybe because it was far too whimsical for my taste?) and totally lawless. Anything could happen, characters (and readers) were intentionally duped and led astray but not in that good way where they’re clever and figure things out, and the villains were SO nasty that it was just disgusting and uncomfortable. I was hoping for a little change after we had gotten some of that stuff out of the way in CARAVAL but I think LEGENDARY actually got worse.

LEGENDARY follows Tella’s story from her POV and I wasn’t excited for it because I found Tella really annoying and immature in CARAVAL and while some people said it helped being from her POV in this book, it really didn’t do anything for me. I still found her far too impulsive in all the wrong ways and like Scarlett in CARAVAL, she just had a one-track mind and had blinders on for almost literally everything else.

Where I felt like the game of Caraval was totally random and lawless, I kind of felt like the whole plot of LEGENDARY followed suit. It was sloppy, choppy, and hopped around without and real transition or groundwork. So much time is spent on the visual aspects and imagery that there’s no real world building aside from the bare-bones structure of Caraval itself and the overall outline of where this book is going. The two books don’t really connect together aside from the fact that this takes place after the events of CARAVAL and the girls’ mother is mentioned a handful of times in CARAVAL without any other backstory to go with it, really. I feel like some really good world-building would have included mentions to any of the Deck of Destiny, more about their mother’s disappearance, or any single mention of the Fates. Plus it’s still pretty muddy how all of this magic even works. So much of it was a rumor and then we’ve got the power of the Fates and the cards and how did this all work out again? I know in fantasy novels sometimes magic just IS but the abilities and limits to the magic in these books goes from being “the closest thing to magic”, which makes you think it’s not magic at all, to actual magic like a magician type, to being compared to godlike, to Fates which are powerful beings and they came from where and why? There’s just a lot of groundwork that could have been laid for LEGENDARY in CARAVAL that wasn’t and this felt nearly unconnected plot-wise. I feel like the game of Caraval was included in this book purely to connect the two because it really wasn’t necessary for them to play the game at all in this book and it didn’t really add anything to it. The magic could have been incorporated in some other way and had a better flow to push things forward instead of making things fit into this Caraval box again.

I still find the whole concept of Legend himself confusing. We find out his true identity in this book but he was kept as two separate characters for so long that I feel like I only know one of them and I still don’t really know Legend. His story just seems to change to fit wherever the plot is going and there’s still so much that just doesn’t feel right. Too much of him still seems like an idea and not an actual character.

This book just didn’t do much for me. It actually irritated me more than I enjoyed it. I’ll still read/listen to Finale to finish it but I don’t even know where this series is going. There’s not a real series arc so I don’t even know what the plot of FINALE might even be. CARAVAL was pretty much only about finding Tella, and then LEGENDARY was pretty much only about finding their mother soooo. What now?

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Kept Me Hooked On: Descriptive Fantasy. Stephanie Garber is great with her descriptions and really brings worlds to life! The books are definitely highly sensory.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot flow. CARAVAL was lacking some flow to me and LEGENDARY felt even messier in that regard. I feel like things could have been arranged much better.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

This series is HUGE with the readers out there but there are also some like me who feel the same way. If you liked CARAVAL a lot, I feel like you’ll like LEGENDARY!

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BOOKS LIKE LEGENDARY

             

My Favorite Half-Night Stand – Christina Lauren

My Favorite Half-Night Stand – Christina LaurenTitle: My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
Publishing Info: December 4, 2018 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Date Completed: February 7, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship...but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

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This was super cute! I almost always enjoy a good friends-to-more romance and I really loved how this one was handled. The online dating aspect was brought about in a cute way, really getting the whole group involved and not making it so singled out for the two main characters. I really loved how there wasn’t a love triangle or anything and how everyone didn’t have to get paired off in the end.

The big friend group was a ton of fun and I had a great time reading about Millie and all of her guy friends! I really loved the dynamic and how each guy had a unique personality. With so many, it was a little confusing at first but as I got to know the group, they really did stand out on their own.

I thought the romance was cute and handled well! It had a great pace, in my opinion, and I liked the back-and-forth with the characters’ feelings and how they were unsure of what to do. It really felt natural but still fit a novel well, not dragging anything out too long and not jumping into anything too quickly.

Quite enjoyable and one I’d recommend for a nice, light romance! I would recommend for fans of THE HATING GAME (except THG is just so perfect).

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult romance. I haven’t read a lot of adult/romance books lately and I’ve been dipping into a few adult contemporary/romance noels. These have been ranging more on the romance end than just a love story and they’ve been really fun!
Left Me Wanting More: Friend time. I really did enjoy the romance kicking off right off the bat but I also wished for a little more friend time as well.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was a great read and really fun all-around! The sass amongst the characters was perfect and I enjoyed the world-building and story.

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BOOKS LIKE MY FAVORITE HALF-NIGHT STAND

             

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) – Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) – Rick RiordanTitle: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan
Publishing Info: June 28, 2005 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: August 7, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles #1)

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse - Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena - Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

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Yes, this was my first time reading Percy Jackson! It was a fun read! I know it’s middle grade but it’s still a little younger than I expected. It was definitely cute and fun but a little too goofy at times for me reading for the first time as an adult. When this and Harry Potter are compared as the two big middle grade to YA series, crossing over to adult readers, this one definitely felt a lot younger than Harry Potter and actually reminded me of Brandon Sanderson’s Evil Librarian series, which also feels young and silly to me. I’m not sure if I would have appreciated it more at a different age and I also don’t know how in-depth the rest of the series gets, so I guess we’ll see!

I did enjoy the book and it was a solid read but some of the action felt a little jumpy, adding in sequence after sequence which seemed like a little too much for one book when there could have been more time developing the story and character relationships. I mean, I know it’s only book one so there’s lots of time to develop things.

I don’t feel a huuuuuge desire to continue the series right away. I think I still want to because I did actually read the first book in the Egyptian mythology-based series and I can see similarities in tone but it also seemed to flow a little bit better. I mean that was a few years ago by now and it was after this series so that allows writing growth too.

There were lots of laugh-out-loud moments and plenty of comic relief! I did also see the Percy Jackson movie ages ago and I don’t really remember what it was about but it seems like it combined a few books, maybe? Or didn’t follow the books? I just know it definitely wasn’t focused on this one. I think it would be fun to finish the series and then watch the movie again too!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Middle Grade/younger reads. I don’t read a lot of middle grade books. I do love YA but I’ve been having a harder time lately with books geared toward younger audiences. Usually middle grade doesn’t really do it for me with exceptions like Neil Gaiman or Harry Potter. This one was fun!
Left Me Wanting More: Intensity. Okay, okay, I know. It’s middle grade, and it was fairly intense for middle grade! I don’t know, there’s something about Harry Potter that starts at about the same age that has that tone that lends to more maturity. I think I just wanted that!

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you haven’t read this series yet, it’s worth trying if you’re interested! This was my first time reading it and it was fun! I’m not sure if I’ll continue any time soon but it was still worth the read.

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BOOKS LIKE THE LIGHTNING THIEF

             

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss – Kasie West

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss – Kasie WestTitle: Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West
Publishing Info: February 5, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: February 6, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, By Your Side

Lacey Barnes has dreamed of being an actress for as long as she can remember. So when she gets the opportunity to star in a movie alongside one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the part.

But Lacey quickly learns that life in the spotlight isn’t as picture perfect as she imagined. She’s having trouble bonding with her costars, her father has hired the definition of a choir boy, Donavan Lake, to tutor her, and somewhere along the way she’s lost her acting mojo. And just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, it looks like someone on set is deliberately trying to sabotage her.

As Lacey’s world spins out of control, it feels like the only person she can count on—whether it’s helping her try to unravel the mystery of who is out to get her or snap her out of her acting funk—is Donavan. But what she doesn’t count on is this straight-laced boy becoming another distraction.

With her entire future riding on this movie, Lacey knows she can’t afford to get sidetracked by a crush. But for the first time in her life Lacey wonders if it’s true that the best stories really do happen when you go off script.

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I’m a huge Kasie West fan and all of her books are auto-buys, regardless of my reviews for them. Usually I pre-order and I somehow missed this one so I picked it up on audio so I didn’t have to wait!

FAME, FATE, AND THE FIRST KISS fell a little flat for me. When it came down to it, I felt like none of the characters were really all that likable. I didn’t really like Lacey that much and I didn’t find her character relatable either. I thought she seemed a little unreasonable at times and maybe she was a bit too much of a dreamer for me. While I don’t think an acting career is unrealistic, I had a hard time with how much she wanted to push off the end of high school to continue on her acting career when she could have easily managed both from the way that the book sounded. There were times when I liked her lack of filter and it felt genuine to hear some things pour out of her mouth but other times I felt she was rash and quick to assumptions.

I also just find that I don’t really enjoy books about acting or the movie/TV business. I think the only book that I did enjoy like that was GEEKERELLA and only half of the main characters were actually involved in the biz so it brought something a little different to the book rather than it being the only main narrator. I’m not sure what it is… just not being able to relate? I don’t enjoy the business or behind-the-scenes? But for some reason it just doesn’t hold me.

I also wanted just a bit more chemistry between Lacey and Donovan. I really started feeling it towards the end when they finally had some quiet moments together, allowing themselves to be relaxed and cute. I didn’t enjoy all of the tutoring scenes where it was so frantic on-set and Lacey’s co-stars and friends kept popping in and out.

I also thought the sabotage angle was a little cheesy and made it almost a mystery towards the end. I thought it took away from some of the reality of the book and I would have just loved to see more from the characters and a more character-driven novel. I could have dropped that part of the plot and just enjoyed the romance and character relationships.

Not my favorite Kasie West book by far. I think it’s my least favorite and I’m a little bummed about that. The character cameos were fun but they were from LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST which was also another not-favorite so it wasn’t as exciting.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Cute contemporaries. I always love a light, cute contemporary. This one wasn’t my favorite but it was just the kind of tone I was looking for!
Left Me Wanting More: Character development. I just feel like everyone was so surface-level. I didn’t really like much about any of them and that was really disappointing.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

If this wasn’t Kasie West, I don’t know if I’d recommend it. I didn’t really enjoy it that much and sadly, it may be my least favorite Kasie West book yet. I do love her books so much and would recommend her no matter what, but this one was a miss for me.

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BOOKS LIKE FAME, FATE, AND THE FIRST KISS

             

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) – Seanan McGuire

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) – Seanan McGuireTitle: Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) by Seanan McGuire
Publishing Info: June 13, 2017 by Macmillan
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: July 5, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you've got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

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I was surprised by and interested in EVERY HEART A DOORWAY but wasn’t quite sure how the rest of the books would tie in so I was excited to continue on! I was glad to see that DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES was about Jack and Jill because I really loved Jack in EVERY HEART A DOORWAY and she was my favorite character in the book.

DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES takes us to the door/portal world that Jack and Jill discovered and then left. I really loved getting into their story and it was interesting to see those pieces of their life before they discovered the door, their time in the world where they belonged, and really how everything went wrong from there. It was interesting to see two characters in a world and how Jack and Jill interacted with the world, each other, and the other residents there. It added another dimension to this particular story with two new residents instead of just the one, and it was also interesting how each girl really found their place as well as started to discover who they were and what they wanted… or thought they wanted.

I love how short these books are buuuuut I’ve also felt like both of these could have used just a bit more somewhere. I don’t think the story needed to be longer in DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES but it is interesting to think about how this series is structured. The first book kind of had the whole plot all in one book and this book was more of a prequel, really. It told Jack and Jill’s story in their world — their first trip and discovery, how their lives changed while they were there, and how they ended up leaving. It’s a really interesting series construction and I’m even more curious to see what comes next. Since it’s a unique concept, it’s a little hard to grasp but I’m impressed and intrigued!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Darker worlds. This was sort of a vampire world but had many other aspects that made it so much more. It was interesting to see the sort of dark concepts that were normal here, as well as other gender norms.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot Development. I love the short length of these books but I wish there was just a bit more time spent here, learning more about the world and the people in it.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really enjoyed the concept, execution, and emotion involved in this book. I think this one doesn’t read as well as the next two do but I really enjoyed this a lot.

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BOOKS LIKE DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES

              

The Naturals (The Naturals #1) – Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals (The Naturals #1) – Jennifer Lynn BarnesTitle: The Naturals (The Naturals #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publishing Info: November 5, 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: June 29, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Fixer (The Fixer #1)

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

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For some reason I thought this book was about kids with extra special abilities as in, supernatural of some sort, but it’s actually just special as in heightened and highly perceptive. In case you had some misconceptions as well, it’s actually about a group of gifted teens who are gathered together to form a sort of natural superbrain team brought together to solve murder cases! I actually liked that a lot though! It was really interesting and I kind of liked that it didn’t have a paranormal twist, as I had expected.

THE NATURALS was a really enjoyable book! I had fun with the mystery/thriller aspect and I really enjoyed it from start to finish. I really liked getting to know Cassie and I felt like I got to know each character pretty well. They interacted really well and the audiobook narrator did a great job of giving them different voices and creating different personalities through those voices. The secondary characters really brought more life to the pages and added a great depth to this book as well. I can’t wait to see how they come into play in future books too!

It, like most books nowadays, was pretty solid and still enjoyable but missing that oomph that has me falling in love with a book. The way the mystery part of the book played out was really interesting and had plenty of surprises! I wasn’t expecting it take the turns that it did and really appreciated that the book kept me on my toes.

I’ll definitely continue the series and with the way this book wrapped up, it makes me very interested to see how the other books will continue! This one wrapped up fairly well and I’m curious to see how the other books go from here.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Non-magical squads. This was an interesting team of characters! I liked all of their natural abilities without them being magical abilities.
Left Me Wanting More: Thrills. I did like the thrills presented in the book and the mystery had a nice twist, but I also still felt like it was missing a little something to give it that extra wow-factor!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was really enjoyable! I’m not dying to rush ahead to continue the series but it’s in the solid want column.

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BOOKS LIKE THE NATURALS

              

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) – Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) – Seanan McGuireTitle: Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire
Publishing Info: April 5, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: June 29, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

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I had seen things about EVERY HEART A DOORWAY pretty much everywhere, seeing lots of praise and even receiving a free digital copy in a sweepstakes from Tor. I was definitely interested and also drawn in by the length, or lack there of, of this quick but pleasing book. I wasn’t sure what to expect except for a parallel universe concept and this was really interesting and pleasantly peculiar!

Essentially, the book is about a school for wayward children, those of which have been through doors to portals that transport them to magical parallel worlds and who have been kicked out, left, or were sent back and aren’t able to return to the world nor to their former lives. I haven’t read Miss Peregrine’s but I picture this book would be Miss Peregrine meets Narnia meets The Magicians. We spend most of the time in this book reading about the children back in the normal world after they’ve returned from their doors, hearing about the children’s experiences in the worlds that they can no longer access. It was really interesting to hear how the worlds differ and how they were so appropriate for each person. I loved the concept of all of these different portal worlds and each child finding the world meant exactly for them.

What I really wasn’t expecting was a murder mystery, and I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. I think I would have loved to just enjoy the world-building and have the conflict of the book focus more on the fact that these children weren’t able to get back to the worlds they so longed for, or how they got along with each other in the school/home. There were a lot of things going on with the mystery and it was interesting and I didn’t see some things coming, but it wasn’t where I thought the book was going to go. I loved the emotion and world-building side of this concept so much more, but having already read the other books in the series, I see how it connects to future books. I do think I would have enjoyed less of a mystery but I still appreciated it all!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Portal worlds. I’ve been reading a lot of books involving portal worlds this year and last year and I’ve been absolutely loving them. I love the concept of alternate worlds and I loved this new take on a fantasy portal world.
Left Me Wanting More: World-Building. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty! But I also wanted to spend soooo much more time in these worlds, exploring them, and less time with the mystery.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really enjoyed the concept, execution, and emotion involved in this book. I think this one doesn’t read as well as the next two do but I really enjoyed this a lot.

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BOOKS LIKE EVERY HEART A DOORWAY

              

Series Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

With the release of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movie on Netflix, I figured it was finally time to read the series! I at least wanted to read the first book before I watched the movie and I’m definitely glad I did! It made me appreciate the movie even more and I always like having that knowledge base before starting a book-inspired movie!

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny HanTitle: To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han
Publishing Info: April 15, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible, Audiobook borrowed from library, Book Outlet
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: June 19, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

This is my first time reading TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE after much, much hype! It was definitely cute and there was quite a lot that I liked about the book. After hearing so much love for this book/series though, I didn’t really see what the hype was about. It was a cute contemporary with some great family interactions, a cute fake boyfriend situation, unexpected turns, morals, and diversity.

I’m wondering if maybe the swoons for Peter K come more in the rest of the series as well because it took me a while to get there. I actually really appreciated how all of the romance was handled. There’s a bit of love triangle but it wasn’t one that was annoying. I really didn’t know how the ending would play out and I really enjoyed it!

I was surprised to see that it ended in a cliffhanger and I definitely do want to continue on! I’m hoping to fall more in love with the series.

Series Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny HanTitle: P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #2) by Jenny Han
Publishing Info: May 26, 2015 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: June 20, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

Well, I’m still not getting the appeal here and it’s such a bummer! I was ready for a cute, fun, smart series and it’s a weird thing because it… is… cute and fun and smart. But there’s also a sense of immaturity that just kept me from really enjoying it to that special level.

I’m also not understanding why everyone is swooning over Peter K (which I feel like I need to call him Peter K because of people’s swoons except Lara Jean doesn’t even really refer to him that way). I like him, yes, but it’s not to a super swoony level. He and Lara Jean keep having these stupid misunderstandings that could be avoided if they just talked to each other, which they said they would do.

I think the biggest thing about the series so far is that it’s just not the feel I expected. For it being a series there just doesn’t really feel like a clear direction or plot. And this is another weird thing in that’s not unrealistic. It actually feels like real life with spliced in moments of drama that are maybe too dramatic. There was a normal amount of things happening and then there was this whole weird Gossip Girl concept that was going on here. I enjoyed the realistic parts of the book and the drama was just mehhhh.

I do still want to read the last book but I guess I’m not really expecting anything different. It’s been cute and fun but I’m not getting the hype for it so far.

Series Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny HanTitle: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han
Publishing Info: May 2, 2017 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: August 22, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Lara Jean is having the best senior year.

And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks . . . until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Meh. Even after watching the movie, I’m still not in love with the series. I forgot how much Lara Jean annoys me in the books, always butting into things that she wasn’t asked to do and muddying things up for other people. It was nice of her dad and Trina not to corral her but I think she needed to be corralled a bit to let her grow up and learn that not everything I about her. Her voice is just very immature, even for 18, and that bothered me still.

One thing I like and dislike all at the same time is that these books are an accurate portrayal of high school meaning…. not a lot happens. The premise of this last book was waiting for college admissions, deciding where to go, and what happens when couples stay together or go away separately, but there wasn’t really a story, per se. Things happen, there’s a timeline, but there’s not really much of a plot so while I find it realistic, it is a bit boring. We read to experience a story and this didn’t really take me anywhere. I guess you could say it’s more character-driven, which it is, but even the characters didn’t really seem to grow throughout the series because Lara Jean is pretty much the same since book one.

I’m glad I read them but I don’t get the hype and the love.

SERIES THOUGHTS

When it comes to TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE hype, I think I’m sticking with the movie. The concepts were really cute and the characters were fun, but I just had such a hard time with Lara Jean! She just felt so immature and her inner dialogue was hard to enjoy for me. With all the time we spent with Lara Jean, I was really kind of disappointed that we didn’t see what actually happened with her and Peter once they decided about college. The third book didn’t feel like a very good conclusion and while others really enjoyed this series, it was just okay for me.

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Addiction Rating
Consider them

These books were worth the read but I didn’t fall in love with them like so many other people did. I’m really glad I read them, especially reading the first two before the movie, but the movie definitely has a bigger piece of my heart!

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BOOKS LIKE TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE

(Click the cover to see my review!)