Tag Archives: Review

The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) – Kristen Simmons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Try it

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

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE DECEIVERS

             

The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren

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

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

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

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

bookreview1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it

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

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BOOKS LIKE THE UNHONEYMOONERS

             

The Last Time I Saw You – Liv Constantine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Try it

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

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU

             

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it

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

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BOOKS LIKE AURORA RISING

             

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

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

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS

             

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it!

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

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BOOKS LIKE THESE WITCHES DON’T BURN

             

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!

book_recommendations1

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.

bookreview1

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

             

Listen to Your Heart – Kasie West

Listen to Your Heart – Kasie WestTitle: Listen To Your Heart by Kasie West
Publishing Info: May 29, 2018 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Date Completed: July 10, 2018
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

Talking to other people isn't Kate Bailey's favorite activity. She'd much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school's podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she'll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate's surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend ... until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West's adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.

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I’m a big Kasie West fan and she’s definitely an auto-read/auto-buy author for me! LISTEN TO YOUR HEART was another fun, cute, classic Kasie West book but sadly, this isn’t my favorite Kasie West novel. I just didn’t connect with the set-up the way I had hoped and I didn’t feel the chemistry of the characters. Kate fell a little flat for me and I’ve seen better main characters from Kasie West before, so knowing what else I’ve read, she just didn’t bring that vibrance to the page that other characters have.

The podcast concept was really cute and I liked the modern Sleepless in Seattle sort of feel, but I thought the author could have played up the calls in a little bit more, adding more to the fun podcast concept and feel. I really didn’t like the misdirection and best friend conflict, though I did really appreciate the friendship and how the girls didn’t have to be enemies or get in a fight.

I also REALLY enjoyed the setting. Kate and her family live in a “lake town” and she lives for her time out on the lake. I absolutely loved the feeling it gave me and made me anxious for camping, outdoors, and summertime!

Overall, LISTEN TO YOUR HEAR was still a cute novel but didn’t hit my feels the way other Kasie West books have. I wish there was more that would have stood out to me but I didn’t love this one as much as I wanted to.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Outdoor summer stories. This wasn’t really ABOUT being outdoors but I loved Kate’s connections to the lake and I’d love to read more stories about people in nature!
Left Me Wanting More: Connection. I wish I connected with it more somehow! It was a cute novel but I felt like it could have used a lot more depth.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I always enjoy Kasie’s novels and there are a lot of mixed reviews! Some people were on the fence (no pun intended (that’s one of her book titles…)) and others absolutely loved it! It’s worth the read.

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BOOKS LIKE LISTEN TO YOUR HEART