Tag Archives: YA

Broken Things – Lauren Oliver

Broken Things – Lauren OliverTitle: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver
Publishing Info: October 2, 2018 by HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Source: ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: October 6, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Annabel (Delirium #0.5), Requiem (Delirium #3), Before I Fall, Vanishing Girls, Panic

It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods.

Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.

The only thing is: they didn’t do it.

On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.

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BROKEN THINGS was a very interesting read! I always appreciate Lauren Oliver’s storytelling style and this book certainly followed suit. There were a number of pieces that fit into Summer’s murder and as the book unfolded, things fell out of suspicion and others fell into place. I actually had no idea who Summer’s actual murder was until it was revealed but looking back, there were still small clues that I could have picked up on but didn’t. It was woven in well throughout the book and I was surprised, even though it didn’t quite feel right somehow.

One thing I really loved what the depth of each character. The main characters and narrators, Mia and Brynn (the girls who were blamed for Summer’s death), have both had life-changing experiences from their best friend’s murder, of course, and not just because they were blamed for it. They had other things going on with their families and friends and I really liked how Lauren Oliver really included all of those burdens & secrets that a person carries with them on a daily basis, not just the events after this tragedy and subsequent shunning. There was so much more that each character, including the supporting characters, was going through. They were mentioned as broken people and misfits, but really, I think everyone has a little bit of something that they’re carrying with them and I didn’t really love that label. I think a lot of people may feel like they’re “broken” but what I did love was that all of these characters found solace in each other, which is really what friendship is all about. When you’re a kid, everything feels so personal and I think as these characters grew up, much like I’ve experienced growing up, you find out that everyone has something they’ve gone through and you start listening to other people’s experiences. Each person got to understand things outside of their own world in different ways and that was a neat thing to witness in this book.

The other really interesting concept here was the addition of Lovelorn, a fantastical place in the girls’ favorite book that they used to imagine was real. There was a blurry line whether the place was real or not due to the experiences that they had, and even though the world is fictional, in a way it became real with the girls’ fan-fiction novel and how they tried to bring it to life through their actions. I liked how the line was constantly blurred throughout the book to get readers to feel like it could be real but there are still facts and truth that show what the real story is.

BROKEN THINGS definitely held my attention and I read over 200 pages in just a few hours. It was a book that I didn’t want to put down and the characters were well-rounded, and I really enjoyed it from start to finish.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Muddy boundaries. I did enjoy how there was a blurred line between real and imaginary/fantasy! I liked how this was still a mystery but there were moments when you weren’t quite sure what was real.
Left Me Wanting More: Clues. I think I wanted just a few more clues to point to the killer. I liked that I had no idea who it was but it also made it less believable once it was revealed.

Addiction Rating
Try it

This is very typical of Lauren Oliver’s writing style and it was really enjoyable! I think if you like her books, this one will be a hit.

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BOOKS LIKE BROKEN THINGS

              

Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) – Kerri Maniscalco

Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) – Kerri ManiscalcoTitle: Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Info: September 18, 2017 by Hachette, Little Brown, Jimmy Patterson
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction
Date Completed: June 4 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1), Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2)

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

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I’ve enjoyed all of the Stalking Jack the Ripper novels and ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI was no exception! It didn’t quite bowl me over the way the previous novels have but I always love a good murder mystery and the chemistry between Audrey Rose and Thomas is stellar, as always!

Let’s start with the awesome things. Audrey Rose always feels like such a real character. She’s strong, quick-witted, and she’s still human and makes typical mistakes that we’ve all mad. Sometimes it’s frustrating (and some things in the book did frustrate me more than I would have liked), but that’s all very true character-building. Thomas really comes more and more alive in each novel and I really felt like this was his best book yet. Where I’m normally drawn to Audrey Rose, Thomas really stole the show here and I was itching for more scenes with him front and center while Audrey Rose was off having carnival adventures! There was something that caused their chemistry to be shaken up here, which honestly, I didn’t love, but I did love how much more it connected me to Thomas and his emotions.

I noticed here were moments where I was having a hard time getting into the setting and putting myself in that place and I’m not sure why. It’s happened before (mostly in HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA) and I’m wondering if it’s maybe the historical element throwing me off since I don’t read or enjoy a lot of historical fiction. Usually it’s not an issue when a mystery or some sort of supernatural element but for some reason I just haven’t been as attached to settings like Bran Castle and here, the cruise ship. I had moments where I’d be into it and then moments where I just didn’t feel like things were clicking but I still can’t quite pinpoint why, even looking back. I think the settings are just so different from book to book that maybe I’m just missing the London/Whitechapel/original setting.

I do basically live for Audrey Rose and Thomas though. I have so much love for the chemistry between those two and I was saddened to see how a few things were handled here because you know I hate shaking up couples, depending on how it’s handled. I don’t want to say a lot more so I don’t spoil anything but I just really wanted more time with them together and the murder investigation be the only thing that really shook things up. I’m so curious to see how the final copy differs from the ARC! The ending was changed and now I need to know so I’ll have to decide whether I want to go reread the whole thing or peek at the last section! addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Historical murder mysteries. The historical aspect of a murder mystery really makes things interesting! I love the lack of technology and how much the characters have to rely on investigative skills. Left Me Wanting More: Couple time. I was really saddened to witness a few of Audrey Rose’s choices. I guess I can understand how a mysterious stranger is alluring but she also doesn’t seem like she should be manipulated so easily, especially at the expense of Thomas.

Addiction Rating Read it!

I do enjoy this series so much and I’m a big fan! This wasn’t my favorite book of the series but was still very enjoyable. I’m hoping with this obstacle out of the way, we get back to some major swoons again!

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BOOKS LIKE ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI

              

Lucky In Love – Kasie West

Lucky In Love – Kasie WestTitle: Lucky In Love by Kasie West
Publishing Info: July 25, 2017 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: June 4 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

Can’t buy me love…

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment—

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

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No matter what Kasie West writes, I’ve enjoyed it and LUCKY IN LOVE is no exception! On a scale of cute to OTP, this was more on the cute side as far as the romance goes, but that’s not a bad thing. I really appreciate that Kasie West continues to write adorable contemporary after adorable contemporary and each relationship is unique. She’s been amazing at writing so many  different romances in so many different ways.

LUCKY IN LOVE focuses on Maddie and her lottery win of $50 million, and yes, she really does win the lottery. I was afraid for a while that it was going to be like “Ha, just kidding!” but no, it really does happen and I thought it was incredibly interesting to see how Maddie’s life changes from the sudden influx of money and also, how it doesn’t change. I loved the way that Kasie West shows that while some things can change — for better or worse — that the fundamental things in life like family, good friends, and everyone’s unique personalities. Money didn’t fix Maddie’s problems and I loved the this book showed that you can’t “fix” a person with money either.

Maddie learns some lessons very quickly, like all of the typical things you’d think you might find out after winning the lottery. Some people just want to use you for money. Other people don’t care regardless. And money can’t fix everything. Even knowing that some of these things might happen, Kasie West still takes readers on a realistic journey. Not everyone is all good or all evil. There are several human factors taken into account and I love seeing those different spectrums because it really does add depth and reality to a book.

The romance, of course, is also adorable. Seth is a sweet soul and is the perfect match for Maddie. They’re both very sweet, a little shy, cute, and this was very much on the “cute” side of romance. They like each other quickly but the romance develops slowly over the book. I was left wanting a little bit more to start swooning, but I also liked that this romance was a little sweeter. It shows a different side of the Kasie West romance spectrum and while it wasn’t my favorite, I can definitely appreciate taking a different approach so not every romance in every book is the same!

I started and finished this book on an airplane from NYC to Chicago. It was an easy, fun, and cute read. It wast the perfect airplane book and quite enjoyable to finish in one sitting!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Different feels from the same author. I really, really appreciate that Kasie West constantly keeps her romances fresh. Each main character has a different family, friends, and love interest. They don’t all blend together and I love how each romance has a unique feel.
Left Me Wanting More: Swoons. I guess since I’ve started to think of all of these as contemporary romances, I’ve come to expect some cute swoons and LUCKY IN LOVE was really more Maddie’s story and how her life changes after winning the lottery. There IS a romance and is is a big part of the story, but Maddie’s family life really takes a big spotlight role here and I think that was more important than the romance.

Addiction Rating
Read it

Any Kasie West book is worth the read and this was so much fun! Definitely an easy read too.

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BOOKS LIKE LUCKY IN LOVE

              

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) – Neal Shusterman

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) – Neal ShustermanTitle: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman
Publishing Info: November 22, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 31, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

bookreview1No matter what they say, sometimes you do judge a book by its cover, and that’s part of the reason why it took me so long to pick up SCYTHE. It’s not that it’s a bad cover but the cover just gave me a vibe that made me feel like it might be silly and a little too much for my taste. I guess that feeling wasn’t inaccurate because there was still this levity to the book — wit, cleverness, and a concept that was maybe a little too surreal to believe — but it also wasn’t a silly story.

I really enjoyed SCYTHE a lot more than I thought I would. The concept never really came around to feeling like it would be real or it could happen, so I never felt fully IN the story but I did really enjoy it despite that slight distance. It was an interesting concept that I did enjoy and it had a little feel like Dead Like Me (man, I need to continue that show. I think I only watched a couple episodes). Whether or not you consider the magic element, there was a lot of good character development that brought me into the book and I really connected to the characters!

This book also had a really nice balance of humor and things that really made you think. This was my first Neal Shusterman book and I really enjoyed his writing style. The book was easy to read and still had a great amount of depth to it. It immediately left me wanting to read the next book and continue the series!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique magical concepts. I don’t think I’ve read something like this before! I kind of liked the reaper concept and it was fun to hear about this new magical concept and learn something new.
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. On the flip side, I didn’t connect to the reaper concept as much as I wanted to. There was just something there that felt a little… unrealistic or silly. I know it’s just some concept in my head that I can’t get over, but I never did.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was a fun book with some really great character development. I really enjoyed it and I feel like a lot of others have as well!

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BOOKS LIKE SCYTHE

              

Everless (Everless #1) – Sara Holland

Everless (Everless #1) – Sara HollandTitle: Everless (Everless #1) by Sara Holland
Publishing Info: January 2, 2018 by HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: May 30, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

bookreview1This book surprised me! I had heard a lot of good things about it but wasn’t really sure what to expect and I was definitely captivated the whole book! It’s definitely YA and has the young adult feel but also has a sense of maturity that I haven’t been seeing in a lot of YA reads lately. I was so happy to get that sense of a more put-together voice.

I love anything that has to do with time so the whole concept of this book was an instant attraction to me. EVERLESS features a concept where the currency is time and time is bound to blood so those who don’t have currency in excess pay with years of their life. It was fun to see a unique magic system and concept! I was a little worried because it kind of sounded similar to dystopian concepts which I haven’t been jiving with lately but it was really well-done! Add in the twists throughout and it made it even more appealing! I also really enjoyed all of the world-building presented in this book and I’m so curious to learn even more history and details in the upcoming novels!

Finally, I really liked how the romance was handled as well. There was a lot more beneath the surface and I appreciate how everything evolved and what came to light. There were some interesting concepts and I really appreciated how everything unfolded. It broke through a few commonly used tropes and it’s not like you can really create a new romance trope but just the way that it was put together was really great.

Oh, and the main character and I share a birthday 😀

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique fantasy concepts. I hadn’t read a book like this before where time was connected to blood/currency. It was really well put-together and fun to read!
Left Me Wanting More: Personality. I did love so many things but looking back a few months later, I wish there was more of shining personality to win me over. The characters aren’t really too memorable looking back.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was a really fun read and I appreciated so much that happened here! I’m definitely interested in book two and I can’t wait to see how the world continues to evolve.

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BOOKS LIKE EVERLESS

              

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer – Katie Alender

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer – Katie AlenderTitle: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender
Publishing Info: September 24, 2013 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Book Trade
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: May 26, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

Acclaimed author Katie Alender brings heart-stopping suspense to this story of revenge, betrayal, intrigue — and one killer queen.

bookreview1** This review will contain spoilers **

This book was actually more enjoyable than I thought it would be. The concept was a bit silly (murderous ghost of Marie Antionette) so I thought the book was going to be a lot more juvenile, but it actually read okay for me, which is a good sign considering I’ve been having issues with a lot of YA lately and feeling like it’s been reading really young. The story was easy to follow and surprisingly didn’t go too over the top. The ending as far as romance goes, I enjoyed. The ending as far as the mystery went, a little cheesy and predictable but also wrapped up well.

Throughout most of the book, despite the fact that people were legit seeing ghosts, I was still expecting the Marie Antionette character to be a real person and not a spirit. Turns out, she was just a ghost, so that was a tad cheesy but hey, the book did fully advertise that. I was just thinking we’d have a Scooby Doo moment where the fantastical bad guy turned out to be a normal human with malicious intentions but alas, it was really a ghost.

There wasn’t anything that really turned me off to knock down ratings and I’m actually surprised with my level of enjoyment but it’s still not super outstanding for me so my feelings lie somewhere in the middle of the rating spectrum. There were still a lot of typical YA things with family and relationships but it also broke out of the mold enough that it was enjoyable enough.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Books I wouldn’t think I would enjoy. I picked this one up to go through the older books on my TBR and older ARCs and I really wasn’t expecting it enjoy it at all. I’m glad it went well enough!
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. I did find the ghost concept cheesy and kept hoping it would sweep over to the serious side.

Addiction Rating
Think about it

It was an okay read for me but I still wouldn’t really recommend it. It was fine but I think there are plenty of other things on your TBR that might be more worthwhile.

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BOOKS LIKE MARIE ANTOINETTE, SERIAL KILLER

              

The Afterlife of Holly Chase – Cynthia Hand

The Afterlife of Holly Chase – Cynthia HandTitle: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Publishing Info: October 24, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Retelling
Date Completed: May 24, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: My Lady Jane

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she'd become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn't.

And then she died.

Now she's stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge--as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly's afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change...

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THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE was such an interesting adaptation of the Christmas classic, A CHRISTMAS CAROL. It was really fun to see a different sort of retelling and I really enjoy adaptations that aren’t just fairy tales. The concept was fun, unique, and well-done!

The book itself was really interesting. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but not in a bad way. I was expecting it to be a little darker and a little bit more of a straight retelling rather than having a paranormal twists with actual ghosts. It gave it a more quirky and light vibe, which wasn’t a bad thing. I actually may have preferred that over a serious take, given the option, but I think either way, Cynthia Hand knew what she was doing with this concept! It was fun, but I definitely had a very different expectation.

This book was really enjoyable from start to finish! I had a great time listening to the audiobook and it was a really fun, easy read with some great messages. Of course the Scrooge concept is still there, but it was neat seeing it taken to a young adult level with the Scrooge character being a teen. There’s a lot more wickedness to pack into a shorter timespan in order for the character to be the one you want to turn around and yet still root for at the same time.

I also really, truly loved that ending. I wasn’t sure I was liking the way that it was going and I really, really, really appreciate what Cynthia Hand did here! I won’t share any spoilers of course, but like the whole book in general, the ending took its own unique spin and didn’t fall into predictable, happy and sappy YA plot. Things stayed real and I loved that not everything wraps up perfectly because life doesn’t always wrap up perfectly.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Different retellings. I loved seeing a new retelling with this CHRISTMAS CAROL adaptation!
Left Me Wanting More: Atmosphere. The book had a lot of levity to it, which wasn’t bad at all but I did want a little more… spookiness? No, that’s not it. But some sort of atmosphere that gave it a little more feels.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It’s a fun book! I did enjoy it a lot and thought it was a unique concept, quite different than what I was expecting!

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BOOKS LIKE THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE

              

Neverworld Wake – Marisha Pessl

Neverworld Wake – Marisha PesslTitle: Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
Publishing Info: June 5, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Magical Realism
Date Completed: May 14, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her six best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim—their creative genius and Beatrice's boyfriend—changed everything.

One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft—the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world—hoping she'll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim’s death. But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she’s never going to know what really happened.

Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions. Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers... and at life.

And so begins the Neverworld Wake.

bookreview1

I was not quite sure what to expect from NEVERWORLD WAKE and from the cover and synopsis, I was picturing a much more atmospheric read with a spooky, twisty vibe. There were definitely twists in this book but I think I would have enjoyed it much more if it had been a straight mystery/thriller or straight magical realism with no mystery. I think magical realism is probably the most accurate way to describe what the Neverworld Wake is in this book… it’s a tricky sort of in between life and death but the way that it plays out, it had that feel for me.

I think it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting or hoping for. It was an interesting story with a complex ending but it didn’t stir up any feelings. I was hoping to feel suspense, thrills, and shock but it ended up being an evenly paced story that was solid but didn’t really stand out in many ways. It was really lacking that atmosphere that I was expecting, in part from the spooky vibes from the cover. Instead the tone was much younger than I expected and had more of a quirky feel to it but not in the way that I had hoped.

The actual concept of the Neverworld Wake and its set-up seemed a tiiiiny bit cheesy for me and I would have loved for the characters to discover some things themselves versus an all-knowing authority figure who knows the rules. It didn’t quite fit for me and ended up feeling sort of like a Hot Tub Time Machine scenario where someone sends everyone back to discover their wrong-doings. I think it would have been much better to have everyone sort of take their own journey rather that have some inexplicable man show up to guide them along and be generally ominous.

I did enjoy the mystery for the most part and I found it interesting. There were a few things I wasn’t expecting but it didn’t really surprise me, just that it turned out differently than I would have pictured. I was really hoping for quite a different direction here but the book was still enjoyable in its own way.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Magical Realism, I think? I think we’d call this magical realism. There was a sort of real, magical feel to it but I’m not sure if that would be more magical realism or paranormal. I think the magical element fits better.
Left Me Wanting More: Getting to the point. I didn’t like being intentionally misled, to a certain degree. The author needs to point the reader away from guessing a twist or mystery, of course, but things felt like they were pushed too far just to distract the reader from guessing anything and upon seeing how things clicked into place, it felt unnecessary.

Addiction Rating
Try it

This book really was interesting and twisty! If a few things had been set up or edited different, I think this would have had much better flow and felt a little more grounded.

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BOOKS LIKE NEVERWORLD WAKE

              

Lies You Never Told Me – Jennifer Donaldson

Lies You Never Told Me – Jennifer DonaldsonTitle: Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson
Publishing Info: May 29, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: May 11, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.

Quiet, shy Elyse can't believe it when she's cast as the lead in her Portland high school's production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn't sure she's up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye--someone she knows she absolutely shouldn't be with--she can't help but be pulled into the spotlight.

Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable--breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She's not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.

Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.

bookreview1

LIES YOU NEVER TOLD ME was definitely an interesting book but my first impression was actually that I think it could have benefitted from more editing. I’m no expert in the editing/publishing process, is something I feel a lot nowadays. I think some of the structure and even a whole plot point could have been improved upon a little bit and I really think that’s more editing.

Let’s think of non-spoilery things to talk about first… I did find the direction of this book really interesting! There was a nice twist and that light bulb moment when I finally realized exactly where this book was heading and what these two stories had in common was a very fun moment and I had flails and a freak out! That was really nicely planned and it was fun not to pick up on it right away. (Ah, the perks of multi-tasking — my brain doesn’t try to guess twists and plots when it’s distracted by other things!)

What I did find irksome was the sort of red herring of the book. There are two major things that happen to change the lives of Elyse and Gabe and the second thing seemed like it was more there as a distraction than something that was actually a part of the story. It just didn’t quite seem like it fit in, or thinking about it a different way, it felt like a separate story that didn’t quite merge with the main point. (Confusing? It’s hard not to spoil!)

I also wish that things had started picking up juuuust a little sooner. I knew it would be a dark, twisty book and I didn’t lose interest but I did find myself looking for those jaw-dropping moments, waiting for them to happen. Sure, they don’t need to be in every chapter but it just felt like it took a touch too long for a couple things to unravel.

This was a really interesting book and it looks like my other Goodreads friends have really enjoyed it so far! That red herring feeling did stick with me a lot so that’s why I didn’t enjoy it AS much but I am absolutely interested in other books from Jennifer Donaldson and I’d be so interested to see what else she comes up with!!

If you really want to know, here are the spoilers, so look away if you don’t want to get spoiled on some main plot points and twists! My light bulb moment was figuring out how Gabe’s story and how Elyse’s story are actually connected. I actually won’t even full on spoil this one if you’re looking out of curiosity and not because you’ve already read it. That single point in time when I figured it out was REALLY FUN (and actually terrifying).

I really didn’t like Sasha as the red herring of the book. I didn’t feel like Sasha’s crazy and possessive nature really fit the book. We already had Elyse’s story about her running off with her teacher (side note: ICK) and his possessive craziness and Sasha just felt off and like her form of crazy was in there as a red herring. All of these strange things happen to Gabe and the reader questions if it actually is Sasha like he predicts or if it’s Catherine (sorry, I listened to the audiobook so I don’t know how that’s spelled) or her over protective father. Looking for the twist, I tried to move away from Sasha because that was too obvious and aside from jealousy, there’s no reason for her to go full on nutso, but nope, that’s it. She’s just insanely jealous. I felt like the book didn’t do her story enough justice to really include it in the plot except to throw readers off the other things that were going on and put off making the CONNECTION. These crazy things keep popping up so you follow those. If that whoooole thing was taken out, I think the book could have been even better, focusing more on Gabe and Catherine and Elyse and her teacher. Many things could have been done on Gabe’s side with Sasha totally removed from the scene and the book could have been even better for it, hence the editing comment. It felt underdeveloped and I don’t think it was necessary.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Thrillers with twists that connect. I love when books can come full circle and connect two seemingly separate stories. (This isn’t a spoiler — obviously these two stories have to connect somehow otherwise it wouldn’t be the same book).
Left Me Wanting More: Getting to the point. I didn’t like being intentionally misled, to a certain degree. The author needs to point the reader away from guessing a twist or mystery, of course, but things felt like they were pushed too far just to distract the reader from guessing anything and upon seeing how things clicked into place, it felt unnecessary.

Addiction Rating
Try it

This book really was interesting and twisty! If a few things had been set up or edited different, I think this would have had much better flow and felt a little more grounded.

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BOOKS LIKE LIES YOU NEVER TOLD ME

              

Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2) – Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2) – Becky AlbertalliTitle: Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2) by Becky Albertalli
Publishing Info: April 25, 2018 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: April 24, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

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Bee doo bee doo, unpopular opinion alert! For as much as I adoooored Simon (both the book and the character) and as much as I appreciated Leah in Simon’s story, I didn’t really connect with her like I wanted to in this book and I was really, really surprised by that.

There were a lot of things that I loved about LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT. I always enjoy the relationships that Becky Albertalli crafts and there are just so many amazing ties and connections going on there, whether those relationships are romantic or platonic or familial. Leah has a great relationship with her mom, the obvious friendship with Simon, and we get to see some new friendships from Leah’s perspective here as well.

There is, obviously, a noticeable difference in tone from Simon to Leah, which is great that they don’t feel the same because they’re quite different in so many ways. This book doesn’t get stuck in the rut of the same tone no matter the character focus and I think Becky did a really great job of making this Leah’s book and Leah’s voice. I love her sarcasm and her voice is so much fun to read! But it was also sort of weird seeing things from her point of view. On the one hand, it’s great to see the insecurities from Leah’s voice since a lot of what we see in SIMON is her confidence in her friendships and I feel like she was such a strong presence. On the other hand it was kind of weird to see everything so exposed like that! It is really great to be able to see how well-rounded this character is.

I don’t know how much people are supposed to know about the romantic aspect in this book so I don’t want to give any spoilers away but something about it didn’t click for me. To be fair, I haven’t yet read THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED, so although that was just more of a companion/not as related, I don’t know if there was something that I’m missing… I think there was also conflict in SIMON that I latched onto and never let go of so I had a hard time being in the right mindset for this pairing. (I also think maybe the movie didn’t help that conflict/what I remember about it either.)

It was an enjoyable book for sure, and I read it (listened to the audio) all in one day. I loved being able to spend more time with these characters and to get to know Leah better! Ultimately, something just didn’t flow for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Creekwood… verse? These characters are so much fun and it was wonderful to see some familiar ones as well as meeting new friends too!
Left Me Wanting More: Flow with the timeline of SIMON. I just feel like there was a bit thing in SIMON that was totally glossed over and even changed from that book to this one. Maybe we only got things from Simon’s perspective and that’s why it felt off? I think I just feel misled on Leah’s connection with another character from that book to this one and it didn’t feel right.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you loved SIMON, I think you also need to read Leah’s story! I’m really bummed I didn’t make the connections that I wanted to here but for some reason I just didn’t feel like certain parts of the book felt right. I mean, obviously I’m not the author and she knows best but I personally had some qualms.

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BOOKS LIKE LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT