Tag Archives: YA

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) – Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) – Brigid KemmererTitle: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) Publishing Info: January 29, 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: BEA 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 27, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

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A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY was so enjoyable from start to finish! I’ve been struggling with some YA reads lately so I was afraid that like many others I’ve read recently that this would fall into a pit of tropes, but this book soared beyond my expectations! Right off the bat, I loved the tone of the book and I think the crossover/connection between the modern world in Washington DC and the fantasy world of Emberfall really made a difference. The readers are able to get a unique twist on this fantasy concept with a modern voice from Harper and that old-world, medieval-type feel from Rhen.

You may have heard that A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY is a Beauty and the Beast adaptation and I thought that was done brilliantly! Concepts are taking from the classic fairy tale but still given their own twist. Not every piece of Beauty and the Beast was made to fit this novel and A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY also goes along its own paths, not needing to stick to the concept 100%. What I loved even more was seeing the book’s originality lead back to the fairy tale adaptation without realizing we were on that road and I was so impressed seeing things circle back around to the adaption in their own way. I’ve read a lot of retellings over the years and some stories stick too religiously to the original work so I was really happy to see how expertly the author’s original concepts were woven in with the inspiration from Beauty and the Beast.

The characters here were just wonderful and they really made this story what it is in so many ways. Harper is strong and fierce but the way that Brigid Kemmerer chose to craft this character was really special. There are so many badass YA heroines out there that get too cocky or are just magically perfect, but Harper felt more like a real person to me than most of those other leading ladies. I loved that Brigid Kemmerer included Harper’s cerebral palsy and how it was portrayed as the way that Harper was born and not as a disadvantage or weakness. It was also great to see Harper grow into her boldness, from being a little sheltered by her brother to being thrown into this fantasy world and having to make a name for herself, quite literally. She didn’t change in personality but merely let that side of her grow in the proper atmosphere and situation. The reader was able to see that potential in Harper and with her situation in Emberfall and the other people by which she was surrounded, Harper was able to really grow into her confidence and it really felt so natural.

Rhen was another fantastic character in so many ways. Harper originally felt that he was a cocky prince but really he had so many levels that unfolded as the book progressed. Readers learn of his remorse for everything that’s happened to the kingdom and how much he really took it all to heart. Rhen’s challenge in the book seemed to be with his emotions and feelings, having to trust in his heart and let go of some of his overthinking. Being forced to repeat so many scenarios due to his curse, he essentially has ages to plan without growing older and somewhat replaying the opportunity to fall in love to break the curse, he employs different strategies, none of which work, of course, because love can’t be won by strategy. Harper and Grey, Rhen’s commander, help Rhen learn how to trust his heart and not feel so forced to fall in love. He has to let go before he can really latch on.

One of my favorite things about the book was the romance, which doesn’t happen often these days. So many people get excited over big love scenes, passionate kisses, and fiery romances. I was all about this gorgeous slow burn romance that took its time and really established those deep emotions! It’s not quite a hate-to-love situation but since neither Harper nor Rhen trust each other (naturally), there’s quite a spark of mistrust and Harper’s brashness also leads to a few spats that have these two at odds in the beginning. I really loved that as well because it’s so much more rewarding seeing the two soften towards each other and really piques that curiosity if the two can manage to fall in love. That’s the whole point of the book so you assume it’s coming and yet there’s still the question if that really is what will happen and how they’ll both come to believe it. It’s so expertly crafted and those quiet, stolen moments were absolutely everything in this book! I love those moments more than anything in books and I think they’re some of the most special scenes to read.

Finally, there’s the fact that this book delivers something of its own with a few unique twists that I did not see coming! I loved the set up for the next book and reading something like this actually made me glad that it’s a series whereas usually I’m wishing for more stand-alones. I do think that this book could have been made into a stand-alone if that’s what the author had wanted and it would have been beautiful, but I’m also glad that I get to keep reading about these characters, this world, and this beautiful writing for a little bit longer!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Retellings. I’ve been hesitating with some retellings as of late because they’ve been taking the adaptation a little too literally or leaning on it to tell the story, but this was such an excellent blend!
Left Me Wanting More: Depth. I think this could have gone juuuuuust a bit deeper and it would have been an absolute slam dunk! It was already wonderful but there was just a touch of something that could have been that one smidge better!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I enjoyed this adaptation so much. I’ve been a little hit-or-miss on fairy tale retellings lately because some are just not very well done but this was the absolute perfect blend of original and adaptation!

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BOOKS LIKE A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY

             

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

             

Love A La Mode – Stephanie Kate Strohm

Love A La Mode – Stephanie Kate StrohmTitle: Love A La Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Publishing Info: November 27, 2018 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: January 24, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent's school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn't all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes.

Henry Yi grew up in his dad's restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent's school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie's growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away.

Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs.

Perfect for lovers of Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship, as well as anyone who dreams of a romantic trip to France, Love la Mode follows Rosie and Henry as they fall in love with food, with Paris, and ultimately, with each other.

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LOVE A LA MODE was an overall enjoyable book! It was compared to ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, which are big shoes to fill in my book since I re-read that every year, but honestly aside from the Paris setting, it really shouldn’t be compare to ANNA. Not in a bad way but they’re really not that similar, and I actually feel like Paris had even less to do with LOVE A LA MODE because it wasn’t explored and didn’t mean as much to these main characters. The main focus here was the cooking and baking, which was a lot of fun to read about! I used to get into watching Chopped and the Cooking Channel (though I don’t much anymore) and I do enjoy cooking and baking on a basic level, so it was fun to read about something new to add a theme and a unique concept to a book! I think the cooking and Paris setting helped it stand out a bit from other contemporary YA novels but I also think it could have had a little more that helped it stand on its own two feet.

I think overall, I feel like everyone and everything could have had just a little more depth. I would have loved to see more from the main characters aside from their crushes, more of the Paris setting… We did see a lot of cooking but as much as I enjoy cooking and baking, it’s not really on a technical or fan-based level, so I wasn’t as connected to that. I enjoyed the book overall and I think the maturity level and interactions between these teens was accurate, but I still felt like we could have learned even more about them, their stories, something to make them more well-rounded characters. We dipped into some family histories but there wasn’t a whole lot there to really bring the characters’ experiences to the page until later on in the book.

There was a bit of a love triangle but I also liked that it wasn’t really Rosie truly caught between two boys. There was an instant attraction to Henry and then she had a crush on a TV star’s son (who is also a bit of a TV star). Once she gets to know the star, she figures out her true feelings for each of the boys, but it isn’t dragged out to be going back and forth between the two. What I didn’t really enjoy were Henry’s jealous feelings, which were valid but it was another case of “if these two just talked we wouldn’t have an issue”. I know that’s not always how life works but sometimes the way it plays out on the page can be a little frustrating, and this time it got the best of me!

Overall, I did enjoy listening to LOVE A LA MODE on audiobook. The narrator was actually the author and I really enjoy listening to authors narrating their own works! You know that everything is being said exactly how they want it to be said, inflection and all. I think she was a good narrator, not my favorite, but enjoyable to listen to. The story was cute, had a unique spin, and an easy read for me!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Cooking and baking. There are a lot of characters in books who enjoy baking and this book took it to a whole new level with a cooking school! I didn’t connect as much because I don’t know things on a technical level but I think it was really fun to read about!
Left Me Wanting More: Character depth. I would have loved to see more personality and character depth! They could have been a bit more well-rounded, I think.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was enjoyable and a lot of fun! I think it’s definitely worth the read. It was cute and interesting!

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BOOKS LIKE LOVE A LA MODE

             

Love, Life, and the List – Kasie West

Love, Life, and the List – Kasie WestTitle: Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West
Publishing Info: December 26, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: July 5, 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

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.

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LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST was another wonderfully put-together Kasie West book! You know I’m a sucker for friend-to-more romances and this was another one that I really loved. The friendship was so great and enjoyable and I really liked how everything felt so realistic with the way that Abby handled her crush on her best friend. Did I love how Abby acted in every situation? No, and that’s what made it so realistic. Teenagers (and hey, even adults) don’t make very good decisions when feelings are involved and I know we’ve all made some choices that have hurt people when trying to figure out our love lives. I actually really appreciated that everything wasn’t perfect and smooth.

I will say that after reading this book, it kind of made BY YOUR SIDE seem a little less realistic with it the way that the anxiety issues were handled. It’s hard not to compare sometimes and LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST handled Abby’s mom’s agoraphobia much better than the anxiety issues in BY YOUR SIDE.

While LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST is still not my favorite out of all Kasie West’s contemporary books, it was so strong, realistic, and just really well done. I loved the sarcasm, banter, and friendship and all of the different friendships throughout the book. There were so many moments that felt natural and not forced and I really appreciated how Katie West handled so many of the situations here. I could have even gone for a few different endings but I was also really happy with how everything wrapped up!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Messy romances. I’m sure every romance in a book is a little messy and has its drama, but really there were so many different ways that this book could have ended. I could have gone for a few different endings, but I actually kind of liked that it was so complicated that I didn’t know how it would end and who Abby would choose.
Left Me Wanting More: Development. I could have used a bit more time with Abby and Cooper actually together without the animosity of the other girl.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I’m a big fan of all of Kasie West’s books. Even the ones I don’t love as much, they’re all so solid and great.

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BOOKS LIKE LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST

             

Undying (Unearthed #2) – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Undying (Unearthed #2) – Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerTitle: Undying (Unearthed #2) by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Publishing Info: January 8, 2019 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Date Completed: December 26, 2018
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)

Trapped aboard the Undying's ancient spaceship and reeling from what they've learned there, scavenger Mia and academic Jules are plunged into a desperate race to warn their home planet of the danger humanity's greed has unleashed. From the mountains of Spain to the streets of Prague, the sequel to Unearthed is a white-knuckle ride that will send readers hurtling back to earth, and leave them breathless until the last page.

The earth's fate rests in Mia and Jules's hands in the epic conclusion to New York Times best-selling authors Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner's tomb-raiding sci-fi duology.

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UNEARTHED was one of my favorite books from 2018 so naturally I was dying to read UNDYING! The way UNEARTHED ended was such a killer and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next!

UNDYING was quite a solid progression in this series and had some great plot-building and overall concepts that continued building the series, but basically until this review was published, I didn’t realize this was the last book and that there were only two. The whole book read like it was going to be the second book in a series and it felt like a good stepping stone. It had some incredibly interesting elements that I was guaranteed to love, and I did, but I almost wished those things that had been revealed as things that had already happened in the past had been a main part of the book, because they were things I love reading about. (That’s a complicated sentence but without spoilers, it’s a little difficult to word, but you get what I mean.)

I loved the space/other planet element of UNEARTHED and it was part of what made me love the book so much with the added bonus of mysterious alien elements and a treasure hunting feel. UNDYING had a much different feel for me, and it wasn’t a bad thing but it didn’t have that same special feel that UNEARTHED did. The more I think about it, the more noticeable it feels so that’s kind of a bummer. I did still enjoy UNDYING and I liked where the series went, but it didn’t feel as magical and as exciting. Mild spoiler (sorry) to say that we make it back to Earth somewhat quickly in the beginning of the book and so that space element is lost and it just wasn’t as thrilling for me in that respect. The change of setting gave the book quite a different feel for me.

This is where my review gets extra complicated — The whole time I was reading this book, I was sure it was the second book in a trilogy. It just sounded and felt like it was and didn’t feel like it was leading towards the end. There was so much that was left to happen and I thought this was another one of those series (*cough* Renegades *cough*) that was advertised as two books but was getting stretched into three. That’s how not-a-last-book this felt. So as I was reading, I had many “second book” feelings. I was expecting a cliffhanger at the end like the crazy way we were left in UNEARTHED and I was disappointed at the lack of cliffhanger (so I guess thank goodness there wasn’t one). There kiiiind of was something that happened that was supposed to be shocking but I also kind of knew it wasn’t going to stick? (Another complicated non-spoilery sentence but you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it.) Especially me thinking it was only the second book, I just didn’t feel like it was something that would be permanent so I wasn’t too worried about the shocking moment. If I had known better, I would have been a bit more panicked. I also really loved that the other cliffhanger from book one was a reveal about the plot and history and we didn’t have that same sort of feel here. There were a lot of reveals within the book that were cool and surprising, but they were also surrounded by action so it didn’t have time for it to sink in, at least for me.

I have to say, the blow that this was the last book in the series really affected my love for it. I suppose if I had realized that as I was reading, it would have changed much except for my knowledge while I was reading it, and it may have actually taken away more enjoyment from my reading experience because it really didn’t feel like an ending at all. There was so much left to explore and there wasn’t enough time in UNDYING to cover it, or rather, the book could have spent more time with the neat reveals instead of holding them for the end if this was how it was all going to conclude. The more I think about UNDYING, the less excited I feel, sadly. It’s still quite a solid read and very enjoyable, but I just didn’t get that level of excitement or engagement that I was hoping to achieve here.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Sci-fi future. I love seeing how things “may be” in the future and what’s happening on out planet… and others. This series has a great way of making you think about everything and its consequences!
Left Me Wanting More: Space. I just loved the setting of being on another planet in the first book. So much. Being back on Earth here just didn’t have as much of a thrill.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It’s still worth the read but the more I think about it, the more upset I am that this was the ending. The first book was SO GREAT and this felt disappointing.

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BOOKS LIKE UNDYING

             

Archenemies (Renegades #2) – Marissa Meyer

Archenemies (Renegades #2) – Marissa MeyerTitle: Archenemies (Renegades #2) by Marissa Meyer
Publishing Info: November 6, 2018 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Superheroes
Date Completed: October 20, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2), , Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5), The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles #1.5), Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky (Lunar Chronicles #3.1), Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2), Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3), Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4), Stars Above (A Lunar Chronicles Collection), Heartless, Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve #1), Renegades (Renegades #1)

The Renegades Trilogy continues, in this fiercely awaited second installment after the New York Times-bestselling Renegades by Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles.

Time is running out.
Together, they can save the world.
But they each other's worst nightmare.

In Renegades, Nova and Adrian (aka Insomnia and Sketch) fought the battle of their lives against the Anarchist known as the Detonator. It was a short-lived victory.

The Anarchists still have a secret weapon, one that Nova believes will protect her. The Renegades also have a strategy for overpowering the Anarchists, but both Nova and Adrian understand that it could mean the end of Gatlon City - and the world - as they know it.

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Another extremely enjoyable book from Marissa Meyer! It’s so easy to fall into her worlds and be wholly absorbed, and I really enjoy every second that I spend with her characters. We get even more depth from Nova, Adrian, the Renegades, and even the Anarchists and I really appreciate how each character gets their own personality and highlights. The developments are artfully crafted so character history reveals are perfectly timed (I’m still waiting to see what Phobia is all about and I’m really hoping that’s revealed in the last book!) and how well the characters play off each other, especially the romance in this series. With all of the tension between Nova and Adrian and of course, their secret identities, I actually love how guarded they are and how slowly they’ve come together as a couple. It feels natural and wonderful not to rush them into anything more than what we’ve seen on these pages and I love that slow burn and forbidden romance all wrapped into one!

The action sequences are great too. Marissa Meyer’s books have always felt so cinematic to me and I can really picture exactly what’s going on in each scene. She has a great way of bringing readers right into the setting and blocking out the rest of the world. I’m so easily engaged in every piece and the action scenes are so fast-paced yet quite detailed that’s it’s easy to picture everything as it’s happening!

I do find myself missing the fact that this was originally supposed to be a duology, and I think it could have been done. I feel like the reveal moments for Adrian as The Sentinel and Nova as Nightmare are kind of dragging a little bit and there’s a little toomuch tension and anticipation at this point. I thought they’d be revealed to each other in the first book (back when I thought this was two books and it would have been a good place to leave RENEGADES) and it still continues on in ARCHENEMIES. It feels a bit too drawn out and it could have created other drama, action, and conflict here instead of this all coming out in the last book for what I expect will be quite the explosive conclusion.

I think that’s my only hang-up about this series, is that while I’m enjoying not rushing things, they do seem to be a bit too drawn out. I can’t shake the feeling that this could have been fit into two books, even if they were long ones (I guess even these books in the trilogy are 400+ pages!) and I don’t think I would have felt like I was missing things, but we’ll see how the third book goes and maybe the conclusion will make everything feel like it fits much better once we get all those reveals and action-packed moments!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Superheroes. I love the clash of heroes and villains in this book! It’s especially great to read both sides and see those lines blurred.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot movement. I felt like a few more things could have happened here to move the story forward. I’m always up for reading as much Marissa Meyer as possible but I felt like more could have happened in this book.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This whole series so far is worth the read, for sure. I always enjoy Marissa Meyer’s writing. So far it’s not my favorite of her works but I’ll read her books forever!

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BOOKS LIKE ARCHENEMIES

             

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

              

The Lying Woods – Ashley Elston

The Lying Woods – Ashley ElstonTitle: The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston
Publishing Info: November 13, 2018 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: September 9, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: The Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing #1), The Rules for Breaking (The Rules for Disappearing #2), This is Our Story

Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees' retirement accounts, Owen's father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout.

Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father's crimes. It's bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac--and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing.

Owen's only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets--and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he's claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past--and write a better future.

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I’ve been a fan of Ashley Elston’s since her debut novel, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING and I’ve enjoyed every book of hers since then! I jumped at the chance to read and review THE LYING WOODS when Disney-Hyperion presented me with the opportunity and I really enjoyed it!

THE LYING WOODS was an interesting read! At first it read a little more realistic fiction than mystery/thriller, taking its time to get into the story. There was always and underlying mystery, slowly being put together, but I did feel like this one took a little bit longer to get more into the mystery and investigation side of things. It was an interesting change of pace and really allowed readers to spend more time getting to know the main characters and their backgrounds. The history is a big part of this book and was important to keep it developing.

The end was really packed with punches! There were some clues and the mystery along the way but it wasn’t really about investigating and discovering like a lot of mystery/thrillers are, so when reveals and twists started popping up, it was a huge surprise! I loved how fast-paced it got towards the end and it was really exciting! The ending was really interesting and I loved how it all came together. I love those moments where facts are presented and you realize you should have known them the whole time. It’s so much fun to look back and see all the things that were there the whole time!

I’m definitely interested in everything that Ashley Elston writes and THE LYING WOOD was another enjoyable novel! It was an interesting and unique mystery/thriller that had some elements that I didn’t expect!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Various thriller styles. I feel like every Ashley Elston book has been a different style of mystery or thriller! Each book has a unique concept and pacing and THE LYING WOODS felt so unique!
Left Me Wanting More: Thrills. The end of the book was very exciting but I had wished there were a few more thrills in the beginning so it felt a little less realistic fiction and more mystery/thriller!

Addiction Rating
Read it

THE LYING WOODS was enjoyable, a quick read, and a great concept! I had a really great time reading it!

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The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) – Holly Black

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) – Holly BlackTitle: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black
Publishing Info: January 2, 2018 by Hachette, Little Brown
Source: ALAAC18, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: June 4 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, White Cat (Curse Workers #1), Red Glove (Curse Workers #2), Black Heart (Curse Workers #3)

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

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This was probably one of this biggest reads of 2018 and the hype was REAL. I definitely enjoyed it and there was a lot to appreciate here BUT I think the hype also got me a little bit.

I really loved getting to know Jude but I also felt like I wanted to get to know her a little bit more outside of the current events. There were several places in this book where I knew I felt like I was missing something and I just didn’t know what it was. I don’t know why I felt a slight disconnect from Jude but I did. We did get her backstory but… I don’t know. I think I just wanted more of a personal connection that I just didn’t get somewhere. I did love her personality and her ambition. She had a great balance of ferocity and loyalty.

This book was broken up into two parts and I really did wish that there was something more in the first half to really bring me into the story more. There was a lot of really great set-up but the pacing was just a bit off for a trilogy, I think. It felt like we were setting up a much longer series with so much more backstory and character development in the beginning. It wasn’t a bad thing but it was definitely a different pace. Gah, it’s so hard to explain because this was just such a different sort of book all together. It was a slightly slower pace but not in a bad way — it was in a way that allowed the characters to show us who they were and allowed the world to really get set up before the action set in. I think I just expected more action, or rather, an important piece of the action, to happen earlier on.

I also really, really wanted to get to know more of Cardan and his story in the first half. I really liked that Holly Black didn’t rush the romance and had plenty of action and development in the end, but it almost felt like Cardan wasn’t really important until the end of the book. He was a significant part of Jude’s life in the beginning as well, but I wanted to see more of him and more of the reasons why he was so important much earlier on.

I really did love all of the events in the end of the book! There were soooo many things and I loved how everything unfolded in so many ways. I don’t know if that was an intentional nod to The Princess Bride but I 100% was there for that. I think the set-up for THE WICKED KING was absolutely excellent and I think book two will be stellar! I’m really excited to see where things go from here.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Holly Black. I haven’t read ALL of Holly Black’s books but I’ve read a few and it’s so interesting seeing how different they all are! No matter the subject matter, I can see the same sort of tone throughout all of them but they’re all so unique! I also love how clever each book is.
Left Me Wanting More: Swoons. I don’t ACTUALLY need more swoons, but I was expecting more the way everyone talks about Cardan. He was an interesting character but once again, I didn’t really understand what the big deal was (as happens a lot with reviews/Instagram).

Addiction Rating
Read it!

THE CRUEL PRINCE was really enjoyable and quite the interesting read. I really liked the politics behind everything and it had a really great, mature tone.

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