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The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie #1) – Marie Rutkoski

The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie #1) – Marie RutkoskiTitle: The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie #1) by Marie Rutkoski
Publishing Info: March 3, 2020 by Macmillan
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: March 4, 2020
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Curse #1), The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Curse #2), The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3)

Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.

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Okay, I’m going to be a little harsh on this because The Winner’s Trilogy is one of my all-time favorite series, full of cleverness, intrigue, and romantic tension that is a killer. While THE MIDNIGHT LIE is a very different feel than the original Winner’s Trilogy, that’s not what I had a problem with.

I’m pretty tired of naive, in-the-dark main characters and that’s what Nirrim is to me. She was “rescued” from an orphanage and taken in by a woman who pretends she’s nice to her but is actually awful. She tells a boy she loves him and sleeps with him because it makes HIM feel good so it makes her feel good (barf). She’s told what to do and she does it. It was just super cringe-worthy on a lot of levels and yes, it happens. A lot. But I’m just tired of seeing characters who are kept in the dark (by the author) on what’s going on in the book and end up being so submissive to everyone around them because of it. Part of the reason I loved The Winner’s Trilogy is because both Arin and Kestrel are so clever and determined that it was fun reading about their story. I didn’t really know why this was Nirrim’s story until the end of the book.

Speaking of which, almost nothing happens throughout the beginning of the book. We get little hints to the actual plot, but it’s basically Nirrim meeting Sid (which their whole meeting scene was pointless as far as location and how it happens) and then some character development until the plot finally kicks in. I love character-driven books. Heck, The Winner’s Trilogy was incredibly character driven with some awesome underlying political plot, but I didn’t like Nirrim and therefore, I had a hard time finding her chemistry with Sid or really with any character at all. I would be happy to experience that awesome character-driven side of the book but the whole first half was basically Nirrim being a lower class and Sid being the higher class. Sid had the WAY more interesting story in this book and even with what happens in the end, I would have much rather seen the story from Sid’s POV. We could have even kept the secrets about who she is throughout that book somehow. I just really couldn’t care less about Nirrim because SHE made me not want to care about her LOL.

I loved the connections to the original trilogy and honestly, that’s what kept me interested throughout the book. Without it, I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed the book as much as I did (which was just okay anyway). There were a couple of “shocking” moments that I felt were for shock value and weren’t really necessary (one specific reveal in mind regarding Nirrim’s family history). The ending was actually really interesting and very cool, but I wish we had gotten to see more of that sprinkled throughout the book instead of it being shoved into the end for a huge blow-out. Things changed too quickly and I didn’t even get to spend time with some cool magical reveals, moments, and characters. I also get that it was supposed to be different than The Winner’s Trilogy but the inclusion of the magic and the showiness of some of it made it almost feel like the Capitol in the Hunger Games –way over the top — going from a trilogy that only had the slightest nod to god-magic with Arin and his god to a huge inclusion of magic here. I just wish for a little more consistency throughout the whole book, I guess.

I’m probably curious enough to continue on in the series but I wish I had been able to be more invested from the very beginning. I was expected to be but man, I really didn’t like Nirrim and she was boring. Sid was awesome and I loved her. I’m kind of hoping the second book is from her POV or at least includes it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Winner’s Trilogy universe! Wait — what even is this universe called? Do we know? Regardless, I looooved that this book took place in the same world AND that it was even connected to the original series too!
Left Me Wanting More: World-building and development along the way. There was a LOT that happened in literally the last chapter of the book. I would have loved to see a little bit more of that along the way.

Addiction Rating
Try it

Some people loved this but it fell a bit flat for me. I’m not sure if you’d love it right off the bat without knowing the original trilogy but I would still recommend reading them first, mostly because it kind of spoils some things if you don’t. It’s not really critical to understanding THE MIDNIGHT LIE but it would affect your read of The Winner’s Trilogy.

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BOOKS LIKE THE MIDNIGHT LIE

             

All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1) – Adalyn Grace

All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1) – Adalyn GraceTitle: All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1) by Adalyn Grace
Publishing Info: February 4, 2020 by Macmillan, Imprint
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: February 8, 2020
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice, Adalyn Grace’s All the Stars and Teeth is a thrilling fantasy for fans of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval and Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series.

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom.

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I went into ALL THE STARS AND TEETH with an open mind because I haven’t been getting along with a lot of new YA fantasy lately. Catch me at the beginning of this book and I was raving about how happy I was that I was excited, interested, and swooning over bantery pirates! The more I read, the less interested I became and by the end, I felt like I just wanted to know what happened and how the book would end.

I didn’t totally love Amora throughout the whole book, but it was easier to understand her in the beginning of the book because she didn’t know what was going on and it was interesting to follow her while she was figuring everything out. There was a lot for her to discover throughout the whole book but for some reason it was easier for me to connect with her in the beginning. I loved Bastian, our sassy pirate, and I really liked the attitude and tone he brought to this story! Obviously being a main character, he has a big role in the overall plot as well, but he certainly did keep things interesting. He and Amora had some great chemistry and of course, I loved the cleverness. I also really liked Ferrick who added something really nice to the group dynamic. I don’t want to go too far into it because there’s a lot that happens in the beginning and I don’t want to spoil anything, but I liked that he became a part of the book and that he was the kind of “nice guy”. It was easy to be sympathetic to him and I felt like he brought a nice balance to the group.

I think Adalyn Grace packed a lot of punches in the beginning of the book that I wasn’t expecting, including Bastian, who he was, and why he was there, so it was really exciting! She didn’t save every twist until the very end and I was really happy to see some things to help kick off the book. The pacing was pretty consistent throughout the book but there was a point in the middle where I had to put the book down (just because of reading time) and I wasn’t able to come back for a week and then…. I just a hit a stall in interest. Things didn’t quite pick up again like I had hoped and there were moments when I found Amora more irritating while she was discovering some of the politics of her world. It just started to hit a point where everything felt a little more tropey and I was sad that it lost that magical spark for me.

The magic system and world building were pretty cool but I also felt like they could have been developed a liiiiittle bit more for me to really latch onto them. It still felt like a lot about the magic was thrown in at the beginning, which I guess you kind of need in order to understand some parts of the world, but I almost wanted to discover it a little more slowly because some parts of the magic and world-building felt like a bit of an info dump. There’s a bit of a journey in the middle and there are some pieces of some of the magics that are explored but there’s not really a reason why or how or how much. Magic doesn’t always need a why because sometimes that’s just a part of what the world is, but I felt like I needed just a bit more than “everyone has magic and here’s what they can do”. I felt like if we went one layer deeper, I would have really appreciated the world more.

I’m a little bummed because I really did love the beginning so much and I was talking it up, but I just really lost interest towards the end and just wanted to be done reading it. It wasn’t bad at all but I felt like it started off as something special and different and then it just fell into the pattern of the average YA fantasy novel. I’m sure others will really enjoy it but it just fell a little flat to me towards the end.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Pirates. So I don’t always care about pirate books but I WANT to care. The pirate part was kind of major, kind of minor, but it worked SO WELL.
Left Me Wanting More: World/magic depth. There are secrets about the magic, we know, but I just wanted a little bit more world-building and magic depth. I would have rather spent a few more pages working on those elements to really secure a world instead of some of the fluffy descriptions of towns or appearances.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I bet a lot of people will really love this one. I enjoyed it so much in the beginning but I’m left a little sad that it kind of turned for me towards the end. I just felt like the beginning was so different and towards the middle, it fell into typical YA plotting.

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BOOKS LIKE ALL THE STARS AND TEETH

             

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4) – Seanan McGuire

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4) – Seanan McGuireTitle: In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4) by Seanan McGuire
Publishing Info: January 8, 2019 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 29, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she's found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

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While I enjoyed IN AN ABSENT DREAM, I sort of felt like this prequel should maybe not have been the fourth book in the series. I didn’t mind that it was out of order chronologically but I felt more disconnected from Lundy after the last couple books (to be honest, I binge read the first three so I can’t remember which was she prominent in) and I would have liked to see her story earlier.

I liked how, unlike other children who had found doors, Lundy had family history with her door and the Goblin Market and how she was able to go there and back until ultimately the door was shut on her as well. It was also more interesting because she had some ties to the “real world” that she didn’t want to give up and felt an equal pull towards this new one. A lot of the other characters felt 100% better in their new worlds whereas Lundy’s sister gave her quite the reason to stay.

I really liked the feel of the world and the other characters. This felt like one of the lesser-developed portals compared to the other stories, possibly because Lundy kept going back and forth between the two. I would have like to spend more time there discovering more about the rules, spending time with some of the quests and tribulations instead of them being things that were just referenced.

This wasn’t my favorite story but it was still rather enjoyable. I know each story really does go back and it’s out of sequence chronologically speaking, but I almost wish there would have been one more story back and the school first and then heading back out to get more backstories of the other children at the school. I think I needed one more element to tie things back together, possibly.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The many worlds of this series. It’s always so interesting to see what each person’s different world is! I really love exploring each one and seeing the creativity behind them all.
Left Me Wanting More: Character connection. I just felt al little distant from Lundy in this book. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it was earlier in the series.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I’ve really been enjoying this series! Plus they’re super quick reads and really fun on audio!

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BOOKS LIKE IN AN ABSENT DREAM

             

The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1) – Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1) – Melissa AlbertTitle: The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1) by Melissa Albert
Publishing Info: January 30, 2018 by Macmillan, Flatiron Books
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: October 16, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from THE HAZEL WOOD! For some reason from the cover and the synopsis, I was expecting this to be more lyrical and flowery as well as set more in a high fantasy-type world. I mean, re-reading the synopsis, it seems pretty clear that it’s not, so I don’t know if the synopsis changed from its initial posting back before the book was released… Who knows. But for some reason I had that thought in my head before I started the book, so it was an interesting start!

I actually really did enjoy the beginning despite my weird preconceived notions! I was in the mood for something a little lighter and this hit that desire. The beginning pulled me in and set up some interesting concepts! I liked the intrigue of Alice’s grandmother Althea and it was really interesting that Alice had become intrigued but yet had never read Tales of the Hinterland (Althea’s book). Clearly there’s a connection and an important reason why and I was certainly sucked in to find out what that reason was!!

I enjoyed the connection between Alice and Finch and I really liked their chemistry! It wasn’t a forced romance (it kind of wasn’t even a romance at all) and they were able to connect in a few different ways. I also though the relationship between Alice and her mother was also interesting! They had a great connection and it was a great draw and connection throughout the story.

THE HAZEL WOOD was delightfully creative and it was an interesting fantasy concept! The beginning felt a little bit more like magical realism and then we learn more about the world and we find out exactly how fantastical this world really is. Things kind of fell apart for me a bit once Alice gets a bit more into the fantasy part of the story. Without spoiling things, the shift further into the fantasy world kind of lost me. I think it was because we spent so much time in the present-day world with only getting clues in to the fantasy side that I just wasn’t in the mindset for a full-on switch. I was preparing more for a magical realism-type concept from what I read in the beginning and I am not good with things that are too whimsical or fantastical. It felt like there was a kind of free-for-all in the fantasy section of the book and it was a bit too much all at once. I enjoy high fantasy worlds with great world-budiling because the rules behind them fascinate me and I love seeing the inner workings of a magic system and political fantasy world. When things are introduced quickly and a character experiences so many things for the first time all at once as Alice did here, I tend to get lost in all of the new, non-sensical things. I almost wish that section had been split off into a second book and we got to focus more on that development so the reader could spend time exploring this new world and everything it had to offer, as well as how it affected Alice and her family.

THE HAZEL WOOD was interesting and kept me entertained, but I think it really lost me in the end when things felt a bit rushed and I didn’t get to enjoy the details when things got really colorful! I wanted to give more attention to the things that set this whole book into motion and I feel like I didn’t get to experience that like I wanted to because everything unfolded so quickly.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Separate fantasy worlds. This wasn’t quite a portal world but it was a similar-type feel! There was a significant separation between reality and fantasy (with a little bit of overlap) and it was interesting!
Left Me Wanting More: Separation. I wish the fantasy part had been saved for a second book, or on the contrary, I wish it had been introduced more gradually. It was just a bit too abrupt for me to go from mostly reality to full-on fantasy.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It’s a really fun concept and I actually liked the character chemistry and relationships! I would say after spending time away from the book, I’m still not sure I really feel drawn to read the sequel, though.

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BOOKS LIKE THE HAZEL WOOD

             

Supernova (Renegades #3) – Marissa Meyer

Supernova (Renegades #3) – Marissa MeyerTitle: Supernova (Renegades #3) by Marissa Meyer
Publishing Info: November 5, 2019 by Macmillan
Source: Amazon, Libro.FM
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Superheroes
Date Completed: November 21, 2019
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)

All's fair in love and anarchy...

The epic conclusion to Marissa Meyer's thrilling Renegades Trilogy finds Nova and Adrian struggling to keep their secret identities concealed while the battle rages on between their alter egos, their allies, and their greatest fears come to life. Secrets, lies, and betrayals are revealed as anarchy once again threatens to reclaim Gatlon City.

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While I enjoyed reading SUPERNOVA, I really do feel like this series should have been two books. There was so much that happened in SUPERNOVA that I would have liked to see earlier on, likely in ARCHENEMIES, and it would have solved the issue that while ARCHENEMIES was also enjoyable, I didn’t feel like enough really happened plot-wise to have it be a book of its own. Thinking about the series overall, I think a lot could have been cut down and condensed into two books. There were also a few moments where the pacing just felt odd, like some really long battle scenes, and I ended up losing focus.

The epilogue was definitely a stunner but… it was another thing that I really wanted to be in the second book and the open-ended question that’s leftover could have been resolved in this book. I think that would have added nice depth to the plot and added a nice grab/twist in the second book because I really don’t feel like there was much memorable about it, as entertaining as it was. I also wished I had more time to enjoy the contents of the epilogue. To be honest, I really don’t want to continue this story any more so I’m actually hoping there ISN’T a spin-off. Not in a bad way, but I feel like a new series wouldn’t offer a new enough plot and I don’t want to continue the good vs. evil concept in a new series because I feel like too many of the same themes would be repeated.

I didn’t really feel like I was waiting for too many answers in SUPERNOVA. I wanted to know what Phobia’s backstory was (and we do find out and it is really cool) but that was just about it. Basically I kind of figured there would be a happy ending, which isn’t a bad thing, but there were a few things that wrapped up a little too neatly. I felt like for everything that happened, Adrian and Nova ended up being all lovey-dovey a little too easily for all of the secrets and betrayals. There were some cool things that happened in the end to wrap things up but then a couple things unfolded that just felt a little TOO nice and neat. Some of the ending just kind of seemed to nullify the whole series? And start the cycle all over again.

I enjoyed the whole series and I had fun reading it but I don’t think it’s something I need to reread in the future. I enjoyed the original superhero story and I had fun spending time with these characters but I actually felt like the plot could have been improved upon and it lacked the connection that I’ve felt with other Marissa Meyer books.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Superheroes. I don’t really a lot of superhero books and I never got into comics. It was really fun to read an original superhero story, especially seeing all of the different powers!
Left Me Wanting More: Structure. I would have loved to see a different structure to this series. Marissa Meyer said it was always meant to be a trilogy but the publisher originally had planned it for two books. I wish it had been condensed into a duology! I think the pacing would have been better and there could have been a better/different focus.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’ve already read the other two books, it’s definitely worth finishing the series! I’m no editor but if I was a reader able to give feedback, I probably would have voiced some things I would have actually liked to have changed. If you haven’t read the series, I still think they’re worth reading! They’re all still fun, even if I didn’t love the whole set-up.

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BOOKS LIKE SUPERNOVA

             

The Tenth Girl – Sara Faring

The Tenth Girl – Sara FaringTitle: The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring
Publishing Info: September 24, 2019 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Ghosts, Science Fiction
Date Completed: June 7, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi's existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

bookreview1

I think readers will either love this book or lose steam with it like I did. It was interesting and had a lot going for it but there was so much happening with it that I felt like it was hard to keep up with, and I usually don’t have too many issues like there. There were a lot of new things, clues to pick up on, a bunch of characters (which wasn’t an issue for me but there were a number), and without a rapid pace to keep things moving, I quickly started losing interest without any reveals towards the middle. I had some Goodreads friends who loved it and from the other early reviews that felt similarly to me, it seems like we had the same issue: pacing.

While the book is suspenseful and atmospheric, I just felt like plot points took forever to come around. There’s a lot to keep readers really hyped up by providing new questions, throwing in suspicions, and having Mavi running around this creepy house, but I just felt like not a whole lot was happening for most of the book. It felt like she was getting more questions and we never got any answers until the end, which makes things a little frustrating at times.

THE TENTH GIRL goes back and forth between a couple time periods but it’s a little confusing. Mavi is at this creepy house in the 1970s but her present seems to be in the future or present day. The flashbacks are to the present but the past and yet somehow Mavi is in the past in the present. It’s enough to make your head spin for sure! It was definitely interesting to try to wrap my head around it but I feel like these kinds of plot devices really stole time away from actually getting to know all of the characters. I just really wanted to experience their personalities more and I felt like I never got to know anyone when I was spending so much time on the mystery and different time periods.

Then there was the twist at the end. I… did not like the twist in the book. There is a twist, as other readers have stated, and I found that it really took away from the whole tone and concept of the book for me. It’s one of those things where it makes you rethink the whole book, which can be really interesting, but in this case it made me feel like I was reading something totally different the whole time and not in the best way. I’m really a person who likes a cohesive feel throughout a whole book so to have a twist at the end basically change the genre, it really is irritating for me and takes me out of the whole experience.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique settings. I loved the Patagonian setting, bringing in a new culture with new myths and a new location. It was different from a lot of other books out there and it was really enjoyable to explore.
Left Me Wanting More: Pacing. I just had a hard time with the structure of the book, I think. I would have liked to know the twist basically at the beginning so I knew what kind of feel this book was going to have. I would have liked to have more answers along the way. I would have maybe skipped so many flashbacks. I just didn’t love the structure and pacing overall.

Addiction Rating
Try it, or get another opinion

I’m torn. It’s an interesting read and I liked a lot about the setting and atmosphere, but is that enough to recommend the book? I’m not sure I’d actively pass it along to a friend but it’s also not a bad read. For its length and how I felt about it, I don’t know if I’d tell someone else to read it.

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BOOKS LIKE THE TENTH GIRL

             

Sadie – Courtney Summers

Sadie – Courtney SummersTitle: Sadie by Courtney Summers
Publishing Info: September 4, 2018 by Macmillan
Source: BEA 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: September 1, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she's left behind. And an ending you won't be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

bookreview1

SADIE was such a difficult and yet compelling book to read. I started it on a Saturday morning and finished it within a few hours because I just couldn’t put it down. It deals with a lot of difficult subjects that are incredibly hard to read because of the reality of the situation, but there’s something about Sadie and her story that just entangled me and I didn’t want to let go.

The narration of this book was just perfect in so many ways. The chapters alternate between Sadie’s POV as she’s on her quest to find her sister’s murderer and the reporter who started a podcast series based on his investigations of Sadie and her disappearance. The story perfectly unfolds with each chapter and POV giving a different perspective of the mystery and revealing just the right amount of information for the readers to keep this book unraveling but not too quickly. This is my first Courtney Summers book and I’m incredibly impressed with the writing style. These narrators really pull you into the book and Courtney Summers really made each one a real person and not just a character in a book, which is true on a whole other level. This is someone’s story in many ways, even though it’s a work of fiction.

I actually really loved the ending. In a story like this, there’s no way to have a happy ending and it’s not really a spoiler to say that because whether or not Sadie enacts her revenge, what sort of happiness would come out of it? Even if justice is served, everything has still already unraveled so I appreciated that Courtney Summers didn’t put a pretty bow on the end of everything to wrap it all up.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Podcast formatting. This was really neat with the podcast incorporated into this book! I wish I had listened to the audio because I heard it was fantastic, but I really thought that was a great way to get a different perspective into the book and make it feel so unique.
Left Me Wanting More: Words to describe it. This is such a difficult book and yet it was so great. It’s quite a compelling read with a chilling story because it is so close to real life and we know these things do happen.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was one of my favorite reads of 2018 and I highly recommend it to everyone! Even if this isn’t your style, I think it’s such a compelling read that it’s worth trying, for sure.

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BOOKS LIKE SADIE

             

Squad – Mariah MacCarthy

Squad – Mariah MacCarthyTitle: Squad by Mariah MacCarthy
Publishing Info: March 12, 2019 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: July 7, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

This darkly comic debut novel by an award-winning playwright is like Mean Girls meets Heathers with a splash of Bring it On.

Jenna Watson is a cheerleader. But it’s not some Hollywood crap. Cheerleaders are not every guy’s fantasy; they are not the “popular girls” or the “mean girls” of Marsen High School. They’re too busy for that. They're literally just some human females trying to live their lives and do a perfect toe touch. But that all changed after Raejean stopped talking to Jenna and started hanging out with Meghan Finnegan. Jenna stopped getting invited out with the rest of the squad and she couldn’t tell if it was on purpose or if it was all in her head.

At times heartbreaking, at others hilarious, Squad follows Jenna through her attempts to get revenge on Raejean and invent a new post-cheer life for herself through LARPING (live action role-playing) and a relationship with a trans guy that feels like love—but isn't. In the, end Jenna discovers that who she is is not defined by which squad she's in.

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** This review contains very mild spoilers for the book. **

SQUAD was a very quick and interesting read! There was a lot to appreciate here from diverse characters, sibling friendships, transitioning friend groups, and even a bit of geek appreciation. What I didn’t love was that it kind of lacked direction in terms of tone and seemed to wander around a bit, and the plot followed suit in some places.

Overall, SQUAD is about Jenna and how her life completely changes when her friends start alienating her, consequently affecting her best friendship and even further so, affecting her position on the cheerleading squad. I appreciated the difficulties that Jenna went through with her best friend and how quickly friendships can change in high school (and college and adulthood). I’ve been in a situation where a “former friend” has dropped nearly all forms of communication for what seems to be no reason so I could see how it could drive you to be a little obsessed with the confusion of it all. I also liked how Jenna finally started to really think about what she wanted (after going through the stages of grief, essentially) and how she treated other people as well. She wasn’t a total victim and she wasn’t totally innocent either. I also liked how even though she quit the cheer squad, she still held onto the fact that she liked dancing and cheering and how much that made her happy. The cliquey group dynamic was something that turned her off so it wasn’t enough to keep the love of cheering to stay on the squad.

What really threw me off was that I had no idea what this book was even supposed to be when I started it. The back cover contained some of the text from the beginning and it was a little misleading to start with a sentence like “I just woke up one morning and forgot how to do everything.” With all the possibilities of YA books out there, it was entirely possible that Jenna literally woke up and forgot how to do everything and this was maybe a sci-fi/paranormal kind of book. I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be something like that or if it was supposed to be just a contemporary novel. Then there was the Goodreads synopsis which called it a “darkly comic debut novel”, comparing to Mean Girls and Heathers with a splash of Bring it On. I didn’t really feel like it was comic at all. It was nearly entirely serious and I’m not sure how this was supposed to be a funny book. It certainly had its darker moments as Jenna loses her friends, falls into a depression, and explores who she is but I didn’t feel like it was a fun, campy experience like the movies mentioned above. These two things really set me up for something totally different and the actual contents of the novel just weren’t what I was expecting.

The writing style was also a bit hard for me as well. It worked out all right, being a shorter audiobook read (it was only 5+ hours long and I listen at 2x speed so with my pauses to do things here and there, I finished in about three hours) but if it was something longer, I don’t know if I would have stuck with it. Especially in the audiobook version (which is narrated by the author, Mariah MacCarthy (awesome!)), it felt like one long stream of consciousness. There wasn’t a lot of dialogue in the beginning but more did develop throughout. Maybe if I had been reading a print version, that would have felt a little different BUT since the author narrated the audiobook, I also take the tone as they read it since they’re the person who wrote the book! That’s something I love about “authorators”. I always feel like we’re skipping one interpretation from author to narrator to listener and I get a more “straight forward” experience! That being said, I would have loved to see just a bit more development in the writing so it felt a little less like a stream of consciousness.

While I enjoyed the overall plot of the book, it seemed to just sort of dart off into different places. There were natural transitions but for some reason it didn’t really seem to flow. I did like the change from cheer squad to geek squad as Jenna starts to hang out with her brother and his friends and actually goes LARPing with them. It reminded me a lot of a favorite, THE SUMMER I BECAME A NERD by Leah Rae Miller.

There was a lot of good things within the pages of SQUAD but I still had some issues that kept me from falling into the story. It was a quick read for me but I think stylistically, I just didn’t click with it as much as I had hoped and confusing marketing was a little bit of an issue for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Evolving friendships. I really liked seeing Jenna find new friend groups and letting go of those who were treating her poorly. It took her a while to get to that point but I kind of like that she eventually took care of herself instead of trying to stick with the old group just because they were here original friends.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot flow. It didn’t flow poorly but things felt a little… clumpy. I just didn’t quite feel the natural transitions.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I think it would have helped a little bit more understanding the tone of the book better. I was expecting something a little different, but even knowing that, I still would have enjoyed it just a little bit more with a little better flow to the book. It was still a really good story though and a good read!

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BOOKS LIKE SQUAD

             

Mini-Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) – Seanan McGuire

Mini-Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) – Seanan McGuireTitle: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) by Seanan McGuire
Publishing Info: January 9, 2018 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Date Completed: July 17, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4)

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

If she can't find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests...

A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.

Warning: May contain nuts.

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This was the book with the most action and forward motion, I think. The first book did have its own murder mystery but the characters actually went on a quest here and we got to see a few different worlds which was so exciting! Seeing the worlds is one of the things I enjoy the most because I just love exploring new worlds and all the world-building! I also really appreciate how Seanan McGuire already designed explanations to be in the book with the characters mapping each world as nonsense/logical and virtue/wicked to really give the whole concept a structure. I also loved that Tor created a full list and a graphic of all of the known portal worlds! That’s definitely the kind of thing that hooks me into a book, especially this one.

I had a lot of fun getting to know more of the characters here and pushing the plot forward even more! I felt like more characters came together, or maybe it just felt like it since it’s the third book and I’m getting to know how they’re all starting to intertwine. This was definitely the book that I appreciated most so far and I think knowing more characters and worlds allowed me to fall deeper into the these worlds, especially considering these stories are so short!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Portal worlds! We got to see a few different doors in this book and I loved it!!
Left Me Wanting More: Pages. I really do enjoy the length of these and how short they are but I was really enjoying this story!!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This has been a fun series so far and I enjoy this book a lot! I’m definitely looking forward to continuing on and getting to know more characters and their stories.

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BOOKS LIKE BENEATH THE SUGAR SKY

             

The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) – Kristen Simmons

The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) – Kristen SimmonsTitle: The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) by Kristen Simmons
Publishing Info: February 5, 2019 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Heists/Spies/Espionage, Retelling
Date Completed: June 3, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.

When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom's loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.

At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials--because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that's before she meets her mark--a senator's son--and before she discovers the school's headmaster has secrets he'll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she's in way over head.

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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!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DECEIVERS