Tag Archives: YA

Ashlords (Ashlords #1) – Scott Reintgen

Ashlords (Ashlords #1) – Scott ReintgenTitle: Ashlords (Ashlords #1) by Scott Reintgen
Publishing Info: January 21, 2020 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Date Completed: February 17, 2020
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races in this epic fantasy following three phoenix horse riders--skilled at alchemy--who must compete at The Races--the modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their empire.

Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they've raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.

Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That's all legal and encouraged.

In this year's Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest--a champion's daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary's son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?

bookreview1

So far, most of my Goodreads friend reviews are mostly five-star ratings for this book and some four-star. How did we know I was going to be the black sheep here…? If you’d like to read a cynical/critical review, this is it!

First of all, the comparison to “Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races”… just no. I usually hate comparisons and this one is one terrible. They’re two of my favorite books EVER with incredible character development, world-building, and plotting, and this book did not have it for me. The only Scorpio Races connection is the fact that it’s a horse race and it’s nothing else like TSR and Red Rising’s plotting and character connections are far superior than this book. It was far more of a Hunger Games feel than RR or TSR.

I listened to this book on audio and all of the narrators are ones I’ve listened to before and really enjoyed, so I know it wasn’t an issue of narrator. (Rebecca Soler, Lauren Fortgang, and Andrew Eiden, in case you were wondering!) When it comes to my fantasy preferences nowadays, I. Need. World-Building. The first paragraph of this book was the most interesting. There was a mention about nebulas in the sky and … hey, that was it as far as the actual WORLD part of the world-building. Is this a fantasy world? Are we in space? Is this related to our galaxy? I immediately wanted to know more about the galaxies in the sky and where this book took place and we never really get to know. Not just that, but there’s no real history about this fantasy world at all. There are plenty of mentions about “the gods” and how they’re the gods of the Ashlords but there’s not really much of anything else. We know that sacrifices happen, gods live in the underworld, and the Ashlords are connected to the gods above the others, but I don’t even know anything about the country or town or divisions of any sort.
There are a lot of things that don’t come up in the book until they’re needed so it just seems like a total afterthought. There are random leaders of each … community? Town? See, I don’t even know how this country (or whatever) is divided and why there are random leaders. Of course, the leader is oppressive and creepy and he shows up just to be awful and has no other significance whatsoever. Then there’s this police force which doesn’t show up until the end when all of a sudden they’re necessary. Even with the races and the horses/phoenixes, there were things we didn’t get to know until it was happening and everything was just told to us instead of actually learning about things in a more natural fashion.
I also don’t even know anything about the phoenixes at ALL…??? The synopsis said they were gifted to the Ashlords by the gods but we don’t really get to learn about that at all, anywhere in the book. There are tiiiiny pieces but I barely know anything about them. The characters create/influence them with alchemy but we don’t get to learn much about the alchemy other than being told what ingredients are used and we don’t really get to know why or how it works. Where did they come from? Are they otherworldly beings? How do their rebirths work and why do they HAVE to do that? What’s the magic system with what makes them different and how the riders use them? Why do riders have to happen and what do they gain from the races? Why are the races necessary? And so many more questions about gods and Ashlords and I COULD GO ON.
I really can talk a LOT more about this but let’s just say that there’s really no history or world-building, or at least not nearly enough for my taste. I could have been incredibly invested if I even know what this world was about.

Most of this book is action. There’s a lot of time spent spent talking about the races, which is fine! But everything else took a backseat, and for me, it really felt like EVERYTHING else.

I also really did not feel connected to the characters at all. There are three main characters but we barely get to know their personalities at all. Everything is basically about the race and we hardly get to see the characters interact with anyone of importance. We get some glimpses of Imelda and her friendships and her home life, but they’re just glimpses. No real time is spent there and it’s mainly just to set up other random parts of the story. The characters are very basic and don’t really tell us much about their histories either.

There’s one character POV that’s in second person instead of the other two in first person and there’s seemingly no reason why. I would hope there’s an actual reason but it wasn’t revealed in the first book and I won’t be reading on so maybe I’ll look it up later. It could have been interesting but it really didn’t seem to serve a purpose here.

I’m sure there’s more bubbling up inside my fountain of feelings here, but really, this one just did not do it for me. I don’t know how I feel SO far off from everyone so far but it was interesting going into it with an open mind AND expecting like it and seeing what my true feelings were without any hype or any other expectations.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fantasy/sci-fi blend. This really was an interesting mix of fantasy and science-fiction. I really wanted to know more about everything!
Left Me Wanting More: World-building. The world-building in this book was just not up to par for me. I had a LOT of questions and there were so many things that weren’t touched upon that it made me really question everything. There were too many missed opportunities here.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

So lots of other people really enjoyed this book, maybe people who have not read THE SCORPIO RACES nor RED RISING or who at least weren’t making those comparisons because it didn’t have that feel at all for me. You just can’t compare the character development in THE SCORPIO RACES and the insane plotting and world-building in RED RISING. Anyway… a lot of other people loved this one but it angered me, really, haha. So check out other reviews, I’d say!

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BOOKS LIKE ASHLORDS

             

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

             

The Kingdom of Back – Marie Lu

The Kingdom of Back – Marie LuTitle: The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
Publishing Info: March 3, 2020 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Date Completed: February 18, 2020
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Legend (Legend #1), Warcross (Warcross #1), Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons #2)

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart.

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish—to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she'll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl's hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

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I was really excited to try THE KINGDOM OF BACK, something totally different from Marie Lu’s previous books! I’ve read the Legend trilogy and the Warcross duet, so I was interested to see what THE KINGDOM OF BACK would have in store, knowing how a good portal-world book can capture my curiosity. This one ended up being just a bit too different in too many ways for me and it just ended up not being a “me” book.

This was definitely a case of “It’s not you, it’s me.” The writing in this book was just lovely and and it was a lot more prosaic and lyrical (which is fitting since the book is about music — ha!) but I usually don’t get along with these types of writing styles with very few exceptions. If that’s a writing style that you enjoy, I think this could be an instant hit for you, but I just know it’s something that I don’t particularly care for and I feel like things end up being too drawn out.

I also just had a complicated relationship with the book overall. I really, really did not like the fantasy aspect of the book. There is a portal world/alternate universe type-thing happening here but it really wasn’t what I was expecting. It largely revolved around faeries which I have zero interest in and some of the faerie magic was just a bit too fanciful for me. My magical preferences are more about systems and structures than whimsy so I just really didn’t care for it at all and I hated the parts that glanced back over at the faerie world. It wasn’t that it was bad, but again, tooootally not my thing.

The children are young for most of the book and it takes a very long time for them to even been teenagers, so I would barely even call this YA. It’s more so a book that maybe doesn’t need an age categorization since it’s not a specifically teen coming-of-age story but really just a story about these two children and their lives. I also didn’t understand for the beginning of the book why it was important for this story to be about the Mozart children and it was kind of annoying that it could have been anyone. This does make a little more sense and ties into the story more as the book goes on, so I eventually did end up liking how it tied in (even if I didn’t like the fantasy world still). By the time the book was ending, I actually found that I would have liked the Mozart story by itself all together and a fun YA historical fiction book about the Mozart children that didn’t have fantastical elements would have been cool too.

I think fans of The Hazel Wood and Uprooted will enjoy this. 

There is an author’s note at the end of the book where Marie Lu explains the origins of the book. She had discovered that Mozart had a sister that was barely ever heard of so she investigated her story, and The Kingdom of Back was a real (well, “real”) place that the Mozart children invented and they used it to pass the time in their carriage rides (which does happen in the book, as well as further development of the world). If I had known that beforehand, it would have been much more interesting knowing that The Kingdom of Back actually had historical origins and that was why/how the book came about. I still wouldn’t have cared about the fairy world but it would have made me a little more interested to understand actual historical significance of the fantasy world and that’s why it was included. That author’s note to allow me the hindsight to make this connection is the only reason I felt in the middle about this book instead of disappointed.

It’s actually weird looking back because I really enjoyed the end of the book and it left on a good note. The book wasn’t bad at all but between the writing and the faerie world, it really just wasn’t my style and if I had known that, I might have not read the book or at least waited to hear from someone else if I might like it. I’m actually still kind of glad I read it because I did enjoy the historical aspect of the book but I wish I could have enjoyed it more!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical Fiction. I really don’t usually enjoy historical fiction, but I really enjoyed knowing that this stemmed from something real in history. That’s really what held my interest!
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. I just really didn’t care for the fantasy aspect in this book, weirdly enough. It was too whimsical for me and I just don’t love fairy type fantasy.

Addiction Rating
Check the reviews

I think you’ll either love it or end up feeling like I do. If this is your style, you’ll probably love it! If you think we share some opinions, I would say check out some more reviews.

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BOOKS LIKE THE KINGDOM OF BACK

             

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.

bookreview1

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

             

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #1) – Holly Jackson

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #1) – Holly JacksonTitle: A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder #1) by Holly Jackson
Publishing Info: February 4, 2020 by Random House Publishing Group, Delacourte Press
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: January 30, 2020
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

For readers of Kara Thomas and Karen McManus, an addictive, twisty crime thriller with shades of Serial and Making a Murderer about a closed local murder case that doesn't add up, and a girl who's determined to find the real killer--but not everyone wants her meddling in the past.

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can't shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn't want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you'll never expect.

bookreview1

This was such an interesting read and great fun with added interview portions! The audiobook had a full cast that jumped in to be characters that were being interviewed, so that was a neat addition for the audiobook versus reading the print copy. I’m always big into audiobooks but that was also something that really set the reading experience apart and made the audiobook a unique experience!

I’m always nervous when I read YA mystery/thrillers because there has to be a valid reason why the teens wouldn’t work with adults or cops. In this book, it’s Pip’s capstone project to solve a murder. Well, really it’s supposed to be social media’s influence on investigations, but she uses that as a reason to investigate the murder of a teenager five years ago, wanting to prove that the accused murderer was actually innocent. Things went really smoothly (well, they went horribly wrong but the plotting was smooth) as far as this being a conceivable story. There were only a couple moments where I got annoyed with Pip for one of those dumb reasons that she felt like she couldn’t talk to someone else, but that was about it!

I was also really impressed that this book constantly kept me guessing. Pip gets a great deal of answers throughout the book so the reader still feels like they’re constantly solving the mystery. One question leads to another, but then we get an answer and a different question. Holly Jackson did a great job at keeping the pacing consistent and moving forward. Lots of doors are opened to the things that were hidden years ago and Pip slowly uncovers mystery after mystery. We finally get the answer in the end and THEN we get even more answers. I just felt like the book was really well-written and very carefully executed!

In checking out more details on the book, it looks like it got picked up to be a pretty big series (Goodreads it showing four books so far) and I am totally here for it! I wonder if they’re going to be related, companions, or totally unrelated. No matter what it is, I’m looking forward to more mystery investigations from Holly Jackson!

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Kept Me Hooked On: YA mystery/thrillers. I love when I get a good thriller and it’s even better when I’m pleasantly surprised! I always hope to enjoy what I read and I really just loved the pacing of this.
Left Me Wanting More: Laughs? I don’t know why but I thought this was going to be campy, probably from the title. I’m almost glad that it turned out not to be what I was expecting because I’m glad that it wasn’t silly but I am always craving some dark comedy like that.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really, really enjoyed this one. Sometimes I have a hard time with YA mystery/thrillers and everyone having valid reasons why they need to take investigations in their own hands. Holly Jackson made me throw those questions out the window and just enjoy reading without thinking about any of that stuff!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER

             

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2) – Brigid Kemmerer

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2) – Brigid KemmererTitle: A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2) by Brigid Kemmerer
Publishing Info: January 7, 2020 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 21, 2020
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Find the heir, win the crown.

The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.

Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen--until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

bookreview1

I seem to be in the minority having not really enjoyed this one as much as I had hoped. A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY was one of my favorite books of 2019 and I didn’t feel the excitement and the pull as much as I did reading the first book.

So A HEART SO FIERCE AND BROKEN is split up into two POVs like ACSDAL, except this time it’s two total different characters. We see Grey and new face, Lia Mara, daughter of the queen of Syhl Shallow. I think part of the reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much was because I really enjoyed the different voices of Rhen and Harper with Harper having modern speech and Rhen being more antiquated to simulate the more regal tone often adopted with high fantasy locations. I really enjoyed the contrasting narratives and the difference between the two also brought some levity to the book since Harper had to learn about Rhen’s world and Rhen had to understand things that Harper said that made no sense away from the “real world”. I really wanted more of that contrasting narrative from someone from Earth/the US and someone from Emberfall and I think that had really added a lot of character to the story that I was missing here.

I seemed to love Grey more as a side character than from his actual POV. He’s easy to empathize with but I liked the mystery of him more, I think, and I really liked seeing him through Harper’s eyes. His own POV just didn’t appeal to me as much and I was more bored than intrigued. Lia Mara was a nice new addition but I really would have liked to see her (did we see her in the first book?) or at least remember her so she was already an established character. Really what I would have liked to see would have been a handful of Rhen/Harper chapters to keep their story moving forward. I really, really missed them in this book and it didn’t feel the same without them. I felt like Harper’s voice was weaker seeing it from someone else’s POV and Rhen was essentially villainized and I don’t want another ACOTAR situation here, because that’s exactly what it felt like.

There is a twist at the end, but to be honest, I didn’t care for it. It’s tired and it’s been done and I would have much rather seen Rhen and Grey duke it out with other factors holding them back instead of …. this. I don’t want to spoil anything but it’s not where I was hoping this would go at all and I’m really not thrilled about it. I am hoping we get to see all four POVs, maybe, in the last book. (Is it the last?)

I really think this could have been a two-book series (which is what I thought it would be), cutting out a lot of traveling (you know how much I hate and get bored by journeys in books) and cutting down a lot of the random stops along the way from Emberfall to Syhl Shallow and back again. I just didn’t love the structure, I didn’t love the POVs, and I didn’t love the ending, so this was more of a disappointment to me. I really wasn’t engaged while reading and it was fine but I won’t be raving about it any time soon.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Grey. I loved Grey in the first book and I did still enjoy his character here, but I also felt like it wasn’t quite as interesting.
Left Me Wanting More: Consistency. There was just too much that was disconnected from the first book. I missed Rhen and Harper. I missed the connection to DC and the modern world.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I’d say it’s still worth the read but book three has a lot of work to do, in my opinion. I’m curious to see what will happen next!

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BOOKS LIKE A HEART SO FIERCE AND BROKEN

             

The Mortal Coil (This Mortal Coil #1) – Emily Suvada

The Mortal Coil (This Mortal Coil #1) – Emily SuvadaTitle: This Mortal Coil (This Mortal Coil #1) by Emily Suvada
Publishing Info: November 7, 2017 by Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Date Completed: January 15, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

When a lone soldier, Cole, arrives with news of Lachlan Agatta's death, all hope seems lost for Catarina. Her father was the world's leading geneticist, and humanity's best hope of beating a devastating virus. Then, hidden beneath Cole's genehacked enhancements she finds a message of hope: Lachlan created a vaccine.

Only she can find and decrypt it, if she can unravel the clues he left for her. The closer she gets, the more she finds herself at risk from Cartaxus, a shadowy organization with a stranglehold on the world's genetic tech. But it's too late to turn back.

There are three billion lives at stake, two people who can save them, and one final secret that Cat must unlock. A secret that will change everything.

bookreview1

I read this book based off of some glowing reviews from Instagram friends, usually people whose tastes I align with, but THIS MORTAL COIL fell a little flat for me.

I’ve been really into sci-fi lately but I notice a trend with my sci-fi: I’ve been enjoying books involving space or time travel/alternate universes. Sci-fi books with other themes need just a bit more to hold my attention and THIS MORTAL COIL had a little bit of a wow factor but it also lost me in some places.

The big buzz about this book was the series of plot twists, some bigger than others. I was really impressed with the biggest twist, which I didn’t see coming until it was already on top of us. It was a really neat concept and well-executed! I liked that the book as well as the twist had a little something different — a step outside of some of the overused plots. Emily Suvada brought some elements to this book that were unique and creative, and I always love being surprised!

Where I wasn’t as thrilled was the characters. This is a problem I seem to have with a lot of dystopian-type settings. Everything is so life-or-death that everyone is so serious all the time and all of the characters fall a little flat, lacking some of the better depth that I’ve connected with in other books. Aside from being serious and determined, I didn’t really feel a lot from any of the characters. I love banter and just about every group has some sort of comic relief and I just hoped for more of a witty character or someone who lightened things up every once in a while. I can’t count on a romance bringing lightness to a book. I guess it works in some situations and for some readers, but I’d love to see more well-rounded personalities from everyone.

While the ending of the book was interesting, I’m not sure I want to continue the series. The characters just didn’t do it for me and it made me not as interested in their stories, despite the captivating plot. Unrelated, the audiobook narrator was…. weird. She had some mispronunciations for some super common words and it was just plain bizarre that no one corrected her or fixed it. When you pronounce “vaccine” oddly (emphasis on the first syllable), don’t know how to say “capillaries”, and don’t know how to pronounce “saline”… it just really threw me off it was just weird. (Maybe people do pronounce these differently? I’ve never heard it though.)

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Kept Me Hooked On: Interesting sci-fi concepts. I was definitely interested by the plot and there were some good twists and clever concepts here.
Left Me Wanting More: Character connection. The characters were mostly blah to me. It was too dystopian/fast-paced and not enough time developing the actual characters for me.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I personally won’t be continuing the series and didn’t really connect with this one, but so many people absolutely loved it! I’d say check out some other reviews or just give it a try! It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great enough for me to really want to continue.

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BOOKS LIKE THIS MORTAL COIL

             

Scream All Night – Derek Milman

Scream All Night – Derek MilmanTitle: Scream All Night by Derek Milman
Publishing Info: July 24, 2018 by HarperCollins, Balzer + Bray
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: January 4, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

A darkly hilarious contemporary realistic young adult novel about growing up and finding your place in the world, perfect for fans of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Running With Scissors.

Dario Heyward knows one thing: He’s never going back to Moldavia Studios, the iconic castle that served as the set, studio, and home to the cast and crew of dozens of cult classic B-horror movies. It’s been three years since Dario’s even seen the place, after getting legally emancipated from his father, the infamous director of Moldavia’s creature features.

But then Dario’s brother invites him home to a mysterious ceremony involving his father and a tribute to his first film—The Curse of the Mummy’s Tongue. Dario swears his homecoming will be a one-time visit. A way for him to get closure on his past—and reunite with Hayley, his first love and costar of Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, a production fraught with real-life tragedy—and say good-bye for good. But the unthinkable happens—Dario gets sucked back into the twisted world of Moldavia and the horrors, both real and imagined, he’s left there.

With only months to rescue the sinking studio and everyone who has built their lives there, Dario must confront the demons of his past—and the uncertainties of his future. But can he escape the place that’s haunted him his whole life?

bookreview1

SCREAM ALL NIGHT was an enjoyable book! I’ve been loving books with dark humor like UNDEAD GIRL GANG and KILL THE BOY BAND and SCREAM ALL NIGHT seemed like the perfect recommendation for those books so I knew I wanted to give it a shot!

The beginning of the book started off with a bang (quite literally, actually. No pun intended, but well-fitting). Instantly there was some dark comedy, a wacky family, and some laugh-out-loud moments and I knew I would love this book! Then it kind of dissipated as the book went along and those laugh-out-loud moments were fewer and fewer. It wasn’t in a bad way, but the book got a little more serious than I had anticipated and overall, I had found myself wishing for a bit more hijinks and wacky, weird comedy. Dario’s brother was just a bit too weird sometimes and it lost some of that humor for me whereas other characters could have brought more of that comedy to the scene and didn’t. I mean, these were merely my anticipations of the book so I’m not critiquing that it should have been there, just that it was what I was hoping for. I think I was just hoping for more zany weird and sarcastic weird instead of “this guy may actually be delusional” weird.

The plot was actually interesting and had a great message, really coming together nicely in the end. Dario’s family is quite complicated and abusive (both physically and psychologically) so throughout the book, there’s a constant question of whether he’ll stick with the family that he had emancipated himself from now that his father is gone or continue to venture out on his own in the world. There are a lot of different layers of these familial relationships and I really appreciated how Derek Milman handled everything! It wasn’t just a mean parent or a jealous sibling, etc etc. There were a lot of different moving pieces that caused Dario’s family to fall apart as it did, or rather, converge on him in a sort of attack.

The horror movie aspect of the book was so much fun and I love how it played into everything! It wasn’t just that the family ran a horror production company — the business and movies themselves played big parts in everyone’s lives in different ways and it truly shaped the book and the characters. I loved that it sort of played its own role in the book and was used as a way for the characters to communicate with one another. Sometimes the movies made spoke words that the characters couldn’t. Other times the movies were used to heal. Sometimes the movies were moments of reaching out. It was really neat and very well-written how everything really did tie together.

I think I was just expecting to be a little more connected and didn’t anticipate the middle of the book to be so serious — I was just anticipating a lot more of that comedy and an actual light feel for the whole book and the book just wasn’t meant to be an LOL-fest the whole time. I did enjoy my read of SCREAM ALL NIGHT and it was a good book for me. I had a hard time knowing what I wanted to start for my first book of the year and I started and stopped a couple that just weren’t feeling right. This was the first book I started and wanted to finish and I’m definitely glad I read it!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique realistic fiction stories. This wasn’t one I probably would have picked up on my own (I picked it up as a rec!) and it was really neat reading something like this!
Left Me Wanting More: Laughs. It wasn’t that the book needed more comedy, it’s just that it’s what I was expecting for some reason. I think I personally would have enjoyed it more if it was a constant riot of funny, but that was my personal expectation.

Addiction Rating
Add it to your TBR!

It’s definitely worth checking out and was a fun and also lovely read. I liked seeing this unique family and a different perspective that I don’t normally read.

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BOOKS LIKE SCREAM ALL NIGHT

             

One of Us Is Lying (One of Us is Lying #1) – Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying (One of Us is Lying #1) – Karen M. McManusTitle: One of Us is Lying (One of Us is Lying #1) by Karen M. McManus
Publishing Info: May 30, 2017 by Delacourte Press
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: December 27, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High's notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn't an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he'd planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who's still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

bookreview1

I feel like there was a TON of hype surrounding this book was it was first coming out in 2017. I’ve been sitting on this review for a while (really just because of time, not for any special reason) and the more I look back on, the less I feel about it. I don’t really get the hype and excitement over it and it makes me sad that another young adult mystery book that felt over simplified when it came to the characters and disconnected in order to preserve the mystery of “whodunnit”. The book was still an enjoyable read in a lot of ways, but didn’t quite grab or thrill me. It was complicated because the whole time, I felt like it couldn’t be the four main narrators and yet the book made you feel like it was one of them. The conclusion was surprising and yet made sense all at the same time.

I did like the character relationships and how they came together in this time of accusation. They really started to find themselves when they were put in the spotlight, the worst of everything and everyone exposed. Not everything was pretty but I also felt like the author did a great job at portraying the relationships of high school students (including familial relationships) without it feeling overly dramatic or hyperbolic. Every relationship really did feel real and accurate for the drama of the teenage years.

I wished I had felt a little more connected somehow because looking back, I just really don’t feel connected to this book at all. My initial reactions were that it was entertaining and enjoyable albeit a bit lacking in some ways, but now I just feel like I was disappointed by it. While initial reactions are definitely important, I also think it’s critical to see how you feel about a book after time has gone by. I don’t have the desire to pick up the next book in this series after sitting on this for a while. addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Close-quarters thrillers. I liked that this was a “Breakfast Club” type feel with a lot of the kids spending time together at school or together to make things interesting!
Left Me Wanting More: Depth. When I first read it, I remembered it being pretty enjoyable. Looking back, I feel like there wasn’t a whole lot there and I wish there was a lot more depth there. The ending was surprising still but I can’t help but feel like I’m a little let down now.

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you’re not a mystery/thriller reader, maybe you’ll enjoy this one more. I feel like I’ve already read so many thrillers, most of which are adult thrillers, and they just have a different feel.

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BOOKS LIKE ONE OF US IS LYING

             

Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) – Kerri Maniscalco

Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) – Kerri ManiscalcoTitle: Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Info: September 10, 2019 by Hachette, Little Brown, Jimmy Patterson
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction
Date Completed: December 25, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1), Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2), Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World's Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they've heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him---and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device---is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end---together and in love---or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

bookreview1

It’s no secret that I’ve been a big fan of Kerri Maniscalco and her Stalking Jack the Ripper series! Audrey Rose and Thomas were such a beautiful couple and the books were so much fun, getting me into a historical fiction perspective while having a fun mystery and a dash of romance. I actually started CAPTURING THE DEVIL around when it released back in September and just due to a busy schedule, I wasn’t able to finish until my holiday break in December. I’m really glad I was able to give it time so I could spent a good chunk reading!

I was incredibly curious about the inclusion of H.H. Holmes AND the finale of the whole series, really bringing everything full circle! I really enjoyed how there were pieces of this book that were hidden throughout the series. I did find that portion to be a little rushed, though, and I really wished we had gotten to see more of Audrey Rose’s and Thomas’ interactions with Holmes and not just a quick rough & tumble portion where things concluded in a frenzy. We barely even got to see Holmes or the “murder castle” and I just thought the characters would be spending much more time there and not just a quick, fast-paced conclusion. I feel like the other books spent a lot more time setting up and developing the mystery where this book spend a large amount of time with the romance.

While I do love Audrey Rose & Thomas, I just felt like there was way too much time spent on their romance and I wanted it to flow more naturally within the story and not take up a third of the book on its own. I feel like when it came down to it, this book was more about Audrey Rose & Thomas and their romantic drama than it was about the mystery, so that was really a bummer for me. I know that tons of people love their romance and I can imagine a lot of people being happy with it, but for me, I liked it more when it was a part of the character development that came along with the story and felt natural as the mystery investigation was going on. The beginning of the book and the wedding drama felt really forced and totally unnecessary and I really wish there had been no drama revolving around the wedding and that it would have been a shining moment to close the series. Instead it was kind of a negative thing for a long time. I guess I did like that it wasn’t an ideal situation and that Audrey Rose & Thomas were once again able to work through something that was a “scandal” or wasn’t a society norm.

Sadly, this was probably my least favorite book of the series. Series finales are always hard for me but I just really wanted so much more murder mystery and time focused on H.H. Holmes. It seemed like he and the murders were more of a thing in passing instead of being the most important thing of the book.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Murder Mysteries. It was really neat to see things taking place in Chicago and to get a glimpse of H.H. Holmes to uncover what was happening there.
Left Me Wanting More: Murder Mystery. I just wanted so much more mystery and far less romance. I just don’t like when the romance takes over a book when it’s not “supposed” to be the main plot. It was very important in this book but it just felt like a little too much of the focus.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’ve been following the series and you’ve been enjoying it up to this point, I would say definitely finish the series. I’m glad that I did! If you haven’t enjoyed the series much then I’d say maybe this book wouldn’t be for you either.

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BOOKS LIKE CAPTURING THE DEVIL