Tag Archives: 4 stars

Book Review: There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

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There’s Someone Inside Your House

Release Date: September 26th 2017

4 stars

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.
International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.

This book was definitely a complete turn-around from the themes of Anna and the French Kiss and its companions. Is it wrong to call a book full of horror and gore a fun read? This book gave me the same kind of feelings I get when I am all comfortable, wrapped in a blanket with popcorn, waiting for a horror movie to start. I know I’ll probably be creeped out and wonder why I chose to do that to myself but I’m excited anyway.

Makani was the new girl in a small town, sent to live with her grandmother by her divorcing parents. She was escaping an incident back home and was hoping to hide her past from her new classmates. When the attacks started to happen, I could see why she feared it was linked to her past even before it was revealed what had happened back then. I liked the romance she had with Ollie, though it was pretty fast and got intense but it did provide a catalyst for some hilarious scenes between Makani and her grandmother.

This book was pitched as Scream meets YA and I can definitely agree with that. A lot of the murdered characters got little page time but still had little moments to make the reader feel when they died. The death scenes were gory but it was the smaller moments that were really creepy. There were still moments of friendship during the book as Makani tried to balance her new relationship with hanging out with her two friends.

It was an entertaining, creepy read and very different from Stephanie Perkins other books. I can’t wait to see what she has planned next

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: a Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

Poison Dark and Drowning

A Poison Dark and Drowning

Release date: September 19th 2017

4 stars

In this seductive and explosive second book in the Kingdom on Fire series, Jessica Cluess delivers her signature mix of magic, passion, and teen warriors fighting for survival. Hand to fans of Victoria Aveyard, Sarah J. Maas, and Kiersten White.
Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.
Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own. So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth.

This sequel picked up pretty soon after the first book left off. It felt like everything I loved from the first book, the darkness, the magic, the relationships between characters, the interesting society, was amplified in the sequel and it was great. I loved the little moments where the characters still tried to go on with their everyday lives even though they were sorcerers being called to battle monsters. The book was fast paced and ended up being a quick read because of it.

Henrietta was even more determined in this book to prove that she can handle herself as a woman with powers. She may not be the chosen one but she was still very badass and it was easy to see why her group of friends would follow her. Her strength was in her belief in herself and her friends, in her determination to save people even if it meant going against her vows and using the “wrong” magic. The dynamics between the group was great, just like in the first book. I did find myself missing a couple of the boys who had lesser roles in this sequel but hopefully the next book will have lots of scenes with the whole original group. If they all survive because the fight scenes were very intense and brutal.

The new characters introduced were great and it added to the dynamic of the group. I really liked Maria, a witch they found during a journey and who was more badass than all of them combined. Her addition to the group changed the dynamics a bit and it gave Henrietta another female character to interact with, which was nice.

There were many twists in the plot, some easier to predict than others, but all the twists made sense, which I liked. There was a lot done to set up the third book without sacrificing development of the plot and characters in this one so it didn’t feel like it suffered some middle book syndrome. It definitely has me excited for the third book(last one?) but with a big battle looming I do worry about losing some of my favourite characters.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Like Water by Rebecca Podos

Like Water

Like Water

Release date: October 1 2017

4 stars

In Savannah Espinoza’s small New Mexico hometown, kids either flee after graduation or they’re trapped there forever. Vanni never planned to get stuck—but that was before her father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, leaving her and her mother to care for him. Now, she doesn’t have much of a plan at all: living at home, working as a performing mermaid at a second-rate water park, distracting herself with one boy after another.
That changes the day she meets Leigh. Disillusioned with small-town life and looking for something greater, Leigh is not a “nice girl.” She is unlike anyone Vanni has met, and a friend when Vanni desperately needs one. Soon enough, Leigh is much more than a friend. But caring about another person stirs up the moat Vanni has carefully constructed around herself, and threatens to bring to the surface the questions she’s held under for so long.

I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into when I started to read this book. I had an ARC of it and the cover caught my attention but I’d just glimpsed at the synopsis. It seemed interesting so it was the one that ended up getting picked from the TBR to read. It ended up being a very good, very relatable read. What I thought was going to be a pretty quick, light read turned into a very meaningful reading experience.

Savannah, or “Vanni”, was a girl who knew what she wanted from life. She had a plan to get out of her small town and make a life for herself that wouldn’t have her coming back to her hometown in a few years like most people who left. Her plans were derailed when her father got sick and she pushed away her friends, not wanting their presence to remind her of the future she thought was now out of her reach. When she met a new boy and his sister, she began to rediscover herself. She ended up with a new job and new feelings.

I loved the relationship between Vanni and Leigh. Both girls were searching for something and found it in each other. Both of them needed the other in different ways and I loved that their relationship wasn’t perfect in terms of no bumps in the road, but it was meaningful and great to read.

I really enjoyed the strong sense of family and community that flowed through the book as well. It was a huge part of who Vanni was and a huge part of her growth arc as she had to figure out where she fit into the world and her future. It made for a very character-driven plot and a much deeper book than I was anticipating. In a good way.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Dramatically Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

Dramatically Ever After

Dramatically Ever After

4 stars

Senior year is not shaping up to be the picture perfect movie Em Katsaros had imagined. Her super hot leading man is five thousand miles away. Her dad just got laid off. And Em can kiss her first-pick university goodbye if she doesn’t snag a scholarship.
To turn this Shakespearean tragedy into the Academy Award-winning dream Em has written for herself, she enters a speech competition and manages to cinch a spot in the US Youth Change Council national round. She gets to spend a week in Boston and her prayers might be answered if she can kick butt and win one of the national scholarships.
Everything seems to be going by the script until she finds out Kris Lambert–senior class president, stuck-up jerk, and her nemesis–is going, too. Cue the dramatic music. In Boston, Kris is different. Nice. Cute, even. But she knows his game way too well–be nice to your opponents and then throw them under the bus on your way to victory. Instead of becoming his next victim, Em decides to turn the tables by putting her acting and flirting skills to work. Unfortunately, as they get close to the final competition and judging, reality and acting start to blur.
Can Em use the drama from the stage to get the future she’s been dreaming of?

This companion novel to Bookishly Ever After brought me back to a cast of characters I fell in love with and, this time, put the spotlight on theatre and the world of competitive speeches. There were so many movie and theatre references, along with some of Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon(those were definitely my favourite). This book was really cute, had great character growth, and I had a lot of fun going back into the Ever After universe. I can’t wait to see who will be staring in the third book.

Em, the main character in this sequel, loved the theatre, loved performing, and often made references toward movies and actresses she loved. Her ability to act and harness her emotions into her scenes really helped when she delivered speeches. I really loved seeing her grow into herself as the story went on, becoming more confident in her own abilities instead of hiding behind a character. The dynamic she had with Kris was a lot of fun to read and reminded me a bit of the Anne/Gilbert dynamic from Anne of Green Gables. They drove each other crazy and argued all the time but there were definitely always underlying feelings.

This group of friends was so much fun to read. They were all so close, the chemistry in that group of friends that was a huge draw in the first book was back in this one. Even with Em in Boston for a lot of the book, we still got to see the group of friends interacting, either before, after, or by phone and text throughout her speech competition. The romance was also a lot of fun. I loved seeing Em and Kris debate over everything.

I really liked the speech writing aspect of the story as well. Em was vying for a scholarship so she could attend the college she wanted instead of her parents’ choice but she was insecure about her actual talent for writing since she thought performing was where she excelled. It was interesting to see her work with her mentor to improve her speech and see her perform the final result.

This book was a very cute read, one perfect for sitting outside in the Summer or curling up in a chair by a fire. This is a universe I really have come to love and I can’t wait to visit it again.

*I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

One Dark Throne

One Dark Throne

Release date: October 4 2017

4 stars

The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

This sequel picked up soon after Three Dark Crown’s left off and, in very typical Kendare Blake fashion, built on everything the first book delivered and added even more darkness, blurred lines, and engaging plot details. I liked that this series so far balances the big shock moments with little reveals that can be just as surprising. A lot of times I find myself more surprised by the little reveals since I’m not looking for them as much as I am the big twists. I really like the moral greyness of so many of the characters. They can be brutal but it would usually be for their survival or the survival of a loved one.

After this second book, I would say my favourite sister is a toss up between Mirabella and Arsinoe. Katharine was very interesting and I can’t wait to see where her story arc goes but so far, I feel more of a connection to the other two sisters. Mirabella, the original favourite to win who now seemed like the underdog, and Arsinoe, the one no one thought had a chance. We can see how devoted and loyal these girls are to the ones they love and they would have been the best of sisters if they’d been given the chance instead of being pit against each other. All three girls had a lot of development through this second book and it set up the last book so well.

Jules was a character who also got quite a bit of POV time and we see her dedication to Arsinoe through her arc. She discovered a lot more about herself and her family and I can’t wait to see where the third book takes her.

I loved that this sequel retained the elements I loved from the first book and pushed them even further. The magic, the dynamics between the sisters, the battle for the throne, all of it was more intense and darker. I’m excited to see just how dark it will get in the last book.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Before She Ignites

Before She Ignites

Release date: September 12th 2017

4 stars

Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland. But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect. No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

 

I love Jodi Meadows so I was really excited to see a new book by her coming out. And this one involved dragons! I really liked the world Jodi Meadows created and can’t wait to see more of it in the second book. I also very much enjoyed reading about Mira and all the people surrounding her. It was a very strong cast of characters and it was fun to read.

Mira was a very interesting character. She had anxiety and her struggle with it was very relatable. With always being told her looks were her best asset, it was great to see Mira finding herself and her voice through the book. I really enjoyed her whole journey through her growth arc. And the dynamics between her and the supporting cast were so amazing that I could have read about them all just hanging out together.

The setting was another thing that was great. Dark and a little scary but perfect to set up the whole story. It was broken up by flashbacks. These flashbacks worked well within the story and didn’t interrupt the flow of the narrative, which was great.

Dragons! There were dragons in this book and not just some passing-by mentions. They were heavily important to the story and it was great. I’m very excited that this is a trilogy because I can’t wait to see where Jodi Meadows takes us all.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L Armentrout

If there's no tomorrow

If There’s No Tomorrow

Release date: September 5th 2017

4 stars

Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend, Sebastian, know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be one of opportunities and chances. Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything. Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian could never forgive her for what happened. For what she let happen. With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?

Jennifer L Armentrout has been a favourite author since I fell in love with the Lux series and as long as books like this one keep coming out, that isn’t going to change. It didn’t take long to get sucked into the plot, feel a connection to Lena, and just generally fall in love with this book.

Lena was a character I liked immediately. She started off pretty early talking about books so that is always a way for a character to win my heart. It was her senior year and she was looking forward the parties, volleyball games, and just having an epic last year before her group of friends graduated. When the tragedy alluded to in the synopsis happened, we saw Lena struggle with guilt and grief. It was hard to read but also very realistic. It was Lena’s struggle to move on and her grieving that was her story arc.

I really enjoyed Lena’s relationship with Sebastian. It was the familiar plot of best friends where one was in love with the other but they were still great together, either as friends or maybe one day more. I loved how supportive he was of her.

This was a very, very emotional book. It didn’t take long for the waterworks to start and once they did, they were impossible to stop. There was also laughter, the book wasn’t all darkness and sadness. I love when Jennifer L Armentrout’s characters are bookworms because they often read books that actually exist and it’s always fun to see them reading books that I also love.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Book Review: This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

This Darkness Mine

This Darkness Mine

Release date: October 10th 2017

4 stars

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved. But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all? Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

It’s hard for me to say that this was my least favourite of the Mindy McGinnis books that I’ve read because I did really enjoy it. It’s more that the other ones I read blew me away and this one didn’t quite live up to them. It still had the dark tone, twists, and great characters that I’ve come to expect from her, and I can’t say that I was disappointed in it, I just didn’t like it as much as her other books. Still liked it though.

Sasha was a very interesting character. She could definitely be described as a goody goody but also a mean girl. All that was thrown into question when she got a text from bad boy Isaac after she supposedly gave him her cell phone number but she remembered nothing of that. The plot took a turn to the dark and strange when we found out Sasha had a twin in the womb that she absorbed and this twin could take control of her body. It added a creepy vibe to the plot that made the book impossible to put down.

I really liked Isaac. Bad boy with a sweet side might be a cliché but it’s also a huge weakness of mine. I liked the supporting cast as well. It was Sasha’s story but they still had some great standout moments.

I loved how much the book made me second guess myself. Sasha was an unreliable narrator but I wanted to believe her. It was one that kept me second guessing to the end. I love when that happens. This is great for anyone looking for a creepy, twisty plot that will hopefully keep you guessing as well.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Dazzling Heights by Katherine McGee

Dazzling Heights

The Dazzling Heights

Release date: August 29th 2017

4 stars

New York, 2118. Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a breathtaking marvel that touches the sky. But amidst high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, five teenagers are keeping dangerous secrets…
LEDA is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’ll do anything to make sure the truth stays hidden–even if it means trusting her enemy.
WATT just wants to put everything behind him…until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Will he do what it takes to be free of her for good?
When RYLIN wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being there means seeing the boy whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return.
AVERY is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. She’s desperate to be with him… no matter the cost.
And then there’s CALLIOPE, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who arrives in New York, determined to cause a stir. And she knows exactly where to begin.
But unbeknownst to them all, someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. And in a world of such dazzling heights, just one wrong step can mean a devastating fall.

I really enjoyed The Thousandth Floor last year, it was one of the books that surprised me with how much I got into it. It was like a futuristic Gossip Girl in some ways. This sequel stuck with the similar format that the first book had. Start with a scene from the future then go back a few months to show how events led up to that point while alternating between the POVs of a few characters. I found the multi-POV really worked because all the characters were so different. It was easy not to get them confused.

Watt and Rylin were my two favourites. Maybe it was because they came from lower floors so they weren’t the rich elite and I found them a bit more relatable than Leda and Avery, or even new character Calliope. I was a bit surprised at how much I found myself feeling sympathetic toward Leda in this book. She wasn’t my favourite in the first book, not by far, but she was paying for a lot of the mistakes she made, mistakes that maybe could have been prevented if her father had been more truthful. Avery I went back and forth on. Sometimes I felt empathy toward her but sometimes I was wishing she would stop to consider other people’s opinions. Calliope was a good addition. She and her mother were con artists and offered a new insight into the characters she met.

The plot centered mostly around the characters dealing with the events from book one and trying to move on in various ways. Their plans didn’t quite happen the way they were expecting or hoping and new wrinkles would appear just as they thought maybe things were turning their way. Calliope was the only character POV who wasn’t present for the first book so it was interesting to see her thoughts as they were fresh to the whole story.

I thought the author did a great job with the pacing, sucking me right into the plot, and with the varied POVs. There wasn’t one time I was wishing to be in someone else’s POV. This book, even with all the healing the characters were trying to do, ended up being a little darker than the first. We see just how far people are willing to go to protect their secrets. It also means the setup for the last book is fantastic.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney C Stevens

Dress Codes for Small Towns

Dress Codes for a Small Town

Release Date: August 29 2017

4 stars

The year I was seventeen, I had five best friends…and I was in love with all of them for different reasons. Billie McCaffrey is always starting things. Like couches constructed of newspapers and two-by-fours. Like costumes made of aluminum cans and Starburst wrappers. Like trouble. This year, however, trouble comes looking for her. Her best friends, a group she calls the Hexagon, have always been schemers. They scheme for kicks and giggles. What happens when you microwave a sock? They scheme to change their small town of Otters Holt, Kentucky, for the better. Why not campaign to save the annual Harvest Festival we love so much? They scheme because they need to scheme. How can we get the most unlikely candidate elected to the town’s highest honor? But when they start scheming about love, things go sideways. In Otters Holt, love has been defined only one way—girl and boy fall in love, get married, and buy a Buick, and there’s sex in there somewhere. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple. Can the Hexagon, her parents, and the town she calls home handle the real Billie McCaffrey?

I’ve read two previous books by Courtney C Stevens and they were great, some of my favourites. She writes amazing relationships and friendships and since this book seemed like it would focus on a group of friends, I had high hopes for some interesting dynamics between these characters. And they were definitely present, just not completely in the way I was expecting from the synopsis.

The main character was Billie, and we were mostly in her POV during the book. She was just starting to discover who she was, what she wanted, and it didn’t fit into her town’s usual ways. She already had to deal with a lot of judgment for the way she dressed and acted, and being the preacher’s daughter just added more judgment from the townspeople. Her group of friends, called the Hexagon, was her only safe place. We also got a little of Davey’s POV, the newest member of the Hexagon. He was sweet, complex, and it was interesting to see how different he was when he was with the Hexagon compared to his old group of friends.

The plot revolved heavily around self-discovery, the antics of the Hexagon, and the story of an epic summer. The Hexagons did cause some trouble but they also did some good. I could see why some people in the town thought they were a disturbance or delinquents but the kids just wanted to have fun. Their biggest problem was they didn’t always have the foresight to think about the consequences of their actions.

The book had a familiar feel to it, like hanging out with your own friends in the summer, creating adventures and trying to make memories. There wasn’t a whole lot of extra action, the plot was very character-driver, but when it’s Courtney C Stevens characters, that is not a bad thing at all.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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