Category: Review (page 1 of 198)

BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken

BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra BrackenThe Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1)
by Alexandra Bracken
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

It rained the day they brought us to Thurmond, and it went on to rain straight through the week, and the week after that.

A few weeks ago I picked up the fourth book in this series, The Darkest Legacy. After reading it and remembering how good Bracken’s writing was, I decided I needed to reread the original trilogy. I had missed a world with Ruby, Liam, Chubs, Vida, and Zu.

That girl was gone forever, and all that was left was a product of the place that had taught her to fear the bright things inside of her heart.

The thing that I love about this series so much is how unique of a premise it is. In an America that we are familiar with geographically and historically, a new virus spreads. It affects younger kids; leaving them dead or with certain powers. Once the government realizes how dangerous the ones who have been left alive could be, they build camps. Horrible, horrible camps for these children to live in. The general public think that their children are being “reformed”—that they will someday comeback to them normal. If only they knew. Because such a huge chunk of the population was affected by this virus, the country is essentially in chaos and on the brink of collapsing entirely.

“Time to carpe the hell out of this diem.” 

Ruby is the first main character that the reader is acquainted with. We are with her as she is taken to the camp, broken out of the camp, and as she meets up with Liam, Zu, and Chubs. While I have seen a lot of people on this site who dislike Ruby, I couldn’t disagree more. She starts out as a weak character, yes, but she grows. I think part of the reason that I love her so much is that I can relate to her. Growing up, I was always a follower—not a leader. I had a strong willed best friend that I kind of hid behind, just as Ruby had Sam in the camp. I kept my head down and let her do all the talking. However, once Ruby got out of the camp and came to be with the Black Betty gang, she gained a purpose and started to become brave. Now I am a wimp…for the most part. If you stuck me in a dystopian world, I would most likely die pretty quickly. However, me being the eldest in my family, if I was in said dystopian world with my siblings, I would leave the follower attitude behind and do whatever the fuck I needed to to keep my family alive. And I think this is Ruby. This is how she operates and it is why I understand her and empathize with her character.

“Did you know…you make me so happy that sometimes I actually forget to breathe? I’ll be looking at your, and my chest will get so tight…and it’s like the only thought in my head is how much I want to reach over and kiss you.” 

Besides Ruby, I think that her supporting cast is just as amazing. Zu is adorable and I was so glad that I finally got to read her novella. Finding out what happened while she left End River was…hard. Chubs of course Chubs. He’s an old soul who is pretty cranky all of the time but will protect those he loves ferociously. I just felt so bad, knowing the kind of potential he had but the fact that he couldn’t go to school. I just feel for all of them. Completely robbed of their childhoods…This would be a horrifying world to behold.

“Cause, frankly, the way I see it, you and me? Inevitable.” 

Oh. Liam. Don’t worry, I could never forget about sweet Liam. He’s probably in my top five of BBFs EVER. He’s the only boy whose Southern accent I find charming, let me tell you. I think the romance he had with Ruby was perfect. It may have come on faster than what could be realistic, but in a world like that…I’ll let it slide. And anyway, the romance itself was such a sweet one. Liam helps Ruby feel wanted…feel grounded…feel like she has a home. It’s never overdone, never too much. He’s not a bad boy, there isn’t some sort of horrible misunderstanding between them. He is genuinely good and I found that, in this book and with Ruby, to be perfect.♥

Be cunning and full of tricks, and your people shall never be destroyed. 

Overall, this will always be one of my favorite series. From the plot, to the writing, to the characters, this book has always managed to sink its claws into me. Recommended to anyone who loves Sci-fi, dystopian esque YA.

BOOK REVIEW: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

BOOK REVIEW: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

Julia Donnelly eggs my house the first night I’m back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything.

“Hey, stranger,” he says as I climb into the passenger seat, in a voice like I’m not one at all. “Wreck any homes today?” I snort. “Not yet.”

Here’s the thing, I really liked this book. I liked Molly, the protagonist of the book. With that said, Molly makes a lot of dumb mistakes in the book. She is far from perfect. Even when she thinks she’s learned from a past mistake, she makes it again. This is frustrating from a reader’s perspective, but how many of us have done the same thing or have a friend who makes the same stupid mistake again and again?

If you are averse to reading anything with love triangles, cheating or imperfect MC’s, walk away. This book isn’t for you.

Molly knows exactly what she did and spends the course of the book dealing with the aftermath, attempting to atone for those grievances and making more mistakes. She is 17, slightly self-centered and in need of growing up. But with all of this said, I still rooted for her.

He was my best friend. He was my first love. I had sex with his big brother. I broke his fucking heart.

I’m not spoiling anything by saying that Molly cheated on her first boyfriend, Patrick, with his older brother, Gabe. Following the news making its way around town, she is essentially ostracized for her mistake by almost everyone. It’s harsh and I appreciated the author making it very clear there is a huge double-standard placed on women in these situations. They are the homewrecker, the slut/whore, etc., while the man was tempted/coerced/etc. The woman should have known better, she made her choice, it was her fault, etc. Ugh.

Eventually, Gabe and Molly start to develop a real relationship when he is home from college, and as you can imagine, is awkward for many of the other characters, including Molly’s former friend/current tormentor and Gabe and Patrick’s sister, Julia. Despite how great things are with Gabe, Molly continues to have complicated thoughts and feelings about Patrick.

With Gabe I never feel like a walking, talking letdown. With Gabe I just feel like me. So why can’t I stop thinking about his brother?

I feel like a horror show, I feel like exactly the kind of nightmare Julia thinks I am – tearing through the Donnellys again and again like some kind of natural disaster.

While sometimes I just wanted to grab Molly and shake her, I then wanted to follow it up with a big hug. Does she cause a lot of pain for herself? Yes. But does she deserve everything that is given to her? Absolutely not. Besides the obvious focus on the romantic relationships, there’s some nice focus on friendships, a unique mother-daughter relationship and learning to find yourself at such a precarious age.

The author recently released a follow-up this book, 9 Days and 9 Nights, which I will be reading here shortly. I’m looking forward to meeting Molly and Gabe and seeing where their story is headed next.

“Why are you going to let people who are hell-bent on not forgiving you keep you from something that could actually be great?”

BOOK REVIEW: Sadie by Courtney Summers

BOOK REVIEW: Sadie by Courtney SummersSadie by Courtney Summers
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

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 meagre 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.

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, and the author, Courtney Summers, for my free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

“And it begins, as so many stories do, with a dead girl.”

I finished Sadie almost a month ago and I’ve struggled how I wanted to review this book. I haven’t really read anything like it and honestly, after I finished the last page and closed the book, I was left feeling a bit sad and empty.

It’s a tragic story on every level. Sadie, our main character, hasn’t had an easy life. Her mother, who is both a drug addict and often absent, has abandoned Sadie and her other daughter Mattie, in their small rural town. Mind you, Sadie is around 17 when the story begins, who isn’t even an adult herself. And then Mattie is murdered, shattering Sadie’s entire paper-thin world. And with nothing left to lose, and no help from anyone else, Sadie begins her quest to get justice for Mattie.

Intertwined in Sadie’s story is investigative journalist/podcaster Wes McCray, who is working to figure out what happened to Sadie, as we learn she is consider “missing” by the small group of people who care about her. The format of the novel is ‘regular’ chapters from Sadie’s POV and transcript chapters from Wes’s podcast interviews. I really enjoyed this format and loved a true crime podcast as a vehicle for telling Sadie’s story, as there are so many great true crime podcasts doing similar work in real-life.

I also appreciated Summers giving Sadie an additional layer of complexity, as Sadie has an almost debilitating stutter that greatly affects how she interacts with others. It’s not something I’ve seen put into a story before, so kudos for Summers adding in that representation.

I don’t want to give anything away, but this is not an easy story to read. There’s not a lot of happiness or light-hearted moments. It’s a dark but realistic story, so just go in preparing to get heart stomped all over. Don’t let that deter you, but just be prepared.

I have risked everything for this kindness, or whatever it is, and that make me worry I’m too starved, too broken, to anything right.

Be sure to also check out Chelsea’s review and interview with Courtney Summers here.

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Keeper of the Bees (Black Birds of the Gallows) by Meg Kassel

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Keeper of the Bees (Black Birds of the Gallows) by Meg Kassel

I completely devoured this book! So check out my 4 Star Review below and enter a fabulous giveaway! Enjoy!

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Keeper of the Bees (Black Birds of the Gallows) by Meg KasselKeeper of the Bees (Black Birds of the Gallows)
by Meg Kassel
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Dresden is cursed. His chest houses a hive of bees that he can’t stop from stinging people with psychosis-inducing venom. His face is a shifting montage of all the people who have died because of those stings. And he has been this way for centuries―since he was eighteen and magic flowed through his homeland, corrupting its people.

He follows harbingers of death, so at least his curse only affects those about to die anyway. But when he arrives in a Midwest town marked for death, he encounters Essie, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from debilitating delusions and hallucinations. His bees want to sting her on sight. But Essie doesn’t see a monster when she looks at Dresden.

Essie is fascinated and delighted by his changing features. Risking his own life, he holds back his bees and spares her. What starts out as a simple act of mercy ends up unraveling Dresden’s solitary life and Essie’s tormented one. Their impossible romance might even be powerful enough to unravel a centuries-old curse.

Review:

Black Birds of the Gallows was one of my favorite books from last year!  So I couldn’t wait to read this since we were going to see the world from the beekeepers view.  Those creatures terrified me, so I took a deep breath and dove right in. I happily found myself pulled in and I finished this book in one day.  Keeper of the Bees was a mesmerizing tale filled with peril, love, heartache, redemption, evil and sacrifice.  And I loved being back in this world!

She raises one eyebrow, seemingly unimpressed. “Are you planning to kill me?”
I am a monster . A beast. Lying about it would be pointless. “Yes.”

While this book is a companion novel, it can easily be read as a standalone.  Information from the previous book was seamlessly laced throughout this story and was beautifully done.  There was no info dumps and it caught us up and gave us a complete understanding of the creatures and the curses.  If you haven’t read the previous book, the creatures in her story are so unique! They’re a breath of fresh air!

One day, I will say no to this girl and I will mean it. One day, I will walk away.
But not today. – Dresden

This time around we followed Dresden.  A beekeeper. He had a hive of bees that lived in his chest.  When a bee was released and stung someone, it made them even more dark and ultimately lead to their demise.  The bees were only supposed to pick those that had a darkness within them. Yet when his bees picked Essie, he stopped them.  Essie didn’t have an ounce of darkness in her.

“You’re safe,” I say again.
She closes her eyes. Her breath hitches. Then she does the improbable and throws herself against me, wrapping her arms around my waist.
I am paralyzed. Motionless, breathless in my first embrace in a millennium. To be touched… My eyes close as I tremble from head to toe. The pain is glorious, excruciating.

The beekeepers terrified me in Black Bird of the Gallows, but Dresden easily captured a piece of my heart.  He was one of my favorite things about this book, and as the story unfolded Dresden became everything for me.  He was tortured from having to be this monster for so many hundreds of years.  And my heart broke for him that he didn’t have a choice over what him and his bees had to do.  Until he met Essie, and he decided to spare her life. I wanted Dresden to get his happily ever after, especially since we kept getting glimpses of his humanity, heart and the boy he used to be.  

I lay a hand on his chest, very gently. Barely touching. It’s buzzy and warm with all those bees in there. He jerks at my touch and winces, but his hand brushes my thigh, just above the knee, then tentatively settles there. His gaze drops to my mouth.
“Essie.” He breathes my name. He’s close. The air between us zings, honey-scented and charged. “You are the furthest thing from a monster. You are light and grace and all the things I thought I had forgotten. It’s agony for me to be near you, yet I can’t stay away.”

Essie was unlike any character I have ever met.  She was a sweet girl who loved her family but she suffered from some type of mental illness.  Her hallucinations felt real and were filled with the stuff nightmares could be made of. She didn’t fit into any type of diagnosis and it was such a huge mystery for why she was suffering.  But from the moment she met Dresden, her whole world changed. He quieted the hallucinations and she wasn’t afraid of his ever changing face. Or that he had a hive of bees in his chest. Essie was brave, sweet, smart and had the hugest heart ever but I was never able to connect to her.  I was so sad that I wasn’t able to feel her emotions.

I have someone to live for.
Someone to fight for.
Impossibly, someone who cares about me. It makes me wonder what else is possible. – Dresden

Dresden and Essie were hope and heartbreak all swirled together.  They both had so much going against them, and friendship and normalcy was something that felt unattainable to them.  But together they started to form a tentative friendship. And the moments they were around each other they actually felt normal.  It looked like they finally had a chance for happiness, redemption and love. Yet Dresden would eventually be leaving and with Essie’s town being marked, there was no guarantee that she would survive it.

“Dresden, I don’t want you to go.” It’s all I can say. It’s all I have left.
“And I would give anything to stay,” he rasps. “But I want you to live, more.”
His eyes close, and he disintegrates into a heavy swarm of bees. It streams through the window and is swallowed by the night.

Just like her other book, I found myself enraptured when the action took place.  Since Essie’s town was marked, something catastrophic was going to happen.  And on top of that, there was a mystery within the pages. Murders kept happening and Essie found herself in the middle of it all.  It was fun watching the twists and the turns and I didn’t figure out what was truly happening till 3/4s of the way into this book. I enjoyed putting it all together!

“You… are…” I slide my fingers into her hair, letting thick strands slide between my fingers. “Worth a…thousand… deaths.”
Essie’s hand covers mine. “And you’re worth a lifetime of delusions.”

When I closed that last page I realized there is still so many stories this world can tell.  And I’m hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that there’s going to be more, especially so I can get a peak of these characters since the book ended with a hfn.  I’d love to step back into this twisted world. I’m not ready to say goodbye to the Harbingers, Beekeepers, Strawmen and even the regular people who give these characters hope, a chance at normalcy and true love.  Fingers crossed!

PS  We got to see our favorites from Black Birds of the Gallows, Reece and Angie.  I loved seeing them together, I loved seeing their happiness of being together.  It made my heart so happy!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

About Meg Kassel:

Meg Kassel is an author of fantasy and speculative books for young adults. A graduate of Parson’s School of Design, she’s been creating stories, whether with visuals or words, since childhood. Meg is a New Jersey native who lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her husband and daughter. As a fan of ’80s cartoons, Netflix series, and ancient mythology, she has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart® winner in YA and a double 2018 RITA® finalist for her debut novel, Black Bird of the Gallows.

Website  l  TwitterInstagram  l  Facebook  l  Goodreads  l  Amazon

 

 

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BOOK REVIEW: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

BOOK REVIEW: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina LaurenJosh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

The way Emily describes it: when I meet someone I love, I become an octopus and wind my tentacles around their heart, tighter and tighter until they can’t deny they love me just the same.

AHHHHHH I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. Seriously by now I have come to the conclusion that these two literally cannot write a book that I will not like. They just keep getting better and better and at this very moment I can’t decide which one is my favorite between this and Love and Other Words. Either way it doesn’t really matter. You really should go out and read every single one of their books because I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

But at the end of the day,” she says, and puts her hand outside the open window, letting the wind pass through her fingers, “being myself is enough. I’m enough.”

I think I’ve actually figured out why I love their books so much, too. It’s because no matter how different and diverse the characters are, you will ALWAYS be able to find something relatable in each book. In this book is was a few little things. The first is that Hazel has a dog named Winnie that she treats like her baby. I ALSO have a dog named Winnie who is my first baby and I love her with all of my soul, lol. It just made me happy to see that someone else (even a fictional character) loves their Winnie as much as I love mine. The second thing is how Hazel knew and accepted that she could be a lot to handle, and also knew that she was never going to settle with being with someone who couldn’t handle that, or would want to change her. Now, I’m much more of an introvert but my ~thing~ or ~quirk~ is that I am obsessed with reading. Duh. I know most of you can related but seriously, if I find a book (especially a series) with a story and characters that I love, I go all in. I follow the author on every social media platform possible. I endlessly scroll GR, Twitter, and Tumblr trying to find related posts. I talk about them…A LOT. In previous relationships my boyfriend’s basically just didn’t care. I get that a lot of people just don’t like to read but they wouldn’t even really listen to me blabber on about my fandoms. My husband though has always been a different story. He may technically not care about the books either, but he cares about my interests. He cares that I care so deeply about these books and these characters and he listens to me when I just have to tell him about how I am basically over here pulling my hair out, waiting for the next Sarah J Maas book to come out. That turned into a pretty long winded paragraph but what I wanted to get across is that the characters in all of these books are so real and relatable and they make you feel like you’re home when you’re reading about them. I love it.

“But I was right?” She’s breathless, hair wild and face flushed and how has nobody seen how crazy and fucking amazing she is?
I decide right there to make sure somebody does.
“Yeah, Haze. You were.”

Another thing I loved about this book was Josh in general but also the tidbits we get about his Korean heritage. I don’t know much about it myself but I enjoyed seeing their Korean names and reading about all of the yummy food they were eating—it really made me want to visit the one Korean restaurant where I love. Seriously though, I thought the progression of Josh and Hazel’s relationship was great. From their awkward run-ins in college, to their budding best friendship to falling in love, ugh I got all of feels. AND the best part is obviously that even though Josh knew that Hazel could be a little crazy, a little wild, he never once wanted her to change. I loved how even when they started their double dates they would look over at one another when weird stuff happened and just know what the other was thinking. It was magical.

Drunk giggly Josh is my favorite, but drunk confident Josh is my new religion.

Somehow, too, even though this books was full of typical romantic tropes, it seemed different to me. We saw them go from friends to lovers, we saw them drunkenly have (super hot)  sex and then try to pretend that it didn’t change their relationship, we saw them trying to set each other up while remaining “friends” and finally we saw them both falling in love with each other while not being sure if the other one felt the same way. It didn’t matter though. At all. That’s how you know you’re reading a damn good story.

He smiles, but it’s not a smile I’ve ever seen before. It’s a dangerous smile; he’s a movie villain, the seductive one, the one who robs you but fucks you real good first.

By now this has turned into a super long review and I don’t even care. I have read so many romances by now that it’s so refreshing when I find one that makes me feel this way. The ending too is just pure magic. Part of it is actually a well-used trope too but I didn’t want to give it away. Usually I don’t like when books go there either but in this one I loved it. GAHH. Believe me, you do not want to miss out on Josh and Hazel.

“Are you listening?”
“Barely.”
“You are perfect for me.”

A star is born inside my rib cage. “I am?”
He nods, pinning me with his attention. “You are.”

**Huge thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for sending me an eARC!♥

Aaaaaand here’s one last quote that had me dying with laughter that I thought I’d leave you all with…..lol
Sasha’s also left her hair down…I’ve never seen it all, and it completely freaks me out. It’s really long—as in several inches past her butt long—and with her window down for most of the drive, her hair ended up crawling all over me. When I closed my eyes to try no to freak out about it, it wasn’t any better; it was like being pushed in a wheelchair through a room full of cobwebs. I can now definitively check the no box regarding hair fetish.

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