Category: Review (page 1 of 238)

BOOK REVIEW: The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne

BOOK REVIEW: The Stars We Steal by Alexa DonneThe Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself falling for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.

Review

Man am I bummed about this, you guys. For those of you who didn’t know, this is a loose science fiction re-telling of Persuasion by Jane Austen. I personally have never read it before but I HAVE read and loved For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund which was also inspired by the book. After finishing that I watched the movie from 2007 just to see how the Austen version went. Basically, this story is one of the move FRUSTRATING (but ultimately rewarding) cases of slow-burn/second chance romances that you will ever see in your entire life.

This version had a LOT of potential and I still think that a lot of people will really like this. I personally think that I would have liked it more if it had even been a duology. Even though the world building and plot were pretty well formed and made sense, there was still so much MORE that could have been delved into if there had just been even one more book.

The concept of this book is that the inhabitants of Earth who had the means to do so, left in a fleet of space ships based on different nationalities after another Ice Age came on and froze the planet solid. Our main female protagonist, Leo, is considered a princess even though her family is just about destitute an the title is only really that–a title. Her aunt, who is captain of a much larger ship that is doing really well and has quite a bit of wealth, allows them to dock there.

Said Aunt is about to be hosting an event called the Valg Season which allows young people from all the different ships a chance to come together to find a suitable partner from a different bloodline. Surprise, surprise, Leo’s old love (who she had been engaged to for a hot second years ago before she was talked out of it by her father, aunt, and cousin because he was poor) shows up. Only now, he’s got money and is suddenly the heir to a ship. The two are at each others throats understandably after what happened in the past and there is a lot of tension due to a number of different things that go down.

As much as the small snippets of them reconnecting had my stomach fluttering, I wanted more. More, more, more. There wasn’t enough of them reconnecting because too many other things were going on with different political aspects involving her aunt’s ship and the fleet in general. I didn’t learn nearly enough of what their past was like, or even who they had been as people to compare to the people they had grown to be in each others’ absence. Again, if this had been more than one book, I think everything could have been executed perfectly with a better balance between the two things. Either way, it was still a quick read and I did still enjoy myself.

Huge thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. ♥

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen Johnson

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen Johnson

BLOG TOUR + REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen JohnsonThe Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3)
by Maureen Johnson
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson delivers the witty and pulse-pounding conclusion to the Truly Devious series as Stevie Bell solves the mystery that has haunted Ellingham Academy for over 75 years.

Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.

At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.

Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.

In the tantalizing finale to the Truly Devious trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson expertly tangles her dual narrative threads and ignites an explosive end for all who’ve walked through Ellingham Academy.

Review:

IT’S HERE. The conclusion to the Truly Devious trilogy. And if you’ve been on the edge of your seat, barely hanging on through all the twists and turns and crazy reveals of this series, then buckle up. Maureen Johnson has one last book to shock us and finally reveal exactly what’s been happening at Ellingham Academy – then and now.

All of our favorites are back, including Stevie, David, Janelle, Nate and Pix. We also add in Hunter, who made some brief appearances back in The Vanishing Stair. The gang is all back together and working to figure out why terrible things keep happening and how they are connected to the original Ellingham mystery.

I’ll just say this upfront, I was very happy with the ending. Everything is revealed (in its own time) and all the threads Maureen Johnson has been weaving are tied together and it thankfully all makes sense. These kids have been through so much trauma and craziness, and to see their stories conclude with resolution, made me very appreciative.

The Hand on the Wall picks up shortly after the events of the Vanishing Stair. School is in session, but after another accident happens, Ellingham Academy decided to close its doors and send the students back home. However, Stevie and co. have other ideas. They need to figure out why and how everything has been going on. But to complicate the matters, a massive snow storm is headed their way, essentially trapping them on campus. What better to way hunker down and solve a decades old mystery?

For anyone who’s read this series, you’ve spent at least two books trying to pick out the correct puzzle pieces and figure out this mystery. I really didn’t guess anything correctly, but once everything was revealed, I was truly satisfied. It’s been a pleasure following along with these characters and trying to figure everything out with them. It’s truly a mystery series, with a additional emphasis on friendships and relationships.

Besides the overarching mysteries of the series, I loved these characters, especially when they are all together. They’ve all been through so much together, but it’s very clear how much they care for each other and are in tune to what each other are feeling. This is especially evident when Stevie struggles with her anxiety, when David self-deprecates or when Nate self-sabotages. These are smart and capable teens, but who all have their own unique battles.

If it’s not clear already, overall I really enjoyed this book and this series. It’s a great upper-YA mystery series and I wish there were more like it. The story is unique and all of the characters are memorable in their own way. I’m not sure what Maureen Johnson has planned after this, but I hope it’s another series similar to this. I’m ready to dive back in to a multi-book mystery.

Favorite Quotes:

She’d let him down because she could not handle it all. Guilt crept around the edges of everything—the taste of the coffee and the smell of the room and the cold coming from the window. Guilt and paranoia. She felt the thrumming in her chest, the engine of anxiety rumbling, making itself known.

*

She had a clue now, a point of focus. There were things in the walls. She wasn’t sure what that meant, or what she might be looking for. But so much of this had been about walls.

*

But sometimes, quite by accident, you find yourself vibrating on someone else’s frequency. You can follow the sense of the thing, if not the literal meaning. Sometimes, this is more important and more informative.

*

“So,” Hunter said, breaking the silence. “Weird night, huh?”

“Not really,” Nate replied, picking through the bottom of a large bowl of popcorn, looking for any fully popped pieces that weren’t hard kernels in disguise. “This is pretty much how it goes. Something terrible happens and we all come back here and talk about how terrible it is. We don’t learn.”

*

He had seen people give up hope before, seen the light leave their eyes. Albert Ellingham could buy almost anything he wanted, but not hope. Hope is not for sale. Hope is a gift.

*

Stevie had just failed some test she had no idea she had to take, on a subject she was not aware of. She had been sitting here in her hole in the ground, minding her own business, and then this. There was no winning. But he was here.

Giveaway:

Win one copy of The Hand on the Wall (US Only). Open Jan. 21 – Feb. 4, 2020.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Maureen Johnson HQMaureen Johnson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, The Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow (with John Green and Lauren Myracle), and The Bane Chronicles (with Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan). Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, and she has also served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City.

Keep up with Maureen: Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Tumblr | Facebook

BOOK REVIEW: Whatever It Takes (Bad Reputation Duet #1) by Krista & Becca Ritchie

BOOK REVIEW: Whatever It Takes (Bad Reputation Duet #1) by Krista & Becca RitchieWhatever It Takes (Bad Reputation Duet #1)
by Krista & Becca Ritchie
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

I HAVE A BAD REPUTATION.

Call me what you want: Bad Boy Next Door. Trouble. That Kid Who Can’t Do Anything Right.

When Willow moves into my neighborhood, nothing should have happened. She’s geeky. Shy. A true wallflower.

Willow is a good girl.
Too good for me.

And how the hell was I supposed to know that she’s related to Loren Hale—yeah, that douchebag celebrity that lives on my street. The same guy I've been pranking by spray painting vulgar words on his mailbox and worse. Much worse.

Don't ask me why I do the things I do.
Don't ask me why it had to be her.

I'm cursed. Simple as that. But here's the thing about people who are cursed—they break everything they touch.

And yet. . .I still want to touch her. ​

Whatever It Takes is the first book in the Bad Reputation Duet and can be read and enjoyed without reading any of Krista & Becca's other novels.

Review

Oh Garrison, my heart. My heart hurts for you so much.

People, I have been dying for this couple’s story since the Ritchie’s posted the Wattpad chapters about them. Before this book was a for sure thing and those were taken down, I read them several times over. There was just something special about the quiet, nerdy girl from Maine who learned she was Loren Hale’s half-sister and took a leap of faith to meet him and move close to him to get to know him. Something about the damaged, “bad boy” who you could tell had a heard of fucking gold but had been raised in a HORRIBLE household with shitty friends and just wanted more, more, more out of life. The way these two form a tentative friendship over Tumblr and other nerdy things called to me and I needed to know more. When we found out we’d be getting that, I was ecstatic.

This book is told in a series of chapters set both in the present day with Willow going to school in London and Garrison working for Connor at Cobalt, Inc. and in the past with chunks of those very same chapters from Wattpad where the two first meet and get to know each other. Because I already knew *those* chunks, the ones that really got me were the present day chapters because that’s when you can really see Garrison struggling. Let me just tell you, I pray to God that Loren and/or Ryke beat the shit out his brothers in the second book, I really do. My heart was in my throat every single time he interacted or even THOUGHT about them. Like I can just FEEL his inner self silently screaming, knowing that while they are his flesh and blood, they are the worst part of his life. I want to slap that mom across the face.

ANYWAY, I can’t wait to see more of their relationship actually starting romantically and I am so glad we don’t have long to wait to see how things pick up with Garrison in the next book in the present day because my boy is hurting in more ways than one and I want to see the gang rally around him to help heal him. *sobs* THEY’VE DONE IT AGAIN, PEOPLE.

Huge thanks to Krista and Becca Ritchie and to Kandi Kane PR for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review! ♥

BOOK REVIEW: Charmed Souls (Black Souls #1) by Abbi Glines

BOOK REVIEW: Charmed Souls (Black Souls #1) by Abbi GlinesCharmed Souls (Black Souls #1)
by Abbi Glines
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

They say blood is thicker than water, but I was never proud of mine. A female born into the Kamlock bloodline was destined to possess three things they couldn’t change—a crazy as hell mother, an unfair amount of beauty, and a Charmed soul that was as black as night.
All a Kamlock woman ever desired in life was to use her beauty to destroy wealthy men and take their riches. A century had passed since a generation of Kamlock sisters had been anything other than gold diggers.
All I ever wanted was to be free of them. I knew I couldn’t change my cursed birth, but I could change its legacy. I had a job, I had friends, and I was slowly gaining my independence.
Until Rathe Scott crashed into my life and tore it apart.
He made me feel what I had spent my entire life never wanting to feel. He brought out a darkness I’d not known was inside me. And just when I thought I was becoming everything I had sworn I would never become…
He was gone.

Review:

I was the evil they all should fear.

Charmed Souls was the type of book that was easily devoured. The characters were effortless to connect with, the story line was beyond addicting and I loved how magic floated through the pages.  With friendship, a romance that had a forbidden feel to it and humor, Charmed Souls completely bewitched me and left me begging for more.  If you love paranormal romance or new adult stories then definitely add this one to your tbr!

The darkness had always calmed me. Even as a child, nighttime was my favorite. The quiet, the beauty of the stars, the comfort of being alone.

I liked Catalina, aka Cat, right away.  She stood up for herself, took care of her friends and worked her hardest to be good, since she was born into a toxic bloodline.  Cat was a witch, who not only cast spells and enchantments, but could also control some of the elements and see ghosts.  Her mother and sisters, oh my gosh you guys, they were trashy and mean.  They used their siren abilities to control and use men.  And take all of of their money.  Cat’s tumultuous relationship with them hurt my heart, but it was addicting to watch since she stood up to them.  So Cat didn’t let men get close to her, she would not be like her family.  Until Rathe walked into her world.

His dark expression was exciting. “You are going to fucking destroy me, and I will relish every moment.”

Rathe moved in with Cat’s best friends, Heath and Margo.  And Cat tried her best to keep her distance.  To act indifferent towards him.  Yet Rathe enraptured us in his spell and I wanted to know all there was about him.  He was kind, thoughtful and caring. Yet something simmered below the surface of him. It made his charm even more alluring. And while he was a player, I was intrigued that he seemed to only act as a friend towards Cat.  Especially when he seamlessly embed himself into her life.

“Maybe I’m crazy!”I called out to him, as I walked, trying to break the tension that had unintentionally built.
“Or maybe you’re darker than you want to accept,” was his response.

Charmed Souls felt like an addicting reality tv show, with paranormal aspects splashed across the pages.  This story was set during the college years and I loved watching the parties unfold. And while Cat lived at home with her family, I loved how she could escape to her friends apartments.  Unfortunately I can’t say much more about this story, because it’s best discovering it for yourself, but I loved Cat’s cousin, Duely.  Be prepared for some TMI, but his heart was always in the right place.  Duely, Margo and Heath loved Cat inside and out.  It made my heart oh so happy since her home life didn’t even have an inkling of that.

Things started clicking into place. Things I didn’t want to connect. Things that I wanted to be a lie.

I thought I knew exactly where this story was going.  I even screamed outloud, I knew it!  Twice.  But there were some things that were twisted in a way that I didn’t see coming.  It was beyond exciting and now I’m desperately waiting for that next book!  So yes, I definitely recommend Charmed Souls!  If you love magic, drama, a strong heroine and an addictive book boyfriend then definitely put this one on your list!

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

BOOK REVIEW: Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW: Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) by Leigh BardugoNinth House (Alex Stern #1)
by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

If you were going to hell together, murder seemed like a good place to start.

When I say this book took my breath away, I truly mean it. It was thrilling and shocking and eerie and just a total surprise. As dark as the book was, I truly loved it and cannot wait for the next installment.

I had read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows series, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t absolutely love it. But I know how talented Leigh is, so when I saw she was writing an adult fantasy book based on secret societies and ghosts in New Haven, I was SO in. Talk about checking off a lot of boxes for me.

The book follows two main characters: Galaxy “Alex” Stern and Daniel “Darlington” Arlington. Both are students at Yale, but come from very different backgrounds. I don’t really want to spoil a lot of it, but Alex grew up in a not so great family and had some troubled teenage years that led to the death of some people, as well as the reason for her admittance to Yale and Lethe. Darlington, meanwhile, while not having a perfect childhood, did have some family and a more privileged upbringing. The two have far more in common than they think they do.

Alex gave a sharp shake of her head. “I mean tell me what I’m in for here…with you.”
That was the hard question to answer. Nothing. Everything. Lethe was meant to be a gift, but could it be to her? There was too much to tell.


Darlington is tasked with teaching Alex the ways of Lethe and its role to the other secret societies of Yale. However, something very dark and powerful is at play and it ultimately causes some dire consequences for both Darlington and Alex. On top of what they are dealing with in the present, there is a lot of trauma from their pasts, especial Alex’s, that comes into play.

Daniel Arlington prided himself on being prepared for anything, but if he’d had to choose a way to describe Alex Stern, it would have been “an unwelcome surprise.”

This book certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be very vivid in its descriptions at times, and there’s a ton of talk of death, dying and murder. There’s also a decent amount of mentions of drug and alcohol use, self-harm, unhealthy relationships and the big one, a very descriptive account of a sexual assault of a minor. It’s not overly long (I believe just a few pages) and could be easily skipped (it takes place in a bathroom on a school trip if that helps). It plays a large part into this character’s story, but I understand for some readers this kind of material is an absolute no-go. This has been discussed by a lot of other reviewers in the lead up to this book, but just want to make it very clear of the content in this book.

I’m in danger, she wanted to say. Someone hurt me and I don’t think they’re finished. Help me. But what good had that ever done?

I loved the mystery in this book. It was very layered and multi-faceted and loved how it blended the magical and real worlds. I didn’t guess the ending and am cautiously optimistic a *certain important character* will be making a return. I truly did not see that character exit coming or the circumstances surrounding it. It honestly broke my heart a little bit and hope there is a positive resolution to it.

I let you die. To save myself, I let you die.
That is the danger in keeping company with survivors.


Overall this was truly a five-star read for me. I certainly understand this book will not be for everyone: it’s very dark and has a lot of heavy topics and themes. However, I just loved the setting, the world-building and the characters. I can’t wait for what’s next and hope Bardugo continues to bounce back and forth between young adult and adult novels.

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