20

Bite-Sized Reviews | The “WTF Did I Just Read?” Edition

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Good news has come: I HAVE BROKEN MY DAMN READING SLUMP!

I thought that the reason I had one was because of reading fantasy, but I think it’s actually because of all these sequels and finales I’ve been attempting to read, but just am not in the mood for. So, at the moment, I’m going to be taking a break from sequels until I’m in the mood for them because I MISSED READING BOOKS SO MUCH.

Anyway, for some reason, I made a terrible decision to go around requesting Netgalley books over the last few months, then getting accepted for them, and then saying, “Well, the book’s not going to be published FOR MONTHS, so I don’t have to worry about it, right?” WRONG. Summer comes upon me, and I realize that I apparently ALL THE BOOKS ARE COMING OUT IN JULY. AND ON THE SAME DAY. WHICH IS TUESDAY. PUBLISHERS ARE WEIRD.

So, since I have way too many July books coming out on similar dates (seriously, there are 31 damn days in July. Why can’t they just space it out???), I thought I’d go ahead and do some mini reviews to take the load off!

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The Revenge

Genre: Thriller

Series: None

Rating: 1 STAR

Release Date: July 1, 2017

Synopsis:

Break ups can be messy. After his ex-girlfriend Hope embarrasses him in front of the entire school, Tony wants revenge. So he signs her up for online dating sites, subscriptions, and even makes the location of her phone public. And it works. A few days later, Hope calls begging Tony to stop the prank. Then Hope screams and a car door slams. The call drops.

Tony tries to keep cool. It’s just like Hope to get back at him with more drama. But when Hope isn’t at school the next day, Tony knows the joke has gone too far-and he may have lead a predator right to his ex’s door. Can Tony find Hope and save her before it’s too late for both of them?

My Thoughts

Um…WTF? This book honestly left me speechless. Like most YA thrillers I hated, the only credit I can give it is that it was addicting…and that’s basically it. The characters were completely forgettable, the writing wasn’t that good, and it was just…weird? I literally can’t put into words how much this didn’t make sense. And the ending was SO OPEN. Like, it just ended, and when I saw that there were acknowledgements, I flipped back to see if I had missed something because that couldn’t possibly have been the end. But, nope, that was it. Basically, this was the poor man’s version of Gone Girl. Like, a REALLY poor man’s version of Gone Girl.

In Summary: 

what just happened here

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waste-of-space

Genre: Contemporary

Series: None

Rating: 3 STARS

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Synopsis: 

Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show.    

And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality.   

My Thoughts

And we have another “WTF?” book, except on a totally different scale! I guess you could say that it was contemporary, but then a little sci-fi ended up being thrown in at the end, so was it magical realism? WHO KNOWS? This was basically making fun of reality shows, and I actually enjoyed how satirical it was and how it poked fun at itself! It was also formatted to include interviews and transcripts, so think Illuminae, except all the science stuff is fake? This is honestly the hardest book to rate ever, because I didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t hate it? So, three stars it is, I guess!

In Summary:

Question Marks

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The Inside Dark

Genre: Thriller

Series: None

Rating: 4 STARS

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Synopsis:

Five days ago, aspiring crime novelist Jason Swike awoke chained to the wall of a run-down horse stable, convinced he would soon die at the hands of Crackerjack, the infamous serial killer who had terrorized the residents of Massachusetts for the past year—capturing and tormenting men, painting whimsical designs on their faces before shattering their bones and ending their lives. Just when death seems inevitable, Jason, with the help of another captive, manages to kill the madman and escape.

Hailed as a hero, Jason reaps the benefits of his newfound fame: a book deal, a possible reconciliation with his estranged wife, and reward money he can use to pay for his son’s costly medical treatments. But he soon realizes the nightmare that began in the deserted stable is far from over, as he is drawn into a twisted game where the darkest terror may not be the psychopath manipulating his every move, but what Jason may have to do to survive…

My Thoughts

I absolutely devoured this one! I was really happy that the synopsis was so vague because that’s what made the book so entertaining – you think that the book doesn’t have enough material to carry on, but then BAM! Something happens halfway through and you just can’t stop reading because it’s so tense! I enjoyed seeing all the POVs in the story, and the ending was SO GOOD. This reminded me of Jeff Strand’s Pressure (which I loved!), but if you haven’t read that book, don’t bother looking it up because the synopsis will spoil you for this one. Overall, I really enjoyed it, and I hope to get to some of his other books soon!

In Summary:

Thumbs Up 3

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A huge thank you to Sourcebooks Fire, HMH Children’s Book Group, and Thomas and Mercer for the e-ARCS via Netgalley!  

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25

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Adding WANT To Your TBR

 

Want.jpg

Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopian, YA

Rating: 4 STARS

Series: Want #1

Release Date: June 13

Synopsis:

From critically acclaimed author Cindy Pon comes an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi thriller, set in a near-future Taipei plagued by pollution, about a group of teens who risk everything to save their city.

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

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I will say, I didn’t even really have this book on my radar until I was so intrigued by the cover, I caved and decided to add it to my TBR, then went ahead and requested it. I’m so glad I was accepted for this one because I can only say that I freaking loved it.

1. The romance was amazing. So, we have this angst-y, forbidden, sexually tense romance between Daiyu and Zhou, and before you roll your eyes and groan, this romance was incredibly done well. There was absolutely no insta-love (in fact, they never say they love each other AT ALL. What is this sorcery?), and it’s all wonderful slow-burn and sexual tension. And when they finally get together, it’s like magic. I’m usually not one to get heart eyes over a ship where the both of them are on different sides of the track, but I loved it.

(Sidenote, I also ship Lingyi and Iris SO HARD. I would not be against a book entirely dedicated to the two of them being cute. Just saying.)

2. The characters were amazing. First of all, this book had a gang at a center of it, and I’m a sucker for any sort of gang or squad – think the Dregs from Six of Crows or the Night Court from the A Court of Thorns and Roses Series – so I was into it. But I absolutely loved all the individual characters and what they brought to the table!

We have Zhou, our wonderful main character who decides to act as the spy, Victor, who is sleek and sauve and hilarious, Arun, who is the scientist, Lingyi, who is the hacker, and Iris, who reminds me so much of Black Widow, and I love her, so it was great. And Daiyu, who isn’t part of the gang but is Zhou’s love interest who is strong and smart and stands on her own. I’m loving this rise of smart girls over ones who can kick ass 24/7 (even though I love those as well). I WANT THEM ALL TO BE MY FRIENDS. I just loved the interactions and relationship between Zhou and the gang, especially near the end.

3. It had great world-building. First off, this book took place in Taiwan, which I’ve never really seen as a setting before, so it was really awesome to have a book take place somewhere different and diverse. I also thought that a world that’s falling apart because of pollution and global warming was pretty much right on the nose considering the fact that Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement a couple of weeks ago, so it was interesting to see a sci-fi future like this.

4. It was a perfect sci-fi novel. I’ve definitely become more obsessed with sci-fi over the last year, but I haven’t read enough it, and I’m SO glad I had the opportunity to read this one. This one was more of a cross between dystopian and speculative sci-fi (which is my favorite type of sci-fi), and did a fantastic job of holding up a mirror to things such as privilege, class, and taking care of the environment. It was just done SO WELL, and I applaud Pon for it.

5. Basically, it was amazing. If I had to describe this book in any way, it’d be Six of Crows meets Red RisingSix of Crows because of the characters and the aspect of them being in a group and Red Rising because of the whole “lower class goes undercover in the upper class” ruse, which I totally love. So, it was two of my favorite series in one, and I couldn’t be happier. Not to mention that even though this had long chapters, the pacing was still perfect and kept me addicted. AND I WANT MORE. I saw on Goodreads that this might have a sequel, which I’m eternally thankful for. I NEED ONE.

Basically, you will not regret adding this book to your TBR. It’s definitely worth it, and I highly recommend it, obviously.

A huge thanks to Simon and Schuster for giving me an e-ARC of this book, especially since I enjoyed it so much!

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34

5 Reasons Why I (Strongly) Disliked FOLLOW ME BACK

Follow Me Back Photo 2

Genre: Thriller

Series: Follow Me Back #1

Rating: 1 STAR

Synopsis: 

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts.

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So, originally, I was super pumped to read this. A YA mystery/thriller that uses a unique format? Count me in! I’m a huge fan of thrillers, and I’m always there to read thrillers in the YA genre, since they’re really lacking. After being approved for this one, my interest slightly waned when I learned that this was originally published on Wattpad. Not shaming Wattpad or anything (I’ve read amazing boyxboy stories on there, which is mainly what I read nowadays), but most of their stories, especially the extremely cliché ones, can definitely be a bit juvenile. And this one definitely reminded me of why I don’t read Wattpad stories about straight couples anymore.

1. Eric Thorn was a total douchebag. He’s one of the main characters of the novel and also one of the POVs, and being in his head for more than one page drove me up a wall. I’m guessing I was supposed to empathize with him because his record label is trying to change him from this sweet boy-next-door who’s all deep and such into a shallow boy with manufactured songs, but I didn’t. He continually puts down his fans, implying that they’re idiots and all sex-obsessed and that they don’t really care about him (no, Eric, no they don’t. That’s because they DON’T KNOW YOU), but, of course ~Tessa~ knows all about him and is different from all the other girls. Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

Not to mention his horrible songs. “Aloe Vera”? “Snowflake”? Please tell me who in the world would actually listen to a song titled “Aloe Vera” in this day and age.

2. It had one of the worst romances I’ve ever seen. As you can see from the synopsis, Eric sets up a second account under an alias and ends up communicating with Tessa that way. In the span of a couple of months, Eric apparently falls in love with her? It made absolutely no sense. The two of them are simply talking over Twitter DMs, and before you know it, BAM! Eric’s talking about how much he loves her even though he knows next-to-nothing about her, and then before they’re going to meet, Tessa pours out her love for him, even though we never see this develop on her end. It’s utterly ridiculous.

3. The way Tessa’s agoraphobia was addressed. She’s traumatized by something that happened at camp, and decides to stay locked up in her room after that. I just really hated how literally everyone around her treated her like garbage. Her boyfriend, Scott, assumes that just because she feels like she might be ready to walk outside the house that she’ll want to attend some crowded fraternity party (???) and her mom is very short and impatient with her, which I found more concerning. She gets frustrated when Tessa isn’t mentally ready to go outside and sit for a couple of minutes, and her attitude was just so bad. And then, we reach the end of the book, and it’s as if it never even mattered, in my opinion. I just didn’t see the point of it being in the plot.

4. This is barely a thriller. But, for real though. This isn’t really a thriller. This is basically a contemporary that just slaps thriller elements into it in the most ridiculous manner near the final chapters of the book, and that’s basically it. I have to say, even though basically nothing happens, I still ended up being addicted to its pages. So, there was that.

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4. The nonsensical ending. We reach the end of the book, and we find out that Tessa is an undercover psychopath and that she murdered Eric and that she’s fled to Mexico to escape punishment??? Here’s the thing. I’ve already seen this happen twice before: once in With Malice by Eileen Cook and once in Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, both YA thrillers. So far, Dangerous Girls is the only book to have nailed this. The main character is revealed to have murdered her best friend, but the reason it worked and was such a brilliant plot twist was because the foreshadowing is subtle throughout the entire book, and the last sentence ties it all together. With Malice also did the same thing, and, in my opinion, failed, not only because it was WAY too similar to Dangerous Girls, but also because it just didn’t make sense. We see the main character and how she acts and thinks, and then the final chapters come in, and all of a sudden, she decided to make a last-minute decision to murder her friend out of nowhere. That’s how this felt like. We have zero indication or foreshadowing that Tessa is a psychopath. She seems like a very sweet, shy girl who’s suffering from agoraphobia, and there’s nothing to show she’s an obsessive fangirl who’s out to murder.

Not to mention that this is the most elaborate plot I’ve ever seen. In order for everything to even work out, this means that Tessa had to:

1. Have agoraphobia
2. Write an Eric Thorn fanfiction on Wattpad
3. Create a hashtag and hope that it ends up trending and catching Eric’s eye
4. Somehow play a part in Dorian’s murder to make Eric anxious
5. Get Eric to create a second Twitter account to troll himself
6. Get him to target her and start talking to her
7. Build a relationship over a period of five months
8. Get a crazed fangirl to attack Eric onstage, making him even more anxious
9. Get Eric to fall in love with her
10. Cause Eric to make up a whole contest just to meet her
11. Plan the fact that Blair was going to pretend to be Eric by hacking into his account
12. Escape and not die at the hands of Blair
13. Actually meet Eric
14. Actually carry out the murder

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It literally makes no sense. I know there’s a sequel coming out next year that might reveal things, but it’s so frustrating because nothing adds up. There’s not even a reason or motivation for her to kill him. There’s no context or build-up. It just seems like a plot twist tacked on so people can be like, “OMG!!! Never saw that coming!!!” but I’ve seen it before so many times, that it just made me annoyed.

All in all, a huge disappointment. I honestly don’t recommend this book, and I’m sure you can tell since I gave it one star, and if you know me, I rarely give out one stars for books I’ve actually completed. Apparently, everyone seems to love this one, so I’ll take the position of black sheep, I guess!

Even though I didn’t like this book, a huge thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for giving me a free copy of the book via Netgalley! 

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14

5 Reasons Why HELLWORLD Disappointed Me

Hellworld Photo

Genre: Horror, Paranormal

Series: None

Rating: 1 STAR

Synopsis: 

Five years ago, Abby Booth’s mom, co-host of a ghost hunting reality show, went missing while filming in a ‘haunted’ cave in Arizona.

Since then, Abby’s life has all but fallen to pieces, most notably because of her dad’s deep depression and how they’ve drifted further and further apart.

But now, at seventeen, Abby has decided that things will change. She plans to go to the same cave where her mom and the crew went missing and to find out, once and for all, what happened there.

With the help of the co-host’s son Charlie and two of his friends, Abby sets off on a quest for answers…but what the group ends up finding, what they stumble across in that dark, primordial cave in Arizona, is nothing they could have ever imagined.

Abby was investigating a possible haunting… she never expected that there could be something worse.

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If you saw my Anticipated Spring Releases post, you’ll know I was excited for this book! I love a good YA horror novel, so I was ready to dive into it and fall completely in love with it. Unfortunately, that did not happen. At all.

1. The characters were boring. So, we have our main character, Abby, who really wants to find her mom. Charlie, who’s basically just the love interest and there to look hot. Maybe he did something else in this book, but if he did, I don’t remember. Selby, who’s there to serve as a mechanism of girl hate – because we need more of that. And Alex, who I actually really liked…and, oh, never mind, he’s dead (you figure this out within the first chapter, so no spoilers). Basically flat characters fitting an equally flat book.

2. It didn’t know what it wanted to be. At first, I thought it was a horror, because that’s how it’s marked. Then, somewhere in the middle, it transformed into some post-apocalyptic novel with a mix of paranormal elements. And not to forget the fact that this also somehow managed to combine sci-fi AND Biblical mythology all at once. Did it work? Not necessarily. It just seemed like the book went all over the place and that there wasn’t really a clear direction.

3. The romance was ridiculous and unnecessary. And, yet again, we have a YA novel that shoves in a romance THAT IS NOT NEEDED. AT ALL. And it was a terrible one to boot. Basically, Abby hasn’t seen Charlie in YEARS, and had a crush on him back in elementary school, and for some reason, she’s still swooning over him in the present. And even though Charlie has a girlfriend, apparently a couple of hours together causes him to CHEAT ON HER by making out with Abby. Because insta-love is real, apparently. Please wait while I roll my eyes.

4. There were too many plot conveniences. Seriously, there was this one chapter near the end that was actually ridiculous and managed to happen right after the characters were stuck and couldn’t figure anything out. So, out of the blue, the thing they were looking for mysteriously appears for them. In the middle of the apocalypse. Really?

5. WTF was that ending? Seriously, what was it? We have the most random plot twist in the history of ever. And then the book just…ends. And that’s it. No explanation of the plot twist, no implications of what might happen in the future, no answers to anything that happened. Nada. I mean, maybe it’s supposed to be an open ending, but it’s not done well.

Overall, this book was just really disappointing. Nothing is more annoying than another lackluster YA horror, especially since they come so few and far in between, but this one was just…bleh. Pick up Gretchen McNeil’s Ten instead, or The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich.

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15

[ARC REVIEW] The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

the-love-interest

Genre: Contemporary, Thriller, LGBTQ+

Series: None

Rating: 3.5 STARS

Description:

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

My Thoughts: 

If you’ve been around here for a while, you know I was SUPER EXCITED to read this book. I’ve probably mentioned it only 28498282 times on my blog. So, like, a small amount. I requested it on Netgalley expecting to be turned down because I requested from them twice before and was declined both times, but imagine my surprise when on a really crappy Friday afternoon, I got an e-mail saying I was approved for one of my most anticipated releases. I screamed (in my head, of course, because I was in class, but it was a loud scream in my head). And then I read it in two days. Duh.

So, I guess that’s why I was a little disappointed. Just a little. This book wasn’t terrible by any means, but there were some things that I wanted to happen or I just wanted more of, and it sucks, because I wanted to give it five shiny stars, but then I wouldn’t really be honest with myself! But let’s actually get on to the review!

First up, the stuff I loved! The characters were absolutely brilliant and all three-dimensional and wonderful. We have our main character, Caden, who was so funny and I just loved being in his head and hearing all his thoughts. He’s basically assigned to be a Nice, but he doesn’t really consider himself that way (which I definitely feel because I don’t think I’m a nice person, but maybe other people feel differently). We also have Dylan, the boy that Caden’s competing against, who’s supposed to be a Bad, BUT IS SUCH A SWEETHEART OH MY GOD. I wanted to hug him so hard. Then there’s Juliet, the girl they’re fighting over, who is super smart and wants to be a scientist when she grows up and literally has MADE HER OWN INVENTIONS AND WEAPONS because why not? I didn’t expect to care about her so much, but it was so wonderful to see such a smart girl at the helm of a book! We also have Natalie and Trevor, who dressed up as Hazel Grace and Gus from TFIOS, so they immediately win everything in my books.

The world was also so, so creative! I just loved the way this book continually addressed cliches and the whole background of how everything worked and why it was done was just so well done. Also, in my opinion, this book definitely didn’t suffer from any horrible info-dumps; the world was continually built on as the book went on, and it was just so nice to learn more about the inner workings of the world and the mini details.

Also, this book was hilarious. I’m not one to laugh too much while reading books – funnily enough, the most times I laugh are while watching Youtube videos; go figure – but this one was just so funny and natural while doing it; there was no sort of forced humor. Caden is just a naturally hilarious character, and the fact that it’s so clever at making fun of YA tropes I’m sure we’re all tired of is what makes it so great.

Now on to the things I didn’t love so much. I know this might be hard to believe for some of you guys who’ve been around here for a while, but…I actually wanted more romance. Yep, I said it; I wanted more of a romance in a YA non-contemporary book. I mean, was this a kissing book? Duh, of course it was (and the kissing was amazing, by the way). BUT, I just wanted WAY more of it. This is more of a slow-burn romance – and I’m a huge fan of that sweet, sweet slow-burn – so I thought a lot of it was more focused on the bonding and the friendship and not the ~actual romance~. But, then again, romance is completely subjective for every reader, so it might be different for you!

Also, I felt like the ending moved way too fast. I had the same sort of complaint with Gone Without a Trace, which was also a thriller – a domestic thriller instead of a spy thriller, though – but Part 1 and 2 of The Love Interest were a bit slower-paced and had more of a contemporary feel, I’d say, and then Part 3 comes along, and it turns into more of a dystopian/spy thriller, and without a smooth transition between the two, the change of pacing and such was quite jarring for me. A lot of stuff happens and a lot of things are revealed and it just has such a different feel than a large majority of the book that, to me, it felt a bit all over the place.

But, the book did make up for itself a little bit just for the simple fact that the epilogue was TO DIE FOR. Excuse me while I casually drown in all the feels it gave me and flail all over the damn place.

Overall, though this one didn’t live up to my expectations, this is totally a subjective viewpoint, and you might think differently. I would actually still recommend this book to anyone who wants to read it because it was definitely entertaining!

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A huge thanks to Macmillan Children’s and Fierce Reads for giving me an e-ARC of this book for free in exchange for a review! No matter what I say in this review, it definitely made my day to get accepted for this one, so thanks a lot!

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I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone who has signed up for Project Big Blogger, Little Blogger so far! It means so much to me that you’re as excited as I am! For all my posts this week, I’ll be linking to my announcement explaining everything – which can be found right here – and the Google form for sign-up – which is right here – because I know there are some people who don’t read all my posts (which is perfectly fine!) or new followers who I don’t want to miss out on this! Feel free to join in, or promote my project in any way you can!

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Are you interested in this book? If any of you have had the chance to read this early, how did you feel about it? What are some of your favorite LGBTQ+ reads?

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14

[REVIEW] Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson (Ft. Excessive Orange Is The New Black Gifs)

allegedly

Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, YA

Series: None

Rating: 3 STARS

Description:

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a church-going black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

In this gritty and haunting debut, Tiffany D. Jackson explores the grey areas in our understanding of justice, family, and truth, and acknowledges the light and darkness alive in all of us.

My Thoughts:

“Some people are just born bad, plain and simple.”

Honestly, this book wasn’t even on my radar. I’d heard some things about this book because I follow up with the Epic Reads website, but it didn’t really interest me, so I stayed away. But then I was pulled over by the Influence of Bookstagram, and I totally and completely caved because I heard SO MANY GOOD THINGS. Would I say that I totally and completely fell in love with this book? No, not really. But I definitely found this one entertaining, and I’m sure, in the right hands, someone would love this book more than I did.

its-going-to-be-okay

So, regarding the characters, I found this one really interesting. We are introduced to Mary, a sixteen-year-old girl stuck in the crappy system and also just happens to be pregnant by her older boyfriend, Ted, who works in the nursing home close to the group home. Mary is someone you will most likely sympathize with. Her relationship with her mother is frayed, she wants to keep her baby but she doesn’t have that choice, she’s trying to get an education but is continually blocked from it, and everyone thinks she killed a baby. Allegedly. I felt so bad for her, and I thought this was a really great book to talk about how the system treats younger prisoners, especially POC. I know we’ve all watched Orange Is the New Black (and if you haven’t, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?), but this seemed like a darker, more grittier version (I mean, the show is dark as well, but this was less comedy and girl power, more depression and girl fights). And with Ted…whatever. I didn’t really care too much about him, to be honest, and I just didn’t like him? I’m weird.

drama

The plot of this book was done so well. I will say this is a mix between a contemporary and a mystery, so for mystery/thriller fans like me, this is no psychological thriller, but I still found it really addicting, especially since we’re hinted at something more constantly. I personally found this book that way, and I just needed more of it, needed to know what was going to happen, and I can owe that all to Mary and her plight. I just needed to know what was going to happen next, needed to see if she was going to get the proper justice she deserved, needed to know what in the hell actually happened to Alyssa.

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I also loved the little snippets inserted from books and reports and transcripts of interviews. I’m a huge fan of books like that, especially thrillers (it reminds me a lot of Dangerous Girls, and, wow, can I go a post without talking about that book?), and I thought it really added to the story, especially seeing how the public responded to the it. I honestly wonder how the public would respond if a nine-year-old black girl killed a white baby. Would the world go into chaos? Would more people believe she did it or if she didn’t? Would people think she deserved an even worse sentence? It’s one of those really interesting cases that would definitely bring up controversy in the real world right now (and I sort of wonder if it’s based off of something that happened in real life?).

nope

I don’t know how I feel about the ending. Of course, I’m trying not to spoil, but I feel like I’ve seen it so many times before that I’m not really shocked or surprised, and it’s sort of become something where I basically say, “Oh, okay.” Yeah, the first few times I’ve seen that sort of plot twist, I was like, “Woah; what???” but it’s so overdone at this point that I’m starting to hate it a little. It’s not like it’s the author’s fault or anyone else’s, it just feels as if publishers see a plot twist and go, “YES MUST PUBLISH NOW,” to constantly keep up with the trends, and after seeing a thousand different ways to express the fact that the main character is lost royalty, it gets old.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty interesting mix between a contemporary and a mystery, and I think you should definitely check it out if it interests you.

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5

[ARC BOOK REVIEW] Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen

Gone Without a Trace

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Adult

Series: None

Rating: 3 STARS

Release Date: April 18, 2017

Description:

A jaw-dropping novel of psychological suspense that asks, “If the love of your life disappeared without a trace, how far would you go to find out why? ”

Hannah Monroe’s boyfriend, Matt, is gone. His belongings have disappeared from their house. Every call she ever made to him, every text she ever sent, every photo of him and any sign of him on social media have vanished. It’s as though their last four years together never happened.

As Hannah struggles to get through the next few days, with humiliation and recriminations whirring through her head, she knows that she’ll do whatever it takes to find him again and get answers. But as soon as her search starts, she realizes she is being led into a maze of madness and obsession. Step by suspenseful step, Hannah discovers her only way out is to come face to face with the shocking truth…

My Thoughts:

This was quite the interesting psychological thriller. I went into this one really excited because the premise sounded awesome: a woman comes home to find her boyfriend missing? What? Unfortunately, though the pacing for this one was really well done, and this book kept me reading until the very last pages, the ending definitely fell flat on its face for me.

As I said before, the pacing was definitely well done. As soon as I started this book, I was hooked, and it really kept my interest. I feel like I’ve been doing absolutely terrible at reading this past year, so it was really nice to have an addicting read to keep up with. The mystery definitely keeps you going, especially with such an interesting premise at the basis of the novel.

I thought the characters for this one were also quite interesting. We have Hannah, our main character, and Katie, her best friend, that really drive this novel with their toxic friendship. I’m always a fan of that trope in thrillers, and this was no exception. This one proved to be a bit more subtle than as an outright thriller surrounding toxic friendships, but I still really enjoyed it. We also have James, Hannah’s husband, that was a previous boyfriend of hers when the two of them were growing up, and he played an interesting part in the book as well.

What I really thought set this thriller apart than many of the other ones coming before and after it is the fact that this one had a focus on family and its influence, much like The Roanoke Girls, except way less creepier. We get a peek into Hannah’s home life growing up and how that it’s shaped a huge part of her character, which is expanded upon as the book develops. I thought it was a really nice touch to see how her mom and her dad influenced her and played a part in what happens in the overall bigger picture of the book.

Now, the ending was what got stars docked off for me. Near the end, we get what I’d consider an interesting part, because something happens that I didn’t really expect to happen. I was really excited because I wanted to know where the book would propel from there on out. But after that point, the book got so…busy. Things were revealed, we got a flashback, even MORE things were revealed, a big thing happens, more things are revealed, more stuff happens, and then the epilogue. And it was just all too much. I wouldn’t have minded if everything were interspersed near the falling resolution, but it just happened all at once, and that’s what really bothered me the most. 

Overall, an okay psychological thriller that could’ve done with a better ending.

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A huge thanks to Berkley Publishing for the free e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

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