Bite-Sized Reviews | The “Wonder Woman, Warcross, Genuine Fraud, Oh My!” Edition

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Look at me, I read ARCs!

So, I got a lot of ARCs at Bookcon, and earlier this month, I finally dived into them! I still have all of my October and 2018 releases left, but just one September release, and I thought it’d be a good idea to just review all of some of my anticipated releases in one big post! So here are five positive reviews of some books coming at you in August and September!

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wonder woman

Genre: Fantasy, YA 

Series: DC Icons #1

Rating: 4 STARS

Release Date: August 29, 2017

Synopsis:

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

My Thoughts

I actually wasn’t really planning on reading this one, but then the hype reached me and I ended up getting a copy at Bookcon, so I caved – and I’m so glad I did! The cast of characters in this book were absolutely fantastic, especially Aila, who I found so relatable as a heroine and a character. I also loved learning more about Wonder Woman; I hadn’t watched the movie yet when I read the book, so this was my first exposure to anything about her, so it was really interesting getting to know more about her background and seeing her as a teenager. It’s pretty much impossible to not fall in love with her. This story was a journey-type story, and even though I’m not a huge fan of those types, I actually really enjoyed it in this case! Also, this book was hilarious, and I rarely find books funny, so that was definitely a treat! The ending was also really sweet; I actually teared up a little. Overall, I think people will really enjoy this one!

(Also, this book had the plot twist of the century. That’s all I’ll leave it at.)

In Summary:

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Genuine Fraud

Genre: Thriller, YA

Series: None 

Rating: 5 STARS

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Synopsis:

The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.

Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. 

An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. 

A bad romance, or maybe three.

Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. 

A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.

A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

My Thoughts

I didn’t really expect anything from this novel for two reasons: I’ve never read We Were Liars, and the summary is extremely vague. I’m so glad I had zero impressions, because I absolutely loved this book with all my heart. It was a genuinely good, mature YA thriller that seemed to be written just for me: an unreliable narrator, backwards story-telling, an addicting fast pace, a twisted female friendship. I literally could not stop raving about this book in my head while I read it. Also, to top it all off, the ending was absolutely perfect for this novel. Overall, I’m almost happy I trudged through so many meh and just plain terrible YA thrillers to get to this one – it was so worth it.

In Summary:

blessed

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they both die at the end

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Series: None

Rating: 5 STARS

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Synopsis:

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

My Thoughts

Well, this was probably the most anticipated release of the second half of 2017 for me, and BOY, it did not disappoint. Adam Silvera has done it again. Like his first two books, I binged the entire thing in less than a day and left me completely ruined. Honestly, you can’t help yourself; it’s an addicting and intense read because you just need to know – will they both die at the end, and if so, how? I absolutely loved Rufus and Mateo as characters; both have completely different lives, and seeing them meet and watching their bond grow from being tentative acquaintances to close friends that (slowly) blooms into a beautiful romance made my heart ache. We also get to see other people’s POVs of those that personally effect them and those whose lives they have effected. The ending was so, so good, and, yep, I cried. I finally cried at a book. Overall, a powerful book that if you haven’t added to your TBR yet, you absolutely must.

In Summary:

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Warcross

Genre: Sci-fi, Thriller, Dystopian, YA

Series: Warcross #1

Rating: 5 STARS

Release Date: September 12, 2017

Synopsis: 

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

My Thoughts

As soon as I heard the concept for this book, I was set on getting it into my hands and reading it, so when I managed to meet Marie Lu AND get an ARC signed at Bookcon, I basically died. And, boy, did Marie Lu not let me down whatsoever. WHERE DO I BEGIN? First off, I want the Warcross game to exist in real life. I WILL FIGHT FOR IT. As per usual, Lu’s writing was absolutely terrific and was so fantastic at transporting the reader into the story. The characters were all diverse and well-rounded, and really made this story shine, even the background characters. Honestly, the concept could not have been carried out better, and I absolutely LOVED the direction Lu took it at the very end. This book actually didn’t have a cliffhanger, but it was left so open and I have so many questions! Overall, what do I have to do to get the sequel again?

In Summary:

perfection 2

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Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, YA

Series: None

Rating: 4 STARS

Release Date: September 19, 2017

Synopsis:

Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.

Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart.  At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.

But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release. 

From the New York Times-best selling author of A Monster Calls comes a raw, darkly funny, and deeply affecting story about the courage it takes to live your truth.

My Thoughts

Look at me, I’ve finally read a full Patrick Ness book! After finally reading A Monster Calls last year and loving it, I told myself I’d read more of his work, and I’m so glad I did! I absolutely loved Adam and was so sympathetic to his situation since terrible thing after terrible thing kept hitting him. I could totally feel for his really crappy day, especially since I know I have those days as a teenager myself where it just seems like the only place I could go is down. This was quite the fast-paced book, especially since it was so short, and I really liked the frank way the book dealt with sex, especially since I feel so many YA books can deal with it in the most unnecessarily cheesiest way possible and it seems completely unrealistic to boot. This book has an open ending, so if you don’t like those types of endings in contemporary novels, you’ll probably hate this book. My one complaint was probably the magical realism. It follows a character mentioned in passing in the beginning of the novel, and, unfortunately, the parts were just so boring and didn’t make any sense until the end of the novel. I ended up skipping over them since Adam’s story was much more compelling then hers. Overall, I need to read all the Patrick Ness books!

In Summary:

i feel you

Let's Chat

Are you excited for any of these books? Have you read any of these books? What’s your most anticipated release for the second half of 2017? 

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Bite-Sized Reviews | The “It Is NOT A Cult!” Edition

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And I’m back with another edition of Bite-Sized Reviews! 

Tomorrow, two books are coming out that deal with very similar themes, but one ended up disappointing me and one ended up being a fantastic book! I decided to just go ahead and review the both of them today!

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The Marriage Pact

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Adult

Series: NONE

Rating: 5 STARS

Release Date: July 25, 2017 

Synopsis: 

In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?
  
Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
            
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .
            
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
            
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
            
And then one of them breaks the rules.
            
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
            
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

My Thoughts

I was originally going to give this one four stars, but I don’t even remember why I took off a star, so five stars it is! I was really intrigued with this one mainly because the synopsis tells you next to nothing, and I am a very nosy person, so I needed to know what was going to happen! I definitely liked seeing from Jake’s point-of-view, since I rarely ever read a thriller from a guy’s point-of-view. I was definitely intrigued with the whole cult-ish vibe of The Marriage Pact, and this book was extremely addicting, especially since it took a lot of twists and turns I really wasn’t expecting. Not only that, but I ADORED the writing. It was very formal, but not so pretentious, you don’t know what’s going on. I’ve just never read a thriller like that before. Also, this one inserted a bunch of facts about marriage, so I learned things! And I also really loved the ending. Basically, this was like Fates and Furies, but with a cult.

In Summary:

cult

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first we were iv

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, YA

Series: NONE 

Rating: 2.5 STARS

Release Date: July 25, 2017

Synopsis:

A group of friends start a secret society in this out-of-control thriller from the author of The Telling and The Creeping that examines the all-consuming love of lifelong friendship—and what someone is capable of when they’re afraid of losing it.

Izzie loves nothing more than her three best friends, Viv, Graham, and Harry, and the bond the four of them share. And she’s terrified of their friendship falling apart next year when they go off to college. To bind them together, she decides to create that will belong only to them, a special thing that they’ll always share between the four of them. And so they dream up the Order of IV, a secret society devoted to mischief that rights wrongs and pays back debts. At first, it works like a charm—but when the Order of IV’s escapades get recognition beyond their wildest expectations, other people start wanting in. And soon, what started as a game of friendship is spiraling into something dangerous and beyond their control—and before it’s over, they’ll pay the ultimate sacrifice.

My Thoughts

Hm, I was sort of disappointed by this one. I absolutely loved The Creeping, so I was really excited for this one, but it was just meh. First off, I thought this book was going to be about a girl gang when I read the synopsis, so I was already let down when there were two boys in the group, especially since these two boys end up being the heart of a mini love triangle – probably the dumbest one I’ve ever seen. It also had this weird feminist slant where they stand up to sexist dress codes and girls can masturbate, too, but we also have girl hate THE ENTIRE BOOK since our main characters are outcasts and the people they hate are popular, so what was the point? I also thought the whole IV thing was dumb. I am a teenager, so I highly doubt teenagers would get up to this. They’re cutting themselves to bleed on a statue, dancing around in their underwear, going out until the early morning to dump blood on people’s houses and throw rocks at their window, and I’m supposed to believe teenagers would do this why? All because of the murder of some girl they didn’t know that they found the dead body of as kids? And I’m not even going to bring up the lack of parenting that goes on as well. It just seemed really far-fetched and dumb. I will say, this was an addicting book and it was very dark, and that’s not seen much in YA, so I’ll give it that! But, overall, I was disappointed. Hopefully, The Telling is better.

In Summary: 

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A huge thank you to Ballantine and Simon and Schuster’s Children’s Publishing for the e-ARCs via Netgalley!

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5 Reasons Why You Should Pick Up THE BREAKDOWN

The Breakdown

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Adult

Rating: 4 STARS

Series: None

Release Date: July 18, 2017 (today!)

Synopsis: 

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

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“Mikaela, are you reviewing on a Tuesday???” I know, I know; I’ve broken my schedule (which I truly, truly hate). But, I wasn’t able to get this up yesterday, so I’m putting it up today, just in time for this book’s publication date! Hopefully, this will be the first and last time I do this.

1. I thought it was addicting. I mean, of course it was. I didn’t expect anything less from B.A. Paris, to be honest. As soon as I read the first chapter, I knew I was hooked, and I ended up reading this in a day. I CAN’T HELP MYSELF WHEN IT COMES TO B.A. PARIS. I know most people really appreciate having an addictive psychological thriller to read, and this one definitely fits the bill.

2. Cass was a great main character. I absolutely loved being in her point-of-view for the entirety of the book! It’s very easy to be sympathetic to her situation, especially since imagining yourself in her shoes is actually terrifying. I know I’m also one who can be quite paranoid about dumb things, especially when it’s at night and I think I’m hearing noises that aren’t even there and completely over-thinking the worst-case scenario in situations that really aren’t that bad, so I could definitely relate to her and understand how she felt. If I told you guys the type of paranoia I have about some serial killer coming to get me at night, it probably sounds dumb to you, but it makes sense to me, so I definitely understood the predicament she was caught up in.

3. It was different from Behind Closed Doors. I actually loved Behind Closed Doors, but I know some people might not like it that much, and worry that this one won’t be too good. I actually thought this was quite different, and had more of a mystery feel than her previous domestic thriller feel. It definitely still had that element of psychological suspense that I really loved and was extremely addicting, of course, but I’m glad that it shows that Paris can branch out if she wants to!

4. The writing was fantastic. I talked a bit earlier in this review about how it really captured how it felt to be paranoid, and that’s what made the writing SO GOOD. Her writing also managed to make the book so suspenseful and kept me turning the pages, which is always good for a thriller.

5. I absolutely loved the ending. I really, really did! I’ve been a bit frustrated with some thrillers when it comes to their endings since some seem to build up to some out-of-this world ending that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, but this one ended up having not just a pretty realistic ending, but a shocking ending, showing that thriller endings don’t have to be outlandish to be good. Not only that, but it also managed to tie up the story in a neat little bow, which will make a lot of readers happy.

All in all, B.A. Paris has done it again! I can’t wait to see what she puts out next!

A huge thank you to St. Martin’s Press for giving me an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley; I truly appreciate it!  

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[ARC REVIEW] Reasons Why I Fell In Love With FINAL GIRLS (And Why You Should, Too)

final Girls

Genre: Horror, Thriller, Suspense, Adult

Series: None

Rating: 5 STARS

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Description:

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

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Holy crap. Well, that was amazing. I don’t know if you guys know this about me, but this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I heard about this book through bookstagram, and as soon as I read the description, I fell in love. Horrors and thrillers have quickly become my two favorite genres after I dived into them for the first time in the last half of the year, and this sounded like a brilliant combination of both. And after hearing good review after good review, I knew I just had to have it. So imagine how happy I was to see that the book was available for request on Netgalley, and how shocked I was when I was actually approved to read it. Whaaat?

This book was just as amazing as the synopsis hyped it up to be. Kudos to whoever wrote that description to draw me in. I’m one of those people that is usually drawn in from the title, and from there, the description. And, sometimes, you read a book and it ends up not delivering to your own expectations. But, wow, did this one completely deliver and blow me away. I couldn’t really tell what the true mystery would be just by reading the synopsis, which I’m thankful for, because it just made the book all the more addicting and leaves you with the feeling of constantly wanting to know what’s going to happen next.

The pacing for this one was perfect. Right off the bat, you’re pulled into the action, and then yanked out into the present. I would say that there’s not a single dull moment in this book. As soon as I started reading the book, I just. Couldn’t. Stop. I needed to know what was going on, what Quincy was going to get herself involved in, what the memories of Pine Cottage would reveal next. This book is basically the definition of “Just one more chapter!” (and I’m sure all my fellow bookworms will understand this). There are several plot twists, but unlike some thrillers I’ve read, they weren’t gimmicky and didn’t feel tacked on to make the book some unpredictable mess. All the twists had clues and a little bit of foreshadowing that when you find out something happens, you’ll be angry at yourself for not noticing it before.

I really enjoyed the cast of characters in this one. Quincy is a complicated character in and of herself, since she feels as if her past and present are colliding, and she just wants to be seen as a normal person. I quickly grew to liking her and cheering her on, even though she made some decisions that might make some frustrated, but I felt like it was realistic and true to her character, especially after what she’d suffered through. Sam is a complicated character, who I feel you’ll either totally love or totally hate, since she can definitely be a bit much, but I won’t dwell on her character too much because she’s more of a person you’ll want to figure out for yourself. We also have Coop, who I truly loved, and was such an interesting character, one who I brushed aside at first.

The ending was absolutely fantastic. I loved how everything tied together so well, and when everything is revealed, it’s truly shocking. I’m definitely not going to spoil anything, but I’m glad that I was knocked so hard off my feet at the revelations. It’s good to know that even though it sometimes feels like some genres are quickly becoming too formulaic, that horrors and thrillers can still manage to keep me on my toes.

Please add this to your reading list. You will definitely not regret it.

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A huge thank you to Dutton for giving me an e-ARC of this novel via Netgalley! This was actually the first e-ARC I ever received on the site, and I’m still shocked because I literally only had about twenty or so followers at that time, so thank you so much for giving me a chance! 

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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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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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[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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[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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[ARC REVIEW] Another Thriller Bites the Dust // The Last to Die by Kelly Garrett

the last to die

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, YA

 Series: None

 Rating: 3.5 STARS

Release Date: April 4, 2017

 Description:

 Sixteen-year-old Harper Jacobs and her bored friends make a pact to engage in a series of not-quite illegal break-ins. They steal from each other’s homes, sharing their keys and alarm codes. But they don’t take anything that can’t be replaced by some retail therapy, so it’s okay. It’s thrilling. It’s bad. And for Harper, it’s payback for something she can’t put into words-something to help her deal with her alcoholic mother, her delusional father, and to forget the lies she told that got her druggie brother arrested. It’s not like Daniel wasn’t rehab bound anyway.

 So everything is okay-until the bold but aggravating Alex, looking to up the ante, suggests they break into the home of a classmate. It’s crossing a line, but Harper no longer cares. She’s proud of it. Until one of the group turns up dead, and Harper comes face-to-face with the moral dilemma that will make or break her-and, if she makes the wrong choice, will get her killed.

 My Thoughts:

 Okay, so bear with me here. I was lazy enough to wait until, like, weeks and weeks later to write up this review, so if this sounds vague as all hell, now you know. But, when I was approved for this request on Netgalley, I was so pumped. I absolutely love thrillers, and I’m always interested in YA thrillers since YA is the genre I’m a huge fan of, and there aren’t enough thrillers found in the genre. Again, I ran into a YA thriller that I’d consider better than most, but, in the end, was still just okay. I think most people will enjoy this, but it’s no Dangerous Girls, and if you’re looking for a more complex thriller, this definitely isn’t it.

 So, we’re introduced to a gang of rich, teenage robbers, and I know you’re probably immediately writing them off as unlikable, but they actually weren’t too bad. I thought it was interesting that they robbed each other’s houses for the thrill of it, not only because it sounded stupid, but because it seemed sort of risky and useless, since they didn’t steal anything big, but whatever. Harper is the main character, and, of course she has a younger sister who’s deaf, and this reminded me a lot like Alex from the horror/thriller movie Don’t Breathe from last summer, which I loved and would recommend over reading this book, but that’s getting off-topic. I thought Harper was an all-right character; I didn’t really cheer for her, but I wasn’t praying death upon her, so that was good! I thought the rest of the gang was sort of forgettable, and weren’t developed enough, except maybe Alex and Benji.

 I thought the premise was interesting, and was pretty much what I expected from the synopsis. I was surprised to see that people actually died, and there were some moments that were really touching, especially during one of the member’s deaths. I will say, the book was addicting. I told myself I’d stop at one chapter, and, of course, I completely failed to do so. I just needed to know what was going to happen next, and I appreciate the fact that Garrett just wrote a straight-forward thriller without feeling the need to insert unnecessary filler. And hooray for the fact that the romance didn’t overtake the plot! It was barely there, which is how thrillers SHOULD be.

 I honestly don’t know how I feel about the ending. At the same time, I thought it was entertaining, but on the other hand, I feel like, again, I’ve suffered through a conclusion that seemed to have an unbelievable villain, which way too many damn YA thrillers suffer from sometimes. Instead of trying to make a believable thriller, some authors fall victim to wanting to have this big, crazy twist that shocks people, and it just doesn’t make sense. I don’t want to spoil, but I just felt like the way things were handled, the “villain” had to not only be the best actor in the history of acting, but also be a mastermind, with a hell of a lot of coincidences.

It’s funny, because it honestly seems like I’ve read way too many thrillers this year, both adult and YA alike, that I thought were good, except for the highly unrealistic endings. It feels like thrillers have stopped attempting to make logical sense and be entertaining, and now seem to try to out-rank each other for craziest plot twist of the year, which isn’t what I want thrillers to de-evolve to, but that’s a discussion for another day. But, I’m sure some people will love the plot twist and be like, “OH MY GOOOOD. DID NOT SEE THAT COMING.” I just rolled my eyes.

 Overall, if you’re interested, I’d say you should just go for it, but, personally, I wouldn’t set other people’s expectations to be TOO high.

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