October 12, 2018

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Step right up, get your perfect Halloween read here! I knew from the minute I saw The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw that I would love it. I actually bought this book the day it was released back in March, but made myself wait until closer to Halloween to read it. And it was definitely worth the wait.

This book takes place in the small town of Sparrow. Every summer, a terrible curse befalls the town and it is forced to pay retribution for something it did two centuries ago: drowned the three Swan sisters for witchcraft. Now, each summer the sisters return from their watery grave, each inhabiting the body of a teenage Sparrow girl and luring boys into the water to their deaths. The town has accepted that this is their fate, and the "Swan season" has even become a tourist attraction of sorts. This story follows Penny Talbott during the Swan season, but this summer is different. Enter Bo, an unsuspecting visitor to Sparrow who seems to not know the danger he has put himself in by visiting during this time. 

Ugh this book, I just adored every minute of it! Both the present day plotline and the flashbacks to the sisters had me so immersed in the town of Sparrow, and I could picture everything so vividly in this atmospheric read. While I did figure out the twist (if you can even call it a twist, because it happens fairly early on), that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story whatsoever. 

My only real dislike (and not even a dislike enough to take off a star) was the unlikely romance, but if you take it with a grain of salt it doesn't distract from story as a whole. The very end threw me a bit, but it's satisfying when you realize that Penny isn't as much the main character as you originally thought.

This would make an amazing movie (which is good, because it looks like it's happening). Fans of Hocus Pocus and anything witchy will absolutely adore this read! And because it has to be said, this gorgeous, holographic cover may be the most beautiful book I've ever seen!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

October 10, 2018

Easy Prey by Catherine Lo

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
This is the second computer/tech read that I've picked up in the last few weeks. Easy Prey by Catherine Lo follows three teenagers: Mouse, Jenna, and Drew. After being thrust into a group project together for law class, these three unlikely friends have to work together. Mouse is a computer nerd set on getting into MIT to prove his father wrong. Jenna, after having some personal photos broadcast over the internet, is a changed girl, rebellious and jaded. And Drew is a jock, known for being a womanizer and a player. Somehow these three had access to a teacher's racy photographs, and when the photos go viral, they have to figure out who leaked them. 

This story was actually really good! It's told from the points of view of each of our three main characters. Its focus on internet privacy and online rights, in addition to victim shaming, was definitely relevant to society today. I liked how all three characters were sort of intertwined before they got put in a group together, but the forced pairing really brought out their relationships with each other. The twist wasn't really predictable, per se, but definitely made sense when you finally learned it.

This was a quick, relevant read with some good characters and a pretty solid, thrilling plot. 

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Amulet Books for an advanced copy of this read! Easy Prey by Catherine Lo releases October 16th!

October 5, 2018

The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
This is a release I have definitely been anticipating, so you can imagine my excitement when a finished copy showed up at my door! The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody is a YA contemporary that follows Ali on a journey, both physical and emotional in nature.

When Ali's estranged father passes away and leaves her his most prized possession, his 1968 Firebird convertible, she wants nothing more than to get rid of it. In fact, Ali plans to sell the car and use the money to help save her house currently under foreclosure. But Ali can't drive a stick-shift, and she has to transport the car about 300 miles to its buyer.

Enter Ali's ex-boyfriend, Nico, who offers to drive the car for a small cut in the sales price. But that means Ali must spend hours trapped in the car with her ex. What happens when the two are forced together? Will Ali learn to forgive not only Nico, but her father as well, in the process? Will she be able to save her home?

This story was just too precious. I loved the characters, even though I thought Ali was a bit standoffish (though I understand why). The whole idea of "trading up" items from something worthless to something worth a lot of money is so fascinating to me, and I've always wanted to try it! I thought the overall message of this book about forgiveness and understanding was incredible, and it really hit home the idea that you shouldn't judge someone without fully knowing their situation. I thought this was fairly long for a YA contemporary, but I flew right through it. And let's be honest, this cover is just stunning.

I've never read any of Jessica Brody's other works, so now I definitely have to check out some of her other books!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Simon Pulse for a finished copy of this read! The Geography of Lost Things is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy!

October 2, 2018

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
This book completely blew me out of the water! I've never read anything by Diane Chamberlain before, and honestly didn't know much about her books at all. When I got a chance to read this one, I was cautiously optimistic since I didn't know what to expect. But I ADORED IT. The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain can't even be summed up into one genre, because it had so many different components.

This story follows Carly, a widow living in the 1970s whose husband has been killed in the Vietnam War. Shortly after he was deployed, she discovered that she was pregnant. But now there is something wrong with her baby that could be fatal, and there is no cure. Enter Carly's brother-in-law, Hunter, who tells Carly there might be a way to fix the baby's heart condition, but it will require immense bravery and suspension of disbelief on Carly's part to make it happen. Suddenly Carly is faced with a decision: to put trust in the incredulous information her brother-in-law has told her and attempt to save her unborn daughter, or to not believe it and pray that the doctors were wrong.

I honestly can't say too much about this book without giving critical elements away, but I was gripped from the very beginning. I stayed up WAY past my bedtime to finish this read, and the plot captured me more than any book I've read in a long time. I enjoyed all the characters, with the exception of Carly's sister, and even though there were definitely elements of the plot that were unrealistic, it was an incredibly unique and engrossing read.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy of this read! The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain is out TODAY, so be sure to pick up a copy of this fantastic book!

October 1, 2018

The Chaos of Now by Erin Jade Lange

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I was not expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. The Chaos of Now by Erin Jade Lange is a YA contemporary that follows Eli, a high school student obsessed with computers and coding. The book starts one year after one of Eli's classmates, Jordan Bishop, committed suicide by lighting himself on fire in the middle of the cafeteria, with bullying as the cause. There is definitely a trigger warning on this book for bullying and suicide.

Eli himself is a victim of bulling, having most recently been beaten up in the bathroom. But immediately following his beating, Eli is left a code in a computer language very few can understand. The code leads him to some new friends and a slot in a team for a major coding competition. But when the team's competition project turns into a vehicle for revenge on Jordan's death, Eli isn't sure he wants to stay a part of it, especially when his own secrets are at stake.

I really enjoyed this read! I liked all of the characters, and thought the plot was fast paced and engaging. This was definitely focused on the harm that bullying can do, but had a great techie aspect to it as well. I did think that some parts were a little bit unrealistic, both some actions and some repercussions. I absolutely appreciated that the love interest was not at all the center of this story.

Fans of books like Warcross, and those interested in computers, technology, and coding, would definitely enjoy this read!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Bloomsbury for an advanced copy of this read! The Chaos of Now by Erin Jade Lange is out TOMORROW, Oct. 2nd, so be sure to pick up a copy!

September 25, 2018

Can We All Be Feminists? Edited by June Eric-Udorie

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
So for today's post, I'd like to introduce a book that I think everyone needs to read. Can We All Be Feminists? edited by June Eric-Udorie is a book about feminism, but not the traditional feminism that has been gaining popularity.

The feminism described in this book, rather, is intersectional feminism about inclusivity. It isn't about just rights for white women, but for all women, regardless of things like race or natural born sex. In this collection of 17 essays, women tell their stories about their experiences, discuss what drew them to the feminist movement, share important information about feminism in history, and suggest how we can all work towards a more inclusive feminism.

The voices of each of these women came through in their stories, adding to the urgency of the overall message. The essays were interspersed with facts and figures in addition to personal anecdotes. It was hard-hitting, emotional, and motivating to read the words of these women.

One complaint with this read was that it was a little statistics-heavy, making it challenging to get through at points and a longer read. In addition, it came off as a little too preachy in some places, which can be a turn off for readers.

This is the kind of book that everyone should be exposed to, as these issues are facing us today more than ever. 

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Penguin Books for a copy of this important read! Can We All Be Feminists? edited by June Eric-Udorie is out TODAY!

September 24, 2018

Born Scared by Kevin Brooks

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Take a peek into the mind of a child who is terrified of everything. In Born Scared by Kevin Brooks, we follow thirteen-year-old Elliot, as he must conquer some of his fears in this book focusing highly on the daily life of someone with anxiety and crippling phobias.

As Christmas approaches, Elliot realizes that he is almost out of his fear pills. After a mix up at the pharmacy, Elliot panics that he might not get them in time, and if he runs out, the fear "beast" will emerge. A plan is developed to get him his pills in time, but suddenly that plan starts falling apart. First, his aunt Shirley who was supposed to bring him his pills never shows, and isn't answering her phone. Fearing the worst, Elliot's mother goes out searching for her in the snowstorm, but when she doesn't return from what should be a short walk, Elliot has to take matters into his own hands.

This book was interesting, because it's hard to imagine being scared of literally everything. I personally struggle with anxiety, so I know what it's like to have irrational fears, but virtually everything Elliot encounters terrifies him. Some of the scenes got pretty intense, and while I was tempted to tell Elliot to just snap out of it, this book is all about understanding that for him, this IS reality and he can't just snap out of it.

This was described as a "terrifying thriller," but the only terrified one after reading this was Elliot. It seemed like more of a journey-based story than a thriller most of the time. I know we were meant to feel Elliot's fear, but I just didn't and never really connected with the story. This was told from multiple points of view, and while I understood why that was necessary, I didn't really like it.

Overall I enjoyed this story, but didn't love it and probably wouldn't read it again. It was a quick read, and something that would be great to pick up during the upcoming holiday season.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Candlewick Press for an advanced copy of this read! Born Scared by Kevin Brooks is out now!

September 21, 2018

Still Water by Amy Stuart

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Coming at you again with another adult psychological thriller review! In Still Water by Amy Stuart, Sally and her son have disappeared, and Clare is tasked with helping find them. She travels to the town of High River and ends up in a home known for taking in women looking to escape their pasts, a home that Sally previously stayed in before her disappearance. 

Unfortunately with this one, I felt that it started really strong and promising, then fell off as the book progressed. It was very gripping at the beginning, but then I had to struggle some to push through and finish. There also didn't appear to be any real effort involved in solving the mystery, Clare just kind of lucked out by happenstance.

I did very much like Clare as a character, however, and appreciate when characters are flawed and potentially unreliable. But I did have some questions.

Turns out, this was the second book in a series, and I didn't know that going in. While it was okay as a stand-alone, I think knowing the back stories of Clare and Malcolm would have really helped me understand their motivations and relationship more. There were multiple times that I just had no idea why things were happening, and I think that would have been alleviated if I read the first book, Still Mine, before this one.

This was just a middle of the road read for me, didn't love it and didn't hate it. I do think I would have rated it higher if I had known more of the backstory, and also if it wasn't so anticlimactic overall.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Touchstone/Simon & Schuster for a digital copy of this read! Still Water by Amy Stuart is out now, so be sure to pick up a copy if you love thrillers or are a fan of Still Mine!