ARC Review: I Killed Zoe Spanos

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My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 384
Publisher:Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published: June 30th, 2020

 

 

When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected—and that she knows what happened to her. Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth? – Synopsis from Goodreads. 

Continue reading “ARC Review: I Killed Zoe Spanos”

Middle Grade Monday Review: Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

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Hey everyone!  I’ve moved Middle-Grade Monday over from our TBR and Beyond Facebook Group to the blog! Hopefully I can bring you lots of great reviews, topics and maybe even some author interviews!
I’ve been reading middle-grade for as long as I can remember and I strongly believe it’s not just for children, and I’m always trying to nudge adults into giving it try.  Middle-grade has been thriving for years and the stories out there are getting stronger, more diverse and more exciting all the time.  Hopefully, my weekly feature will be able to showcase that!

Continue reading “Middle Grade Monday Review: Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega”

Rant Review! Scared Little Rabbits by A.V. Geiger

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My rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Thriller
Pages: 335
Publisher: Sourcebook Fire
Published: December 3rd, 2019

 

 

 

When Nora gets accepted into her dream summer program at the prestigious Winthrop Academy, she jumps at the chance to put her coding skills to use. But then a fellow student goes missing—and the tech trail for the crime leads back to Nora. With no one else to trust, Nora must race to uncover the truth and clear her name…or she might be the next to disappear. – Synopsis by Goodreads. 

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Oh boy, where do I even start with this mess? I read and really enjoyed the author’s first book, Follow Me Back.  It wasn’t great writing or anything, but it was addicting and had a great twist at the end.  I was pretty excited to see she had a new book coming out, I actually pre-ordered Scared Little Rabbits and read it very shortly after it arrived. WHAT. A. HOT. MESS.  If you don’t like rant reviews, then move along – this is not for you.

The basic premise is our main character, Nora goes to an elite summer program at “Winthrop Academy Summer Maker Program”.  Nora’s there to work on a tech project she submitted for the next three works, but things get a little crazy when another girl in the program goes missing and Nora is the number one suspect.  I am all over books that feature young women in STEM programs, like yes! Give me more of this! Throw in a crime, I’m listening! How the hell did this author make sure a mess of such a cool premise?

First of all, we do get some talk of some of the tech projects going around, but nothing goes very in-depth.  It didn’t really make me feel very immersed in the whole story when the tech kids make incredible, innovative projects seem a little too simple or basic all the time.  My major issue though is we have a supposedly really intelligent, full of potential female main character, who has worked insanely hard to get a chance to come to this prestigious program and within the first day – the FIRST DAMN DAY,  she becomes completely enamored with the most popular guy around.  Yep, screw everything you worked for because OH MY GOD – IT’S A BOY!!!  Of course, he is instantly drawn to her – even though she is the author writes her as this really awkward, shy and never had a boyfriend type of girl, so of course, those sparks fly instantly.  Too bad he is already dating the most popular girl in school – kill me now.  This story is about to become about a couple hundred pages of, “Omg you’re a guy *teeehee* “Omg I’m a girl”* blush blush*” and forget any intelligence this story might have ever had a chance of having (which was very little).

We also have some of the stupidest catty shit I ever have seen and I’ve watched my share of teen drama’s growing up.  Most of it makes no sense and makes even littler sense when everyone else around goes along with it as if it’s law.  We also have a bunch of the popular kids that are working on a virtual reality simulation where you can put on a headset and see whatever reality they have uploaded.  This is cool in theory but not in practice – at least in this awful book.  These idiots are all walking around in an uncontrolled environment testing this shit out and trusting what they see on the screens – while walking around things like trees, pools, etc… Oh and flipping giant cliffs.  Yeah, I’d totally go tramping through the woods with a protype on my head and no one watching where I was stepping.  Geniuses go to this school I tell you.

The mystery is basic – been there, done that.  It was predictable and just sloppy.  If you haven’t figure this out by now, I didn’t enjoy this book at all. I think I only finished it to see how much more stupid it could get. I haven’t decided if I’ll try the author’s next work or not.  This was just a hot mess though.

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ARC Review: Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

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My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Contemporary/Survival
Pages: 240
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Published: March 3rd, 2020

 

 

 

Ashley knows this truth deep in her bones, more at home with trees overhead than a roof. So when she goes hiking in the Smokies with her friends for a night of partying, the falling dark and creaking trees are second nature to her. But people are not tame either. And when Ashley catches her boyfriend with another girl, drunken rage sends her running into the night, stopped only by a nasty fall into a ravine. Morning brings the realization that she’s alone – and far off trail. Lost in undisturbed forest and with nothing but the clothes on her back, Ashley must figure out how to survive despite the red streak of infection creeping up her leg. – Synopsis from Goodreads 

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“Living things will fight to stay that way.” 

I can’t believe I’m rating anything by Mindy Mcginnis anything under 4 stars, but here we are.  Be Not Far From Me had all the makings to be one of my top books of the year – survival, independent female and written by Mindy, so why didn’t it completely work for me?

Be Not Far from Me was on my Most Anticipated list for 2020, so I when I got approved on Edelweiss for an earc, I ran to read it.  I love survival type stories – they completely freak right out.  I can’t imagine getting lost in the woods and having to rely on myself (I’d be dead in 24 hours, I’m sure).  Premise is basically a bunch of high school seniors head out to the woods for camping and partying. Our main character Ashley, catches her boyfriend cheating on her and runs blindly out into the woods in the middle of the night.  Since she’s a more experienced at hiking and such (and are kind of shit friends), they don’t chase after Ashley right away -thinking she needs to blow off some steam.  Wrong, she falls in a ditch, injures herself and gets dead-ass lost.  Ashley’s not having the best of night’s.

“If you’re quiet in the woods long enough, you’ll hear something die.”

My first issue with this book is the main character Ashley, isn’t very likeable and I’m someone that loves an unlikeable female – but no, I just didn’t vibe with this girl at all.  Ashley is among the countless “I’m the most different girl in the whole world” trope we see in a lot of YA.  She is also constantly judges pretty much every girl around her,  including slut shaming them frequently – how charming.  That’s exactly what I want in a heroine that I have to follow for another 300 pages, ugh.  Once the action started getting going, it was a decent enough read for me and the book moved at a pretty fast pace most of the time.  Ashley’s decisions were reasonable most of the time – other than running off into the forest and getting herself into this mess in the first place.  She uses a lot of her survival skills and still struggles a crazy amount, which means most of us would be really screwed in her situation.  There isn’t a ton of dialogue, since it’s just her lost out there by herself, so for most of the book we are just watching how everything plays out as she tries not to give up and just die.  Ashley goes through the ringer in this book – like the author really didn’t hold back in this one and I appreciated that part a lot.  It’s quite graphic in the details of the injuries she sustains and the fun ooey gooey infections.  Let me just say – Possum – F*cking EWWWW.  I never thought I’d be so freaked out by a possum, just saying.  Her injuries do get a little far fetched in terms of not just falling over dead right away from infection and fever, but it’s never impossible either.  It’s just right on that edge at times.  If you are at all squeamish, I’d avoid this book – there is a lot of detail about a lot of nasty things in this one.

Through-out the book Ashley does seem to grow and become a bit of a better person as she goes through this shit, but I’m not entirely sure I buy it.  I still think she’s kind of an asshole.  A lot of people are going to enjoy this one though – I would’ve rated it much higher the main character didn’t want make me want to throw things at her head frequently.  Grab it, read it in an afternoon and be done with it.  Just my two cents on it.

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New Year, New Goals! 2020, let’s do this!

I know I’m late, late, late but I still want to do this! Last year I failed on a lot of my goals but this year I’m completely determined to get a bunch done.  I’m also going to be keeping it realistic and not killing myself with insane long lists of stuff that I have to read.  I find that the second I make lists of too much, I rebel instantly and am like, “you can’t make me!” It’s a whole scene – let’s not talk about it LOL Alright, so what bookish goals am I aiming for this year? Let’s get into them!

Continue reading “New Year, New Goals! 2020, let’s do this!”

Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

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My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Horror
Pages: 353
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Published: July 9th, 2019

 

 

 

 

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything. Continue reading “Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power”

Middle-Grade Monday: Spooky Books I Want to Read

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It’s almost Halloween time, so I think this week I’ll feature some spooky middle-grade novels that I really want to read.  I don’t just read darker books in October, it’s kind of an all year around thing for me and I think middle-grade has some of the best offerings for spooky novels.  Lots of atmosphere, great characters and cool adventures.  I can’t wait to dig into these!

Continue reading “Middle-Grade Monday: Spooky Books I Want to Read”

Review: Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lucavics

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My rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Horror
Pages: 266
Pacing: Slower
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Published: September 29th 2015

 

Trigger Warnings: Graphic imagery and violence, miscarriage, and child death.

 

When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.

When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul. – Synopsis from Goodreads. 

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“The only devil inside of you is the one you created yourself.”

Holy shit, what did I just read? This was in the YA section?!? Really? Man, they really went for it here. This is a VERY dark, historical fiction horror novel and it was very unsettling, which means I was completely there for it.

Ok guys, really take caution with this one with violence that involves children bothers you. This one doesn’t holdback any punches. This book is marketed as Little House on the Prairie meets Stephen King and that’s pretty darn accurate. I love dark historical fiction, so I’m a bit surprised that this is the first time I’m picking this one up – glad I did though. This story follows a family that is going through a hard time and doesn’t really have a large enough house to be able to get through the next winter with their sanity intact and so when they hear about another settlement that has some free cabins to claim, they set out to find a new home.

Our main protagonist Amanda is a very polarizing character, many people are going to hate her from the get-go. Her inner dialogue is dark, selfish and at many times repulsive. I had a love-hate relationship with this young girl because that is exactly what she was – young. Her family is struggling and her sanity is questionable and I thought her thoughts were very authentic. Ugly, but authentic. When they finally get to the settlement, things are not what they had hoped for – it kind of blows my mind that anyone would stay there but I guess desperate times. I won’t say what they find when they arrive but I think most of us would scream and run in the other direction pretty fast – not fix it up and decide to stay. It wouldn’t be much of a horror book if they didn’t that though!

Daughters Unto Devils is a slow burn, like a lot of historical fiction is. It does feature an unreliable narrator as well, since we have no idea if she has lost her mind or if what is happening is real for most of the book. I thought I had completely figured it out at one point and I was wrong. I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews on this one and I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a slower paced book or because it’s fairly gory and disturbing. Either way, I thought it was a fantastic October read and I’m sure I’ll have some of those images stuck in my head for awhile.

You have been warned about the content, if the story still sounds intriguing then go pick this one up! Totally worth and a very quick read. Incredibly disturbing though.

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Spooky Book Recommendations for Scaredy Cats

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Do you want to participate with everyone in reading spookier reads during the October month, but are a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to horror? Don’t worry I got you! There are still tons of books for you out there! Lots of my friends fit into this category and have to get a little more creative during the Halloween month, so they can play along with the reading challenges as well. I’ve broken this list down into genres – there is really something for everyone and the best part – none of it is too scary!

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Review: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys – Various Authors

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My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Horror Anthology
Pages: 400
Pacing: Various
Publisher:Dial Books
Published: August 18th 2015

 

Trigger Warnings: Graphic violence, sexual assault, cutting, bullying, addiction, pedophilia.

 

A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Continue reading “Review: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys – Various Authors”