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!

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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”

Middle Grade Monday – Spooky/Halloween Recommendations

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Looking for some spooky middle-grade reads? You’ve come to the right place.  I will warn you right now that just because it’s middle-grade doesn’t mean it’s tame and “just kid’s stuff.”  I find some of the middle-grade horror, creepier than some of the stuff on the shelves in the YA section, so keep that in mind if you scare easily.  Also, I would consider the majority of these books more for children on the older side (10-12 range), obviously this depends on the child and their reading level and how easily they scare.  I know I was scouring the library for anything and everything that might give me a scare as soon as I was old enough to read.

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Middle Grade Monday: Review – Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire by John August

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Hey everyone!  We’ve moved Middle-Grade Monday over from our TBR and Beyond Facebook Group to the blog! Hopefully we can bring you lots of great reviews, topics and maybe even some author interviews!
I’m a massive middle-grade fan, and I’m always trying to get people to give it a shot! Hopefully these reviews will give you a better idea if you want to try out the books or not! That is the goal anyway!

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My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: Middle-Grade Adventure/Fantasy
Pages: 336
Pacing: Normal
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Published:  February 6th 2018

 

 

Arlo Finch thought becoming a Ranger meant learning wilderness skills, like camping and knots. But upon arriving in the tiny town of Pine Mountain, Colorado, Arlo soon learns there’s so much more. His new friends Indra and Wu teach him how to harness the wild magi seeping in from the mysterious Long Woods – a parallel realm of wonder and danger.  First he must master the basics, including snaplights, thunderclaps and identifying supernatural creatures. But Arlo Finch is no ordinary Ranger, and this is no ordinary time. A dark and ancient force is sending threats into the real world…our world. And whatever it is has its sights set on Arlo. – Synopsis by Goodreads

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I knew the second I saw the cover for this book that I was going to love it and I was right on the money for this one.  Adventure, Magic, Friendship and lots of chaotic fun!

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire begins as Arlo and his family are moving from another state to move in with his uncle.  His mother has fallen on hard times financially and his father is only partly in the picture, which has been hard on everyone.  Arlo is not too excited about the move since he’s leaving everything he loves to go to the unknown but when he gets to his uncle’s house weird stuff starts happening almost immediately.   Arlo meets his uncle’s dog right off the bat, only issue is that his uncle’s dog has been dog a long time and Arlo seems to be the only one that can see him.  Let’s just say that is only the beginning of the weirdness that starts to befall our young Arlo.

Most of this book centers around Arlo joining the Rangers in his new town and the friends and adventures they go on.  It seems that they all know a little more than the adults when it comes to the town and the odd things that are going on there.  The Long Woods, where the Rangers spend a lot of their time is not quite what it seems and allows them to do some pretty cool stuff while inside.  That would all be well and dandy if it weren’t for the fact that someone or something seemed to be hunting them suddenly and they  have no clue why.  Arlo and his new friends have to work together to solve what is going on and make it back home safe and sound.

I love this book so much, it’s perfect for both children and adults alike – which are always my favorite middle grade novels.  The strong message of teamwork and friendship are prevalent in this one and it really shines through.  The kids really do care about each other and the acceptance they show each other is something we should strive for.  I also loved the Rangers aspect and that it’s not just boys in the group.  It’s completely co-ed which was fantastic to see and I loved hearing about the badges and watching them trying to earn them.  Honestly, this would make such a good movie – why hasn’t this happened? Get on it Netflix!

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire is the first in the trilogy and I can’t wait to read the next book and see what comes next for this gang.  I would highly recommend this book for anyone that loves a good adventure with a little pinch of danger.

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Blog Tour: Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan, Favorite Quotes & Giveaway!

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We are so happy to be part of the blog tour for Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan that is put on by the lovely The Fantastic Flying Book Club.  To see the full schedule, go HERE Continue reading “Blog Tour: Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan, Favorite Quotes & Giveaway!”

ARC Review: Slay by Brittney Morris

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 336
Pacing: Average/Normal
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: September 24th 2019

 

 

 

 

By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.” But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

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“As we duel, as we chat, there’s an understanding that “your black is not my black” and “your weird is not my weird” and “your beautiful is not my beautiful,” and that’s okay. It’ brings tears to my eyes if I think about it too long.”

I knew when I saw this that I wanted to get my hands on this, so I actually requested this in two different places – just incase! I mean it was marketed as Warcross meets Black Panther – yes please! Thankfully Simon and Schuster was lovely enough to send me a physical arc because this was such a wonderful book.

I have to start by saying that I’m a little out of my depth with this review, SLAY wasn’t written for me in any shape or form.  This book is unapologetically black and I can’t even begin to imagine what this book has meant and will meant to so many young black teens – it makes my heart happy to think it.  I’m going to review this the best I can, but keep in mind that I am a middle-class, white, Canadian girl and my voice isn’t the main one you should be listening to when it comes to this book.  I encourage you to search out ownvoice reviews on this, it’s so very important. I would recommend checking out: Big Bang Books and Regina’s Review

This story features a seventeen year old girl named Keira,  who is leading a kind of double life.  One part of her life is being the good daughter and sister and going to a mostly white school and trying to excel, so she can get into a good college.  The other part of her life, she is the creator and co-admin (with another young bi-racial girl) of an online MMORPG for thousands of the black community only called SLAY.  Her parents, siblings and boyfriend are completely in the dark about this – she has remained 100% anonymous.  Her fear is in telling them is that they will think it’s a waste of time and not really get what she is doing for the community and how important it is to her and so many others.  Unfortunately, a player of the game is murdered outside the game because someone wanted some of his game items and so begins a giant new circus about violence in video games, as well as questions if the site is racist for being anti-white.

I want to get this out of the way real quick – there is no such thing as white racism.  Racism means oppression, not hurt feelings.  If you are not being oppressed by another race, by their actions then there is no racism.  Therefore, there can be not white racism – just name calling.  Just saying… SLAY is based on games like World of Warcraft, but it for the black community only and all the game play is based off historical, cultural, entertainment and everyday references that mean something in the black community.  No, not just the US community – world wide.  It sounds like such a badass game and I’d do it no justice if I ever tried to explain it but it’s very well thought out and super accessible for the people that are not gamers.  I will say that there is a lot of gaming talk and I am a gamer, but I don’t think many will struggle with it.  I promise, it’s broken really easy and keeps it interesting.  It’s not even my type of game and I was completely invested – the stakes always seemed high and the characters were amazing sounding.   A friend actually asked me if there was a game like this for certain communities.  I sadly answered, “no, because it would be swamped instantly by other communities with nothing but hate fueled comments.”  It’s a shame.  I think safe spaces are very important and as a girl gamer I get the desire for just wanting a place where you don’t have to be called names or harassed.

The one thing I could really relate to in this book is the girl gaming aspect and it being assumed they were men and ending gave me such chills and brought tears to my eyes. This is for the girls – the STEM girls! This book hears you and gets you.  I wanted to stand up and cheer for these girls – just thinking about the ending in this book makes me weepy – it’s so flipping empowering and I think the author for putting it on paper and allowing me to read it.

The only negative thing I can say about this book is that it’s a bit far fetched in terms of the creating the game.  A massive game could not be run by two young girls alone – it takes a ton of people.  It also takes cash, there is a reason that games aren’t free – they aren’t cheap to make, especially on the caliber of SLAY.  Also, there is no way they could just being doing it in their spare time – not realistic.  You’d be a slave to your PC if you were creating something like that and keeping it going.  This didn’t really bother me, but it might frustrate some because of how unrealistic it is and how easy the author makes it seem.

I feel like I was all over the place with this review.  I haven’t given the best overview ever but please don’t be scared of this book because you think it’s a gaming book or that you won’t get it because you aren’t black – you should read it for that exact reason.  It will likely open your eyes to some really important topics.  I know it did for me.  I highly recommend this one, I wish I could do it better justice but please go read it.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for a physical ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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