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Fall Bookish Bingo

With the summer card completed I have once again put most of my currently reading on pause and signed up for Pretty Deadly Reviews Fall Bookish Bingo card.

 

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Another book I was a little apprehensive about since I’ve seen so many mixed reviews about it. Romantic comedies are not really my thing, but I really wanted to try this one and was so excited when I got approved on Netgalley.

 

Though it took me forever to get around to reading it and the paperback had come out so I wound up buying a finished paperback. I was so pleased at how much I wound up loving this book.

 

I saw a lot of talk on YA book twitter about people complaining when Dimple first meets Rishi she throws her coffee in his face (iced coffee) and how that made her unlikeable. Given the circumstances….I kind of applaud her for it.

 

Wen the novel starts Dimple has been accepted at Stanford and is totally thrilled about it, she also wants to go to Insomnia Con, a special programme/competition for designing an app. Some lady who’s famous to coders in the knowhow presides every year and Dimple is overexcited to go – just one thing to get out the way – convincing her parents.

 

Her parents are nice enough – hard working middle class people. Though Dimple’s mom doesn’t seem to get that Dimple isn’t interested in things like Indian make up techniques or finding an ideal Indian husband). The makeup techniques sound fascinating and learning little bits about other cultures is always really interesting. Yet they relent and let Dimple head for the convention.

 

On the other hand we have Rishi. His parents are very well do to and he’s also on his way to Insomnia Con for one reason only – to meet Dimple. Their parents have been talking…Rishi has his whole future planned, he’s going to MIT but already planning on how he’s going to woo Dimple and has ideas for how they will work together as a couple. While all this probably sounds cringeworthy the thing about Rishi is he’s such a sweetie. He was so nice and such a genuine person. He’s thoughtful and kind. He’s really ready to give this arranged thing a good go.

 

Dimple…not so much. So not surprising when she first meets Rishi and is clueless to everything else going…she is not amused. However, she does thaw towards Rishi as the convention gets going. Dimple is really smart and put a lot of thought into the app she wants to design. She’s creative and witty and awesome. She’s forward in some respects and reserved in other. I really liked her character.

 

Some of the technical side of the app building and the convention stuff was a little over my head as I know nothing about that sort of thing.

 

However the novel was so well written that it was easy to get into the flow and the spirit of things. The spark between Dimple and Rishi is just delightful as they navigate each other and the people at the convention. Dimple has a friend she’s made online Celia who is also attending the convention. They room together – but both are very different. Celia is a flirt and a rich girl who makes friends with a bunch of other wealthy students (who you sort of wonder why they’re there at all) and she wants to include Dimple in their outings. Dimple is clearly uncomfortable.

 

Of course in swoops Rishi to help. It’s so cute how they keep winding up together. Naturally nothing is ever smooth sailing, there are drama issues with Dimple’s own plans for her future and what Rishi has in mind for his. While their personalities, as different as they are fit together, their ideas for the future don’t mix so well. Rishi has an art talent – he’s an excellent artist and has designed a comic series of his own. He’s not interested in pursuing this brilliant talent of his as he’s got it in his head that an art career won’t provide a good future for him and Dimple. She’s pissy that he’s not following his dreams and doing what is expected rather than what he wants. Just as he got involved in her life…she takes things in her own hands for his talent.

 

Drama alert.

 

It was a tad predictable is the only thing that didn’t really land it a five star for me. Though I really really loved it. I loved the characters and the writing and the story and this is now an autobuy author for me. I already have her next book ready and waiting.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Hodder and Stoughton for approving my request to view the title.  

Review: The Queen's Rising

The Queen's Rising - Rebecca Ross

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

After seeing a few not so great reviews popping up for this title I did have some misgivings about it when I stated it, however, it exceeded my every expectation and I was surprised at how much I wound up loving this book.

 

It’s a very slow burn fantasy, not a lot of action but a lot of political manoeuvring and some epic world building. Also beautifully written, almost lyrical in a way. The plot initially wasn’t anything I haven’t seen before. Basic outline -  girl born out of wedlock, no one knows what to do with her, she’s smuggled into a special teaching house, discovers she has secret magic, gets involved with difficult tutor.  In a world that’s usually run by queens a usurper king has stolen the throne, there’s a lost female heir who is the rightful queen and there is a plot to overthrow the evil tyrant king and bring the rightful queen back to the throne. Girl finds herself a key part in this plot.

 

Admittedly, I had some eye rolls at the start of this book thinking I was fairly certain of where this book was going. While the writing was gorgeous, the plot was painfully slow. I liked most of the characters and the impending romance was kind of obvious as to where it was going as well. Quite pleased to see this wasn’t anything like I thought it was going to be.

 

The heroine Brienna is raised by her grandfather. Girls are taken to special schools to learn to be “Masters of Passion” – art, music, dramatics, wit or knowledge. Each pupil is assigned a talent and are given years and years of training to become a master. Starting at 10, Brienna is considerably behind the other girls, and the house is full. But she comes in and can’t find a passion to suit her. She fails miserably. Brienna was okay, if a bit wooden.

 

Finally she comes to decide knowledge the one thing she’s actually good at, she’s got to be better than everyone if she’s to become a master by graduation time. One thing I really loved about this book was the positive female friendships. The other girls who are students are not rivals, they are close friends and almost like sisters. While there’s a little bit of ill contention with one or two with Brienna stepping on a few toes, there’s no outright dislike or rivalry.

 

Brienna discovers a hidden talent of magic where she can see into the past. It happens randomly, no one knows why or where. Brienna’s planned path doesn’t really happen and she finds herself embroiled in a mysterious family with a plan to rebel against the tyrannical king. There’s a lot of journeying and the plot takes a turn from the somewhat mystical side of things to political undertakings.

 

There’s very little action until almost right at the end. And actually very little romance. There are quite a few secrets and plot twists revealed that kicked raised the stakes as far as the plot was concerned. There was a good feeling of family coming together and even if it’s not your biological family – it’s the people around you who become part of you and your own chosen family.

 

My only misgivings were the characters were a little flat, I can’t say I was particularly mad about anyone. Other than Brienna I can barely remember anyone’s name. I do remember how much I enjoyed the novel. For a fantasy it wrapped up really well too. Though there are apparently two more books to come. It will be interesting to see where this one is going. I loved this so much I bought a finished paperback.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK Children’s Books for approving my request to view the title.

Bookish Bingo Wrap Up

Summer Thriller - Lies They Tell Gillian French - 4 Stars

Illustrations: Memories Wake Omnibus Selina Fenech (3 books in one – Memory’s Wake, Hope’s Reign, Providence Unveiled) 4 Stars 

Water on Cover - Cruel Summer by Juno Dawson – 4 Stars

Over 5 Years Old - Siren's Call by Devyn Quinn – 4 Stars (published 2010)

Asian Author - American Panda Gloria Cho - 5 Stars

June July August Release -  A Reaper At The Gates, Sabaa Tahir -  5 Stars

Realistic Fiction - A List of Cages, Robin Roe -  2 Stars

Reread - The Belles, Dhonielle Clayton – 3 Stars

Yellow Cover The Thousandth Floor, Katherine MgGee (UK paperback) 4 Stars

Someone Else's Pick for you - Time Shifters Episode one of the Chronicles of the Harekaiin (recommended by Lora's Rants and Reviews) – 2 Stars

Adventure - Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody – 1 Star

Set During Wartime - Reign the Earth by A.C.Guaghen – 4 Stars

Travel - Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier – 4 Stars

Freebie – The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas – 3 Stars

A book you've been putting off: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas –  5 Stars

LGTBIA+: Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst – 5 Stars

2018 Debut: The Window by Amelia Brunskill – 4 Stars

Red Cover: The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen 2 Stars

Scifi: Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda – 3 Stars

Magic: Onyx and Ivory by Mindy Arnette – 5 Stars

Sequel - Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber 2 Stars

Blue Cover - The Dazzling Heights (The Thousandth Floor #2) by Katherine McGee (UK Paperback) – 4 Stars

Pirates - The Unbinding Of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara – 2 Stars

Religion - The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oaks – 4 Stars

Metalic Lettering – Give The Dark My Love by Beth Revis – 4 Stars

 

Best Books

American Panda, Inkmistress, The Hate U Give, A Reaper At The Gates, Onyx and Ivory, Lies They Tell,  The Window, Isle of Blood and Stone

 

Worst Books

Ace of Shades, The Unbinding of Mary Reade, A List of Cages, The Bird and the Blade, Legendary

 

Honourable Mentions

Memory’s Wake Omnibus, Pitch Dark, Give The Dark my Life, The Thousandth Floor, The Dazzling Heights, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, Cruel Summer, Siren’s Call.

Bookish Bingo Complete

 

Wrap up up post to come

Review: Give The Dark My Love

Give the Dark My Love - Beth Revis

Review - Give The Dark My Love

 

I received a copy from Penguin's First to Read.

 

Initially I had mixed feelings about this book, mainly as the beginning was rather boring and seemed to have some fantasy tropes that are starting to seem rather overdone.  However the latter half of the book took a darker turn and the end was pretty damn good and unexpected. 

 

It starts off with the story's heroine Nedra is leaving her twin sister and her parents to head off to a posh academy she has earned a scholarship to to study alchemy. She comes from a poor village, and despite her reservations about leaving her family they all tell her it's the right thing to do and of course she's destined for greatness. 

 

We learn there is a terrible plague sickness sweeping through the lands and there appears to be no cure, once the symptoms are spotted the sufferer is doomed. There are quarantine hospitals for the sick, the disease spreading mostly through the poor people. 

 

Nedra didn't seem to have much of a personality at all really. She was nice enough, ready and willing to learn, and of course all the fancy rich students who attend the school look down their noses at her. Right away she manages to make a friend with a very rich handsome boy, Greggori And gains the attention of one of the most difficult professors to please. 

 

It's just a tad bit eye rolling. And of course before long it's abundantly clear Nedra is far more talented than anyone initially thought she would. Much to the chagrin of some of the students. The plot is interesting enough as Nedra learns more about the plague and how alchemy can help the victims. The way the alchemy works a little stomach churning. But it seems to be the only thing doing some good. 

 

There's a subplot going on along the lines of some of the wealthy rich men (including Greggori's father and his best friend and their family) don't like the fact that the island they live on is under rule by one Emperor who governs countless lands and empires. They want the island to be free so they can make their own laws. Doesn't help that the emperor is only a teenager. Nor do they like the new governor he has appointed to rule their island is a woman. (This comes into play much more later on the novel).

 

Nedra finds herself caught up in a search to find the cause of the plague which is becoming worse by the moment, and not just affecting poor people throwing everyone's theories on the origin out the window. This is becoming the sole focus of the plot. Along with Nedra's relationship with Greggori is of course growing into something more than friendship. Greggori is slowly starting to realise there's more to Nedra. And his own views on the side plot are changing. 

 

The Governor makes a few appearances in the novel helping the sick at the hospital Nedra is working in and appears to be nowhere near as bad as the press and everyone else is making her out to be. 

 

Biggest problem for me was Nedra is just so dull as a main character. Both she and Greggori are so wooden and uninteresting. I had no interest in their barely there slow burn romance (which is usually one of my favourite romance tropes) Nedra becomes almost dangerously obsessed with stopping the plague. 

 

She finds herself using darker and more forbidden forms of alchemy - necromancy. This was where the plot really started picking up and I just didn't want to put the book down. I needed to know. Nedra becomes much more interesting and so meticulous and careful about her planning. Faced with a personal tragedy  that seems to define a turning point for her. 

 

I can't say I particularly liked her any more as a character but I could certainly empathise with her and completely understood her determination to find a cure, no matter where it took her. Though there is a fine line between using alchemy to help a greater cause but then finding something darker that works to a personal gain. There's definitely an interesting grey area that all logic seems to vanish over once things become more dangerous and intense. 

 

There were some pretty epic twists towards the end that I did not see coming at all. And left at one hell of a cliffhanger. At one point I wasn't even sure I was going to bother finishing this book, but now I have to know what happens next!

 

A bit of a slow start but definitely worth sticking with. 

 

 

Review: To Kill a Kingdom

To Kill a Kingdom - Alexandra Christo

I  received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I honestly don't quite know what to make of this book. Initially I was absolutely blown away with it, I have a weakness for mermaid themed stories and anti-heroines. Don't recall seeing the two combined before.  Even better when it twigged this was dark Little Mermaid retelling. 

 

I loved Lira right from the start - not a mermaid, but a siren. Deadly, fascinating and a total unapologetic bad ass. What's not to love? Known as The Prince's Bane Lira uses her siren gifts to lure unsuspecting Princes on ships to their death - where she rips out and collects their hearts. Her mother is the ruthless and unforgiving Sea Queen. The Sea Queen is a cold nightmare and nothing Lira ever does is good enough, no matter what.

 

Though despite her front of emotionless bad-assery, Lira has one weakness. Her beloved cousin Kahlia. Which comes in to play several times early on in the novel in Lira's battles with her awful mother. All Lira strives for is to be good enough to be named her mother's Heir. So far...not happening. Despite all the drama and attitude, there's an impression given that there's a lot more to Lira under the surface. 

 

On the other hand, we have Elian, a Prince who has no interest in being a prince, he's an infamous siren hunter/pirate who would rather sail round the oceans with his crew ridding his world of the siren threat. After his first encounter with Lira, something of a disaster for both...it's completely obvious where the romance is going. Problem for me was on reflection, I really just don't like Elian at all. I found him flat and annoying. One thing I really liked was Elian's crew, tie deep camaraderie and friendship, their banter and absolute loyalty.  

 

Elian learns of a mysterious crystal that will give him the power to rid the sea of the Sea Queen, there's a prophecy/curse to defeat. Problem is - the crystal is damn near impossible to find. Lira finds her path crossing with Elian, and when she finds out about the crystal, she wants it for her own purposes. They rub each other the wrong way - they are antagonistic as hell and bitching at each other for the first moment they meet. Lira is not happy finding herself with legs surrounded by humans. Who are naturally very suspicious of her - she has retained a few of her Siren talents - and uses them to her own advantage. 

 

It's still obvious where the romance is going, but its so so slow while Elian and Lira figure each other out. Their characters both develop as the plot does, the search for the crystal and the means to find it. There's deals to be made with dangerous kingdoms, several unseemly and villainous characters come in with a role to play. There's twists and turns.

 

The world building is fascinating and very well written. The problem I found was after half way through I was getting more and more bored and it was taking longer and longer to get around to finishing it. 

 

I'm not sure what to make of the end either. It concludes pretty well, though before then it got a bit messy in my opinion. I liked it, and would definitely read something by this author again, but I'm not as blown away by this book as I initially thought I was.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Hot Key Books for approving my request to view the title. 

Review: Blood Will Out

Blood Will Out - Susan Treggiari

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I remember very little about this book, other than I really hated it.

 

And was really disappointed because I was really looking forward to it as well. The weird title caught my eye when browsing on Netgalley, Pitched on the Netgalley page as ‘Silence of the Lambs’ for YA readers, that got my attention immediately as Silence of the Lambs is one of my all-time favourite movies.

 

Unfortunately for me, this book was just awful. Every serial killer cliché in the book. And an annoying heroine. The writing didn’t grab my attention and everything about it was very mediocre and boring. I wasn’t immersed in the mystery, after the first 20% or so I was quick reading and skimming just to know what the hell was going on.

 

To be fair at least when the novel starts the girl who’s the victim, Ari wakes up to find herself trapped in an empty cistern. Her panic is believable, and she is actually fairly resourceful in trying to figure out how to get out of there.

 

The narrative chapters flash back and forth between Ari waking up in the cistern and remembering what happened earlier that day trying to figure out what happened and who put her there. There’s also eye rollingly clichéd chapters from the killers point of view – the killer is isolated, has potentially abusive parents, forced to work hard on a farm, discovers very early on in life cruelty to small animals which is horribly depicted.

 

From then on, it gets kind of stupid and really boring.

 

The characters have no redeeming features, there was nothing outstanding about any of them. There was a twist when the true killer was revealed I actually didn’t guess. There’s quite a few red herrings thrown in as Ari goes through her suspect list, which should have been kind of obvious. Too bad the rest of the killer’s point of view were tropes so done and overused.

 

Just can’t really think of anything positive to say about this book really. Or anything much at all to say really. Not for me.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House Canada for approving my request to view the title.  

Review: Savage Island

Savage Island (Red Eye) - Bryony Pearce

Review: Savage Island

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This started out pretty good. A fairly interesting premise, it's a UK based horror novel - a group of teens enter a contest where the prize is one million pounds - each. The group will be whisked off to a reclusive billionaire's private island for some sort of survival contest where there will be a number of tasks to complete and other teams to compete against. Last team standing who complete all the tasks win the prize. Sounds pretty good, right?

 

If however, you're a horror movie fan like me and have seen more horror films than you can count or remember red flags should be going off immediately and the obvious question that should be on anyone's brain - what's the catch here? There has to be something that's going to go hideously wrong very quickly. 

 

The characters are pretty ordinary teens, told from the point of view of Ben who lives with his younger brother Will and their divorced mum, pretty girl Lizzie, Ben's long time crush, and friends, Lizzie's BFF mouthy Carmen and smart guy Grady. There's something uncomfortable right off with Will, told in flashbacks - he's got some personality problems and is very manipulative, and cruel especially when he doesn't get his way. Ben's a people pleaser. The peace maker. Will manages to convince them to bring him along. He's very smart and resourceful and could be useful. Despite his sociopathic behaviour issues. Or I'm guessing all part of said personality disorder. 

 

For a horror novel it's not scary in the slightest, (but that could be a personal feeling really as I may be rather jaded from having seen so many movies and read a fair amount of Stephen King which seems to be the yard stick I measure horror against). And while the novel was pretty silly there was something in the narrative that was enough to make me as a reader keep going to want to know what the point of it all was. To be fair it did manage to be pretty tense.

 

When the kids get to the island there's a list of tasks to complete, a riddle to be solved and a tithe to be paid before getting the instructions to the next point. The first team to clear the checkpoints, pay all the tithes and get to the final checkpoint by a certain time is the winter. The first tithe is a little gross, and if that's the first...how bad are the rest going to be? And what about the other teams competing? How far are they willing to go to win?

 

It all starts getting pretty despairing as things get more violent and go from bad to worse. It has some pretty eye rolling for fuck's sake moments, the plot manages like I said earlier to at least keep the interest alive. It is quite visually striking - it's very easy to picture what's going on as if it were a movie on the screen. Despite some eye rolling moments, the kids aren't stupid, they're fairly logical regardless of the growing panic and fear the worse the situation gets and the more threats that approach. 

 

Problem was the kids had in my opinion zero personality to make them remotely memorable or likeable, with the exception of Ben and Will. We get flashbacks of their complicated relationship and unpleasant family history. They are the only ones who seem to get some sort of fleshing out. 

 

What really let this novel down for me was the end. It was...stupid. The whole reveal of what was going on and the final body count....was like what the fuck did I waste my time on this for and was really disappointing. 

 

While this is a standalone novel it's part of a group of UK YA horror called Red Eye, and despite the crappy ending, I sort of would recommend it if you like cheesy horror, which is pretty much what I gather the Red Eye series is. Or at least what I'm guessing I will find this series. I have a number of other titles to try in the series. While this title was by no means somethingI I will read again I do look forward to trying the Red Eye series. 

 

The writing did show promise, so I would probably try something else by this author.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Stripes Publishing for approving my request to view the title. 

 

 

book shopping - today’s new book haul

Bookish Bingo Updates - final call

Sequel - Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

Blue Cover - The Dazzling Heights (The Thousandth Floor #2) by Katherine McGee

Pirates - The Unbinding Of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

Religion - The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oaks

 

I'm changing my pick for Metallic letting because my Uk paperback of Children of Blood and Bone only has shiny silver lettering down the side not on the front. I'll use Children of Blood and Bone for the freebie square and the UK paperback of Renegades by Marissa Meyer for Metallic letting, (the uk paperback is covered in shiny metallic blue writing and decoration)

 

Changed again - Metallics - Give The Dark my Love by Beth Revis

Continued Summer Bingo updates

A book you've been putting off: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

LGTBIA+: Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst

2018 Debut: The Window by Amelia Brunskill

Red Cover: The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen

Scifi: Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

Magic: Onyx and Ivory by Mindy Arnette

Review: Look for Me

Look for Me (D. D. Warren) - Lisa Gardner

Review - Look For Me

 

I received a copy from Netgalley 

 

This was something I received from one of those read it now for the first 100 members or so. Is usually like murder mysteries and police procedurals so this one caught my eye and I was lucky and quick enough to get in on the read it now. 

 

However, I didn't realise at the time it was book 9 in an on going detective series. I did flit through some of the mixed reviews on Goodreads and it looks like each book can be read as a stand alone, but of course, coming in on book 9 there's background history to the characters and things about on going relationships you're just not going to know. 

 

And frankly, the whole thing was kind of bland. The mystery itself was intriguing enough, a family is found murdered, working mom and her boyfriend, and two young children, the teenage daughter and the family dogs are missing. Is the daughter a victim for is she the suspect? And as the investigation continues the narrative is twisted so it could be either one. 

 

It's a tough case, and the family and the teen girl in question were the only characters I really felt anything for. The mom was a recovering alcoholic who lost her children and worked really hard to get them back. The oldest daughter was the one who took care of the family until CPS got involved and the kids were forced into care. The two sisters stayed together but they were separated from the youngest child, a new kind of hell to deal with. The girls went through a nightmare in the foster care group home they were assigned to. The mom pulled herself together met the legal requirements for having her kids returned to her. Life wasn't easy but it was getting better. They moved and started fresh. 

 

Then mom met a new boyfriend. A decent guy, but he lived in the area where the nightmare group home was. 

 

And now there is a tragedy. The two detectives have to piece together what happened to the family. I didn't get much feeling for either of the two detectives, everything felt - at least to me -  two dimensional, boring and wooden. The emotion came from the family drama, and some of the history of what happened to them learned through a series of essays written by the missing teenager about what family means to her. 

 

There's a second non-official investigator on the case, a woman called Flora, who seems to be some sort of victims' advocate. She survived a horrible tragedy herself (the plot of a previous book in the series) linking her with the detectives. She's struggling to cope but getting on with her life by running a support group for other victims. She was an interesting character, I am actually kind of interested in knowing more about Flora. She became a key part in solving the mystery and helping unravel the case.

 

The end was a bit eye rolling and over dramatic for my tastes . I'm not interested in going out and get all the other books in this series. I may try this author again in a different series. While the characters were a little dull, there was enough intrigue in the case itself to keep reading to know what happened. And I didn't actually guess what happened.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for the opportunity to view the title.

Even more summer bingo updates

Someone Else's Pick for you - Time Shifters Episode one of the Chronicles of the Harekaiin (recommended by Lora's Rants and Reviews)

Adventure - Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Set During Wartime - Reign the Earth by A.C.Guaghen

Travel - Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier

Freebie - Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi 

 

So that leaves

LGBT+ (I have so many books for this square I just need to pick one)

Red Cover

Blue Cover - possible pick The Dazzling Heighs by Katherine MgGee (second book in the Thousandth Floor trilogy, UK paperback has a lovely shiny blue cover)

Sequel

2018 Debut

Religion

Scifi

Pirates

A Book You've Been Putting Off - possible pick - The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (I've had this as soon as it came out but I've been putting it off forever worried I'll be the black sheep - it's a very important book, what if I don't like it? Or Illuminae - I have this entire trilogy but never got round to reading it. Illuinae would work for sci-fi too. Always and Forever Lara Jean - I love this series to pieces but if I read the last book the series will be over. 

Freebie

Review: Undead Girl Gang

Undead Girl Gang - Lily Anderson

Review: Undead Girl Gang

 

I received a copy from Penguin's First To Read.

 

This. Book. Was. Awesome. 

 

I absolutely loved it, from start to finish. I loved it so much I bought a finished hard back. There are some books you know from the tone of the first page if you're going to love them and the main character, and for me, this was one of those books. 

 

I felt a connection with Milla right away. I loved her don't give a fuck snarky tone. She's clearly grieving, the book opens with her best friend Riley's funeral. She has quite an interesting perspective on the funeral itself, a bunch of people from their school wailing and crying who would never have given Riley the time of day. Riley died in mysterious circumstances. The third death to happen to students from their class recently. Two of the schools most popular mean girls June and Dayton were also found deceased recently in what looked like a suicide pact. 

 

Neither Riley nor Milla fit in with the other students, they were heavily into Wicca, spending all their time at the local new-age magic shop or an abandoned house they found where they practice their spells and hang out. Riley's family own the local funeral home and Riley found herself a outcast, she and Milla connected and became best friends and have been for years. Though she'll never admit it Milla has an epic crush on Riley's hot, popular older brother Xander.

 

He's actually talking to her after the funeral. Milla is struggling with school, mandated meetings with the school shrink, and certain people (namely her chem lab partner) being a dick about her weight. She has two annoying younger sisters who don't seem to get 'personal space' and is generally miserable.

 

It's well written and believable without being over the top with the goth Wicca scene. The characters are well fleshed out as well. Milla's voice, despite her attitude problems, is easy to connect with. Her family drama, her school problems, it's not surprising she's not coping as well as she's saying she is. It's a sort of read between the lines thing. 

 

So she decides she's going to perform a spell to bring Riley back from the dead, find out what happened so she can bring the person who killed Riley to justice. It's not a simple basic spell, there are things she needs to get, certain times it can be performed. Kinda complicated. The method she received the volume of spells in which the actual spell to cast came to her is a little spooky. 

 

And of course when she heads to the magic shop with the  book, the lady who runs the shop tells her its a very old book and a dangerous one. Naturally of course, she doesn't listen to a word of warning. Hardly surprising then, when the spell works it not only brings back Riley, but June and Dayton too.

 

No one knows how it happened and it's not so much fun anymore with the two mean girls back again. They're all still dead, and discover some less than pleasant things about being a sort of zombie as they go along. No one remembers what happened before they died. The book from then on focuses on figuring out what happened to June, Dayton and Riley.

 

Some secrets come out as the novel progresses. And it has moments where it's very entertaining and quite funny as well. Though it has it's fair share of deep emotions and a few surprising twists to boost. Hints at something that could finally start to progress between Milla and Xander when they start developing a friendship of their own. 

 

One thing I did like was there wasn't really much romance involved. Hints and teasers, but it was more about the friendship with Milla and Riley and dealing with June and Dayton than about hooking up with the hot boy. 

 

A few more twists by the end when things start going wrong. Though when the truth is finally revealed, it's one of those why didn't I see this coming thing? It was quite clever. A tad over dramatic, maybe. Also, a standalone. Everything wrapped up decently and there wasn't any well what happened about so and so and no unanswered questions. 

 

I loved this book through and through and would definitely read it over and over.

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Review: More Than We Can Tell

More Than We Can Tell - Brigid Kemmerer

Review: More Than We Can Tell

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I loved the predecessor for this book Letters to the Lost, which introduced one of the main characters in this one. There was clearly so much more to Rev than was explored in Letters to the Lost so I'm so pleased he got his own book.

 

Major trigger warnings for abuse - mental and physical. 

 

This book was a tough and very emotional read. I could only cope with about 100 pages at a time. (Same way I had to read the first one) On the one hand we have Rev, an apparent tough guy who keeps to himself. He lives with his foster mother and father (who are some of the best YA parents ever).

 

 

The novel starts with Rev getting an unexpected letter from his biological father, a bible thumping preacher  who was put in jail for some serious abuse of his own son. He used region as a weapon both to psychologically manipulate and terrorise Rev as he grew up as well as an excuse for physical punishment. 

 

Rev hasn't spoken to him in years and lost all contact. Despite his tough guy exterior Rev is battling some very complex and conflicting emotions. Regardless of the suffering his father put him through something about his words in the letter still resonate. It's heart breaking to read about as Rev struggles with his feelings and what to do. While he's not telling his parents anything, he does have the support of best friend Declan who's there regardless of the time of day or night. 

(show spoiler)

 

On the other hand, we have Emma, a girl in Rev's class. Up until now they've never had reason to cross paths. Emma is a gamer who loves to code, she stays up late into the night gaming. She even created and launched a game of her own, which seems to have a lot of players. It's a secret she keeps from her parents, particularly her mom who doesn't seem to approve of her habit of locking herself in her room and spending all hours on her computer. Mom is an overworked doctor and kind of a bitch. Emma's father is a computer programmer for a big computer game company. Yet Emma seems almost embarrassed to tell him about her own coding skills. 

 

She's dealing with some serious harassment problems from one of the players in her game, a player who calls themselves 'Nightmare' and seems to hate the fact that she's a girl and she's the moderator and one in charge. The threats and messages are getting nastier and nastier. She can't seem to tell anyone other than her best friend Claire, and Ethan, another player she has a friendship and a strong connection with. 

(show spoiler)

 

There's tension between Emma's parents and it's really uncomfortable, so it's not surprising at all that Emma's on edge, especially with her own drama going on. She runs into Rev one night whilst walking her beloved dog, Texas (Texy). They have a brief conversation but there are clear sparks (even though neither realise it until much much later) they've started a dialogue. 

 

Things are getting more and more tense in both their home situations. Emma's parents are fighting more and more, the harassment from Nightmare is getting worse. No matter how much she bans him, he pops up again and again and is sending violent images through emails as well as nasty messages. Rev has a new foster kid living with his family, a young teenage boy named Matthew, who's moody and uncommunicative. He's getting more messages from his horrible biological father, mainly revolving around bible quotes that actually have Rev reflecting on his own behaviour and not in a good way. He's trying to be understand of Matthew's difficult circumstances but it's difficult and with other things going on...there's only so much anyone can take before snapping.

(show spoiler)

 

 

Both he and Emma continue to meet and talk, both in person and via texting and email. They have developed a friendship in which they can talk to each other about personal stuff and things they have difficulty talking about to other people. And of course the friendship turns into something deeper and more romantic. It's a slow burn romance and it's wonderful. They're both so considerate of each other. 

 

Things are going wrong and darker in both their lives, eventually the other's families learn of the friendship. Emma's so frazzled with her family troubles and online harassment she's taking it out on her best friend, who doesn't know what's going on. Her relationship with her parents hits rock bottom. She picks fights over stupid things with people who haven't really done anything wrong. 

 

And when something really bad happens to Emma towards the end of the novel, it's those people who figure it out and turn up and save her. While the danger Emma finds herself in is quite frightening, its a little predictable as to how it's going to turn out.

 

That being said, it's a really good read. It's a tough one that deals with some hard subjects yet manages to be uplifting in its own way. Brilliantly developed characters. This is the second book I've loved by this author which puts her on my auto-buy list. 

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for approving my request to view the title.