Book Review

Book Review: The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Middle Grade/YA Mystery + Fantasy (paranormal)
Length: 381 pages
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: August 29th, 2013
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business. 

In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall’s legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day? 

Readers who enjoyed the action, suspense, and humor in Jonathan Stroud’s internationally best-selling Bartimaeus books will be delighted to find the same ingredients, combined with deliciously creepy scares, in his thrilling and chilling Lockwood & Co. series.

VERY SPOOKY INDEED.

I read this book based off of a recommendation from Bookstagram, and it did not disappoint.

I generally don’t read much middle-school books unless they come highly recommended, I had seen this enough from her to know I must have it (even better, if you’re a Prime member, the first book is free on Kindle!). While they’re some YA aspects, it generally leaned towards a younger audience, yet I can see how it captivates older groups. It’s a really underrated book.

This group: Lucy, Lockwood and George are a hoot to watch interact. They have funny banter, quiet moments and are a great team. Lucy and Lockwood especially made this book. It was narrated by Lucy (which I wasn’t expecting given it’s called Lockwood & Co.). I loved the world-building and how *just* enough was left out to keep me interested for further installments.

The Screaming Staircase is CREEPY. This is honestly the closest I’ll ever come to a horror book. They’re ghosts that can do all of these crazy things (including kill you). Blood coming off of ceilings, things jumping out, it was definitely intense at times.

I liked the addition of a mystery within the paranormal activity. It made me more invested as I am weary of reading paranormal books. It was another level of intrigue and wonderment as I flew through this.

Overall audience notes:

  • Middle school/YA Paranormal Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: descriptions of murders, detailed hauntings, physical, swords, guns, explosions

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Book Review

Book Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆   
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 432 pages
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: May 14th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

THIS DUO DOES IT AGAIN.

I finished this book IN HOURS. That’s how much I loved it. Oh it was so cute y’all.

There were moments where I actually found myself laughing out loud at the antics that Olive would find herself in. The poor girl is always the unlucky twin and her stories show. But, over the course of this book she had a lot of growth as she realized she also possessed the power to change her course and not always assume she would draw the short straw.

Ethan was precious. I loved all of his interactions (and that massage scene you guys!! – the angst was real throughout this entire book) He and Olive made this amazing pair. This book could have been even longer and I wouldn’t have complained one bit. This is less enemies-to-lovers than it appears though. The whole reason she has an issue with him is a misunderstanding. Goes to show, communication is key.

I had heard that this one was less steamy than their other novels. I found it to be a perfect amount. I personally don’t love when the books feels like only sex, so by dialing this down I got a lot of great banter, sweet-heart moments and more plot.

I struggled with Ami because I felt she should have trusted her twin more (and Dane is seriously, the worst). Their plot line only really added to the conflict between Olive & Ethan.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses, a little-detailed love scene, a few more that are mostly fade to black
  • Trigger warning: cheating spouses

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Book Review

Book Review: The Thousandth Floor (The Thousandth Floor #1) by Katharine McGee

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Young adult dystopian
Length: 448 pages
Author: Katharine McGee
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: August 30th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

NEW YORK CITY AS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE.

A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future where anything is possible—if you want it enough.

WELCOME TO MANHATTAN, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. Everyone there wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

LEDA COLE’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

ERIS DODD-RADSON’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

RYLIN MYERS’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will this new life cost Rylin her old one?

WATT BAKRADI is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy for an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is AVERY FULLER, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Amid breathtaking advancement and high-tech luxury, five teenagers struggle to find their place at the top of the world. But when you’re this high up, there’s nowhere to go but down….

GOSSIP GIRL CIRCA 2118.

I had a bookstagram friend mention that she heard this book was like Gossip Girl in the future. OH MY GOODNESS IF THAT ISN’T ACCURATE. Even if I haven’t scene GG, it toootally had those vibes.

And maybe that’s why I couldn’t stop turning pages? The drama was absolutely ridiculous, but I NEEDED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. I even ordered the second book, that is how invested I feel at this point.

This has multiple POVs, four main ones: Avery, Leda, Watt & Rylin. Everyone’s stories intertwined and bounced off one another. I liked the flow of the story and with its short chapters it made it a quick read.

It is definitely a lot more dark than I was suspecting. Drug abuse, cheating, some interesting emotions and wicked characters, I was like WHOA GUYS. Back up here. I like when a book sticks to it’s theme though. It felt almost like a tale of warning (and can be completely applicable to today).

My favorite piece was probably that this is a dystopian book that doesn’t a have oh no, the world is ending component. I got so tired of seeing that repeated that I stopped reading dystopians all together. I gave this one a chance for its unique premise and pleasantly enjoyed having a change of pace to this genre. And y’all some of the products they have? AMAZING. A spray that puts your make-up on? A PARK IN A TOWER? It was so cool. Even with all of the drama I still wanted to live there, it took fantastical and imaginative to a new level.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult dystopia
  • Language: a bit (ranging from weak-strong)
  • Romance: a lot of kisses, some brief (and essentially non-descriptive) re-tellings of nights together, a handful of fade to black love scenes (minor details prior)
  • Violence: murder
  • Trigger warnings: bullying, cheating (on boyfriends/girlfriends, and spouses), intense drug abuse, selling of drugs

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Book Review

Book Review: The Kingdom of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy #2) by S.A. Chakraborty

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Historical fiction + fantasy
Length: 619 pages
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Release Date: January 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Return to Daevabad in the spellbinding sequel to THE CITY OF BRASS.

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabadand quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her familyand one misstep will doom her tribe.

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the maridthe unpredictable water spiritshave gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS.

First off, WE JUMPED 5 YEARS? After I got over that shock I was immediately drawn back in to this amazing and addictive world. This series needs more traction, IT’S SO GOOD.

Now now, I know I said all of that and gave it four stars. Four stars is still fantastic! And I have reasoning. This book was much more heavily focused on the politics and schemes of the kingdom. So much so that I missed a lot of action. I was definitely invested, but about 200 pages left and I was surprised at how long it was taking me to get through it. Especially because I was loving it! I think having to pay a lot more attention to make sure I didn’t miss anything caused me to be a little dulled by it all.

BUT. The last 150 pages? ARE YOU KIDDING ME. There was no way to put the book down. A lot of the politicking and scheming all made sense at once when all heck broke loose. We had some plot twists (that I’m proud of myself for figuring out beforehand), extra wicked parents and a city crumbling. YES TO ALL THE DRAMATICS.

Am I behind the maaaaaybe something between Ali and Nahri? I DON’T KNOW. I’m still stuck on Dara. The romance is truly a tiny piece of these books, yet anytime these *little* things happen I’m curious what part it will play in the finale.

Nahri is still brave, brash and bold. I love her so. She’s one of my favorite heroines. Stands up for herself, works hard, passionate about so many things. I think it’s amazing how much she does for herself which is why I think the romance is so low in this, GIRL AIN’T GOT TIME FOR THAT (it’s no lie I love books with a love aspect, but in some books it’s really amazing when I don’t even mind that there isn’t some).

Ali and Dara are these two souls that will run me ragged by the end of this. So complicated, tortured and unwilling to compromise. BOTH OF THEM. Ugh. I have hope and love for them though so I *believe* things will work out.

I just love how expertly crafted these three main characters are. Nahri, Ali and Dara all have a dramatically different perspective on their home and the issues within. It makes it feel like there isn’t a “weaker” POV because they are all so captivating.

I’m also not sure where I stand on about a handful of other characters either. A lot of people made a lot of mistakes in this book. Which I feel is total book two territory (another reason for my lower rating). Gotta build up for the last book.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + fantasy
  • Language: a little (a handful of the f-word)
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: poison, knives, physical, magic, torture, murder, war
  • Trigger warnings: slavery, human trafficking, talk of past threats of rape

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Book Review

Book Review: Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Garber

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 496 pages
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: May 7th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Welcome, welcome to Finale, the third and final book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Caraval series!

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…all games must come to an end.

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates have been freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella has seen Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finaly, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun―with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win…and those who will lose everything

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.

I had to take a few days before writing this review because I loved this book that much. Oh my goodness, PLEASE READ THIS SERIES and thank me later. This is what my carnival + fantasy dreams are made of.

WHAT A FINALE. (yes, I will use this pun without any shame).

Okay, my heart is in a million pieces. What I loved absolute most about this book was how it was entirely focused on love. AND IT WASN’T CHEESY. That I feel is the hardest part of any romance-ish book. Finale was full of love, it controlled the book. Oh, it was so well done. I could gush forever at this one fact.

Now, I know most people love Scarlet, BUT I LOVE TELLA MOST. I love that she’s stubborn and passionate. She’s fiercely loyal and loves with a controlled recklessness that makes me love her even more. I was happy to have her as the main POV (Scarlet was the other one, but only occasionally). Scarlet did grow A LOT in this book. She took control of her own choices and really helped those around her. She showed strength and grace and so much love to those she held dear. I do love Scarlet and Julian though. Julian melts my heart into a tiny thousand pieces. Both Legend and Julian are completely frustrating, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I don’t know how many times I squealed or felt like shouting at this book IF LEGEND DIDN’T GET HIS CRAP TOGETHER. Hot dang, that guy was running me ragged. I’ve been #teamlegend from day one. Jacks is great and all, but Legend. LEGEND. Speaking of Jacks, he was this morally gray character that spoke to my soul. He was twisted and in way too deep with Tella. The possessiveness he exhibited made me flip out more than once. The way this all settled left me breathless.

This book was less focused on the games and more on real life. I love the way this adapted over the entire series. This felt like the older and wiser sibling of a book. It really started out as a game, but as life always comes rearing back, Finale remained in the literal world. A lot of mystery and intrigue was left to be solved to save the world before the Fates took over.

I’ll say it again, the ending left me breathless. Y’all. THE ENDING. IT. WAS. EVERYTHING. Perfectly done. A happily ever after I have been dreaming of since Caraval was first released. I now am pleading to the bookish gods for a spin-off starring some of my favs.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: lots of kisses
  • Violence: knives, poison, magic

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Book Review

Book Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult mystery/thriller
Length: 336 pages
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: January 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself. 

DEFINITELY A BIT CREEPY.

I’m not a horror/scary fan. Never have been, and while I would love to try a legit horror book just once, I like this dialed back version a lot.

I loved One of Us Is Lying, and TCKaS was better.

I spent the entire book trying to guess who was the original murderer. Every time I thought I had an idea, whoa bam, something would happen and I would have to change my mind.

THIS IS HOW I’M SUPPOSED TO FEEL. Right? No one wants a mystery book where you can guess the person before you even start reading it. I loved that the blame kept moving around making me nervous as to what the final fallout would be.

There were definitely some creepy moments. And it only got more disturbing as all of the facts were known. I mean, really disturbing.

I loved our two main POVs, Ellery and Malcolm. They had great banter and chemistry together. I liked that both of there backgrounds were different and switching between them gave a truly different view point on how these murders were affecting them.

A chilling last sentence left me feeling shook. I am not mad I read this. These are the only YA mystery/thrillers I’ve ever read and I will definitely keep picking her books up.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult mystery/thriller
  • Language: a bit of strong language
  • Romance: kiss/small make-out
  • Violence: light descriptions of multiple murders, creepy dolls, poisoning, physical
  • Trigger warnings: loss of a loved one

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Book Review

Book Review: The Traitor’s Ruin (The Traitor’s Circle #2) by Erin Beaty

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Erin Beaty
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: July 10th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

After proving her worth in book one as a deft spy and strategic matchmaker, Sage Fowler is now comfortably positioned in high society as the royal tutor. When she’s called upon to teach his majesty’s soldiers how to read and write, she jumps at the chance to serve her kingdom of Demora—and to be reunited with her fiancé, Captain Alex Quinn. 

During a skirmish, Sage and Alex are separated. She watches him die before he can deliver important military intel—or so she thinks. She escapes from the enemy and makes an unlikely alliance with a mysterious soldier from a third nation. As Sage tries to rally their support against a common foe, the important political alliance is plagued by secrets and betrayal. 

Can Sage complete Alex’s mission and save her kingdom once more?

The Traitor’s Kiss Review – ☆☆☆☆☆

Y’ALL I AM SMITTEN BY THIS SERIES.

Some books hit you at the right time, causing you to love them on an even grander scale than you thought you originally thought you might. This has been that case and I can NOT stop gushing about it.

Alex & Sage ARE LIFE. THEY ARE SO PRECIOUS AND I LOVE THEM. And I can’t stop using capitals. Bear with me. They’re so many emotions to express.

Oh how miscommunication wears on me in books. I didn’t hate the way this was done though. Alex was struggling through some PTSD-like emotions that were causing him to have a hard time coping. This lead to some issues with Sage that sent her into dangerous situations. While I am all over cheering Sage on, I was also like GIRL. STOP RUNNING TOWARDS DANGER. But she can handle herself, this is a favorite fact of mine. But really, once they started working together, magic happened. WHOOP.

The bad guy was kinda silly in this because he didn’t have the most villain-y reasons for battle and attempted kidnappings. The other political aspects were much more flourished and I loved getting to travel all of the map. It was amazing world-building full of getting to know other kingdoms, lands, and people.

One of my favorite tiny tidbits is that Alex actually shows emotion. He CRIES, and I want to cry with him. I always hate when guys think they’re too good to shed a few tears at truly awful situations. He cares so much and I feel that on every level.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy romance
  • Language: very little (I believe shoot was used once or twice)
  • Romance: lots of kissing and wanting each other
  • Violence: knives, fire, physical, battles, quicksand, torture, arrows

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