Book Review

Book Review: A Good Girls Guide to Murder (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #1) by Holly Jackson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Mystery/Thriller
Length: 400 pages
Author: Holly Jackson
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: February 4th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.

I LIKED THIS Y’ALL.

I’m not a thriller person. Never have been. It takes some amazing reviews and friends saying how good one is for me to pick it up. This was the case for A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. After so many saying how it blew their minds, I knew I had to read it. And I loved it! I also highly recommend the audio book. It was wonderfully put together.

Oh wow, this definitely kept me guessing. I spent most of my time trying to figure out who was the actual murder, if there was an actual murder, who was good, bad, all the things! I love how difficult it was to make heads or tails of any of the suspects. The number one thing I look for in a thriller is how easy it is for me to pick out the murderer. This was NOT the case here.

The only part I found kind of laughable was Pippa. Don’t get me wrong, I thought she was a fantastic main character. It was the fact that she at 17 (maybe 18?) was acting like a well-seasoned detective agent and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes sometimes. She was clearly way in over her head and doing more than I could reasonably believe. When I could look past that, the book was solid. Well written and put together in such a a way that you never want to stop reading.

I liked the small romance plot-line (we know I’m a sucker for these). It moved well alongside the original story. My heart ached for many of these characters and the awful situations they were put through. I liked the way the side characters played into this and the genuine work I could see from the author to craft a such a intricate web of lies and deceit, with plenty of WHAT moments.

If you’re even slightly interested in thrillers (aka me) definitely check this one out!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult thriller
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: murder; see trigger warnings
  • Trigger warnings: suicide (method explained), self-harm, murder, underage drug/alcohol use, drunk driving, hit and run, animal/pet death, rape (using rohypnols)

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Book Review

Book Review: All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1) by Adalyn Grace

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 384 pages
Author: Adalyn Grace
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: February 4th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom.

Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice, Adalyn Grace’s All the Stars and Teeth is a thrilling fantasy for fans of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval and Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series.

A SOLID DEBUT.

I sat on buying this book for awhile, but I finally convinced myself that this was going to be a good read and that I would want the sequel. Hallelujah, I WAS RIGHT.

This was a beautiful debut that had all the hallmark notes that I love about YA fantasy. Daring action and adventure, a sweet romance, a sassy crew and a villain who’s mind has been twisted by his own fantasies. YUP. All here guys.

I was nervous with the amount of info dumping that happened in the first few chapters. I didn’t want the entire book to be this way. Once an understanding of the magic system and islands was laid out there the story significantly increased in pace and ease of knowing which place was where. There’s a lot of info here (with a smattering of islands to keep track of). Yay for book maps that help keep everything separated.

The crew that Amora embarks with to help save her kingdom was the best. I loved having the pirate Bastian, ex-fiance Ferrick and mermaid Vataea. It was a great mix of banter, flirtations, honest moments, and a found family all its own. The romance between Amora and Bastian made me smile. It grew well over the time period, never rushed into anything, and I felt the heat brewing between them. The way things wrapped up leave a lot to interpretation for the second book. I’m hoping my HEA is in the midst.

I really liked this villain. Sometimes I feel YA villains are a bit laughable and not corrupted enough for me to feel invested in the story. This guy was trying to things right the wrong way and brought all the action this book needed. I was kept on my toes with the twisted magic running rampant through these islands. Definitely made me cringe at times with the descriptions (in a good way). This has an edge of darkness to it without being a dark novel.

I appreciated that the ending wasn’t a giant cliffhanger, but wrapped enough of the story line up to feel satisfied with the conclusion. I’m excited for book two and getting to see how all of these characters develop!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs
  • Violence: magic, physical, swords, knives, poison, mythical creature attacks

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Book Review

ARC Book Review & Blog Tour: Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 416 pages
Author: Anna Jarzab
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: May 19th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Susannah Ramos has always loved the water. A swimmer whose early talent made her a world champion, Susannah was poised for greatness in a sport that demands so much of its young. But an inexplicable slowdown has put her dream in jeopardy, and Susannah is fighting to keep her career afloat when two important people enter her life: a new coach with a revolutionary training strategy, and a charming fellow swimmer named Harry Matthews.

As Susannah begins her long and painful climb back to the top, her friendship with Harry blossoms into passionate and supportive love. But Harry is facing challenges of his own, and even as their bond draws them closer together, other forces work to tear them apart. As she struggles to balance her needs with those of the people who matter most to her, Susannah will learn the cost—and the beauty—of trying to achieve something extraordinary.

Thank you to Inkyard Press and Netgalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

DEEP WATERS.

I picked this up on a whim for a blog tour because the summary had easily pulled me in. Add in a beautiful cover and I had some raised expectations. I really did end up enjoying this book and loved the tough messages it talked about.

Harry and Susie were a great match. I liked both of their characters and the relationship between them. It was unique to most contemporaries I read that in this case, the couple actually got together before the halfway point! I loved this. Gave me a lot of time to enjoy them, watch the relationship develop and grow as the months passed. Susie was a fairly well-rounded teenage character. I appreciated that when she made mistakes, she knew when to say sorry and also really had some enlightening moments for her. I felt like I got to see her really grow up and make some hard choices and thought it all was well handled. Susie never seemed childish (like some YA book characters), but like a older teen who was going into the real world soon and had to decide what would be best for her.

At times I felt there were a few misplaced moments. Namely, the love scene. I didn’t think it worked as well as intended. I know this book was a lot about growing up, yet it didn’t need a sex scene to culminate everything. It was also placed at an odd interval. This issue aside, the overall relationship, dates, etc. between Susie and Harry were lovely.

A big component of this book was mental health. Harry and Susie had to work through mental, physical and emotional situations to overcome the pressures of life. It addressed different conditions and treatments. And while the book did feel heavy at times, it also felt hopeful, knowing the sun would shine again.

I loved Susie’s family and her friend Amber. Incredibly supportive, occasionally awkward, and all around a lovely and tight-knit group. They made me smile and added another aspect that made me love this book more.

This book may [in general] be about swimmers trying to get to the Olympics, but it holds so many more gems than that. I loved the way the Olympic Trials were written and the way the author told Susie’s story in that moment. It allowed for a beautiful sentiment in doing what’s best for you and knowing you have to take care of yourself before you can help someone else.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; one love scene (very little detail, mostly a fade-to-black scene)
  • Trigger warnings: bipolar disorder, self-harm (specifically cutting), depression, anxiety, and verbally abusive coach

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Book Review

Book Review: The Best Laid Plans by Cameron Lund

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Cameron Lund
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: April 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

It seemed like a good plan at first.

When the only other virgin in her group of friends loses it at Keely’s own eighteenth birthday party, she’s inspired to take things into her own hands. She wants to have that experience too (well, not exactly like that–but with someone she trusts and actually likes), so she’s going to need to find the guy, and fast. Problem is, she’s known all the boys in her small high school forever, and it’s kinda hard to be into a guy when you watched him eat crayons in kindergarten.

So she can’t believe her luck when she meets a ridiculously hot new guy named Dean. Not only does he look like he’s fallen out of a classic movie poster, but he drives a motorcycle, flirts with ease, and might actually be into her.

But Dean’s already in college, and Keely is convinced he’ll drop her if he finds out how inexperienced she is. That’s when she talks herself into a new plan: her lifelong best friend, Andrew, would never hurt or betray her, and he’s clearly been with enough girls that he can show her the ropes before she goes all the way with Dean. Of course, the plan only works if Andrew and Keely stay friends–just friends–so things are about to get complicated.

Cameron Lund’s delightful debut is a hilarious and heartfelt story of first loves, first friends, and first times–and how making them your own is all that really matters.

ADORBS.

This was a cute and heartfelt debut. I devoured it in practically one sitting and was all for this friends to lovers trope. And while that’s usually not my favorite trope, this one hit all the marks for a great book. I’m so happy I picked it up!

I absolutely couldn’t get over how adorable Keely and Andrew were. Utterly enchanted by the banter and flirtations between them. And they clearly had some chemistry. I felt like I already knew both of them and the intensity at which the protected and cared for one another made me care for them too.

Hannah and Keely had such a fantastic friendship. It’s something I love seeing in YA contemporaries. One where they actually want the best for each other and ever after a squabble know that their friendship is more important than a argument. The other side characters? Ugh, the worst. They felt overly high school. I get it, that’s the way it is sometimes, depending on what circle you run in, during school. But seriously, it was too much at times and they were incredibly awful to one another. The drama was turned up too high for me.

The ending was just like a cheesy rom-com and I was so invested in it. I thought it was precious and I’m so happy that Andrew and Keely got it all out there. Watching teens learning to have real and forward-moving conversations is always a wonderful bonus. What a beautiful debut and I can’t wait for more from this author.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a lot of general discussion about sex and partners, a few almost scenes (moderately descriptive) and one scene that’s very little descriptive
  • Trigger warnings: slut-shaming, bullying

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