Book Review

Book Review: Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 336 pages
Author: Makiia Lucier
Publisher: Clarion Books
Release Date: November 9th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The past never forgets…

Before an ambush by enemy soldiers, Lord Cassia was an engineer’s apprentice on a mission entrusted by the king. But when plague sweeps over the land, leaving countless dead and devastating the kingdom, even Cas’ title cannot save him from a rotting prison cell and a merciless sickness.

Three years later, Cas wants only to return to his home in the mountains and forget past horrors. But home is not what he remembers. His castle has become a refuge for the royal court. And they have brought their enemies with them.

When an assassin targets those closest to the queen, Cas is drawn into a search for a killer… one that leads him to form an unexpected bond with a brilliant young historian named Lena. Cas and Lena soon realize that who is behind the attacks is far less important than why. They must look to the past, following the trail of a terrible secret—one that could threaten the kingdom’s newfound peace and plunge it back into war.

AMAZING WRITING.

That was one of my largest takeaways here. This book is magnetic. I was swept away in this story about Cas returning home to find what the plague has wreaked havoc upon. The audio is STELLAR. Highly recommend and I love the way the narrator gave a humorous voice to Cas. It perfectly off-set the darker sides of this tale and made it all the better.

I looove that this was told from the guy’s perspective. That’s not super common in YA lit. Cas was a resilient man who was looking out for those he loved, and the kingdom he fights for, all while bonding with Lena. I also adored Lena. Both of these characters sold the story for me. I loved the interactions, the banter, and watching their connection strengthen over time. I wouldn’t exactly call it a romance because it’s not heavily implied, but there’s feelings there by the end.

The story was intriguing and I liked the mystery aspect of it all. I remember thinking, WAIT WHAT, a few times as the reveals started occurring in the second half. The twists and turns are there and plenty of action to keep things moving. I can’t believe this was a standalone. It was without a doubt, one of the best ones I’ve read this year. Everything was well built and formulated to occur at the necessary pacing to finish up in less than 350 pages.

Absolute gem, highly recommend. I can’t wait to find out what this author will write next!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: flirting (maybe a kiss at the end?)
  • Violence: skirmishes, weaponry wounds (arrows, swords)
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: plague (based off of the Black Death), loss of many loved ones, medical experimentation, near drowning of an infant

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Book Review

Book Review: Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Contemporary Mystery
Length: 496 pages
Author: Angeline Boulley
Publisher: Henry, Holt, and Co.
Release Date: March 16th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother.

The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.

Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home.

Now, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.

Debut author Angeline Boulley crafts a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, for readers of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange.

FIERCE DEBUT.

This was absolutely worth the hype and awards. I had no idea this was a mystery book until the first few chapters and the unwinding of the plot was intricate, twisted, and kept me on my toes.

I loved the main character, Daunis. She was strong and brave. I loved the way she loved her community, friends and family. It was a coming-of-age tale interspersed in a tense landscape.

Highly recommend this one on audio!! The narrator did a wonderful job. The book slowed down a bit in the middle for me. But the last half definitely picked up. I couldn’t stop listening. I had to know what was going to happen next. Who was going to survive and how everyone learned to move on from difficult situations.

The romance disappointed me a bit. I loved the small role it played throughout the book. A bit of a forbidden, first-love kind of devotion. Yet, I realized with the ending I didn’t get that closure I was hoping for with them.

All in all, I’d say this is a must read. I loved learning about the traditions, the multiple layers to drug abuse and it’s resounding effects it has on those around to pick up the pieces. How traditions and complex family dynamics hold a place in your soul. A haunting tale, a beautiful landscape, fantastic writing, and I hope this author has more books out in the future!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Mystery
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: one closed door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: ableism, racism/racial slurs, sexual harassment (on page), rape (on page), cheating, child abuse/neglect, substance abuse, murder-suicide (on page), overdose mentioned, grief/loss depiction, loss of loved ones, car accident (resulting in hospitalization, near death moments, bullying

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Book Review

Book Review: Good Girl, Bad Blood (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #2) by Holly Jackson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Thriller
Length: 416 pages
Author: Holly Jackson
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: March 2nd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The highly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder! More dark secrets are exposed in this addictive, true-crime fueled mystery.

Pip is not a detective anymore.

With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.

But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh.

The police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?

HARD TO PUT DOWN.

Yet again, I was completely surprised by this read. It’s easily one of my favorite young adult thriller series.

I loooove Pip. She’s so clever and a pretty impressive detective. This book never feels too young, and if you find this predictable, I am seriously impressed. I am blindsided by at least half the information I find out while reading. My mouth feels like a permanent shocked face when I hit the last 50 pages.

This was an intense mystery with so many layers to it. I appreciated that it was clearly different from the first book. It was a new story with characters we hadn’t formally met yet and a plot that went outside the city limits. It mashed up some plot points from the previous book and added more that I hope to see continued in the next one.

I could have used a touch more romance. It really felt shoved aside rather than put along with the plot. I love Ravi and would have loved more of them working together overall. And it did take me a little bit to get into it (but once you’re in, you’re hooked).

The formatting is one of my favorite aspects. I love the pictures, crime notes, websites and more. It really adds depth to the true crime saga unfolding.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA thriller
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: murder, gun violence, a previous rape case where the guilty party walks free, depictions of shock from witnessing trauma, mentions of suicide, a story told of a serial killer (he murdered children), drug use

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Book Review

Book Review: As Good As Dead (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #3) by Holly Jackson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Thriller
Length: 464 pages
Author: Holly Jackson
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: September 28th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING SERIES
The highly-anticipated finale to the A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series, the instant bestsellers that read like your favorite true crime podcast or show. By the end of this mystery series, you’ll never think of good girls the same way again…

Pip is about to head to college, but she is still haunted by the way her last investigation ended. She’s used to online death threats in the wake of her viral true-crime podcast, but she can’t help noticing an anonymous person who keeps asking her: Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears?

Soon the threats escalate and Pip realizes that someone is following her in real life. When she starts to find connections between her stalker and a local serial killer caught six years ago, she wonders if maybe the wrong man is behind bars.

Police refuse to act, so Pip has only one choice: find the suspect herself—or be the next victim. As the deadly game plays out, Pip discovers that everything in her small town is coming full circle . . .and if she doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears. 

TEAM RAVI AND PIP FOREVER.

What a wild finale. INTENSE. ACTION-PACKED. Actually gave me heart palpitations because I didn’t know what was going to happen next. Couldn’t put this down whatsoever. It pulls you in and keeps you close and Pip races to save her life.

I liked the serial killer angle here and how they fit into the entire series. It was a loose string that needed tying up. The plot felt connected to everything else and pushed the narrative further. By the halfway point I didn’t know what the second half was going to lay out. And WOW did things go in many directions I did not see coming.

I looooove Ravi and Pip. I feel the teamwork, the love, the absolute connection. I know there relationship is only a small piece, but it’s such an important one. Pip has many people in her life who love and look after her and I really liked having that as part of the story.

I was a tiny bit flustered with a piece of the ending. I didn’t think it was necessary??? Then made the last few pages feel like a too quick wrap up. There’s also some true, have to suspend reality, moments to work with the plot. Which is fine, I just noticed that things could have easily gone a different way too so it was a bit of a shrug my shoulder moment.

Anyways, I’d recommend this up and down for anyone looking for a thriller. This series was fantastic!!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Thriller
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: kidnapping, attempted murder, murder, false imprisonment, rape mentioned, drugging, blood depiction, stalking, animal death

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