Spooky Halloween Reads

How is everyone’s pre-Halloween weekend going? Have you got your costumes ready? Your candy bought? Your homes/apartments/dorm rooms/everywhere else decorated? Did you go to any parties last night? I did! For the first time in years I got to do all of those things. When I was at school I never got to do everything I wanted for my favorite season. This year I went as Cheryl Blossom (so fun) and a friend from work threw a party so some of us were over there. It was a great night. Halloween is a time of year I adore, but didn’t get a lot of time to really immerse myself in the past few years.

NOT THIS YEAR. Yep, my house is decorated, candy is bought for trick-or-treaters, and I have two (two!) costumes. One was for the party last night, the other is for the trick-or-treaters on Wednesday. And, on top of all of that, I have time this year to fall into some truly Halloween/creepy/ghoulish/I could keep going but I’ll stop for your sake reads. What are some good books to read in October, you ask? Well that’s a very good question! One I actually don’t have the answer to.

Confession time: I can’t handle horror. Like, I’m genuinely awful when it comes to anything creepy and scary and terrifying. I was scared of Hocus Pocus as a kid, okay? That’s how bad it is. So, I’ve enlisted the help of a good friend who does read a lot of good Halloween-kinda books. I’ve got a few recommendations of my own, but most of this list comes directly from my friend Leslie.

“Enough already,” you’re saying. “Give us the spooky reads already! Let us see the list!” Well, I’m getting to it. Right now. Without further ado here are some spooky Halloween reads for you!

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black Vampires and autumn vibes and, well, Holly Black. Need I say more? I won’t but this description will.

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Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake Haunted houses and ghosts who spare only one person’s life? Uh yes please.

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Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand Murders on an island that no one talks about but everyone knows are happening. Yep. You need this one.

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The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand According to Leslie this book gave her nightmares. And this is someone who regularly reads horror. So naturally you need to read it.

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Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw Each year the spirits of centuries-old murdered sisters take over the bodies of three girls in order to drown boys in the lake. *insert shock-face emoji here*

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Hocus Pocus & the All New Sequel by A.W. Jantha Okay so I’ve already said I couldn’t handle this as a kid. As an adult? Leslie and I both recommend this one wholeheartedly.

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The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox I have three words for you: Salem Witch Trials. Do you really need to hear anything else? Yes? Okay here. Ready to read?

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The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo The legend of Sleepy Hollow as told by Katrina Van Tassel. Just the dose of creepy you need for the coming holiday, yes?

Special thanks again to Leslie for her contributions to this list. Okay, for basically writing the list. You all should follow her on twitter and instagram. She’s acourt_ofbooks on both and I’ve linked her accounts in the previous sentence. I hope you see a book here you want to read this Wednesday. Enjoy the spooky, even if you don’t read anything. Maybe you have a life and will be out having fun. No matter what, please be safe. Have fun but be careful and if you’re drinking I implore you to use Uber or Lyft. Not trying to be a buzzkill just trying to make sure everyone stays safe.

Okay, now that I’m done mom-ing everyone I’m going to go finish a book. Review for that one coming soon. Enjoy your holiday if you don’t hear from me before then. Bye!

Kailey

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What If It’s Us – Review

TOLD YOU GUYS YOU’D BE SEEING ME SOON! You probably didn’t think soon meant two days after the last post but, well, here we are.

Today we’re keeping it simple. Another review. A quick one, but a gushing one as well. Because god knows I loooooooooved this book. I was lucky enough to read an early copy of this one, but wanted to wait until after it released to post this. Not because of spoilers, I promise. There will be no spoilers here. But this way you guys have the opportunity to go BUY this amazing book when I’m done spewing my love for it. I guess I should get started with that then.

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From the Barnes & Noble website:

Critically acclaimed and bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera combine their talents in this smart, funny, heartfelt collaboration about two very different boys who can’t decide if the universe is pushing them together—or pulling them apart.

ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

What if it’s us?

Now before I get into what I adored beyond reason (there’s a lot so I’ll limit myself) I will point out there is one thing I didn’t love and that is the ending. I have my reasons, maybe good maybe not, but I wanted a different kind of ending. But, it would not have been and Adam Silvera OR Becky Albertalli book if it hadn’t ended in the way it did. And it absolutely worked for both of their styles. In that way, I guess I did love it. Because it was true to them and fit their style. And that’s not to say I disliked the ending. It’s just that I didn’t love it because I’d hoped for something different. It was futile to hope for that, knowing who the authors were, but I did. Still, I know I’ll be returning to this book again and again and again.

Okay now that the one teeny tiny thing I didn’t totally 100% love is out of the way let’s get to the stuff I went squeeeeeee over.

Shall we begin with the relationship dynamics? Well, we’re going to anyway. God I loved the different relationships and the play between them. You don’t even understand. It’s hard enough to get this right when you’re the only person writing the book. To get this right with two authors? Who have to write the same people but in different voices, different points of view, different styles? I’m impressed as a reader and a writer.

I’m not just talking the romantic relationships here. I’ll get to those later. First let’s talk FRIENDSHIPS. Yeah, friendships ruled in this book. Something I loved? They were accurate. I’ve seen so many books that just pander to teens and build up friendships in the way they think they are between teens. Not that I ever thought Becky and Adam could do that, but you never know. The relationships felt so true and deep. Friendships AND family relationships as well. My god I loved the family interactions. I loved the realness of them, the fact that they didn’t just repeat the same thing but with different people, the genuine love I could feel between each and every character . . . the struggles were there, don’t get me wrong. The struggles were there. But that’s another part of what made it all the more believable and lovely. I could feel teen me interacting with my parents in these pages. (In the general sense, obviously, as I’m not nor was I ever a gay teenage boy but it was the FEEL of it that I connected with).

Okay, okay I can totally go on talking about family and friends and how deep and true the whole story felt but . . . what? Oh, yeah. There was a romance in the story too! Side note: you know a book is good if you forget to ramble about the romance because the other relationships are that good. But if you thought I went off about the side-relationships, wait until you see what I’ve got to say about the main characters and actual focus of the novel.

I’m gonna split this between Arthur and Ben so you know how much I loved them as individuals as I loved them together.

So. Arthur. Arthur is adorable and sweet and perfect. No, I’m serious. Arthur is a freaking angel with the patience of a saint. The world does not deserve him at all. That does not mean he isn’t flawed. My boy, my precious child, is a very flawed human. But man is he a good one. I can’t even tell you how hard he tries. His effort and enthusiasm was infectious and he’s not even a real person. This boy is someone a lot of people could learn lessons from. I can’t say much more than that without being super spoiler-y but I do think a lot of people could stand to be more like Arthur. Myself included. His outlook on life is rare these days but one we all desperately need.

Okay, remember how I said he’s a saint, but unlike a saint he’s very flawed? Yeah, I’m just going to reiterate that super quick because he is. He gets a little obsessive (same though Arthur I get it) and he doesn’t quite understand his privilege sometimes. I get that. That’s something a lot of people are constantly unlearning and adapting to (again, myself included). Also he has issues with confrontation (don’t we all?). And, in my personal opinion, he is waaaaaay too understanding sometimes. He has spine, but man . . . maybe it goes back to his amount of patience but there’s a certain event I know a ton of people who would’ve lost it over where he forgave very fast. I think these flaws were very real for someone experiencing love for the first time, though. You can be lenient and a little blind, or a little jealous or obsessive. You can be a lot of things you’re not proud of. All of this combined to make him that much more of an interesting character.

Moving on . . . Ben. Oh, Ben. I don’t know why, but Ben felt older to me. Maybe he has some maturity that Arthur lacks (not in a bad way), or maybe he’s just jaded, or maybe it’s who wrote his chapters but Ben is a more self-assured character. He knows who he is at his core. I love that. I love Ben. He’s so good. Not good like Arthur is good, all full of enthusiasm and believing the universe is on his side. Ben is good at heart. He’s not the best person overall but his core character is positive and lovely. I loved him and how he wasn’t perfect.

Ben is horribly flawed. Flawed in a lot of ways that people would be surprised. He feels every one of his flaws as a cut to his soul. I can relate. He’s beautifully written–and I mean b e a u t i f u l l y. God help me I love Ben’s characterization for reasons I cannot even say here but he tries so. Damn. Hard. You cannot say Ben does not work hard for what he wants. My boy is good and strong and will work his ass off. I love this boy and he deserves the world. And, let me just say, I love what he does for himself. Self care thy name is Ben (er, well, sort of)(you’ll have to read the book to find out what I mean).

Basically, I love all my dearest characters here. Thank god for Becky and Adam is all I’ve got to say. Overall OBVIOUSLY I loved this book. I love both authors and the story they’ve created dearly. I fully intend to go back to it early next year once I’ve gotten through everything (or at least some things) that needs to get done. My rating is 5/5 and I’m gonna yell as loud as I can for you to read it.

NO FOR REAL I’M GONNA FUCKING YELL BECAUSE YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK SO MUCH. IT’S SO GOOD I CANNOT EVEN CONVEY IT BEYOND MY GLOWING AND GUSHING REVIEW HERE. READ IT. PLEASE READ IT. THANK YOU.

Okay cool so now that I’m done yelling I’m gonna go back to reading. I’m in the middle of Girls of Paper & Fire (which I will be reviewing later on this month/next month . . .). Gotta get back to this one but I hope this review was helpful beyond my screaming! If you’ve read it tell me your thoughts in the comments or on twitter! Okay, cool, thanks for reading, bye!!

Kailey

The Darkest Star – Review

My lovely readers/friends!! How are you this fine October day? Are you doing as well as I? I hope so.

I’m actually doing pretty good. I entered Author Mentor Match round 5 after finding out I didn’t make it into Pitch Wars (that’ll be a separate, somewhat coherent post) and the window for that closes today. If you’re looking for information on either contest you can find it here and here. A friend and CP is entering as well, so we’re nervously waiting together. Less nervously than with PW, though, so that’s something.

I’ve also got a ton of content coming your way. Starting with this post, and moving on through this week and into the next, I have a ton of content coming your way. So, watch this space. My presence here is about to increase by, uh, a lot (clearly I’m good with numbers y’all).

Let’s kick this off with a review, shall we? Today I’ll be sharing my thoughts, feelings, and deepest musings on The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

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From the Barnes & Noble website:

In the world of the Lux, secrets thrive, lies shatter, and love is undeniable.

#1 New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout brings her trademark drama and intrigue to a new romantic YA science fiction series with The Darkest Star. A girl pulled into in a world she doesn’t understand finds herself confronted by long buried secrets, a betrayal that could tear her life apart…and Armentrout’s most swoonworthy book boyfriend yet.

Seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher knows firsthand the devastating consequences of humanity’s war with the aliens. When she’s caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen…but he is in fact something much more powerful. Her growing attraction for Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she’d only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head…

I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this one. First thoughts upon opening this book? I’ll be honest here, I didn’t think I was going to like it. Almost right away I wanted to give up on it, and for a good portion of the novel I felt I was going to DNF it.

I read this novel in one sitting.

Now, let me be clear on something. I did not absolutely love this book. I did not read it all at once because I was dying to know the end and could not put it down for one second. There was an element of that for sure. but that wasn’t the whole reason. The plot for me . . . it was alright. Average is a good descriptor for it. I definitely didn’t dislike it, but it wasn’t my favorite part of the book. No, that would fall to the characters.

It wasn’t that they were especially well-developed or had gripping arcs. They did–they were super strong characters and written with incredible attention to detail. But that’s not why I loved them. I’m not sure I can quite explain how flawed and unreal these characters were. By unreal I don’t mean they weren’t believable. Quite the opposite, actually. I believed in their actions (not their language as much in the beginning, but I’ll get to that) and I loved how they were written. By unreal I mean that they fit who they were supposed to be–human and otherwise, but altered fundamentally by what they’ve gone through. These characters and their deep, complex actions and relationships with one another were the reason I devoured this book in one sitting.

I loved these characters. I know for a fact there are people who love them more than me, and will love this story far more than I ever could. There are fans of the author’s other books who will adore the entire world and the full plot, as is. Personally? i never read the Lux series. I find sci-fi harder to get into in general, but I’ve only heard good things about Jennifer L. Armentrout before. I was slightly disappointed overall.

Please note, I am not trying to take anything away from this book or this author. Both are good, and that’s worth acknowledging. But, I was disappointed in how . . . average the story was? I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. There weren’t a lot of twists or turns that couldn’t be predicted, and only a few loose ends that leave room for a continued series. Nothing too big, nothing too flashy. It wasn’t bad by any means just . . . average.

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My only real complaint about the book was the language. Not swearing, but the language used by the characters as in their conversations. They didn’t feel like teenagers talking. They read like someone thought “this is how teenagers talk” and decided to write it that way. It kept up for a little bit, and it’s the main reason I wanted to DNF so quickly in, but the dialogue fell into a normal rhythm after a while. I’m not even sure that the characters could’ve stopped me from DNFing if it would’ve kept up.

Like I said, that’s my biggest complaint about the book. Other than that it was normal in just about every way. Decent plot, but not fabulous. Good writing, but not spectacular. I gave this book a 3.5/5 stars on Goodreads. I want to be clear that I’m not not recommending this book. I’m just saying, to each their own on this one. If you’re a fan of the author’s Lux series? You’ll probably love this! A huge sci-fi reader? Yep, betting this one is right up your alley. A casual fan or light sci-fi reader like me? You might enjoy, you might not. Let me know if you do! This one comes out on October 30th and I hope if you read it you do enjoy it. Books are meant to be enjoyed.

Okay, I have a few more things I need to do tonight so I’m off to finish those up. I will be back (for real, I know I say this a lot but I’m serious this time). See y’all soon. In the meantime, read some books, write some words, do something good, things like that. Byeee!

Kailey

October Releases

Hello all! It’s been a minute. Boy are you not ready for all the posts coming your way this month. I’ve just been setting up my drafts for the month and it’s going to be a very active one, let me tell you. It’s exciting though! I hope you guys like the content I have prepared for you. In the meantime, I have my (very late) list of October releases for you! Yay!

I’m sorry it’s late, as usual, but there are some amazing books that are coming out/came out this month and I’m SO DAMN EXCITED to tell you about them.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera A YA contemporary love story set in New York City following Ben and Arthur as they try to figure out if they’re meant to be. Release Date: October 9th. About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich A YA adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. Release Date: October 9th. About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Shadow of the Fox by Julia Kagawa A YA Fantasty following Yumeko as she teams up with unlikely allies to save the world from plunging back into darkness. Release Date: October 2nd (already out!). About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

The Darkest Star by Jennifer Armentrout YA Sci-Fi taking place in the Luxen world following Evie as she falls in love with a creature far more dangerous than any she’s ever seen. Release Date: October 30th. About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke YA gender-bent retelling of Beowulf. Enough said. Release Date: October 2nd (already out!). About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Evenfall by Gaja J Kos YA Fantasy following Ember as she wakes up in an unfamiliar world and finds out she’s supposed to save it. Release Date: October 30th. About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand A YA Horror set on Sawkill Rock where three girls fight to find out what’s been taking girls all these years before it’s too late to stop it. Release Date: October 2nd (already out!). About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Damsel by Elana K Arnold An original fairy tale about a damsel who does the most dangerous thing possible: starts asking questions. Release Date: October 2nd (already out!). About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee YA Historical following Felicity as she teams up with someone who may or may not be a pirate in order to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor. Release Date: October 2nd (already out!). About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen YA historical romance set during the Chicago Fire. Release Date: October 2nd (already out!). About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas The seventh and final installment in the Throne of Glass series. Release Date: October 23rd. About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason by Virginia Boeker YA historical romance following Lady Katherine as she disguises herself as a boy in order to fulfill her father’s mission–kill Queen Elizabeth I. Release Date: October 23rd. About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Swing by Kwame Alexander A YA novel in verse that follows Noah, aka Swing, as he tries to navigate his love for his friend and what that means for him and his life. Release Date: October 2nd (already out!). About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Blanca y Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore YA swan lake retelling with gorgeous prose and fantastical elements that leave the reader’s head spinning to the very end. Only in the best way, though, I promise. Release Date: October 9th. About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd A YA fantasy following Anouk, who envied the humans, the Pretties, until they falsely accused her of murdering her mistress. Release Date: October 2nd (already out!). About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

The Devil’s Thief by Lisa Maxwell YA fantasy and sequel to The Last Magician. Release Date: October 9th. About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor YA fantasy and sequel to Strange the Dreamer. Release Date: October 2nd (already out!). About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver YA mystery/thriller that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat as you follow Mia and Brynn while they try to prove that they didn’t kill their best friend. Release Date: October 2nd (already out!). About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Odd One Out by Nic Stone A YA contemporary following three friends as they all struggle to navigate their changing relationships with one another. Release Date: October 9th. About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

The Spy with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke A YA historical fantasy and second book in the Balloonmakers seires. Release Date: October 2nd. About: Goodreads. Purchase: B&N IndieBound.

Listen, I know I did the list differently this month, but there are literally twenty books here and I’m already a week late on the list. I’m sorry it’s not as detailed as my normal posts, but I figured this might be a little less overwhelming for anyone who takes a look at this list. I know I’ve done longer lists in the past but I think this might be easier.

Which ones am I most excited about you ask? Well, to put it simply, a lot of them. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m horribly behind on 2018 releases. There are books from January I still haven’t had a chance to read. *ducks head in shame* I know, it’s so bad. I’m slowly chipping away at them but I’m way behind. I’m way behind on a lot of things, but these next couple of months will hopefully be my catch-up time. Most of the releases I’m excited about are upcoming this month or next. Lots and lots of good books coming.in the next few months y’all. Keep an eye out, here, and in general.

Okay, I’m off to tackle one of those 2018 releases I’m catching up on. Keep a close eye on this space though! Lots of good stuff coming this month. Bye all!

Kailey

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein – Review

Hello and happy fall everybody! This time it’s officially fall when I say it. Like, the weather has chilled out and Halloween decorations are going up and it’s almost my birthday and everything! Hooray!!

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So, since fall is officially here, I think it’s only right that I post my review of The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein. Preview: holy hell Kiersten White has done it again. I’m going to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but there may be minor spoiler-y things throughout, which is why I’ve tagged it semi-spoilers. Nothing big will get revealed, though. I promise.

First, a description. From the Barnes & Noble website:

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable. 

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness. 

Sorry for the lack of a cutesy photo but I don’t really have the stuff for that here. Plus, it’s not really a cutesy book so I think this is fine. At least the colors match, right?

Alright I’m done with my tangent. Let’s get into what I really have to say about the book.

There’s a quote in a letter from the editor that pretty much says this is the Frankenstein retelling you didn’t know you needed. So true. I didn’t know I wanted any retelling of Frankenstein. To tell you the truth, I never cared too much for the novel and I had to read it a couple of times while still in school.

Y’all. I needed this retelling. I just didn’t know how badly until I actually got the chance to read it. But trust me I needed this in my life. You do, too. Why? Oh I am so excited to tell you.

Shall we begin with Elizabeth? Dear, dear Elizabeth. Ah I love this girl. She is awful. I mean truly awful. She’s selfish and scrappy and will do anything to survive. People aren’t necessarily a source of comfort, or love. Those things are considered luxuries to her. As a girl who has had to fight for her place her entire life, who has had to make herself invaluable to the family who took her in. After all, what happens to a girl with nowhere else to go who outlives her usefulness? Elizabeth was delightfully callous when she had to be–and she often had to be. What was most interesting was her acknowledgment of it. She was ever aware of her vulnerability, and determined to limit it as much as possible. Even if it destroys most of her humanity, even though she has grown so horrible due to her codependency with Victor. She has good moments, so many, don’t get me wrong. She is not an unfeeling sociopath (though there is one or two of those in the novel, but it would be too revealing to talk about that). But she can be, and is at times, truly an awful person. So MEAN, too. I love her deeply.

Okay so moving on from my adoration of this new version of Elizabeth (yeah can you tell I prefer the retelling over the original?). Next up for this gorgeous writing. For this, I pulled a couple of quotes for you to take a look at. I think it’s best in this case to let the writing speak for itself.

The snow-capped mountains loomed along the skyline, watching all I did. I nicknamed them Judge and Madame Frankenstein. The lake, placid and beautiful and mysterious, I nicknamed Victor. But the trees–the trees were mine.” (29)

“Wealthy men did whatever they wanted, after all.” (141)

“I was in the midst of a great spider’s web. Whether I would end up as the spider or the fly was yet to be determined.” (212)

“They had stripped us of everything we were taught made us women, and then told us we were mad.” (237)

And these are just a few pieces of this incredible work. Some of my favorite pieces, but only a few. I tried to keep it as non-spoiler-y as possible. BUT don’t these make you want to keep reading? Just saying, the book comes out on Tuesday…

A very brief gushing over a nameless character who will forever be my precious child. I shall PROTECT. I love this character with my whole heart and they deserved so much better but, wow, was their story-arc well done. Everyone’s was, but I loved this person’s in particular. Second only to Elizabeth’s.

And speaking of Elizabeth (one more time the last time I swear) ELIZABETH’S LOVE OF FLAMES AND LITTLE ARSONIST TENDENCIES ARE MY WHOLE LIFE. Okay. That is all I’ll say about that.

Really this book was written damn near flawlessly. The plot, the character development (yes this was my favorite part), the world-building . . . you can tell Kiersten White has been doing this for a while. As someone who has read her older stuff in addition to the newer works, I can see the growth, the improved strength in her writing. She’s always been talented, but read this in comparison with her older works and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Talent and skill are at their highest point here.

Okay, so, I think Mary Shelley kicks ass, don’t get me wrong here. She was a teenage girl who invented an entire genre. She also did some other cool stuff that you can google because I doubt I’d do it justice when explaining. Mary Shelley was cool y’all. She was way cool. But (and I hope her ghost doesn’t haunt me forever for saying this) I prefer Kiersten White’s version. It has all my feelings about Victor (not good ones) plus a way cooler Elizabeth. No offense to the original, but perfect girls are irritating. Give me flawed, messy girls kicking butt any day.

5/5 stars, in case that wasn’t clear. Highly recommend for fans of horror, historical, retellings, and Kiersten White readers. Really, I highly recommend this for anyone, but if you aren’t a fan of creepy or scary tread carefully. Other than that, dive right in!

Okay, so, I have a ton of reading to do, and I’ve started a new WIP plus doing some editing and reading my CP’s latest pages . . . basically I have a lot to do but I love it all so I’m going to go do some of it. Hope this review was helpful! If you have any thoughts of your own or you’ve read it let me know in the comments 🙂 Bye!

Kailey

Rule – Review

Hey all!

Wow I’m tired. Fall came with a vengeance–not in weather (is it ridiculously hot where you live too? No? Just me?) but in my body for sure. As in, I got sick, right on schedule. I thought “hey I’m not in school so it must be better this year” and that was my first mistake. September arrives? Sickness piling on right on time. On the plus side, it gave me a lot of time to read, having to be off work a couple days to get better. Hence, why I’m able to get this release day review to you all.

So. Rule. Let’s do this thing, yeah?

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From the Barnes & Noble website:

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos. Or rather, three unexpected options…

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her people. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But she could be hanged for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny…to rule. 

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in this heart-stopping fantasy debut.

Fun fact: I actually almost sold a copy today when I was at work. I had this lady all set and ready to buy but she ended up going with Six of Crows instead. Which, if you’re going to get put back for another fantasy book, that one is a good one to lose to. But, anyway, review.

I’ll be honest here, I didn’t expect much of this one. I got the advanced from work and started it while I was home sick last week. Before reading I was pretty meh about the whole thing. The summary sounded a little too “Three Dark Crowns rip off” to me. But I was sick and wanted to try and see if I could read it by release day (I didn’t have much hope for that) so I picked it up.

Y’all. I was wrong.

Allow me to explain: I spent the majority of the time I read this book so engrossed that I am told I had entire conversations with people I do not remember. My family swears this is a thing that happened. This is not the first time that’s held true, but it only ever happens when I’m really into a book.

Were there a few moments where it felt a little TDC-esque . . . well, sure. They share a similar premise after all. But it didn’t feel like following along on the heels of that series, if that makes sense. It’s for sure its own story.

Now that I’ve explained how I horribly misjudged this book initially, let us move on to the review itself, shall we?

First of all the characters were great. I loved and hated each and every one of them in turn. Except Akeylah. I could never hate Akeylah. If you hate Akeylah we can’t be friends anymore. Or, okay, we can, but you have to explain in detail why you make bad life choices.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah. Characters.

So the characters are developed well. I’d say there’s a tendency to fall a little bit into stereotypes at times but I don’t think it’s too bad. They’re overall pretty good, but there are moments when I feel like certain parts of their story lines all drop off without warning. I assume those loose threads will be picked up in book two, but parts did feel somewhat abrupt. The general development was smooth, though, and fed into a stronger overall story line.

If I had one real complaint about this book it’s the fact that everything two of the sisters did before the book began led up to and partly necessitated the calling up of all three girls to compete to become queen. Two of the sisters. The third has a secret and she definitely did something Big and Bad like the other two, but if you take the other girls’ backstories out, you have a totally different book. You don’t even really have a book. If you take out the third’s you not only still have a book you have a book mostly unchanged as far as plot goes. It’s just . . . disappointing. The rest of the story was really good, and I liked it a lot. But I could not get this point out of my head. I ended up knocking an entire star off of my review because of it (and some smaller, unimportant reasons).

Other than this mishap, though, I think the story knocked it out of the park. Especially the ending. Oh man, that ending. I don’t know what you guys are going to do when you get to that ending. No spoilers here, but I will say this: there are cliffhangers and then there are cliffhangers. Guess which one Rule is?

Yeah I don’t have too much to say beyond this. The setting was nicely developed, though I wish we’d seen a teeny bit more of it. The characters were well-rounded and fleshed out well. There were a few moments I wished would’ve been expanded on or left alone entirely but they weren’t often enough to deter reading. I think the best part of the book was the importance placed on family and the strength familial bonds can have and grow into. It’s by no means a finished story (did I mention the cliffhanger?) but it’s a great one. If you like fantasy stories and sisters and mystery and blackmail, this is the story for you.

I gave Rule 4/5 stars on Goodreads. I stand by that. I think it was a solid book. Was it the best book I’ve ever read? No, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recommend it. It could be your next favorite. Or not. But I would say pick it up for yourself, at the library or your local indie or B&N or wherever you buy books. It’s worth a read, I think.

Alright, that’s all from me. I’m off to dive back into Elizabeth Frankenstein. God I love Kiersten White. That’s another one I’ll have a review for soon. First I’ve gotta finish the book, though. Which I’m gonna work on now. Okay. Bye!

Kailey

Sadie – Review

Hello friends, how are we this lovely Labor Day weekend? I’m doing pretty well. I have, as you’ve guessed, finally finished Sadie.

You guys. This book is so good. This book is so damn good.

This is going to be a fairly short review because spoilers but I’m going to do my best to explain my reasoning for you all right now. So, let’s just dive right in, shall we?

Image result for sadie courtney summer

From the Barnes & Noble website:

A missing girl on a journey of revenge and a Serial—like podcast following the clues she’s left behind.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

First let’s get into the format of the novel. Sadie’s story is told through two differing points of view: her own and that of West McCray. Sadie’s chapters are written in the traditional novel format. However, when we follow West as he follows Sadie’s journey, his version is seen through podcast transcripts. I thought this was a bit different style–or at least one that you don’t see too often. This is kind of a random comparison (especially considering the content is nothing alike) but I was remind of Meg Cabot’s “Boy” books. Now, you may have guessed, I really liked those books. And I really like Sadie.

I think the way the novel is set up helps to show the reader something important, something we might forget sometimes: we only know what we can piece together. We make assumptions, form opinions and draw conclusions, based on the information we’re given. But that information isn’t always correct. A lot of what we see following both points of view shows us that appearances can be misleading, and we might never know the full story. It can be incredibly frustrating, I won’t lie. There are moments where West is following leads, or Sadie is doing something, and you just want to tell them to stop right now because the other person knows it’s bad. They have the benefit of being closer, or farther from the situation. But that’s a major part of what makes this story so good.

So, I think we can all tell I feel the format is a huge part of what makes this novel so successful.

Also, we have the story itself. Sadie is chasing down answers regarding her sister’s death. She has a lot of questions and a lot of leads–and so does West when he starts following her trail. The entire novel is filled to the brim with suspense and twisting plot points. How it came together . . . no I didn’t see a lot of that coming. And the ending? Oh my god.

I was screaming at the book. I actually closed the book, looked at the cover, and yelled at it for doing that to me. I can tell you right now that you’re not prepared for it. You’re not prepared for any of this. The way Courtney Summers wrote the ending felt deliberate to me. Maybe that’s obvious to everyone who has already read it, but in regards to the subject matter, the way this ending is done . . . yeah. I think it’s authentic to how a lot of stories like this–real ones–end up. And that’s emotionally taxing, but there’s also a great deal of satisfaction knowing that it’s not written with rose-colored glasses on.

Yes, this story is dark as hell. I do need to warn you this book is heavy. It will be hard for a lot of people, but that’s not a reason not to read it. I think it’s more of a reason to read it honestly. If we don’t read the painful books we will never fully understand that pain. We will never fully understand that pain anyway, unless we’ve experienced it.

I feel the need to warn you that if you find books involving child abuse triggering please take steps to make sure you will be alright before reading. Your mental health always comes first. And, while there is no explicit abuse on the page, it is mentioned and a major theme, so please keep this in mind.

Other than just general gushing about the beautifully way this novel is written (and I could do this all damn day but I won’t because it would be too spoiler-y) I don’t have much to say beyond I really liked this book. Like, I really liked this book. The characters are complicated, messy, and sometimes downright unlikable. Oftentimes downright unlikable.

And they’re real. The story is honest. It’s painful and horrifying and emotional and I love it so, so much. If you can I would recommend reading it when it comes out on Tuesday (9/4). You can buy it at Barnes & Noble or IndieBound through those links, or pick it up at your local library. If your library doesn’t have a copy I recommend asking them to order one. I’m going to ask mine next time I get out there.

It should come as no surprise to any single person reading this that I gave Sadie 5/5 stars on Goodreads. I mean, come on, have you read a word of this review? Yeah, that’s what I thought. But, if you’ve read it as well, or when you do, come talk to me (in the comments or on Twitter) about what you thought! I’m excited to hear about your opinions.

Okay I’m finishing up making a bookmark for a friend, so I’m gonna go do that. Go read some books! (Please.)

Kailey