ARC Book Review: Sadie

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Synopsis:

A gripping novel about the depth of a sister’s love; poised to be the next book you won’t be able to stop talking about.

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.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Wednesday Books. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on September 4, 2018.*

I don’t normally read thrillers. I think the last thriller I read was The Good Girl, maybe, and that was a long time ago. However, I kept seeing Sadie everywhere so when I saw a post on Instagram about requesting an ARC I figured why not? And then when I actually got it I was happily surprised.

Truthfully, I didn’t really know what this book was about going into it but I was hooked from the first page. This book is written in the style of the transcript from a podcast called The Girls and Sadie’s first person POV. In the podcast, we follow host West McCray as he first learns about Sadie’s disappearance and then his search into what led to her disappearance and what could’ve happened to her. In Sadie’s POV we’re following along with her as she’s on the hunt for her sister’s killer.

Like I said, I was hooked from the very beginning. Just like West I became more and more enthralled in Sadie’s story as he started talking to people from Sadie’s life and following her trail from her hometown to where her abandoned car was found and then beyond it. On the flip side, I liked hearing Sadie’s side of things and what Courtney Summers did really well was not show her hand too early. While it was pretty clear who Sadie was hunting, the history between Sadie, the man she was looking for, Keith, and her sister, Mattie, wasn’t immediately clear. Neither was why Sadie was so sure it was Keith who killed Mattie.

I couldn’t put the book down until I found out if Sadie got her revenge and where she ended up. I also loved how complicated all the relationships in this story were, from Sadie and Mattie’s relationship as sisters and Sadie and Mattie’s different relationships to their mother, Claire, as well as the relationship between Claire and her neighbor and Sadie and Mattie’s quasi caretaker, May Beth.

Summers did an excellent job looking at a really dark issue, tying Sadie and Mattie’s stories into the stories of so many other victims. The way details were revealed between the podcast and Sadie’s own POV was so well done, and while I predicted some things I was still perfectly surprised by others. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a dark thriller and have a love for true crime podcasts. I’ve never listened to Serial but now I want to. Definitely pick this book up when it comes out. It’s worth a read. Or two. Also, there’s an actual podcast to go along with this book so check that out too.

Highlight for TW: Sexual assault, pedophilia, violence

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: Rule

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Synopsis:

Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars in this sensational and striking new fantasy from debut author Ellen Goodlett.

Three girls. Three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

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 band of Travelers. 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 one such plot could get her hung 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 the first book of this sensational and striking fantasy duology.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/The Novl. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on September 11, 2018.*

Rule is being promoted as Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars and while I haven’t read Three Dark Crowns (yet!) I was a fan of the PLL series (the first eight books). Thus, I was intrigued, and overall I thought this book was pretty good.

The novel is told in alternating close third POVs of Zofi, Florencia (Ren), and Akeylah, three very different girls who discover they’re all daughters of the king, who’s dying and needs an heir. What I loved most about this book was the world building. There’s a lot of history and prejudice going on in this world and at first I found it a little hard to keep everything straight, but once I got it I loved how intricate the history of this world was.

In sum, the girls live in the Reaches, which is basically this conglomerate of areas that came together to get out from under the power of another country, Genal. Within the Reaches there’s the Eastern Reach, which is filled with rebels who feel they’re not being fairly treated compared to those who live in the capital, Kolonya. Akeylah is an Easterner. Additionally, there are Travelers who, as you may have guessed, travel around the country in groups. The term “drifter” is a derogatory term often thrown in their face. Zofi is a drifter. Ren was born and raised in Kolonya, so she’s the most “pure” so to speak.

With this much division in the country, the book of course deals with prejudice, which I thought was great. All the girls are POCs and there’s also a f/f romance, which unlike other books with LGBTQ rep, it wasn’t a problem because the women were gay, but for a number of other reasons. It seems in this world like same sex relationships aren’t frowned upon, though it’s hard to say for sure since there weren’t any other same sex relationships in the book that weren’t a secret. I did have one small issue with Zofi’s hair being compared to a “tumble weed.” That just didn’t sit right with me.

In any case, all the girls have a dark secret and unfortunately for them someone knows about it and is threatening to reveal the truth if they don’t abdicate their chance at the throne. This is the part that gave me serious “A” vibes and I loved it. Each girl gets sketchy messages that are creepy and show a clear invasion of their privacy, which upped the stakes for me. Each girl also has a love interest, which was only sometimes interesting. I found some of the romance in this book to be a little unbelievable because I didn’t see why/how these relationships formed, specifically with Akeylah. It seemed like she just had a small connection with the person and then she was infatuated with them. I felt like the other two girls had these clear developed relationships with their love interests and I wanted that for Akeylah as well, so that fell flat for me.

As for the mystery behind who was threatening the girls, I will say the book surprised me. I thought I knew what was going on, but it turned out I actually had no idea, so I really enjoyed that aspect and that’s honestly enough to get me to read the sequel to see how this all ends. That said, this wasn’t really a book I couldn’t put down. It was interesting, but not a nail biter. Still, like I said, I’m intrigued to see what happens next.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow.

Stars:

3 stars

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ARC Book Review: What If It’s Us

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Synopsis:

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?

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Books for Trade. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on October 9, 2018.*

I love Becky Albertalli’s books and I love Adam Silvera’s books so when I heard they were writing a book together I knew I had to have it. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to find a kind soul on Twitter who was willing to trade their ARC with me for my ARC of Save the Date, which is also an incredible read. Thus, I finally got What If It’s Us in my hands and I’m so glad I got to read it early because it was just as good as I thought it would be.

The story is told in the alternating POVs of Arthur, a Jewish boy from Georgia who’s spending his summer in New York City as an intern at his mom’s law firm, and Ben, a Puerto Rican New York City native who’s stuck in summer school with his ex, Hudson. Arthur and Ben coincidentally cross paths when Ben attempts to mail a box of Hudson’s stuff at the post office. Unfortunately, their love story isn’t an easy one and begins with Ben leaving the post office before Arthur could get his phone number.

Even though I wouldn’t call this a high stakes novel since it’s a contemporary romance, I will say I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out how in the world these two guys would ever cross paths again in this huge city. Once they did, I then wondered how they’d ever make their relationship work. Over the course of the novel, there were a lot of questions about fate and whether or not the universe was trying to bring Ben and Arthur together or pull them apart, which I loved.

I also thoroughly enjoyed all the Hamilton and other musical references and I think any musical geek will love this book for that alone. Besides the great references though, this book was also really funny with a great cast of characters. I really loved both Ben and Arthur’s support systems, but Ben’s best friend, Dylan, was hands down my favorite. I also loved that this book took a hard look at Ben and Arthur’s differences. I loved the discussions of race/culture and what it means to be “smart.” I also really liked that the book combated this idea that homophobia doesn’t exist in places like New York City, because it does.

Overall, I will say this book really felt like a perfect combination of Albertalli and Silvera’s talents. While it gave me all the feels, it also made me think, and definitely tugged at my heart strings a few times. In sum, definitely preorder this book if you haven’t already. It’s a must read.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating

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Synopsis:

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Gallery Books via NetGalley. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on September 4, 2018.*

On Monday I saw Christina Lauren post about this book on Instagram and asked if there were ARCs. That same day I requested it on Netgally, got the eARC, and then proceeded to stay up until 6 a.m. reading it. Yeah, it was that good. And I have a problem, but that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, this novel is told in the dual POVs of Josh and Hazel, and I love them both but I might love Hazel just a tiny bit more. She was hilarious. I literally laugh out loud at so many points because of the things she did and said. I also shook my head a few times and said, “Oh Hazel,” but with the same kind of fondness Josh had for her. Hazel’s just the best.

Then we have Josh and my God he definitely tops the book boyfriend list. As Hazel likes to say he’s “the blueprint for Perfect.” First of all, I love that he’s Korean and that his culture was explored in this book. We got to see his Umma (mom) who was constantly cooking food for Josh and his sister, Emily, and then of course also Hazel, who’s also Emily’s best friend. (Side note: All the food descriptions made me hungry and want Korean BBQ) Christina Lauren did a good job exploring Josh’s culture and traditions and I loved getting to see that in this book.

Now, Josh and Hazel together. They were so cute and funny, and I loved that they spent the majority of this book setting each other up on pretty awful double blind dates. The number of times I wanted to jump into the book and yell at them, “Why are you wasting your time? The love of your life is right there!” was a lot. That said, I love a good slow burn and this book totally gave me that and while I always expect a happy ending from Christina Lauren this book still managed to surprise me.

Thus, I must highly recommend this book and I’m truly mad you have to wait until September to read it because ALL I WANT TO DO IS TALK ABOUT IT. Alas, that’s just how this goes. But preorder it so you can get it immediately and we can gush about Josh and Hazel as soon as the book comes out. K, thanks!

Borrow or Buy: BUY!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: The Brink of Darkness

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Synopsis:

In this sequel to the cinematic, romantic fantasy The Edge of Everything, star-crossed X and Zoe must overcome the boundaries of their two worlds in order to find their way back to each other.

Things have changed for seventeen-year-old Zoe ever since the otherworldly events that brought her together with the mysterious bounty hunter she calls X. In order to save Zoe and her family, X has done the unthinkable–he’s given up his freedom and returned to captivity in the Lowlands.

X is determined to break the lords’ hold on him once and for all, but being stripped of his power pushes him toward a darkness he’s never experienced and a past he’s never known. The secrets that surface could be the key to reuniting X and Zoe . . . or they could mean the destruction of everything they have been fighting for.

Gripping and full of heart, this epic continuation of Jeff Giles’ series will bring readers right to the edge of everything.

Purchase:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Bloomsbury YA. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on July 10, 2018.*

I didn’t love The Edge of Everything, but I enjoyed it enough to want to read the sequel and find out how Zoe and X’s story would end. Unfortunately, I felt about the same about The Brink of Darkness as I did about The Edge of Everything, which is to say I thought it was so-so.

This sequel picks up a little after where the first book ended. Zoe and X have been separated because X had to return to the Lowlands and be punished for breaking the rules to be with Zoe. However, because of his time with Zoe and her family, X was more determined than ever to find his mother and find a way out of the Lowlands. Thus, began an epic adventure of self-discovery for X.

Meanwhile, Zoe was coming to terms with the fact that the love of her (teenage) life was living in literal hell, and there was pretty much nothing she could do about it. That was until Zoe was given a task to help X, one he couldn’t complete himself while in the Lowlands. Thus, both X and Zoe began to learn more about X and how he came to be born in hell.

As with the first book, I really loved the humor in this story. All the characters had their own quirks, which really added to the story. I loved seeing Dallas and Val learn more about what Zoe went through in The Edge of Everything. It was also nice that though Zoe and X still had trials to face in this novel, to me the stakes were actually lower in The Brink of Darkness. In The Edge of Everything, I felt so bad for Zoe and her family, whereas here, I was so happy to see them living a relatively normal life in Montana.

I think the biggest issue for me was I did get bored at times with this story. There were definitely times I started skim, and just wanted the story to just get to the point. I wanted to see action or romance or something exciting, and there was just a lot of walking around the Lowlands or backstories I personally didn’t need.  Thus, this was just an okay read for me. I wish I enjoyed it more, but I didn’t.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow

Stars:

2 stars

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ARC Book Review: One Small Thing

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Synopsis

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author duo of The Royals and When It’s Real comes a sensational new novel about a girl falling for the one boy she should never have met…

Beth’s life hasn’t been the same since her sister died. Her parents try to lock her down, believing they can keep her safe by monitoring her every move. When Beth sneaks out to a party one night and meets the new guy in town, Chase, she’s thrilled to make a secret friend. It seems like a small thing, just for her.

Only Beth doesn’t know how big her secret really is…

Fresh out of juvie and determined to start his life over, Chase has demons to face and much to atone for, including his part in the night Beth’s sister died. Beth, who has more reason than anyone to despise him, is willing to give him a second chance. A forbidden romance is the last thing either of them planned for senior year, but the more time they spend together, the deeper their feelings get.

Now Beth has a choice to make—follow the rules, or risk tearing everything apart…again.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Harlequin Teen. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on June 26, 2018.*

I loved Erin Watt’s When It’s Real so when I heard they were releasing another contemporary romance novel I knew I had to have it, and it did not let me down. Unlike When It’s RealOne Small Thing is told in only one POV that of Beth, who’s sister, Rachel, died three years ago. After Rachel died, Beth’s parents became overly protective of Beth in suffocating ways. They wouldn’t let her go out with her friends and her mom took her college applications out of the mail, refusing to let her go to school out of state. Additionally, they still acted as if Rachel was still alive. For example, Rachel’s room looked exactly the way it did when she died, Beth’s mom got mad at her for putting her stuff on “Rachel’s bench,” and Beth wasn’t allowed to get a pet because Rachel was allergic.

It was a lot and I was on Team Beth from the very beginning, and was throughout this novel, even when she developed feelings for Chase, the one boy everyone wanted her to stay away from. Every one in Beth’s town hated Chase, including Rachel’s former boyfriend, Jeff, who also recently returned to town. Despite everyone telling her to stay away, Beth just couldn’t and neither could Chase. The friendship they developed gave me all the feels and I was rooting for them throughout the story, wanting Beth to honestly give the finger to everyone who told her it was wrong.

However, as the novel went on the author did a good job of showing all sides of this situation, and I did end up feeling sympathy for Beth’s parents, though they still made a lot of mistakes. What I loved most about this novel, was how it surprised me. There were of course things I expected from the novel, but there was plenty that truly surprised me.

Watt did an excellent job of drawing me into this story and looking at grief, forgiveness, and guilt. The novel also looked at issues of class and abuse. In sum, though this book isn’t large it tackled a lot of topics in a way that never felt heavy handed, but instead pushed the story forward, so much so that I read it one sitting. So definitely pick this book up if you’re looking for a quick read that will tug on your heart strings, and also infuriate you a little because really I just wanted Beth to catch a break throughout the whole novel and punch a few people in the face. Just saying.

Honestly though, do yourself a favor and get this book today, because it’s now on shelves. You won’t regret it. Trust me!

TW: Sexual assault

Borrow or Buy: Seriously? Buy this book! Do it, now!

Favorite Line:

“Rachel’s gone. And I have to let my broken heart heal instead of pretending I’ve been fine.”

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: My So-Called Bollywood Life

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Synopsis:

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Crown Books for Young Readers. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 15, 2018.*

I didn’t know about this book until I went to the New York City Teen Author Festival and Nisha Sharma was on a debut authors panel and read an excerpt of this novel. I thought it sounded hilarious, so when I saw it was available to request on NetGalley I immediately jumped on it and I’m so glad I did.

Told in a close third person narration, My So-Called Bollywood Life follows Winnie, a senior in high school who’s returned home from film camp to discover her boyfriend, now ex-boyfriend, Raj, is dating someone else. Although, in Raj’s defense, they were on a break. However, if he’d watched Friends he would know that’s not a reasonable excuse, but I digress.

The point is, Raj and Winnie are over, which is especially confusing for Winnie because all her life she’s believed in a prophecy she got from a pandit who said she’d meet the love her life before her 18th birthday and the guy’s name would begin with a ‘R’ and would give her a silver bracelet.

Now Winnie is fighting against believing that prophecy and wants to make her destiny, beginning with getting into NYU. To do that she needs to run the film festival at her school and be co-president of the film club…with Raj. Of course this doesn’t go well and it doesn’t help that another boy at school, Dev, is now showing renewed interest in Winnie and Raj just can’t seem to let go and still believes he and Winnie are meant to be.

With a love triangle, drama, a lot of Bollywood references, and the best parents you’ll ever meet, My So-Called Bollywood Life was a fun read that I just couldn’t put down. It also made me want to watch a Bollywood movie (I’ve never seen one!). My only issue was with the conflict at the end. It’s hard to explain without spoiling so I’ll just say I thought the conflict made it seem like Winnie should give up on something she worked quite hard for just for a guy, and the fact that her best friend, Bridget, seemed to also agree with this sentiment really irked me. If you want a more detailed explanation I’ll put it down below with spoilers.

However, this issue aside, I think the book kind of made up for it in the end, and overall I really did enjoy this book despite that one little thing, so I still highly recommend it. Definitely grab a copy of the book, which is on sale today!

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

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More Detailed Explanation Of My Issue With This Book Below (SPOILERS!)

In short, Dev and Winnie get together, they have a great time at the fundraiser dance for the film festival, but then the next day Dev is accused of stealing the money from the ticket sales and the money is found in his locker.

It obviously wasn’t him, but there’s no concrete proof it wasn’t so the faculty advisor for the club, Mr. Reece, pulled Dev’s movie from the film festival. Winnie was determined to clear Dev’s name, but she didn’t quit the film club, and for some reason both Dev and Bridget got angry with Winnie for not quitting. I thought this was absurd and for them to ask Winnie to quit the club, something that would boost her college application, was ridiculous.

Of course Winnie wasn’t going to quit the club and give up on something she’d been working towards for so long for some guy she just started dating. That’s crazy, and it was so unreasonable to me that everyone just agreed that’s what she should do. Maybe this why I’m still single but I think it’s a bit ridiculous to ask someone to give up on their dream for a guy, much less one she hadn’t even been dating that long.

That being said, I felt the novel sort of corrected the problem by having Winnie still pursue her dream, just in a different way. The epilogue also made it abundantly clear that Winnie could have both the guy and her career as a film critic, which I appreciated. Still, that one part just didn’t sit well with me at all.