Review: Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Burn Our Bodies DownBurn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

I feel like one of the few people left in the YA book world who hasn’t read Wilder Girls.

I own it, of course. Have you seen the cover!? I have added it to many TBRs, but have yet to pick it up.

When I received an early copy of Rory Power’s sophomore novel, Burn Our Bodies Down, I was shocked and excited.

I couldn’t wait to pick it up and then, I just didn’t. Long story short, I am a horrible reviewer, but you read my reviews, you probably know that.

I finally decided to give this one a shot over my week-long Christmas vacation. I am kicking myself now because I really enjoyed this. Why didn’t I read it months ago!?

Burn Our Bodies Down is equal parts weird, disturbing, suspenseful and heartbreaking. Some of my favorite characteristics to find in a book.

The story follows teen, Margot, who has lived with just her mother her entire life. She knows of no other family and any time she presses her mother for info about their past, or where she came from, her mother loses it.

Her mom is extremely unstable and their relationship is quite contentious. Margot has never felt wanted, or loved, and lives her life walking on eggshells.

Just as Margot gets to the end of her rope, she discovers a clue. The only hint she has ever had in regards to her mother’s early life.

It’s a photograph, tucked into a family bible, signed by who she believes is her grandmother. In addition to a phone number, the photo also indicates a town name: Phalene.

She’s shocked. Phalene isn’t even that far away. She decides to go there, find her grandmother and finally get some answers.

Arriving in town, Margot meets a couple of local teens she tries to needle information out of. While she is with them, they receive news of a fire on her grandmother’s farm.

The kids rush to check out the scene and end up finding the fields in flames and a body.

Upon further inspection, they discover the body is a girl, about their age and she looks exactly like Margot.

Thus begins the head-scratching drama that surrounds Margot’s family’s farm.

I can’t even begin to tell you how confused and intrigued I was by what was going on in Phalene.

She meets her Grandmother, Vera, and stays with her, but continues to be brushed off when she tries to get definitive answers about her mother’s childhood, or where she came from.

Margot learns many things in her first few days in Phalene, including the existence of family members she never knew about, including her mother’s twin sister, Katherine. During her investigation, she also ends up making a couple of friends along the way.

There is a dark feeling of unease that spans this entire novel.

You know, deep in your heart, that something is very wrong in Phalene and Margot’s family is at the heart of it, but what!?

I would classify this as an Ecological Horror Novel, a genre I have been enjoying quite a bit lately.

I personally loved Power’s writing style, although I did think some of Margot’s musings eventually bordered on repetitive. With this being said, Power’s ability to write body horror is top-notch; that cannot be denied.

I would recommend this one to Horror readers, particularly if you read and enjoyed Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s, Mexian Gothic. I would say the two stories channel a lot of similar vibes.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion and will definitely be picking up Wilder Girls now!

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Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest ListThe Guest List by Lucy Foley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Lucy Foley’s, The Guest List, was a fun and fast-paced, guessing game of a read. Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie or Ruth Ware.

Weddings are generally memorable occasions. There’s frequently some level of drama simmering just under the pristine surface.

That’s certainly the case for Jules and Will’s wedding, taking place on a remote Irish island that the grumbling guests agree to congregate on for a 48-hour period.

This story is told from multiple perspectives over the course of the weekend, with the body and the killer only being revealed at the very end.

I was intrigued from the very start. This story has one of my favorite things, well, many of my favorite things, but one of the most notable was the quirky cast of unlikable characters.

Everyone had something to hide. Everyone had an axe to grind and I was there for every cat-clawing moment of it.

The setting was extremely atmospheric, channeling a gothic vibe by incorporating some of the island’s earlier history into the tale.

The varying perspectives kept the chapters short and therefore the story never had a chance to fall into a lull. Each chapter ended on a sort of mini-cliffhanger that kept me wanting more.

This book received a lot of buzz this year and for good reason. If you haven’t had a chance to pick this one up yet, what are you waiting for!?

I cannot wait to see what Lucy Foley comes up with next!!!

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Review: Safecracker by Ryan Wick

SafecrackerSafecracker by Ryan Wick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Professional safecracker, Michael Maven, has pulled off a number of dangerous heists over the course of his career.

His latest job, obtaining a rare coin from a New York City apartment, is fairly simple in the scheme of things.

What he doesn’t plan for however, is that another individual will try to steal the coin on the very same night.

In fact, the thief, a beautiful woman, enters the apartment while Michael is there, with the coin’s owner. She proceeds to kill the innocent man, while Michael watches from his hiding place.

When she takes the coin from the safe and attempts to leave the apartment, Michael can’t just sit by. He has put a lot of effort into this night and will not let her ruin it!

A struggle ensues.

Michael, though shaken, believes the night to be a wash, until she finds him again. Maven barely makes it out of their next encounter with his life.

Now he is on the radar of her employer, a sadistic drug lord known as El Cerdo, who needs Michael to perform a job for him.

Unfortunately, Michael doesn’t really have a say in the matter. He needs to do what the man asks, or else risk not just his life, but the lives of those he cares about most.

Michael’s new mission finds him in Miami, pairing up with the woman who tried to kill him, as well as other employees of El Cerdo. He has under a week to steal back a valuable notebook from the home of the head of a rival cartel.

Safecracker is action-packed from page one. It truly reads like a movie and I found it to be quite addicting.

I enjoyed Michael, as a character, a lot. He was rugged, charming and skillful; three great attributes for a leading man.

While this isn’t the type of book I would generally gravitate towards, I did have a lot of fun reading it and would recommend it to others.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Thomas Dunne, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

From the fantastic Epilogue, I am assuming this will not be the last we see of Michael Maven. I would absolutely pick up more books following his character if they are published.

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Review: The Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige

The Ravens (The Ravens, #1)The Ravens by Kass Morgan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars**

I’m so sorry, y’all. I really wanted to love this.

The Ravens has so many great elements that I thought would really work for me, but unfortunately, it just didn’t.

The story alternates between two perspectives, Scarlett Winters and Vivi Deveraux.

Scarlett is a legacy Raven at Westerly College, aiming for the slot of sorority president, like her mother and sister before her.

Vivi is a freshman, who is shocked when she receives a bid to join the exclusive sorority. From what she gathered at the rush party, she’s not really Kappa Rho Nu material.

But the sisters saw something in her and that something is power. Magic power.

The Ravens are witches, each and every one of them.

Vivi didn’t realize she was a witch. Her mother had always dappled in occult practices, but Vivi assumed it was all an act. Apparently not.

After rush, Vivi’s pledge class are assigned their Bigs and then set about learning not just the history of the sorority, but everything else they need to know about being a proper Raven.

I was so excited when I started this novel. I was in a sorority and was looking forward to getting nostalgic about rush and all the amazing time and friendships that followed.

While initially, I did get a few of those feels, I wasn’t sure if I was suppose to be taking this seriously or not.

I am not sure how best to explain what I mean by that. It was like I couldn’t interpret the tone. From there it was just sort of all over the place for me.

I had moments when I was really into it and a lot of moments where I couldn’t care less.

Around the middle I could tell, it just wasn’t for me. I felt nothing for the characters and I didn’t feel like any part of the plot was particularly compelling.

There were two male characters who were basically interchangeable for me. I could really only tell which one it was when another character said their name.

That’s never good.

Bottom line, this just wasn’t the right story for me. I never connected with it and was happy when it was over.

As I always say however, just because it wasn’t the right book for me, doesn’t mean it won’t be the right book for you. If you think the synopsis sounds intriguing, pick it up and give it a go!

Thank you so much to the audiobook publisher, RB Media, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I always appreciate the opportunity to give my thoughts!

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Review: Eventide by Sarah Goodman

EventideEventide by Sarah Goodman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

In 1907, Verity Pruitt and her little sister, Lilah, arrive in Wheeler, Arkansas, aboard an orphan train.

The girl’s mother has passed away and their father, apparently suffering from overwhelming grief, has been committed to an asylum.

With no family to take them in, the girls become wards of the state, in spite of the fact that Verity is close to turning eighteen.

When they arrive in Arkansas, it is clear that a family is already waiting for Lilah, but poor Verity will not be going with them.

She does still luck out though, as an amazing family is willing to take her in and they live only a couple of miles from Lilah’s new home.

Of course, Verity’s position is more as a farmhand initially, than an adopted child. She’s okay with that though, a little hard work never hurt anybody.

As Verity settles in at her new home, enjoying her work on the farm and her new friendships, she discovers that something lurks in the woods surrounding the town.

It’s unsettling the things she sees as she accidentally ventures into the woods one night.

As she works to uncover the truth behind the strange things she has seen and experienced, Verity begins to uncover some truths about her own family instead.

Goodman definitely succeeded at bringing a fun, creepy atmosphere to this historical fiction tale.

I really enjoyed the setting and the cast of characters.

Some of the plot was a bit too simple for my tastes, as well as slightly campy towards the end, but it was still a quick, enjoyable read!

I definitely recommend this to readers who like the idea of a creepy read, but they don’t actually want to be scared.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Teen, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

As a debut, this is impressive. I look forward to reading more from Sarah Goodman. I hope she stays in this lane. It works for her!

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Review: Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

Take It BackTake It Back by Kia Abdullah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

((me: reads final scene))

Blushing and looking around, I think to myself, she got me. Kia Abdullah got me good!

This provocative legal thriller was a non-stop guessing game. My head was reeling the entire way through trying to decipher who to believe.

I hate to say that, but I have to be honest. The reason I don’t like to say that is because the case central to this story is that of a sexual assault.

This would be an enticing book club read. I can see a lot of great discussions stemming from the deep content of this book that was expertly crafted for maximum impact by Abdullah.

Zara Kaleel, a former lawyer, is now a sexual assault counselor. When 16-year old, Jodie Wolfe, arrives in her office, Zara is stunned to hear her tale of assault by four male classmates.

Jodie has a genetic abnormality that has given her severe facial deformities, which makes her difficult to understand at times. In spite of any slight communication issues, Jodie’s pain is pouring off of her. She is traumatized and Zara vows to help.

We follow the investigation into the case through multiple perspectives and then get front row seats to the subsequent trial.

The four young men accused are Muslims, from immigrant families, while Jodie is a white girl. As you can imagine, this adds an incredible amount of tension to public reception of the case.

It all becomes a bit of a circus, with even Zara beginning to fear for her safety.

As a Muslim woman herself, also from an immigrant family, she is branded a traitor and must push really hard, both personally and professionally, to continue with Jodie’s case.

I really loved how Abdullah chose to tell this story. The pace was spot on and the little reveals and clues along the way left me constantly guessing at the truth. I had no idea what the final outcome would be until it was on page.

Additionally, I loved the cultural elements that were included through Zara’s perspective, and a few of the accused boys. I thought those aspects made this one stand out in comparison with other books in the genre and will make this story, overall, more memorable for me.

I loved this. Very compelling, suspenseful and thoughtful. I will definitely be picking up more books from Kia Abdullah in the future.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I love discovering new authors to enjoy, so thanks for adding another to my auto-buy list!

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Review: Warmaidens by Kelly Coon

WarmaidensWarmaidens by Kelly Coon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m sorry everyone, but this is going to sting a bit.

Unfortunately, Warmaidens was a disappointment for me.

I enjoyed Gravemaidens quite a bit when I read it last year. In fact, I felt overall it was underrated.

The world of Alu was very interesting. The whole concept of the gravemaidens, the competition that led to their selection and the fact that even though it was essentially a death sentence for the women chosen, the position was revered within their society.

I also loved reading about the relationship between the main character, Kammani, and her younger sister, Nanaea.

They were complete opposites, with Kammani being responsible and serious, while Nanaea was more vain and emotional.

Their relationship had some volatility to it that kept it interesting and there were some beautifully written, emotional scenes involving them learning to love one another even through disagreements.

Those scenes were some of my favorite of the first book.

Since Gravemaidens ended on such an intriguing cliffhanger, I was super stoked to get into this sequel.

Unfortunately, this continuation was lacking all of the things I enjoyed the most about the first book.

Nanaea was unrecognizable in comparison to her character in Gravemaidens. While I understand that her character would have grown based on what she went through in the first book, would there be no shred of her original personality left?

Also, I never felt any real high stakes drama. It was just fairly bland the entire way through and read extremely slowly.

It was so singular in focus, taking forever to get anywhere, and my eyes definitely glazed over on more than one occasion.

The conclusion was in no way exciting, or surprising. At the end there was this odd scene that was like the end of a Saturday Night Live episode.

You know, where the whole cast gathers on stage as the music plays them out, hugging and congratulating one another. It was a choice.

With all of this being said, even though this didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. If you read the first book and enjoyed it, you should absolutely try this one for yourself. Don’t take my word for it!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to provide my thoughts and opinion.

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Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRueThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

With the tagline: A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget. I should have known this was going to happen.

The infamous book hangover.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is an experience. I don’t feel like I have ever been this beaten up by a book.

It was literally like Schwab was taking an ice pick to my heart and slowly chipping pieces away the entire way through.

There were times I had to set it down and step away.

I couldn’t be held accountable for my actions in those moments. It’s all a blur.

Addie LaRue is a character who has an extraordinary story to tell, yet no way to tell it.

In 1714, she entered into a Faustian bargain granting her eternal life. The downfall, she will be forgotten by every person she ever meets, unable to do even the simplest of things, like telling someone her name.

She flounders for years, trying to determine how best to live.

It is a struggle. Her only connection, the dark being who granted her wish, Luc.

These scenes of Addie grappling with how to survive, were hard to read. In fact, they were some of the most melancholy scenes I have ever read.

It was gripping and beautiful and painful, all at the same time. The writing was able to elicit such empathy for her position. I found it to be extremely powerful.

Addie eventually develops a semi-comfortable pattern for living, until one day, in 2014 New York City, a boy in a bookstore changes everything.

He remembers.

Intricately weaving together both past and present timelines, Schwab sweeps you away in a love story centuries in the making.

There’s love, sacrifice and tasty bites of food for thought the entire way through.

I loved the exploration of the power of the arts to transcend space and time. There’s an underlining theme of art, in many different forms, creating a sort of timeless influence.

It felt like a love story to artistic expression and I was so into that whole vibe.

Overall, I think this is a very special story. One that will have a great and lasting impact on a lot of people.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I will never forget Addie, or her story.

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Review: The Last to See Her by Courtney Evan Tate

The Last to See HerThe Last to See Her by Courtney Evan Tate
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Okay, that was a story. A heck of a wild ride. One, I am sorry to say, I didn’t enjoy that much.

In the beginning, I was really into this. It didn’t take long for the action to kick off and I was definitely intrigued.

For a while the tension was building quite nicely, then for me, it just crossed over into eye roll territory, from which it never returned.

By the last 25% I was racing through, not because I couldn’t wait to see what would happen, but because I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

With this being said, just because it wasn’t a good fit for my tastes, doesn’t mean it won’t be for you. There are definitely a lot of readers who will enjoy this. Sadly, I just wasn’t one of them.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Mira Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. Even though it wasn’t a new favorite for me, I still very much appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

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Review: How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (Folk of the Air #3.5) by Holly Black

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air, #3.5)How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

And just like that my faith is restored in this thing we call a world. Thank you, Holly Black. We needed this.

Unsurprisingly, Cardan had me entranced from the start.

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is a collection of beautifully illustrated short-stories, following Cardan’s perspective from when he was just a little boy, all the way through and after, The Queen of Nothing.

I knew going in that this was illustrated, but my goodness, it is absolutely stunning.

As I was reading I would often stop and just soak in the illustrations. It truly brought these stories to life and gave them the magical quality of an old-time fairy tale.

Cardan is such a fun character and reading his life from his perspective provided all new insight into his decisions and motivations. I love him even more now than ever.

For true fans of this series, this is bonus content that should not be missed!

Personally, I will pick up anything Black chooses to write regarding these characters, or Elfhame in general. This book is a wonderful collector’s piece and one I am happy to add to my collection.

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