Review: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

The CousinsThe Cousins by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

The wealthy Story family is practically royalty on Gull Cove Island, a remote vacation destination off Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

They own the largest resort on the island and everyone knows them. Twenty-five years ago, the family matriarch, Mildred, suddenly disowned her four children, essentially banishing them from the island.

These children are now adults and three of them have children of their own. Aubrey, Jonah and Milly, although cousins, hardly know each other, having only met a handful of times.

Seemingly out of the blue, all three Story grandchildren receive invitations from the Grandmother they have never met, to travel to the island for the summer and work at the Gull Cove Resort.

All three teens think that this sounds like a terrible way to spend the summer, but they aren’t really given an option.

Their parents see this as a chance to get back in Grandma’s good graces and possibly back into an inheritance. Money, as we know, can be a strong motivator.

The cousins meet aboard the ferry to the island and begrudgingly begin to get to know one another.

Before they know it, two hours has gone by, the ferry is docking and their summer of scandal has officially begun!

As to be expected with a novel by Karen M. McManus, this was full of twists and turns the entire way through.

The over-the-top drama was compelling and I was so into finding out all of the Story family’s deepest secrets. There was a lot to unpack.

Milly, Aubrey and Jonah were each unique, with their own insecurities and hang-ups. I liked how their relationships evolved over the course of the story, as they began to work together to get to the bottom of why their parents got disowned.

In addition to the current timeline, there was also a past perspective following Milly’s Mom, Allison, in the summer leading up to their being disinherited. Eventually, it all pieces together into a more than startling conclusion.

This is a super quick read and I had a lot of fun with it. What’s not to love about a remote seaside setting, a possible inheritance, decades old family secrets and rich people drama?

Incidentally, I live on a remote island off of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, so can attest to the setting being well done. I loved that McManus even used the actual name of the ferry company that services our island.

Details like that made me feel connected right away.

I am so glad that I finally got around to picking this one up and now can anxiously anticipate her next release, You’ll Be the Death of Me!

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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: A Phoenix First Must Burn, Edited by Patrice Caldwell

A Phoenix First Must BurnA Phoenix First Must Burn by Patrice Caldwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020 and it did not disappoint! Definitely one of the most unique anthologies I have ever read.

A Phoenix First Must Burn is full of super diverse SFF elements, black girl magic and lyrical storytelling. This is a book everyone should be reading right now!!!

I always find it difficult to review anthologies. As with any anthology, there were definitely some stories I enjoyed more than others.

However, with this being said, there is something for every reader. Whether you are a fan of science-fiction with futuristic societies, fantasy with earth magic, mermaids or vampires; you will absolutely be able to find stories within these pages to sink your teeth into!

My personal favorite was, Kiss the Sun by Ibi Zoboi. It was heavy and dark, speaking to the history of colonization, as well as continued oppression of native cultures in areas heavily touristed by privileged whites.

You could feel the Afro-Carribean influence throughout the story. It is actually the first I have ever read by Zoboi and I am really looking forward to picking up more of her work.

Kiss the Sun centered around a group of Soucouyants. I had never heard of a Soucouyant and have discovered they are a type of magical entity in Caribbean folklore.

They are shapeshifters and sort of like vampires, in that they drain blood, or spirit from the individuals they attack. Now I am fascinated and want more stories where these supernatural beings play a role; if you know of any, comment down below!

Other stories I loved include, Elizabeth Acevedo’s, which followed a slave uprising on a sugar plantation, which I believe, if I understood the Afterword correctly, was loosely based upon an actual revolt in 1522; Melie by Justina Ireland, which followed a magician’s apprentice on her hunt for mermaid tears and dragon’s heat; Hearts Turned to Ash by Dhonielle Clayton, which included a bottle tree, a tradition I learned about recently in Kwame Mbalia’s Tristan Strong novel; and, The Actress by Danielle Paige, where a witch and a vampire take center stage.

While these are the stories that resonated the most with me, as I mentioned before, this has stories for every type of reader. It’s super diverse, extremely fast-paced, empowering, uplifting and a must read for 2020. This group of authors, and Patrice Caldwell, as editor and contributor, nailed this!

Update: My library hold has FINALLY come through!!! I’m so excited; definitely reading this week!!!

Original:

THE ANTHOLOGY THE WORLD NEEDS!!!!!

This.
Sounds.
Incredible.

It’s official, this is one of my most anticipated releases of 2020!

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Review: Dark Skies (Dark Shores #2) by Danielle L. Jensen

Dark Skies (Dark Shores, #2)Dark Skies by Danielle L. Jensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading Dark Shores last year and consider it to be an extremely underrated YA Fantasy novel.

Going into this second installment, I was completely prepared to enjoy it, but Dark Skies takes it to a whole new level.

One very interesting point of note on the format of this series, which I was unaware of going into this, is that this book’s storyline runs parallel to the storyline of Dark Shores.

I expected this to be a linear continuation of the series, picking up directly after the events of the first book.

However, that is not this case. This book follows two completely different perspectives during the course of the same period of time as the first book.

It was so interesting to see the story unfold this way. Lydia, one of the protagonists in this book, is a side character in Dark Shores. The other protagonist, Killian, is new, I believe.

Lydia lives within the Celandor Empire and she was actually the impetus for a great many of the events in Dark Shores, but as the reader, you don’t know the whole story.

Dark Skies fills it in. Not only does this book fill in some missing pieces, it continues to grow the world at an impressive rate.

Lydia meets Killian when she is forced to flee her home due to a botched assassination plot. She ends up in the West, on the far side of the endless sea.

Killian is a solider, marked by the God of War for great things. He is sworn to protect the Princess of Mudamore, a principality on the brink of war.

There are too many incredible elements of this story, but some of my favorites include: Lydia’s character arc, the brutal world that seems inspired by ancient Rome, the political intrigue, the dangerous, dragon-like creatures terrorizing the city by night, the blight infecting the citizens and yes, the extremely slow-burn romance.

This book is close to 500-pages and there is always something going on. These characters have to constantly be on guard and it certainly made me tense.

I had no idea where this was going to go. There is so much left to this story and I was shocked and delighted to learn, this is slated to be a 4-book series!

If you have not picked this series up yet, I highly recommend giving it a shot.

Personally, I did enjoy this more than Dark Shores and that’s saying a lot. I think the main reason is because of Lydia and Killian. Not their relationship, well yes, that helps, but just because I loved each of them both as characters.

Lydia is the legit best. A bookworm who gets in over her head and then learns to be a certifiable badass. Talk about coming out of your shell!

I cannot wait for the next book in the series, which if I understand correctly, will follow the events of the first two books and will have all four main character perspectives: Teriana and Marcus, from Dark Shores, and Lydia and Killian, from Dark Skies.

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

I am really looking forward to continuing with this series!

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Top 10 Most Anticipated YA Releases for Q1 2020

With 2020 almost upon us, it is time to start freaking out about the books soon to be released.

I already have a ton of great sounding titles on my radar but am keeping this list down to 10.

The YA titles listed below are all currently set to be released within the first quarter of 2020 (aka. release dates between 1/1/20 – 3/31/20). Without further ado, let’s get into them:

  1. Scavenge The Stars by Tara Sim – Because the Disney Book Group gods frequently bless me, I am currently reading this title, set to release on January 7th. This is a gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo!
  2. The Hand On the Wall (Truly Devious #3)  by Maureen Johnson – The final book in the Truly Devious trilogy, I know a lot of readers are anxiously awaiting this one. Johnson is the Queen of Cliffhangers so I need this book ASAP! This YA Mystery series is a ton of fun and a breeze to get through.
  3. One of Us is Next by Karen McManus – YA Mystery from Karen McManus, a follow-up to her 2017 bestseller, One of Us is Lying. I really enjoyed The Breakfast Club feel of the first book so am excited to get to this next installment of the drama at Bayview High.
  4. Ashlords by Scott Reintgen – This epic YA Fantasy follows phoenix horse riders who must compete at The Races; a modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their society. Reintgen is the author of one of my favorite YA science-fiction series, The Nyxia Triad, so I am very interested to see him tackle fantasy!
  5. The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller – A YA fantasy story where the synopsis proclaims that our protagonist, Alessandra is going to woo the King, marry the King and then kill the King to take his kingdom. Color me intrigued, that sounds fabulous!
  6. The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne – The synopsis for this YA science-fiction novel sounds very Jane Austen but set in space. I was a big fan of Donne’s 2018 release, Brightly Burning, so am excited to read a story from her again.
  7. Deathless Divide (Dread Nation #2) by Justina Ireland – Jane, Kate and the zombies return in the second installment of Dread Nation. Historical fiction with zombies? Who knew it would be so good? Me, that’s who! Really excited to get back into this story!
  8. All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban – This YA Mystery/Thriller brings a Breakfast Club-esque cast of characters, a locked room mystery and a bogus dinner invitation channeling Agatha Christie; totally on brand for me and I cannot wait to get my hands on it!
  9. Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox #3) by Julie Kagawa – The third and final installment to pretty much my favorite YA Fantasy series. I am legit preordering like tomorrow and counting down the days until arrival. If you haven’t picked up this Japanese-inspired tale, you have plenty of time to read the first two books while you wait. You won’t be disappointed!
  10. A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell – This YA anthology consists of sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.That’s all I need to know. Sold.

It also appears the cover game will still be raging strong in 2020:

Am I right!? Those are all gorgeous and I cannot wait for them to be gracing my shelves! What books are you most looking forward to at the start of 2020? Are any of these are your list? What do you think I am missing? 

I want to know! Comment below or contact me through any of my social media links. Until next time, Cheers & Happy Reading~

 

 

2018 – the year of the book!

Today’s post is simply an excitement post about how great 2018 is going to be for all things books!  Fellow worms, it is only January and we have seen some great new books released already this year.

As you may know, if you follow my posts at all, one of my new faves just had its official release day yesterday – so Happy Book Birthday to Reign of the Fallen -and a big congratulations to the author, Sarah Glenn Marsh! This book is a dark and dreamy YA-fantasy that had me hooked within the first few pages.  If you are looking for an exciting new fantasy series with all the bells and whistles, please do yourself a favor and pick this one up.  I mean, the cover love alone -it’s gorgeous!

Yesterday I also received my hard copy of The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.  If you are not familiar with Holly Black’s writing, it is YA-fantasy generally involving the fae-folk and this book is no different.  The official release date for The Cruel Prince was January 2nd – I have been looking forward to it for so long and can’t wait to get to it! Early reviews of it are pretty solid, many calling it lovely and magical….yeah, I could use some of that in my life, so planning to start this one as soon as I can.

There are way to many more exciting new releases this year to possibly list here but the following are some of the ones I am really anticipating and that I will most likely be getting hard copies of: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, The Hazel Wood by Melissa Alpert, Untitled (Warcross #2) by Marie Lu, Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons #3) by Sarah J. Maas (!!!!), Throne of Glass #7 by Sarah J. Maas, and Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) by Amy Kaufman.

What books are you most looking forward to seeing released this year!? I really want to hear, that way I can add any I am missing to my tbr list!

As always, happy reading bookworms!