Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

The Grace YearThe Grace Year by Kim Liggett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

In a dystopian world, in an area knows as The County, girls are banished from their community during their 16th year. It is believed that at that age a girl’s true magic will be revealed.

These girls apparently are so dangerously magical that they threaten to steal husbands from wives, driving the wives crazy with jealousy in the process.

The girls are sent to live together in a fenced-in compound in the woods. Once there they must completely survive on their own, navigating their powers, for a full year.

This year is known as the Grace Year. When the year has passed, the survivors return to the community, get married, have babies, take care of their husbands and live happily ever after.

Tierney James has always dreamed of a better life, but when her Grace Year arrives she knows she is helpless to stop it.

Shipped off with the rest of the girls, she decides to try her best to motivate them all to work together in order to survive. It doesn’t have to be that bad, does it?

Unfortunately, not all of the girls play nice together and a true Lord of the Flies situation unfolds. This is their first time truly on their own, without any adult supervision, and it shows.

These girls get brutal real quick!

Before she knows it, Tierney is literally on the brink of death, with seemingly no allies.

How will she ever make it through her Grace Year alive?

This was definitely an interesting examination of women’s rights, relationships and roles within society. The dystopian world, both inside and outside of the County, was harsh and compelling.

There was a lot of drama amongst the girls and definitely some savage moments.

I want to reread this someday when things calm down a bit. I felt like with all the unsettling things happening in the world currently, my mind was wandering quite a bit.

I feel like I may be able to get more out of this story when I can concentrate better. Some of it felt very surface level and I do think that is more due to my mental state at the moment than the book.

Absolutely if you are interested in a YA-version of The Handmaid’s Tale meets Lord of the Flies, you should pick this up.

That’s pretty much a perfect description of this disturbing tale. Although I wasn’t crazy about the romantic elements, I think overall it is a solid story.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. My apologies for taking so long to get to it!

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Review: The Return by Rachel Harrison

The ReturnThe Return by Rachel Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elise, Julie, Mae and Molly have been best friends since college. But as with many such relationships, as time goes by and circumstances change, friends can sometimes see each other less and less.

For this fabulous foursome, that is definitely the case. They all live pretty far apart geographically and it can be tough to stay close over such distances.

Two years ago, the unimaginable happened. Julie disappeared while on a solo hike in Acadia National Park, a 47,000-acre belt of wilderness on the rustic coast of Maine.

Understandably, the women are devastated to have lost one of the their own. Although they have a funeral after a significant amount of time has passed with no sign of Julie, Elise genuinely doesn’t believe she is gone.

Lo and behold, it seems Elise was right, at some point after the funeral, Julie reemerges. She just shows up at home one day with no memory of where she has been or what has happened to her.

Everyone is stunned. How can this be?

After Julie has had some time to acclimate to being home, the women decide to gather for a reunion weekend at an up-and-coming boutique hotel in upstate New York.

All traveling separately, Elise, the narrator of our tale, is the first to arrive. She immediately feels disturbed by the eccentric hotel. The whole atmosphere is just so bizarre.

Once all the women have arrived, they joke and laugh and try to make the best of their surroundings.

Luckily for them, they are the type of friends that no matter how much time has passed, they can pick right up like they were never apart.

The more time that goes by however, the more they begin to notice that Julie is different.

There’s something very wrong with her. It seems she is falling apart minute by minute. Her odd behavior and appearance; let’s not even get into the smell, but who’s going to talk to her about it?

They’re scared, even though mostly, they won’t admit it.

Well, I’ll tell you, they weren’t the only ones that were scared. This book had moments that legit creeped me out. I’m talking contemplated putting it in the freezer.

There was so much to enjoy about this. I loved, loved, loved the setting. Reminiscent of a locked room mystery as it was slowly revealed to the reader what was going on with Julie.

I also enjoyed the dynamic among the women. I found it to be very relatable as far as relationships go post-college.

The horror element was unique to me. I have never read anything that went in the direction this ultimately went in.

It did give me heavy Jennifer’s Body vibes and I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out this author had watched that movie more than once.

Although I can see where some people may be let down by the ending, for me it worked. That is how I would have wanted it to end.

At it’s heart, this is really a lovely examination of friendship, if you can believe that from a horror novel, but those friendship aspects tugged at my heartstrings.

I have no aspirations to ever write a novel, but if I did, it would pretty much be this book. Take from that what you will.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing, for providing me a copy of this to read and review. It was a fantastic time!

I am really looking forward to reading more from Rachel Harrison.

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Review: The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates #1) by A.K. Larkwood

The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates, #1)The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It.
Is.
Done.

Phew. I feel so accomplished having completed this.

Csorwe is a teenage girl who has been raised to be the sacrificial wife of the Unspoken One, an ancient god living within the earth.

Locked into a tomb on what is to be the day of her death, a mage appears and offers to rescue her and provide her with a new life.

She decides to accept his offer and flees with him. Over time she lives with him and trains to be his assassin.

She feels she owes him everything. She owes him her life and thus, is extremely loyal to him and his goals.

The mage, Belthandros Sethennai, is a very powerful man who is also on a mission. His aim is to regain control of the lands from which he was exiled.

In order to do so, he wants Csorwe, along with another young person in his employ, Tal, to seek and return to him the Reliquary of Pentravasse.

This Reliquary is said to hold immeasurable knowledge and the one able to capture that will increase their power to new heights.

…or something like that…

Okay, so, I will admit this was a little hard for me to grasp. I never felt like I truly understood the world. For example, Csorwe, is an Orc, which I never really knew until I read someone else’s blurb about the book.

I knew there was something going on with her, as she is described as having tusks, but I thought maybe she was some sort of elephant human hybrid or something.

But even knowing she was an Orc, didn’t really piece the rest of it together for me. Were they all orcs? Were there humans? Were there all sorts of magical beings living together in harmony like in Middle Earth?

I genuinely don’t know. If you know, comment down below.

I am also of the opinion that this was entirely too long. There were two distinct portions of the book, or quests if you will.

There is a quest for an object. Once that point is resolved, you think, it could be over. This is it.

But no, it is not. Characters are separated, there’s still a baddie out and about, it would have been a great place to leave off prior to a second book.

Then there is a completely new quest to find a particular person.

Again, I feel like that could have made a great second book. If it had been broken up that way, I think the world could have been built out more and perhaps the author would have more time to really focus on that instead of trying to cram it all into one.

Overall, this was a mixed bag for me. I felt the pacing was off.

There were moments when I was really into it and then a few pages later, I would be bored, and back and forth it went until the end.

It did have moments of greatness and I don’t want anyone to think my minor critiques make this a bad book. It’s a good book, I just feel the story could have been better served if formatted differently.

It also isn’t an easy read. I did end up mentally exhausted after reading it for a half hour or so. I could have made it through more quickly if it didn’t take me 8.5-minutes to pronounce each name.

My favorite part of this was the relationship between Csorwe, and a religious adept, Shuthmili. Their friendship-to-more was beautiful. I waited a long time to get to it, but it was worth it.

In short, although this wasn’t perfect for me, it did have some strengths. If you can make it through the weaknesses, it is a pleasant, though entirely too long, read.

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

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People Like Us by Dana Mele

People Like Us (People Like Us, #1)People Like Us by Dana Mele
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

A deeply twisted private school mystery.

🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

So, yeah. Basically my aesthetic.

At Bates Academy, Kay Donovan and her glitzy group of girlfriends, are the most popular girls in school.

They basically decide the social ranking of the rest of their peers and seem to get away with everything, including perpetually bad behavior.

When they stumble across the dead body of one of their classmates, however, they do seem to finally be treading in deep waters.

But they didn’t do anything. She was already dead by the time they came along. Why does it seem like they are under suspicion?

Maybe the dead girl wasn’t innocent herself. Kay ends up receiving a computer-coded scavenger hunt from her, after she was already dead, that causes Kay to look a little deeper at those around her.

Before they know it, their tight little group is beginning to implode.

I thought this book was fun. It followed a fairly typical YA Thriller format and that’s okay.

If you are looking for a quick fun read, with lots of twists, turns and unlikable characters, you should definitely check this one out!

Yeah, you’ve got nothing but time. Backlist bump!!!

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Review: The Burning Shadow (Origin #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Burning Shadow (Origin, #2)The Burning Shadow by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

WHAT THE…

Holy smokes! The revelations…

I need my head to stop spinning so I can see my screen to type this.

Picking up directly after the events of The Darkest Star, this book delves deeper into Evie Dasher’s past, as she questions blank spots in her memory and where she came from.

Now constantly by each other’s side, Evie and Luc, continue to grow closer and as she finally comes to grips with her feelings for him, he lets his true self shine more and more.

In the midst of investigating her own identity, a greater threat comes seemingly out of nowhere.

A highly infectious virus sweeps across the world, infecting humans, killing many and turning others into Walking Dead type nightmares.

The government blames the Luxen for the disease and discrimination against them flourishes.

After armed men invade her home, Evie is forced to flee all she has ever known and goes into hiding with Luc and a group of like-minded Luxen.

This was an excellent continuation to the Origin series. It did its job as far as a sequel goes by introducing interesting new characters and upping the stakes.

This one definitely made me want to go back and read the original, Lux, series, as I feel like it would help, at this point, for me to know more about the events that brought the Luxen and humans to where they are now.

Considering the third book in this series doesn’t release until October, I think I have just enough time to complete the Lux portion.

If you love teen angst, witty banter, high body counts and shocking revelations, you should definitely consider checking this series out!

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Review: Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

Darling Rose GoldDarling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Patty Watts was arrested and charged with poisoning her daughter, Rose Gold.

An alleged case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, Patty was purported to have been abusing Rose Gold her entire life.

As a late teenager, Rose Gold confesses some things to a neighborhood friend and the adults around her end up putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

Ultimately, Rose Gold testified against her Mother in court and she was sentenced to five years. As you can imagine, this has led to an estranged relationship.

Darling Rose Gold follow two perspectives, both Patty and Rose Gold.

We follow Patty after she is released from serving her time and Rose Gold after her Mother is prosecuted up through the present day.

As Patty is released, she is picked up outside the prison gates by Rose Gold. It seems during the interim of her time away they have begun the process of healing their relationship.

Rose Gold is now a mother herself, of little Adam, and has purchased her own home. Since Patty has nowhere to go, it is decided that she will move in with them until she can get back on her feet.

This book is full of messed up twists and keeps its intensity throughout as the timelines come closer and closer to merging.

I love this type of format. I always end up racing through so fast to get to that climatic scene at the end.

About mid-way through I knew hoped I knew where this was going. It went there and I was hella happy about it.

A revenge story is one of my favorite tropes of all time. This one satisfied me in that regard and was full of masterful manipulation.

I have often mentioned that I love a good long-game; this story had that in spades. Well played, Wrobel.

There were definitely parts that made me uncomfortable, particularly the focus on Rose Gold’s ruined teeth, but I understand where the author was coming from in framing it that way.

Rose Gold and Patty definitely shared one of the most f*ed up relationships I have ever read. It’s also one I remember for a long time.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to more from Stephanie Wrobel.

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Review: The First Mistake by Sandie Jones

The First MistakeThe First Mistake by Sandie Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The First Mistake was a delight!

I haven’t read a book in under 24-hours in a while. So fun!

Alice’s life hasn’t always been perfect, although from the outside it may appear so.

She lost her first husband, Tom, a decade ago and as expected, the tragedy hit her extremely hard. Her young daughter was really what pulled her through.

Now remarried to her second husband, Nathan, they own a successful design company and have added another little girl to their family.

Alice feels motivated and content.

Unfortunately, Nathan starts to behave curiously and all Alice’s old anxieties rise to the surface.

Her best friend, Beth, who always has her back, tells her she has every right to be suspicious.

As she begins to look into it, Alice wonders if Beth is even someone she can trust.

There were so many twists, turns and revelations in this book, I could not put it down. My head was spinning. I trusted no one.

I could never have guessed the conclusion to this, not in my wildest dreams!

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

I am looking forward to reading more domestic suspense from Sandie Jones!

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Review: The June Boys by Courtney C. Stevens

The June BoysThe June Boys by Courtney C. Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

The Gemini Thief is a serial kidnapper who has been plaguing Tennessee for the past decade.

Every year, three boys are taken, kept for a year and then released.

When one of the currently kidnapped boy’s body is discovered, however, it is assumed the Thief has escalated. He has never killed before. Was it an accident?

Either way, authorities and citizens alike become desperate to get the bottom of the mystery.

Thea Delacroix has been seriously hunting the Thief ever since her cousin, Aulus, disappeared. Not everyone believes she is correct when she says he was one of the Thief’s victims, but she knows it’s true.

Unfortunately for Thea, she begins to suspect her own father may be responsible. His eccentricities definitely make it possible for him to be the culprit everyone is searching for.

What should she do?

The story follows Thea and her closest friends as they investigate her father and follow leads in an effort to find the missing boys.

Interspersed throughout the narrative are letters written from her cousin, Aulus, during his captivity. These are penned, The Elizabeth Letters.

Through the letters we get a glimpse of how dire the situation is for the boys remaining in the Thief’s grasp.

A couple of things, there were some pretty series formatting issues with the copy of the e-ARC that I read. Particularly during The Elizabeth Letters things were so jumbled, it was hard to tell what was supposed to go where.

With this being said, it made this one a little hard to rate. I am positive that these issues have been cleared up in the final copy.

Therefore, I am basing my rating on what I know this story to be: well written and intense.

I thought the writing was great. The intensity was high throughout the whole story.

There are aspects of this that are hard to read. It is dark and the author doesn’t shy away from showing how desperate the boys in captivity are.

I also wouldn’t say it was uplifting, however, there is a message of hope, higher power and meaning. In my opinion, it was a solid YA Mystery/Thriller, best enjoyed by individuals who like their stories to go dark and stay there.

While not for everyone, I personally enjoyed this. I have a feeling if I would have read a finished copy, as opposed to the ARC, I would have ended up giving this a solid 4-stars.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Regardless of the formatting issues, I did have a good time reading this!

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Review: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)Cress by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Lift off!!! I am over the moon for this series!!

Our favorite fugitives, Cinder, Thorne, Scarlet and Wolf, are on the run. They surprisingly continue to evade all authorities as they travel through space.

Their best hope for a clean escape lies in a girl kept captive, and alone, on a satellite. Cress, unbeknownst to them, has actually been helping them evade capture for a while.

A genius hacker, she has been able to keep the Queen’s forces from locating the fugitive ship.

During this time, she has developed a healthy crush on our very own, Captain Thorne.

When Cinder and crew try to rescue Cress from her virtual prison, things go terribly wrong and their group is separated.

Now they must not only try to evade the Queen, but also try to reunite again as the stakes are raised even higher, with the fate of the entire Earth in their hands.

I loved the introduction of Cress as a character. There is something so sweet and relatable about her.

Once the group gets separated, she gets stranded with Thorne and they have to work together in order to survive. Their relationship…

I ate it up like a school girl. I cannot wait to see where that goes in the next book.

Speaking of the next book, I need to read it so soon!!!! If so, this will be my first completed series in A WHILE!

Hoping Queen Levana gets hers in the end. Precious Kai deserves more, as does my girl Cinder.

So, in short, loving this series with my whole heart. Incredibly happy that I finally decided to give it a shot. It has far surpassed all of my expectations.

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Review: Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott

Dooku: Jedi Lost (Star Wars)Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dooku: Jedi Lost is a phenomenal listening experience for anyone who considers themselves to be a Star Wars fan.

Currently, though not for long, the first piece of the Canon timeline, this quick audiobook essentially tells the origin story for Count Dooku.

Many of us think of Dooku only as the Dark Lord of the Sith, but he was once a powerful Jedi who eventually succumbed to the pull of the dark side.

The narrative is actually set up as following his Sith Apprentice, Asajj Ventress, who yearning to know more about her mysterious master, delves into his past to discover what made him the man he has become.

The timeline then follows him through different formative moments in his life.

I loved getting a glimpse into his past, from being abandoned by his father prior to his acceptance to the Jedi Temple, to his relationships with his sister and Jedi contemporary Sifo-Dyas, to his selection and training by Master Yoda.

There’s no denying Dooku was an extremely motivated and strong-willed young man. The force was strong with him, but I could definitely see his side as to why he became disgruntled with the Jedi Council.

This production is absolutely incredible. The full cast, the sound effects and musical score all contribute to bringing this story to life.

Absolutely recommend!!!

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