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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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: 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: Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

Foul Is Fair (Foul Is Fair #1)Foul Is Fair by Hannah Capin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a modern retelling of Macbeth, this is absolute genius.

‘For one fleeting second I’m proud of every bruise and every scratch–
the dark handprints on my arms and my neck and my ribs–
my broken claws–
the slash across my cheek–
–because every mark they left, everything they did, didn’t even get close to breaking me.’

On the night of her sweet sixteen, high schooler, Elle, along with her best friends, Mads, Summer and Jenny, plan to crash a St. Andrews Prep party.

They are in the highest of spirits, dressed to the nines, feeling like queens of their world. Nothing can touch them. That’s what they think anyway.

Then the golden boys, the wolf pack, of St. Andrews selects Elle as their next victim.

They chose the wrong girl.

After drugging her drink and raping her, she is left for her friends to rescue. From that moment she vows, she will not play their victim.

They have stolen her power, but she will stop at nothing to get it back.

Recreating herself, Elle, now Jade, enrolls at St. Andrews, infiltrates the golden boy’s world and plots their downfall.

She will reign, in her own world, as well as the world of St. Andrews Prep.

Seducing golden boy, Mack, he becomes her greatest pawn. She puffs his ego and works with his ambition to rattle the St. Andrews hierarchy to its core.

She promises her best friends, her coven, that she is not falling for him, but their mutual interests lie within one another. A Queen needs her King.

Y’all, I think you can tell how much I loved this book. I was so impressed with the courage it would take to write this story.

A revenge story that doesn’t apologize for going all the way. This is about a girl, stripped of her power, fighting tooth and claw to wrest back that power from those who stole it from her.

I speak from the heart when I say this is one of the most empowering stories I have ever read.

Don’t let them define you. Your role in the world is defined by you, no one else.

I fully understand that this will not be for everybody. The writing is extremely unique. I found it to be lyrical and raw.

The homage it plays to the original story of Macbeth was nothing short of brilliant, in my opinion.

So impressed with this. Will read anything else Hannah Capin chooses to write. Brava!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I have no doubt this will be on my favorites list of 2020.

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Review: These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

These Witches Don't Burn (These Witches Don't Burn, #1)These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

When the scene of a frightening ritual interrupts the end of the school year bonfire party, Hannah suspects a blood witch is to blame.

An elemental witch herself, Hannah has been raised to fear blood witches, and this horrific act seems like something they would do.

The story alludes to the fact that Hannah had a run in with a blood witch on a previous trip to NYC. This altercation truly frightened her and she feels this same witch may have tracked her down to kill her.

It seems she may be right as signs of dark magic begin to pop up all over Salem. Yes, Salem, Massachusetts, one of my favorite places in the world.

Along with her confrontational ex-girlfriend, Veronica, Hannah tries to figure out the identity of the potential blood witch before it’s too late.

Although at its heart a witchy story, this YA Contemporary offers up a lot more by way of teens struggling with relationships and identity.

I appreciated that Sterling went a bit deeper with her characters, examining everyday issues, not just focusing on paranormal action. However, for me, because of this, the pacing sometimes seemed off.

We would have fast-paced action scenes that would build up suspense and then it would be brought way down by a serious life issue.

It’s not a big deal, I still enjoyed the story, it just felt a little uneven. I also would have liked the full story on the blood witch issue Hannah had when she traveled to New York.

This being said, I did love the different types of witches and their powers. I thought that was really fun and I can’t wait for it to be elaborated upon in the next book.

Oh yeah, I am definitely planning to read the next book. In fact, I can’t wait for it!

The final lines of this book were perfect to get the reader pumped to continue on with Hannah’s story. Overall a solid debut!

Original:

Literally me upon reading this synopsis:

My copy has arrived and it is resplendent!

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Review: One of Us is Next (Bayview High #2) by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Next (Bayview High, #2)One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

It’s been a year since Simon’s death and the events of One of Us is Lying.

The Bayview Four have been cleared and mostly moved on with their lives. Trying to put that traumatic period behind them.

For the kids remaining at Bayview, those times are never far from their minds. A assortment of gossip apps have popped up since then, trying to take Simon’s place, but no one has the goods. Until now…

A school wide text gets sent out inviting everyone to play a game. Truth or Dare. With players seemingly chosen at random, everyone is nervous about being the one picked next.

The truths are so harsh, turning family and friends against one another. Individuals feel pretty much forced to take the dare, rather than become a social pariah in the eyes of their peers.

But when the dares turn deadly, all bets are off.

Some of the kids decide to team up to figure out who the mastermind of the game is, before it’s too late for all of them. This includes Bronwyn’s little sister Maeve, as well as recent outcast Phoebe, and boy next door, Knox.

The intensity of this continues to build up throughout the story and again, I think McManus did an excellent job of keeping the story fun and compelling.

I was so excited to be back at Bayview High for another mystery. The amateur sleuthing was super entertaining, full of twists and red herrings.

I will continue to pick up anything McManus writes. I cannot wait to see what’s next. Her signature style of characters and pacing works so well for me!

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Review: The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

The Tenth GirlThe Tenth Girl by Sara Faring
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

**1.5-stars**

It is done and I am flipping exhausted.

I haven’t had this rough of a reading experience in a while. This one was a major struggle for me.

I did it. I made it. My sanity is basically intact and I am so happy to be moving on!!!

I could possibly provide full thoughts on this at some point, but for now, I would like to just forget the last 20-days of my life ever happened.

Final thought: Also annoyed with the fact that the final plot twist is spoiled by the naked hardback.

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Review: The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube

The Dark Beneath the IceThe Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Marianne’s world is falling apart. She has quit dance, which once seemed her life’s purpose, her best friend has moved away and ghosted her, her parents are separated, again, and it seems like this time it’s for good, and her mother has checked herself into a mental health facility after a breakdown.

Now staying with her Aunt, Marianne notices other things going on with herself. She is losing time and objects are moving and breaking around her, seemingly on their own.

She feels afraid, like a dark spirit is constantly around her, messing with her head and her world.

Her fear is so strong, she’s not sleeping well and soon begins to feel like she is coming apart at the seams. She seeks help from a girl at school whose mother is purported to be a psychic of some sort.

Marianne believes the presence after her is some sort of ghost and her hope is that Rhiannon’s mom will be able to get rid of it.

As Marianne and Rhiannon, who goes by Ron, begin to get to know one another, a really precious friendship forms. Both ostracized by their peers, the girls find acceptance within one another.

This friendship was one of my favorite aspects of the story, made stronger once you begin to see that the girls have developed feelings for each other deeper than friendship.

Once it is clear that’s Ron mom won’t be as much help as they would have thought, the girls strike out on their own to try to banish the spirit. Unfortunately, their actions make it worse. A lot worse.

I really enjoyed the majority of this book. At first, the writing style threw me off, but I came to really enjoy it.

It is metaphorical in nature, more so than I tend to enjoy, but very dark and beautiful.

I thought the paranormal elements were well done. The intensity kept being amped up and it truly kept me glued to the pages.

The ending made me a little uncomfortable, but I may be reading too much into it. I just wasn’t sold on the conclusion.

Anyway, overall I did really enjoy this. I had a ton of fun reading it and even had moments where I was legitimately creeped out. I think this would make a great movie.

If you enjoy movies with paranormal activity or possession, you should definitely check this one out. Bonus points if you enjoy dark, metaphorical writing.

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