Review: The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta

The Lost CoastThe Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Danny and her mom move to Tempest, California after Danny picks it out on a map. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the choice but what is drawing her there?

The Grays, a group of high school girls, who happen to be queer witches, also live in Tempest. One of their group, Imogen, has recently turned up without her personality and with sea glass eyes. What happened to her?

Then she wanders into the woods and doesn’t come back out. She’s their Regina George, so obviously this is upsetting to the rest of the Grays.

They basically recruit Danny into their group and discover she has a power for ‘finding’ things. They begin a quest to get Imogen back. All of her; mind, body and spirit.

I love this cover.
I love the representation.
I am intrigued by the premise.

The format did not work for me.
I was as lost as Imogen most of the time.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I had to start a chapter over because my mind was wandering and I had no idea what was going on. There were so many perspective jumps and time jumps. I normally do not mind that at all but this just was all over the place.

The writing is pretty but is it possible to be too pretty?

In my opinion, the substance of the plot got buried under all the whimsy. I am sure there will be many readers who will absolutely adore this story. I just unfortunately was not one of them.

If it weren’t for the great rep and lush atmosphere, I most likely would have given this two stars. It hurts my heart to write this as I have been greatly anticipating this release. Alas, there is a reader for every book and I am just not the reader for this one.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Candlewick Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion on new releases.

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Review: Last Things by Jacqueline West

Last ThingsLast Things by Jacqueline West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Anders Thorson is a rock god. Okay, not really a rock god. He’s actually a high school kid but he is front-man of a band, Last Things, and they do have a regular gig at a coffee shop in their Northern Minnesota town.

Thea Malcolm is the new girl in town but has quickly become Anders number one fan. She shows up every where he goes, never approaching, just quietly lurking in the background.

When bad things begin to happen to Anders and those closest to him, the first suspect on everyone’s list is Thea.

What’s her deal anyway? She’s so quiet and she lives alone with her mysterious Aunt who everyone suspects of being a witch.

But Thea is harmless, right?

Told in alternating perspectives between Anders and Thea, the reader is quickly tuned in to the fact that there is a lot more going on in this town than meets the eye.

Let’s talk about the woods.

Yes, ‘the woods’. The woods play a prominent role in this story. You definitely feel early on that something is out there. It takes on a presence all of its own. It’s dark and eerie and we all know, that’s my aesthetic.

The atmosphere of this book definitely amped the story for me. I loved getting tiny tidbits of insight into what was really going on without having everything revealed. That may not make much sense but if you read the story, you’ll get it.

This was a fast, fun read. It reminded me a bit of the movie Megan’s Body mixed with a bit of Stranger Things; not a bad combo. I would say it reads on the younger side of YA and may be a great introductory book for someone looking to get into more paranormal reads.

Overall, I was impressed with Jacqueline West’s writing and I would definitely pick up more books from her in the future. This being said, I did feel the ending was a bit rushed. I could have done with a bit more explanation of the powers involved in the resolution.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Greenwillow Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to get my hands on this early and provide my opinion. This is out now guys, so grab a copy today and let me know what you think!

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Review: Internment by Samira Ahmed

InternmentInternment by Samira Ahmed
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars**

This hurts my heart.
I wanted so much to love this. It was one of my most anticipated reads for the first part of the year.

I did not like this.
I’m crushed.

One reason I was so excited for this book was the exploration of topics and perspectives that I think are so important and need to be included more often.

This book did touch on many issues that are salient in today’s culture, such as: Islamophobia, xenophobia, ‘us vs. them’ mentality, the politics of fear, the importance of resistance movements to initiating change, black op sites, disappeared peoples, the illegal detainment of individuals and the abuse/neglect and torture of detainees.

All of this stuff.
Yes. Let’s see more of it, particularly from those peoples or populations most affected.

My issue with this was purely in execution. The first 20% was so gripping. The circumstances were terrifying. I was hooked.

Then it just lost me. Layla, the main character’s, fixation on her boyfriend, the storyline involving the guard, Jake, the dialogue.

Don’t get me started on the dialogue.

In summation, this was a disappointment for me. I still think the content is important and I hope people continue to read this and discuss it. Maybe I am in the minority here with this opinion. As I always say, there is a reader for every book! Sadly, this one just didn’t work for me.

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Review: Blood & Sand by C.V. Wyk

Blood and Sand (Blood and Sand, #1)Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

HOLY UNDERRATED BOOK!!

This one took me by surprise.
Gender flipped Spartacus retelling?
I am so here for that!

When Attia, a warrior princess who has lost all of her people to slaughter by the Romans, finds herself handed over as a gift to a champion gladiator, all she can think of is escape. Escape and revenge.

Trained from a young age to fight in hand-to-hand combat, Attia is a force to be reckoned with from the very first pages.

This girl is badass and not afraid to show it. Navigating her captivity, Attia begins to feel out who she can consider an ally and who is an enemy.

Xanthus, the man to whom Attia is gifted, is a prized Gladiator. Known as the best of his kin, he ruthlessly slays down all who come before him. Things are often not as they appear however and overtime you learn Xanthus may not be as ruthless as they would have you believe.

As is often the case, it turns out the rock of a man has a heart of gold, and that’s just how I like them.

Attia and Xanthus become attached to one another in a deep and meaningful way over an admittedly short amount of time. Did I care? No.

If you loathe an instalove trope, you may have some issue with this. Honestly though, the way this is told, you may be too busy dodging the blood and guts to even care.

Ancient Rome was brutal, y’all, and I like that Wyk doesn’t shy away from that. Sure, this is a romance, but it is wrapped in a historical cloak that makes it so much more than that. I found the atmosphere of this vivid and visceral.

There were scenes set in Pompeii that made you feel like you were there. I mean, really the whole book made you feel that way, but I have always been intrigued by the volcano. Fascinating, right!?

Overall, I was really impressed with this. There is a bit of a cliffhanger ending that has left me chomping at the bit. Let’s hope the release happens in 2019!!!

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Review: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox, #1)Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE YEAR!!!

This book stole my heart.
My whole freaking heart!

I went into this knowing one thing: Japanese-inspired fantasy. Nothing else.
I was hooked from the very first chapter.
The tone of the writing, the lush world…

Anime brought to the page in the best way imaginable.

In the land of Iwagoto, the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, has the power to bring forth the Kami Dragon. The dragon is capable of granting the summoner a single wish. If they are pure of heart, theoretically, all goes well, if they are not, all hell breaks loose.

This has happened before and in order to protect the land, the scroll was divided and the separate parts hidden away to prevent such disastrous consequences from happening again. People are always in search of the parts, however, as combining them whole could grant the summoner unrivaled power.

Yumeko, has been raised in the Silent Winds Temple where one piece of the scroll has been hidden. When the Temple is attacked by demons, Yumeko is forced to flee, with the scroll. She promises the monks she will transport it to another hidden temple where she will receive further directions.

Trained her whole life to hide her Yokai nature, Yumeko, half kitsune/half human is a master of illusion and mischief. She is also the most sweet and sticky baby cinnamon roll I have ever read in my whole life and I just love her to the moon.

On the run, Yumeko meets up with Kage Tatsumi, a samurai of the mysterious Shadow Clan. Tatsumi has been sent out in search of the scroll. He finds Yumeko close by the now destroyed temple and promises to get her to her destination safely. Of course, he has no idea, she carries on her what he seeks.

They meet up with another character along the way, Okami, a ronin, basically a traveling samurai without a master. He begins to travel with them and quickly became my favorite character. A source of almost constant humor, I just cannot imagine this story without him.

One of my most loved tropes in literature is a quest. I heart a quest all day long. A ragtag group of characters trying to get from Point A to Point B, overcoming obstacles along the way, nothing keeps me turning pages faster.

This was a great set-up for a fantastic quest. The stakes, the secrets, the magic, the world, I fell head-over-heels for it all. And don’t even get me started on the hella SLOW-BURNING romance!

I am actually happy I didn’t read this right when it released because I would have been in agony waiting for the next book. Now I only have to wait two months…
Wait a minute, two months!!?!!?

That still feels like an extraordinarily long time.
Maybe I will have time to read this one again…

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Review: We Set the Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

We Set the Dark on FireWe Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At The Medio School for Girls, young women are trained for one of two roles: Primera or Segunda. Before you get too excited, these are not highly challenging professions these girls aspire too. No, they are societally designed ‘womanly roles’ within a man’s household. A Primera essentially runs the business aspects of a household, while the Segunda takes care of the more emotional sides, raising children, providing humor and relaxation for the husband.

This makes school a harsh competition, as your performance there affects your future placement within a household. At graduation you are basically selected by an upper class family to marry their son and so goes the rest of you life.

Daniela Vargas has sacrificed a lot to be a student at Medio. Her parents faked documents in order for her to attend. She comes from one of the poorest neighborhoods and her lineage definitely would not make her a desired match for any up-and-coming males.

Dani graduates top of her class and is chosen as Primera for a young man who is slated to soon be running Medio, she knows she has made it. As a member of the Garcia family, the whole world will now be open to her but Dani quickly discovers this assignment isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The Segunda of the Garcia household, Carmen, is a young lady who was very unkind to Dani at school but with no one else around, the two girls start to develop a relationship. Dani finds herself developing real feelings for Carmen but she isn’t sure if she can trust her. In her new life, she really isn’t sure if there is anyone she should trust.

Set in a wonderfully imagined LatinX dystopian world, providing timely commentary on societal roles, structure and function, this book was everything I wanted it to be. In fact, this book is everything I wanted other books to be that disappointed me.

I’m looking at you: The Belles.

I meshed really well with Mejia’s writing and upon reaching the end figured out, hey, this isn’t a standalone! Very excited for the next in the series.

With secrets and lies, rebellions and undercover agents, a female-female relationship, and so much more, I would definitely recommend this book to other YA Readers!

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My Favorite Contemporary Novels from 2018

In honor of Contemporary-A-Thon happening this week, I thought I would write about my three favorite Contemporary Novels from 2018. It is important to note that these are the best Contemporaries I read in 2018, they were not necessarily 2018 releases.

To be honest, I really only started reading Contemporary books at the end of 2017. Previous to that, I generally read horror, science-fiction, fantasy, mystery and non-fiction exclusively. I mistakenly believed that I would find Contemporary stories boring or not relatable.

The book that really changed that for me was, Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills, which I received in an OwlCrate subscription box and figured I may as well give it a go. I absolutely adored it. I loved the humor and the characters and all the drama. After that I started picking up Contemporaries whenever I could. In the beginning, I mainly went with this that were recommended from various BookTubers. Now that I am more familiar with Contemporary authors and the styles that I like, I try to keep up with all the latest releases.

Without further chat, let’s get into my top 5 Contemporaries from 2018 (in no particular order):

  1. Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson – When Monday Charles goes missing, her best friend, Claudia, seems to be the only person to take notice. Claudia knows that Monday would never leave her with a new school year looming and all that comes with that. Claudia brings up her concerns repeatedly to her parents, to adults at school, even to Monday’s family and everyone seems to brush her off. More and more confused and more and more concerned for her friend’s safety, Claudia decides to investigate the matter herself. This book is vivid, heart-wrenching and important. Jackson’s writing is so smooth and engaging. I finished this book in 2-days, absolutely loved it and have recommended it to friends since who have enjoyed it as well. This story takes place in present day Washington D.C. and focuses on missing kids who are overlooked and abandoned. It examines failures in our society in a really creative way and I feel it is quite an impactful read.
  2. Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer – This is another vivid and heartbreaking story concerning loss, grief and the art of moving forward. Following two high school students with equally complicated histories, this story examines their relationship development and their efforts to rediscover happiness after great personal tragedies. Again, Kemmerer’s writing really set this book apart. I found it fluid and easy to enjoy. I felt connected to the characters and my heart truly hurt for them at times. I loved the format of this as well, which ties in correspondence, both in letter and email form. In my opinion, that trope tends to add depth to a story, as sometimes characters (and real people) are better able to express themselves through the written word than through interpersonal communications. I feel like it allows us to delve deeper into character’s inner thoughts, dreams, desires and motivations.
  3. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – At the time that I read this, I felt like I was the last person on the globe who had not read this story. I won’t go into too much detail here, as with the movie released last year, I feel like everyone pretty much knows what this is about. A boy, corresponding with a crush, coming out to his family, friend drama, teenage angst, it was amazing and adorable and I loved it. The end.

I am currently in the middle of three YA Contemporary books for Contemporary-A-Thon Round 4. Although not all created equal, I think they all do offer up a bit of modern day social commentary which can provide a great service to those who read them. So, with that being said, what are some of your Contemporary novels that you may have read lately? What would you recommend to others or what books do you feel are important for people to read and discuss? I want to know! Leave a comment below or contact me through any of my social media links.

Cheers & Happy Reading~

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Oh my goodness.
That was a good time.

I had no idea what to expect going into this. It is a series I hear about all the time. One of those, ‘everyone has read it but me’ series.

For 2019, I created a TBR jar for myself to help me clear off some of my backlist titles and this was the first book I pulled. I knew that I would either love it or hate. Luckily, I truly enjoyed it!

Upon waking up in the hospital, Mara Dyer, has no idea how she got there. In fact, her whole recent memory seems to have been wiped clean. Before long, she discovers that she was involved in some sort of terrible accident that killed her best friend, two other kids and left her in a coma.

Her parents, focused on Mara’s recovery, decide to uproot the family to Florida feeling that it would be harmful for her to continue living in a town where she had suffered such trauma.

Once in Florida, Mara slowly begins to remember bits and pieces of what went down that infamous night. Some of it floods back to her in nightmares and some, more disturbingly, during the day as vivid hallucinations.

Guys, some of this stuff was DARK and it took me completely by surprise. The first big spooky hallucination, I was like, ‘okay, we doing this. I like this!’.

Then, to up my enjoyment levels even more, we meet Noah.
Noah Shaw.
Now, seriously, I am not one to get all swoony, professing love to book boyfriends, but…

I’m swooning. Something about him. His witty banter, his English accent, his clothes, his swagger. Yep. I could read about him all damn day but I digress.

Watching the relationship grow between Mara and Noah was so much fun. She tries to resist his MANY charms but eventually comes to rely on him. He becomes the only person she trusts to help her figure out what is wrong with her.

She hasn’t felt right since the accident and throughout the course of the book the true events of that night are pieced together for the reader. Even at the end, it wasn’t what I expected. I knew it was a paranormal romance but I didn’t know what the ‘paranormal’ elements entailed. I did a good job keeping myself in the dark on that one…

…and I like what is happening with this story. I am definitely planning to continue on. Hoping to read book two this month!

P.S. I love you, Noah. Forever and Always.

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Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious (Truly Devious, #1)Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m in love with this book.

First of all, that ending. I cannot express how happy I am that I actually put off reading this until now. The 2nd book is about to be released ((TOMORROW)) and I will be picking it up as soon as my preorder arrives.

It was truly devious of Ms. Johnson to leave off on such a cliffhanger!

Ellingham Academy, set in the remote mountains of Vermont is a small, private school for gifted students. Founded by the wealthy industrialist, Albert Ellingham, at the turn of the 20th Century, Ellingham Academy offers up an environment where learning can be fun. Students are allowed to pursue their own individual interests with barely any boundaries.

For Stevie Bell, her number one interest is crime investigation. After she is accepted to Ellingham as a true crime aficionado, she is anxious to solve the Truly Devious cold case. You see, decades before, Albert Ellingham’s wife and daughter were kidnapped and held for ransom. His wife’s body was eventually found but his daughter, Alice, was never recovered. Soon thereafter, Albert died under mysterious circumstances in a boat explosion.

Adjusting to school life is tough for Stevie. She suffers from an anxiety disorder that makes things a little more challenging for her than it would for a kid who doesn’t have the same issues. I found this very relatable and thought that the rep for this was some of the best I have seen in YA; at least based on my own personal experiences. I truly enjoyed the character of Stevie and am very excited that we are getting more books with her as the main protagonist.

Not only did I relate to Stevie because of her anxiety disorder but I also am most interested in crime and criminal investigation. I know what it is like for people to find that a little odd. Particularly parents. As a child researching and clipping articles on killings, mass murders, cold cases, etc., that can seem a little strange, I suppose. Perhaps that contributed to my love for this book.

I also found the set-up of the Ellingham kidnappings interesting in that in reminded me of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping in 1932. The wealthy industrialist. The missing child. The ransom. The notes. There were a lot of similarities and I found it easy to follow along with the intrigue because of that. I am curious if the author was at all inspired by that case. There are other similarities as well but I don’t want to reveal too much.

Overall, I just think this was a perfect book for me. It catered so well to all of my interests. I loved the cast of characters. The writing was fun and engaging and I cannot wait to pick up The Vanishing Staircase!!!!

Original: I preordered The Vanishing Stair months ago. I guess I should actually pick this one up before it arrives…

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Review: Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Sawkill GirlsSawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

A girl with incredible strength.
A girl who can vanish.
A girl who burns.


There are always three.

When Marion moves with her older sister and mother to the island of Sawkill Rock, she looks at it as a place for them to recover, to move on. After the death of Marion’s father, her world feels empty, yet she is left to hold the family together, a weighty responsibility.

But once on Sawkill, it doesn’t take Marion long to realize this island isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Something ominous lurks here and it feeds on the blood of young women.

Zoey sees Marion as the opportunity to have a new friend who doesn’t suck. Zoey is also a transplant to the island and with her father being a police officer, she is all too familiar with the little problem of disappearing girls plaguing Sawkill. In fact, she lost her best friend to the monster’s clutches and she has never been satisfied with the community’s response. She befriends Marion and together they begin to work on discovering the secrets of Sawkill. When Marion’s older sister, Charlotte, goes missing as well, things really start to heat up.

Val Mortimer. The Queen Bee. The Regina George of Sawkill Rock. She’s beautiful, she’s popular, she’s rich, she’s possibly evil and she’s got her eyes on Marion.

I went into this book with the mistaken belief that this was YA Contemporary with some Magical Realism elements. WRONG. This book is YA Horror. I was so happy. Dark secrets, urban legends, a monster feeding on the blood of girls, a uncoordinated band of kids coming together to defeat evil, a female / female relationship, humor, mystery, danger – seriously – this book has it all!

The atmosphere of this is dark and full. I was completely drawn into the girl’s lives on the rock. As a person who also lives on a small island, 30-miles out to sea, I can say the ‘island life rep’ was strong.

This would be a great book to pick up in October. I am actually a little sad I didn’t get to it then. My one negative is that I would say it was a little too long. I started getting anxious toward the end and just wanted a conclusion already! I think the same story could have been told, and perhaps better served, if about 50-pages had been shaved off. But that is 100% my opinion and it could be completely wrong. What the heck do I know anyway?

I would recommend this to all my horror-loving friends, or even just friends who like a dark, creepy atmosphere. Definitely worth a read!

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