Review: A Vow So Bold and Deadly (Cursebreakers #3) by Brigid Kemmerer

A Vow So Bold and Deadly (Cursebreakers, #3)A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Vow So Bold and Deadly is the final installment to Brigid Kemmerer’s popular YA-Fantasy Cursebreakers trilogy.

I have an issue closing out trilogies and series. Mainly, I put it off because I don’t want my experience with them to end. I definitely feel that’s why it took me so long to read this.

Honestly, now that I’ve completed it, I am really sad.

Why did I do this to myself? I’m not ready to say goodbye to Emberfall, Harper, Rhen, Grey, and even Lia Mara. I’ll sleep fitfully tonight.

All jokes aside, is this the last time I am going to see these characters? I know Forging Silver into Stars is related, but how related? If you know, comment below!!

Since this is the 3rd-book in the series, I’ll try to avoid revealing too much about the plot. I sort of feel like I’m the last person to read it, but you never know what other procrastinators could be lurking around.

Firstly, I was giddy with happiness about returning to this world. It felt so good to be reuniting with the characters I had grown to love over the previous two novels.

I enjoyed how Kemmerer formatted this series, with Rhen and Harper being the focus of book 1, Grey and Lia Mara, book 2, and everyone getting equal play in this one. I felt like that was a clever choice and a great way to get the Reader to attach to everyone equally.

At this point in the story, you do have characters on opposing sides and that was difficult to read. I wanted everyone to be back together and happy.

Grey was definitely pulling my attention in this one. He was being his best badass, alpha male self and I was absolutely, 100%, here for it.

There was still so much drama involving Rhen, but I did really feel for him and his circumstance. It felt so hopeless at times. I feel like Kemmerer captured the desperate nature of his feelings so well. It tore at my heart.

I loved how this felt, as we were moving back and forth between the various perspectives, you could tell you were building up to a big showdown. It was super enjoyable as the tension continually increased.

When everything came to a head, I was reading so quickly. I had to know the ultimate outcome. I did love the conclusion as well. It wasn’t stars and rainbows and fairy tale happily ever afters, but it did make sense, and I think it was as satisfying as could be wished for many of these characters.

As sad as I am that this journey through Emberfall is finally over for me, I’m definitely looking forward to picking up more of Kemmerer’s Fantasy work!!

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Review: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State KillerI’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was recently selected for a book club that I am in ((any other True Crime & Wine Night participants out there??)), and even though I had already watched the docuseries, I wanted to be sure to read the book as well.

I started the audiobook last night while cooking dinner and finished up today while cleaning. It obviously is very similar to the HBO show, but I did feel like Michelle’s story was more impactful via book format.

The audiobook was very well done, but I do believe I missed some photos and other mixed media elements that are included in the physical book. I have a copy lurking on my shelves somewhere, so I will hunt for it in order to view those materials.

This book was hugely popular upon its release and there was a lot of coverage for it, particularly with the GSK finally being identified and the untimely passing of the author. I may actually be the last True Crime Reader on the face of the Earth to pick it up.

I’m really glad I did, as I feel like it is such a great legacy for Michelle’s dogged work and sacrifices in regards to this case. My heart breaks for her family, having watched her go through all this, only to be tragically gone so soon.

I appreciated how much of this was really dedicated to Michelle’s motivations and process. All of her hard work is memorialized through this and I think it also helps to show how not all True Crime media is about sensationalizing killers.

There are many motivations for people, both in taking in this type of material, and in researching and writing this type of material. There are a lot of great researchers and writers out there shining light on the lives of victims, and helping to keep cold cases in the public conscious in order that they may some day be solved.

I would recommend this to any True Crime Reader, or to people maybe interested in picking up True Crime for the first time. I feel like it could be a great starter book in the genre, as it seamlessly meshes a Memoir-like feel with a True Crime focus.

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Review: Scythe (Arc of the Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)Scythe by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Scythe is an incredible book. Everything about it is top notch. I wish I could give it a million stars…

I’m close to the last person to read this Shusterman golden child, yet I am still going to rave about it nevertheless!

Set in a futuristic version of our world, where natural death no longer exists, Scythe, follows two young people, Citra and Rowan, who are chosen to apprentice with the powerful and well-respected, Scythe Faraday.

Scythes are granted the power to end life. The Scythedom is a world-wide community of individuals who have trained, passed trials and taken an oath to serve as Scythes, an ultramodern version of grim reapers.

As the Reader, we go along with Citra and Rowan as they meet Scythe Faraday and become his apprentices. We learn about the Scythedom as they do, which made the world come together naturally, versus an enormous info dump.

I always enjoy when an author can frame their world creation in this way. I know it doesn’t work with every story, but I love to learn things right along with our protagonists.

The further they get into it, the clearer it becomes that there is currently a schism building within the Scythedom. There are followers of the more traditional ways of the Order, and others who would like the shake up the status quo.

The system does indeed begin to shake, quite violently, and both Citra and Rowan find themselves right at the heart of it. The stakes are extremely high, as each teen struggles to make it through unscathed.

I loved the overall concepts presented in this book, as well as the characters and actions. It’s so well plotted and absolutely hooked me from the start.

Citra and Rowan were fun to get to know. They develop a bit of an unlikely friendship over the course of their apprenticeship and I really started to look at them like opposite sides of the same coin.

There are a lot of twists and turns throughout, some that I didn’t see coming from a mile away. Maybe I’m dense, but I’d like to think that it was because I was so in the moment with this story, that I wasn’t thinking further ahead.

I love too how philosophical Shusterman can get with his writing. I finished his Skinjacker trilogy not long ago, and encountered the same types of themes and issues explored there as here. It’s really first-rate stuff that makes you think and leaves you with a lot to consider.

At the conclusion of this installment, we had some fairly major revelations that left me chomping at the bit to get to the next book.

Luckily, I already have the entire series waiting for me on my shelves, so shall be getting to Thunderhead this month. I’m so excited to get back into it!!

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Review: Pretty Dead Queens by Alexa Donne

Pretty Dead QueensPretty Dead Queens by Alexa Donne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I freaking loved this. A 5-star YA Mystery that’s highly underrated, IMO. Pretty Dead Queens is perfect for fans of Kara Thomas or Karen M. McManus!!

In this story, which is set in a small coastal town called Seaview, in California, we follow 17-year old, Cecelia Ellis, who goes to live with her estranged Grandmother following her Mom’s untimely death.

Cecelia’s Grandmother isn’t an ordinary Grandmother though. She happens to be a world-renowned Mystery author. She’s wealthy, feisty, lives in a gorgeous Victorian mansion, and pretty much has the entire town of Seaview wrapped around her little finger.

As the granddaughter to such a powerful figure, it’s no surprise that once she starts school, Cecelia gets enveloped by the popular crowd.

Her transition to her new environment is going way better than she ever could have expected. She has friends, a comfortable new home and even a couple of love interests. Even though she misses her Mom with every breath, it’s hard to complain about her current circumstances.

The town of Seaview is preparing for Homecoming, which is also a time when they think back on a tragedy that shocked the town decades before, when the Homecoming Queen was slain on the night of her coronation.

50-years earlier, Caroline Quinn’s body was found in the school pool, drowned on what should have been the most fun night of her life. A local man was convicted of the crime and is still serving time in prison.

Cecelia’s grandmother based her first novel on this crime and to this day, it remains one of her most popular stories.

On the Friday of Homecoming weekend, Cecelia finds herself in desperate need of a bathroom. She’s been watching the football game and at halftime all the bathrooms closer to the field are full. She can’t wait.

Cecelia knows there are locker rooms by the pool, so maybe she can find a free stall there. Unfortunately, what she finds instead is a dead body floating in the pool, practically a mirror-image of Caroline, all those years ago.

It seems the town has a copycat killer on their hands. Cecelia becomes obsessed with finding out the truth behind the crime. The dead girl was her friend, she needs to find justice for her, but what if one of her other friends is to blame?

I had so, so, so much fun with this story. The set-up and cast of small town characters were straight out of a classic mystery book. I loved the seaside setting and a new girl trope is something I always enjoy.

I liked how easily Cecelia slipped into her new life. It made sense in the context of who her Grandmother was that everyone would want to be close to Cecelia, and count her as one of their friends. She was an auto-It Girl.

I think Donne did an excellent job of tying in the history of the town, in particular, the case of the murder of Caroline all those years before, with the current mystery. I absolutely love stories that are set in small towns full of secrets, which describes this book to a tee.

I also appreciated how quickly this one kicks off. The setting itself provides a bit of an ominous tone, and you know something is going to happen, but it was fun getting there.

Cecelia also took to her role of amateur sleuth so well. She really wanted answers and was willing to put herself at risk in order to get those answers. I like that. It was dogging her and she wasn’t going to back down.

I feel like in a way, the mystery took her mind off the loss of her Mom, so I’m sure in that respect, it was helpful to her.

The side characters were all great too. I found myself really getting swept up in the town drama. It was interesting to watch Cecelia, as the outsider, navigate it all.

I feel like this is so underrated at this point and I feel like I am going to be championing it from here on out.

If you love YA Mysteries, you should absolutely check this one out. It’s so much fun. It’s got a classic, campy feel that I will always show up for.

Thank you to the publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m so sorry it took me such a long time to get to it.

Silver lining: it was well worth the wait!!!

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Review: Everfound (Skinjacker #3) by Neal Shusterman

Everfound (3) (The Skinjacker Trilogy)Everfound (3) by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Everfound is the final book of Neal Shusterman’s backlist series, Skinjacker. I started this trilogy last Fall, Buddy Reading it with a friend, and we both fell in love with it.

Admittedly, this final book did take me three months to finish, but at no point was that a reflection on my enjoyment level. I was loving it, I just didn’t have the time to pick it up as often as I would have hoped.

However, even though I was distracted by 1,000,001-new releases, it’s a testament to this book that no matter how much time I took away from it, whether it was 5-days, or 2-weeks, I never had a difficult time remembering who the characters were, or what was happening.

I found this entire series so unique and memorable. If you aren’t aware, this story follows souls, more specifically the souls of young people, who don’t get where they need to go and are stuck in a limbo land known as Everlost.

Everlost is like an eerie, distorted version of our own world and there’s a lot of souls trapped there. I loved learning about this place and feel like Shusterman was able to create a complicated and detailed world in a fully accessible way. It’s easy to understand and engaging.

As this is the third book, a lot has happened by the time we get to this point. Even from the start of this you can feel the tension continuing to build. It feels like a major showdown is on the horizon; between good and evil forces.

The various characters were like pieces in a chess game. There’s a lot of moves made in this story, lining up the pieces where they need to be for the finale to occur.

There’s a lot of action in these books, but the characters are also extremely well done. You get attached to them and my emotions were all over the place. It’s intense and at times sad, while definitely providing a lot of food for thought.

Overall, I feel like this is a fantastic series that has stood the test of time. While it’s over a decade old, it didn’t feel dated to me at all. Additionally, I feel like the philosophical nature of this can provide enjoyment to Readers of all ages.

I would absolutely recommend this series. It has an interesting full cast of characters, strong action and is extremely well plotted.

I’m so very glad that I made the time for it!!

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Review: The Obsession by Jesse Q. Sutanto

The ObsessionThe Obsession by Jesse Q. Sutanto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Obsession is an intense YA-Thriller from one of my go-to authors, Jesse Q. Sutanto. This novel was released in 2021, and I’m so happy I dipped into my backlist for it.

Totally worth it!

In The Obsession we follow two teens, Delilah and Logan. Logan falls in love with Delilah on sight. She’s perfect. Everything he has ever wanted and he will have her.

He learns everything he can about her by doing things such as watching her at school, studying her social media, and aiming a hidden camera at her house.

You know, all totally normal things.

For her part, Delilah is attracted to Logan, but then they go out on a date and he’s way too intense. Like over-the-top intense. She’s had enough of controlling men in her life. She has no room for one more.

Delilah distances herself, thinking he’ll get the point.

Logan is desperate. He feels Delilah slipping away from him, but wait, she can’t exactly get away from him. He knows what she did. The worse thing she has ever done in her life. He knows. In fact, he has it on video.

He’ll just let her know, she rethink distancing herself from him real quick. But Delilah is not going to be as easily swayed as Logan anticipates. Who will end up the cat, and who will end up the mouse?

I listened to the audiobook for this and definitely recommend that format. The dual narration provided the perfect back-and-forth for Delilah and Logan’s perspectives.

I loved how in your face both of these characters were. There’s not a lot of apologizing for their thoughts or actions. It is what it is with these two.

I flew through this story. It takes turns alternating between the two MCs and at the end of each chapter, I wanted to know more. I had to keep going. How was this possibly going to be resolved? It felt impossible.

Initially, I was so disgusted with Logan. That kept me going, but then I see Delilah come in and I’m like, eyebrows raised, okay, you’re not as sweet and innocent as you first appear. It’s hard not to root for Delilah once you hear her story.

Logan on the other hand, my feelings never changed for him, but he was an interesting antagonist for Delilah’s overall story arc.

I’ll admit, I didn’t read the full synopsis before starting and I recommend you don’t either. Reading it over now, there are some things revealed that surprised me when I came to them in the story. I feel like I would have been bummed if I had gone in knowing those things ahead of time.

This had such a satisfying conclusion for me and it actually really made me think about what makes a villain.

Sutanto never fails to surprise me. Whether it’s by jaw-dropping twists, witty banter, or thoughtful character work, I keep on coming back and will continue to do so.

I’m so glad that I finally took the time to pick this one up. It was a lot of fun. I need more YA-Thrillers from Sutanto!

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Review: Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes #1) by Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes, #1)Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Six Crimson Cranes, like many books before her, is one that I fell in love with upon first sight.

The cover, the synopsis, the author…

I promptly preordered it and she’s been sitting on my bookshelf, gathering dust, since July of 2021.

Recently, when a book friend mentioned she wanted to read it soon, I jumped on board. Yeah, it’s about time that I got to this and unsurprisingly, I had another 5-star read just waiting to be discovered right in my very own stacks.

Elizabeth Lim is such a phenomenal writer. I knew that going in, but I was still a bit intimidated by this one. I sort of always feel that way going into a new fantasy world. I’m always concerned it will go over my head, or that I won’t be able to track all that is happening.

I shouldn’t have been worried. This was so smooth and easy to get into. The characters were charming and fun. The world, robust and well-developed, and the plot was exciting and so addictive that I finished it in 2-days.

Shiori, our main character, is the princess of Kiata, and she’s hiding the fact that she has forbidden magical powers. Shiori is one of seven children, all of her other siblings being brothers. As the only girl, Shiori certainly holds a special place amongst her family.

On the morning of Shiori’s betrothal ceremony, something she is completely against, her emotions get the best of her and she loses control of herself. In her ceremonial garb, she plunges into a lake and almost dies. The bright-side being, she did avoid the ceremony.

Shiori’s powers though have caught the attention of her stepmother, Raikama, who has a dark magic of her own.

Raikama banishes Shiori and turns all six of her brothers into cranes. Raikama warns Shiori that she must not speak of the curse to anyone. For every word that she utters, one of her brothers will die.

On her own and without a voice, Shiori must find her brothers and do whatever she can to reverse the curse. In order to do so though, she ends up having to put her trust in the very same boy she fought so hard not to marry. She also must learn to embrace her inner magic and courage.

I became fully invested in this story very, very quickly. By 15% into the audiobook, I was already shouting my love for it from the proverbial rooftops.

There were so many intriguing characters and elements to this story. The magic and the lore behind the entire creation was just stunning. Lim truly created a magical tale within these pages.

I would definitely recommend the audiobook to people who enjoy that medium. The narration by Emily Woo Zeller succeeded in bringing this story to life. I could not stop once I started. It’s truly that compelling.

I also felt like the way that Lim continued to build the tension and up the stakes throughout was exceptional. It just had such an easy way about it. A classic build to a huge climax. The ending brought me to ugly tears.

I feel like I went full on journey with Shiori. I became so attached to her. Watching her grow and find her strength and courage was so satisfying, but it doesn’t end here. Shiori has big challenges ahead in the sequel, The Dragon’s Promise, which I plan to start on Monday.

If you’re like me and have had this book sitting on your shelf unread for years, stop the madness now. Pick this up. Give it a read. She deserves it!!!

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Review: Whichwood (Furthermore #2) by Tahereh Mafi

WhichwoodWhichwood by Tahereh Mafi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After taking 7-months off, I’ve finally decided to return to my TBR-Haul Project. For those who don’t know, this is a self-imposed project for myself, essentially aimed at crossing books off of my backlist TBR of purchased books.

Basically, I buy a ton of books and then never read them. My Reading Journal contains a spread each month of books hauled and I have been going through them month-by-month, and picking a few off that list to finally pick up.

It had been going quite well. I’ve found quite a few 5-star reads via this project. But then it sort of sputtered out.

One of my goals for this year is to return to it, ideally, picking up at least one book for it each month. This is my first for the year and I started it on January 31st, so it’s not off to a real rousing start…

It’s not too late to reach my goal though, so I have selected Whichwood as Book #19 for the project. I hauled this back in March 2019, and of course, never read it.

This past Fall, I did pick up the first book in this duology, Furthermore, on audio through my local library. I thought it was so cute and fun, as well as fabulously narrated by the fabulous, Bronson Pinchot.

I was so excited to return to this magical Middle Grade Fantasy world, Mafi’s whimsical storytelling and Pinchot’s enchanting narration.

With this being said, I was concerned that I wouldn’t end up enjoying this one as much as the first book. I was so wrong!

Part of my hesitation was that I didn’t know how closely this book would be related to the first one. I knew we were following a new MC, Laylee, and I felt like I was really going to miss Alice and Oliver from Furthermore.

I was so delighted to discover both Alice and Oliver play a huge role in this story!

This again was emotional, heart-felt, filled with important lessons and conversations that fit nicely into magical Middle Grade. Regardless of the age level designation, this is the type of story that can be appreciated by audiences of all ages.

This duology is the first work I have read from Tahereh Mafi and it has made me beyond excited to check out more of Mafi’s work.

Leave your favorites down below in the comments!!!

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Review: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

FurthermoreFurthermore by Tahereh Mafi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’œ

Furthermore has been on my shelves since its release in 2016. Y’all may remember, this was a darling of BookTube upon its release and also, look at this dang cover.

I had to have it.

But then like many books before her, she sat on my shelves, neglected for years.

Recently, I participated in a Middle Grade Readathon and one of the prompts was the read a book that had been on your TBR for a long time. I immediately thought of this one and am so happy that I finally picked it up.

This whimsical Fantasy story follows Alice Alexis Queensmeadow, who you can probably tell from her name alone, is all sorts of adorable. But as adorable as she is, Alice is grappling with a lot since her Dad disappeared.

Alice’s Mother didn’t cope well with her Dad’s disappearance and has really pushed Alice away. It’s not a warm and fuzzy relationship. Because of that, Alice feels pretty alone.

When a boy from her past, Oliver, arrives and offers her the chance to find her Dad, even though he irks her, she has to go. She has to agree and she does.

They set off on an adventure through the magical lands of Furthermore. An adventure that Alice hopes will finally reunite her with her Father. As they progress though, it becomes unclear, is Oliver being truthful with her? What is his motive? Does he actually know where her Father is?

Even though I had a hard copy of this book, I decided to listen to the audiobook. I was so delighted when I learned that Bronson Pinchot was the narrator. I had no idea that he even narrated audiobooks, but you better believe now that I do, I will be seeking more out.

He was such a fabulous narrator for this story, because the story is told by a literal narrator. His voice brought the whimsy and the fun and I felt like he was talking to me one-on-one. It was really well done and I definitely recommend.

I was swept up into this story. I loved following along with Alice and Oliver as they traveled through the different towns in Furthermore.

It’s funny, I’m not sure what it was, perhaps the smart writing and word play, but this reminded me a lot of reading The Phantom Tollbooth as a child. It was just magical.

Additionally, I loved the themes that Mafi explored. This is a story that can be read by kids, or adults. There’s so much to appreciate. I was shocked by the level of emotion I felt from this story. Seriously, I went through the gamut.

Alice is one of the most lovable characters I have read in a while. I could feel her uncertainty and loneliness. It made me want to hug her and tell her everything would be okay.

In spite of her challenges though, I loved that she never gave up. She was willing to do whatever she had to for the possibility of reuniting her Dad. It was great.

If you’ve had this one on your shelves for years like I did, don’t put it off any longer, pick it up as soon as you can. You won’t regret it!

I hit every single emotion reading this.

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Review: The Heroes (First Law #5) by Joe Abercrombie

The HeroesThe Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Heroes is the fifth-book in Joe Abercrombie’s First Law World. This is an Epic Grimdark series that sucked me in from the very first book and hasn’t let go.

Best Served Cold, the fourth-book in the series, is one of my favorite books of all time and while I was excited to move forward in this world, I was also a little nervous. How could anything live up to that?

The truth is, this didn’t surpass Best Served Cold as far as my enjoyment went, but it was still a bloody brilliant story more than worthy of a 5-star rating.

At its heart, this is a story of war. The players, the action, the strategy, the outcome and the aftermath. We examine portions of each. I loved that it felt like a giant game of chess; moving players around the board, shuffling up alliances and allegiances.

The war is between the Union and the Northmen, lasting for three brutal days, that feel like many more to all involved.

There were a few shocking things that happened toward the end of this that I absolutely was not expecting. Abercromie definitely succeeded in giving me more than one solid jaw drop moment.

I’m really looking forward to continuing on in this world.

Abercrombie’s world-building is a masterclass on how to draw the Reader in. The cast of morally-grey characters is fantastic. It’s like a Grimdark Soap Opera. They’re bringing the drama, each and every installment.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Epic Fantasy, particularly Grimdark fans. There’s so much delicious content here to sink your teeth into. A must read series!

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