Blog Tour – The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook

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Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl. It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life. But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late.


 

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. The first book that I read by Eileen Cook was With Malice, and I enjoyed it so much that I quickly went out and bought several of her other books. So when I was given the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and read an ARC of The Hanging Girl, Cook’s latest book, I was pretty excited. For those of you that don’t know what a blog tour is I’ll explain. Instead of having the author tour around to various cities, or sometimes in addition to that, publishers will arrange a blog tour. A blog tour is just that, a virtual “tour” where the author will “visit” each blog. Sometimes the author will write a guest post, sometimes the author will do a Q&A, it all depends on the publisher and the blog tour. For this particular blog tour I’ll be posting my review as well a question I got to ask Cook and her answer. There are several blogs participating in this blog tour, and to see Cooks answers to the other questions that were asked you’ll need to visit those blogs. I’ll post the tour information at the end.

 

Now onto the actual review! It shouldn’t come as any shock, since I’m already a fan of Eileen Cook’s books, that I really enjoyed this one. It’s a great read for this time of year especially; it’s a thriller and a mystery –perfect for Halloween. Part of the fun with reading this book is the different twists throughout it. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t say what the twists are, but I will say that the plot keeps you guessing until the very last page.

 

Skye, the main character, is incredibly engaging. Her narrative was funny and she was incredibly likeable -which is pretty incredible given some of the choices that she makes throughout the novel. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything but Skye is a character that is questionable at best. She does some pretty manipulative and morally grey things but her motivations are so very relatable, and her personality is so engaging, that you can’t not like her.

 

There are a lot of interesting character’s in this book, but it is impossible to talk about them and really give my opinions on them without spoiling the plot in a major way. Skye’s mom in particular really threw me for a loop, her character went in a direction I really wasn’t expecting. The most shocking part of the entire novel was the ending; it was twisted and completely unexpected. Seriously, the ending was something else, and I wish I could say more about it without spoiling it.

 

Overall I read this book in a single sitting, I really enjoyed it! It was dark, fast paced, and twisted. I loved everything about it, including the completely (I know I’ve used this word a lot but it’s the only one that really fits) twisted ending. This one was a solid 4/5 stars for me, if you’re looking for a book to read for Halloween you should definitely check this one out.

 

Now onto my part of the Q&A

 

Psychic ability (or lack thereof) played a big role in The Hanging Girl. What is your relationship with, or opinion on, psychic ability or phenomena? 

 

I want to believe, but I’m skeptical. Part of the research for this book led me to The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. This is group of people who use science to investigate various things— including psychics.  They had a lot of articles and a conference workshop showing how psychic skills can be faked. The discussed the way our brains work that can make us susceptible to what people say.

 

No one has ever been able to demonstrate psychic skills under scientific conditions. This despite the fact, that there is a million dollar offer for anyone who can do it. A lot of what makes for a good fake psychic is like being a counsellor. Counsellors are always listening, not just to what you say, but also what you don’t say. We’re paying attention to body language. For example, if you nod and lean forward as I’m talking, I know that I am on the right track. A psychic is often doing the same thing—paying attention to how you react and moving their reading in that direction. It is easier than you might think to have people believe you’re psychic—especially as Skye points out—when you’re telling them what they want to hear.

 

Having said all that—I love the idea of magic existing in the world so I will always leave that door open. Many people have also told me stories of experiences that they’ve had that I haven’t been able to explain—so who knows!

 

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No Good Deed by Kara Connolly – ARC Review

32766757Ellie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.

Ellie doesn’t care how she got to the Middle Ages; she just wants to go home before she gets the plague. But people are suffering in Nottingham, and Ellie has the skills to make it better. What’s an ace archer to do while she’s stuck in Sherwood Forest but make like Robin Hood?

Pulled into a past life as an outlaw, Ellie feels her present fading away next to daring do-gooding and a devilishly handsome knight. Only, Ellie is on the brink of rewriting history, and when she picks up her bow and arrow, her next shot could save her past—or doom civilization’s future.

 

Review

 

No Good Deed by Kara Connolly is a retelling of Robin Hood, it also features time travel, and a female as Robin Hood. So naturally I jumped at the chance to review it! So, thank you Penguin Random House for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. As I’m sure most of you know by now, I am a huge fan of retellings, and I also love time travel books. So finding a book that has both of those things? Yeah, pretty much the best thing ever.

 

No Good Deed was such a fun, lighthearted read. It was funny, and sassy. It didn’t take itself too seriously, and it was a perfect book for summer. Now, as with any time travel book there are some pretty major historical inaccuracies. But if I cared about historical accuracy in my magical Robin Hood time travel YA novel then… well I wouldn’t be reading it in the first place would I? So with that disclaimer out of the way let talk about the plot.

 

The plot was fast paced, and a lot of fun. There was a decent amount of action, and it had a really nice flow. There were a few plot holes, and things that were just never explained (such as how Ellie ended up time travelling) but those things didn’t really matter to me too much. This isn’t the type of book you take super seriously, it’s mind candy – It tastes good, but has no nutritional value. The plot kept me engaged, and interested. I read this book in a single sitting.

 

The main character Ellie was great. I loved the fact that once she realized that she was becoming Robin Hood that she totally went with it and just had fun with it. I loved that she was determined to do what was right, even when at times she thought it would be in detriment to herself or her ability to find a way to get back to her own time. There were so many great characters though! Will was one of my favorites; his personality was so cheeky and fun. I also loved James, and how exasperated he got with Ellie in a good natured way. Much was also wonderful, I loved his enthusiasm. There was a touch of romance sprinkled throughout the book, but it almost wasn’t even note-worthy and certainly wasn’t a main focus.

 

I know I’ve used the word “fun” to describe this book multiple times now, but it really is the best description. I loved the crazy situations Ellie got herself into, I loved how each aspect of the Robin Hood legend formed, I loved the characters, I pretty much loved everything about this book. If you like lighthearted check your mind at the door books then this one is for you. 4/5 Stars.

Now I Rise by Kiersten White – ARC Review

22817331She has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself.

After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada Dracul is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won…and souls will be lost.

 

Review

 

Now I Rise by Kiersten White is actually a sequel, and was sent to me by Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. I don’t often review sequels, as you generally have to have read the first book to understand the review for the second book. But I’m going to go ahead and try anyways. Now what you need to know about my opinion of the first book was that it was a 3.5 out of 5 stars for me, I didn’t love Lada (the main character) but I did like Randu (the other main character), I wasn’t overly impressed by the romance (but it wasn’t horrible), and the plot was pretty good. With that out of the way let’s dive right in.

 

Let’s start with characters. I enjoyed Lada a lot more in this book than I did in the first book. I definitely felt like she was more complex and well-rounded in this one, which made a big difference for me. Lada is the type of female character that kicks ass 100% of the time. She doesn’t back down from what she wants, she doesn’t back down from a fight, and she’s not afraid of anything. She isn’t your typical female YA heroine, and she definitely challenges the stereotype. One of the main things that I disliked about her in the first book was that she seemed very one dimensional, and needlessly cruel. However in this book we get to see farther into her character, and she becomes more real. Randu became even more loveable in this book. Seriously, I thought I couldn’t love him anymore than I already did but I was wrong. His storyline in this book was heartbreaking at times, and his character development was phenomenal.

 

There were two major plotlines that intersected throughout the novel, one for Lada and one for Randu as they were separated for the majority of the book. Radnu’s storyline was amazing, and heartbreaking. Randu’s plotline focuses on some hard choices, and is handled wonderfully. As for Lada’s storyline, it was interesting and well written. It didn’t hold my attention as much as Randu’s, but that isn’t surprising considering how much I love Randu. I can definitely see why these books have been compared to Game of Thrones, they are rich and dark and full of twists and turns. And I have to say, although I don’t want to give anything away, that the ending absolutely killed me.

 

Overall I definitely enjoyed this sequel more than the first book, which isn’t something that happens very often! This one was a 4/5 star read for me.

Review of The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury was a gorgeous book. Now, I realize that gorgeous is a bit of an odd word to describe a story with, but it is definitely fitting in this case.
I loved the style of writing and the way in which the story was told. Zahra, the Jinni, tells the story in first person to her “Habiba”. Of course, she isn’t actually talking to anyone, she simply addresses this person in her head as she narrates. Normally I hate this style of writing, but it worked so amazingly well for this particular story.

Khoury tells a beautiful story, she describes everything in rich detail without going overboard. Khoury describes each person, city, palace, act of magic, and even the desert itself in such gorgeous detail that could feel the desert sun on my face while I sat in my room at midnight reading, I felt the rush of magic, smelt the spices and flowers, and heard the bustling of city.

Not only was the writing beautiful, but the story itself was wonderful as well. There were two main plot lines, the one that was happening in the moment, and one of the past that was slowly revealed over the course of the novel until the merged at the climax. The plot was well thought out, interesting, and not a total cliche -which is not easy when it comes to retellings!

I loved Zahra as a main character. Having spent thousands of years enslaved to the lamp and the whims of those in possession of it she has found her own way to fight back through their wishes. Zahra is far from perfect, after being trapped inside her lamp for 500 years straight, in the ruins of an ancient city, she will do anything to free herself from the lamp. Including manipulating Aladdin into helping her gain her freedom.

Zahra is a strong female character, a warrior and a fighter. But she isn’t the only strong female character in this book, the princess and her ladies are warriors, and fight -literally- to liberate the people. Caspida, the princess, and Zarha share a mutual respect which is extremely refreshing when so many books pit strong female characters against each other.
Now, Aladdin. I was worried that he would be a complete cliche, or end up being just a useless character that doesn’t really do anything. But luckily neither of those were the case. Aladdin is flawed, and grows in a very real way throughout the course of the book. Originally set out for revenge, he ends up helping to lead a rebellion. He’s a charming, funny, womanizing character and I loved him dearly.

Now, I should mention, although based on the summary it should be obvious, that this was a love story. But it was a wonderful slow building one, and honestly one of the best YA romances I’ve read in such a long time. Their relationship started off with Zarha flat out using Aladdin, grew into a funny and amusing friendship, and eventually blossomed into a true love. One of my favorite moments was when Zahra was in her true Jinni form, shapeless smoke and magic, and Aladdin was the only one in that moment that still saw her as a person. It was beautiful.

I would love to go on about the magic in this world, the Jinn, and how unique it was but I don’t want to give too much away. One of the best parts of this book is discovering everything as you go.

I loved absolutely everything about this book, from the characters, to the setting, to the plot. The climax was everything I hoped it would be, and more. The only problem I had, and I wouldn’t even call it a problem per say, would be that the final chapter, the epilogue so to speak, was slightly rushed. But I loved this book so much, I absolutely have to give it 5 out of 5 stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Missing by Kelley Armstrong – ARC Review

25487124The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve’s End is that soon she’ll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There’s nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They’re better off taking a chance elsewhere. The only thing Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found Lennon left for dead, bleeding in a tree. But now Lennon is gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left at all? What if they’re all missing?

 

Review

 

Missing by Kelley Armstrong was sent to me by Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. Okay, so most of you know by now that I am a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s books. She is absolutely amazing at writing suspenseful books, and at combining the paranormal with reality (although Missing isn’t paranormal at all). I did enjoy Missing, although Armstrong has written other books that I have liked much better.

 

One of the things that I loved about Missing is something that I love in almost every one of Armstrong’s books; and that is the suspense and how creepy it is. If you’re ever looking for the perfect book to read at Halloween, look no further. However, I found the graphic violence in regards to the feral dogs to be a bit much. I’m a dog lover, so it perhaps upset me more than it would other people. But there were multiple, graphic, scenes surrounding violence against dogs and it upset me, I had to skim over those parts.

 

The main character, Winter, was very interesting. She was relatable in a lot of ways, and was well rounded in the fact that she had genuine character flaws –and personally I love that because it makes a character more “real” for me. The supporting characters were also very likeable, and I enjoyed them. The brothers were really great, and probably my favourite characters. Another thing that I loved was the romance. It was sweet, and well written. But what I liked most about it was that it took a backseat to the plot, which is a big plus for me.

 

Now, the plot itself was fairly predictable at times – but I’m not sure how much of that is because I’ve read so many of her books and know what to expect and how much is just genuine predictability. Predictability doesn’t bother me, I’m only mentioning it because I know it makes a difference to some people. There were a few things that I think could have been done better, but I don’t want to say what and spoil anything. But for the most part those things were fairly minor.

 

Overall this book was a 3.5 out of 5 stars for me. It an engaging read, and I read it in a single sitting.

 

Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis – ARC Review

25314447Everyone has a place.

Khosa was born to be fed to the sea, to prevent the kind of wave that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille. She can’t be sacrificed until she produces an heir, but human touch repulses her…except for the touch of the Indiri.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race with magic that’s seductive—a force of nature—but dwindling since the Pietra slaughtered their people.

Witt leads the Pietra, the fierce warriors who are now marching on the Kingdom of Stille. The stone shores of Witt’s kingdom harbor a secret threat, and to ensure the survival of his people, he’s prepared to conquer every speck of Stille’s soil.

Vincent stands to inherit the throne of Stille, but has no wife to share it with. When the beautiful and mysterious Khosa arrives without an heir, Vincent knows that his father will stop at nothing to make sure she fulfills her duty. Torn between protecting his kingdom and protecting the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is soon at odds with his heart.

While royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the Indiri struggle to survive, the rising sea calls for its Given, and Khosa is destined to answer.

 

Review

 

Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis had such an interesting premise! It’s not often that a YA Fantasy novel comes out with a premise that hasn’t already been done in some way, shape, or form. So I was really excited to read this one.

 

Let’s start off with the characters. I’ve heard some people say that Khosa was the main character, and while I’d agree that she’s a main character I personally felt that as there were multiple different POVs that there were multiple main characters.  Vincent is the second main character and one of second most important character after Khosa. I personally would also classify the siblings (Donil and Dara) as secondary main characters, as they both play important roles in the book and have a lot of “face time” so to speak.

 

One of the main complaints I’ve read about this book is about Khosa. A lot of reviewers have complained that she’s weak, that she didn’t fight against her role and complaints about her touch aversion. Personally, I liked Khosa. I found her to be a refreshing change from all of the female characters out there who start out rebelling. I thought that Khosa was realistic; she was raised for this purpose and doesn’t fight it at first because that’s how she was raised. That, to me, is realistic. Eventually she does fight against her fate, but it’s a slow build to that point, which I also found realistic. As for the other characters, I enjoyed them for the most part. Dara was one of my favorites, and I didn’t care much for Vincent.

 

The other major complaint I’ve seen for this book was that it is confusing. Personally, I didn’t find it confusing. I will say that it’s a book you really have to be focusing on, but I didn’t think it was confusing. But everyone is different, and different people find different things confusing. The plot itself had a few holes, and the ending was pretty rushed. But overall it was fast paced and interesting enough to keep me reading.

 

There were a few scenes in this book that disturbed me, but I don’t want to get into that too much aside from issuing a warning about graphic scenes and to read with caution if you don’t like that. Aside from those scenes the other complaint I had was that everything was very predictable. I don’t mind predictability in general, but this didn’t surprise me in any way. Another thing I would like to add was that this book leans more into the adult fantasy side of things then YA in terms of the subject matter and how certain things (ie Women and their roles in society) are portrayed. This can be frustrating for some, and disturbing for others – so this won’t be a book that everyone likes.

 

Overall, I personally enjoyed this one. It was a fast read; I read it in a single sitting. There were things I liked and things I didn’t like. But overall I enjoyed it. 4 out of 5 stars.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston – ARC Review

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Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

 


Review

Geekerella by Ashley Poston went on my wish list the moment I first heard about it, back in November. So when Penguin Random House asked me if I wanted an ARC I was pretty excited. Not only is this book a Cinderella retelling (and you guys all know how much I love retellings) but it is also a book that focuses on fandom! Being a pretty geeky girl, that has been involved in multiple fandoms since I was a kid, I always love reading books that have a focus on fandom. Geekerella was such an adorable, cute, and fun read. It was everything I expected it to be and more.

 

The two main characters, Elle and Darien, were both very well written and relatable. Elle, short for Danielle, is our Cinderella. She lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters, and feels incredibly isolated and alone. However instead of letting that make her weak or keep her down it motivates her to work hard and find a way out. Elle’s escape is Starfield, a Sci-Fi TV show, and she is heavily involved in the fandom. When Elle is lonely she turns to Starfield and the fandom, it helps her feel less alone and helps her to feel like she’s part of something. I really related to that aspect of Elle, as I suspect most fandom loving people will. I loved Elle as a character, she was funny and sarcastic and very well rounded.

 

Darien, our other main character and “prince charming”, is an actor starring in the new Starfield Movie. He’s also a huge Starfield fan, but his manager has him pretending that he doesn’t know much about Starfield which in turn makes him pretty disliked by the die-hard fans. Darien’s character was sweet and fun, he was definitely my favorite. There were also a few really great side characters as well, which in my opinion is one of the things that make a good book into a great book. Sage was my favorite side character, her “no bullshit” attitude and humor was really entertaining.

 

The romance between Elle and Darien was sweet and pretty cute. At first they get to know each other via texting. I wasn’t into the texting at first, but it definitely grew on me as I got further into the novel. It wasn’t a Rose and Jack level (Titanic) romance, but it was cute and perfect for spring. As for the plot, Poston managed to include all of the major Cinderella plot points in her own unique way. It was well paced and interesting. It was pretty predictable, but that didn’t bother me. After all, there are only so many things you can do with a contemporary YA Cinderella retelling.

 

My absolute favorite aspect of the book though was the fandom. Poston did such a great job creating Starfield and integrating the fandom into the story. Her portrayal of the online fandom was really accurate and well done. I also loved how real Starfield felt, and how both Elle and Darien’s love for Starfield really shined throughout the entire novel –anyone that is passionate about a particular book/movie/series will relate to just how much both of these characters loved Starfield.

 

Overall I don’t think that there is a single thing that I would change about this novel. I absolutely loved it. If you’ve ever watched the movie A Cinderella Story and enjoyed it than chances are you will enjoy this book. If you’re a geek/nerd like me and are involved in fandoms than chances are you will enjoy this book. If you’re just looking for a fun, light, and cute spring/summer read than chances are you will enjoy this book. If you’re a fan of fairytale retellings than chances are you will enjoy this book. This one was a solid 5/5 stars for me, and I definitely recommend it.

 

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner – ARC Review

30649795What if you could spend one last day with someone you lost?

One day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts. The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend. Soon the other families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

 

Review

 

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner when I received it. (This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.) I am normally a lot pickier with my contemporary reads than I am with my fantasy reads, so I was a little nervous to read this one. But I was pleasantly surprised, because I ended up loving it.

 

One of the things that I loved the most about this book was how real all of the emotions felt. Zentner did an amazing job of portraying the myriad of emotions that someone, especially a teenager, would feel when dealing with this kind of loss –especially in this type of situation. Everything about these characters emotions felt so real. I cried multiple times while reading this one, sometimes with sadness but also sometimes because of the hope that started to develop throughout the novel.

 

Carver, the main character, was very likeable and well rounded. My favourite character however was his sister, I loved how fierce she was and how much she loved her brother. But honestly I loved most of the characters! All of them were well written, and it was so easy to feel what each character was feeling.

 

The plot itself was solid. This isn’t a fast paced novel filled with action. Instead it is a very character driven book, with a solid, if slow, plot. Since this book deals with loss in a very real way, I thought that the slow moving (and by slow I mean not fast paced action) plot was perfect. There were several other things that I loved about this book, two of the main things being how well Zentner dealt with the subject of therapy and anxiety. He did such a good job, and I was very impressed with how both subjects were handled in the book.

 

I could go on but I’m going to end this here. This is a book with a beautiful message, and I definitely recommend it. This one was 5/5 stars for me!

ARC Review – Bad Blood by Demitria Lunetta

25226075A girl discovers a family secret and a past full of magic that could both save her and put her in mortal danger in this suspenseful novel that’s perfect for fans of Katie Alender and Natasha Preston. All sixteen-year-old Heather MacNair wants is to feel normal, to shed the intense paranoia she’s worn all year like a scratchy sweater. After her compulsion to self-harm came to light, Heather was kept under her doctor’s watchful eye. Her family thinks she’s better—and there’s nothing she wants more than for that to be true. She still can’t believe she’s allowed to spend her summer vacation as she always does: at her aunt’s home in Scotland, where she has lots of happy memories. Far away from all her problems save one: she can’t stop carving the Celtic knot that haunts her dreams into her skin. Good friends and boys with Scottish accents can cure almost anything…except nightmares. Heather can’t stop dreaming about two sisters from centuries ago, twins Prudence and Primrose, who somehow seem tied to her own life. Their presence lurks just beneath the surface of her consciousness, sending ripples through what should be a peaceful summer. The twins might hold the key to putting Heather’s soul at rest…or they could slice her future deeper than any knife.

Review

Bad Blood by Demitria Lunetta was a mixed bag for me. There were things that I loved, and things that I didn’t enjoy as much. This book was sent to me by Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. Now with that out of the way, lets jump right in.

 

One of the things that I struggled with while reading this book was the characters. Heather, our main character, was alright I suppose. But I don’t want the main characters I read about to just be alright. I want them to stand out in some way to me. I want them to be interesting. I want to remember them. Heather was not a memorable character, in fact I had to double check in the book that Heather was really the main character’s name because I could not remember. That’s how forgettable she was for me. While her personality was pretty blah for me, her struggles were very real and relatable. However, (TRIGGER WARNING: SELF-HARM) the amount of detail the author put into describing Heather’s cutting was a little disturbing and I wish it had been handled a bit differently. The author spent a lot of time focusing on Heather’s cutting, and not just the aftermath (ie counselling and whatnot)

 

As for the other characters, I really wasn’t a fan. The twins were very cookie cutter type characters, and quite predictable. The love interest, Robby, was your standard run of the mill YA love interest. While that normally wouldn’t bother me, that combined with how forced the romance felt and how bland all the other characters were… I just couldn’t get myself to like Robby.

 

Now, another thing I didn’t like… the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that I didn’t dislike the ending because of how it ended but because of how incredibly rushed it was. It felt like the author gave up and threw her hands in the air and said “let’s just get this over with”. I like my endings to be more thought out, and well planned.

 

Now, I know it must sound like I hated the book. But there were a few things that I enjoyed. One of those things was the magic and witches plotline. The author did a great job in creating a unique magical situation, and the parts of the book dedicated to magic were beautifully written. I wish that the plotline focusing on magic and witches had started much sooner, because it really was my favourite part of the book. Another thing that I loved about this book was the setting. This book is set in Scotland, and I absolutely loved that.

 

Overall I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. This one was only a 2 out of 5 stars for me.

ARC Review – Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

30335388Life ahead: Proceed with caution.

Sixteen-year-old Petula De Wilde is anything but wild. A family tragedy has made her shut herself off from the world. Once a crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula now sees danger in everything, from airplanes to ground beef.

The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class. She has nothing in common with this small band of teenage misfits, except that they all carry their own burden of guilt.

When Jacob joins their ranks, he seems so normal and confident. Petula wants nothing to do with him, or his prosthetic arm. But when they’re forced to collaborate on a unique school project, she slowly opens up, and he inspires her to face her fears.

Until a hidden truth threatens to derail everything.

 

Review

 

Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. My initial thoughts on this book? Wow, this book sure is short! Seriously, at somewhere around 230 pages (and with an uncomplicated writing style and plot) this one only took me just over an hour to read. And before you ask, no I didn’t rush through it. It was just a very easy read.

 

I’m a little torn about this book. It wasn’t bad, I didn’t dislike it. But I didn’t love it either. It was okay, but it didn’t grip me. The writing itself was well done and enjoyable, but I wasn’t a big fan of the portrayal of the subject matter. This book deals with anxiety, and as someone that has anxiety I can be fairly pick when it comes to books that deal with anxiety. There are some books that do an amazing job, and some books that don’t do a great job of it. For me this book fell into the latter category. While reading it I couldn’t help but feel like the author downplayed how serious anxiety is and can be, and I also didn’t appreciate the fact that after the romance started the main character seemed to be miraculously anxiety free. Anxiety doesn’t work that way, at least not in my experience. I’m just not a huge fan of the “get a boyfriend and you’ll be fixed!” trope that is popular in a lot of YA.

 

Since I’ve mentioned the romance let’s talk about that for a minute. It wasn’t horrible. But it also didn’t have me hoping that the characters would end up together, which is usually the goal when writing romance. At least I assume it is. It was definitely more of a “instant love”, which I know can bother a lot of people. That part didn’t bother me really, but I just wasn’t excited about the romance. It fell a little flat for me. I also want to say that I’ve read a few reviews and some seem to agree that the romance was definite “insta-love” and other seem to think it wasn’t.

 

Now with that being said, I did really enjoy the characters. There was an overall quirky and fun quality to the characters, and the plot itself, that I enjoyed. There were a lot of supporting characters that I loved, and they were all well written and well-rounded for such a short book. I can’t mention this book without bringing up cats, as this book was full of them. I’m more of a dog person myself, but I loved all of the focus on cats and how it helped to keep things quirky and lighten the mood. The plot itself was decent and well thought out, if a teeny tiny bit predictable.

 

Overall this one was pretty average. I think if it had been longer and had gone into more detail and dug a little deeper with some of the issues presented that it could have been a really great book. As it is this one was a 3/5 stars for me. It’s a good choice if you ever need a fast and quirky read.