ARC Review: Five Total Strangers By Natalie D. Richards

sFrom Goodreads: A hitched ride home in a snow storm turns sinister when one of the passengers is plotting for the ride to end in disaster.

When Mira flies home to spend Christmas with her mother in Pittsburgh, a record-breaking blizzard results in a cancelled layover. Desperate to get to her grief-ridden mother in the wake of a family death, Mira hitches a ride with a group of friendly college kids who were on her initial flight.

As the drive progresses and weather conditions become more treacherous, Mira realizes that the four other passengers she’s stuck in the car with don’t actually know one another.

Soon, they’re not just dealing with heavy snowfall and ice-slick roads, but the fact that somebody will stop at nothing to ensure their trip ends in a deadly disaster.

My Review: I read One Was Lost by this author last year and really liked it, so I was excited to get my hands on this one!

This book drew me in and kept my attention. Fast paced and suspenseful, every time I thought I knew what direction this twisty thriller was going to go it shifted gears and surprised me! Craftily plotted and with plenty of red herrings, the author keeps you guessing until the end. So get in the car and prepare yourself for a ride full of nail biting tension!

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Expected release: October 6, 2020

ARC Review: Kind Of A Big Deal by Shannon Hale

50884610. sy475 From Goodreads: From bestselling author Shannon Hale comes Kind of a Big Deal: a hilarious, deliciously readable YA novel that will suck you in—literally.

There’s nothing worse than peaking in high school. Nobody knows that better than Josie Pie.

She was kind of a big deal—she dropped out of high school to be a star! But the bigger you are, the harder you fall. And Josie fell. Hard. Ouch. Broadway dream: dead.

Meanwhile, her life keeps imploding. Best friend: distant. Boyfriend: busy. Mom: not playing with a full deck? Desperate to escape, Josie gets into reading.

Literally. She reads a book and suddenly she’s inside it. And with each book, she’s a different character: a post-apocalyptic heroine, the lead in a YA rom-com, a 17th century wench in a corset.

It’s alarming. But also . . . kind of amazing?

It’s the perfect way to live out her fantasies. Book after book, Josie the failed star finds a new way to shine. But the longer she stays in a story, the harder it becomes to escape.

Will Josie find a story so good that she just stays forever?

My Review: I was a little worried at first with this one. The writing was good, but the main character was shallow and while the premise was interesting, I was afraid it was going to be stupid rather than silly – but I’m glad I stuck with it! The story grew depth and direction and ended up being great fun!
I enjoyed the story and found myself laughing out loud several times. It has a good message, the MC grew and matured over the course of the pages, and even though this book definitely falls under the ‘clean teen’ category, there’s still plenty of entertainment! And the ending? Completely took me by surprise!

I feel that this one probably appeals most to traditional aged YA readers. 3.5/5 stars

I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Expected release: August 25,  2020

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ARC Review: Foreshadow by Emily X.R. Pan & Nova Ren Suma, et al

48768420From Goodreads: Thirteen Short Stories from Bold New YA Voices & Writing Advice from YA Icons

Created by New York Times bestselling authors Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma, Foreshadow is so much more than a short story collection. A trove of unforgettable fiction makes up the beating heart of this book, and the accompanying essays offer an ode to young adult literature, as well as practical advice to writers.

Featured in print for the first time, the thirteen stories anthologized here were originally released via the buzzed-about online platform Foreshadow. Ranging from contemporary romance to mind-bending fantasy, the Foreshadow stories showcase underrepresented voices and highlight the beauty and power of YA fiction. Each piece is selected and introduced by a YA luminary, among them Gayle Forman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jason Reynolds, and Sabaa Tahir.

What makes these memorable stories tick? What sparked them? How do authors build a world or refine a voice or weave in that deliciously creepy atmosphere to bring their writing to the next level? Addressing these questions and many more are essays and discussions on craft and process by Nova Ren Suma and Emily X. R. Pan.

This unique compilation reveals and celebrates the magic of reading and writing for young adults.

My Review: Featuring 13 short stories by underrepresented and ‘fresh’ voices, this book has an interesting format. Appealing to both readers and writers, each tale is followed by a short discussion focusing on an element of craft that was well developed in the proceeding story. Writing prompts/exercises are also sprinkled throughout the book, providing opportunities to apply the craft knowledge gleaned from the pages. It’s an interesting approach, made more so by the exposure to new writers with such unique perspectives.

The stories themselves represent a gamut of genres, from fantasy to speculative, mild horror to contemporary. One of the things I found most interesting about this book was the way the authors’ diverse backgrounds shaped the worlds they created. I enjoyed the stories and the discussions about craft, but it wasn’t my favorite in terms of either short story anthologies or books on writing.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: We Were Restless Things by Cole Nagamatsu

50228263From Goodreads:

Last summer, Link Miller drowned on dry land in the woods, miles from the nearest body of water. His death was ruled a weird accident, but Noemi Amato knows the truth: Link was killed. He told her so himself, because he’s been texting her from beyond the grave, warning her to keep away from the forest.

Amberlyn, Link’s sister, can’t shake the feeling that Noemi is hiding something, and Jonas, Noemi’s new housemate, can’t get past the walls that she has constructed around herself. Because Noemi has a dangerous secret even bigger than Link’s ghost…

Link drowned in an impossible lake that only she can find.

Now, if the three don’t work together to unravel the truth about what is happening in the woods, someone else may wind up dead. Set over the course of one heartbreaking, mystifying, and ultimately hopeful year, this remarkable debut heralds the arrival of an incredible new voice in young adult literature.

My Review: Usually anything even bordering on fantasy or paranormal is not my thing, but after reading the blurb – a boy drowns on dry land in the woods – I had a feeling that I had to read this book, and I’m so glad I did. The ‘otherworldly’ element is hard to explain – it’s almost like a character in itself, but is mild enough to not deter readers who normally shy away from the genre.

The writing is good, at times beautiful, and there was something about the web that Nagamatsu spun that caught me up and wouldn’t let me go. Although I have to admit that at times I caught myself wondering what the theme was for this strange tale, the lyrical prose lulled me happily along to an ending that left me wondering.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday (Mini Book Review) Madness

This week I read:

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When I first started this one, I almost set it aside – I did not like the writing style at all. But there was something that kept me reading, and I’m really glad I kept at it because this was a great story. Well thought and plotted, full of tension and suspense, at times I felt breathless. The writing style either grew on me or I stopped noticing it. 
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          To be released August 3, 2020              Find my ARC review here.
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This was 1 of the 2 books I bought for the #BlackPublishingPower movement, and while this one has mixed reviews, I loved it. It was fast-paced, tense, and exciting. I read it in two sittings, devouring the first 46% when I was supposed to be sleeping. Co-written by both a black and a white author, this YA book provides unique insight into racial tension while also being a suspenseful thriller. I did wish that the characters had a little more depth, and the ending felt a little sudden, but the story kept me breathless, so I’m happy.

I just started:

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