Book Review – The Woods Are Always Watching By Stephanie Perkins

Two girls with no experience camping decide to spend the weekend out in the woods together – alone. The premise alone opens up endless opportunities to terrify both the characters and the reader!

But would two such characters – and their parents – really go for this?

Perhaps. The author presents the situation as arising when two besties are faced with the pending demise of their codependent friendship as college approaches. This semi-plausible plot quickly takes a detour, though, when their weekend goes from bad to worse to downright horrific. I’m a huge fan of YA horror and anything scary that takes place in the woods, so I did ultimately enjoy this book, but if you’re expecting the same strength of plot as Perkins’ previous book, you might be disappointed. This one failed to meet its full potential. 3.5 stars rounded up.

Book Review: Pumpkin By Julie Murphy

An overweight gay boy in a small town films a private video where he experiments with drag. After the video gets leaked and he’s nominated for his high school’s prom court – for queen – he decides to throw caution to the wind and go for the crown.

This is the third in the Dumplin‘ series, and I swear, these books are so feel-good, funny, and addictive it’s unbelievable – they take me half the time to read as similar length books! Filled with teen angst and coupled with hope, this is the high school experience you wish you’d had!

From Goodreads: Return to the beloved world of Julie Murphy’s #1 New York Times bestselling Dumplin’—now a popular Netflix feature film starring Jennifer Aniston—in this fabulously joyful, final companion novel about drag, prom, and embracing your inner Queen.

Waylon Russell Brewer is a fat, openly gay boy stuck in the small West Texas town of Clover City. His plan is to bide his time until he can graduate, move to Austin with his twin sister, Clementine, and finally go Full Waylon so that he can live his Julie-the-hills-are-alive-with-the-sound-of-music-Andrews truth.

So when Clementine deviates from their master plan right after Waylon gets dumped, he throws caution to the wind and creates an audition tape for his favorite TV drag show, Fiercest of Them All. What he doesn’t count on is the tape getting accidentally shared with the entire school. . . . As a result, Waylon is nominated for prom queen as a joke. Clem’s girlfriend, Hannah Perez, also receives a joke nomination for prom king.

Waylon and Hannah decide there’s only one thing to do: run—and leave high school with a bang. A very glittery bang. Along the way, Waylon discovers that there is a lot more to running for prom court than campaign posters and plastic crowns, especially when he has to spend so much time with the very cute and infuriating prom king nominee Tucker Watson.

Waylon will need to learn that the best plan for tomorrow is living for today . . . especially with the help of some fellow queens. . . . 

Book Review: The Hathorne Legacy By Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Barnes has done it again! Another smart, twisty, addictive mystery that I found impossible to put down!

In the second book of the Inheritance Games series, our plucky heroine finds herself drawn deeper into the mystery of why a billionaire chose her to inherit his fortune over his own family, and the question of parentage comes into play. The riddles, the clues, and the seemingly impossible trail of breadcrumbs all lead the MC to confront the uncomfortable secrets from her past and truths about her present.

If you haven’t read this author and you enjoy YA thrillers and mysteries, do yourself a favor and check out this and her Naturals series!

From Goodreads:

Intrigue, riches, and romance abound in this thrilling sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Inheritance Games perfect for fans of Karen McManus and Holly Jackson.

The Inheritance Games ended with a bombshell, and now heiress Avery Grambs has to pick up the pieces and find the man who might hold the answers to all of her questions – including why Tobias Hawthorne left his entire fortune to Avery, a virtual stranger, rather than to his own daughters or grandsons.

Thanks to a DNA test, Avery knows that she’s not a Hawthorne by blood, but clues pile up hinting at a deeper connection to the family than she had ever imagined. As the mystery grows and the plot thickens, Grayson and Jameson, the enigmatic and magnetic Hawthorne grandsons, continue to pull Avery in different directions. And there are threats lurking around every corner, as adversaries emerge who will stop at nothing to see Avery out of the picture – by any means necessary.

With nonstop action, aspirational jet-setting, family intrigue, swoonworthy romance, and billions of dollars hanging in the balance, The Hawthorne Legacy will thrill Jennifer Lynn Barnes fans and new readers alike. 

ARC Book Review: These Deadly Games By Diana Urban

As high schooler Crystal and her friends prepare to compete in a gaming contest for huge amounts of prize money, she gets a text challenging her to play a different game – with her younger sister’s life as the prize!

This book is a page-turner! Everybody’s a suspect in this rollercoaster of a thrill ride where the stakes are high and the games are deadly! Urban pulls no punches in this one, ruthlessly torturing her characters with every twist and turn on the pages. I’m not into video games, so I was a little worried that there would be sections that would bore me to tears, but that wasn’t the case at all! If you love YA mysteries that keep you guessing until the very end, check this one out!

Thanks to Diana’s Street Team, NetGalley, and the publishers for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

From Goodreads:

Let’s play a game.

You have 24 hours to win. If you break my rules, she dies. If you call the police, she dies. If you tell your parents or anyone else, she dies.

Are you ready?

When Crystal Donavan gets a message on a mysterious app with a video of her little sister gagged and bound, she agrees to play the kidnapper’s game. At first, they make her complete bizarre tasks: steal a test and stuff it in a locker, bake brownies, make a prank call.

But then Crystal realizes each task is meant to hurt—and kill—her friends, one by one. But if she refuses to play, the kidnapper will kill her sister. Is someone trying to take her team out of the running for a gaming tournament? Or have they uncovered a secret from their past, and wants them to pay for what they did…

As Crystal makes the impossible choices between her friends and her sister, she must uncover the truth and find a way to outplay the kidnapper… before it’s too late.

Author of All Your Twisted Secrets, Diana Urban’s explosive sophomore novel, These Deadly Games, will keep you riveted until the final twist is revealed.

Book Review: Teen Killers Club By Lily Sparks

Can you hear that? It’s the sound of me rubbing my hands together after finishing a satisfying, if unbelievable, tall tale about a Teen Killers Club! Best of all, I smell a sequel (please let there be a sequel)!

In this one, the MC is in jail for her best friend’s murder. She doesn’t remember killing her friend, but her friend wasn’t always so nice to her and she blacked out, so . . . when she gets an offer from a shady government agency to free her from prison if she agrees to go to their camp, she takes it. Even if it lands her in the middle of a pot of hot teenage killers who DO remember committing their crimes. Not just that, but they’ve all tested psychologically as the worst of the worst! EEK! Now be a good camper, turn out the lights and go to sleep. Fast paced and a lot of fun!

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From Goodreads:

Framed for the murder of her best friend, a young girl joins a super-secret society of teenage assassins to avoid a lifetime behind bars–and discovers her own true self–in this mesmerizing debut novel.

Seventeen-year-old Signal Deere has raised eyebrows for years as an unhappy Goth misfit from the trailer park. When she’s convicted of her best friend Rose’s brutal murder, she’s designated a Class A–the most dangerous and manipulative criminal profile. To avoid prison, Signal signs on for a secret program for 18-and-under Class As and is whisked off to an abandoned sleep-away camp, where she and seven bunkmates will train as assassins. Yet even in the Teen Killers Club, Signal doesn’t fit in. She’s squeamish around blood. She’s kind and empathetic. And her optimistic attitude is threatening to turn a group of ragtag maniacs into a team of close-knit friends. Maybe that’s because Signal’s not really a killer. She was framed for Rose’s murder and only joined the program to escape, track down Rose’s real killer, and clear her name. But Signal never planned on the sinister technologies that keep the campers confined. She never planned on the mysterious man in the woods determined to pick them off one by one. And she certainly never planned on falling in love. Signal’s strategy is coming apart at the seams as the true killer prepares to strike again in Teen Killers Club.

Book Review – The Girls Save The World In This One by Ash Parsons

I totally chose this one for it’s title! 🙂 It’s not the kind of book you read if you’re looking for beautiful prose. You shouldn’t choose this one if you’re looking for deep literary insight. And if you want a very factual, true to life tale, this isn’t for you.

But if you’re looking for a fast paced, funny good time, this book is it!

Three friends attend ZombieCon only to have – you may have guessed it – the Zombie Apocalypse break out at the conference. While fighting for their lives (and the lives of others) these BFFs discover the strength, ingenuity and self-confidence they need to survive. Big on girl power, friendship, and self discovery, with a bit of romance on the side, this book is a perfect, lighthearted summer read!

From Goodreads: June’s whole life has been leading up to this: ZombieCon, the fan convention celebrating all things zombies. She and her two best friends plan on hitting all the panels, photo ops, and meeting the heartthrob lead of their favorite zombie apocalypse show Human Wasteland.

And when they arrive everything seems perfect, though June has to shrug off some weirdness from other fans–people shambling a little too much, and someone actually biting a cast member. Then all hell breaks loose and June and her friends discover the truth: real zombies are taking over the con. Now June must do whatever it takes to survive a horde of actual brain-eating zombies–and save the world. This is a hilarious and heartfelt horror comedy, an ode to zombies, friendship, and girl power that readers are going to love. 

Book Review – The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

This is the third book I’ve read by Acevedo, though it’s the first she wrote. There’s no denying she’s a powerful writer, invoking a strong sense of place, culture, and emotions with her beautiful prose.

In this book a teenage girl finds her voice, learns to accept herself and her body, comes to terms with the differences between her and her family – it’s a complete coming of age tale told in free verse that flows as easily as water from the tap. A quick read that shouldn’t be missed (With The Fire On High is by far my favorite by this author).

From Goodreads: A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

Monday (Mini #BookReview) Madness

This week I read:

A woman with synesthesia – she sees colors when people speak, each with their own distinctive shades and patterns – returns home 13 years after her boyfriend and his family disappeared to take care of her aging grandmother and autistic brother. But not everybody is happy that she’s back.

This one has mixed reviews, and I’ll admit that it wasn’t without its faults, but it held my attention and I enjoyed reading it. I found it fast paced and suspenseful.

This book packs a punch! A successful black student with an Ivy League future starts writing letters to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a way to work through his feelings after suffering an injustice due to racial profiling. Despite his efforts to learn wisdom from Luther’s teachings, the MC struggles to make sense of a reality that gets progressively more confusing and hostile. A raw, insightful look into how it feels when you’re judged by the color of your skin and not your actions.

I just started:

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Monday (Mini #BookReview) Madness

This week I read:

This was definitely a #BlameItOnLitsy choice. Despite being published almost 20 years ago, it’s been getting a lot of attention – and good reviews – lately. So much so that when it showed up as a Kindle daily deal, I had to snatch it up. It was definitely suspenseful and interesting, but, to me, it felt like the author took the long way around. Heavy on the court drama and the did she/didn’t she. The twist at the ending did blindside me, but I felt a bit underwhelmed. If you like legal mysteries, this one’s for you.

This book was described as “an homage to 1980’s slashers and mall culture,” How could I resist? The short answer is that I couldn’t. It was a quick, fast paced, fun read. That said, it was rough in some areas and seemed almost as much of a social commentary on consumerism as a teen slasher. It took an odd, unexpected turn that I felt detracted from what was promised. Definitely campy, but that’s the point. 3.5 stars rounded up.

Thanks to NetGalley, the Publisher and the Author for an advanced copy for review.

I just started:

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Monday (Mini #BookReview) Madness

This week I read:

This novella was a quick, down and dirty slice of horror by the author of “Clown In A Cornfield”. The MC is a grocery store worker by day, a horror movie director by night, and was developed in a way that felt true to life. But what happens when one of the actors takes things too far? It’s interesting to see the evolution of a writer’s style and talent from their earlier works. This one was a bit rough in places, but it kept my attention more than several more polished works have lately. I understand what Cesare was going for with the ending, and I like it, but I felt it needed just a little bit more, a page, maybe two, to give the reader the payoff they deserve.

This book is a modern day, YA retelling of some of Edgar Allan Poe’s works, and OMG does the author throw references to enough of them in here – I lost count. I am a HUGE McGinnis fan, and a Poe fan, so my expectations were really high for this book. But whereas McGinnis’s characters usually feel deep and developed, in this book they felt kind of shallow and flat. We get slices of the story from both MC’s perspectives, but even though all the reasons are there to feel for the girls, I didn’t. And there’s motivation, sure, but not enough to explain why things would be taken so far. It ends on a cliffhanger that feels more like the book just stopped in the middle. There is a sequel in the works that will hopefully wrap up the loose ends and answer all the questions, but the way it ended with really nothing to satisfy the reader who just spent 370 pages with the book was frustrating. Good, but not as great as I was expecting.

I just started:

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