This is for the true crime podcast lovers | Sadie by Courtney Summers

SadieSadie will not stop until she finds the man who killed her sister. With Mattie gone, she has nothing good left in her life and nothing left to live for. As Sadie follows the killer’s trail she’ll have to confront her own demons and figure out what it means to get justice for her sister.

Hardcover | eBook | Audio

TL;DR – Trigger warnings galore, but will satisfy anybody who is already a fan of true crime podcasts.

This book was so much harder to read than I thought it would be. I put it on my TBR because of the podcast element and really didn’t know what I was in for. The majority of the book is from Sadie’s perspective, but there’s also a “podcast” running throughout hosted by a man named West McCray. You can actually download the podcast and listen to it with the book. I imagine that the audio for this book would be phenomenal because of the mixed media element. But anyway, like I was saying, beyond the podcast stuff, I didn’t really know what to expect. Trigger warnings for sexual abuse, abandonment, pedophilia, and honestly, probably more.

Now that that’s out of the way, while I liked the podcast element and thought it was fun, it definitely read like fiction. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but you can tell when a podcast is fiction and when it’s not. It’s the language that’s used and the way sentences are put together. The interviews just don’t sound as authentic. That was the case with this, but it probably wouldn’t bother anyone who doesn’t listen to nonfiction podcasts regularly.

I thought this book was really well written. Plotwise, I think it could have read like Sadie was on this ultimate, messed-up roadtrip, but it doesn’t. Summers does a great job presenting clues for Sadie to follow in an organic way that doesn’t feel forced or convenient. While Sadie isn’t necessarily a¬†likable character, I find that she’s still sympathetic to me. One of the main things I felt throughout this book was an overwhelming sadness. As a mom (and as a person in general), I feel so sad for kids who don’t have a functional family and who don’t have their every day needs met. I feel so sad for kids who don’t have a loving parent or guardian who tell them every day how loved and wanted they are. I feel so sad for kids who don’t feel safe in their own homes–in their own ROOMS. And it makes me so mad to think that there are sick people out there who are preying on kids and who make them feel like there’s no one who will help them.

Overall, this book is a hard one to read and I don’t recommend it lightly. I think if you’re going to read this book, you should know what you’re in for. I really only had one issue and it was just that the reason Mattie was killed doesn’t really make sense to me. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but the guy came back to town and I don’t feel like that really matches his M.O. Was he looking for Mattie or was it spur of the moment? Did Mattie somehow contact him? Anyway, that was really the only sticking point for me. In the end, it’s a powerful book that still has me thinking about it even though I read it weeks ago.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Heavy
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Heavy
Sexual Content: Heavy

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Non-fiction Mini-Reviews

Since starting my new job at the library, I’ve begun reading more and more outside of my usual YA books (it’s just so hard to say “No” to books when I’m surrounded by them all day). I’ve even been reading non-fiction! Here are some short reviews for a couple of the non-fiction books I’ve been reading lately.

35901186The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson
This book was fantastic! I originally heard Kirk’s episode about the Tring heist on This American Life. I was worried the book would be repetitive since I already knew the gist of the story, but it has a ton of additional information (as promised).

I’m not sure if this is the author’s intent, but I really just feel so mad at the fly-tying community and at Rist. There’s just very little remorse to be found and a wild disregard for what these birds really mean on a scientific (and just basic human ethics) level.

Overall, I found this to be a quick read especially for a non-fiction book. It’s a quirky true crime story that I think a lot of people will find fascinating. What’s true? What’s a lie? And where are the rest of those bird skins??? 4/5

We Were Eight Years in PowerWe Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
While I may not agree with all his points, I appreciate Coates’ writing and apparent passion. It feels trite to say, but this topic obviously means a lot to him, and that comes through with every single word in every single essay. He’s asking hard questions–questions that may not have a satisfying answer. And while he accepts that fact, he still feels that those questions need to be asked, and I agree.

I only have a couple of criticisms. The first is that his writing was hard for me to absorb at times. The language he chooses and the way he strings sentences together didn’t always translate in my head. That being said, I still could get the gist of what he was saying, but the lyricalness of his writing was sometimes lost on me.

The second is that as a POC who is not black, I felt a little bit like a third party reading this book. The focus of his essays is on black vs white relations in the United States. At times, it felt like Coates had blinders on to any other race that might exist in America. While I understand why his viewpoint here is so narrow, it made me feel a bit like an outsider while reading. He just kept talking about what this group of people did to this other group of people without mentioning where MY group of people fit in. 4/5

Review Catch Up: T.H.U.G. and Smoke & Iron

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I know that everyone loves this book and now it’s a movie and it’s important, etc. etc. And while I appreciate the book’s message and themes, I had a really hard time relating to it on any level. Characters and themes just didn’t resonate with me. I acknowledge that I have lived a pretty privileged life and as an Asian American, I just don’t personally have that much in common with Starr or any of the other characters (even the Asian character).

So my review comes from that perspective. There were some aspects of the book that I couldn’t tell if they were on purpose or not. For example, Starr is going through this really traumatic experience and is trying to make these big decisions, but then she has these moments where I feel like she’s super immature. Is that the point? Or is she an inconsistent character? I honestly can’t tell. I didn’t find her super likable, but again, is that the point?

I also felt like some characters were a bit exaggerated. I thought her boyfriend felt like an exaggerated white boy, I felt like her racist friend was an exaggerated frenemy, I felt like the cop who shot Khalil was an exaggerated bad and manipulative cop. Once again, is that the point? Have I been so sheltered my whole life that these characters seem a tad unrealistic to me? I know that extreme people exist and have even dealt with some of them, but these characters just felt less genuine, like cardboard cut-out characters.

Overall, Khalil’s story is heartbreaking. I feel for every family who has a story or is living a life that echoes Khalil’s. I think this book did a good job of tackling an issue that shouldn’t really be political, but has somehow become political. This book is obviously really popular and a lot of people have really loved it, it just wasn’t so much for me. The characters, the language, and the pacing all combined together made this one hard for me to get through and in the end, I thought it was just okay. 3/5


Smoke and Iron (The Great Library #4) by Rachel Caine
I think this series was originally supposed to be a trilogy? I’m not even mad that it’s stretched out to be at least five books. There are definitely some series where it feels like the author drags everything out and nothing of consequence happens from book to book, but that is not this series. This series is action-packed and this latest book is no different. We’ve got all the same characters that we know and love and it’s such a joy to watch them continually develop through this fourth book. Jess is such a delightful main character and I really enjoyed the switching perspectives, especially when we got to Khalila’s portions. I can’t remember if the previous books switched perspectives like this one, but it was definitely necessary with all of our characters separated.

I think this series was originally supposed to be a trilogy? I’m not even mad that it’s stretched out to be at least five books. There are definitely some series where it feels like the author drags everything out and nothing of consequence happens from book to book, but that is not this series. This series is action-packed and this latest book is no different. We’ve got all the same characters that we know and love and it’s such a joy to watch them continually develop through this fourth book. Jess is such a delightful main character and I really enjoyed the switching perspectives, especially when we got to Khalila’s portions. I can’t remember if the previous books switched perspectives like this one, but it was definitely necessary with all of our characters separated.

I think this series was originally supposed to be a trilogy? I’m not even mad that it’s stretched out to be at least five books. There are definitely some series where it feels like the author drags everything out and nothing of consequence happens from book to book, but that is not this series. This series is action-packed and this latest book is no different. We’ve got all the same characters that we know and love and it’s such a joy to watch them continually develop through this fourth book. Jess is such a delightful main character and I really enjoyed the switching perspectives, especially when we got to Khalila’s portions. I can’t remember if the previous books switched perspectives like this one, but it was definitely necessary with all of our characters separated.

Something I really love about this series is that it has such a wonderfully diverse cast without seeming to try too hard. Sometimes books include diversity for diversity’s sake and it’s done in a really stiff and obvious way–not the case with this series.

I love books that imagine different iterations of the library and what Caine has come up with is really quite fascinating. The entire world that she’s created is so rich and detailed. She really brings her vision of Alexandria to life. I would highly recommend this series to pretty much anyone and those covers are to die for. 4/5


Cartoon Strips and Wedding Disasters | Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Save the Date

The Grant siblings are all about to be in the same place for the first time in what feels like forever and Charlie can’t wait. She loves her siblings and they’ll all be together for her older sister’s wedding. What could go wrong?

TL;DR – Wedding planning/shenanigans/disasters, comic strip characters come to life, and a random dog. If these things sound good to you, you will like this book.

I am a big fan of Morgan Matson in general and this was another solid showing. I loved the premise of the main character’s mom being a cartoonist with a strip based on the family. I grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, Foxtrot, etc. and Grant Central Station felt really nostalgic to me. Another small thing I liked was the premise of the cartoon characters aging with the actual family members–I always did wonder how that was supposed to work with Foxtrot.

Charlie is a typical Matson main character. She’s a little quiet and wants to be helpful to other members of her family. I loved her devotion to her family, though. While I thought the drama this caused between her and her best friend was a bit unnecessary, I loved the FAMILY theme of this book.

There is a bit of a mystery hanging over the reader throughout the book. What exactly happened between Charlie’s brother and her mom? For the record, I do believe that Charlie’s mom was in the wrong here but…that’s just my opinion. There are so many fun little things throughout the book. I love the cameos of course, I love seeing the strips scattered throughout, I love the relationship between siblings, I love the little quirks that the characters have like the way JJ says “Scoff”. It feels like a real family.

The ending is…sad, but realistic and hopeful at the same time. I feel like the ending is much more realistic than a lot of other contemporary YA novels and I appreciated that. While this isn’t my favorite Matson novel, I would definitely still recommend it.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate
Violence: None
Sexual Content: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate

BLOG TOUR: The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody [Giveaway]

The Geography of Lost ThingsThe Geography of Lost Things
by Jessica Brody
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Genres: Young Adult – Contemporary, Romance

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SYNOPSIS: In this romantic road trip story perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson, a teen girl discovers the value of ordinary objects while learning to forgive her absent father.

After Ali‚Äôs father passes away, he leaves his one and only prized possession‚ÄĒa 1968 Firebird convertible‚ÄĒto his daughter. But Ali doesn‚Äôt plan on keeping it. Not when it reminds her too much of all her father‚Äôs unfulfilled promises. So when she finds a buyer three hundred miles up the Pacific coast willing to pay enough money for the car to save her childhood home, Ali can‚Äôt wait to get going. Except Ali has no idea how to drive a stick shift. But guess who does?

Ali’s ex-boyfriend, Nico. And Nico has other plans.

He persuades Ali that instead of selling the car, they should ‚Äútrade up‚ÄĚ the items they collect on their trip to eventually reach the monetary amount Ali needs. Agreeing with Nico‚Äôs crazy plan, Ali sets off on a unique adventure that is unlike anything she ever could have expected.

And it‚Äôs through Ali‚Äôs travels, through the strangers she meets and the things that they value‚ÄĒand why they value them‚ÄĒthat Ali eventually comes to understand her father and how his life may not have been as easy and carefree as she previously thought. Because just like the seemingly insignificant objects Ali collects, not everything is exactly as it appears.

REVIEW: If you’re looking for a nice road trip book, then this is for you. I, personally, LOVE road trip books and this one checked all of the boxes. It definitely makes me want to take a drive along the Western coastline of the US!

Ali and Nico were both likable characters and I thought the pacing of the book was really good. We didn’t have to spend too much time in the car with them, but were given just enough as a reader to feel like our characters were on a journey and not just appearing in different cities.

The plot of the book was good as well. I thought it created a really good atmosphere for Ali to grow and develop as a character. I thought the flashbacks were written well and didn’t detract from the pacing of what was supposed to be happening currently. I love the idea of trading up for things even if I think it’s a¬†tad unrealistic.

Overall, I thought this book was great! My only issues really, involved Ali and Nico’s relationship. Specifically, I felt like the amount of time we spent in Ali’s head thinking about the demise of their relationship was too much. Either tell us what was in the freaking glove box already, or stop bringing it up! Other than that, though, this book was a good read–perfect for summer or maybe just when you wish it felt a little more summery.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild


The Geography of Lost Things blog tour

Click on the banner above to be taken to the giveaway!



Jessica BrodyABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Jessica Brody knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self ‚Äúpublishing‚ÄĚ her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples, and electrical tape.

After graduating from Smith College in 2001 where she double majored in Economics and French and minored in Japanese, Jessica later went on to work for MGM Studios as a Manager of Acquisitions and Business Development. In May of 2005, Jessica quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a published author.

Since then, Jessica has sold over twelve novels for teens, tweens, and adults including 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, The Karma Club, My Life Undecided, and the three books in the Unremembered trilogy, the first of which is currently in development as a major motion picture by the producers of The Vampire Academy, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, and Slumdog Millionaire. In 2016, she will release two new contemporary novels, A Week of Mondays (August) and Boys of Summer (April), and in 2017, her debut middle grade novel entitled, Addie Bell’s Shortcut to Growing Up, will hit bookstore shelves.

Jessica also writes books for the Descendants: ‚ÄúSchool of Secrets‚ÄĚ series, based on the hit Disney Channel Original movie, Descendants!

Jessica’s books are published and translated in over twenty foreign countries. She currently splits her time between California and Colorado.

Website|Goodreads|Twitter|Instagram


Fantastic Flying Book Club 2

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

What is the opposite of wanderlust? | Almost Impossible by Nicole Williams [ARC]

Almost ImpossibleFor as long as Jade can remember, she’s been on the road. That’s what happens when your mom’s in one of the most popular bands in the world. For once, Jade wants to experience a normal, teenage, American summer. That’s how she ended up staying with her super uptight Aunt Julie, her frequently absent Uncle Paul, and their overly scheduled 8-year-old twin daughters. As Jade tries to get used to life in Suburbia, she meets Quentin Ford, her hot (and he knows it) lifeguard coworker who also happens to live just down the street. She soon realizes that there are two sides to him, the outrageous flirt and the strangely responsible older brother. But as Jade starts to fall for him, she can’t help but feel like there’s something he’s not telling her–something big.

TL;DR – Cute summer romance, but the love interest seems overly mature and there’s some things that don’t really make sense regarding the secondary characters. Still a fun read though.

Right off the bat I really liked Jade. There’s just something about her that’s inherently likable. I thought it was refreshing how she recognized that she had a lot of freedom with her mom but that her Aunt Julie would operate by a different set of rules. Jade really seems to have her head on straight and I felt like she was very sensitive and patient with her aunt. Quentin is also a likable character–I don’t know how the author managed to make him so dang charming, but he really is. My only issue with him (and with a plethora of other love interests throughout YA) is that he seems too mature. After finishing the book it makes a little more sense why he’s so mature, but I still have a hard time finding that level of maturity believable in a teenage boy regardless of the circumstances–but maybe that’s just me. I also wonder if, all things considered, he would really be as flirtatious as he is? It just seems questionable to me that he would even be open to being in a relationship at this point.

The plot was fine. It’s your typical summer romance so there isn’t so much of a plot per se, but there are a couple of events that the reader knows is coming later in the book. Quentin has one big secret and the reader can anticipate that coming out and how Jade might react. I’m not sure if the reader is supposed to guess the secret so early in the book though? I was able to tell what it was after about a third of the way through. How Jade didn’t see it coming is beyond me.

Secondary characters were fine. Aunt Julie seems a little bit over-exaggerated, but hey, I’ve never been in her situation so maybe she’s pretty normal all things considered. Zoey was a pretty cool character and I wish that we had gotten more time with her and Jade. Something that Sarah Dessen does great is she gives her protagonists these great female friendships and then spends almost as much time developing that relationship as she does with the romantic relationship. I wish there had been more of that in this book.

One thing that really bothered me about the book though, was with the girls from Quentin’s old school. First of all, Quentin said he used to live a couple hours away, so how is Zoey friends with them? Why would they be at a bonfire by where Quentin lives now? And why do they go to the pool where Quentin works? There must be a closer pool that they could go to. So yeah, none of that really made sense. And then, if Zoey’s friends with them, how does she not know Quentin’s secret? And lastly, why the heck is Ashlyn so mean to Jade? It seemed like she was mean for no reason, to be honest. I think the author tries to make it seem like Ashlyn likes Quentin and so she’s jealous of Jade but at the same time it doesn’t really make sense that she would like him for multiple reasons.

Overall, I liked this book quite a bit. I feel like Williams always surprises me with how much I like her books. She’s not quite at Sarah Dessen or Morgan Matson’s level yet, but I could see her getting there. I’m a fan.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild. Some innuendo.

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

BLOG TOUR: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody [GIVEAWAY]

Ace of ShadesAce of Shades
by Amanda Foody
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

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SYNOPSIS: Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school‚ÄĒand her reputation‚ÄĒbehind to follow her mother‚Äôs trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected‚ÄĒhe‚Äôs a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city‚Ķ

And she’ll need to play.

REVIEW: This book was giving me major Six of Crows vibes with a little bit of Caraval mixed in. It was honestly kind of hard for me to give up the Six of Crows comparisons which I think took a little away from the enjoyment of the book for me. I kept trying to compare Levi to Kaz and he was just not measuring up. I wanted Levi to be harder and more ruthless, but I can also kind of see why he wasn’t written that way.

Enne as a character was so hard for me to deal with at first. She’s scared of her own shadow, but at the same time she gets mad at Levi when he tells her that she’s going to get robbed or killed if she acts a certain way/goes to a certain part of the city. Sorry Enne, but the guy lives there and I’d believe him. I’m so tired of female protags trying to insist that they know better than the guy who is acting as their guide in a new city. This is something that I feel happens ALL THE TIME and it’s aggravating. After a while, though, I actually did start to really like Enne and I’m definitely on the Enne-train now. The Levi/Enne ship though? Not quite as on board. I’m just not convinced.

Secondary characters were interesting even if we didn’t get very much time with them. I feel like some of them could have been more developed, but the story is told from Enne and Levi’s perspectives so I understand why they weren’t. I hope in future books we get to know them a little bit more though.

The overall world building was pretty good. I was a little confused about some things because they have cars and pay phones? But then they pay for things with what’s called “volts” which are kept in these glass orbs. I just wasn’t exactly sure what kind of technology existed in this world. I feel like the reader needed to learn a little bit more about the world’s history than we were actually given. I really liked the concept of “talents”, though, being passed down by blood and how you can tell what someone’s talent is by their name.

Lastly, I thought the plot was good and well-paced. The hunt for Lourdes lasted an appropriate amount of time and I thought the characters were portrayed as realistically looking for her while also taking the time to do their normal every day duties like, you know, working and sleeping. I especially thought the ending was well-paced. A lot of times I get to the end of the book and I feel like 50 million things happen within two chapters. That did not happen in this book. I thought the Shadow Game was SO INTERESTING and felt like it was given the appropriate amount of time.

Overall, I think I would have liked this book a little more if I hadn’t already read Six of Crows, but I still quite liked it. I’m not sure what direction this series is going to take (seems like it might dive into the world’s politics?) but I’ll definitely be in line for the next book.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: None
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate

Ace of Shades Blog Tour

 

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Amanda FoodyABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After spending her childhood longing to attend Hogwarts, she now loves to write about immersive settings and characters grappling with insurmountable destinies. She holds a Masters in Accountancy from Villanova University, and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from the College of William and Mary. Currently, she works as a tax accountant in Philadelphia, PA, surrounded by her many siblings and many books.

DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY is her first novel. Her second, ACE OF SHADES, will follow in April 2018.

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Fantastic Flying Book Club 2

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.