Undead Girl Gang

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

Synopsis:

Mila Flores loses her best friend and her whole world is ripped open. Everyone is saying Riley committed suicide, but Mila knows her best friend better than that. Riley would never commit suicide. It is also strange that two popular mean girls committed suicide in the same week. Mila sets out to prove that her best friend was not at fault and an investigation should be opened. Before Riley died, her and Mila dabbled in witchcraft. Shortly after Riley’s death, some mysterious book arrives with spells from the occult. It’s the kind of witchcraft the girls have never engaged in, but Mila takes it as a sign. She decides to resurrect her best friend and discover the cause of the three gruesome deaths.

Review:

This is the perfect fall read! It will put you in the mood for Halloween and make you wish you were sitting in a park wrapped in a warm sweater watching leaves blow around you. This is a tale of conjuring the dead and girl power. Strange friendships are formed between the undead and Mila.

June and Dayton are classic “mean girls” before their deaths. But after their resurrection, they learn that popularity is fragile. Both girls have secrets that they have kept to themselves and don’t want to get out. But as their time as the undead winds down, each girl must face up to the facts. If they don’t tell their truths, the mystery of their deaths will go unsolved.

The foursome forms the “undead girl gang” as an unlikely connection between Mila, June, Dayton, and Riley begins to grow. June and Dayton quickly become more likable and light-hearted instead of the stuck up girls they used to be. Riley is also different in the afterlife, she cannot remember what happened prior to her death and she’s not happy to be back. Mila learns to open her heart and tasks risk for the love of her best friend.

While this is a cute story, it is a little predictable. I guessed the “bad guy” in the first third of the book, and believe most people will see the final twist. Especially because Lily Anderson leaves some small hints scattered throughout. However, this story is enjoyable and light hearted.

If you’re looking for a story of witchcraft and strong friendships (both new and old) with a sprinkle of young love then this is the story for you! There is not a strong romance aspect, the majority of this novel focuses on the girl gang. I highly recommend this novel and think it should be added to your fall TBR (to be read) list.

Rating: 4/5

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Royals

Royals by Rachel Hawkins

Synopsis:

Daisy Winters is used to living in her sister’s shadow. Her big sister, Ellie, is dating the prince of Scotland. Ellie’s face is plastered all over magazines and online tabloids follow her life closely. Daisy is used to her sister being in the spotlight and living her own life in the shadows. But once Ellie announces a royal engagement, she encourages Daisy to come join her in Scotland to keep the media frenzy at bay. However, both Ellie and Daisy get more than they bargained for during Daisy’s stay in Scotland.

 

Review:

This story is one cliché after the next. The storyline is predictable, there are no twists or turns you cannot see coming. Both the dialogue and characters are flat. I found myself skimming parts of the book wishing for some action or adventure.

Prince Sebastian and his “boys” are supposed to be shrouded in scandal. I expected some kind of mischief or just general debauchery, but no such things happened. The inside cover promised scandal and boasted about how it followed the Prince, but that is nowhere to be found in this story. There are some “oops moments” but nothing we have not seen in movies or shows before. I feel like Prince Sebastian and his crew is an amateur Gossip Girl.

There are some cute and feel good moments in this book. You do still root for Daisy and Miles and hope for the best. But the build of their relationship is too slow to keep your interest. There are no strong character connections and the arcs are too flat to care. I honestly mixed up the names of Sebastian’s friends because they were all interchangeable to me. No individual stood out enough to make a name for himself.

Take this book at face value: it’s a romantic comedy about a girl getting integrated into royal society to appease her soon-to-be-princess big sister and falling in love with a Scottish guy of her own. If you enjoy a simple story and a tale of quick romance, this is the book for you!

 

Rating: 2.5/5

 

Love & Luck

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

In the spinoff from the 2016 hit from Jenna Evans Welch, Love & Luck is an adorable tale of letting go and realizing who you have and keep in your life your life makes all the difference.

Addie is a young teen who is learning to live without her best friend, Lina. Lina moved to Italy and left Addie to fend for herself in her final years of high school. She winds up in Ireland because her aunt is getting married and must be in line for the picture-perfect wedding. After the wedding, she wants to travel to Italy to spend time with her best friend because Lina will know how to fix all of her problems. But nothing seems to be going Addie’s way. She has a secret she’s keeping from her mother, best friend, and everyone else. The only person who knows is her brother, Ian.

Ian pushes Addie to confess her secret before it blows up in her face, but she’s not ready to face the potential fallout. Instead, the two siblings fight and bicker. And their fighting threatens to ruin their aunt’s wedding. Their mother gives them an ultimatum. Ian and Addie have to get along in Ireland and then in Italy or both kids are off of their respective sports teams. This pushes Addie to behave. However, Ian has other plans.

Instead of going to Italy, Ian wants to go on a brand band-tour of Italy in anticipation a giant music festival. Addie is torn, should she ignore her brother and continue onto Italy without him? Or should she stay and make sure Ian doesn’t cause more trouble.

Addie learns that letting go of her problems at home is easier with a little help from friends, both new and old, as well as an old guidebook called “Introduction to Ireland for the Heartbroken: Unconventional Guide to the Emerald Isle.” Within the guidebook, Addie finds helpful tips and exercises to let go of grief. And lucky for Addie, most of the spots the author recommends line up with the stops that Ian wants to make as well.

I adored this story. I might have a bit of a bias because I love all things Ireland. But the connection that Welch creates between Addie and Ian is the perfect sibling relationship. There’s a little bit of rivalry, some protective big brother moments, but ultimately the two come together and their friendship is beautiful. It was also great to see some characters from Love & Gelato. We are faintly aware of the Lina and Addie friendship in the first book, but this one fills some gaps we weren’t aware of in the first novel. However, I do not think that reading one book is not a requirement for picking up the other. I do recommend this novel and it is a great read if you want to escape to Ireland!

Rating: 4/5

The Extinction Trials

The Extinction Trials by S.M. Wilson

This book was an impulse buy for me. I saw the cover, the sticker that said this book is a mix between Jurassic Park and the Hunger Games, and I jumped at the chance to pick this book up. Not only did this book meet my expectations (and the description) but it surpassed them as well.

The Extinction Trials is a gripping tale. In a world that is quickly running out of resources, the powers that be look beyond their land to a territory that is overrun with primitive animals. Time and time again, champions have been sent to Piloria to collect data about the animals on the land and report back. However, most champions are not given the luxury of coming home. But now, the scientists believe they have found a solution and all that is need is dinosaur DNA. Who will be the one to go and retrieve the DNA? Will they make it back alive? Are there other dangers that the scientists aren’t telling the champions?

The story goes between the point of view of Lincoln and Stormchaser (Storm). The story is further split into several parts: the lives of Lincoln and Storm before the trials, the trials themselves, and the island of Piloria.

Lincoln has decided to enter the trials because he needs to money and rations that come with being a winner. Lincoln’s younger sister is dying and is in dire need of medical attention. While his mother can only do so much. Lincoln is the only hope his family has. And he will do whatever it takes to become a champion. Storm, on the other hand, is not sure why she entered the trials. As first, she was excited about eating well. But as the trials progress, she realizes she’s good and could possibly be the champion.

Once on Piloria, all of the trial champions are tested time and time again. The dinosaurs are vicious, they have little supplies, and their designated tasks are deadly. No one trusts each other, as most people have a hidden agenda. Not only are the animals dangerous, but so is the terrain. One wrong step, and you could die. Things are hidden in swamps, cliffs are abrupt, and the dense forest is riddled with secrets. Storm and Lincoln fight for their lives in a living nightmare.

S. M. Wilson has created a wonderful world full of danger—both human and animal. While some of the characters are not entertaining, they are dynamic. We learn what drives each champion; most want to help their families, some just want the fame and notoriety, while Storm wants to learn more about the animals on Piloria. The Extinction Trialsis a quick and gripping read. And one of the best takes on “dinosaur books” I have seen in quite a while.

Rating: 4.5/5

Fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

“To really be a nerd…you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.”


Cather and her twin sister, Wren, are off to college and being separated for the first time. Wren has decided to request a roommate who is not her sister and becomes paired with Courtney. Cather is reluctantly paired with Reagan. Both girls have different college experiences and grow over their first year of college. And each sister’s roommate helps to shape their college experiences in different ways.

Fangirl primarily follows Cather in her quest to become a writer. Cather is the creator of a well-known Simon Snow fan-fiction. Her fans are all over the world and hang on her every word. But Cather is locked in a race to finish the fan-fic before the final book of the Simon Snow series is released. Cather struggles between what it means to be her own fiction writer and wanting to focus on her fan-fic writing.

Cather retreats into her fan-fiction and often loses herself in the characters. But, when Cather loses touch with her sister and her own life she struggles to return to the characters she knows and loves. Even more difficult, she struggles to write her own stories as she does not understand that the fan-fiction she is writing does not contain her own characters.

Cather comes face to face with problems she never thought she would experience and old troubles that are still haunting her. She struggles to finish her first year of college in the wake of the aftermath of her sisters problems and her father’s issues. She is also introduced to Levi and doesn’t know how to separate fictional feelings from real ones at time. So she introduces Levi to the fictional world she has fallen in love with.

In a story of first love, new friendships, and family drama, Rainbow Rowell creates characters that the reader grows to love and connect with. Anyone who has ever gotten lost in a fictional world or story will understand Cather’s love of Simon Snow and the magical world he comes from. Most of us have had out own “fangirl” moments, so Cather’s obsession with Simon is not something so far removed. I adored this story and Rowell’s writing. This is a beautifully written story that any fan of young adult fiction would love.

Rating: 4/5

Fates

Fates by Lanie Bross

“Only love is eternal, remember that.”

Fates is a story about young Corinthe who was sent to Earth as a punishment. She must collect the souls of the departed and return them to the sea so that they can make their way across the galaxy and fulfill their destiny. Corinthe’s final mission is to kill Lucas Kaller to fuilfill her own destiny so that she can return home to Pyralis Terra.

There is some romance, turmoil, and action but nothing that is too exciting. Everything in this book seems to fall short. From the short-lived romance, to the flat characters, and hastily described new worlds. You will likely walk away from this book feeling unimpressed because this is not a memorable story.

The first half of the book is tolerable. There is world building, character building, we want Corinthe to succeed and return home but then the “twist” in this book is a total turn off. Not only can you see it coming long before it’s revealed, but the villain isn’t even a complex one. This book had the making of becoming something beautiful. I was hopeful even. But the “one must live so the other must die” narrative is overdone and this is not a new story.

I did not like this book. The promise of traveling through different worlds was what hooked me initially, but I could not get into this book. This book is a giant cliché. It is the epitome of boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, and then boy and girl have a quarrel and must work together to save the world.

The characters are un-relatable and there seem to be too many competing storylines fighting for attention. You have Corinthe vs. Lukas, Corinthe’s keeper and her ultimate goals, Lukas’s sister fighting for her life, and then Corinthe and Lukas vs. the universe. I felt myself rolling my eyes for the entire second half of this book. I cannot recommend this book and do not care enough about the characters or the storyline to continue this series.

Rating 2/5

My Life Next Door

**Spoiler Free Review**

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

I am torn about this book. The first half has the making of a wonderful teenage love story. While the latter half does not seem to fit with the rest of the story. Because of this, I had a hard time enjoying the book.

Samantha and Jace are from the same neighborhood but seem to come from different worlds. Samantha’s life is organized and her house is pristine. Samantha’s mother prides herself on being well kept at all times. Jace’s family is loud, big, and close-knit. The children’s toys are spilling out onto the front lawn. Samantha’s mother forbid her form having anything to do with the family next door because those are the “kind of people” who run down property values and give a neighborhood a bad reputation. While Jace’s family prides themselves on being a good family who is willing to go to any lengths to protect the ones they love.

This is your classic forbidden love young adult romance story for the first half of the book. Jace and Samantha slowly start to fall in love when Samantha is asked to babysit one of the children from next door. Samantha has always admired the family next door from afar but is quickly thrown into their crazy world. Over time, Samantha starts to question why her mother forbids her from seeing the neighbors. But she hides her secret from her family. As their young love blossoms, Samantha starts to see her world differently. From her best friend’s unethical practices to her mother’s tactics in doing whatever it takes to win a political campaign. Samantha learns that her old life wasn’t perfect but her time with Jace seems to be.

The story slowly builds until a paramount event that throws both Samantha’s and Jace’s worlds into a tailspin. Samantha is torn between her love for Jace and his family and protecting her own family from a big secret. And the more that secret weighs on Samantha’s conscious, the more she seems to unravel. Samantha slowly starts to realign herself and comes to terms with what matters the most, even if it hurts someone she loves.

My Life Next Doorhas some cliché moments of young love, but it is a cute story. The “big moment” or turning point in the story, reads a little bit too much like a soap opera for my tastes, though. I also don’t feel like it fits well with the first half. Everything feels happy-go-lucky until it’s not. And when one aspect of the story starts to get real, everything does. It feels like everything begins to fall apart at the same time. And the characters you thought you knew begin to surprise you.

This is a good read to get you in the mood for summer and great to binge if you feed off of young love, but I would not categorize it as a “must read.” This is a good book to pick up if you have nothing else around or want to fly through a quick story.

 

Rating: 3/5

Leah on the Offbeat

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

*Minor Spoilers*

In the anticipated spin-off to Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli delivers a funny, heart-warming, and romantic story. Leah Burke is the spunky, stubborn, and sarcastic best friend we all need in our lives. But as the group of friends we grew to love grows closer to graduating high school, the teenagers learn what means the most to them. Some relationships won’t last and others begin to bloom unexpectedly.

If you were wondering, Simon and Bram’s relationship is still going strong and the sweet moments between the two of them will make your heart melt. BUT they are not the focus of this story because Leah Burke has a lot to share with the world.

Leah is still a little displeased with Nick and Abby’s relationship. Not because she’s jealous, but because they’retoo cute and it’s annoying. Abby also starts this thing that seems like she’s flirting with Leah. But that can’t be because she’s happily in a relationship with a boy.

In a twist of events, Leah and Abby take a road trip together to visit UGA. Both girls are certain that YGA is the college they want to attend in the fall, and it makes sense to visit together with both girls having busy family members. And Abby has a connection with a friend whose apartment they can borrow for the weekend.

As Leah’s story unravels, she questions whether or not she can admit her bisexuality to her friends. She’s certain they’ll accept her, especially after Simon coming out the previous year. But it doesn’t seem like the right time for her. Her mother knows and accepts her, and she has nothing to fear. But she just can’t go through with it.

Leah on the Offbeatis an upbeat story with moments of comic tragedy. So don’t expect the same waterworks that Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda gave you. Instead, this story is emotionally devastating in a new way. Your heart may break and be re-healed, but Leah’s victorious moments will make you silently cheer her on.

Becky Albertalli remains true to her characters and delivers a phenomenal story. I am thrilled to see Leah tell her tale and I loved watching Leah, Simon, Abby, and the rest of the gang grow and come together during their final months of high school. I highly recommend this book!

Rating: 4.5/5

June TBR

This month, I am going a little ambitious again and hope to finish four books. When gathering books this month, I realized that they are all space operas. It was entirely accidental, but I am just going to roll with it. I LOVE space operas, they are probably one of my favorite things to read. Here are the four books I hope to finish this month.


Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Synopsis: “This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded. The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.”–Goodreads

I have had this book in my possession for quite some time. I picked it up because I thought it looked interesting, but I put it on my shelf and forgot about it. With the recent hype surrounding the release of the third book in the series, I decided that I need to read this book. Especially is the series is as wonderful and addictive as everyone claims it to be.

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Synopsis: “Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family. Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.”–Barnes & Noble

I have no idea where I got this book from to why I picked it up. Odds are, I found it at my favorite used book store. But, I have been wanting to find a space themed book that I love because everything I have picked up lately has left me more than disappointed.

Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

Synopsis: “This thrilling Young Adult novel gives readers a macro view of some of the most important events in the Star Wars universe, from the rise of the Rebellion to the fall of the Empire. Readers will experience these major moments through the eyes of two childhood friends–Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell–who have grown up to become an Imperial officer and a Rebel pilot. Now on opposite sides of the war, will these two star-crossed lovers reunite, or will duty tear them–and the galaxy–apart?”–Amazon

I found this book at Target and bought it on a whim earlier this year. I have read the first few chapters and then this book was left in my car. So far, I like what I have read and I am excited to continue this book.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Synopsis: “Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless Lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.”–MarissaMeyer.com

Despite this book being out for a while, I picked up this book to get it signed by Marissa Meyer in November. To this day, Renegades is the only book of her that I have finished and I was left disappointed. I have read maybe a third of Cinder and put it down because I was bored with it. I have heard great things about this series, so I hope it picks up and that I have the motivation to continue with the series.

What are you reading this month?

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