ARC REVIEW | The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

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Title: THE INVITED

Author: JENNIFER MCMAHON

Released: 30TH APRIL 2019 by DOUBLEDAY

Genre: PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER | GHOST STORY


A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don’t simply move into a haunted house–they build one . . .

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house–a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse–objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger.


This was an interesting tale, as I’ve never before read one about people building their own haunted house. The build up was a bit boring, but it improved massively about halfway in! I had to put it down for awhile and come back to it, but I’m one of those that always wonders how a story ends if I don’t read it through. I am glad I read the whole thing, but the conclusion left a bit to be desired for my tastes. I found the characters mostly boring or irritating, bar Hattie. Her story was the only thing that really kept me reading. I really struggled to read Olive’s POV chapters. The twist at the end slightly shocked me, but I kind of had a sneaking suspicion it might end that way. I can see the appeal for some, but it wasn’t really my thing. The writing and scenery itself kept me mildly interested, so I would likely read another McMahon story.


Add to Goodreads | Buy online


Thank you to Doubleday via Netgalley for this ARC.


ARC REVIEW | The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta

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Title: THE LOST COAST

Author: AMY ROSE CAPETTA

Released: 14TH MAY 2019 by CANDLEWICK PRESS

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY

Rep: LGBTQ+ | TWs: Anxiety, depression, violence, death/murder.


The spellbinding tale of six queer witches forging their own paths, shrouded in the mist, magic, and secrets of the ancient California redwoods.

Danny didn’t know what she was looking for when she and her mother spread out a map of the United States and Danny put her finger down on Tempest, California. What she finds are the Grays: a group of friends who throw around terms like queer and witch like they’re ordinary and everyday, though they feel like an earthquake to Danny. But Danny didn’t just find the Grays. They cast a spell that calls her halfway across the country, because she has something they need: she can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, missing since the summer night she wandered into the woods alone. But before Danny can find Imogen, she finds a dead boy with a redwood branch through his heart. Something is very wrong amid the trees and fog of the Lost Coast, and whatever it is, it can kill. Lush, eerie, and imaginative, Amy Rose Capetta’s tale overflows with the perils and power of discovery — and what it means to find your home, yourself, and your way forward.


if you want to do big magic, you don’t mess around, even if you think you have good reasons. you trust your friends, your sisters, your coven.

 This book was everything I wanted! I so enjoyed reading it. I requested this very shortly after reading Once & Future because I loved the Capetta/McCarthy storytelling duo. I surmised I must love them individually, as well. Well, I wasn’t wrong!! This story was dark and compelling, while simultaneously exploring various themes of sexuality, family relationships, friendship, and finding your space in the world. I appreciated the representation of various sexualities and the focus on female friendships rather than romance. We may need people in our lives to help us through the hard times, but it doesn’t always need to be a romantic tie.

but it wasn’t as simple as that. this love begged, too. it wanted me to step closer, to learn how solid the trees felt under my fingertips, but i got the sense that if i did, they would pull me deeper into the woods, and i would never be heard from again.

The storyline really drew me in and then the execution felt perfect to me. It kept me guessing and I never felt as if I knew what was coming next! I really found no fault in The Lost Coast. I loved Amy Rose Capetta’s lyrical writing style as it made the whole thing flow and sound so beautiful. She really added weight to the scenes. The spookiness of the forest was my favourite and the kind of shiftiness of various situations throughout. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves a good mystery or highly descriptive stories.

the trees feel it. the trees feel everything.some secrets stay close to the trunks of the redwoods. others have been carried away. like the bones. the bones are gone, and the trees fear that an important story left with them.


Add to Goodreads | Buy online


Thank you to Candlewick Press via Netgalley for this ARC.

five stars

ARC REVIEW | All We Could Have Been by T.E. Carter

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Title: ALL WE COULD HAVE BEEN

Author: T.E. CARTER

Released: 23RD APRIL 2019 by FEIWEL & FRIENDS

Genre: YOUNG ADULT CONTEMPORARY

Rep: LGBTQ+ | TWs: PTSD, anxiety, depression, violence, gore, death/murder.


WOW!

Just wow…

This story has so much soul from start to finish. I found it difficult to put down even to do life things! I read it in bed, in the bath, in the car (but only when I wasn’t driving), and everywhere in between. I was very close to calling into work, but then I just stayed up entirely too late to finish. Have I gotten your attention yet? Basically, you need to read this as soon as you can!

Like the synopsis says, it’s a strong discussion on our assumptions about people based on the way they look or seem. We should be way less focused on how people appear and maybe try to put a little more emphasis on getting to know the heart of people. Lexie has always been harshly judged because she looks and acts differently to her peers, but that’s her way of coping with her PTSD. She feels she needs to do those things in order to get through her life.

The portrayal of Lexie’s anxiety, depression, and PTSD are phenomenal. They are so realistic and don’t shy away from the darker side of those afflictions. The author also keeps the reader in the dark for the first bit of the story, which really added to my interest. I felt like I had to keep reading until the end to find out what happened to make Lexie the way she is, and then to find out her resolution at the end. It’s a massive page turner, but it does have a lot of darkness, too. I found her relationships (and the romance) made it that bit more realistic. While she didn’t have to have the romance aspect to overcome her challenges, I felt the support she had because of it only added to the story.

This has been one of my favourite reads of the year. It’s so emotional and powerfully written. I had to give this five stars without a doubt.


Five years ago, Lexie walked home from school after her older brother failed to pick her up. When she entered her house, her brother sat calmly, waiting for the police to come arrest him for the heinous crime he had just committed.

Treated like a criminal herself, Lexie now moves from school to school hiding who she is—who she’s related to. She struggles with loving her brother, the PTSD she now suffers from, and wanting to just live a normal life. But how can she be normal when she can’t even figure out how to just live?

This is a powerful look at the assumptions we make about people. Lexie’s emotional journey to separate her brother’s horrific act from herself is stunning and heartbreaking. This is Lexie’s story and journey—not her brother’s—and it will stay with you long after you turn the last page.


Thank you to Feiwel & Friends via Netgalley for this ARC.

five stars

ARC REVIEW | Viper: Book 1 (Isles of Storm and Sorrow) by Bex Hogan

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Title: VIPER: BOOK 1 (ISLES OF STORM AND SORROW)

Author: BEX HOGAN

Released: 18TH APRIL 2019 by ORION CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Genre: YA FANTASY

Rep: LGBTQ+, DISABILITY, POC | TWs: CHILD ABDUCTION, BRUTAL MURDER, DEATH, TALK OF POTENTIAL SEXUAL ASSAULT

Respect has to be earned among Snakes, and I have done nothing to gain theirs yet

The world:

The story takes place in the Eastern Isles. There are 12 in all, but we only really get the eastern 6 in this story. Most of the tale is on The Maiden, Adler’s ship, but also on a few of the isles. My favourite was the Sixth Isle, but followed closely by the Fourth. The world was rich in detail and multi-faceted, so much so I could clearly visualize them. The isles sounded amazing – mostly – and there are a few I wouldn’t mind visiting. Everything is explained beautifully and I am hooked on Hogan’s writing!

The characters:

Marianne has lived her whole life on a ship under her father’s command. He’s the Viper, which is basically the King’s hand of justice on the sea. Marianne has been pretty oppressed her whole life because she’s not a killer like the rest of the crew. Her compassion and capacity for forgiveness is inspirational and I really loved her. She had loads of depth and was flawed, but so well-written. Definitely a favourite heroine. Her best friend (if you can call her that), Grace, is the best woman on the ship. She’s a highly skilled assassin who is usually assigned to look after Marianne. Grace is also in charge of Marianne’s training, so they are as close as can be on a ship full of secrets. Torin, the prince, is also a pretty major character, interestingly enough. I really loved his role in the whole story and look forward to getting more of him in the next installation. Bronn, Marianne’s ex-best friend, and also a Snake, was surprising! Hogan wrote him so well! I really didn’t like him in the beginning, which is exactly what she wanted, I believe, but then my opinion of him changed. The Viper, Adler, was such a phenomenal villain. I actually hated him! So well done, Hogan! Amazing writing.

The plot:

Essentially, this was a coming-of-age tale about a girl who discovers things are not all they seem on the surface. Once she begins to uncover the truth, there’s a lot more hiding than she initially expected and it turns out her entire world is upended. It’s a really good thing she has so many great friends at her back. The Viper expects her to succeed him one day, but only if she can get over her aversion to brutal murder. The real question is: will Marianne find her strength in time to save the isles and avoid getting herself killed?

Final thoughts:

This wasn’t what I expected at all. In fact, it’s absolutely 100 times better than I ever could have imagined! It has an amazing heroine, pirate life on the high seas, betrayal and deceit, and phenomenal supporting characters. The story is well-paced and such a fast read, but it was never boring and everything contributes to furthering the story. I was shocked by one of the scenes at the end and was highly upset about it, but won’t tell you why because that would be a spoiler! WAH! Anyway, I really loved this story and cannot wait to get more of Marianne and the gang.


Marianne has been training to be the Viper for her entire life – to serve and protect the King and the citizens of The Twelve Isles – but to become the Viper and protect the islands she loves she must find the strength to defeat her father.

An immersive and swashbuckling new fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas and Leigh Bardugo.

He will make me a killer.
Or he will have me killed.
That is my destiny.

Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles.

But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake.

He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father.

She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?

A brave heroine. An impossible dilemma. An epic new fantasy trilogy set on the high seas.

Thank you so much to Bex Hogan and Hachette Children’s Group/Orion Children’s Books via Netgalley for the ARC.

five stars

ARC REVIEW | Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

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Title: LITTLE DARLINGS

Author: MELANIE GOLDING

Released: 30TH APRIL 2019 by CROOKED LANE BOOKS

Genre: HORROR, MYSTERY, THRILLER

Rep: POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION | TWs: CHILD ENDANGERMENT, CHILD ABDUCTION

I finished Little Darlings not long ago and omg…my heart…my FEELINGS. MY BRAIN!!! That was so amazing…

How could her brain conjure something that seemed so real, something laden with so much horrifying detail, and yet there be nothing at all?

What a weird, creepy, and darkly twisty little tale- kind of like that cover! It seems to half take place in a nightmarish land and also half in reality, which makes you wonder if that’s maybe also a discussion on postpartum depression and how it affects new mothers. The story was mostly between that and the twisted fairytale details. It seems to me that the idea of changelings probably stems from new mothers suffering from PPD before people actually understood what it was and why it happened, but I’ve also read that they potentially stem from children that begin to show signs of disability after the initial birth. Either way, they are very sinister in the stories, and that is no different from this tale.

Look at someone every day for long enough and you stop seeing what everyone else sees. You start to see what no one else sees, what is kept hidden from most people.

Lauren seems to have very little support from either her husband, family, or nursing staff, which is not really all that uncommon for many women. They all seem to expect her to get on with it and know how to take care of everything, as well as looking after the housework, etc. Especially her husband who MOVES OUT OF THEIR BEDROOM SO HE CAN GET SOME REST!! What an absolute bastard of a man. He complains nearly the whole time and doesn’t take any responsibility for the boys. I really didn’t like him much throughout the story. Also, those damn nurses and midwives are assholes! How dare they treat her that way… I don’t understand what that’s actually about.

Anyway, this tale about changelings and faeries is gripping and so interesting, yet still very strange. I truly could not put this down once I began reading. The writing is amazing and strikes straight to the heart of so many issues! Also, I was really shocked by the ending, which doesn’t happen to me very often.


SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

APRIL 2019 LIBRARY READS PICK!

“Mother knows best” takes on a sinister new meaning in this unsettling thriller perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, and Aimee Molloy’s The Perfect Mother.

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley—to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some of our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking—and rechecking—your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

Thank you so much to Melanie Golding and Crooked Lane Books via Netgalley for the ARC.

five stars

eARC REVIEW | Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

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Title: OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS

Author: JUSTIN A. REYNOLDS

Released: 4TH APRIL 2019 by MACMILLAN CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Genre: TEENS + YA CONTEMPORARY/SFF

Rep: POC, DISABILITY | TWs: ABANDONMENT, DEATH, VIOLENCE

And I hate the moon. I hate the stars. I hate the darkening sky. And rain and fog. I hate hospitals. And beds with sheets. And every machine ever made. And nurses and doctors. Keep her alive, that was the one thing they had to do. That was the one thing I had to do. And I hate myself most of all.

What if you got a redo of a time in your life that had a massive impact on you?

What if that redo let you fix one important thing at the expense of everything else?

Opposite of Always felt like an investigation into a lot of really big ideas and I really loved it, even if it took me awhile to figure out what was happening. The main premise was Jack meets Kate. Jack falls for Kate. Kate dies (because she has Sickle-Cell anaemia). Jack loops back to six months previous – the party at which he met Kate. Now, I bet you’re like, ‘hello spoiler?’ (unless you read the summary), but I promise you Kate dying is not the point of the story. It’s more about what lengths a person is willing to go to in order to save the one they love. And don’t worry too much, it has a good ending!

This story investigates 4 different timelines of the Jack-Kate story and there are many changes in each. It was really thought-provoking to read and made me question what I might do in a situation I got to relive. Questions it raised for me include: should you regret decisions you’ve made in the past? (Because what good does it do?) What are the important things in life, and what would I do if they conflicted at all? Can you have it all? It’s going to be a long weekend pondering those questions, methinks.

The writing was beautiful and compelling, and I could not recommend this beautiful story more. You should all get it because its a brilliant blend of contemporary and SFF. This is a solid FIVE STAR read.


Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.

He almost made valedictorian.

He almost made varsity.

He almost got the girl . . .

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.

But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Beautiful, radiant Kate. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do—and let go—to save the people he loves.

Thank you so much to Justin A. Reynolds and Macmillan Children’s Books via Netgalley for the ARC.

five stars

eARC REVIEW | Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

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Title: WICKED SAINTS (SOMETHING DARK AND HOLY #1)

Author: EMILY A. DUNCAN

Released: 2ND APRIL 2019 by WEDNESDAY BOOKS

Genre: TEENS + YA/DARK FANTASY

Rep: LGBT+, POC, DISABILITY | TWs: SELF-HARM, ABANDONMENT, ABUSE BY A PARENT, VIOLENCE

“You could be exactly what these countries need to stop their fighting. Or you could rip them apart at the seams.”

WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!

This has been one of my most anticipated releases of 2019 – and it completely exceeded my expectations! I am so glad to have gotten this beautiful book! It filled the gap in my heart that was left by the ending of the Bardugo Grishaverse, and I can safely say I will be 1-clicking the rest of this series as they go live for pre-order! The writing was stunning and completely brilliant. I absolutely devoured this story and nearly died when I reached the end – I couldn’t believe it! The plot points and big reveals were phenomenal. I can’t say I ever saw any of it coming.

Duncan owns my heart now and I can’t wait to see what these characters do next! Nadya is amazing, of course! A talented girl who can speak to the gods and wield their magic? Totally impressive. She’s also hilariously funny – her banter with the gods is comical. And Malachaisz – the blood mage – just…whew! He’s dark and beautiful and surprising and obviously hiding an assload of secrets! I loved him even though I knew I shouldn’t because something was going on in that stunning mind of his. And boy, I sure was not disappointed.

“Are we so different, Nadya?” He lifted his hand, fingers tipped with long claws, and pressed his thumb against her lips. “We both long for freedom. For power. For a choice. We both want to see our kingdoms survive.”

 

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Photo credit to Waricka Art

 

Moral ambiguity – do you love it or would you rather more black and white personalities? You’ll be very happy with this novel if you love a characters with questionable morals. I honestly love when characters are little..twisted and they make it hard for the reader to figure out their motivations. These aren’t your traditional characters – Duncan has taken this fantasy to a new level and created a unique and compelling story.

While there is a hell of a lot going on, this dark, twisty novel is, at it’s heart, about a war between religions (differences) and how that has impacted the shaping of their world. While both sides are similar, one side feels they were justified by the gods, while the other depended on their innate power. It’s interesting to see the power plays among acquaintances and interconnectedness of various characters in the story (because I can’t wait to see how certain things play out!).

I have honestly thought about this book SO MUCH since I finished reading it. I’ll definitely be reading it again. I feel like my words don’t do this beautiful book the justice it deserves, but you MUST GO BUY IT IN ALL FORMS! I have the audiobook that I cannot wait to start on asap… I only wish I could rate this higher than FIVE STARS.

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A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy..

Thank you so much to Emily A. Duncan and Wednesday Books via Netgalley for the ARC.

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