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

REVIEW | The Wickerlight (The Wren Hunt #2) by Mary Watson

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Title: THE WICKERLIGHT

Author: MARY WATSON

Released: 30TH MAY 2019 by BLOOMSBURY YA

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY

TWs: Death, talk of divorce, talk of adultery, parental separation, abuse, torture – physical and mental.


Zara’s family moved to Kilshamble for a new beginning. But everything changed the night her sister was found dead on the village green.

Two months later, Laila’s death is a riddle that nobody wants solved. Where were her injuries? Why was she so obsessed with local folklore? And what does all this have to do with David, the boy who lives at the big house?

As Zara delves deeper into her sister’s secret life, she becomes entangled in an ancient magical feud. All too unwittingly she is treading the same dangerous path that led Laila to the village green.


I HAVE BEEN AWAITING THIS SINCE I FINISHED READING THE WREN HUNT LAST YEAR!! Set not long after the close of The Wren Hunt, we find a new family has moved to Kilshamble and one of them has stumbled upon a deadly secret. I love everything that is fantasy and set in Ireland, so it was no surprise that I loved this as much as I did. It was equal parts mystical, dark, and beautiful. Chock full of Irish mysticism with a little South African detail!! I highly enjoyed that Mary Watson utilised her own background to develop the main family in this story.

I adored Mary Watson’s writing style in The Wren Hunt and she did not let us down in The Wickerlight! Her ability to invoke such immediacy for the reader has only improved from The Wren Hunt to now. As I started reading, I was completely lost in the world of judges and augurs once again. The world building and character development is (…out of this world? 🤣) unreal – so freaking good! Mary Watson is a writing ninja and I love her!!

I found The Wickerlight to be slightly more interesting only because we get more into the judges and their community, rather than only focusing on the augurs. It nearly felt like the augurs were the villains in this story, but truly villainy nearly always depends on the narrator, doesn’t it? We readers really get a lot more information about the feud, etc. in this companion. Plus, the mystery of the introductory death adds a bit of excitement and enigma to this world that wasn’t quite there in The Wren Hunt.

I highly recommend you pick this beautiful story up with some gin spritzes and read it as soon as you can! Read The Wren Hunt first, though! They’re connected, even if The Wickerlight isn’t a direct sequel. You’ll love Kilshamble and its inhabitants.


Thank you to Bloomsbury UK for this review copy.

five stars

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY | ARC REVIEW | The Beckoning Shadow by Katharyn Blair

HAPPY RELEASE DAY, KATHARYN BLAIR!!

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Title: THE BECKONING SHADOW (THE BECKONING SHADOW #1)

Author: KATHARYN BLAIR

Released: 2ND JULY 2019 by KATHERINE TEGEN BOOKS

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY | CONTEMPORARY

TWs: Anxiety, violence, death/murder, house fire


Vesper Montgomery can summon your worst fear and turn it into a reality—but she’s learned the hard way that it’s an addicting and dangerous power. One wrong move and you could hurt someone you love.

But when she earns a spot in the Tournament of the Unraveling, where competitors battle it out for a chance to rewrite the past, Vesper finally has a shot to reverse the mistakes that have changed her forever. She turns to Sam Hardy, a former MMA fighter who’s also carrying a tragedy he desperately wants to undo. However, helping heal Sam’s heart will mean breaking her own, and the competition forces her to master her powers—powers she has been terrified of since they destroyed her life.


Before I tell you how I found The Beckoning Shadow, let me first say that I did NOT realise this was not a standalone… It is only a duology, but I wanted to let you all know before you pick it up. Especially because book 2 probably isn’t out until at least next year. I definitely thought it was worth the read!

I’m going to be really honest here… I only chose this because I loved the cover. I mean, a badass girl fighter (plus, the colour scheme) says great things about what’s inside the pages, right? Well, I was pretty spot on! I mean, Supernatural Fight Club, amirite? I received this awhile ago and when I picked it up I had mostly forgotten the synopsis. So, I decided to jump straight in since publication was coming up and I was not disappointed. I devoured it in 2 days, and the only reason it took me that long was because I had to work full days! In a word, unputdownable!

I really enjoyed the action and world building in this novel. It was a story set in San Francisco, which made me nostalgic for my college years.. By turns, seedy and classy, we see a multi-faceted city with depth and heart. it flows so well, and we can clearly see Katharyn Blair is a master wordsmith in the way her descriptions tug at heartstrings along the way. We get so much backstory without it being information overload, so that we are able to see a fuller picture of how Vesper arrives at the beginning to this novel. The characters nearly jumped off the page they were so full of life. Vesper (a very distinctive name) has her flaws, but still wants to forge relationships with the people she meets, even when she actively tries to push them away. Sam surprised me in a lot of ways, which I can’t explain without spoilers!! So, enjoy him. And the other Oddities – Sapphira, Aldrick, and the others they meet along the way – are so interesting! I loved this found family! I appreciated the sheer amount of abilities involved in the story. I’m not going to regurgitate the plot here, but suffice it to say I loved it! It was well constructed and unique, if not entirely original. Ultimately, I was hugely satisfied with this story, and would have been happy with the ending had it been a standalone. So, no, there’s no major cliffhangers here, but I imagine we’ll all want to stick around for the resolution!


Thank you to Harper 360 YA UK for this ARC.

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

BLOG TOUR + EXCERPT: I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns + Melinda Metz (eARC)

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TITLE: I Do Not Trust You

AUTHOR: Laura J. Burns + Melinda Metz

RELEASES: 11 September 2018 by Wednesday Books

GENRE: YA Fiction

SYNOPSIS

Memphis “M” Engle is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome.

Ashwin Sood is a little too posh for her tastes, a member of an ancient cult (which she’s pretty sure counts for more than one strike against him), and has just informed Memphis that her father who she thought was dead isn’t and needs her help.

From the catacombs of Paris to lost temples in the sacred forests, together they crisscross the globe, searching for the pieces of the one thing that might save her father. But the closer they come to saving him—and the more they fall for one another—the closer they get to destroying the world.

REVIEW

Memphis (M) is a really interesting character from the off. She’s had an amazing upbringing and then suffers an overwhelming loss – that of her father who is her closest person. When she meets Ash and discovers he’s still alive, everything changes. And her quest begins!

M is hands down my favourite of all the characters (although, Mike runs a close second) because she reminds me a lot of myself at 18. She’s strong and smart and fiercely loyal to those she cares about – she goes above and beyond to try to save her father. She also seems very adult for her age at first, but then she begins to become a bit more immature. I think a lot of it is down to stressing about her father and the most recent part of her life. She’s also hilariously funny and I loved that she used words like bananapants!

Ash I didn’t like so much. I loved how well-formed his character was, but I hated that he was always hiding things from M, which is slightly hypocritical of me seeing as M is doing the same. I think the difference for me was the reasoning behind it for each of them. He’s doing it for his religious beliefs, and M is doing it to save her father. I suppose they are both in the right, but a human being’s life is a lot more important than a cult. In my eyes, anyway! He is flawed, yet still interesting. I found myself trying to figure out what his motives were more than once – clearly they don’t entirely align with his cults designs.

I loved the use of mythology and mysticism entwined throughout the story. It made it that much more intriguing, and mythologically-themed fiction is my favourite!! One of my favourite scenes is when M makes the point that all mythology was once a societal belief system. It made me ponder the likes of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, etc., and wonder how long will it take for those to become nothing more than mythology and for some other belief system to take over.It’s interesting to see how once the majority of people no longer believe something, it becomes mythology.

I really enjoyed this book for many reasons. It was a really good read and I would absolutely recommend it to friends! I found it different to what I would usually read, which was really refreshing and totally raced through it.

Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for providing me with a proof copy. All quotes are taken from an ARC and may not match the final release.

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EXCERPT

“You should’ve seen Miss Memphis here get into it with Nick last period,” Brianna said, squeezing in between M and Inez at their usual spot in the cafeteria. “She shut him down with her crazy ancient cultures voodoo.”

“He’s an ass. He’s lucky he’s hot,” their friend Ayana commented, waving her spork in Nick’s direction.

M shrugged. “I wouldn’t try to debate him in Physics. I just know more about Rome than he does.”

“What about AP Chem? Would you debate him in that?” Inez asked in a fake-serious voice. “Would you debate him in German class?”

“She’d debate him in German, in German,” Brianna joked. “And if he tried to fight back, she’d switch to Greek.”

M threw a French fry at her. “I can’t help it. I grew up speaking different languages.”

“And learning about pharaohs. And becoming well versed in the history of the Etruscan people,” Ayana said, putting on a fake accent that was probably supposed to be British. “Oh, and setting broken bones in the bush.”

“That only happened once,” M muttered. Her friends laughed.

“Anyway, it was epic. Thanks,” Brianna said. “I can’t stand fighting with people, and Nick always goes after me.”

“He knows you hate it,” M pointed out. “That’s why he does it.”

“An ass, like I said.” Ayana shrugged.

“You think he’s coming to the party tonight?” Brianna asked.

“Probably. Everyone else is,” Inez replied. “Even Memphis.” M made a face. “Anything to get out of the house. Bob and Liza would expect me to play board games with them otherwise.” Her friends exchanged a glance. M winced. “No offense.”

“Oh, were you offending someone?” Nick piped up from behind her. “Good girl.”

Immediately Bri looked down, while Ayana rolled her eyes. Inez just smirked, glancing back and forth between M and Nick.

“I was not offending anyone. I only meant I don’t like parties,” M said. She didn’t bother to turn toward him. It didn’t matter; he inserted himself onto the bench next to her anyway. A little tingle ran up her spine as the scent of his co- logne hit her nostrils, spicy and warm.

“Mmm, they’re boring. Everyone talking about the prom or the senior trip or whatever. I’m over it,” Nick said.

Me too, thought M, wishing she didn’t agree with him. She loved her friends, but even they were all about high school. M just didn’t care. High school was nothing more than what she had to get through before she could leave. After the crash, after the shock of Bob and Liza becoming her guardians, she’d asked if she could go off to college early, either Boston University or the University of Sheffield in England. Both had the kind of archeology program she wanted and would’ve let her in with no questions. They knew her father. They knew high school was a waste of time for someone like her.

But her guardians said no. They said she needed stabil- ity and normalcy after losing her dad. Never mind that traveling the world and taking care of herself was normal for her. While she and Dad technically lived in Boston, she’d never spent more than a few months there during the school year. They traveled. Half the year spent on digs. She missed it.

“What’s with this thing, anyway? Is it to fight off bad guys?” Nick teased, finding an excuse to touch her. He reached for M’s collapsible bo staff, tucked in the inside pocket of her jacket like always. But before he touched it, be- fore his flirty smile registered in her mind, M had already grabbed his hand, twisted it back to the breaking point, and used the pain to push him off the cafeteria bench and onto the floor. With her other hand, she whipped out the stick and shoved it up against his throat.

M froze. He’s just hitting on you. Her friends were aghast, and everyone nearby watched, openmouthed. Nick’s eyes were wide with panic.

“Sorry.” M stood up, leaving Nick on the floor. “I’m really sorry.”

“Freak,” he muttered, climbing to his feet. He glanced around, noticing the barely concealed laughter from onlookers. “Jeez, I just wanted a fry,” he joked, as if he hadn’t been humiliated, then hurried out of the cafeteria.

“What. The. Hell?” Inez asked. “He was flirting with you and you beat him up!”

“I know.” M groaned, shoving her staff back into her pocket. “I didn’t mean to. It was just reflex.”

Her friends were silent. She’d freaked them out. Should she explain the years of self-defense and martial arts training? That she and Dad ended up in some rough places? Her friends lived in a city, they understood danger. Sort of. In a nice, upscale Boston kind of way.

M sighed. There was no point in trying to explain. No- body understood her life.

“You kinda push all the guys away,” Brianna pointed out quietly. “Maybe not like that, but still . . .”

“I don’t do romance,” M replied. She was done with love, period. She’d loved her parents, and they were both gone. Love hurt too much. It was better to steer clear of it.

They all ate in silence for a minute.

“I mean, he is an ass,” Ayana said finally. And everybody laughed.

 

M: You up?

MIKE: It’s a 12 hr time difference. Of course I’m up.

M: Like you never sleep in on weekends.

MIKE: Fine, your text woke me.

M: I don’t think that glyph is a lotus. It’s bending the wrong way.

MIKE: It has to be a lotus. If it’s not, the whole phrase is wrong.

M: The rest of the phrase never sat well with Nefertum anyway.

MIKE: Your dad said it was a lotus.

Golden Chains by M. Lynn (eARC)

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TITLE: Golden Chains

AUTHOR: M. Lynn

RELEASED: 12 July 2018

GENRE: YA Fantasy/Fairytale Retelling

Never fall in love with the enemy.

If only it were that simple.

Persinette Basile has always known the ruling family of Gaule were meant to be her enemy. With no other choice, she fought to join them anyway.
And they will break her now that they know her true name.

As she sits in her prison cell, she wants one thing: for the Kingdom of Gaule to burn to the ground.

But they need her. 

When the king is kidnapped, the kingdom turns to the only person who could possibly find him: the woman tied to him by magic. Etta. 

Life-altering secrets. Magical duels. A love that could tear two kingdoms apart.

Inspired by the Rapunzel series, this is the golden-haired princess as you’ve never seen her before. 

This was just as good a read as book 1! In some ways, I actually enjoyed this one more than Golden Curse. Etta discovers so much about her family, the curse, and her people in this one. I felt like it was revelation after revelation for her! Some good, some terrible, but well worth the read. She also has a lot of character development in this segment of her story.

I’m slightly worried bout book 3 due to how this one ended.. Holy cliffhanger, Batman! I’m not sure I can wait much longer to find out what happens between the Queen of Bela and the King of Gaule, but now I’m invested, so it must be done!