Tag Archive for: YA

Review: The InvocationsTitle: The Invocations
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Genre(s): Horror, YA
Pages: 400
Source: Library
For: Recommended
Rating:
Sexual Content: 0.5 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Zara Jones believes in magic because the alternative is too painful to bear--that her sister was murdered by a serial killer and there is precisely nothing she can do to change it. Jude Wolf might be the daughter of a billionaire, but she is also undeniably cursed. After a deal with a demon went horribly wrong, her soul is now slowly turning necrotic. Enter Emer Bryne: the solution to both Zara's and Jude's predicaments. The daughter of a witch, Emer sells spells to women in desperate situations willing to sacrifice a part of their soul in exchange for a bit of power, a bit of magic to change their lives. As Zara and Jude enter Emer's orbit, they'll have to team up to stop the killer--before they each end up next on his list.

My Thoughts

I really enjoy reading horror, but I don’t read it very often because fantasy and romance have my heart. When I read Ellie’s ARC review of THE INVOCATIONS, I knew I had to read it right away. I immediately put it on hold at the library and waited for its release and my turn.

I finished reading THE INVOCATIONS last night and I’m so glad I decided to read it right away. I was not disappointed in the least. I loved the idea of witches and witch hunters, and the use of invocations to grant women borrowed power from demons for a small piece of their soul. The story was dark, tense, mysterious, and full of paranormal goodness. It reminded me of an episode of Netflix’s THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA, which is what I think Krystal Sutherland was going for since she mentioned the show a couple of times in the story.

“I did not come this far to only come this far.”

I loved the three main characters in THE INVOCATIONS. Zara Jones is smart, determined, and grieving the loss of her sister. Jude Wolf is trying to find a way, any way, back into the good graces of her billionaire father’s heart, if he has one, and the life of luxury that represents. Emer Byrne is simply trying to exist without being tracked by those who want witches dead. Together they make an unstoppable team.

I really enjoyed THE INVOCATIONS. It gave me exactly what I was looking for. It ends in a way that doesn’t demand a sequel, but open enough if Sutherland wants to return to this world.

Have you read THE INVOCATIONS? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for loss of a parent, corpse mutilation, and blood drinking.

Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and SnakesTitle: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #0.5
Genre(s): Dystopian, Romance, YA
Pages: 541
Source: Own
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Sexual Content: 0.5 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

It's the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out-charm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute, but the odds are against him because he's been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low.

My Thoughts

I wanted to read THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES before the movie came out last year. Unfortunately, my reading mojo wasn’t where it normally is so I committed the cardinal sin of watching the movie before reading the book. I liked the movie so much I finally decided to start listening to the audio book.

I thought THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES was really fascinating and a fantastic prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy. I especially loved learning about Panem after the first war between the Capitol and the districts. I thought it was interesting to see how the Hunger Games operated before they became what they were in the 74th Hunger Games.

“Well, as they said, it’s not over until the mockingjay sings.”

I loved the characters in THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES. Lucy Gray was my favorite, of course. I love how much she loves life, her defiant spirit, her go-with-the-flow personality, and her when-life-gives-you-lemons-make-lemonade outlook. I felt sorry for Sejanus, having to leave his beloved District 2 and become a citizen of the Capitol. I loved learning more about Tigris and I’m curious why and when she and Coriolanus had a falling out.

Watching Coriolanus Snow’s life unfold in THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES is a lot like watching Anakin Skywalker become Darth Vader in the Star Wars prequels. You keep hoping it won’t happen, but know there’s no hope. I thought it was interesting to be in his head, to hear the conflict of remaining loyal to the Capitol and regaining his status and wealth or siding with the districts and Lucy Gray.

Overall, I really enjoyed THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES. However, I’m only rating it 4 stars because I thought Coriolanus’ transition to the “Dark Side” was a little abrupt, especially how fast he and Lucy Gray turned on one another.

I also thought the audiobook was awesome. I loved Santino Fontana’s deep voice. I just wished he sang all the songs in the book, like Jim Dale does in the Harry Potter audio books.

Have you read THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for violence against children, loss of a parent, cannibalism, and animal deaths.

I read several books this year that I haven’t reviewed on my blog. Instead of writing individual reviews for them all, I thought I’d do a mini review of each of them. The first two are non-fiction and the rest are fiction.

Non-Fiction

Mini Reviews #1Title: Atomic Habits
Author: James Clear
Genre(s): Non-Fiction
Pages: 306
Source: Borrowed
For: Recommended
Rating:
Sexual Content: 0 Flames

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Earlier this year, I told my therapist I was having a hard time following through with my goals to exercise more and eat healthier. He suggested I read ATOMIC HABITS, stating that most of the things James Clear had to say were spot on. I decided to listen to the audiobook because Corey already owned a copy.

The audiobook is narrated by James Clear and is very well done. I thought he had a lot of great ideas, like habit stacking. To my surprise, a lot of his ideas align really well with DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) skills. I’ve decided I need to read a physical copy of ATOMIC HABITS so I can annotate the things that are helpful to me to implement what I learned.


Mini Reviews #1Title: Radical Love
Author: Zachary Levi
Genre(s): Memoir, Non-Fiction
Pages: 224
Source: Borrowed
For: Book Club
Rating:
Sexual Content: 0 Flames

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In July, we each read a memoir of our choice for book club. I had already read Marsha Linehan’s memoir but I have wanted to read Zachary Levi’s for a long time. I decided to read RADICAL LOVE a couple of months later.

I’m so glad I decided to listen to the audiobook because Levi, himself, narrates it and talks about his struggles with depression, suicidal ideation, and his feelings of worthlessness. I truly enjoyed RADICAL LOVE. It was raw, emotional, uplifting, and hopeful. It helped remind me that none of us are alone and there’s always help when we need it. I’m glad he sought help during his darkest moments, start the healing process of managing his mental health, and forgiving the abuse he suffered at the hands of his parents.

Fiction

Mini Reviews #1Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E Smith
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 236
Source: Borrowed
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1 Flames

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During the first half of the year, I was trying to participate in the POP Sugar Challenge. One of the prompts was a book that takes place all in one day. I had wanted to read THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT (mouthful) for a while.

THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT was the perfect book to get me to actually sit down and read, something I struggled with for most of 2023. I really enjoyed reading Hadley’s story. Jennifer E Smith’s writing helped draw me right in. I loved the chemistry between Hadley and Oliver. I also found myself grinning stupidly as I read the bantering between them. I also loved watching Hadley and Oliver deal with life’s ups and downs during the day they were together. You may think that the story seems fantastical to happen all in one day, but it just added to the magic.


Mini Reviews #1Title: The Measure
Author: Nikki Erlick
Genre(s): Science Fiction
Pages: 353
Source: Borrowed
For: Recommended
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1 Flames

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Last December, one of the people in my book club recommended THE MEASURE. When I was trying to decide what to read in August, THE MEASURE came to mind.

I decided to listen to the audiobook of THE MEASURE and I was hooked from the beginning. The narrator did a fantastic job. The story’s so compelling that I’d find time to listen to the audiobook and I kept thinking about the strings and characters in between listenings.

I loved Nikki Erlick’s twist on the mythology of The Fates. Just like all the characters, I wanted to understand the mysteries of the boxes and strings. I cared about most of the characters and how their lives were affected by the strings. I also loved the message that life can be meaningful no matter how long it is.


Mini Reviews #1Title: The Only Girl in Town
Author: Ally Condie
Genre(s): Contemporary, YA
Pages: 336
Source: Own
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1 Flames

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I had the chance to attend the book launch for THE ONLY GIRL IN TOWN. Ally Condie is such a sweet, down-to-earth person. Hearing what she had to say about THE ONLY GIRL IN TOWN made me want to read it right away. I chose to listen to the audiobook. The narrator was fantastic and had a lot of emotion in her voice. The short chapters and pacing almost gave the book an “in verse” feel. Sometimes hearing “chapter …” several times in less than five minutes took me out of the story.

As always, Ally’s writing is a joy to read. She has such a poetic and lyrical way of expressing what she wants to write. I was very surprised by the actual story. I have trouble choosing a genre because of that. THE ONLY GIRL IN TOWN wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Despite my surprise, I soon found myself all in as I experienced July’s story and her effort to figure out what was going on around her. THE ONLY GIRL IN TOWN is immersive and a beautiful take on how depression, loneliness, disappointment, and the inevitable changes in our relationships can affect our thinking and choices.


Mini Reviews #1Title: Meet Me at the Lake
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
Source: Borrowed
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Sexual Content: 3.5 Flames

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I adored Carley Fortune’s debut novel EVERY SUMMER AFTER so I was super excited to read MEET ME AT THE LAKE. As with most of the books I read this year, I read the audiobook and I liked the narrator a lot.

As far as the story goes, I wasn’t disappointed. I loved Fern and Will’s story. I loved the premise of them getting a second chance at love. Even though MEET ME AT THE LAKE is mostly fluff, there’s some meat to the story too thanks to the inclusion of how mental illness and the loss of a loved one can mess with our plans and intentions. It made the characters and story feel more real.


Mini Reviews #1Title: The Christmas Murder Game
Author: Alexandra Benedict
Genre(s): Holiday, Mystery
Pages: 325
Source: Borrowed
For: Book Club
Rating:
Sexual Content: 0.5 Flames

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I read THE CHRISTMAS MURDER GAME for book club. I thought the concept of THE CHRISTMAS MURDER GAME sounded fun and suspenseful. While I was never bored, I just didn’t think the execution was done very well and the writing was very clunky. I thought Benedict tried way too hard trying to think up the anagrams. Fortunately, listening to the audiobook helped hide the weird spellings.

As far as the story goes, I knew who the main antagonist was pretty early on. I didn’t mind Lily but I thought some of her choices were a little suspect. Every other character was either annoying, selfish, or not developed very well. The circumstances that had to happen so the story could take place weren’t very realistic either.

Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens AgendaTitle: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Series: Simonverse #1
Genre(s): Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance, YA
Pages: 325
Source: Library
For: Play Book Tag
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight.

My Thoughts

I grew up in a very conservative religious family. Like many Christian religions, my religion believes acting on “same-sex attraction” is a sin. Because of this, I knew about SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. But, because it’s about a closeted gay teenager, I’ve always shied away from reading it. I began questioning my own sexuality about eight years ago and I came out as queer on June 1. I’m now ready to embrace that part of me without feeling shame, which includes reading LGBTQ+ literature.

Last year, I watched LOVE, SIMON on Hulu and fell in love with Simon Spier and his story. Because of the movie, I wanted to read SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. I decided to read it as part of Pride Month.

Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever.

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA is a heart-warming story of love and acceptance in all its forms. Simon’s coming out felt familiar. When I read about his fear of rejection and/or disappointing those he loved if he came out, I felt like I understood.

I really felt for him when he was outed without his consent and bullied at the hands of other students in his school. I actually really love how Albertalli used the bullying Simon faced as a way for him to feel supported by his friends, family, and teachers as they rallied around him.

I loved the characters in SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. I loved the relationship he had with Blue. I loved reading their emails to each other. They were fun and witty. I also loved his relationship with his parents and sisters. His family was protective and supportive, but not without their flaws which made the story more realistic.

Have you read SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for bullying.

Review: Stalking Jack the RipperTitle: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #1
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Thriller, YA
Pages: 392
Source: Own
For: Play Book Tag, Unofficial Trim Challenge
Rating:
Sexual Content: 1 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

Against Audrey Rose's stern father's wishes and society's expectations, she often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey Rose into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

My Thoughts

I’ve been fascinated by the story of Jack the Ripper ever since I was a teenager. I watched a couple of TV miniseries fictionalizing his rampage of terror with my parents and I often wondered who the real Ripper was and why he did what he did.

I’ve been excited to read STALKING JACK THE RIPPER ever since I knew the book existed. I just never took the time to read it. I’m so glad I finally did. I loved how Maniscalco wove the historical in with the fiction. I loved seeing the events of Jack’s murders through the eyes of Audrey Rose and the other characters around her.

Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows.

One of the things I loved about STALKING JACK THE RIPPER was reading about the science of the times. In Maniscalco’s author’s note, she said she tried to remain as true to the capabilities of the time as possible. I thought it was really interesting that even though most of society scorned the work of forensic scientists because they thought it ungodly and mad, scientists were able to do all they did without the many advancements we have today.

I loved the cast of characters in STALKING JACK THE RIPPER, including Jack. Even though I guessed who Jack was in the end, I was surprised how it all went down. It made for a fun, surprising ending that I really enjoyed. View Spoiler »

I’m glad I finally took the time to read STALKING JACK THE RIPPER. Even though I’ve watched several miniseries and movies about the infamous Ripper, this is my first book. I now want to read more books and see how they compare. I also look forward to reading more by Maniscalco as I enjoyed her writing.

Have you read STALKING JACK THE RIPPER? If so, what did you think?