Wednesday, July 31, 2019

DNF&Y [19]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative! If you would like additional information, please click on the DNF&Y tab at the top. If you want to join, you can link up at the bottom!

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
by Erika L. Sanchez
Narrated by Kyla Garcia

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

DNF at 19%

I decided to try I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter when it was one of the few audiobooks available at my library (my library is small, and I have to request most of what I want). I didn't know much about the book going into it, and that's my fault, but I could not connect with the main character. She's so negative about everything, and while that might be a realistic portrayal of some teenagers, it wasn't for me. She comments on a friend's makeup, and how a dress looks bad on that same friend's mom, and it just felt unnecessary. Additionally, the story starts off really slow, and I tend to prefer books with a quicker pace.

Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay 
Expected publication: August 1st 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Alice’s stories of Wonderland did more than raise a few eyebrows—it landed her in an asylum. Now at 15 years of age, she’s willing to do anything to leave, which includes agreeing to an experimental procedure. When Alice decides at the last minute not to go through with it, she escapes with the White Rabbit to Wonderland and trades one mad house for another: the court of the Queen of Hearts. Only this time, she is under orders to take out the Queen. When love, scandal, and intrigue begin to muddle her mission, Alice finds herself on the wrong side of the chopping block.

DNF at 5%

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Ever Alice made my head hurt. The language was confusing, and the content didn't always make sense. I know that Wonderland is a magical place, and not everything is supposed to be logical, but readers still need some backstory and context to understand what's going on. Rosalind (I believe that's the queen's name) is bananas, and I think she's supposed to be, but her perspective only made things more difficult to follow. The phrasing and wording were weird, which also made the story a challenge to read. “'Only the most unimportant news,' he said with his tongue sticking out of his mouth." After awhile I stopped reading, because I didn't want to force myself to stick with something I couldn't get into.

Finale (Caraval, #3) by Stephanie Garber
Narrated by Rebecca Soler
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time—only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…

DNF at 7%

I tried and failed to get through this one. I was hesitant to start it at all, because I didn't love the first two. However, I was curious about the Fates, Jacks, and their mother, which is why I decided to give it a go. Tella is still obnoxious and always playing games. Why?? Who makes the rules?? She and Legend are dancing around each other, and it's so frustrating. I prefer characters that are more direct and less childish. Also, why is Scarlett still wearing that dress? She never takes it off, and I know it changes to reflect her emotions, but doesn't she bathe?? Magical dress or no, a person still needs to get naked and soapy every once in awhile. 

*Share your DNF&Y post! Please leave the direct link to your DNF&Y post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Sunday Post [24]

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at the Caffeinated Reviewer! It's an opportunity to share news, post a recap for the previous week, showcase books, and highlight what's planned for the week ahead.


I'm sorry the blog has been neglected this month. I've been reading (because it's a lovely escape from reality, and my reality is a little bleak at the moment), but haven't felt like sitting down and blogging. No one is sick, my family is fine, and things will get better. Life has a way of sorting itself out, but sometimes you have grin and bear it for awhile. 

My son starts school in August, and I still can't believe it! It really hit me when I saw the list of supplies he'd need for school, and I started crying right there in the store. He's my baby, and I'm so happy for him, and so sad for me. I know he's going to love school, and I want him to, but I'll miss having his face around. I know people always say this about their kids, but he's the best. Seriously.

Previous week on the blog:

Sunday: Nothing!
Monday: Nothing!
Thursday: Nothing! 
Friday: Nothing!
Saturday: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1) by Sarah J. Mass ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

What I'm currently reading:

I devoured the first two books in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, and Andi from Andi's ABCs has kindly let me borrow A Court of Wings and Ruin until my copy arrives. After reading the first book, I knew it would be a series I needed on my shelves, because it's one I'll want to read again and again. I love the dynamics between the characters, and how they've all changed and grown since the first book.

Shatter the Sky is one I just started, and one I had hoped to finish before tomorrow, but that was before the whirlwind that is Rhysand entered my life (Chapter 55 is no joke you guys). It's been really good so far, and I plan on fully jumping back into it once I recover from my current book hangover.

Small Spaces is wonderfully dark and interesting! I was surprised how eerie this MG book turned out to be! My kids are loving it, even if they as me to leave the hall light on while they fall asleep, haha.

What I plan on reading next: 

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1) by Sarah J. Mass 
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
The Last Hope (The Raging Ones, #2) by Krista & Becca Ritchie

What I'm watching:

I'm currently caught up on Attack on Titan, which is vicious and brutal. I have no idea why I'm still watching something that freaks me out, but the story is good. I think this is supposed to be the last season, and we're finally starting to get answers, even if a lot of people had to die for them.

Veronica Mars, lovelies! I loved the original television show, so I was thrilled when they announced a new season. However, I thought this season was supposed to give us closure, but the ending was !!! and left a lot of questions unanswered. There's going to be more, right?

Challenge updates: 

Beat the Backlist Challenge: 46 / 100
Discussion Challenge: 5 / 11-20
Goodreads Challenge: 220 / 500

Saturday, July 27, 2019

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)
by Sarah J. Maas

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.


I never went to sleep last night! How could I once I started A Court of Thorns and Roses? I felt compelled to read until the very last page, so when I finally closed the book, the sun was already creeping in through my bedroom window. I looked at the time and groaned, because my alarm was set to go off in fifteen minutes. There was no point in trying to sleep, and I wouldn't have been able to anyways. This book left me with so much to think about!

I'm not big on love triangles, but Rhysand blew into this story like a hurricane that left me reeling. At first I thought he was cruel and selfish like all the others, but his actions always seemed to benefit Feyre in some way, or his court and their well-being. He had the ability to be malicious, but I never felt like he enjoyed it. I really hope there's more of him in the second book, because I have so many questions! I sort of hate myself for how quickly I switched sides, especially after Rhysand paraded her around for the amusement of others (and likely himself), but Rhysand. Right?? Please tell me you understand!

I was fully shipping Tamlin and Feyre for most of the book, but once they went Under the Mountain, things changed for me. They're unable to interact with one another, and so their connection felt strained and almost like it never existed at all. Feyre is there for him and his court, but it's possible her feelings fractured along the way. It's not like things were easy for her, and her only reprieve came from an unlikely source. Her relationship with Tamlin was frenetic and wild, but felt more physical than emotional. I know they thought they "understood" each other, and maybe they did, but that didn't mean there was a connection past their primal urges. Also, Tamlin seems to have trouble holding on to his anger, and his outbursts only felt small because his powers were diminished.

This might be one love triangle I can support, depending on how it's handled in the second book. It's not like Feyre feels conflicted between two people at this point, but her experiences with both have been vastly different. Once Feyre's trials started, survival became her main concern, and I feel like one person was more invested in keeping her alive. The other chose to remain indifferent, because they believed that was their best chance at keeping her safe. Ugh, I can understand everyone's actions, which makes this much more difficult. However, only one person tried to save her at the end, and I think that speaks volumes.

The characters were amazing, and I cannot wait to explore their personalities further in the next book. Everyone's circumstances have changed, so it'll be interesting to see how that impacts their relationships. Lucien was hilarious and so fully himself at all times. He never tried to be something he wasn't, and I appreciated how honest he was (most of the time). He's dedicated to Tamlin, but I would like for him to find his own happiness in one of these books. He's been through so much, and deserves to find love again.

I'm already a fan of stories about faeries, and really loved the world Maas created. It's intricate and elegant. Some of the elements were familiar, but also decidedly different. What faeries can and cannot do, the layout of their world, and even their struggles with humans.

Did anyone else get Beauty and the Beast vibes from this book? There's definitely a lot of fur and growling going on... an art gallery instead of a library, and paint instead of books, but the similarities were there. A curse that only love can break? Was this supposed to be a retelling of sorts, or just little tidbits for B&B fans to enjoy?

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

My Weekly Pull [80] & Can't Wait Wednesday [50]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday (when the stars align in my favor) to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Nothing for me this week!

Jacob's comics for the week:
Drawing Blood Spilled Ink #3 by Kevin Eastman, David Avallone
Amazing Spider-Man #26 by Nick Spencer,  Kev Walker, Ryan Ottley
Guardians of the Galaxy #7 by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, David Marquez
History of Marvel Universe #1 by Mark Waid, Javier Rodriguez
Web of Venom Funeral Pyre #1 by Cullen Bunn, Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque, Joshua Cassara, Declan Shalvey

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, that highlights upcoming releases that we're anticipating and excited to read. It's a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday that was hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis
Expected publication: November 12th 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Eighteen-year-old Devon longs for two things.

The stars.
And the boy she fell in love with last summer.

When Ashton breaks Devon’s heart at the end of the most romantic and magical summer ever, she thinks her heart will never heal again. But over the course of the following year, Devon finds herself slowly putting the broken pieces back together.

Now it’s senior year, and she’s determined to enjoy every moment of it as she prepares for a future studying the galaxies. That is, until Ashton shows up on the first day of school. Can she forgive him and open her heart again? Or are they doomed to repeat history?

From debut author, Ronni Davis, comes a stunning novel about passion, loss, and the power of first love.

I'm so sorry this post is late! I'm dating it back to Wednesday so it's easier to find. If you did a MWP post, I deeply apologize for not having this up for your personal links.

*Share your My Weekly Pull post! Please leave the direct link to your My Weekly Pull post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Synopsis (via Goodreads): The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of YucatΓ‘n to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.


I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Gods of Jade and Shadow is a book that's meant to be savored. I never felt like skimming the pages, or skipping ahead to see what would happen, even though I was really curious how this story would end. This story begs to be read word by word, and with slow precision. The world Silvia Moreno-Garcia created is vibrant and the details are incredible. Whenever Casiopea would arrive somewhere new, we're given a brief history and a rich description of her surroundings. They visit towns we're familiar with, but we see them with new eyes as we're shown what they might've looked like in the past.

This book felt like mythology, historical fiction, and fantasy all wrapped into one, and I really enjoyed the contrast. The author blends her characters, the world, and the story together seamlessly, and I looked forward picking this up throughout the day. It's a book you think about while you're doing the dishes, or when you finally close your eyes at the end of the day. The characters stick with you, and their well-being becomes a very important priority. I love when I feel this attached to the people I'm reading about!

Additionally, I really enjoyed the Mayan mythology interwoven throughout the story. I was unfamiliar with most of it, and loved learning about new people and places. I know that the Greek gods fought with one another, and their stories are often violent. However, the Mayan mythology felt darker. There seemed to be more blood, bones, and black magic. This could also be because the story is about gods of Death.

Casiopea has lived a very difficult life. When she's presented with an opportunity for adventure, it comes at a price. Despite the dire circumstances, Casiopea was always trying to be the better person. She encouraged her companion to let go of his anger, and never wanted people to get hurt. I thought she was an incredible character that deserved all the happiness in the world, and I'm happy with where her story stopped. It was bittersweet and perfect.

Gods of Jade and Shadow is a story about family and forgiveness, magic and mythology, and the power one girl has to change the world forever. We are presented with choices every single day, and it's easy to forget that every choice matters. What we do and what we say can have a profound impact on the rest of our lives.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Mini Reviews [30]

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter
Narrated by Brittany Pressley
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president's son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie's dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it's okay. After all, she's the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.


Not If I Save You First was really great on audio! Brittany Pressley is an amazing narrator, and she's one of the reasons this book received four stars from me. Another reason was the setting. Alaska! I liked how completely stranded Maddie and Logan were, and thought it added another layer of tension to the story. Alaska was basically its own character.

My main issue with this book was believability. Maddie and Logan were both sixteen, but they occasionally acted like they were much older. Other times the two acted incredibly childish. I know Maddie has spent the last six years living in isolation, but her ability to discern edible from poisonous berries (with just a glance) felt a little farfetched (even she said they looked nearly identical). I'm sure it's possible, but her nonchalance was unconvincing. Additionally, Maddie's badass behavior felt forced at times. I have no doubt that her experiences hardened her in some ways, but her "bedazzled" ax spoke volumes. I wish we had seen that Maddie mixed in more throughout the story. Instead, we mostly see her acting tough and overconfident.

Overall, I thought it was a very enjoyable and quick read. There's a lot of suspense and a few surprising twists. I'm not thrilled with how the story ended (again, the believability of it), and a decision Maddie made without considering all of the facts. I'm also not sure how she managed to stay on her feet for so long after... everything. She and Logan proved to be very resilient characters, and they surprised me with how well they handled a kidnapping and the Alaskan wilderness.

Side note: I wish their childhood nicknames had been explained. Mad Dog and Rascal? There has to be a story behind those, right? I was also interested in the kidnapper's backstory. We're told very little about his circumstances, although it doesn't excuse his actions.

The Looking Glass Wars (The Looking
Glass Wars, #1) by Frank Beddor
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Alyss of Wonderland?

When Alyss Heart, heir to the Wonderland throne, must flee through the Pool of Tears to escape the murderous aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carrol, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly!

Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss' story and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may eventually battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.

The Looking Glass Wars unabashedly challenges our Wonderland assumptions surrounding mad tea parties, grinning Cheshire cats, and a curious little blond girl to reveal an epic battle in the endless war for Imagination.


I started this series years ago, but never finished it! I decided to start from the beginning (to refresh my memory and not as an excuse to buy more books). I mistakenly thought this would be another series I could read aloud to the kids before bed, but I'd forgotten how violent it was. I started skimming all of the fighting (really bloody) and battles (scary stuff), but quickly realized that violence was intricately woven into this book, and it would be pointless to skip over 75% of the story. Alyss returns to a war-torn Wonderland, and the story reflects the devastation and unfavorable circumstances.

Needless to say, I read this one solo and started something else with the kiddos. It didn't take long for me to turn the last page, because I was completely wrapped up in the story from the start (again). I really liked Beddor's take on Alice in Wonderland, and enjoyed how he turned something whimsical into something shady.

Additionally, the author was very creative with his characters and their roles within this book. Hatter Madigan is hands down my favorite, and I say this knowing that there's not much character development in the first book. There's just something alluring about him, that I believe is explained in the second book (if I'm remembering correctly). Alyss herself isn't a sweet and innocent child that tumbled down a rabbit hole, but a rebellious and stubborn princess that knows she's important. She flaunts her imagination and typically gets what she wants, so her unexpected predicament really paved the way for her transformation. I think she would have stayed a spoiled and irresponsible child, if she hadn't grown up in a completely different world.

The Looking Glass Wars was a delightfully dark spin on one of my favorite childhood stories. Beddor is a creative genius, and I'm amazed at how he's made this story so entirely his own. I'm really looking forward to continuing the series and seeing how it inevitably concludes!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

My Weekly Pull [79] & Can't Wait Wednesday [49]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday (when the stars align in my favor) to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Spider-Man Life Story #5 The '00s by Chip Zdarsky, Mark Bagley 
Daredevil #8 by Chip Zdarsky, Lalit Kumar Sharma
Loki #1 by Daniel Kibblesmith, Ozgur Yildirim 

Transformers Ghostbusters #2 by Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening
Firefly #8 by Greg Pak, Dan McDaid, Lee Garbett
Transformers #9 by Brian Ruckley, Cachet Whitman, Bethany McGuire-Smith, Umi Miyao

Jacob's comics for the week!
Punisher Annual #1 by Karla Pacheco, Adam Gorham, Dustin Weaver 
Deadpool #15 by Skottie Young, Nic Klein
Hit-Girl Season 2 #6 by Daniel Way, Goran Parlov
Usagi Yojimbo #2 by Stan Sakai

A lot of comics this week! Naturally, I added Loki to the pull list. I'm curious to see how he's going to be portrayed in this series. Zdarsky with Spider-Man Life Story and Daredevil, because the guy is a genius (crazypants... but a genius). ;) Firefly might be the comic I look forward to the most each month, and my son loves his Transformers. 

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, that highlights upcoming releases that we're anticipating and excited to read. It's a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday that was hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

The discovery of an ancient artifact at an archaeological site sets off a chain of events that puts the world in danger as a ruthless group of Nationalists attempt to raise a villain from Arthurian legend with the hope of gaining power, and fulfilling a long-standing prophecy for England. The only ones who can stop them are Bridgette McGuire, ex-monster hunter, and her grandson Duncan, who is soon swept up into a world of magic and myth as he comes face-to-face with the legends from England’s past and his own complicated family history.

It's a comic about Arthurian legend!! How awesome is that?? I've read a few of the preview pages, and I think it's going to be really good. It's supposed to be a six-issue series, and the first one is extra-sized!

The Power Rangers arrive in New York City to find Tommy Oliver - AKA The Mighty Morphin Green Ranger - but soon discover he's joined forces with the villainous Shredder and the Foot Clan! As the Rangers are sent reeling by this betrayal, they're confronted by another (fr)enemy - the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Can these heroes find a way to work together to defeat the bad guys and save the world from total destruction?!

BOOM! Studios is quickly becoming one of my favorites! Their stories are original and tend to make me reminisce about my childhood. Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Firefly, stories related to The Dark Crystal -- love it!

*Share your My Weekly Pull post! Please leave the direct link to your My Weekly Pull post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Please Send Help (I Hate Everyone But You, #2)
by Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin

Synopsis (via Goodreads): In this hilarious follow-up novel to the New York Times bestseller I Hate Everyone But You, long distance best friends Ava and Gen have finally made it to the same time zone (although they’re still over a thousand miles apart).

Through their hilarious, sometimes emotional, but always relatable conversations, Ava and Gen are each other’s support systems through internships, relationship troubles, questionable roommates, undercover reporting, and whether or not it’s a good idea to take in a feral cat. Please Send Help perfectly captures the voice of young adults looking to find their place in the world and how no matter how desperate things seem, you always have your best friend to tell it like it is and pick you back up.
"1) You can buy sunblock that smells really good. Coconut or mango. I think if it smells good you will want to eat it and then when you realize you can’t eat it you will still want it on your body."
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Please Send Help made me smile and was a super quick read. I really enjoyed the banter between Ava and Gen, and it was clear they knew each other really well. Their conversations felt realistic and their situations were relatable. They had their disagreements and fights, but those never lasted very long. Their friendship was more important to them than whatever they were fighting about, and I liked how self-aware they seemed to be. They apologized when they did something wrong, and they were quick to forgive for the sake of their friendship.

I've rewritten this paragraph ten times trying not be too spoilery, but I feel like it's an aspect that should be addressed. Okay, eleventh time's the charm... one of the characters has sex and gets more than they bargained for (stop here if you don't want specifics). I think it's great the author's chose to address sexually transmitted diseases, because it's something that real people deal with every day. It's also not a topic I've personally come across while reading YA, likely because it's not an issue most people want to discuss. I thought it was handled well and offered a different perspective.

I liked the overall story, and seeing how the two main characters progressed over time, but I never felt connected to them. They're both struggling with serious issues (mental health, alcoholism, depression, anxiety), and I wish those things had been expanded on a little more. I appreciate what they authors were trying to do, but I also felt overwhelmed my how much was going on throughout the book. It was like they tried to take every touchy subject and cram them all into one book (therapy, boss hitting on an intern, LGBTQ, homelessness, corruption in politics, family bias in business, a mΓ©nage, plus the things I mentioned earlier, and others I've already forgotten).

As far as connecting with the characters... it's just hard to do when you're only reading text messages and emails. There's very little depth to those, and we don't really see how the characters are feeling, just what they say they're feeling (and we all know that our perceptions of ourselves can be a little skewed). It also felt like the topics were all over the place, and sometimes I got lost in their conversations.

Please Send Help was an interesting read that I often found humorous, although I wish it had delved deeper into the characters and their individual stories. Also, the ending felt rushed and a little too convenient. There's an epilogue that's super short, but somehow manages to tie all of the loose ends together. Maybe if this had been more than just conversations, it would have worked better for me, but in the end I felt like the story just stopped without really going anywhere (a problem I seem to be having with a lot of books lately). It didn't feel open-ended, just open.

Side note: I didn't read the first book, but I don't think you need to.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Synopsis (via Goodreads): It's been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty's life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don't dare wander outside the school's fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there's more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.
"It’s like that, with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don’t know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over."
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Wilder Girls made my skin crawl! It's been awhile since a book made me shiver. The editor's note at the beginning said, "Dig deep, though, and this novel is a brilliant feminist twist on Lord of the Flies," and I can totally see it. I vaguely remembered Lord of Flies from school, but this book made the story come rushing back.

I've been struggling with this review (and my rating), because I really loved the story, but not its conclusion. The private school (Raxter), the Tox, the mutations (humans, animals, plants), and the relationships were all amazing. It kept me on the edge of my seat, and I never wanted to stop turning the pages. However, the story kept building until my mind felt like it was going to explode from the anticipation... and then it ended. There's no resolution and very few questions are answered. A few aspects are hinted at, but nothing is really confirmed or validated. I needed so much more after all that suspense and buildup. The anxiety alone was brutal.

Think about it this way... you're on the verge of an orgasm, and then your partner suddenly stops, or your vibrator decides to die. You're left feeling extremely frustrated, and probably a little angry. I loved everything that led to the story's climax, but ultimately I was left feeling unsatisfied.

There were a few inconsistencies throughout the book, but this was a review copy, so some errors are to be expected. I was mostly confused about the gate... at one point it needs a key to be opened from the inside, and then other times it only needs a key to be opened from the outside. There's also a bit at the end with the keys that felt off. If you've read a finished copy, let me know if you experienced any confusion regarding how it works.

I loved the relationships between the characters in this book, and how their dynamics shifted after the Tox. Their situation seemed to make them feel everything more strongly, and my emotions were directly tied to theirs. I disliked the "adult" presence we see throughout the book, because they're mostly dishonest and manipulative. I never knew what their intentions were, and I hated that the girls suffered because of their decisions.

The end of Wilder Girls progressed a little too quickly. I wanted more from Byatt's perspective, because even though it was choppy and disorganized, it provided a lot of clues. Additionally, the characters really struggled for most of the book, and then things conveniently clicked into place at the very end. There were no explanations, and their last encounter with the Headmistress felt weird. I almost want to re-read the last few chapters to see if I missed a major turning point. It all happened so fast!

Hetty and Reese were both really impressive characters, and they did what they had to do to survive. Their friendship felt realistic, and we see them have their ups and downs. Being quarantined on an island didn't change the fact that they were teenagers. There were fights and arguments, but even those felt intense and like lives depended on the outcome. (Side note: Hooray for some wonderful f/f representation!)

I really enjoyed the world Power created, and think it's very original and unique. I wish we had learned more about the island and how the Tox originated, but information is hard to come by. It seemed like everyone had secrets they were willing to die for, and it was interesting to see people working together but also for themselves. They needed each other to survive, but in the end people only cared about themselves and those closest to them. Lives lose their value when you get used to death, and it was heartbreaking to see what these girls had gotten used to.

I hope there's a sequel planned, because I am still fuming about the lack of an ending!