Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant follows a research vessel and the many characters upon it as they go out to investigate the disappearance of another entertainment vessel whose crew was… well… eaten by mermaids.
And I really enjoyed the first third of this book. The characters are varied and interesting, and as they’re battling their demons and beginning to set off it really gives off Jaws like vibes. We are going to hunt a monster… and we are both excited and kind of scared, but it’s okay because we’re prepared for anything, right? …right?!?
Should’ve brought a bigger boat.
But as stuff starts going down, people are dying and blood is washing the deck, I didn’t feel the rise in tension that I felt like I should have. Mostly because the characters are surprisingly …okay with it? They’re kind of like “oh well, we knew people would die, but we have TO DO THE SCIENCE!” I really felt like there would be more people storming the cockpit to get them turned around. So, I felt like the middle got a little mushy for me and the reveal/climax at the end felt a little underwhelming.
This book had all the capacity to read as a stand-alone (while still part of a larger series), but rather, it feels like it got stretched a little too thin and then just kind of ended. Still! While I don’t think I’ll be picking up the sequel, if you like mermaids that eat people and interesting characters, I recommend giving this a look (or a listen because the audiobook narration is fantastic.)
I picked up this mystery on the recommendation of a friend, and definitely enjoyed this modern murder mystery. I liked the main character, Molly’s, unique voice and her moral compass made the narrative interesting to puzzle out. The side characters were all fleshed out well, and even the hotel seemed to have a character of its own from Molly’s eyes. Her growth and resolution were both strong and satisfying, but the only thing that really threw me at the end were a few missing pieces (are there no video cameras in the hotel? No alibis?) that I kind of had to suspend my disbelief for. Overall though I found this to a fun murder mystery with a unique perspective and a few fun twists.
This was a charming fantasy about a girl who makes a deal with a fate following a broken heart. For me, the highlight of this story really came in the world itself. Roughly split between Magic and non magic, there’s tons of interesting lore and eccentricities that really made me want to soak this world up. The mystery of the fates, prophecy, and stories without endings also definitely kept me turning pages. But though I liked Jax and Evangeline well enough, I didn’t totally fall for them, and I was definitely wishing the connection between them was a little stronger. Really, Evangeline’s goals in general didn’t feel super compelling, and the ending felt a little forced. The narration was great though, and I’d still totally recommend this to YA fantasy readers. Although this doesn’t work well as a stand-alone in any way, I’d definitely give the sequel a look to see what happens next!
(Update: Tried to listen to the sequel, The Ballad of Never After, and got a third of the way through before I had to DNF. Evangeline’s poor decisions were killing me, but lots of people love that series, so it could just be me!)
After loving It Ends with Us, I was super excited to read another by Colleen Hoover, but this one really didn’t work for me.
This story is told from dual POV (with Tate’s in the present and Miles’ in the past) as Tate and Miles start a benefits-only relationship. And, as always, Hoover’s writing drew me in immediately, and kept me flying through the pages, but on the whole, Tate and Miles’ relationship just didn’t work for me. Although Miles was clear up front that he was only in it for sex, Tate knew from the start that she wanted more than that. Not only that, but Miles was, in general, kind of a jerk to her, and she was always making excuses for him.
I feel like we got Miles’ backstory through his POV as also a kind of way of saying “oh but he’s not really a jerk at heart.” But… still, that didn’t really smooth things over for me, and his backstory didn’t hold my interest as much. Overall, if you’re a big Colleen Hoover fan, I might give it a look, but I can’t really say I was rooting for Miles and Tate in this one.
Instructions for Dancing follows Evie, a one-time romance book addict who is struggling with her father’s infidelity/her parents divorce/her parents impending remarriage, and essentially doesn’t believe in love anymore. Then after a chance encounter, she develops the ability to see people’s whole love story from beginning to end when they kiss.
So, it was in this book that I realize I am not a big fan of self-aware books. And Evie is constantly comparing the events of her life to the tropes of a romance novel, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. But, then X and his dance competition entered the scene with the save.
Overall, this was a bittersweet coming of age tale of a young person learning the hard lesson that nothing lasts forever. The banter between X and Evie was cute (LOVED The Cupcakes and Kisses discussion) and in general, Evie’s experiences/attitudes definitely seemed to reflect that of a true young adult’s.
Definitely recommended for anyone looking for a bittersweet coming of age young adult tale. (Especially if you don’t mind the trope-awareness.)
We follow Bradley as he endures a school-shooting and a death of a family member, and then his family tries to start over in a new city with other Diviner families. We get bits an pieces of the horrible things that have happened to Bradley, his difficulty with his abilities, and the internal survivor’s guilt that plagues him as his family tries to start anew.
I really thought the author nailed Bradley’s authentic lower-YA voice, and I really felt for him as he tried to learn how to cope with his situation. Learning about the Diviners’ ability was super interesting, and in general, the tension and tight writing kept my attention straight through the end.
There were a lot of characters and siblings to keep track of, and I did find myself wishing we got a little more development from some of the other main characters. There were also a few strands I was expecting to get answers to that we didn’t quite get. However, this definitely seems like the first of the series, so they could have been left for future books. I also really enjoyed the audiobook narration, and the I think the narrator did an excellent job of telling this story. Would definitely recommend for all fans of YA urban fantasy. Thanks so much to the publisher for the free audible code!
ERMAHGERDDD. I loved this book. Seriously. Amazing. The MCs were cute and well-developed, and their enemies-to-lovers ARC was just perfect. I loved seeing the history between them evolve into begrudging alliance evolve into something more. And I also totally loved the senior class scavenger hunt through Seattle. It was seriously fun, and I sooo want to play too! The pacing is quick, the voice is tone is fun, while still probing deeper into character development. I loved Neil and Rowan’s banter, and their adventure just reminded me how fun YA can be!
Probably one of the best YA contemporary romances I’ve ever read. Cannot recommend enough, and BRING ME THE MOVIE! The audiobook was also perfectly performed. Just in general, fabulous read/listen. Don’t miss it!
I totally inhaled this book! Fast-paced, strong stakes, political intrigue, and a slowburn romance with thick “it’s complicated” vibes. I really liked both Corrick’s POV as the conflicted King’s Justice in a time where their kingdom is torn apart by disease and suffering. And it was perfectly balanced by Tessa’s more optimistic hopeful view tempered by what she witnesses out in the impoverished wilds. Usually I’m not into politics explanations in fantasy books, but I think this one did an amazing job of explaining the nuances of the sector relationships, rumors, and difficult choices of the rulers. I also really enjoyed how the characters change and grow as they come to different realizations about one another. It drew me into their world without slowing down the pace, and I totally drank it in. I also appreciated that even though there’s a sequel coming out, this book leaves you still feeling satisfied at the end. Totally recommend to high fantasy fans, and I would definitely read the sequel! Five glittering stars!
I enjoyed Small Favors by Erin Craig, so when I saw the House of Salt and Sorrows audiobook in my library I had to grab it.
In my Small Favors review I think I described how I liked the writing style, and the dark, creepy vibes, but then ending didn’t quite work for me.
And bizarrely, I feel EXACTLY the same about this book. Really liked the writing style, the somewhat fantastical, dark vibe, and the mystery of what really is going on – which is also consistent with what I liked about Small Favors.
Also, Annaleigh is very similar to the MC in Small Favors—a girl who loves her sisters and is falling for a mysterious stranger while she tries to figure things out.
While, the premise of the deaths of her sisters was super intriguing and the unique island world was cool, the ending once again just fell a little anticlimactic for me, and I didn’t feel like the love interest was fleshed out enough.
Overall though, a solid read with a creepy, fantastical feel to it. And if you like this one, you will probably also like Small Favors!
So… I like WWII historical fiction, and the premise of a sister searching for her brother after the war seemed like an intriguing premise. But this one didn’t quite work for me in a lot of ways. The writing was beautiful, the reality of surviving the Holocaust was intense, and the historical accuracies were all pluses. But, I hate to say, I wasn’t a fan of the main character, Zofia. She is single-minded, abrupt, and rather self-centered in a way that was a little difficult to connect with. And while the message of this book seems to be finding hope after so much darkness, I found the ending to be… well… depressing.
So, not really my cup of tea, but if you like historical fiction and don’t mind sad endings, this could be for you!