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!
There was so much I liked about this book! It’s set in Amity Falls, a small-town of ambiguous timeline or country, though I would roughly call it 1800s pioneer-like, that has a history of monsters in the woods.
If you have ever seen M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village – it feels a LOT like that. People start seeing things in the woods, and disturbing things start to crop up (mutated animals, blighted crops, unexplained occurrences.)
And then of course the main character, Ellery, also starts to fall for a handsome young man that is new to the town (although I will say the romance is very light). The writing is beautiful as the tension steadily rises throughout, putting the slow in slow burn.
But for all that build up, I have to say, I thought we stumbled a little at the end, and the ending was neither was explosive nor as satisfying as I was hoping. Also, Sam just about drove me mad. Still, I liked Ellery and Whittaker, and I’ve now put another one of Erin A. Craig’s on my TBR, so I’d totally recommend for anyone looking for slow-build, creepy paranormal.
Okay… this book was interesting. I loved Uprooted, and also enjoyed Spinning Silver, so I was certainly excited to read another by Novik.
And, I definitely think some readers would love it. But it’s told in first person (which usually I don’t mind one away or another about this), but about 60% of the book really just feels like El telling us about the school in a simultaneously angry and matter-of-fact manner.
The school and the magic system are fascinating, don’t get me wrong, but… the plot itself and the characters both felt rather lacking to me. With such high stakes, the premise felt RIPE for intensity, danger, and some level of angst… but El is so matter-of-fact about everything, it just felt a little flat.
While the relationship between her and her classmates develops naturally, the relationship between she and Orion feels decidedly lukewarm, as does my feelings towards their characters in general.
The premise was awesome, the world-building fantastic and the audiobook was well-performed, but I guess El’s intensely pragmatic narrative just didn’t really work for me. But it might work for you! If you’re interested in a dark school of magic with high stakes, I’d check it out!
I might pick up the sequel if I see the audiobook in the library one day, but I don’t think I’ll be pining for it.
Fable was another solid read that I didn’t love. Fable is the story of a girl abandoned by her ship-captain father on a rough island where she desperately tries to scrape together enough coin to escape and confront her father.
I really loved the concept of this book along with the found-family themes on the rough and tumble high-seas and the subtle magic in an intriguing, unforgiving world. But I found myself really wishing for more connection between Fable and the other characters, particularly the love interest. Told from the first person, Fable seems to stay in her own head a lot, and although everyone in this world is supposed to be reserved and guarded, I really found myself wanting more inter-character interaction and connection.
I think part of the problem might be that this book does not stand alone in any way. I’d say it ends on a cliffhanger, but honestly it doesn’t really feel like an end. It feels like we got cut off in the middle of the book – so maybe the second book would bring that depth and satisfaction I was missing. The audiobook narrator wasn’t my favorite voice, but overall I enjoyed the listen, and would recommend to fans of seafaring YA.
If I see the sequel ever pop up in the library, I’d probably pick it up, but I don’t think I’ll be pining for it.
Well… that did not go as expected. 😂 Which… in itself is always kind of cool, right? It’s fun to go into unexpected territory… but I don’t feel like As Good As Dead quite pulled it off.
I will do my very best not to give away any spoilers… however it may come off like Joey Tribbiani talking in “code” about The Shining. You have been warned.
So at the start of Book 3, Pip is reeling from the events of Book 2 and is NOT in a good place. She falls into another investigation, intricately connected with the last two… and you will probably be able to guess the murderer almost immediately. She and Ravi are still going strong, but… their relationship still feels lukewarm/platonic to me (which is consistent from book 1 & 2), but I felt like it affected this book more.
Up until the 50% mark, this book is a perfect continuation of book 2, and I absolutely devoured it, sitting on my couch just reading the day away. And then… we hit 50%, and we pretty much went off the rails into the deep end. I probably would’ve been okay with the events, if I didn’t feel like they were just two extreme to be plausible for the two MCs. I understand that this had been heavily foreshadowed for Pip, so I’ll give her a maybe, but Ravi?! No. Way. Not buying it. And I honestly can’t believe Pip called him in the first place.
And all I can say is that if Pip was messed up after the events of Book 2, she will be ROYALLY messed up after Book 3 (as will Ravi, thanks for that, Pip), and I felt like the conclusion tried to gloss over that. Like everything has been righted in the world… and it just felt rather weird and off to me. Even the day after, I’m still wondering: Um… what exactly is the morale of this story again? 😂
So… while an interesting and unexpected conclusion to the awesomeness of Books 1 and 2, based on the darkness level, I’m not sure I would recommend this to younger YA readers. Honestly, it’s definitely worth reading just to discuss, but your satisfaction will 100% depend on if you buy that mid-book plot twist. Still, Holly Jackson’s ability to weave an engrossing story is undeniable, and I’ll definitely still read more from her in the future.
Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for the free ARC! As Good as Dead launches on 28 Sep!