GALLANT by V.E. Schwab – double review!

Everything casts a shadow. Even the world we live in. And as with every shadow, there is a place where it must touch. A seam, where the shadow meets its source.

#1 New York Times–bestselling author Victoria Schwab weaves a dark and original tale about the place where the world meets its shadow, and the young woman beckoned by both sides. The Secret Garden meets Crimson Peak in this stand-alone novel perfect for readers of Holly Black and Neil Gaiman.

Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.

Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.

Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?

New York Times bestselling author Victoria Schwab crafts a vivid and lush novel that grapples with the demons that are often locked behind closed doors. An eerie, standalone saga about life, death, and the young woman beckoned by both. Readers of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Melissa Albert, and Garth Nix will quickly lose themselves in this novel with crossover appeal for all ages.


Title : Gallant
Author : V.E. Schwab
Format : eARC / Physical ARC
Page Count : 352 / 310
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Greenwillow Books / Titan Books
Release Date : March 1, 2022 / March 8, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’m a wee bit bummed about this one only because at the onset it just felt like it had so much potential. And while I didn’t hate where it went, it just didn’t seem to live up to itself. Not to mention I’m not entirely sure this one really had a point?

The biggest draw to this one, beyond the author (though I’ll note I’m not a super fan but have enjoyed more than I’ve disliked), was the kind of person Olivia herself represented. Don’t expect much dialogue in this novel because, surprise, Olivia is mute. I wasn’t quite sure how this would work and yet somehow I didn’t miss the lack of dialogue at all. There were some conveniences, of course, as this is fantasy and there are certain characters who manage to find their way around this but otherwise.. a few characters did sign with her or she would make do communicating in other ways.

The other element I really enjoyed were the kinds of creatures that Olivia is somewhat haunted by. I loved how Schwab described these, how we learned how Olivia grew to be aware of them, and those interactions. And the greater role they later play.

Outside of this though, the plot itself? I don’t know. I think it hyped itself up somehow and I was rather left wanting. The story itself is rather sad, or melancholy, and yet it’s also pitched against this big drama and end-of-the-world stakes and somehow they don’t quite marry all that well. Plus the ending itself is.. well, sad. And almost open ended? Maybe not totally but certainly, somehow, unsatisfying even though I normally like that kind of end. But it just didn’t work here.

I’ll be curious to see more reviews as we get closer to release (I’m writing this on January twenty-third) and determine if I’m on par with most readers or the outlier. But, having said all that, I definitely wouldn’t talk you out of picking it up. It’s an easy quick read, for all that it took me a week to start and finish (work and life distractions, not boredom), and I may have even been moved emotionally at a certain part. So. Yes, if this sounds like your cup of tea, do not think this review is trying to convince you otherwise.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
Intense creep level at times
Ghouls, grief and grand houses
Sad and lilting

There was so much to unravel in Gallant and in fact on finishing, I’ve not unravelled it all. This was such a clever book, incredibly easy to read and get into, with themes that could be less easy for some and a consistent level of creep and eerieness. I loved the eerieness, the dark atmosphere and how that ratcheted up to a level of heightened tension towards the end. Tenterhooks, people.

The protagonist, Olivia was unable or unwilling to talk, the former, I think and her world was grey with splashes of occasional colour. The opening up of her life to Gallant seemed like opportunity but it was a figurative can of worms, pandora’s box, a mess. The people inhabiting Gallant, Edgar and Hannah were warm and positive new influences on Olivia’s dull and austere life. Matthew was a different matter, but you just felt the more to his story.

The way the story eeked out, was haunting, unexpected and it had me on the edge of my seat; it was hard to put this book down. The book was brimming with sadness, it felt like a lilting melody and ultimately, that’s the feeling I’ve come away with. I am 95% satisfied with a slice of I wish.

This story was crafted with skill, ingenuity and former (and possibly future) reader’s tears. The illustrations and formatting of this book are incredibly special and bring much to the feels you get from reading.

Run, says her blood.
Stay, says her bones.”

Thank you to Titan Books for the stunning review copy.

GIRLS OF FATE AND FURY by Natasha Ngan

The epic romance of Lei and Wren comes to a breathtaking conclusion in the explosive finale to the acclaimed, New York Times bestselling Girls of Paper and Fire series.

‘Don’t struggle, Lei-zhi. It’s time to take you back to the Hidden Palace. You’re going home.’

The jaw-dropping conclusion to Girls of Storm and Shadow left the fates of Lei and Wren hanging in the balance. There’s one thing Lei knows – she can never return to the Hidden Palace. The trauma and tragedy she suffered behind those opulent walls will plague her forever. She cannot be trapped there with the sadistic king again, especially without Wren.

The last time Lei saw the girl she loved, Wren was fighting an army of soldiers in a furious battle to the death.

With the two girls torn apart and each in great peril, will they reunite at last, or have their destinies diverged forever? 


Title : Girls of Fate and Fury
Author : Natasha Ngan
Series : Girls of Paper and Fire (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 400
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date : November 30, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

“Anyway, suffice it to say I’m still waiting to be won over by this series and at this stage I can only hope it ends well. It’s a pretty low bar for me at this point.

That was how I left off my review for book two in 2019. Suffice it to say.. hopes were dashed. Having said that, though, this was not the series for me and I think I mostly knew that by book one. So no one is surprised by this result and also, you know, grain o’salt.

Also please note I’m only putting in this low-bar effort to review because we have reviews for the first two books on the blog. Otherwise this likely would’ve only existed on GR. Aren’t you all lucky.

I found the first half of this finale to be an utter and total slog to get through — true, I could remember almost nothing about how book two ended, or much about book two in general because it being a journey-centric instalment. But I soon remembered enough to get by. And even still, despite the bonus of having a new POV, nothing sparked joy or excitement. There was some minor enjoyment, or at least I was dialled in, for about twenty percent near the middle, but once that had passed.. more slog. Somehow, despite everything going on, especially a certain reveal near to the end, there was so intensity. There was no dramatic sense of stakes or danger or anything. Which I think is my whole issue with both the story and the writing : while sometimes emotion is conveyed, I can never actually feel it.

I can absolutely understand why people not only love this world but also the representation found within the pages as well as identifying with the characters. I appreciate all of those things. But that’s as far as it goes.

I doubt I’ll read this author again but I’m glad to have completed this series, and have one less unfinished story hanging over my head.

A RUSH OF WINGS by Laura E. Weymouth

Rowenna Winthrop has always known there’s magic within her. But though she hears voices on the wind and possesses unusual talents, her mother Mairead believes Rowenna lacks discipline, and refuses to teach her the craft that keeps their Scottish village safe. When Mairead dies a sinister death, it seems Rowenna’s one chance to grow into her power has passed. Then, on a fateful, storm-tossed night, Rowenna rescues a handsome stranger named Gawen from a shipwreck, and her mother miraculously returns from the dead. Or so it appears.

This resurrected Mairead is nothing like the old one: to hide her new and monstrous nature, she turns Rowenna’s brothers and Gawen into swans and robs Rowenna of her voice. Forced to flee, Rowenna travels to the city of Inverness to find a way to break the curse. But monsters take many forms, and in Inverness Rowenna is soon caught in a web of strangers who want to use her raw magic for their own gain. If she wishes to save herself and the people she loves most, Rowenna will have to take her fate into her own hands, and unlock the power that has evaded her for so long.


Title : A Rush of Wings
Author : Laura E. Weymouth
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA historical fantasy / fairytale retelling
Publisher : Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date : November 2, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

So there were three big, huge, reasons why I almost never read this book. One being that the fairytale this is inspired by also inspired my actual favourite book of all time (ten points if you’ve been here long enough to know which one) and so naturally nothing could ever measure up; two, I had already read another Six Swans inspired YA retelling this year (two back to back after all this time? it was weird!), and three, this is my third attempt reading this author after two massive fails and the only reason I broke my promise to never read her again was because of the premise. Spoiler alert, I probably am issuing that promise again because, as you can tell from the rating, this wasn’t a win. But.. it also wasn’t a fail.

The best part about this version of the story was the writing. Weymouth did a great job bringing me onto the rocky misty shores of this random village (or whatever) while bringing into focus the historical setting and tumultuous past of Culloden and an occupied Inverness. It made for a very real but mundane kind of danger while abutting all the fey dangerous magic, and also creatures, that was also present in this world. It certainly wasn’t perfect (I am still side eyeing the fact that the guards never saw the four boys going back and forth from within the castle or grounds or whatever while Rowenna was captured but, you know, we trudge on) but I could get swept up in it.

Where things didn’t work was.. well, almost everything else. This version definitely mixes things up; Rowenna is no Sorcha and I’m glad of that. I actually appreciated that she wasn’t the darling, wasn’t sweet, wasn’t easy, and was battling not just the curse but also herself. The lack of six brothers also speeds things up a bit for her as she has less curse breaking to do. But at the same time another hundred pages would’ve done a lot for this, I think. Mostly in giving us more familial dynamic because honestly beyond the general hope for her brothers to be returned to her, we didn’t know them well enough, or get enough foundation of their relationships and dynamics to root for them beyond principle — once they stopped treating Rowenna badly, at least. Which also applies to the love interest.

Strangely the strongest relationship or bond was between Rowenna and a sea creature. Now that could’ve been a story..

In all honesty, though, the absolute weakest part might have been the magical villain (as opposed to the human one) because I don’t quite think I ever understood their actual goal. Even in the end, when we see the devastation wrought, I’m still like.. (insert Ryan Reynolds, “but why?” gif here).

As for the aforementioned human villain, well.. the scene that almost made me chuck the iPad across the room is when Rowenna has an opportunity to triumph and does not. Like, yeah, I get it, but wow. Considering all the devastation he was responsible for, wow. But sure, get on that high horse. However what’s worse is how she initially ends up in his hands, and forced to do his bidding, and that whole little plot and.. I don’t know. I’m mixed about it all.

So, yes, incase you were wondering, this wasn’t a win and I don’t think it’s all to do with my bias though I’m sure that plays a part. If you’re a fan of this retelling, or just think it sounds up your alley, I would cautiously recommend, especially with the Scotland setting and uprising in the mix. H o w e v e r, while I’m normally not one to spell things out, I do want to caution you that if animal death or violence done to animals is a big trigger for you? Even when it’s somewhat spelled out without being graphic (if that makes sense)? Stay away.

LITTLE THIEVES by Margaret Owen

Once upon a time, there was a horrible girl… 

Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love–and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself.

The real Gisele is left a penniless nobody while Vanja uses an enchanted string of pearls to take her place. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Then, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to an untimely end: turning into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed.

Vanja has just two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and make her getaway. And with a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on Vanja’s tail, she’ll have to pull the biggest grift yet to save her own life.

Margaret Owen, author of The Merciful Crow series, crafts a delightfully irreverent retelling of “The Goose Girl” about stolen lives, thorny truths, and the wicked girls at the heart of both.


Title : Little Thieves
Author : Margaret Owen
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 512
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Henry Holt & Company
Release Date : October 19, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 5 star review

This is a rating that I talked myself into rounding up (initially it was a 4.5) instead of my usual sad panda mope about it being so close, or oh I wish I could round up but blah, etc etc. Because, y’all, Little Thieves? Was so so good. Also it’s December twenty-ninth, it’s been a long year (make that two), and I’ve barely given out any full ratings in what feels like a decade, so. YOLO.

Is there anyone in Minkja you haven’t robbed, swindled, or backstabbed?
I mean, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t funding the extravagance of the nobility through the blood of the commoners the real swindle?

I delayed reading this for a few reasons; mostly fear that Owen would end up a one-hit-series-wonder but also because I saw some mixed reviews which fed into that fear. But I should not have worried because once again I’ve been blown away by this author.

You’re just mad I tossed you in the river.”
I think it’s reasonable to take issue with you nearly drowning me.”
Sure, but you’re not mad because you nearly drowned. You’re mad because you went to all that trouble to set a trap and stage your big triumphant reveal and I still tossed you in the river.”

The synopsis basically tells you everything you need to know about this except the feels you will have while reading it; or the heartbreak and tragedy you’ll experience; or even the many many lines that will make you laugh out loud; and the sheer delight in everything about it all. Except, you know, the bad stuff you aren’t going to delight in, see aforementioned heartbreak and tragedy. Yes, naturally, I did cry. Maybe twice. Who is to say.

I see myself for what I am : a scared girl, alone in a cruel world, abandoned by family and friend, who would rather turn herself to bloodstained stone than let anyone get close enough to leave another scar. A girl who would rather die than serve anyone ever again. Even myself. And it is killing me.

On that note, the author does provide a lovely little passage with some content warnings at the beginning, so keep your eyes out for that if you need it.

I can’t say if you’re a good person or not. But the more I know of you, the more I understand that the world keeps making you choose between survival and martyrdom. No one should fault you for wanting to live.

But yeah, I have so little to say because this is one of those classic “I fucking loved it!” feelings that has left me pretty speechless. I have so many highlights, way more than can fit in this review, and the whole experience was just fantastic. The only thing I’m mad about is that the sequel (!!) isn’t coming out until 2023. Which, wow. Talk about a devastating blow. But if that’s the trade off for yet another banger? I will suffer bravely and with dignity. Cue sobs.

WHEN YOU GET THE CHANCE by Emma Lord

An effervescent, endearing, joyful contemporary romance of one young woman searching for her birth mother one summer, by New York Times bestselling author Emma Lord.

Nothing will get in the way of Millie Price’s dream to become a Broadway star. Not her lovable but super-introverted dad, who after raising Millie alone, doesn’t want to watch her leave home to pursue her dream. Not her pesky and ongoing drama club rival, Oliver, who is the very definition of Simmering Romantic Tension. And not the “Millie Moods,” the feelings of intense emotion that threaten to overwhelm, always at maddeningly inconvenient times. Millie needs an ally. And when a left-open browser brings Millie to her dad’s embarrassingly moody LiveJournal from 2003, Millie knows just what to do. She’s going to find her mom.

There’s Steph, a still-aspiring stage actress and receptionist at a talent agency. There’s Farrah, ethereal dance teacher who clearly doesn’t have the two left feet Millie has. And Beth, the chipper and sweet stage enthusiast with an equally exuberant fifteen-year-old daughter (A possible sister?! This is getting out of hand). But how can you find a new part of your life and expect it to fit into your old one, without leaving any marks? And why is it that when you go looking for the past, it somehow keeps bringing you back to what you’ve had all along?

Joyous, heartfelt, and brimming with emotion, WHEN YOU GET THE CHANCE is a novel about falling in love, making a mess, and learning to let go that will have you happy-sobbing and cheering all the way to the end.


Title : When You Get The Chance
Author : Emma Lord
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : January 4, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

As much as I was super keen to read more by this author, who is quickly becoming a fave, I was a little worried about some similar echoes to her sophomore debut what with another family-based secret and/or discovery being a main plot point. But honestly this was so different that if you are likewise worried, don’t be.

I’ll also admit (yes, we’re apparently starting off with all the negatives, why not) that Millie took some time to warm up to. And she had her moments (not to be confused with her Millie Moods). But, like all Lord books, the vibes, the warmth, the ensemble, it all just.. works.

I’m not sure this outshines Tweet Cute but it might be on par with You Have a Match. This has a fewer laugh out loud moments but makes up for it by one of the sweetest best-friend relationships and there is some good quality banter between Millie and her love interest.

This made me both long to watch Mamma Mia! (the story more or less follows the plot of the musical) and also cringe in fear at the idea of someone related to me discovering an old LiveJournal (god, so many horrors, yes, I did just do a quick google to make sure I had deleted mine) but, despite how wrong and weird the whole investigative plot went, I really liked how — sneaky underhanded intentions notwithstanding — Millie did it and how it ended up. And much like Millie herself, I actually forgot what the catalyst was that made her finally set out to determine who her mother might be. Sure, it wasn’t the real reason, it wasn’t the only reason, but it was the push. But in doing so it shed light on all the strength and love and greatness she had in her life even without a mother and that.. that was lovely and sweet and yes okay fine I teared up a few times whatever.

I don’t think this contemporary is such a standout that I’ll remember it as vividly as, say, Lord’s debut, but in an era where my YA consumption is going down, and everything feels like it’s already been done to death, this left me feeling really content and delighted and soft and I had a really good time with these characters. With three books under her belt, this author is an auto-read for me and I’m excited to see what she does next.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

AURORA’S END by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

The squad you love is out of time. Prepare for the thrilling finale in the epic, best-selling Aurora Cycle series about a band of unlikely heroes who just might be the galaxy’s last hope for survival.

Is this the end?


What happens when you ask a bunch of losers, discipline cases, and misfits to save the galaxy from an ancient evil? The ancient evil wins, of course.

Wait. . . . Not. So. Fast.

When we last saw Squad 312, they were working together seamlessly (aka, freaking out) as an intergalactic battle raged and an ancient superweapon threatened to obliterate Earth. Everything went horribly wrong, naturally.
But as it turns out, not all endings are endings, and the team has one last chance to rewrite theirs. Maybe two. It’s complicated.

Cue Zila, Fin, and Scarlett (and MAGELLAN!): making friends, making enemies, and making history? Sure, no problem

Cue Tyler, Kal, and Auri: uniting with two of the galaxy’s most hated villains? Um, okay. That, too.

Actually saving the galaxy, though? 

Now that will take a miracle. 


Title : Aurora’s End
Author : Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series : The Aurora Cycle (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 512
Genre : YA sci-fi
Publisher : Knopf Books For Young Readers 
Release Date : November 9, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

I definitely didn’t expect to rate this one higher than a three but I did not quite expect to rate it lower than a three. Yet here we are.

Obviously, nothing I say in this review will make any kind of sense because it’ll all be vagueries because this here is a series ender. That aside..

This was a very.. samesies kind of series. We of course had big moments, big reveals, big heartbreaks, of varying kinds, in each instalment, but in each review I was just feeling a lot of like, no real love. Certainly not any other strong emotions about anything. And it was all that but worse in this finale.

Once again, things did take a turn I wasn’t expecting, we had some interesting direction to much of the squad’s conflict (both separate and as part of the whole) but, again, I was only half tuned in. As in, I wasn’t distracted or bored but I could easily have been pulled away from the book and not been mad about it.

Having read books by both of these authors, as solos or various duos, and enjoyed most of those other reads, I definitely don’t think it was an author or writing thing. I just think it was a plot and character thing. Mostly I just kept wishing I was reading the Illuminae Files. Sorry not sorry?

However. If you love sci-fi, if you love big stakes, aliens, romance, and action, you could probably do worse! In fact, I know you could. I also know I’m a bit of an outlier for this series so hey what do I even know. What I do know is that I might be a little less keen for whatever these specific two put out next; not in the sense that I wouldn’t pick them up but more in the sense of expectations and investment.

ANY SIGN OF LIFE by Rae Carson

When a teenage girl thinks she may be the only person left alive in her town—maybe in the whole world—she must rely on hope, trust, and her own resilience.

Paige Miller is determined to take her basketball team to the state championship, maybe even beyond. But as March Madness heats up, Paige falls deathly ill. Days later, she wakes up attached to an IV and learns that the whole world has perished. Everyone she loves, and all of her dreams for the future—they’re gone.

But Paige is a warrior, so she pushes through her fear and her grief. And as she gets through each day—scrounging for food, for shelter, for safety—Paige encounters a few more young survivors. Together, they might stand a chance. But as they struggle to endure their new reality, they learn that the apocalypse did not happen by accident. And that there are worse things than being alone.


Title : Any Sign of Life
Author : Rae Carson
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 384
Genre : post-apocalyptic / sci-fi / YA
Publisher : Greenwillow Books
Release Date : October 12, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

So, I’ll admit this was only on my radar because I’m a fan of the author and I went into this knowing not even the bare bones of the summary. Which, for anyone who wants to avoid plague/pandemic/world ending events..? I would not recommend doing. Take this as your warning.

While this is not COVID (though it is mentioned that the main character did live through it during her childhood) there is another reason why she wakes up after an almost week-long coma to discover everyone around her has died. It definitely unfolds in a pandemic-life way but quickly becomes something else. Mostly.

This clearly wasn’t a favourite but I was loving the beginning. It’s gruesome, eerie, and strange, and I was really digging it. Later, as things are explained, it was still somewhat interesting but this definitely isn’t a unique premise, even if the details aren’t an exact copy from anything that I can think of.

Be warned, though, that I’m really not overusing the word gruesome.

Sadly this didn’t seem to have any of the author’s particular brand of excellence but it’s also not something I’ve seen from her before, either, as she generally sticks to fantasy, not contemporary. There were definitely some really good bits, though, and it definitely didn’t stand out as a flop by any means. But it won’t be one I can recommend, either, purely because I’m not sure everyone is ready to dive into this kind of content yet — or ever again.

IF THIS GETS OUT by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich – double review!

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?


Title : If This Gets Out
Author : Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich
Format : eARC/Paperback ARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : YA romance
Publisher : Wednesday Books/Team BKMRK
Release Date : December 7, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2.75 (rounded up) star review

I think this would’ve resonated a lot more with me had I been a One Direction or BTS fan. It’s been a long time since I was into this kind of musical group, though I’m obviously not too old to understand the dynamics and the archetypes and the pressure; I’m not blind or deaf to social media. But it was hard to transport myself into this mindset because, well.. I was too young to pay that kind of attention when I was into these kinds of groups. Not to mention, I think the media and paparazzi — while they were probably no less toxic back in the day — well, the coverage was just different. Because the internet. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to deal with for those who were the subject of it all, of course, but how it was later consumed? The frenzy. The focus. The demand for more, for all? I feel that’s such a different animal now.

But anyway, that’s a long intro that isn’t saying much, so lets move on.

Overall I don’t have a lot of feelings about this. Or at least not strong ones. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it, and it was a quick consumption of entertainment. But don’t take that to mean this was light or fluffy or easy to process; there are real issues, some heavy subject matter, mixed in with the boyband and romance elements. But I felt the same way about the story as I do reading about the aforementioned real-life bands; my brain was processing the information, I would sympathize, but ultimately my investment was low.

That said, I think a lot of people will like this — I don’t think being into these bands is at all a prerequisite. I just, personally, think I would’ve liked it more if I was.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Self discovery
Friendships to moreships
Band life

If This Gets Out was a read with plenty of drama that I think has particular appeal for teens who love bands, fandoms, band life and are questioning or closeted. I appreciated all those themes and how Zach and Reuben navigated life with their restrictions. I’m not a fan of some of the big bands out there and I think this might have affected my enjoyment somewhat.

The developing more-ship between Zach and Reuben was sweet and made for easy reading. The life of the band on tour was tough, exactly how I imagine in terms of control and restrictions and that was uncomfortable reading.

Self discovery, identity and the desire to come out felt well-handled in this book. One of my yuk factors in YA is crappy parents and parenting; be ready for those elements.

This was a roller coaster of a read with sweet elements and a relationship to buy into.

Thank to TeamBKMRK for the review copy.

AS GOOD AS DEAD by Holly Jackson

The highly-anticipated finale to the A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series, the instant bestsellers that read like your favorite true crime podcast or show. By the end of this mystery series, you’ll never think of good girls the same way again…

Pip is about to head to college, but she is still haunted by the way her last investigation ended. She’s used to online death threats in the wake of her viral true-crime podcast, but she can’t help noticing an anonymous person who keeps asking her: Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears?

Soon the threats escalate and Pip realizes that someone is following her in real life. When she starts to find connections between her stalker and a local serial killer caught six years ago, she wonders if maybe the wrong man is behind bars.

Police refuse to act, so Pip has only one choice: find the suspect herself—or be the next victim. As the deadly game plays out, Pip discovers that everything in her small town is coming full circle . . .and if she doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears. . . 


Title : As Good As Dead
Author : Holly Jackson
Series : A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (book three)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 464
Genre : YA mystery
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : September 28, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

If not for the fact that I feel obligated to review this, as the first two books are on the blog, I would probably take the coward’s way out and just not review; because I have no idea how to process my feelings about this. Or, rather, I am still processing them.

In hindsight all the extremes we visit in this finale do make sense. The argument could definitely be made that it was all building to this. But I wish we could’ve had the same result via a different means. I wish we hadn’t needed to see those extremes. It added a whole other thriller-y layer to this series, that’s for sure, but it’s hard to settle with.

It does prove that age old adage true, though. I won’t tell you which one, though; it would be a spoiler.

I’m going to slap this with a three because I think the craft and calculation behind this series, and this finale, is well done. And I would definitely read this author again. Especially if she writes in this genre. But the way this one fell out is just a little too.. well. Too something.

However, if you’re looking for a YA thriller/mystery series that definitely gets darker as the series goes on, with mixed media elements, with strong will-go-to-hell-and-back friendships aka found family presence, I would actually recommend.

CROSSED by Eliza Crewe

War is here.

Full-scale war has erupted between the Crusaders and demons and even Chi has to admit isn’t going well. Like any sensible rat, Meda’s eager to abandon the sinking ship but, unfortunately, her friends aren’t nearly as pragmatic. Instead, Meda’s forced to try to keep them all alive until the dust settles.

As the Crusaders take more and more drastic measures, the tables turn and Meda suddenly finds herself in the role of voice of sanity. No one is more horrified than she is. When old enemies reappear as new allies and old friends become new enemies Meda has to decide—again—whose side she’s really on.

And then the Crusaders decide that Meda should go to Hell. Literally.

Can’t a monster ever catch a break?


Title : Crossed
Author : Eliza Crewe
Series : Soul Eaters (book three)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 346
Genre : YA paranormal fantasy
Publisher : Strange Chemistry
Release Date : August 13, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★  


Hollis’ 4 star review

I definitely expected this ending to be unexpected but the fact that it was also delightful and delicious? So good.

I have seen too much good in my enemies, too much evil in my allies.

Obviously there’s even less I can say about this finale than the books that came before because I in no way want to spoil the surprises that await you. But just know.. they await. Patiently.

It’s this, my own depravity, that makes me unable to condemn others for theirs, that makes me want to believe that no matter what mistakes I make, that there is forgiveness. There is hope.

This series has a snarky hilarious narrative built around our not-at-all innocent soul eater, a half demon, Meda. It has strong female friendships that are complicated by differences and realness but endure nonetheless. It has an interesting and complex romantic element that constantly surprised me. It has darkness and violence but also hope and light. And so much more.

Just as the Crusaders are plagued with hate, demons are afflicted with hope. The equal opposite nature of the cosmic game board means no one is above reproach, and no one is below it.

If you’re looking to beef up your backlist reading, you love YA, and you enjoy a twist on the usual formula; if you love to revel in some excellent dialogue around good and evil, the truths we avoid and the lies we tell ourselves, no matter what side we’re on, this would be a high recommend from me.



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