July Wrap-Up

It’s that time of the month!  Um, no not that time, the other one.  The end of the month wrap up!

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It also just so happens that today’s wrap up falls on Harry Potter’s birthday.  Happy birthday, Harry!

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And above, we see a slice of true artistry.  Now, on to the books.

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Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay

If you aren’t sure what Harry Potter is about, I cannot stress to you enough that you immediately close this page down, run to the nearest bookstore and devour it (through your eyeballs, not your mouth).  That is all.  But seriously, this illustrated version is so lovely that I was crying on the dedications page.  I kid you not.  Obviously, this got a 9 3/4 out of 5 stars.  (If that reference is really confusing, then seriously, why are you still reading this?!  Your FAVORITE BOOK EVER is waiting on you!)

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One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.  Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

I gave this book 2.5/5 Stars and I was super torn over it.  The first 2/3 was mostly a 4 star rating for me as the mystery was intriguing and I was getting some serious Pretty Little Liar vibes in the best possible way.  However, the ending was definitely a 1 star ending.  I don’t want to give away too much, but there are some issues surrounding mental illness that I though weren’t handled well.

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Puddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson

When it comes to love there’s no such thing as conventional.  Everyone thinks Colton Neely is special.  Lilly Evans just thinks he’s fascinating.

Once friends when they were younger, their bond is cut short due to her accident prone nature and they go their separate ways. Years later, they meet again and Lilly learns that there is something special about the boy she once knew, but she has no idea what it all means. And she’s not sure if she’s ready to find out.

When he walks through the corridor of her school the first day of her senior year, she knows that it’s time to get to know the real Colton Neely. The more she learns, the deeper she falls.

2/5 Stars  I have no idea how I found this book or how it ended up on my Kindle, but I did and it was, so here we are.  I don’t want to say too much about this book because it’s super short (127 pages), but I was just not a huge fan of the writing and the multiple mistakes in the book (published only as an ebook) were distracting.  This is not to say the story was bad because I think it was a unique perspective and had potential with better editing.  However, the Goodreads reviews are overwhelmingly positive, so I am in the minority with this one.

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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her brutal first husband. He suspected also that someone had been blackmailing her. Now, tragically, came the news that she had taken her own life with a drug overdose.

But the evening post brought Roger one last fatal scrap of information. Unfortunately, before he could finish the letter, he was stabbed to death…

I don’t know if it was me or the narrator or the story or what, but I had a hard time following this audiobook.  I couldn’t quite keep the characters straight and had to backtrack several times for the plot to make sense.  Overall, a solid 3/5 Stars for me even though I guessed the ending (I was a little excited because I didn’t think I would be right.  TBH with Christie, I usually never am, so it was pretty sweet.)

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Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Ah, Unbreakable.  Tied for least favorite book of the month.  I gave this a 1/5 Stars and the full review is here.

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I See You by Clare Mackintosh

You do the same thing every day.  You know exactly where you’re going.  You’re not alone.

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

3/5 Stars This book had a unique, if not very realistic premise.  I thought the writing was good and each character had a unique voice, but the “why part” of the thriller felt more than a little ridiculous and the big reveal was disappointing.  Overall, a fast and creepy read, but not very memorable.

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Because You Love To Hate Me by Ameriie, Various

In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains’ points of view.

3.2ish/5 Stars I took an average rating since I had some 4 and 5 star ratings of stories I really enjoyed (from Victoria Schwab, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Adam Silvera, and Nicola Yoon) and stories I didn’t like so much.  My full review is here.

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Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth…

1/5 Stars and my other least favorite book of the month.  For a book about a vampire, witch, psychic, and a murder mystery, this book was just really boring.  I can understand why readers loved the Sookie Stackhouse novels so much, but this one just wasn’t great.

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski 4.5/5 Stars

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera 4/5 Stars

Find Her by Lisa Gardner 3.5/5 Stars

These are the books I read for the Booktube-A-Thon 2017 and the wrap-up can be found here with links to reviews.

Those are the eleven books I read in the month of July and for reading to the very end, I say

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Booktube-A-Thon 2017 Wrap-Up

The booktube-a-thon 2017 officially ended last night and we made it!!!

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I want to do a mini wrap-up since this is my first ever read-a-thon I’ve participated in!  So, without any further ado, here are the challenges and books I completed over the past week:


  • Read A Book With A Person On The Cover
  • Read A Book You Bought Because Of The Cover

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Find Her by Lisa Gardner (link to full book review here.)


  • Read A Hyped Book
  • Read About A Character That’s Very Different To You

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More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (link to full book review here.)


  • Finish A Book In One Day

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Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski (link to full book review here.)


To recap, I was able to read three books over the last week, which I am pretty happy with!  I knew I wouldn’t be able to complete seven books (major props to those of you who did!) and I was busy the whole weekend, so I was only able to read Monday-Thursday.  All of that being said, I am definitely pleased with completing three books during the read-a-thon.

My original goal was to read We Were Four by Alexandra Sirowy, but I DNFed it after I sadly just couldn’t get into it.  I also wanted to read Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (which I am currently reading), but couldn’t finish it in time.

However, I was able to complete five of the reading challenges with the three books I chose.  I wasn’t able to read a book completely outside because of the alternating heat and constant rain for three days straight and I wasn’t able to read seven books this time around.

I had a ton of fun watching the youtube videos and reading everyone’s TBRs for the read-a-thon and I’m excited to participate in more read-a-thons throughout the year!

Book Review || Six Stories

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Book: Six Stories

Author: Matt Wesolowski

Publication Date: March 2017

Version: Kindle eBook

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

The novel is constructed as a series of podcasts, in which an investigative journalist describes the circumstances around the death of a teenaged boy in an outward-bound centre, interviewing witnesses, suspects and people close to the incident. Their six accounts form the six stories of the title, creating a “chilling and compelling, page-turning thriller that also delves deep into notions of truth, perception and loyalty”.

Um wow, this book.  Okay, I need to collect my thoughts for a moment because I finished this about an hour and a half ago after an all day reading marathon (for the Booktube-A-Thon yay!!) and I am still processing.

Thoughts (mostly) collected:

First, this book has such a unique format.  If you have listened to the podcast “Serial”, then this book will feel very familiar to you but without being a direct repeat.  If you have never listened to “Serial” or a podcast at all, don’t fret because this book is exciting and suspenseful and you will follow the format easily.

There are six “stories”, or accounts, of what happened the months leading up to and the night a boy dies.  Was it an accident?  Was he murdered?  Or is there something more sinister and supernatural at play?  I kid you not, this book has it all.

I was immediately pulled into the story that takes place in the 90s (surrounding the death) and the story that is happening present day with the podcast as everyone reflects on past events.  The author also does an excellent job with pulling you into the characters’ lives and the secrets they may be keeping.

Finally, the ending.  I feel like I have read a lot of thrillers recently that promise a shocking, twisty ending with out the shock or twist and boy oh boy, was I happy that this book definitely has shocking twist towards the end.  I took off a half star because there was one part of the ending that I saw coming and wasn’t that surprising, but the rest was fabulously written.

For a book as short as this one (clocks in at 225 pages), it also manages to highlight issues surrounding bullying and the damages bullying inflicts, which is another reason this book stands out so much.

I highly, highly recommend this one!

 

Book Review || More Happy Than Not

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Title: More Happy Than Not

Author: Adam Silvera

Publication Date: June 2015

Version: Audiobook

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Rating: 4/5 Stars

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Well dang, if that isn’t a heck of a synopsis.  This was my first ever Adam Silvera book, and it did not disappoint.

First, I really enjoyed the setting of the story.  It takes place in the Bronx in a world very similar to our own, except for the powerful corporation known as “Leteo” that can alter memories and therefore, allow clients to forget painful experiences and live their “happily ever after”.  Of course, things don’t always go that smoothly.

Despite the futuristic premise, this book definitely reads as a contemporary and I was just a little disappointed that Leteo wasn’t more fully explored in the book.  I was almost hoping for something a little more sci-fi-ish (almost wrote sci-fish, which is not what I was hoping for, just to clarify).

It may have been because I listened to the audiobook, which was by no means bad, but it felt like the story dragged a little in a few places.  It makes me wonder if I would have given the book a higher rating if I read the physical book.  (I may need to reread the physical book sometime in the future to compare notes.)

Overall, this is definitely a dark book and tackles some difficult issues, but does so extremely well and I am no so stoked to read another (ahem, all) of Adam Silvera’s books.

Also, second book of the Booktube-A-Thon DONE!!

Book Review || Find Her

Title: Find Her

Author: Lisa Gardner

Publication Date: February 2016

Format: Physical book

Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

**TRIGER WARNING** There are scenes that describe rape and sexual assault.  This book also contains traumatic scenes of abuse and torture.**

Flora Dane is a victim.

Seven years ago, carefree college student Flora was kidnapped while on spring break. For 472 days, Flora learned just how much one person can endure.

Flora Dane is a survivor.

Miraculously alive after her ordeal, Flora has spent the past five years reacquainting herself with the rhythms of normal life, working with her FBI victim advocate, Samuel Keynes. She has a mother who’s never stopped loving her, a brother who is scared of the person she’s become, and a bedroom wall covered with photos of other girls who’ve never made it home.

Flora Dane is reckless.

. . . or is she? When Boston detective D. D. Warren is called to the scene of a crime—a dead man and the bound, naked woman who killed him—she learns that Flora has tangled with three other suspects since her return to society. Is Flora a victim or a vigilante? And with her firsthand knowledge of criminal behavior, could she hold the key to rescuing a missing college student whose abduction has rocked Boston? When Flora herself disappears, D.D. realizes a far more sinister predator is out there. One who’s determined that this time, Flora Dane will never escape. And now it is all up to D. D. Warren to find her.

Book one of the Booktube-A-Thon 2017 complete!

Are you ever walking down the aisle of a bookstore when a cover completely jumps out at you?  Find Her was that book for me recently.  While I won’t buy a book only for the cover and this book doesn’t have an especially pretty cover, it jumped out at me as the type of thriller I would enjoy, which the synopsis confirmed.

On to what’s inside the book.  I can’t say too much without giving away spoilers, but basically, this was a complex thriller with plenty of twists and red herrings that made me fly through it.

Flora is still learning to live with who she is after her abduction, and it leaves her changed and those around her confused and hurt that she can’t return to the person she was before she was taken.

I liked Flora and her determination and resilience despite the horrors she faced for over a year.  The points of the novel told from Det. D.D. Warren felt slower and I never really connected with her character.

When the “bad guy” is revealed, it felt a little forced and I guessed the ending, so the twist didn’t completely feel like a twist.  The pacing was pretty solid throughout, but towards the end, it did start to get repetitive, which are the reasons it was a 3.5 star read.  However, I literally carried it with me everywhere while reading it, so I definitely enjoyed this one.

I feel like I’m off to a good start for the Booktube-A-Thon and now onto book #2!

BookTube-A-Thon 2017 TBR

I am so excited to participate in my first ever read-a-thon with the BookTube-A-Thon 2017!  I am new to book blogging and read-a-thons, so while I’m not a booktuber, I really enjoy booktube and thought this would be the perfect first read-a-thon to participate in!  Side note, my TBR is going out literally hours before it starts because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to participate in it until today, but I am going to try to read as much as possible!

The BookTube-A-Thon is hosted by Ariel Bissett and you can find the BookTube-A-Thon channel and more information about the read-a-thon here.

Here are this year’s reading challenges:

Booktubeathon 2017 Prompts

Finally, here is my TBR.  I am very confident that I won’t be able to read 7 books this week because of various commitments, but I have 3 books that I’m counting for various challenges that I am hoping to finish this week!

Challenge 1: Read a book with a person on the cover.

Challenge 3: Finish a book in one day.

Challenge 4: Read about a character that’s very different to you.

Challenge 5: Read a book completely outdoors (???)

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This definitely counts for challenge 1 because the version I have has the main characters on the front.  This books weighs in at 320 pages, so I am *hoping* to finish it in one day and the story follows two half-sisters from Ghana who are put upon different paths in life and follows their descendants through eight generations.  The characters are very different from me and I cannot wait to read this book.  Also, I’m not sure if I will actually get to read this book outdoors because it is HOT right now where I live, so maybe?  Not sure?  Hopefully, I can get a few challenges from this book.

Challenge 6: Read a book you bought because of the cover.

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Find Her by Lisa Gardner

I have to admit, I rarely buy books just based off of the cover because let’s be honest, books are really expensive and just because the cover is beautiful and would look great on my bookshelf doesn’t mean I will like the story inside.  Also, I don’t have that kind of room on my shelves anyway.  However, I saw this book in the book store and bought it on a whim not because the cover is necessarily beautiful, but because when I saw it, it jumped out to me and looked like a super suspenseful myster/thriller and I was immediately intrigued.

Challenge Two: Read a hyped book.

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While I don’t think there has been as much widespread hype about this YA book as others (it just recently came out), those who have read this book have definitely hyped it up.  I’ve heard really great things about this book, so I am definitely including it in this challenge.

I already know that 7 books this week will probably just not happen, so if I can finish these three, I will be 100% pleased.  Mostly, I am super excited to participate in my first ever read-a-thon in just a few hours!

Happy reading!

 

Book Review || Because You Love To Hate Me

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Book: Because You Love To Hate Me

Author: Ameriie, Various

Publication Date: July 2017

Format: Kindle Ebook

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Rating: Each short story and essay has a different rating, but overall 3.2ish/5 stars.

I have been super intrigued by this anthology since the buzz started on booktube several months ago.  And let me say, I love the idea of this book: short stories featuring different villainous characters.  

There are thirteen stories in this anthology written by various YA authors paired up with 13 booktubers who supply the prompt and essay.  While I have heard the controversy about publishing booktubers, personally, I was excited to read this book and thought it was definitely a cool idea.  I will say that I didn’t think most of the essays added a lot to the story except a few, but I still gave this anthology a solid 3.2ish stars overall.

Now, on to the individual stories and essays.


(Story) The Blood Of Imuriv by Renée Ahdieh

Rating: 2/5 Stars

I was hesitant going into this short story mainly because the only book I’ve ever red by Ahdieh, The Wrath and the Dawn, I really didn’t like.  And unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan of this short story.  The story felt too short to really be invested in the sibling rivalry backstory and even the sudden ending wasn’t enough to keep my attention.

(Essay) The Evil Vaccine: Keep The Darkness At Bay by Christine Riccio (PolandbananasBOOKS)

I didn’t think the tone, which tried to be lighthearted and funny, matched very well with Ahdieh’s story, which was serious and ominous.  There were a few lines that stuck, but overall, it felt a little off key.  


(Story) Jack by Ameriie

Rating: 1.5/5 Stars

For a short story, I felt like it plogged along a bit and mixing “magick” with modern life “below” didn’t quite work.  I thought the ending was the best part, but that the rest of the story should have been darker to lead up to it.

(Essay) Giants And Tyrants by Tina Burke (The Lushables)

This prompt was probably my least favorite out of all of them.  And Jack and the Beanstalk was never one of my favorite fairy tales, so that may have something to do with it, but I also wasn’t a huge fan of the essay that followed the prompt.


(Story) Gwen And Art And Lance by Soman Chainani

Rating: 1/5 Stars

Oh, dear.  This was definitely my least favorite story, mainly because the whole thing is told in text messages/emails.  It was just kind of a disaster for me.

(Essay) The Bad Girl Hall Of Fame by Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes)

I thought the format fit the essay (social media inspired) but that the essay wasn’t memorable.


Shirley & Jim by Susan Dennard

Rating: 2/5 Stars

I’ve seen several people comment on the unnecessary gender swaps of Watson and Sherlock and I completely agree.  I definitely would have rather read a story about a male Sherlock in love with a male Moriarty.  Also, “Shirley” didn’t feel like an accurate interpretation of Sherlock at all, high school girl or no.

Dear Sasha, The 411 For Villains by Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia)

While this was not the most unique idea, I am a sucker for anything Sherlock, so I do like the prompt and thought that the essay was clever.  I just wish the actual story was better.


The Blessings Of Little Wants by Sarah Enni

Rating: 2/5 Stars

I actually enjoyed the magical system in this story, but the ending made no sense and I don’t feel like it was really about a villain.  At least, it didn’t feel villainous.

Will The Real Villain Please Stand Up? by Sophia Lee (thebookbasement)

The essay didn’t add much to the story for me.


The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer

Rating: 4/5 Stars

This story is where the book started to pick up significantly.  Finally, this story is about a villain who is definitely villainous, but you can’t help but root for her.  And the writing was fabulous.  I’ve never read anything by Meyer, and now I 100% want to.

Villain Or Hero? You Decide! by Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe)

Great idea for a story and I thought the essay was cohesive with Meyer’s story as well.


Beautiful Venom by Cindy Pon

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Good writing and great spin on the Medusa story, but I did think the ending was a little abrupt.  

**TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains a raoe scene.  It is not graphic, but it is still there.**

Without The Evil In The World, How Do We See The Good? by Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes)

The idea was okay, but Pon really brought it to life with her interpretation.  However, the excitement for the idea and story was really evident in the essay.


Death Knell by Victoria Schwab

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Wow.  I’m not sure why a short story should be allowed to make me tear up, but screw the rules, because it sure did!  This was my favorite story and was beautifully written.  My only complaint is that I need approximately 400 more pages. 

Dear Death by Jesse George (JessetheReader)

Easily my favorite essay.  It was also beautifully written and touching and these two together=perfection.


Marigold by Samantha Shannon

Rating: 3/5 Stars

My main issue with this story is the way too open ending.  It almost needed a little more character development, but the setting and world building was good for the length of the story.

Evil Revealed by Regan Perusse (PeruseProject)

I really like the mash-up of ideas for this story, especially centered around the oppression of women during Victorian England.


You, You, It’s All About You by Adam Silvera

Rating: 5/5 Stars

This story was dark and twisty and pretty amazing, but it needs to be a full length book ASAP.  Also, I have never read anything by Adam Silvera, and that needs to change yesterday because his writing is incredible.

Behind The Villain’s Mask by Catriona Feeney (Little BookOwl)

I liked the prompt (brought to life by Silvera), but I didn’t feel like the essay really added to the story.


Julian Breaks Every Rule by Andrew Smith

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Good writing, but it didn’t feel futuristic per Raeleen’s prompt, but more paranormal maybe?  And I’m probably in the minority with this story in general, but the ending especially was a little disappointing.  Overall, I wish I would have liked this one better.

Julian Powell: Teen Psycho Extraordinaire by Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07)

This definitely wasn’t my favorite prompt, but I thought Smith did an okay job with it regardless.  I also didn’t think the essay added much to the story.


Indigo And Shade by April Genevieve Tucholke

Rating: 1.5/5 Stars

This was definitely an odd mashup of traditional lore/fairytale retelling in the modern world and it didn’t quite work.  The insta-love was distracting and it didn’t feel super villainous.

Glamorized Recovery: Expectations Vs. Reality by Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels)

I thought the prompt was good, but it just wasn’t well executed by Tucholke.


Sera by Nicola Yoon

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

This story was super creepy and totally awesome.  I want a whole book out of it.

The Bad Girls’ Guide To Villainy by Steph Sinclair and Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery)

I also really enjoyed this essay.  It was darkly funny and fit the theme of the book perfectly.


 

Overall, I definitely enjoyed reading this anthology.  There were a few standout stories that were really, really good and make me want to read more by the authors (Adam Silvera, Marissa Meyer, Victoria Schwab, Cindy Pon, and Nicola Yoon).  

If you have been curious about this book and the stories inside, I would definitely recommend picking it up.