ARC Review: A Whole New World – Liz Braswell

A Whole New World – Liz Braswell

24397040Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

Release Date: September 1st, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I have such conflicting feelings about this book.

What I liked:

-the fact that it’s a twist on a Disney movie. That in itself is genius, and what a way to appeal to YA readers from a certain generation who grew up on the “classic” Disney movies!

-the genie was really well written, even if some of his jokes were taken straight out of the movie, and it was easy to imagine his dialogue in Robin Williams’ voice (RIP).

Academy-to-Robin-Williams-Genie-youre-free

-Jasmine does have a bigger role in the book, compared to her mostly passive role in the movie, which is great. Plus there’s an intelligent thief, Morgiana, so yay strong female characters! Also, I’m glad they avoided the love triangle that they sort of hinted at.

-I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but it made me want to watch Aladdin (which I did, the day after I finished reading this, with my three year old niece).

What I didn’t like:

-the first quarter of the book is essentially a re-telling of the first quarter of the movie, including verbatim dialogue. The main difference is an expansion of Aladdin’s backstory (but I don’t remember any of the movie’s sequels, so I don’t know if his past is ever mentioned). It almost would have been better if it had picked up in the Cave of Wonders when Jafar takes the lamp off of Aladdin, because, really, who is going to read this book if they haven’t seen the movie?

-Aladdin and Jasmine’s relationship in the movie is cute and almost a side-plot. But in this case, it’s insta-love like you wouldn’t believe. It’s probably one of the worst examples of insta-love I’ve ever read, since Jasmine’s all “he’s the best thing in the world, I love him!” but she doesn’t learn his name until halfway through the book!!!!!!! It’s soooooo YA (in a not-great way).

-where the flock is Iago?! You get an explanation of his whereabouts approximately 70% into the book, but by that point, I had already complained to three people about the lack of everyone’s favourite parrot. What, I ask you, is the point of writing from Jafar’s point of view if you’re not going to include his sidekick??

tumblr_lyomejbjdQ1qe7736o1_500

-this is really nitpicky, but I couldn’t understand why they kept invoking God’s name (i.e. Good God, in God’s name, etc). Wouldn’t it be Allah? Didn’t the author remember the part of the movie when the Sultan says “Allah forbid you should have any daughters” to Rajah??

-formatting wise, there were an awful lot of italics which was really annoying to read every other sentence.

It’s YA, but it feels like the young end of YA – more 12-14 than 14-16 – which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but don’t go in expecting something scandalous, even if there are some surprisingly violent scenes.

Rating:

3 interrobangs

ARC Reviews – June 2015

This month, half of my ARCs had a musician love interest, which is funny, but also says a lot about me personally.

  • Grunge Gods and Graveyards – Kimberly G. Giarratano: “I was intrigued by the cover, and I’m automatically drawn to books where the love interest is a musician (it was an bonus that he also happened to be a ghost), so I figured I’d give this one a shot. I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would!” (4 interrobangs)
  • The Lady in Blue – Kimberly G. Giarratano: “..since I was intrigued by the Lady in Blue in [Grunge Gods and Graveyards], I was more than happy to find out a little bit more about Lana Bloom.This self-published sequel came out a couple of months ago and it does a fine job of filling in the gaps.” (5 interrobangs)
  • Devil’s Daughter – Hope Schenk-de Michele and Paul Marquez: “It had a great plot and some interesting moments but, while it had an open ending, I’m not tearing down the house in anticipating for the sequel. Definitely a good change from most of the other angel-based YA out there, though.” (3.5 interrobangs)
  • Fractured Dream – K.M. Randall: “It wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read ever, but I couldn’t really get into it (despite finishing it!). I’m certain there are people who will devour this, but I just couldn’t connect with anyone enough to care what happened to them.” (2.5 interrobangs)
  • Date with a Rockstar – Sarah Gagnon: “This was one of those books where part of me was going “wow, this is cheesy/dramatic/over-the-top” and another part of me was going “I LOVE EVERYTHING THAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW”.” (4 interrobangs)
  • The Heartbreakers – Ali Novak: “If you’re in the mood for a fluffy fanfic, then this will be your jam. There are some serious moments (Cara does have cancer, after all), but it veers around truly emotional territories.” (2.5 interrobangs)

Overall, it was an interesting month for ARCs, with a nice mix of hits and misses. What have you read this month?

ARC Review: The Heartbreakers – Ali Novak

The Heartbreakers – Ali Novak

25266817Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD…for four hours. She’s totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she’ll never see him again.

Except, Stella’s life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver — dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band — when her sister could be dying of cancer?

Release Date: August 4th, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I’m waffling over what rating to give this – a 2.5 or a solid 3?!

What I liked:

-the band. They were cute and funny, and, I imagine, realistic (I don’t know, I’ve never hung out with a boy band before, but from what I’ve heard/seen/read, it seems legit). Oliver is the caring bad boy (of course he has a sad past), JJ is hilarious, Xander is sweet, and Alec is the sensitive mysterious one.

-the relationship between Stella, Cara, and Drew (they’re triplets! But the girls are technically identical twins! Which I didn’t know was possible, but it is (Stella explains the medical reason at some point)!). They have a loving, caring relationship, and I could understand Stella’s hesitation to go out and “live her life” while Cara was so sick.

-there were some cute moments between Stella and Oliver. Entirely unrealistic, of course, but still cute. I smiled a couple of times, despite my cynicism (what I wouldn’t give to bump into an attractive band member in a coffee shop and have him fall hopelessly in love with me!).

What I didn’t like:

-Stella was annoying. She was so hot and cold, I wouldn’t have blamed Oliver if he got bored and left her. She went from straight up hating the band to loving Oliver (in the span of a day!), then decided she wanted to be “just friends”, but then got upset when he respected her decision and was all “yeah, I’ll go just flirt with this fan to soothe my broken heart since you’re not interested”. Because really, why wouldn’t he flirt with fans? They’re the reason he’s famous!

-I’m pretty sure this is was just 5 Seconds of Summer fan fiction. Everything about The Heartbreakers screamed 5SOS. I actually enjoy 5SOS, so it’s not an insult, but it really just felt like I was reading fanfic (this was before I realized the author came from Wattpad and NOW IT ALL MAKES SENSE).

-the ketchup eating contest made me feel ill. I like ketchup as much as the next person, but that’s so gross, I can’t even explain it.

-as much as I loved Stella’s relationships with her siblings, I had no idea what her relationship with her parents was like. They were in a couple of chapters, and while they were seemingly supportive (instead of your typical neglectful YA parents), she didn’t mention talking to them before going out on tour with The Heartbreakers.

You’d think her parents would express some concern over their 18 year old daughter touring with the most famous boy band in America. But apparently not.

-it had a happy ending, which was sweet, but holy smokes, it felt rushed. Almost like the author ran out of steam right near the end so she threw together the most logical ending. Which is fine, and it happens to the best of us, but to actually publish it like that? It could have been fleshed out more.

-I also don’t get how Cara was so cool about her sister befriending her favourite band, especially since Stella couldn’t stand The Heartbreakers at the beginning. If my sister ever showed up and told me she was dating John O’Callaghan from The Maine, I’d probably cry. I’d be happy for her, eventually, but first there would be tears and screams of “WHY COULDN’T IT BE ME?!” But Cara’s all “that’s soooo cool, OMG, you’re sooooo lucky, tell me everythinggggg”. Which rang a little false for me.

Having written the review, I’m going to say that while I was initially going to give it 3 stars, I think I’ll drop it down to a 2.5. If you’re in the mood for a fluffy fanfic, then this will be your jam. There are some serious moments (Cara does have cancer, after all), but it veers around truly emotional territories.

Rating:

2 interrobangs

2.5 interrobangs

ARC Review: Date with a Rockstar – Sarah Gagnon

Date with a Rockstar – Sarah Gagnon

23230475Monet isn’t just another lust-struck teenager trying to win the heart of Rock God Jeremy Bane–she needs the prize money from his new reality show to cure her illness.

Monet has Fluxem, a contagious disease that’s spread through saliva. It’s completely curable if you have enough money, which she and her single mother don’t. Now that she’s on the show, Monet has to work harder to keep her Fluxem hidden. She only has to keep the secret long enough to woo Jeremy Bane so he picks her as the winner. She doesn’t even care about the love part; the prize alone will change her life.

But the real Jeremy Bane is nothing like she imagined. Monet finds herself fighting against feelings that make her want to give in to her attraction and Jeremy’s attempts for a kiss. The further she goes in the competition, the more impossible it becomes to resist him–and when the producers turn the tables and start digging up dirt on the contestants, Monet fears her secret will be revealed before she’s ready and ruin everything.

The only way to win Jeremy’s heart is to tell him the truth, but confessing her disease could cost her the competition, the prize money, and him.

Release Date: June 23rd, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

This was one of those books where part of me was going “wow, this is cheesy/dramatic/over-the-top” and another part of me was going “I LOVE EVERYTHING THAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW”.

What I liked:

-the premise. I was a little worried it would be one of those tragically sad stories where they finally hook up and then someone dies, but SPOILER ALERT, my fears were unfounded. Instead, Monet’s disease forced her to work twice as hard as the other girls to keep from being discovered while she found herself falling hopelessly for Jeremy.

-the setting. I didn’t realize this was set in the not-to-distant, somewhat dystopian future. In fact, I find it fascinating that they didn’t put that into the synopsis, because I think it would change the way people view the book. Their story takes place about 50 years from now (I think?), so things have changed: people have bank chips in their arms, there are robotic perfume spritzers in malls, and China has called in their debts so much of America is struggling (I like to think Canada made it out safely in this future, but probably not). It gives an interesting background to Monet and Jeremy’s relationship and, since it’s not all “everybody has to fight each other to the death” like most dystopian novels, you can almost believe that this future is possible.

-the characters as a whole. The ten contestants are varied and some are more intense than others. You almost immediately empathize with Monet – she’s had a harder life than the others and is not nearly as privileged. And from their very first meeting, you start rooting for her and Jeremy (who is your standard YA hero i.e. charming, handsome, has a secret sweet/sensitive side no one ever sees, etc).

What I didn’t like:

-it might have been a formatting issue, but there were times when Monet’s thoughts and actual dialogue were mashed into the same paragraph which made it feel disjointed.

-while Monet was a complex and well-drawn character, she (her thoughts) could be repetitive sometimes.

-there were a few contestants who we didn’t get to know very well and who Monet didn’t see as a threat. They were almost unnecessary and could have easily been cut, which would have raised the stakes even more.

Admittedly, there were some predictable moments, many cheesy lines of dialogue, and a handful of super-dramatic scenes…but since I stayed up late to finish this, I guess that formula worked!

Rating:

4 interrobangs

ARC Review: The Lady in Blue – Kimberly G. Giarratano

The Lady in Blue – Kimberly G. Giarratano

25465559The Lady in Blue stole a car and fled Ash.
Out on Devlin Road she emerged from a crash.
She wandered the woods with her head dripping blood.
Then drowned in the river in water and mud.

All her life criminology student Liz Bloom has heard this rhyme, meant to scare young campers. When she’s about to take on her first cold case, Liz learns the eerie song is about her great aunt Lana. Liz isn’t big on studying, but she does have one advantage most criminologists don’t — she can speak to the dead.
In 1955, Lana Bloom was an eighteen-year-old beauty with Hollywood dreams who fell in love with a stranger. When Lana died in a bloody car crash, all signs pointed to the mysterious man who was never seen again.
As Lana unravels the details surrounding her last week of life, the tale she weaves for Liz is one of desire, betrayal, and murder. But if Lana can’t identify her killer, not only will a murderer escape punishment, but her ghostly form will cease to exist. And Liz will have failed the most important assignment of all – family.

Release Date: April 30th, 2015

First of all, a huge thank you to the author, Kimberly G. Giarratano for sending me a copy of this book! I read (and really enjoyed!) the “prequel”, Grunge Gods and Graveyards, and, since I was intrigued by the Lady in Blue in that story, I was more than happy to find out a little bit more about Lana Bloom.

This self-published sequel came out a couple of months ago and it does a fine job of filling in the gaps.

What I liked: 

-the plot (I feel like there’s a pun there, since the majority of the book technically takes place in a graveyard…). As the synopsis mentions, Liz interviews her ghostly great-aunt in order to get to the bottom of her decades-old murder. Lana’s memories are interspersed with present-day interactions with Liz. I found it funny that Liz’s reactions – which occasionally included swearing – often startled Lana who was not used to girls talking like that.

-I suspected something was off with Andrew right away, but that didn’t stop me from completely falling for their relationship. The setting – the 1950s – was perfect for their old-school romance and it made the epilogue that much more sweet.

-the culprit. I didn’t guess who it was until the very last clue. I wanted to blame a particular character because he was horrible, but I was satisfied with how everything tied together. It made sense for this person to be the murderer and I loved how Lana got her revenge in the end.

-the writing. It’s smooth and draws you in. There aren’t too many unnecessary details and you always end up liking the characters – or at least rooting for them. I finished the first book in a day, and with this being so short, it didn’t feel like any time at all.

What I didn’t like:

-I can’t think of anything in particular that bothered me. Maybe the length, because I really liked Liz and wouldn’t have minded hanging out with her for a bit longer, but since it was Lana’s story, it made sense that Liz had (relatively) limited screen time.

If you’re looking for a short ghost story, I recommend this one – but I’d definitely read Grunge Gods and Graveyards first!

Rating:

5 interrobangs

ARC Review: Fractured Dream – K.M. Randall

Fractured Dream – K.M. Randall

22553270Have you ever wondered where fairytales go once they’re created?

It’s been eight years since Story Sparks last had a dream. Now they’re back, tormenting her as nightmares she can’t remember upon waking. The black waters of Lake Sandeen, where her Uncle Peter disappeared decades before, may hold the secret to Story’s hidden memories, or a truth she’d rather not know. On a bright summer afternoon, Story and her two best friends, Elliot and Adam, take a hike to the lake, where they dive into the cool water and never reemerge. What they find is beyond anything they’ve ever imagined could be possible, a world where dangers lurk in the form of Big Bad Wolves, living Nightmares and meddlesome witches and gods.

Now Story must remember who she really is and somehow stop two worlds from ultimate annihilation, all while trying not to be too distracted by the inexplicable pull she feels toward a certain dark-eyed traveler who seems to have secrets of his own. The fates of the worlds are counting on her.

Release Date: June 21st, 2014

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I don’t know if I just wasn’t in the right mood for this or what, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would.

What I liked:

-the fairy tale elements. As I’ve mentioned many times, I enjoy fractured fairy tales (which is why I jumped at the chance to read this one). I liked how there is a Red Riding Hood in every generation, enjoy the different types of Thumbelinas, and, of course, love the Pegasus family (I’m not a huge horse fan, but who doesn’t love a FLYING horse??).

-Elliot. He’s gay and a psychic?! What a stellar combination! He was probably my favourite character.

-there was a death that I saw coming pretty much from the moment that character showed up, but I respect (and liked!) that the author actually made it happen and didn’t shy away from killing off people readers – and Story – liked.

What I didn’t like:

-I couldn’t connect with Story. I also found her to be slow on the uptake – there were many plot points that took her ages to figure out when they were pretty obvious (to me, anyway), especially anything having to do with Nicholas (who else saw those plot points coming?).

She also came across as younger than 20 (not that I was very mature at 20), so sometimes I forgot she was college-aged.

-on the same note: it was only a minor part of the book, but it drove me bonkers that they were interrupted FOUR TIMES when Nicholas started to tell her who he really was. FOUR TIMES! And since I had guessed his secret as soon as they met, the actual reveal wasn’t very satisfactory.

-I’ll be completely honest, by the time I hit 40%, I started skimming. There was a lot of exposition, a lot of telling me about feelings rather than showing them, and the perspective changed every so often, which I didn’t think was necessary. I respect the decision to have multiple POVs, but since I wasn’t a huge fan of Adam or Nicholas, I didn’t particularly care for getting stuck in their heads. Now, an Elliot POV, I could get behind, but alas, there were none (unless I accidentally skipped them).

I waffled between giving this 2 or 3 interrobangs, so I’m gonna go with 2.5. It wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read ever, but I couldn’t really get into it (despite finishing it!). I’m certain there are people who will devour this, but I just couldn’t connect with anyone enough to care what happened to them.

Rating: 

2 interrobangs

2.5 interrobangs

Fiction Friday Round-Up – June 5th, 2015

This was a pretty busy week; among other things, Jane and I launched our new pop culture website, Mind the Gap (which you should totally check out because we have a lot of great content!). But I also managed to completely catch up on the Flavia de Luce series, and finished a couple of ARCs. As always, please click the titles for the full review!

  • As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust – Alan Bradley: “The series is no longer simply a collection of unrelated mysteries; it started to hint at the bigger picture and Flavia’s role within that larger narrative.”
  • Devil’s Daughter – Hope Schenk de-Michele and Paul Marquez: “It had a great plot and some interesting moments but, while it had an open ending, I’m not tearing down the house in anticipating for the sequel. Definitely a good change from most of the other angel-based YA out there, though.”
  • Grunge Gods and Graveyards – Kimberly G. Giarratano: “If I was trying to pitch this book, I’d say it was a combination of Melissa Marr’s Made for You and Elizabeth Chandler’s Kissed by an Angel but with more ghosts and, well, grunge (those are all good things, by the way).”

Last week, I read a truly disappointing ARC:

  • Beyond Clueless – Linas Alsenas: “I’m sure there’s an audience for it, but this is one of those rare cases where I feel too old to read this and I think it would be better received by readers aged 12-14”.

But I also read a great female-centric comic book, so it sort of evened out!

  • Rat Queens Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery – Kurtis J. Wiebe: “There are also light, funny moments in between all the fighting; whether it’s Betty packing candy and drugs for dinner again or Dee being anti-social i.e. reading a book at a party, you get a good glimpse at the queens’ personalities.”

ARC Review: Devil’s Daughter – Hope Schenk-de Michele and Paul Marquez

Devil’s Daughter – Hope Schenk-de Michele and Paul Marquez

22980192Lucinda is as old as humanity itself, yet perpetually young, beautiful, and endowed with supernatural powers. She lives a double life human and immortal. In her human guise, she manages Lucinda’s Pawnshop & Antiquary, the doors of which can open to any street anywhere in the world at any time. Mortals who have arrived at a moral or spiritual crossroads are drawn into the mysterious shop. If they acquire one of its cursed artifacts, they may find themselves drafted into Lucifer’s service.

Born out of a betrayal of trust between the first woman, Eve, and father Lucifer, Lucinda has worked covertly and subtly for millennia to be true to her mother’s love by subverting her father’s schemes. She wins freedom for some; Lucifer keeps those who fail for eternity. She has to be careful, for Lucifer has placed her under the watchful eye of the fallen angel Nathaniel, whose real intentions are a mystery.Lucifer manipulates his army of corrupted souls to achieve his end game: to explode the tension between global powers, then create a charismatic anti-Christ to seemingly save the world with Lucinda as mother and a hand-picked human as father.

But Lucinda has her own plans. After centuries of seeming distance from humanity, she falls in love with a mortal man, which threatens to derail Lucifer’s plans to trigger Armageddon. This book follows Lucinda’s torturous relationship with her supernatural father, as she strives to secretly undermine his crusade to destroy mankind. How deep does Lucinda’s humanity go? Where do her true loyalties lie? Is she her father’s ally, or her mother’s child? And if the Devil’s daughter will not love a man he can control, can Lucifer control the man she loves?

Release Date: July 14th, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

That’s like the longest summary in the world, but it gives a good idea of what the book was about.

I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it as much as I hoped.

What I liked:

-the cover is beautiful. There are FLAMES in that eye. FLAMES!

-it was a great angel-devil story that DIDN’T make Nephilim the main focus (in fact, they were only mentioned briefly and that was in reference to something else).

-the female characters weren’t helpless damsels; they had agency and their own powers – either literally, in the case of Lucinda and Janine, but also in a figurative way, like how Brittany’s ethical convictions won over her need to have a high-paying job.

-there were some surprisingly dark moments. You’d think I’d have been prepared, since I was reading a book about the (literal) spawn of Satan, but I was still shocked when someone’s head got chopped off. I was not expecting it, but I liked how the story took a dark turn.

-I liked this portrayal of Lucifer – imitating men with his physical appearance, but still being a bringer of chaos. I thought it was interesting that he was so calculating and devious and just not straight-up “I’m going to destroy everyone!”. I also liked how – in this one, at least – he wasn’t trying to make up for causing the Fall, which is what usually happens when Lucifer shows up in a YA novel. It sounds horrible to be rooting for the bad guy, but it’s almost nice to read about evil-Lucifer instead of repentant-Lucifer.

What I didn’t like:

-the chapters seemed long. It didn’t actually take me a long time to read, but I felt like it lasted ages. I think the pacing might have been a bit too slow for my personal taste.

-there was a lot of build-up, a lot of pieces of the puzzle which only sort of came together at the end. As far as I know, there will be a sequel, and this book was all about the set up without any real actions until the last few chapters. Admittedly, this is a good way to get people interested in the rest of the series (so many loose ends!), but I wasn’t expecting it to end so abruptly.

-there were some characters I didn’t particularly care for so their parts slowed down my reading. It didn’t help that their story lines were usually the ones that required some thought (I don’t understand the military or legal sectors at all).

It had a great plot and some interesting moments but, while it had an open ending, I’m not tearing down the house in anticipating for the sequel. Definitely a good change from most of the other angel-based YA out there, though.

Rating:

3 interrobangs

3.5 interrobangs

ARC Review: Grunge Gods and Graveyards – Kimberly G. Giarratano

Grunge Gods and Graveyards – Kimberly G. Giarratano

20887429Lainey Bloom’s high school senior year is a complete disaster. The popular clique, led by mean girl Wynter Woods, bullies her constantly. The principal threatens not to let her graduate with the class of 1997 unless she completes a major research project. And everyone blames her for the death of Wynter’s boyfriend, Danny Obregon.

Danny, a gorgeous musician, stole Lainey’s heart when he stole a kiss at a concert. But a week later, he was run down on a dangerous stretch of road. When he dies in her arms, she fears she’ll never know if he really would have broken up with Wynter to be with her.

Then his ghost shows up, begging her to solve his murder. Horrified by the dismal fate that awaits him if he never crosses over, Lainey seeks the dark truth amidst small town secrets, family strife, and divided loyalties. But every step she takes toward discovering what really happened the night Danny died pulls her further away from the beautiful boy she can never touch again.

Release Date: May 31st, 2014

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I was intrigued by the cover, and I’m automatically drawn to books where the love interest is a musician (it was an bonus that he also happened to be a ghost), so I figured I’d give this one a shot. I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would!

What I liked:

-the fact that it takes place in the nineties. Admittedly, I would have been 7 when this story takes place, so my memories of the early nineties are pretty fuzzy, but, as a music fan, it was interesting to see what songs/bands were mentioned and how the different bands separated the different groups of people (i.e. mean girl Wynter is a Spice Girls fan, while Danny is all about the Afghan Whigs).

-the characters. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of them, but they ended up growing on me to the point that I was actually invested in their story. When I started, I got The Hollow (Jessica Verday) vibes, and since that’s one of those books where I loved the concept but hated everything else (especially the characters), I was a little worried.

It worked out, though, and, even though I didn’t love Lainey’s best friend Wilder to begin with, once I hit a certain point, I started to understand her more. Plus, you actually feel sad when Lainey and Danny interact because they literally – physically – can’t be together (or can they?) since he’s, you know, dead. As tragic as their story is, I liked that he was logical enough to try to convince her to move on so that she wouldn’t waste her life on a ghost. Which is more than can be said for the love interest in The Hollow.

-the mystery. Eventually, it becomes pretty obvious who was behind everything, but the story was woven together nicely and there were very few (if any) moments where you felt like the author was just pulling plot points out of thin air. Everything connected and was believable within the novel’s world.

-the Lady in Blue. She had a great back story and I wanted to know more about her, but the ending set up the second book (something I both like and don’t like).

What I didn’t like:

-Ghost Danny doesn’t show up until 30% of the way through. By that point, I was getting impatient, but I don’t think his “late” appearance really affected the way the rest of the book played out.

-Wynter was such a stereotypical mean girl. She served her purpose, but that didn’t mean I had to like her.

If I was trying to pitch this book, I’d say it was a combination of Melissa Marr’s Made for You and Elizabeth Chandler’s Kissed by an Angel but with more ghosts and, well, grunge (those are all good things, by the way).

Rating:

4 interrobangs

ARC Reviews – May 2015

This month, I’ve read four ARCs – one of which was for a blog tour – and just started a fifth. Here’s a round-up of what I read! (please click the titles for a full review)

  • Sing for Me – Gracie Madison: “I have complicated feelings about this book. It wasn’t bad per se, I just didn’t really enjoy it. I read the whole thing, though admittedly I started skimming at about 30%.” (2 interrobangs)
  • The Rearranged Life – Annika Sharma: “This book read like a cross between Bend it Like Beckham and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and it was definitely interesting to read the descriptions and think about the differences between cultures…a cute summer read.” (3.5 interrobangs)
  • The Blooming Goddess Trilogy – Tellulah Darling: “I really enjoyed this series: it was fluffy at times but still had a strong plot. The writing was funny and compelling, and if you like contemporary takes on Greek mythology, you’ll love Sophie’s world.” (4.5 interrobangs)
  • Beyond Clueless – Linas Alsenas: “I’m sure there’s an audience for it, but this is one of those rare cases where I feel too old to read this and I think it would be better received by readers aged 12-14.” (2 interobangs)

I just started reading Devil’s Daughter and it’s interesting so far – hopefully I’ll have a review for it up next week!

What ARCs have you read this month? Anything I should look forward to?