Review: The Cheerleaders

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

I found this book to be a fun mystery that was definitely full of twists and turns, but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me. There were a number of plot elements that I felt were unnecessary and didn’t really add anything to the story, but rather detracted from it. Also I kind of felt like the Monica at the beginning of the book was a completely different person to the Monica at the end of the book, and not just because she grew as a character.

I did definitely enjoy the twists and turns, as well as the constructing of the puzzle as more and more of the mystery regarding the deaths of the cheerleaders was revealed. Everything was resolved at the end in a satisfying way and I did feel like everything was answered. The writing was easy to read and engaging. Overall I think a lot of people will enjoy this book, but it just wasn’t entirely for me.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour: Don’t Read the Comments

Slay meets Eliza and Her Monsters in Eric Smith’s Don’t Read the Comments, an #ownvoices story in which two teen gamers find their virtual worlds—and blossoming romance—invaded by the real-world issues of trolling and doxing in the gaming community.

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…And she isn’t going down without a fight.

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I was super excited about this book when I heard about it. Being a gamer myself I’m very aware of the toxicity that can be found in the gaming community, especially when it comes to female players, so having a book that tackles this head on was such a joy to see.

I was not disappointed at all and can easily say that Don’t Read the Comments will likely appear in my favorite books of the year list. It not only discussed the gaming community and how celebrities in that community are treated, but also addressed other issues in the gaming community, different family dynamics and issues and so much more. The discussion regarding how Divya guards her identity and information out of fear of being pursued or doxxed is something that is seen in a number of industries, not just the gaming community.

I fell in love with so many of the characters, even when they perhaps weren’t acting the best. They were all moving cogs within the story that contributed greatly to the plot. There were also wonderfully inserted moments of humor that not only lightened the events, but perfectly added a realness to the story.

This was really such a wonderful read and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Eric Smith is an author, prolific book blogger, and literary agent from New Jersey, currently living in Philadelphia. Smith cohosts Book Riot’s newest podcast, HEY YA, with non-fiction YA author Kelly Jensen. He can regularly be found writing for Book Riot’s blog, as well as Barnes & Noble’s Teen Reads blog, Paste Magazine, and Publishing Crawl. Smith also has a growing Twitter platform of over 40,000 followers (@ericsmithrocks).

Social Links: 
Author website: https://www.ericsmithrocks.com/
Twitter: @ericsmithrocks 
Instagram: @ericsmithrocks
Facebook: @ericsmithwrites

Happy reading!

Review: The Waking Forest

The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more—until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive? 

I really wanted to be able to say that I loved this book, but sadly I didn’t. For me it was very slow moving and there were definitely passages where I was confused, which lead to some re-reading and slowing of my pace.

The writing of this book is so beautiful and lyrical, but at some points it seems that it could almost be too lyrical. Still, this writing style does lend immensely to the dark, twisting story of the book. We follow two different perspectives, one being Rhea and one being the witch in the woods. I did love the feel of this book and how like a traditional fairy tale parts of it were written.

While this book wasn’t exactly for me, I could definitely see a lot of people loving it. The writing is beautiful and the story dark and constantly evolving and shifting.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour: A Love Hate Thing

When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the affluent coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares, and the total feeling of not belonging in the posh suburb. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the mean streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything. He doesn’t even care how the rest of his life will play out.

In Pacific Hills, image is everything. Something that, as the resident golden girl, Nandy Smith knows all too well. She’s spent most of her life building the pristine image that it takes to fit in. After learning that her parents are taking in a former childhood friend, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames. It’s the start of summer vacation and the last thing Nandy needs is some juvenile delinquent from the ’Wood crashing into her world.

Stuck together in close quarters, Trice and Nandy are in for some long summer nights. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.

Buy Links: Harlequin Amazon Barnes & Noble Indie Bound Kobo
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I don’t read a ton of contemporary YA but the premise of this one piqued my interest and I wanted to check it out. It was definitely a compelling story that delved into subjects such as stereotypes, perceived status, racism and more. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the representation, but I really enjoyed the progression of the story and characters. There were characters that I wish we’d had more of an insight into, as they were a little two dimensional. I found myself wanting to know more about their back stories so that I could understand some of their actions, but since they weren’t the main characters I do understand why there wasn’t more about them.

The pacing and switching off of the POVs made this a really fast read and the story kept moving really well. There were definitely some sections that made me anxious because of what was happening which to me is a good sign of the quality of writing. Overall this was a really compelling and worthwhile read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Whitney D. Grandison was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, where she currently resides. A lover of stories since she first picked up a book, it’s no surprise she’s taken to writing her own. Some of her works can be found on Wattpad, one of the largest online story sharing platforms, where she has acquired over 30,000 followers and an audience of over fifteen million dedicated readers.

Social Links: Instagram: @wheadee
Twitter: @whitney_DG

Happy reading!

Review: The Way You Make Me Feel

Synopsis: Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

I’ve wanted to pick up one of Maurene Goo’s books for quite a while, so I was glad to finally get to this one. While it was often pitched as a contemporary romance, I feel it is so much more than that. It explores aspects of all different types of relationships whether they be friendships, romantic relationships or family relationships. The characters on the surface are simple, but Goo gives them depth and individuality that is refreshing. The way they play off each other and the ways that different characters grow and change, Clara especially.

Clara is a little unlikable at the beginning, but as the book progresses her motivations and reasons for her behavior become more apparent. She’s been very careful to distance herself from things to keep from truly getting hurt and watching as she slowly lets more people in and changes is wonderful.

There were a ton of moments that made me laugh and the banter between the characters were priceless. It’s own voices for Korean representation, which I love (my partner is Korean so anything featuring Korean characters, culture, history or mythology is pretty much auto-buy for me). Overall it’s a wonderful story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Also as a sidenote, how gorgeous is that cover? I’m in love with pretty much all her covers.

Happy reading!

Review: Hunted

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

I’m a sucker for Beauty and the Beast retellings, though I know the market is currently over saturated with them, I still reach for them. Hunted has been on my shelf ever since it came out, so it was past time I picked it up. I’m SO glad I did and am a little mad at myself for waiting so long.

In a lot of ways the story of this book is very close to the original story line of Beauty and the Beast, but I felt that there was enough deviation to make it a unique story. The major plot points we know from the original fairy tale are there, but often with a spin on them. The backdrop and mythos she creates for her version of the story are full of depth and richly told.

I hesitate to call anything a strict favorite, but this may definitely be my number one retelling of Beauty and the Beast, plus it makes me eager to read more from Meagan Spooner and see if I enjoy her other works as much.

Happy reading!

Review: The Babysitters Coven

Title: The Babysitters Coven
Author: Kate Williams
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: September 17th, 2019

When I first read the concept of this book, I wanted to read it immediately. Babysitter’s Club meets Buffy? Yes, please! While the book did meet that brief, there were some aspects that I didn’t love. I really enjoyed all of the great pop culture references (Labyrinth, Buffy, Harry Potter and more) as well as some of the discussion surrounding difficult issues such as Esme’s mom’s condition and how the town/school treated her because of it, as well as her internal dialogue about her worries and fears. Esme’s voice/point of view is rather harsh at times, which could be considered unlikable or polarizing, but for the age of the character it is understandable.

I do wish that some things had been a little more descriptive. At times the relationships between people didn’t seem to be as close as they were described. Also, a lot of the characters (granted, more minor characters) could have used more description to differentiate them from each other. That being said though, this was mostly with characters that only appeared a few times and I’m sure that if they show up in future books they will be fleshed out more.

The last half of the book was jam packed with action and went much faster than the 1st half, which I really enjoyed. There were definitely a lot of twists and turns that were surprising, but there were also many twists that were pretty predictable. There were times that I had a hard time liking Esme and Cassandra (mostly Cassandra) because of their decisions, but I could see some of those things being addressed in future books. In that respect this book set up future conflicts really well.

All in all I did enjoy this book and as I said the last half was really quick paced and enjoyable. If you’re looking for books that have great pop culture references, lots of mystical and paranormal content and babysitters who have to protect the world, then you’ll probably enjoy it. It was definitely a fun book with a lot of quirks and capers.

The Babysitters Coven is out now from Delacorte Press, so be sure to pick up a copy if it’s something that is up your alley, Happy reading!