Mini Reviews: The Last Four Books I Read For My YA Book Club

I just realized that I never talked about the last few books I’ve read for the YA book club I’m part of!  Now seems like a good time to talk about them.  At least a little, because I’m really fuzzy on a couple of them, since a couple are from a few months ago.  Hopefully, I’ll get a little better about actually reviewing them, but we shall see.

First, there’s Roar by Cora Carmack.  We read this one back in August, and is the only one I didn’t finish, and I didn’t particularly like the love interests.  I thought they were pretty terrible guys, and while I liked the magic, that was pretty much it.  I think there were a few different perspectives that weren’t done well, but I could be wrong, and confusing it with a different book.  I tried to keep reading, but I just couldn’t.  And I couldn’t figure out why it seemed so familiar, and then I realized I tried to read it about a year ago, and it was a DNF then.  I figured I’d try it again, but this read wasn’t any better.

In September, we read Anger Is A Gift by Mark Oshiro.  I liked this one, and I was crying by the end of it.  Usually, I love books where I end up crying, but not for this one.  I didn’t really feel the main characters anger, and he had anxiety, but the anxiety sort of disappeared a little bit into the book.  Parts of it felt really sci-fi- the tech the police had felt really futuristic, which didn’t fit with the book.  I think, if I hadn’t read books like The Hate U Give first, I think I would have liked it a lot more.  I did like seeing how Moss and his friends wanted to make a difference.  I’d rate this book 3 stars.

The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White is my favorite of the books we’ve read so far.  We read it in October, and it’s a great Halloween/October read.  I’ve never read the original Frankenstein- I tried but couldn’t get through it- but maybe one day I can actually finish it.  It would be interesting to see how much she drew from Frankenstein.  I didn’t like Elizabeth at first, but as we got more into the story and her world, I really liked her, and understood why she acted the way she did.  It was more historical/horror/thriller than I thought it would be, but I still loved it.  It was creepy and I can’t wait to read it again.  My rating is 5 stars.

The last book I really wanted to talk about was Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf.  We read it last month, and I ended up really liking it.  I liked the world, and even though I was expecting it to be an Evil Queen origin story, I was still really surprised by the ending.  I can’t wait to read the next one to see where things are going to go.  There was a point where I wanted Zera to the opposite of what she actually did, but at least for now, I’m curious to see how it will play out, even though she didn’t do what I really hoped she would do.  My rating is 4 stars.

That’s all for today, and I’ll definitely be back with more reviews!

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Book Review: Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Book: Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

Published October 2018 by HMH Books For Young Readers|376 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Grim Lovelies #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd, Grim Lovelies is an epic and glittering YA fantasy. Prepare to be spellbound by the world of Grim Lovelies, where secrets have been long buried, friends can become enemies, and everything—especially humanity—comes at a price.

I really liked this one!  I definitely liked it a lot more than I thought I would, especially since I didn’t like it at the beginning.

I had a hard time getting into it, and I’m not sure why.  I did end up really liking it, and I thought the world was interesting and different.  It did feel pretty slow at the beginning of the book, and once Mada Vittora dies, I did get a lot more interested.  There’s this racing against the clock feel to the book, but at the same time, it seemed like not a lot happened, even when they were happening.  It could have felt a lot more action-packed, considering it’s told over the span of a couple of days,

I really liked the world, and the idea of an underground magical society, and witches being territorial.  That was really cool, and I’m hoping we see more of it in the rest of the series.  I did want more of the Haute and the magic, and Paris did seem like a great backdrop for everything going on.  And yet, it wasn’t as used as much or as well as I thought it would be.  It felt like a missed opportunity, and I wanted it to come together a little bit more.

It’s so odd too, because the book seems to be set in current time, but the vibe of the book is something a lot older than that.  It threw me every time something like a car was mentioned, because it took me out of the book a little bit.

It did feel like the magic was just there- and in general, I feel like that describes the book.  I think I wanted more explanation for what was going on, and I didn’t really get that from the book.  It might be wishful thinking on my part, but I really want more of how everything came to be, but I’m doubting it will actually happen.  Still, one can hope.

I did expect something a lot darker and more twisted.  There was a lot of potential for that, and while the book was not as dark as I thought, I still enjoyed reading it.

3 stars.  I liked Grim Lovelies, and there’s a lot of potential.  Hopefully, the next book will expand on the world more.

Book Review: Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

Book: Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

Published September 2018 by HarperTeen|464 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Three Dark Crowns #3

Genre: YA Fantasy

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake returns with the highly anticipated third book in the Three Dark Crowns series! And while Arsinoe, Mirabella, and Katharine all have their own scores to settle, they aren’t the only queens stirring things up on Fennbirn Island.

Queen Katharine has waited her entire life to wear the crown. But now that she finally has it, the murmurs of dissent grow louder by the day. There’s also the alarming issue of whether or not her sisters are actually dead—or if they’re waiting in the wings to usurp the throne.

Mirabella and Arsinoe are alive, but in hiding on the mainland and dealing with a nightmare of their own: being visited repeatedly by a specter they think might be the fabled Blue Queen. Though she says nothing, her rotting, bony finger pointing out to sea is clear enough: return to Fennbirn. 

Jules, too, is in a strange place—in disguise. And her only confidants, a war-gifted girl named Emilia and her oracle friend Mathilde, are urging her to take on a role she can’t imagine filling: a legion-cursed queen who will lead a rebel army to Katharine’s doorstep.

This is an uprising that the mysterious Blue Queen may have more to do with than anyone could have guessed—or expected.

Going into this book, I wasn’t sure about it at all.  And while I liked it, it was also my least favorite book in the series so far.

Like the first two books in the series, it took a while to get used to all of the narrators.  There were a few, and we followed Jules, Katherine, Arsinoe and Mirabella as we see what happens after Katherine is crowned Queen.  I don’t know why I always have a hard time with getting used to the narrators but it seems like I really struggled with that in this book.  Considering everything going on, it makes sense, but it still would have been nice to have it more clear when we’re switching perspectives.

I wasn’t sure about this book going into it because the 2nd book was pretty resolved.  It seems like this series was maybe originally intended to be a duology, but a few more books were added…and while I finished the 2nd book feeling like there was more to the story, it also felt like a really good ending to the series.  I was nervous this book wouldn’t have the same magic that the other books did.

It did, to a point, and I’m glad we learned more about Fennbirn and the mist…and even the Blue Queen.  I wanted to know more about that, and how it will come into play (assuming it does at all, and I admit that it could be wishful thinking on my part).

Katherine’s interesting, and she is trying to do the right thing, but I kind of wanted her to embrace what happened to her.  There were points where I felt like it focused too much on that- it would have been cool to see her embrace it, but I don’t think that’s in the cards for her.  Unless Blake decides to surprise us, but I don’t think that’s what will happen for her.

I didn’t particularly care for the visions of Daphne and the Blue Queen.  While it was interesting, I think maybe I wasn’t happy with how it was done.  At least we get more backstory on Fennbirn, though it would have been nice to get that for the Mainlands as well.  With the expansion we see of this world, I wanted more on everything, not the main setting we’ve had for the series.

Still, I’m curious to see how it will all end, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book.

3 stars.  I like the world, but I wanted more world building for some parts of the world, and less for other parts.

Audio Book Review: Spectacle by Rachel Vincent, Narrated by Gabra Zackman

Book: Spectacle by Rachel Vincent, Narrated by Gabra Zackman

Published May 2017 by Record Books|Length: 9 hours, 25 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Menagerie #2

Genre: Adult Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

In this riveting sequel to New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent’s acclaimed novel Menagerie, Delilah Marlow will discover that there is no crueler cage than the confines of the human mind…

When their coup of Metzger’s Menagerie is discovered, Delilah and her fellow cryptids find their newly won freedom brutally stripped away as they are sold into The Savage Spectacle, a private collection of “exotic wildlife.” Specializing in ruthless cryptid cage matches, safari-style creature hunts and living party favors, the Spectacle’s owner, Willem Vandekamp, caters to the forbidden fetishes of the wealthy and powerful. At the Spectacle, any wish can be granted—for the right price. 

But Vandekamp’s closely guarded client list isn’t the only secret being kept at the Spectacle. Beneath the beauty and brutality of life in the collection lie much darker truths, and no one is more determined than Delilah to strip the masks from the human monsters and drag all dark things into the light.

This is another book I’ve really enjoyed!  I really liked the first one, and I’m glad I switched to the audio book, because Gabra Zackman is one of my favorite narrators, and she was a great choice for this book.

I liked seeing the aftermath of what happened in the first book at Metzger’s, and what happened once they were taken to the Savage Spectacle.  What they had to endure there was horrible- more so than what we saw in the first book, and I hated seeing them go through that.  In particular, I hated what Genevieve, Gallagher and Delilah had to go through, but I think that’s because Genevieve’s story really stood out, and we get chapters from Delilah and Gallagher’s perspective.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the different perspectives we see in the book.  I really liked in Menagerie, and I did like it in this book, but not as much as I did previously.  I think part of it is that I didn’t find the other perspectives as interesting.  And I think part of it is that it didn’t translate well to audio.  At least for me, but there were points were I was paying attention but also had my attention elsewhere, so maybe I just wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have been.

Like Menagerie, we get snippets of headlines and other stories about cryptids and the Reaping.  I’m curious to see how what’s going on now will come together with everything that happened before.  It’s more creepy and horrifying and it really opens up this world that Delilah is now living in.

Life at the Spectacle is pretty contained, much like life at Metzger’s was, but somehow, this book opened up more of this world.  I think it’s because of everything Vandekamp was trying to do, with the collar, and the clients that frequent the Spectacle.  When you have a lot of wealthy and powerful clients, it’s going to change things, and I’m curious to see the fallout from what happened there.

With being able to control them at the press of a button, and trying to break them to learn what their triggers are…it’s a brutal world they’re now living in, and it’s a lot more threatening, especially where reproduction is concerned.  There’s no consent for the cryptids (as far as humans are concerned), and that’s something to keep in mind if you pick up this book.

What’s interesting is that while Menagerie would make a great stand-alone, there’s still a lot of story that could be told in this world.  Spectacle is a great addition to the series and adds to the world we get introduced to in Menagerie.  I can’t begin to imagine what we’re going to see in the next (and last) book, but I’m hoping it’ll add more to the world while wrapping things up.

4 stars.  The brutality and cruelty was a little hard to handle, especially on audio, and the multiple narrators didn’t work as well as I thought they would.  Gabra Zackman did a great job narrating the book as well.

Book Review: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Book: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Published September 2018 by Imprint|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: A Blade So Black #1

Genre: YA Contemporary/YA Re-Telling

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

I really liked A Blade So Black!  It’s a really cool re-telling of Alice In Wonderland, and I really liked McKinney’s take on the story.

I’m not going to lie, for a while I thought her dad (and his death) were connected to the Nightmares, and everything going on with Wonderland.  I really thought, at least for a while, there was going to be a connection between the two.  Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part, and even though it didn’t go this way (and it probably won’t for the rest of the series), part of me really wants there to be more of a connection between the two.

I really liked seeing Alice struggle with having to leave to fight Nightmares, and leaving her family and friends behind.  She disappears for random periods of time, and you see how much it affects her friendships (particularly with a very high-maintenance best friend) and a mom who worries when Alice disappears and doesn’t answer her phone, it’s because she was killed.

Alice was a little bratty at times, and I don’t blame her mom for being concerned about Alice, especially when a neighborhood girl was killed.  I definitely see where her mom is coming from, and a kid like Alice would drive me crazy.  It’s hard, because I know what’s going on with Alice, and why she keeps disappearing.  But I still really felt for her mom.

It did take me a while to get into the book, and it didn’t get really interesting until the end of the book.  I’m very intrigued by this Wonderland, and I wanted more of it.  Hopefully, we’ll see more of it in the rest of the series, especially with how things ended.  It was slow and a little choppy at times, but overall, it did keep my interest until the end.

4 stars.  Even though the book didn’t get really good until the end, I’m still interested enough to continue on with the series.  I’m hoping we get to see more of Wonderland, because I did like the glimpses of it that we saw.

Book Review: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Book: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Published September 2018 by Balzer + Bray|285 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary/Re-telling

Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.

I really liked this one!  I wish I hadn’t waited so long to review it, because I am a little fuzzy on the details, but I’ll do my best.  It’s not the first time I’ve waited a few weeks to review a book, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.

Anyway, onto the actual review!  I really liked it, and I knew I had to read this one.  Pride And Prejudice is one of my favorite books, and after reading American Street (also by the same author), I was really looking forward to reading this one.  It didn’t disappoint, and it was a great re-telling!

I really liked Zuri, and how much she loves her neighborhood.  It was obvious, throughout the book, that her family was important to her, as was going to college.  I really loved that, and I loved the relationships she had with her sisters.  I do wish we saw more of her relationship with her sisters, because they do seem pretty awesome, from what we see of them.  Zuri is fierce but judgmental, and she’s a character I think people will either love or hate.  I’m having a hard time seeing a middle ground with her but maybe that’s just me.  And anything is possible.

I also liked seeing Zuri realize that the Darcy family isn’t as bad as she thought.  She changes her mind about Darius, and even Ainsley is different by the end of the book.

I thought it was a great re-telling, and though it’s been quite a while since I read the original, it was fun seeing how it matched up with the original.  From the characters, to how the story was told, it was overall a great story.  I loved seeing it set it New York, and in a more current time.  We see how gentrification affected her neighborhood, and it’s woven throughout the novel so well.

It does stand on its own really well, and even if you haven’t read Pride And Prejudice, Pride is definitely worth reading.

4 stars.  I didn’t love, but I really enjoyed this modern update for one of my favorite books.

Book Review: Buried Beneath The Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Book: Buried Beneath The Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Published September 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books|330 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Based on interviews with young women who were kidnapped by Boko Haram, this poignant novel by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani tells the timely story of one girl who was taken from her home in Nigeria and her harrowing fight for survival. Includes an afterword by award-winning journalist Viviana Mazza.

A new pair of shoes, a university degree, a husband—these are the things that a girl dreams of in a Nigerian village. And with a government scholarship right around the corner, everyone—her mother, her five brothers, her best friend, her teachers—can see that these dreams aren’t too far out of reach.

But the girl’s dreams turn to nightmares when her village is attacked by Boko Haram, a terrorist group, in the middle of the night. Kidnapped, she is taken with other girls and women into the forest where she is forced to follow her captors’ radical beliefs and watch as her best friend slowly accepts everything she’s been told. Still, the girl defends her existence. As impossible as escape may seem, her life—her future—is hers to fight for.

I thought Buried Beneath The Baobab Tree was okay. I really wanted to like it more, and even though I liked the overall story, how it was told didn’t work for me at all.

I thought the chapters were really short, and I felt like I was reading snapshots of what was going on. The feeling of reading snapshots felt particularly true for this story because each chapter tended to be anywhere from 1-4 paragraphs. I had a hard time connecting to what was going on because I felt like I didn’t have enough time to get into everything that was happening to our unnamed narrator. I felt like I didn’t have time to really process what was going on, even though I knew our narrator, and the girls she lived with, were dealing with a lot of things. Maybe it was meant to show that they didn’t have time to process what was going on. In the case of our unnamed narrator, she knew what was going on was horrible, and she wanted to get out, while the girls around didn’t. Of course, I can’t say for sure if that’s what the author was going for, but I am wondering if maybe that was the case.

I don’t recall our narrator ever being named, and even though what she went through was horrible, I felt really distanced from what was going on. What she went through was horrifying, and it’s even worse because we see her hopes and dreams and her relationships, and you see how what the Boko Haram did changed all of that. Sadly, this was something I didn’t know happened and that it was something that happened recently.

The headlines and news stories you see, particularly at the beginning of the book, worked really well for me. It really highlighted how we might not pay attention to global news. I know I don’t, and it’s sad that it takes books like these to show how little I know of the world around me. It was also sad to see that the world went on like normal while these girls were dealing with being held hostage by these ruthless, cruel men.

It doesn’t shy away from how these girls are brainwashed and indoctrinated into this group and what they believe. There’s violence and sexual abuse (please keep that in mind if those are triggers for you) and you do experience the loss that our narrator does, because you do see everything through her eyes. She, and the men in Boko Haram, are unnamed, which worked pretty well. I did find it frustrating at times, particularly because I had a hard time connecting with our narrator. But it did work because in not naming her, she could be anyone.

I did like the author’s note at the end, though. It explained what happened to the real-life girls that inspired this book, and you get a lot more in depth about what’s been going on with the Boko Haram. It was clear, even before reading the afterword, that Nwaubani did her research. It shows in what all of these girls went through. Even though the book ends not too long after our narrator gets rescued, there was part of me that wanted to see what her life was like after that point. I thought it was open-ended, which is fine, but I wanted a little more closure. Thinking about it now, it seems a little silly, since there probably wasn’t a lot of closure in real life for these girls.

2 stars. I wanted to like this more than I did. The short chapter length didn’t work for me at all, but I thought the author did a great job at showing the horrors these girls went through, and how this group took away so much from countless women and girls.

Book Review: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

Book: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

Published September 2017 by HarperTeen|448 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Three Dark Crowns #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

The battle for the crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, the elemental sister once thought to be the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must confront the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

I really liked this one! It’s an interesting series, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. It’s dark and twisted and it’s interesting to see how these girls are fighting for a throne. Especially when some aren’t doing what you thought they would.

I didn’t like this one at first. Even though I read the first book pretty recently, I had a hard time keeping up with the characters and places and what each queen could do. It took a while to get into it, and even the list of characters at the beginning of the book didn’t do much to help. It is more action-packed, and there’s a lot going on.

I do have a soft spot for Mirabella, even though I’m not sure why. And I really liked Arinsoe as well. To be as powerful a poisoner as she is, and with no training…she’s pretty powerful. Don’t get me wrong, Katherine’s pretty powerful as well. At this point, it would be disappointing if she wasn’t. But it also makes me wonder what her gift is. She had a lot of training as a poisoner, so she’s obviously a strong poisoner, but it always seemed like it wasn’t terribly strong. Especially when you compare her abilities to Arsinoe. So is there a stronger ability we don’t know about that will be revealed?

As much as I don’t want to like Katherine, for everything she’s done, I’m still curious to see where her story goes, and if there’s more to her than what we’ve seen with her so far.

There is something else I wanted to talk about! It wasn’t until after I had read this book, that I learned it was originally going to be a duology, before the series got extended for 4 books. There was a lot of closure in this book, more than what I would have expected, knowing it was a series, and not knowing it was originally going to be a duology. It makes me nervous and hesitant to read the rest of the series, because I am slightly nervous about how the rest of the series is going to go.

I’m still going to continue with the series, because I think there’s a lot of story to tell in this world, particularly with how things ended in this book. With Katherine, and what happened with Arsinoe and Mirabella, I really want to know what’s going to happen next. It’s definitely a dark, twisted world, and I do want to know how it’s all going to end. Even though I’m nervous to see where it’s going to go, it’s not going to stop me from continuing on with the series.

4 stars. I really liked it, and I liked seeing more of the relationships between the characters. You really see the politics behind everything too, and that made what was going on interesting. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Audio Book Review: Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink, Narrated by Jasika Nicole

Book: Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink, Narrated by Jasika Nicole

Published October 2018 by HarperAudio|Length: 8 hours, 44 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: Adult

From the New York Times best-selling coauthor of It Devours! and Welcome to Night Vale comes a fast-paced thriller about a truck driver searching across America for the wife she had long assumed to be dead.

“This is not a story. It’s a road trip.”

Keisha Lewis lived a quiet life with her wife, Alice, until the day that Alice disappeared. After months of searching, presuming she was dead, Keisha held a funeral, mourned, and gradually tried to get on with her life. But that was before Keisha started to see her wife, again and again, in the background of news reports from all over America. Alice isn’t dead, and she is showing up at every major tragedy and accident in the country.

Following a line of clues, Keisha takes a job with a trucking company, Bay and Creek Transportation, and begins searching for Alice. She eventually stumbles on an otherworldly conflict being waged in the quiet corners of our nation’s highway system – uncovering a conspiracy that goes way beyond one missing woman.

Why did Alice disappear? What does she have to do with this secret war between inhuman killers? Why did the chicken cross the road? These questions, and many more, will be answered in Alice Isn’t Dead.

I loved Alice Isn’t Dead! Ever since I heard there was going to be an Alice Isn’t Dead book, I knew I had to read it. It’s rare I pre-order books, but this was one I pre-ordered on Audible the second it was available to pre-order.

It’s a great book, whether you’ve listened to the podcast or not. It has some of the same elements and events from the podcast and while it’s the same premise as the podcast, it’s also a completely different story. So if you’ve listened to the podcast, it’s also worth checking out the book, because it’s a different take on a story I’ve come to know and love.

I liked hearing this version of Keisha’s story, and how she went in search of Alice. I loved seeing them find each other again and what happened once everything was over. It makes me want to listen to the podcast all over again, to see how they’re different but also the same. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to the podcast, particularly the earlier episodes, and it might be fun to revisit the podcast.

Back to the book…I honestly don’t have much else to say about the book. I loved the story, the search for Alice, and how things weren’t what they seemed. It’s a very different feel than the Night Vale books, and it’s more of a thriller than whatever category you want to place Night Vale into. I know there’s no way any mention of Night Vale would happen, but now that I think about it, it would have been cool to have seen a mention of it. Still, Alice Isn’t Dead is great, regardless of connections or mentions to the same weird desert town that got me into listening to Alice Isn’t Dead.

Since I did listen to the audio book, I think I’ll talk about that! I knew I had to go with the audio book for the Alice Isn’t Dead book. I’ve loved the podcast, and I can’t imagine physically reading the book. It would be interesting to read Alice Isn’t Dead in print, but I remember the print version of the Welcome To Night Vale book not working in print, and I have the feeling it would be the same with this book.

I’m glad Jasika Nicole narrated the book- she did great as the voice of Keisha on the podcast, and I knew she would be great at narrating the book too. It’s definitely worth listening to, especially if you’re a fan of audio books. Something about the story works so well on audio- it’s like it was written for the audio book listener in mind.

One last thing I’d like to talk about: Keisha’s anxiety. It’s definitely present throughout the book, and the thing I loved the most was that it wasn’t cured or magically gone by the end of the book. You see how she copes and deals with it, and I loved Keisha more knowing that she was still the same Keisha we saw at the beginning of the book.

5 stars. I loved Alice Isn’t Dead, particularly as an audio book. If you like a little bit of horror and road trips and thrillers, this is the book for you!

Book Review: The Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Book: The Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Published January 2015 by Atheneum Books For Young Readers|272 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.

Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.

I liked The Boy In The Black Suit.  Like with all of Reynold’s other books, I wanted to like it more than I actually did.

I did like how Matt and his dad were grieving, and also the community that they have.  Matt definitely wasn’t alone, and losing a parent can be hard.  Matt’s fascination was funerals was one of the more unique elements of the book, and while I thought it was slightly weird, it also seemed to help him feel less alone.  It’s different, but it seemed to work, especially when he met Lovey.

I’ll admit, I had a hard time believing that it would be totally okay for a teen to be working at a funeral home.  Granted, he’s helping set things up, and isn’t actually doing anything with the bodies, but still.  It was something I had a hard time believing, and I couldn’t quite get over that.  It did seem to be good for him, and he’s lucky to have a great boss.

And it’s how he really met and got to know Lovey, who’s a great character.  I liked her, and I liked seeing how she wanted to continue with some of the things her grandma did, like Thanksgiving dinner at the shelter.  The connection between Lovey and Matt was unexpected, and I expected it to cause some issues with them, but it really didn’t.

It did end abruptly, in my opinion, but…sometimes life is abrupt and weird, and it somehow seemed to fit the book. Still, I wanted a little more closure than what we got with the ending.  It’s a perfectly fine ending, and it does go with the book, but I think I just wanted something a little more from the ending.

3 stars.  I liked Matt, and he definitely deals with the death of his mother in an interesting way.  It made the book stand out, because you don’t usually see teens who are fascinated with funerals.  Even though I only liked it, I think it’s a good read, particularly if you like Jason Reynolds.