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9/07/2021 • 0 comments • Filed Under: Fantasy, Mystery, Young Adult

Publication date: September 7th 2021
Publisher: Razorbill
ISBN: 0593403967

La Cachette, Louisiana, is the worst place to be if you have something to hide.

This tiny town, where seventeen-year-old Grey spends her summers, is the self-proclaimed Psychic Capital of the World–and the place where Elora Pellerin, Grey’s best friend, disappeared six months earlier.

Grey can’t believe that Elora vanished into thin air any more than she can believe that nobody in a town full of psychics knows what happened. But as she digs into the night that Elora went missing, she begins to realize that everybody in town is hiding something – her grandmother Honey; her childhood crush Hart; and even her late mother, whose secrets continue to call to Grey from beyond the grave.

When a mysterious stranger emerges from the bayou – a stormy-eyed boy with links to Elora and the town’s bloody history – Grey realizes that La Cachette’s past is far more present and dangerous than she’d ever understood. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who she can trust. In a town where secrets lurk just below the surface, and where a murderer is on the loose, nobody can be presumed innocent–and La Cachette’s dark and shallow lies may just rip the town apart.

I read this book back to back with The Dead and the Dark, and when I first went into this one, I thought for sure they’d be incredibly similar. The premises, after all, were pretty alike. Missing kids, small towns, etc. and so forth. But oh my god was I wrong. Though the elements are there, the differences between the two stories is miles and miles.

I spent a lot of time both in Louisiana and talking to people from the state so slipping into this story felt like meeting an old friend. I never considered that there were towns south of New Orleans, however, until the main character, Grey, explains the location of her hometown. I’ve always been fascinated by the wet, swampy lands of Southern Louisiana, so I was in love from the get-go with the rich setting.

I’m caught somewhere between feeling like a whole lot of nothing happen for a good portion of the story, and feeling like it was just the right length. There was a few moments where the story seemed to drag, but whenever I felt that way, the story shifted or something happened that made me want to keep reading.

I was left thinking about the ending for days and day after reading the last page. When I closed the book, I stared into the nothing for a few minutes before quietly swearing, “What the fuck was that?” I can say without reservation that I didn’t see that ending coming for a second. It left me wanting more; I actually checked to see if this was a standalone when I was done. Don’t think that there’s a cliffhanger ending because there’s not. I just needed some more time with the characters and setting. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If you’re looking for an atmospheric, creepy read with lots of speculative elements to be apart of your Fall reading, I can’t recommend this one enough. I won my review copy in a contest from the publisher, but this did not influence my opinion of the book. Thank you PenguinTeen/Razorbill for the free copy!

Currently Listening To: Hollow - Breaking Benjamin

9/05/2021 • 0 comments • Filed Under: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult

Publication date: November 17th 2020
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
ISBN: 1534457690
ISBN13: 9781534457690

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

*Note: The edition I read was the UK Fairyloot edition; the ISBNs above are for the US hardcover.

This book took me ages to read, and I still have no clue why. I’d love to say it was a conscious decision to savor it, or I was just too busy—both are true in their own ways—but I found myself in a reading slump while trudging through this that was incredibly hard to break. I thought for sure I wouldn’t finish it. Feeling that way was absolutely zero to do with whether I loved the book, though.

The plot reminded me of something directly out of The X-Files, a personal favorite, so I was destined from the start to enjoy this, I think. The concept of a river monster spewing little brain-eating bugs everywhere? Gross! I loved that. It was disturbing, tragic, and downright terrifying.

As I was reading, I found myself entranced by the writing. Chloe Gong is incredibly skilled at pulling you into the story; it was crazy to learn that not only was this her debut, but that she’s several years younger than me. Not me having a crisis and wondering what I’m doing with my life because of this book. >.< LMAO, anyways. She painted a stunning picture of 1920s Shanghai, of the characters, of the fear gripping the city. The character development was so good; I was obsessed with Juliette. The story wasn’t about a bunch of good guys; it was about all the bad guys having to come together to do something good. I haven’t read a lot of books like this, and to say I’m obsessed with that kind of storytelling is an understatement.

I went in expecting the romance to be… spicier. Truthfully, it was probably the result of Instagram and TikTok so this is less a critique of the book and more of a “manage your expectations that come from social media” PSA. With that said, I felt the romance is absolutely perfect: a slow burn, enemies-to-lover trope with a pinch of spice. Chef’s kiss. ♥

Throughout the story, I had my theories about the cause of the epidemic, but I definitely got whiplash towards the end, where it twisted and turned and twisted again. With that said, I still guessed who was causing the epidemic. I usually try not to stray too far ahead in my theories, or try to guess at all, but since I took so long to read it, I found myself thinking about it a lot while not reading. I only have myself to blame… *sigh*

This was one of my favorite reads of the summer. While I wasn’t, in the end, absolutely obsessed like so many of my friends, I adored every word I read and had so much fun theorizing the outcomes. I’m glad I don’t have long to wait for the sequel (so long as Fairyloot doesn’t delay for too long…), as it comes out November 16th! The day after my birthday!

Currently Listening To: Laughter Lines - Bastille Currently Reading: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

6/08/2021 • 0 comments • Filed Under: Reviews, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Publication date: June 20th 2020
Publisher: Razorbill
ISBN: 1984835920
ISBN13: 9781984835925

When Andra wakes up, she’s drowning.

Not only that, but she’s in a hot, dirty cave, it’s the year 3102, and everyone keeps calling her Goddess. When Andra went into a cryonic sleep for a trip across the galaxy, she expected to wake up in a hundred years, not a thousand. Worst of all, the rest of the colonists—including her family and friends—are dead. They died centuries ago, and for some reason, their descendants think Andra’s a deity. She knows she’s nothing special, but she’ll play along if it means she can figure out why she was left in stasis and how to get back to Earth.

Zhade, the exiled bastard prince of Eerensed, has other plans. Four years ago, the sleeping Goddess’s glass coffin disappeared from the palace, and Zhade devoted himself to finding it. Now he’s hoping the Goddess will be the key to taking his rightful place on the throne—if he can get her to play her part, that is. Because if his people realize she doesn’t actually have the power to save their dying planet, they’ll kill her.

With a vicious monarch on the throne and a city tearing apart at the seams, Zhade and Andra might never be able to unlock the mystery of her fate, let alone find a way to unseat the king, especially since Zhade hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with Andra. And a thousand years from home, is there any way of knowing that Earth is better than the planet she’s woken to?

I’m starting to write this review on the very same day that I finished this book, and holy shit. My mind is everywhere. I feel exceptionally (exceptionalish?) late to this book, since it came out last summer, and was apart of my July 2020 Owlcrate, but I’ve been slowly working my way through my backlog. When I saw a post on Bookstagram about it, and realized it sounded a bit like Across the Universe by Beth Revis—one of my favorite series of all time—it immediately jumped to the next spot on my reading list.

Let’s talk about the not-so-great part first. When Andra awakes, she finds a barren world, and a boy. That boy speaks English but the words are shortened and changed (for example, any of our words that end in -ly now end with -ish, and “marah” roughly translates to “Am I right?” and “evens” is “okay,” etc). It’s fairly simple to figure out, but it was painstaking in the beginning. I often read before bed and my eyes were crossing in the first 60-70 pages from trying to figure out the words. Thankfully, I found myself eventually able to do it without much thought. Side note, I love the lighthearted insult, “You spoon.” That’s a great one, lol. Once I was past the initial difficulty, I began to really appreciate the effort that it must’ve taken to create the language.

When Andra awakens, she finds herself on a dying world. Much of the book takes place under the bio’dome known as Eerensed, a city that is the last oasis left on the new planet. I can’t say too much about the setting without spoiling a good portion of the book, but I can say that the author did an amazing job of creating not only the barren world surrounding Eerensed but the city itself is no place I’d like to live. It’s crowded, claustrophobic, and unsafe. There’s multiple underground organizations bent on ridding the world of Andra and any other goddesses. And as we find out in the beginning, they already have gotten rid of others like her.

There’s multiple twists in this book that, quite frankly, I never saw coming. Obviously, to keep it spoiler-free, I can’t mention them, however it was these twists that really kept me reading. The plot is interesting on its own, don’t get me wrong. I just love a good twist and this book has at least three of them.

The next book, which is the conclusion (sad face), titled Devil in the Device comes out in August and you can’t bet your booty I’m picking it up. I’m actually quite sad that it won’t be out for another two and a half months because I just need to know what happens now. I highly recommend this book whether or not you’re a sci-fi fan but especially if you’re a fan of futuristic settings, space travel, and tech in books. It’s easily one of my favorite reads so far of 2021.

Currently Listening To: Ways to Disappear - Palisades