In an effort to cut down on posts and burnout, my Review Roundups will feature 2-4 books I’ve read or listened to recently. Sometimes they’re newer releases and sometimes they’re all backlist titles. My ARC reviews usually get the solo treatment. Enjoy the mini reviews!
The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman
Series: The Devouring Gray #2
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Published by Disney-Hyperion on April 21, 2020
Also by this author: The Devouring Gray
Format: Audio/Physical (368 pages) • Source: Hoopla, Purchased
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The teenagers of Four Paths must save their home.
Though the Beast is seemingly subdued for now, a new threat looms in Four Paths: a corruption seeping from the Gray into the forest. And with the other Founders preoccupied by their tangled alliances and fraying relationships, only May Hawthorne seems to realize the danger. But saving the town she loves means seeking aid from the person her family despises most--her and Justin's father.
May's father isn't the only newcomer in town--Isaac Sullivan's older brother has also returned, seeking forgiveness for the role he played in Isaac's troubled past. But Isaac isn't ready to let go of his family's history, especially when that history might hold the key that he and Violet Saunders need to destroy the Gray and the monster within it.
Harper Carlisle isn't ready to forgive, either. Two devastating betrayals have left her isolated from her family and uncertain who to trust. As the corruption becomes impossible to ignore, Harper must learn to control her newfound powers in order to protect Four Paths. But the only people who can help her do that are the ones who have hurt her the most.
With the veil between the Gray and the town growing ever thinner, all of the Founder descendants must put their grievances with one another aside to stop the corruption and kill the Beast once and for all.
But maybe the monster they truly need to slay has never been the Beast...
I’ll be honest – I don’t have a lot to say with this one because I am the WORST and missed a lot of the book. I was rushing to finish in time for book club and listened to the audio during a work day while multitasking. I definitely understood the story and what was happening overall, but it was less impactful for me. I didn’t feel any kind of connection to the characters during this go-around.
I think this was a satisfying and logical conclusion though! I enjoyed seeing where everyone ended up and how they ~fixed things~ in Four Paths. I think the main villain was a bit too obvious (not the actual motivation or anything but it was clear about a sketchy situation going on).
I really loved the first book and honestly wish I took more dedicated time to sit down and physically read this conclusion. I think I would have fallen back into the world a bit better and focused on it more.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published by Scholastic on June 2, 2020
Format: Audio/Physical (328 pages) • Source: Purchased, Scribd
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Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay -- Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.
But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz's plans come crashing down . . . until she's reminded of her school's scholarship for prom king and queen. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.
The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She's smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?
I had super high hopes and expectations for this one because everyone around me online looooved it. It was super duper cute and I’m so glad we read it for book club in June!
Liz decides to pursue the prom scholarship offered at her school in order to get the last chunk of money needed to go to her dream college. You have to have a certain GPA and community service hours in conjunction with the popular vote, but it’s still a very shitty way to offer scholarship money IMO lol. She meets Amanda during the contest and they fall quickly for one another. In the meantime, she gets closer to her friend Jordan from childhood, who is essentially her running mate in the queen/king situation.
I was rooting SO HARD for Liz. She was such a well-done, fleshed out character. She always thought she was “too black, too poor, too awkward” to go for something like this but it’s very clear that her well-rounded personality and hobbies/interests make her a good candidate… if she can get the popular vote. I loved learning about her family background and the career motivation she had as a result. Her grandparents and brother were great characters too. I also loved Jordan and seeing the two come back together as friends, including what (more like who) broke them apart in the first place.
I’ll say that I did LIKE Amanda, but wish she had more going on. I wanted more from her background story and just to feel the extreme shippiness that I was hoping for. Believe me, I was rooting for them, but a little more info on Amanda or page-time about her life would have done the trick for me. I really did not like Liz’s friend and “campaign manager” Gabi, for a variety of reasons. I wouldn’t have forgiven her so quickly but maybe that’s just me?? I don’t want to spoil anything either. Rachel, the classic mean girl character, was utterly terrible. While I know people like that certainly still exist, it felt a little too 2D and tropey.
Nonetheless, this book was straight-up delightful in a time where I needed a book to make me smile and be happy I’m not still in high school.
A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
Series: A Good Girl's Guide to Murder #1
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Published by Penguin Random House on February 4th 2020
Also by this author: Good Girl, Bad Blood
Format: Hardcover (433 pages) • Source: Library
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For readers of Kara Thomas and Karen McManus, an addictive, twisty crime thriller with shades of Serial and Making a Murderer about a closed local murder case that doesn't add up, and a girl who's determined to find the real killer--but not everyone wants her meddling in the past.
Everyone in Fairview knows the story.
Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.
But she can't shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?
Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn't want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.
This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you'll never expect.
I have been wanting to dive into A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER ever since it was released. My library hold finally came in via curbside pickup this past week and I did not hesitate to start reading. I’m a huge fan of true crime-related fiction books.
Pippa decides to solve a five-year murder mystery in her town. Andie Bell went missing, and a few days later her then-boyfriend Sal committed suicide and confessed via text beforehand. Everyone has given his family a lot of trouble since, with everyone assuming from small bits of evidence that he killed her. Pip doesn’t believe Sal is guilty though, so she teams up with his brother to crack the case and use her findings as her senior case study.
The author is from London and the original story was written to take place around there, I’m sure, but the US version shifted to Connecticut! I love reading books set here. It was funny because some British things were not necessarily Americanized for this version though: the use of “x” at the end of texts, saying someone “rang” them instead of “called,” and one instance of saying someone “fancied” someone. Not a big deal, but just interesting things I noticed that didn’t get swapped over in the US version!
I was completely addicted to this book, which was a welcome change in my reading habits. I wanted to finish two books during vacation and that definitely didn’t happen… but I managed to finish a couple right after! I read it in a few sittings over the course of one day and another morning.
Unfortunately I didn’t love this AS much as other readers. It was well-written and I can’t wait to see what’s next in the series, but I figured out a good portion of the mystery. Some things were too obvious from early on – I won’t spoil anything, but I had pinned the suspect and most of the circumstances from early in this book. There were definitely a few things later I didn’t predict or see coming at all, so I will give that credit where it’s due!