Quick Review: One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus

While One of Us is Lying was a steamroller with the mystery happening in the first book. One of Us is Next is more of a slow burn. It eases us into the mystery.. It takes place 18 months after the events of the first book. The “Bayview Four” have all graduated and all have stated college except for Addy, who decided to take a year off and works at a local restaurant. She works with fellow student, Phoebe who also lives across from her and her sister. Maeve, Bronwyn sister is still friends with Addy and hangs out often at the restaurant that Addy works. Usually with her friend and ex boyfriend.Knox. They find themselves once again at the mercy of a mysterious gossip but instead of Simon’s app, it’s a Truth or Dare game via text message. Clearly the student body and really the administration learned nothing from the last time because everyone immediately gets sucked into the game and the gossip and the school teachers are kinda useless. There is mention of a new “no tolerance” policy that was put into place after Simon’s death but obviously not working.. There were some pretty unsubtle bullying happening in plain sight of the whole school and at no time did any teacher or administrated got involved. I would say there are not very good at their jobs. On a whole it was a good companion to the first book and the resolution is pretty devastating. It wasn’t as good as the first one but still a solid read. Mystery readers will want to find out what happened next at Bayview high.

Quick Review: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Tell me if you heard this one. A jock, A beauty queen, a brain, an outsider and a criminal all get detention. Yeah, it’s basically the breakfast club except for one of them dies and the other four are the main suspects. The victim in question is Simon. He runs a gossip app that spills all of his fellow students secrets. It just so happens that his next post all involve his detention mates so f course they are all the prime suspects when it’s discovered his death wasn’t accidental. Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy and Nate and nothing in common before this but now they must band together if they are going to figure out what happens but when everyone has secrets, it’s hard to know who to trust. This was a fine mystery to read. The characters are all well fleshed out and vulnerable. They are not innocent but they are also not guilty and court of public opinion can be brutal. It’s an interesting study in social media, bullying and the pressures we put on kids to be perfect. With everyone having cell phones, it only takes a second for a picture to go viral and everyone knows your secrets. Not to mention a really good commentary on toxic masculinity and entitlement culture that goes with it. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything but there are a lot of twists and turns and while I suspected the outcome it didn’t make it any less tragic or upsetting. Well worth the read.

Review: The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Ana is a Fanatasist. One of seven perfect princess in The Kingdom theme park. She and her sisters are hybrids. Perfectly engineered to be what every guests wants them to be and everything that they could ever need is taken care of. Ana loves what she does but she begins to question the Kingdom’s mission when one of her sisters starts to act different and she meets a new worker named Owen. Soon her life gets turned upside down when Owen is missing and presumed dead and Ana is accused of his murder and put on trial. The book’s narrative goes back and fourth between Ana’s first person perspective of her life leading up to the event and transcripts of her trial. Between the two narratives the mystery of what happened to Ana and Owen starts to take place and well things are not what they seem. Ana being partly artificial she only knows at first what she is programmed to know but she is curious in the world and notices when anything is a bit off. It starts when a few of the hybrid animals start to behave aggressively and it leads to public incidents at the park. Then one of her sisters, Nia does something so shocking it really rocks Ana to the core. She finds solace in her new friendship with Owen, a maintenance worker at the park but he is not who she think he is too. As she tries to put together what is going on in the park while also dealing with her new feelings for Owen. It really brings into question what it is to be human. Is Ana a person even though she was created in a lab? Is she capable of love or is she just mimicking emotions she has observed. It is also pretty scary at some of the shit they park does to their Princesses, it’s no wonder they take the drastic measures they do to get out. It’s great story and it has a really satisfying ending. It’s definitely open-ended so if there were to be a sequel there could be.

Beth's Favorite Books of 2019

It’s that time of the year.where we all take a moment and look back at all the books that we read this year and try to narrow it down to our favorites. I read 42 books this year which is actually less then normal but that’s okay. It’s quality over quantity right? How do you pick a favorite? Do you go by the book that you just coulnd’t put down? The one you wanted to reread as soon as you finished? The one that gave you the most feels good or bad? All of the above? It’s really hard to choose but I will do my best.

The list is in the order I read them this year as I’m chickening out in saying which one if my favorite favorite. It was too hard to choose.

  1. On The Come Up by Angie Thomas – This was honest and heart breaking as a young girl finds her voice through many challenges.
  2. Seafire by Natalie C. Parker – Girl Pirates. That’s it. I mean what else do you want in a book? Besides some great characters. Interesting world building and twist and turns around every corner. The sequel Steel Tide is just as good.
  3. Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee – I really wished this wasn’t a standalone because they are so many adventures awaiting Min. Such a fun story and adventure.
  4. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson – This book was a couple of years old but I never got around to reading. I’m glad that I finally did because I couldn’t put the trilogy down.
  5. Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell – What do you get when a Witch, a vampire and a former wizard with wings and a tail take a road trip? The coolest car ride ever!
  6. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo – Traumatic and harrowing but a good mystery. I’m truly intrigued on where it goes from here.
  7. Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater – Ronan Lynch is one of my favorite Maggie characters so I was pretty sure I was going to like this book but I surprised at how much I felt for Declan Lynch and new character Jordan.
  8. The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black– No one does fairies like Holly Black and the finale to your the Folk of the Air trilogy proves why.

What were your favorite books of 2019? Comment down below and let us know what books we need to add to our stacks.

Series We Said Goodbye to in 2019

After years of following your favorite characters. You’ve laughed. You’ve cried. You’ve screamed at them for every stupid decision they make. And then you come to the end. As everything must end at some point. Here are the series that I finished this year and I will miss.

  1. The Dark Artifices Series by Cassandra Clare – Another Shadowhunter trilogy in the books. It was good and I love that Cassandra continues to push boundaries and populates her worlds with diverse set of characters. I was kinda surprised on how it ended but as always with her books, one series bleeds into another.
  2. Caraval Trilogy by Stephanie Garber – It’s rare that I actually find a series as it’s ending but this one I hit at the right time and read all three back to back and I’m glad I did because I don’t think I would have liked to have wait to see how the Caraval ended. Even if only liked one of the sisters.
  3. Three Dark Crowns Series by Kendare Blake – This is like the Game of Thrones but mostly only the women in the kingdom. It had everything from palace intrigued to rebellions and betrayals and magic. It really kept me guessing to the end and really cemented Kendare Blake as one of those authors I just have to read.
  4. Legend Series by Marie Lu – Technically I’ve already said good bye to this series once already a couple of years ago but that was before Marie Lu decided she needed to close a few plots she left open and give us readers the closure we all needed.
  5. Renegades Trilogy by Marissa Meyer – Superheros with superpowers fighting each other is pretty awesome stuff. It was a quite ride as we follow our heroes and watch them debate who has what best for the city in mind. In the end, it was villains and heroes coming together to save the day.
  6. The Folk of the Air Trilogy by Holly Black – I’ve probably said this numerous times but Holly Black really knows how to write fairies. She just understands how they think or how they would think. This was a perfect ending to a really great series and she even seamlessly wove in her other characters from past books into the narrative without it being obvious or distracting. That’s a true feat.
  7. The Magisterium Series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. – Call and friends when through a lot in the year 5 years at the Magisterium. I kinda miss Call’s sassiness.
  8. The Charlotte Holmes Series by Brittany Cavallaro – Charlotte Holmes would have made her famous ancestor proud in how she solved her mysteries. She was truly a class above all else.

What Series did you finish this year? Comment below and let us know what series we need check out next.

Quick Review: Children of Virtue of Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Wow. This was gripping from the very beginning. I really love how Tomi Adeyemi has built this world. It is full of such imagination but also so rooted in the the real world. Zelie and Amari completed the ritual to bring back magic but it kinda worked too well. Not only do the Maji have their magic back but Nobles with any Maji ancestries also have magic now. So their enemy is just as powerful and in some cases more powerful. This book really explores how deep the hurt that hatred and bigotry lies and not easy to get over and move on. Amari and Inan both try to get both sides to come together but there are just too many years of hurt and betrayal for either side to trust each other. In fact they are both so sure that the other side is wrong that the only way forward is to eliminate the other. Also the power of grief and how it can really paralyze you to move forward. Pretty much everyone in this book makes big mistakes that will hunt them. Except for Tzain, who is just maybe the best person ever. I really can’t believe it ended the way that it did. It is a much bigger cliff hanger then the first one and I’m not sure I’m okay after reading it. Obviously there is one more book and so the solution couldn’t have been as easy as they thought it should have but the ending was such a twist and confusing mess that it really messes up the reader as much as the characters. I really hope the next books comes out soon.