Reading

You’re Next – Kylie Schachte | A Book Review

You're Next - Kylie Schachte

Title: You’re Next

Author: Kylie Schachte

Genre: Mystery (Young Adult)

About the book: Flora Calhoun puts herself and those around her in danger when she starts investigating the death of Ava, a girl she was once close with. Flora uncovers secrets about her school, specifically illicit activities involving her classmates. Not only is she trying to get justice for Ava, but Flora also has to keep more people from being killed.

I received an advanced reader copy from Hachette Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: You’re Next is pitched as Riverdale meets Fight Club. I like a good murder mystery as much as the next person, so I was excited for this novel.

Characters: Flora is flawed, and she makes a lot of mistakes. Even when she messes up, Flora doesn’t quit on her quest to find out who killed Ava. The secondary characters like Flora’s best friend, her grandfather, and sister grew on me. There’s LGBTQ+ representation and racial diversity, which I appreciated.

Quote:

“Been pushing everybody away for so long, but it hasn’t made me any better.”

Writing: The book is a little over 450 pages. I enjoyed the pacing at the beginning and end of the story more than the middle. Schachte balances description with dialogue.

Final thoughts: I wasn’t sure how the story was going to end, but the ending is so sad and unsatisfying in my opinion. You’re Next isn’t for everyone, but if you like YA murder mysteries featuring diverse characters, consider picking it up.


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Reading

Tower of Dawn – Sarah J. Maas | A Book Review

Tower of Dawn - Sarah J. Maas

Title: Tower of Dawn

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Fantasy

About the book: It’s the sixth book in the Throne of Glass series. The story mainly revolves around Chaol Westfall who suffered an injury that leaves him unable to walk. He travels to Antica in hopes of having a healer help him recover. However, Yrene Towers doesn’t want to work with him at first for her own personal reasons. With war on the horizon, Chaol and Nesryn try to convince the rulers in the southern continent to forge an alliance together.

First impressions: I read the previous novels a while ago, so I was looking forward to continuing the series. The beginning sets the stage for the rest of the story with its world-building and character description.

Characters: To be honest? I was more invested in Chaol and Yrene’s storyline than Nesryn’s. That being said, I think the author did a good job introducing each individual as well as interweaving different perspectives throughout the novel.

Quote:

“I let other people walk all over me just because I was too afraid of the consequences for refusing.”

Writing: The book is almost 700 pages long, but it’s well-written. I especially enjoyed the banter and dialogue between characters. There are also difficult issues explored and nature scenes included.

Final thoughts: I liked the ending. It moves at a fast pace and leaves readers wondering what will happen next.

If you are a fan of fantasy mixed with romance, check out the series. I would recommend reading the books in order and picking up Tower of Dawn before the last book.


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Reading

Girl at the Edge – Karen Dietrich | A Book Review

Girl at the Edge - Karen Dietrich

Title: Girl at the Edge

Author: Karen Dietrich

Genre: Suspense

About the book: It’s a standalone about a young teen named Evelyn whose father is in prison for murdering eleven people at a shopping mall. She begins going to a support group for children with incarcerated parents. Over the summer, Evelyn must make some important choices that may change her life.

I received an advanced reader copy from Hachette Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I love a good suspenseful read, and the premise piqued my interest. The novel explores the question of nature versus nurture. I like the title and cover as well.

Characters: Evelyn has many layers to her. She’s an unreliable narrator, and the story is told in her point of view. I found Clarisse who Evelyn befriends at the support group to be a complex character as well. Also, I appreciate the representation of Evelyn’s mom being in a relationship with another woman.

Quote:

“Women don’t exist to fulfill the needs of others.”

Writing: The book is a mature read, exploring difficult themes. I wasn’t expecting the story to be so dark, and some events caught me a bit off guard. There’s a Q&A with the author and discussion questions at the end of the book, which I enjoyed reading through.

Final thoughts: The ending is open-ended and doesn’t provide much closure. It leaves the readers to imagine what happens next. If you enjoy psychological suspense novels, check out Girl at the Edge.


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The Last Trial – Scott Turow | A Book Review

The Last Trial - Scott Turow

Title: The Last Trial

Author: Scott Turow

Genre: Thriller

About the book: A criminal defense lawyer in Sandy Stern defends his friend, Kiril Pafko, who has been charged with fraud, insider trading, and murder. Pafko formerly won a Nobel Prize in Medicine and created a drug to help cancer patients. The Last Trial is part of a series, but you don’t have to read the other books to be able to follow the story.

I received an advanced reader copy from Hachette Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I’ve never read any of Turow’s previous works, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was excited by the premise, plus I love a good thriller. I also like the title and cover. The prologue is interesting because it reveals an important moment that happens near the end of the trial.

Characters: There are many different characters who all have their flaws and shortcomings. I grew to like Sandy Stern, his daughter Marta, as well as his granddaughter Pinky the most. Even so, the other individuals are dynamic and well-developed. The relationships were great because of their complexity.

Quote:

“We have an intuitive reluctance to accept the unknown.”

Writing: The author is very detailed and descriptive. As such, I learned a lot of legal and medical information. I also had a tough time predicting some of the events. It isn’t the quickest read but worthwhile nonetheless, especially when everything comes together at the end.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed the ending as it ties up loose ends. If you’re a fan of legal thrillers, check out The Last Trial.


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Joy at Work – Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein | A Book Review

Joy at Work - Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein

Title: Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life

Author: Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein

Genre: Non-fiction (self-help)

About the book: It covers how to organize different aspects of your professional life in order to spark joy.

I received an advanced reader copy from Hachette Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I’ve heard a lot about Marie Kondo and the KonMari method, so I wanted to read what she had to say about decluttering and tidying at work.

Content: The chapters delve into how to tidy your workspace, time, network, meetings, and much more. The authors provide stories about other people cleaning up as well as strategies on how to get rid of clutter.

Quote:

“Even if something is not going well or doesn’t feel right at this moment, if it is leading you toward a future that sparks joy, then think of it as a growing pain.”

Writing: The chapters aren’t too long, and they are further broken up into smaller sections. Kondo wrote some chapters while Sonenshein wrote others. That being said, it’s cohesive and transitions well from one section to the next. The book is a little over 200 pages, and the writing is accessible.

Final thoughts: I appreciate all the research included Overall, it’s a short, easy read. If you want to be inspired to tidy up your professional life, check out Joy at Work.


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Die Next – Jonathan Stone | A Book Review

Die Next - Jonathan Stone

Title: Die Next

Author: Jonathan Stone

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone about a young man named Zack Yellin who accidentally switches phones with a professional hitman in Joey Richter.

I received an advanced reader copy from Hachette Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I’m a big fan of thrillers, and the premise sounded interesting to me. The beginning jumps right in the action, which I appreciated.

Characters: I liked the characters, even Joey. They’re complex and dynamic in their own ways. Zack is a great protagonist, and I think Detective Lopez would also make for a good main character in another novel.

Quote:

“It was like a second kid—ordinary, unnoticed in the glow of the superstar, but in the absence of the first, you could get to know this one, get to love it, feel affection for the underdog.”

Writing: I enjoyed the cliffhangers, and the short chapters helped to create suspense. There were certain twists and turns that I didn’t see coming either. The pacing is quick, so I found the book to be a fast read. It’s a little less than 350 pages long.

Final thoughts: The ending surprised me but not in a bad way. Overall, the story went in a different direction than I expected, yet I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I highly recommend Die Next if you’re a fan of suspenseful thrillers that shed light on the advantages and downfalls of technology.


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City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare | A Book Review

City of Heavenly Fire - Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Heavenly Fire

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Fantasy

About the book: It’s the sixth and last novel in the Mortal Instruments series that follows Clary and her friends who fight against Clary’s brother, Sebastien Morgenstern, in the demon realm.

First impressions: I read the previous books a while ago and finally got around to picking this one up to see how everything gets resolved. I like the cover and title. I found the prologue interesting.

Characters: The characters grew on me with each book. By the end, I found myself quite fond of Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, Alec, Magnus, and others. They’re unique with their own strengths as well as weaknesses. I especially enjoyed seeing them interact with each other and the conversations between everyone.

Quote:

“Sometimes it’s hard when you want to be like someone but you don’t know how.”

Writing: It’s the longest book in the series at over 700 pages, but the plot doesn’t feel too slow or dragged out in my opinion. The author tells the story from multiple characters’ point of view in the third person. There are some romantic scenes here and there. Clare strikes a good balance between dialogue and description with world-building sprinkled in when necessary.

Final thoughts: I think the epilogue tied up a lot of loose ends. I recommend checking out the previous books before reading City of Heavenly Fire. Overall, it’s a solid fantasy series with magical elements and interesting relationships.


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Exit Strategies: The Perfect Excuse for Any Social Situation – David Jacobson | A Book Review

Title: Exit Strategies: The Perfect Excuse for Any Social Situation

Author: David Jacobson

Genre: Humour

About the book: It’s a short, funny read about different excuses to get out of social situations like work meetings, blind dates, and everything in between.

First impressions: A friend gifted the book to me a while back, and I finally got around to reading it cover to cover rather than just skimming through. The cover is basic and simple, but the title gives readers an idea of what to expect.

Content: The book is broken up into two sections with Plan A being avoidance (how to say “no”) and Plan B being the art of extrication (how to say “gotta go now”). There’s also an index at the back.

Quote:

“Outlive everybody—granted, a bit tricky given the role of genes and the environment.”

Writing: The writing is short and concise. I like how the social situations have different excuses, some are more realistic while others are more ridiculous or hilarious. It’s about 80 pages long and not difficult to get through at all. I noticed a couple of spelling mistakes here and there.

Final thoughts: I love how the book ends with escaping your own funeral. Overall, I wouldn’t have minded if it was longer in length. If you’re looking for excuses to get out of social situations, you’ll get some interesting ideas from Exit Strategies: The Perfect Excuse for Any Social Situation.


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