Audiobook Review: The Final Gambit (The Inheritance Games #3) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Title: The Final Gambit (The Inheritance Games #3)
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: August 30th, 2022
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

Avery’s fortune, life, and loves are on the line in the game that everyone will be talking about.
To inherit billions, all Avery Kylie Grambs has to do is survive a few more weeks living in Hawthorne House. The paparazzi are dogging her every step. Financial pressures are building. Danger is a fact of life. And the only thing getting Avery through it all is the Hawthorne brothers. Her life is intertwined with theirs. She knows their secrets, and they know her.
But as the clock ticks down to the moment when Avery will become the richest teenager on the planet, trouble arrives in the form of a visitor who needs her help—and whose presence in Hawthorne House could change everything. It soon becomes clear that there is one last puzzle to solve, and Avery and the Hawthorne brothers are drawn into a dangerous game against an unknown and powerful player.
Secrets upon secrets. Riddles upon riddles. In this game, there are hearts and lives at stake—and there is nothing more Hawthorne than winning.” (Goodreads)

This was a pretty good ending, but my favorite out of the series would be the second.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Avery. This is how it has been since the beginning. I liked seeing how she would solve the rest of the puzzles. I still don’t think the characters had a lot of development and it’s more about the game all of them are playing. It’s not bad but I just like knowing more about the characters.

The game that Avery is playing is not for the weakest link. She was chosen for a reason and it definitely shows. It feels like some of the smaller details in book one come back just for a few moments in the final and I liked seeing it all come together.

I honestly haven’t ever been interested in the romance subplot, lol. The love triangle was kind of lame and just felt forced. I don’t feel like there was ever a chance she would be the other and it shows in the final book.

Overall, this was a good ending. It kept me entertained with the mystery aspect.

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Audiobook Review: The Last Graduate (The Scholomance #2) by Naomi Novik

Title: The Last Graduate (The Scholomance #2)
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: September 28th, 2021
Publisher: Del Rey
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

“At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year—and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual that leaves few students alive in its wake. El is determined that her chosen group will survive, but it is a prospect that is looking harder by the day as the savagery of the school ramps up. Until El realizes that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules . . .” (Goodreads)

I was looking forward to finally continuing on with this trilogy. After the last one sent I needed to know what would happen after that massive cliffhanger! Even this one started with such an interesting first line. Although I overall liked the continuation of the plot, I did feel like it wasn’t as action packed as the first, especially in the beginning.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from El. She is still trying to survive in her deadly school but this time she has experience and isn’t the weakest link. On her journey to staying alive, she has to figure out what she wants from Orion, what her mother meant when it came to him, and how to keep the freshmen alive she has come to know through her classes. It’s tough out there!

I did still like El as a character. She is very selfless and wants to help as many as she can survive which isn’t always the goal of others. It doesn’t help that without deaths there isn’t much “magic” to use and that puts a dent in staying alive as well. Even with this problem, she still rises to the challenge and continues doing what she must. I admire her persistance.

I wouldn’t say that I was as invested in the sequel as I was in the first book. It felt like the plot was much slower and nothing too exciting happens until after the halfway point. It does give the reader more information about the school and even the enclaves. The ending did make up for a lot of the book though and it once again makes me more intrigued about the next book!

Overall, this was a good read. I wish there would have been a bit more to stay invested but I am still curious enough for the final book.

Arc Review: Beasts of Ruin (Beasts of Prey #2) by Ayana Gray

Title: Beasts of Ruin (Beasts of Prey #2)
Author: Ayana Gray
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: July 26th, 2022
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Koffi has saved her city and the boy she loves, but at a terrible price. Now a servant to the cunning god of death, she must use her newfound power to further his continental conquest, or risk the safety of her home and loved ones. As she reluctantly learns to survive amidst unexpected friends and foes, she will also have to choose between the life—and love—she once had, or the one she could have, if she truly embraces her dangerous gifts.

Cast out from the only home he’s ever known, Ekon is forced to strike new and unconventional alliances to find and rescue Koffi before it’s too late. But as he gets closer to the realm of death each day, so too does he draw nearer to a terrible truth—one that could cost everything.

Koffi and Ekon—separated by land, sea, and gods—will have to risk everything to reunite again. But the longer they’re kept apart, the more each of their loyalties are tested. Soon, both may have to reckon with changing hearts—and maybe, changing destinies.” (Goodreads)

This was a fairly good sequel! I have been very curious about the continuation of this series since I finished the first book last year. Even though there were things I didn’t like as much, I still found enjoyment and am looking forward to seeing how it all ends.

The book is told through multiple point-of-views. I did like Koffi’s and Ekon’s more than Binti’s. I do understand why we got Binti’s as it does show us how the rules for darajas started and how it all comes together as like a prequel to the plot for the first book. Koffi’s plot line was a bit slower and didn’t have as much suspense as her previous one. It seemed like what she went through wasn’t as harsh as Ekon’s and things wrapped up a bit more quickly as well. Ekon goes through many deadly situations and does everything to remain free from the Six. He isn’t going back! Both teens do have a lot of growth and through that we learn more of Koffi’s ability and why Ekon is so important.

There is more to do with the gods and Fedu is something else! He isn’t a god I would want to mess with. I’m happy that he had more page time and through that we learn more about the daraja he is harboring. He seems like he will continue to be a key player in the next book and I am looking forward to what his plan really entails.

The thing I disliked the most was the weird love square thing that started going on. If I recall correctly, Koffi and Ekon seemed like they liked each other and would pair off. I guess when they say that distance makes the heart grow fonder did not work in this case. Just not my taste.

Overall, this was a good sequel and the plot stayed consistently interesting throughout. Looking forward to seeing how these characters fair in the next book!

Arc Review: The Charmed List by Julie Abe

Title: The Charmed List
Author: Julie Abe
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance / Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: July 5th, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“After spending most of high school as the quiet girl, Ellie Kobata is ready to take some risks and have a life-changing summer, starting with her Anti-Wallflower List—thirteen items she’s going to check off one by one. She’s looking forward to riding rollercoasters, making her art Instagram public (maybe), and going on an epic road-trip with her best friend Lia.

But when number four on Ellie’s list goes horribly wrong—revenge on Jack Yasuda—she’s certain her summer has gone from charmed to cursed. Instead of a road trip with Lia, Ellie finds herself stuck in a car with Jack driving to a magical convention. But as Ellie and Jack travel down the coast of California, number thirteen on her list—fall in love—may be happening without her realizing it.

In The Charmed List, Julie Abe sweeps readers away to a secret magical world, complete with cupcakes and tea with added sparks of joy, and an enchanted cottage where you can dance under the stars.” (Goodreads)

Ever since seeing this cover on Instagram I knew I needed to read it! I’m a sucker for a good cover. Although this book wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be, it was still a fun read with tropes that I enjoy.

The book is told from the perspective of Ellie Kobata. She is very much an introvert which is something that I could relate to. She also has a secret world around her filled with magic. I guess I must not have read the blurb before requesting or maybe forgot, but the magical aspect came as a surprise to me. Haha. I didn’t realize this was a rom-com mixed with urban fantasy. It took me a bit to get into because of it, not because it was bad, just had to get my head wrapped around it all!

Ellie has a great relationship with her friend Lia. They do everything together and are always there for one another. This friendship does hit a bump but I liked seeing where it would go and how they would work it out in the end. The biggest relationship change in the book is between Ellie and Jack. They didn’t always start out as enemies, although I guess you could say it’s more one-sided, but it has changed how they have interacted. It was fun to have them go on a road trip together because it made time for them to try and understand one another’s perspective on their whole messed up relationship. It also made for great moments!

Although I did like a majority of the book, it’s still hard for me to fully get into a urban fantasy/magical realism style plot. This has nothing to do with the book and is solely a me thing.

Overall, this was a fun read and I can see it being a hit for so many people!

Arc Review: How to Fake It in Hollywood by Ava Wilder

Title: How to Fake It in Hollywood
Author: Ava Wilder
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: June 14th, 2022
Publisher: Dell
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“A talented Hollywood starlet and a reclusive A-lister enter into a fake relationship . . . and discover that their feelings might be more than a PR stunt in this sexy debut for fans of Beach Read and The Unhoneymooners.

Grey Brooks is on a mission to keep her career afloat now that the end of her long-running teen soap has her (unsuccessfully) pounding the pavement again. With a life-changing role on the line, she’s finally desperate enough to agree to her publicist’s scheme . . . faking a love affair with a disgraced Hollywood heartthrob who needs the publicity, but for very different reasons.

Ethan Atkins just wants to be left alone. Between his high-profile divorce, his struggles with drinking, and his grief over the death of his longtime creative partner and best friend, he’s slowly let himself fade into the background. But if he ever wants to produce the last movie he and his partner wrote together, Ethan needs to clean up his reputation and step back into the spotlight. A gossip-inducing affair with a gorgeous actress might be just the ticket, even if it’s the last thing he wants to do.

Though their juicy public relationship is less than perfect behind the scenes, it doesn’t take long before Grey and Ethan’s sizzling chemistry starts to feel like more than just an act. But after decades in a ruthless industry that requires bulletproof emotional armor to survive, are they too used to faking it to open themselves up to the real thing?” (Goodreads)

I’ve been feeling like reading a romance lately so I figured why not dive into this one! The cover is awesome and I really liked what the blurb had to offer. Fake dating? A trope I have previously enjoyed and also tend to request/read books with it, haha. Although this book didn’t check all of my boxes, I still found enjoyment in it and finished it rather quickly.

The book is told from two point-of-views, Grey Brooks and Ethan Atkins. I am very much a fan of dual perspectives in romance books because I want to know what both parties are thinking in terms of their love interest and even what motivates them. I thought that the author did it nicely and had both characters dealing with turmoil outside of their “fake” relationship. The turmoil does tend to have more page time and development than the relationship. It’s one reason I didn’t fully connect with their relationship, but I at least liked seeing where their arc went with the turmoil.

Since this is about celebrities, there is a lot of drama that comes with it! I am not usually one for the drama but it does work well with these characters, their job, and the setting. I actually liked a lot of it which surprised me.

Overall, this was a fun read. I wish that it had been longer to get more development between the two and to have the side characters feel more present, but I did like what it had to offer nonetheless. If you want a quick read with fake dating and the one bed trope, I’d say give it a chance!

Audiobook Review: Mr. Malcolm’s List by Suzanne Allain

Title: Mr. Malcolm’s List
Author: Suzanne Allain
Genre: Regency Romance / Adult
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2009
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an arrogant bachelor insistent on a wife who meets the strictest of requirements–deserves his comeuppance.

The Honorable Jeremy Malcolm is searching for a wife, but not just any wife. He’s determined to elude the fortune hunters and find a near-perfect woman, one who will meet the qualifications on his well-crafted list. But after years of searching, he’s beginning to despair of finding this paragon. And then Selina Dalton arrives in town…

Selina, a vicar’s daughter of limited means and a stranger to high society, is thrilled when her friend Julia invites her to London.  Until she learns it’s part of a plot to exact revenge on Mr. Malcolm. Selina is reluctant to participate in Julia’s scheme, especially after meeting the irresistible Mr. Malcolm, who seems very different from the arrogant scoundrel of Julia’s description.

But when Mr. Malcolm begins judging Selina against his unattainable standards, Selina decides that she has qualifications of her own. And if he is to meet them he must reveal the real man behind…Mr. Malcolm’s List.(Goodreads)

This was a very quick read and one that I needed after being sick for awhile! It got me back into reading quickly.

I picked this one up mostly because I saw an article on Facebook saying that it would become a movie. I was very curious when I saw that it was a regency romance and after watching Bridgerton how could I say no? Luckily my library had it and there was no wait!

The book is told from multiple point-of-views but all through third-person narration. I thought this was done well even if the book was short and didn’t leave much room for the development of the characters. It at least gave me a chance to get into their mind and see how they were really feeling, especially Malcolm and Selina.

I would say that the book focuses more on the plot than the actual characters which would definitely make it better for a movie than a book. I like character development, but I at least found enjoyment out of the crazy antics that these characters find themselves in! It is also a clean romance so that is a win for me as well.

Overall, this was a good book to listen to. I am now more excited for the movie and I can’t wait to listen to the author’s other book when I can get my hands on it from the library.

Arc Review: The Summer We Forgot by Caroline George

Title: The Summer We Forgot
Author: Caroline George
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: March 8th, 2022
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Some memories are better left forgotten.

Darby and Morgan haven’t spoken for two years, and their friend group has splintered. But when the body of their former science teacher is found in the marsh where they attended camp that summer, they realize they have more questions than answers . . . and even fewer memories.

No one remembers—or no one is talking.

The group of reunited friends begins to suspect that a murderer is stalking the coastal highway 30A, and they must try to recover their memories as quickly as possible . . . before the history they can’t remember repeats itself.

Everyone has a secret.

As tensions rise and time runs out, Darby and Morgan begin to wonder if they can believe one another . . . or if they can even trust themselves.” (Goodreads)

What drew me into this book was the title and the blurb. How can someone forget a whole summer? My interest was piqued and so I hit that request button. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long to get approved and here we are with my review!

The book is told from two point-of-views: Darby and Morgan. I thought it was done well and gave us more incite into the mystery as well as the relationship between them. Their relationship was one of the better ones I have read when it comes to YA Mystery/ Thrillers as most just don’t have the history that these two had. I also wasn’t fully invested in them either but I think that just has to do with not fully connecting to the book which I will get to later.

One thing I do like to see in books like this are different formats. This book contains short interviews with the different counselors and detectives. I do think that the book could have been better with more point-of-views since the plot is based around all of the counselors not remembering anything.

The characters are relatable in a lot of ways as one is far from perfect but tries to portray herself in that way. It’s easy to want to live a double life and be who your parents want you to be instead of expressing yourself. I totally get it and have been there in my own teen years.

As for the plot, it was good and did have it’s moments of surprise. I will say that the book took me a bit to get into and I did like the second half more than the first. The reveals for everything was unique and I would have never guessed the outcome. I’m still not even 100% sure if I actually understand everything that went on, haha. It was a lot in a small amount of time! It was one of the more unique plots that I have read from this specific genre.

Besides what I have already written when it comes to dislikes, I’m not really sure where to pinpoint as to why I didn’t like this one fully. It most likely is a me thing for whatever reason and it totally happens to us all with certain books.

Overall, this was good book with surprising twists and a unique plot because of the forgetfulness of that summer. If you are looking for a YA Mystery / Thriller to read, I’d give this one a try!

Arc Review: It Will End Like This by Kyra Leigh

Title: It Will End Like This
Author: Kyra Leigh
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: January 4th, 2022
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Charlotte lost her mother six months ago, and still no one will tell her exactly what happened the day she mysteriously died. They say her heart stopped, but Charlotte knows deep down that there’s more to the story.

The only person who gets it is Charlotte’s sister, Maddi. Maddi agrees—people’s hearts don’t just stop. There are too many questions left unanswered for the girls to move on.

But their father is moving on. With their mother’s personal assistant. And both girls are sure that she’s determined to take everything that’s theirs away for herself.

Now the only way to get their lives back is for Charlotte and Maddi to decide how this story ends, themselves.” (Goodreads)

I hadn’t heard about this book until I saw the cover on Netgalley. It also drew me in when they mentioned The Cheerleaders and Sadie. It didn’t take long after that for me to click the request button, haha.

The book is told from two point-of-views, Maddie and Charlotte. The two sisters are dealing with their mother’s death in different ways. Grief is a powerful emotion and it shows in this book with what can happen. Although, there is more going on besides that I would presume after reading this book. Each of the sister’s life is complicated with the family drama and even the drama from school. Charlotte does get the brunt of it all and it definitely wears on her mental health.

I would say that the girls are relatable but with the drama being over the top it’s hard to completely connect. There is also the use of language. I get it. Teens do indeed talk like that but, it also felt like it was used at times to try and fuel the drama. I’m sure these are issues that only I have with it.

There are a lot of other characters in this book besides the girls but I didn’t like any of them. They were all cruel without any understanding as to why they were this way. By the end there is some understanding for at least one character but it didn’t make up for what had already been done.

The plot was interesting and although some things were predictable, I still was surprised by a couple of the twists at the end. The ending was very open which isn’t something I like and personally, I wanted more closure. I get it but it doesn’t mean I have to like it, heh. Even though I had issues with certain things, it didn’t take away from continuously reading to see what would happen next.

I’m not too familiar with the Lizzie Borden case but I do like seeing how authors take something from history and make it fit into a contemporary setting.

Overall, this was good but I did have a few issues with it. I do think that readers will enjoy it if they like a more dramatic and darker book.

CW: Talk of Suicide, Miscarriage