Arc Review: Very Bad People by Kit Frick

Title: Very Bad People
Author: Kit Frick
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: April 5th, 2022
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Rating: ⭐⭐✨

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

“Six years ago, Calliope Bolan’s mother drove the family van into a lake with her three daughters inside. The girls escaped, but their mother drowned, and the truth behind the “accident” remains a mystery Calliope is determined to solve. Now sixteen, she transfers to Tipton Academy, the same elite boarding school her mother once attended. Tipton promises a peek into the past and a host of new opportunities—including a coveted invitation to join Haunt and Rail, an exclusive secret society that looms over campus like a legend.

Calliope accepts, stepping into the exhilarating world of the “ghosts,” a society of revolutionaries fighting for social justice. But when Haunt and Rail commits to exposing a dangerous person on campus, it becomes clear that some ghosts define justice differently than others.

As the society’s tactics escalate, Calliope uncovers a possible link between Haunt and Rail and her mother’s deadly crash. Now, she must question what lengths the society might go to in order to see a victory—and if the secret behind her mother’s death could be buried here at Tipton.” (Goodreads)

I was really looking forward to this one after seeing it was from the same author who wrote I Killed Zoe Spanos. I am always down for more YA Mystery / Thrillers as well! Unfortunately, this one just left me with more questions than I had started with and I’m still not sure how I really feel about it.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Calliope. Her family has a past and it is one reason why she decides to switch schools. It gets her out of the spotlight while bringing her one step closer to her mother who died in an accident, or so they say. I did like how close she was to her family but it also wasn’t the focal point of the story, although I wish it was. Since she is after a different school and different town it’s hard for them to have interactions and when they do it isn’t always pleasant. I guess that would be considered normal sibling things, lol. Calliope deals with a lot of hard topics and makes choices that could be considered questionable but given the context a few do make sense.

Most of the characters felt like they were there to keep the plot going and nothing else. There is a relationship between Calliope and another character but it moved rather quickly and then burned out due to circumstances.

There are a lot of heavy topics covered in the book and I think they were fine. They weren’t too detailed and kept the book going for the thrill factor, although I just wasn’t as thrilled as I wanted to be. The plot twists, especially one, were a bit over the top and reminded me of As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson, but not in a good way since I didn’t like where that book went. At least Calliope had more morals? Or at least I hope but since it was an open-ending I can’t say for sure what happened.

Because there is a lot of topics discussed, it doesn’t leave much room for the bigger ones and at times it felt like the plot points would never connect. They eventually do but it didn’t leave me gasping.

Overall, this was okay. There were times that I was intrigued, like the beginning and closer to the end, but it didn’t give me that wow factor I was looking for.

Book Review: League of Liars by Astrid Scholte

Title: League of Liars
Author: Astrid Scholte
Genre: YA Fantasy / Mystery
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Publisher: Putnam
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

“Ever since his mother was killed, seventeen-year-old Cayder Broduck has had one goal–to see illegal users of magic brought to justice. People who carelessly use extradimensional magic for their own self-interest, without a care to the damage it does to society or those around them, deserve to be punished as far as Cayder is concerned. Because magic always has a price. So when Cayder lands a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apprentice under a premier public defender, he takes it. If he can learn all the tricks of public defense, the better he’ll be able to dismantle defense arguments when he’s a prosecutor. Then he’ll finally be able to make sure justice is served.

But when he meets the three criminals he’s supposed to defend, it no longer seems so black and white. They’re teenagers, like him, and their stories are . . . complicated, like his. Vardean, the prison where Cayder’s new clients are incarcerated, also happens to be at the very heart of the horrible tear in the veil between their world and another dimension–where all magic comes from.” (Goodreads)

I have read every book this author has put out so far. My favorite has been Four Dead Queens with the least being The Vanishing Deep. I would say that this latest book falls in between. There were some decent things about it but there were definitely moments I wanted to throw my kindle, mostly because of that ending. If there isn’t a sequel, that is just a cruel way to end a book.

The book is told from four point-of-views: Cayder, Leta, Jey, and Elenora. Each one has an interesting story to tell as to why they are in Vardean. It was cool to see how each plot point flowed with the other as the story went along. I wouldn’t say I had a favorite character as they all kind of made dumb mistakes and there isn’t much development to go off of. I would say that this book is more plot-driven. I don’t mind books that are that way but it just means that it is harder for me to connect with the characters. They at least do some wild things, especially Jey!

There is a hint of romance between the characters but it just felt forced to add to the plot points connecting. Romance or relationships are the one thing that I haven’t much liked in this author’s books. They are very instant.

I would say that the best part of the book was the plot. I did find enjoyment out of it but it also felt very lacking in the beginning with all of the action majorly happening within the last 15%. I was curious as to how this would end with so little time and lo and behold, huge cliffhanger with no indication of a sequel. I did try to find information and only saw that the author on Instagram had stated that she doesn’t have any news to share about it and that people should share it so that she can continue to write in this world. Yay for being vague!

I thought the magic system was interesting and I definitely would like to know more about edem and the Regency. Hopefully we will get another book.

Overall, this was pretty good. I did like the plot and didn’t really dislike anything besides the relationships and the cruel ending. If you are interested in reading this one I would hold off until a sequel is confirmed, lol.

Goodreads Monday: It Will End Like This by Kyra Leigh (10/18/21)

Hello Readers!

Goodreads Monday is hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off.

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

For fans of The Cheerleaders and Sadie comes a psychological thriller that reminds us that in real life, endings are rarely as neat as happily ever after. A contemporay take on the Lizzie Borden story that explores how grief can cut deep.

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 didn’t know about this one until it was put up on Netgalley. They had me at Sadie and The Cheerleaders. I loved those books so I have high hopes for this one!

Does this one sound like something you would read?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Book Review: The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur

Title: The Forest of Stolen Girls
Author: June Hur
Genre: YA Historical Fiction / Mystery
Publication Date: April 20th, 2021
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Suspenseful and richly atmospheric, June Hur’s The Forest of Stolen Girls is a haunting historical mystery sure to keep readers guessing until the last page.

1426, Joseon (Korea). Hwani’s family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest near a gruesome crime scene.

Years later, Detective Min—Hwani’s father—learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared from the same forest that nearly stole his daughters. He travels to their hometown on the island of Jeju to investigate… only to vanish as well.

Determined to find her father and solve the case that tore their family apart, Hwani returns home to pick up the trail. As she digs into the secrets of the small village—and collides with her now estranged sister, Maewol—Hwani comes to realize that the answer could lie within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago.” (Goodreads)

After enjoying this author’s debut last year I knew I needed to read this one. I love that she writes about historical events that aren’t talked about often or well known. It teaches me new things especially because she adds notes at the end to give us more information about the topic she included.

Although there is a couple mysteries to be solved, this book is also about the sibling relationship between Hwani and Maewol. They have lived apart for quite a few years and have taken on different roles and of course, have different personalities. I liked how through it all they still managed to cling to one another. Sibling relationships are just the best and I love to read about them.

As for the mysteries, both of them blended together nicely to form one big mystery. I liked learning about each character and trying to figure out why the girls went missing and who would do it. They also had to try and figure out what happened to their father as well. It got pretty intense at times and I found myself having a hard time putting the book down. Not every character is who they seem to be!

Overall, this was another enjoyable book from this author. I am looking forward to the next book which already had a title and a cover. It looks amazing!

Arc Review: The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Title: The Ones We’re Meant to Find
Author: Joan He
Genre: YA Sci-fi / Dystopian / Mystery
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Publisher: Roaring Brook
Rating: 2 stars

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review.

One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars with sci-fi scope, Lost with a satisfying resolution.

Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.

STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The eco-city—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those committed to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.” (Goodreads)

I will preface this by saying that if it wasn’t for this being an arc I would have dnfed it around 25%.

I haven’t read a book by this author before so I can’t compare this book to her other. For me, her writing style isn’t for me. It felt very fragmented and not enjoyable to read. This made it harder for me to get into the book and unfortunately, that never happened.

Another issue I had with this book is that the world-building or the way things were explained could be very confusing. I would have to reread sentences a few times to try and understand. It would also happen where something was said and I would think it meant one thing but then it would be further explained that what I thought that thing was actually wasn’t what that thing was. Maybe this is just a me thing. 🤷‍♀️

The plot deals with a lot of futuristic aspects such as what happens when climate change has changed the earth and everyone lives in ecocities, unless you have a low ranking then you are screwed. I do wish that there was more talk about the ecocities or even the way those still on land survived. Some parts of the plot and world-building just felt glossed over.

When it came to the characters, the book is told in the perspective of two who are sisters: Kasey and Cee. I definitely preferred Cee’s point-of-view over Kasey’s as Cee felt more emotional about things where as Kasey’s point-of-view felt bogged down by all of the technical stuff. Because of that, I just didn’t care for her and felt her emotions to be lacking as well.

There are other characters but honestly I didn’t care for any of them. I also never felt attached to either of the sisters. One was just more entertaining to read.

I think my big issue with this book is that I didn’t feel anything because the more emotional part of the plot was bogged down by everything else. It is an interesting setting and idea but to me it just wasn’t executed right.

Overall, this book wasn’t for me and that’s okay. I still love the cover and I am sure others will like this book.

E-Arc Review: Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

Title: Pride and Premeditation (Jane Austen Murder Mystery #1)
Author: Tirzah Price
Genre: YA Historican Fiction / Mystery / Retellings
Publication Date: April 6th, 2021
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!




“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young woman who desires a law career must be in want of a case. So when seventeen-year-old Lizzie Bennet hears about a scandalous society murder, she sees an opportunity to prove herself as a solicitor by solving the case and ensuring justice is served.

Except the man accused of the crime already has a lawyer on his side: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir to the prestigious Pemberley Associates law firm. Lizzie is determined to solve the murder before Darcy can so that she can show the world that a woman can be just as good as a man. (The fact that Darcy is an infuriating snob doesn’t help.) But there’s still a killer on the loose, and as the case gets more complicated, Lizzie and Darcy may have to start working together to avoid becoming the next victims themselves.” (Goodreads)

When it comes to retellings, they can be a hit or miss. I wanted to try this one out because I love the cover, it’s P & P, and who doesn’t love a good mystery? Sadly, this one just missed the mark for me.

When it comes to the retelling aspect, it is very loose. The characters do tend to be a bit, or more depending on the character, different than their counterparts and I could name a couple but don’t want to include spoilers. Some characters, Lizzie’s sisters, are just background characters and don’t have much going for them like they did in the original. I will give credit to the author for thinking outside of the box though.

The romance just wasn’t there for me. There were only a few times up to 70% through that Darcy and Lizzie had anything to do with each other. 30% just isn’t enough time to make me believe in them being together. As someone who has read the original, this one was just lackluster.

As for the murder mystery, it also was a bit of a letdown. It’s more of a light mystery and I wouldn’t say anything ever thrilled me about it. It does take up a lot of the plot which is probably why the romance lacked. I also didn’t get certain parts of it but maybe that’s just me.

Overall, it was okay but just not for me. I can see this doing well for those who haven’t read the original or have and can see past it. It’s just hard for me to separate the two.

E-Arc Review: The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis

Title: The Initial Insult
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: YA Mystery / Retelling / Thriller
Publication Date: February 23rd, 2021
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!




Welcome to Amontillado, Ohio, where your last name is worth more than money, and secrets can be kept… for a price.

Tress Montor knows that her family used to mean something—until she didn’t have a family anymore. When her parents disappeared seven years ago while driving her best friend home, Tress lost everything. She might still be a Montor, but the entire town shuns her now that she lives with her drunken, one-eyed grandfather at what locals refer to as the “White Trash Zoo,” – a wild animal attraction featuring a zebra, a chimpanzee, and a panther, among other things.

Felicity Turnado has it all – looks, money, and a secret that she’s kept hidden. She knows that one misstep could send her tumbling from the top of the social ladder, and she’s worked hard to make everyone forget that she was with the Montors the night they disappeared. Felicity has buried what she knows so deeply that she can’t even remember what it is… only that she can’t look at Tress without having a panic attack.

But she’ll have to.

Tress has a plan. A Halloween costume party at an abandoned house provides the ideal situation for Tress to pry the truth from Felicity – brick by brick – as she slowly seals her former best friend into a coal chute. With a drunken party above them, and a loose panther on the prowl, Tress will have her answers – or settle for revenge.

In the first book of this duology, award-winning author Mindy McGinnis draws inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe and masterfully delivers a dark, propulsive mystery in alternating points of view that unravels a friendship . . . forevermore.(Goodreads)

I’m not even sure where to start with this review. It is a strange book and not what I was expecting but that could be why it also missed the mark for me.

The book is labeled as mystery/thriller and even though it has a bit of those elements, it wasn’t enough to convince me that this is what the book is.

A majority of the book is spent in the past going over why Tress and Felicity are no longer friends while also fleshing out what they have been going through in their own lives apart. Each girl gets her own point-of-view. There is also a point-of-view for the panther which didn’t make any sense to me.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good book about friendship and the hardships of it, but I wasn’t expecting it to take up much of the book. The parts that deal with Tress’s parents disappearing are minimal and is solved for the reader by the end but not Tress who is still wondering which is why the book ends on a cliffhanger and sets it up for the next book. Even though this is the case, I find myself not interested in the next book as this one just didn’t mesh well with me.

There are other characters that are mentioned and some get more page time than others. I can’t say I ever liked any because most were very minimal. I will say that the scenes with Ribbit were quite uncomfortable to read. I’m not sure if they were meant to be funny or to help with the plot.

I am also not sure why most books I have been reading have animals dying but I’m tired of it. Two dogs in this one and it had my stomach rolling. I get things happen but I don’t want to read about it even when it involves wild animals and it’s part of the animal kingdom.

When it comes to the retelling aspect, I think I have read that particular Poe story once and it has been some time so I can’t really comment on it.

Overall, it was okay. It wasn’t what I was expecting and it just didn’t work for me.

E-Arc Review: Payback (Vale Hall #3) by Kristen Simmons

Title: Payback (Vale Hall #3)
Author: Kristen Simmons
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mystery
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2021
Publisher:  Tor Teen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!




The unpredictable truth will be revealed in Payback, the stunning conclusion to Kristen Simmons’ Edgar-nominated thriller series that started with The Deceivers

Brynn Hilder has conned a lot of people. From the spoiled rich kids of Sikawa City to her mom’s loser ex-boyfriend, from a motorcycle gang to a senator’s son. If there was money to be gained, or a secret to uncover, she figured out how to get it done. And thanks to Vale Hall and its director, Dr. David Odin, she’s found a family of hustlers just like her.

Together, Brynn and her friends have overcome doubt, deceit, and betrayal to unearth the truth–a truth even a group of professional scammers couldn’t have predicted.

And now they must tackle the biggest con artist of them all: the man who brought them all together.” (Goodreads)

It’s always sad to see a series end that I enjoyed reading. It’s been a wild journey of manipulation, secrets, and a whole lot of conning to get to this ending but it was definitely worth it! I think this series is quite underrated and if you haven’t heard of it and want a review, you can find them on goodreads or on my blog. (Book #1 and Book #2)

The main character, Brynn, has been through a lot in these books and she definitely put all of the skills she has learned to good use in this last book for the biggest con ever. There is a lot I admire about her. One of those things being her strive to not give up even when it seems like all hope is lost. She puts her game face on and keeps going no matter the danger she puts herself. Even though she may have not liked everyone she went to school with from the beginning, she still wants what is best for them all. I loved reading about her growth.

There is one major relationship in this series and then others that are minimal but still cute. When it comes to the relationship of Caleb and Brynn (the major one), I always enjoyed the page time they had. It hadn’t always been easy for them but they made it work even if the worst of conditions. I also liked how much Caleb trusted her even when it seemed like she had changed her mind on things. He is pretty great.

When it came to the plot, as with the other two books there are plot twists that I didn’t see coming. One was a real big surprise but I’m really happy about it. I think it added to all of the mystery and took it up one more notch. I don’t feel like the ending was rushed and was satisfying to see the biggest con artist get what he deserved! Plus, there is an epilogue and I liked seeing how everything went a year later.

Overall, it was enjoyable! I’ll be sad to see these characters go but am looking forward to whatever this author writes next.

E-Arc Review: Don’t Tell a Soul by Kirsten Miller

Title: Don’t Tell a Soul
Author: Kirsten Miller
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller / Gothic Horror / Contemporary
Publication Date: January 26th, 2021
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an ecopy to read in exchange for a review!




Stay up all night with this modern day Rebecca! Perfect for fans of Truly Devious—a haunting story about a new girl in an old town filled with dark secrets . . . that might just kill her.

People say the house is cursed.
It preys on the weakest, and young women are its favorite victims.
In Louth, they’re called the Dead Girls.

All Bram wanted was to disappear—from her old life, her family’s past, and from the scandal that continues to haunt her. The only place left to go is Louth, the tiny town on the Hudson River where her uncle, James, has been renovating an old mansion.

But James is haunted by his own ghosts. Months earlier, his beloved wife died in a fire that people say was set by her daughter. The tragedy left James a shell of the man Bram knew—and destroyed half the house he’d so lovingly restored.

The manor is creepy, and so are the locals. The people of Louth don’t want outsiders like Bram in their town, and with each passing day she’s discovering that the rumors they spread are just as disturbing as the secrets they hide. Most frightening of all are the legends they tell about the Dead Girls. Girls whose lives were cut short in the very house Bram now calls home.

The terrifying reality is that the Dead Girls may have never left the manor. And if Bram looks too hard into the town’s haunted past, she might not either.” (Goodreads)

The cover for this book takes creepy to a whole new level. You top it off with a creepy title and I’m here for it! Those two things, and of the course the blurb, sold me on this book and I knew I needed to read it.

Bram has had a lot happen to her over the years. It hasn’t been rainbow and sunshines and the past always has a way of coming back, even when it’s not your own. I love her name as it reminds me of Bram Stoker. Even though no one believes her when it comes to certain events, she never once caves to the masses and sticks to her truth. She is strong, brave, and will not stop until she finds out what happened to those girls.

When it comes to the other characters, it’s easy to like some more than others but it’s also hard to decipher who is actually being honest which makes the book just that more intense. Besides Bram, Nolan would have to be my second favorite character. He sticks up for her even when no one else would and I just really appreciate that. Although I really second guessed myself when it came to him, ha.

The book has one timeline, but since it is a mystery there are a lot of times where the past is discussed and it weaves it altogether combining into one bigger plot. The author does a great job of planting things into the story that have more meaning than we are led to believe. I loved seeing how it all unfolded. She also creates a perfect setting that is creepy and kept me hooked. It was hard to put it down.

My only complaint, if that’s what I would call it, would be how I feel kind of impartial to the ending. In ways it felt a bit rushed and leaves me with questions but I’m also glad that when it came to the mystery everything was solved.

Overall, this book was very enjoyable and if you love a good, creepy setting then I’d suggest adding this one to your tbr!

CW: Drug abuse, Mental health, Rape/Sexual Assault

Book Review: The Companion by Katie Alender

Title: The Companion
Author: Katie Alender
Genre: YA Suspense / Thriller
Publication Date: August 25th, 2020
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers




“The other orphans say Margot is lucky. Lucky to survive the horrible accident that killed her family. Lucky to have her own room because she wakes up screaming every night.

And finally, lucky to be chosen by a prestigious family to live at their remote country estate.

But it wasn’t luck that made the Suttons rescue Margot from her bleak existence at the group home. Margot was hand-picked to be a companion to their silent, mysterious daughter, Agatha. At first, helping with Agatha – and getting to know her handsome older brother – seems much better than the group home. But soon, the isolated, gothic house begins playing tricks on Margot’s mind, making her question everything she believes about the Suttons… and herself.

Margot’s bad dreams may have stopped when she came to live with Agatha – but the real nightmare has just begun.” (Goodreads)

I have been quite curious about this one and my curiosity has been growing with all of the reviews I have seen lately. I decided to finally look on my library’s overdrive and it was available without having to put a hold so I figured why not.

There are definitely some positives about this book. The writing is really easy to get into from the beginning and the author does a great job of creating a gothic atmosphere. It’s a book that is hard to put down because I needed to know if my thoughts were right and what would happen next.

Here comes the negatives: the romance and obviousness of the plot.

I really wasn’t a fan of the romance. They start out not liking each other for reasons and then all of a sudden they are closer and kissing. It just didn’t make sense. I understand why the author put it in so that there could be a certain plot twist but it just didn’t work for me.

Even though the plot had me wanting to continuously read, I still felt like it was missing something. There just needed to be more to take me over the top. A lot of the plot twists were obvious from the beginning and it just felt like I wasn’t ever surprised when I should have been.

Overall, it was good but it still could have been better. I’m not mad that I read it and I can see why others have really enjoyed this book.