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

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

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

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

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.

E-Arc Review: Some Kind of Animal by Maria Romasco Moore


41016362Title: Some Kind of Animal
Author: Maria Romasco Moore
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Publication Date: August 4th, 2020

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

synopsis header
“A story about two girls guarding a secret no one would ever believe and the desperate lengths they will go to in order to protect each other from the outside world.

Jo lives in the same town where her mother disappeared fifteen years ago. Everyone knows what happened to Jo’s mom. Now people are starting to talk about Jo. She’s barely passing her classes and falls asleep at her desk every day. She’s following in her mom’s footsteps. Jo has a secret — she has a twin sister. Her sister is not like most people. She lives in the woods, wild and free. Night after night, as often as she can manage, Jo slips out of her bedroom window and meets her sister in the woods, where together they run, fearlessly.

When Jo’s twin attacks a boy from town, the people in town assume it must have been Jo. Now Jo has to decide whether to tell the world about her sister or to run. SOME KIND OF ANIMAL is an accessible, feminist thriller that digs into themes of sisterhood, family, and friendship.” (Goodreads)

I knew going into this I might be disappointed because of the early reviews I had seen. It definitely was better to go in with no hype.

Bascially I’m not even sure how to make sense of anything that happened. There are so many questions that are left unanswered by the end of the book and that just annoys me. As other reviewers have said, it feels like the reader was dropped into the middle of a story without much detail for the beginning or end. Sure, the book does talk about the beginning but not the most important question, why?

There are characters that definitely stick out more than the others, like the sisters. They have a weird past and the one literally acts like a wild animal. It reminded me of Tarzan and Jane. I understand the bond between sisters since I have 3 but at the same time you would think you would want to help your sister not live in the woods. I mean, that’s what I would do.

The author paints the picture for the town of Lester to be home of monsters and devils. The sisters mother believed this and the one from the woods does. Jo decides to go along with it even though she has lived there her whole life but because she wants to keep her sister safe even though her she does crazy things, Jo says, “screw all those people! They are weird.” See? that doesn’t make any sense. There isn’t nothing believable about this situation because there is nothing written to make the reader want to believe in the crazy.

A lot of the characters play minor parts and if they don’t when their use is over with they are thrown aside. I’m not really a fan of this method to keep the plot moving along.

I did continue to read this because I wanted to see where the story went, I can’t say that it wasn’t the slightest intriguing but again, there are many questions left unanswered.

Overall, there is some appeal to this book but it wasn’t enough to make fully invested in the characters and it didn’t fill the void of needing answers.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)


Book Review: Fractured Tide by Leslie Lutz


48855952Title: Fractured Tide
Author: Leslie Lutz
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Publisher: Blink

synopsis header
Lost meets Stranger Things in this eerie, immersive YA thriller, thrusting seventeen-year-old Sia into a reality where the waters in front of her and the jungle behind her are as dangerous as the survivors alongside her.

Sia practically grew up in the water scuba diving, and wreck dives are run of the mill. Take the tourists out. Explore the reef. Uncover the secrets locked in the sunken craft. But this time … the dive goes terribly wrong.

Attacked by a mysterious creature, Sia’s boat is sunk, her customers are killed, and she washes up on a deserted island with no sign of rescue in sight. Waiting in the water is a seemingly unstoppable monster that is still hungry. In the jungle just off the beach are dangers best left untested. When Sia reunites with a handful of survivors, she sees it as the first sign of light.

Sia is wrong.

Between the gulf of deadly seawater in front of her and suffocating depth of the jungle behind her, even the island isn’t what it seems.

Haunted by her own mistakes and an inescapable dread, Sia’s best hope for finding answers may rest in the center of the island, at the bottom of a flooded sinkhole that only she has the skills to navigate. But even if the creature lurking in the depths doesn’t swallow her and the other survivors, the secrets of their fractured reality on the island might.” (Goodreads)


I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book. I don’t usually go for eerie books but this one just kept calling my name the more I thought about it.

I can’t say that it was a bad book because I did finish it in a couple sittings since I wanted to know what was going on. It does a good job of pulling you in and keeping you there. There were times I was wondering why I was torturing myself reading this because there were some very creepy things going on, haha. The thing is some of the twists just didn’t feel like they were explained very well and even the ending just felt a bit rushed.

The book is definitely more about the plot than the characters. The characters were fine, I didn’t mind them. Sia was given the most development since she was struggling through family issues. She is the narrator of this until the end where there is a couple pages from someone else.

The biggest thing I didn’t like about this one was the relationship that was blossoming for Sia. It lacked and maybe it was because I wanted her to be with someone else. 🤷‍♀️😂

Overall, I think that the author did a great job of making a very creepy environment but I wished it would have been flushed out just a bit more.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)


Book Review: Come Find Me by Megan Miranda


35065766._SY475_Title: Come Find Me
Author: Megan Miranda
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: January 29th, 2019
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

synopsis header
“After surviving an infamous family tragedy, sixteen-year-old Kennedy Jones has made it her mission to keep her brother’s search through the cosmos alive. But then something disturbs the frequency on his radio telescope–a pattern registering where no signal should transmit.

In a neighboring county, seventeen-year-old Nolan Chandler is determined to find out what really happened to his brother, who disappeared the day after Nolan had an eerie premonition. There hasn’t been a single lead for two years, until Nolan picks up an odd signal–a pattern coming from his brother’s bedroom.

Drawn together by these strange signals–and their family tragedies–Kennedy and Nolan search for the origin of the mysterious frequency. But the more they uncover, the more they believe that everything’s connected–even their pasts–as it appears the signal is meant for them alone, sharing a message that only they can understand. Is something coming for them? Or is the frequency warning them about something that’s already here?” (Goodreads)

I’ve wanted to read this since seeing it on NetGalley last year. I didn’t get to read it then since I was declined, but I did find a hardcover at my Half Priced Book Store Earlier this year for only $2. I couldn’t beat that price!

The book chapters are split into two point-of-views: Nolan and Kennedy. Each teen is trying to figure out what happened in separate cases that involve their families but somehow they are connected by a date and frequency.

When I first started reading this it was talking about frequency waves and satellites. My mind automatically went to aliens but obviously that wasn’t the case, ha. The plot was nothing I was expecting and that’s usually a good thing, it also was in the case of this book too. I wanted to keep reading and find out what happened next because it easily pulls you in as each plot twist is unraveled.

I had never read a book by this author before but after reading this one I would definitely check out her other books. It’s been a bit since I’ve found a YA Mystery / Thriller that I really enjoyed reading.

Overall, this was the perfect book to take a break from fantasy.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)