As If On Cue // Book Review

Author: Marisa Kanter
Published: 2021
Genre: YA/Contemporary
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Synopsis
Lifelong rivals Natalie and Reid have never been on the same team. So when their school’s art budget faces cutbacks, of course Natalie finds herself up against her nemesis once more. She’s fighting to direct the school’s first ever student-written play, but for her small production to get funding, the school’s award-winning band will have to lose it. Reid’s band. And he’s got no intention of letting the show go on. But when their rivalry turns into an all-out prank war that goes too far, Natalie and Reid have to face the music, resulting in the worst compromise: writing and directing a musical. Together. At least if they deliver a sold-out show, the school board will reconsider next year’s band and theater budget. Everyone could win.


From the synopsis, you get the sense that this is going to be a cute hate-to-love contemporary. However, the book didn’t read like one, which was slightly disappointing. Natalie and Reid’s feud started when they were in middle school, over their equal love of the clarinet. Natalie eventually found a love for theater and writing, leaving music to Reid and losing the bond she shared with her dad.

The main protagonist, Natalie, is very flawed. I didn’t enjoy how her imperfections are pointed out throughout the story, by other people close to her. She did need to hear some of these comments, but people, especially her friends, shouldn’t have been so blunt. This being said, I am unsure if we were supposed to sympathize with Natalie and find her relatable. Or, if she was intended to be an unlikable character. Because, I’m still on the fence about my opinion of her. As for Reid, her love interest, he was very pleasant to read about. His personality was relatable, and he didn’t come off as obnoxious. He knew that he was talented, but didn’t brag about it. His parents didn’t support his dreams, so he tried his hardest to prove that he was talented enough to make music as a career.

When we first meet Natalie and Reid, their interaction is rather snarky, but I found Reid to be fairly civil. It was Natalie that turned everything into a competition, and Reid was just along for the ride. This could be due to the fact that Natalie felt that Reid had replaced her in her fathers eyes. But this wasn’t Reid’s fault; she had misplaced anger. Natalie created a lot of drama and problems for herself. She never asked anyone before jumping to conclusions, and was seriously over-dramatic. Reid was trying to compromise, but she dismissed all his suggestion.

“I will never be enough for you.”

Nevertheless, I found myself empathizing with her at times. Despite all the drama, her feelings were valid. She was basically screaming out for her dad’s affection and getting shrugged off everytime. By the end of the book, I still didn’t see much growth in their relationship. Still, the message of following your dreams was a highlight in the story. A person can have a career they enjoy and still make a decent living. You might struggle, but everyone has struggles, even if they aren’t career related.

One odd plot point was the play theme, a ‘Frozen’ retelling. The author’s idea for a play – based off the animated film- that had a more important message was cute. But ‘Frozen’ just feels a little more middle school to me. Although, I am probably biased, since I am not a big ‘Frozen’ fan. I did want to mention that there is some Jewish representation in the book, but it doesn’t play a major role in the story. In short, the book didn’t feel like a true enemies-to-lovers, but more of a message about following your passion, and letting go of preconceived opinions of someone. If you are looking for a middle-of-the-road young adult contemporary, then give this one a read.

If you enjoyed this review, give the post a like and a share. I have many reviews up on the blog, and more to come, so follow the blog to get notified whenever I post.

Until The Next Chapter,
Bunny

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (Dash & Lily, #1) // Book Review

Author: Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
Published: 2010
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Holiday
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Synopsis
Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?


The book was exactly how I anticipated it to be, yet there were some twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. In the book, we follow Lily, who is an adorably awkward teenage girl having the worst Christmas of her life. Her family have all made other Christmas plans, leaving her with her older brother who is more focused on his holiday romance than spending time with his kid sister. Dash on the other-hand isn’t a fan of all the holidays opting to spend Christmas alone. These two very different teens meet by fate, kind of, and embark on the cutest love-story.

This is a dual perspective story where we get to hear from Dash and Lily. And, I am happy to say that I enjoyed both sides of the story equally. Lily is a fun character to follow, because even though she isn’t having the merriest Christmas, she is determined to stay joyful. She is shy and socially awkward, which I found to be very relatable. Dash dared her to challenge herself and step out of her comfort zone. And, to not be so afraid to be seen by the world. I know that was swooning hard over Dash, so there is no question to why Lily fell for him.

Dash reminded me so much of Holden Caulfield. He is cynical, moody, and a bit of a know-it-all. He doesn’t let anyone see his soft side, and is scared to let anyone get too close. Dash is lonely and wants to find ‘his person’ but isn’t sure there’s someone out there for him. Lily changed his outlook on a lot of things, including the holidays. I think he realized that maybe Christmas isn’t so bad if you have someone to spend it with.

It was fun watching the story unfold, and I kept wondering what the next dare would be. For a large portion of the book, they only converse through a red notebook. There is something sweet about falling for someone by their words, not their looks. Which just so happens to be how I fell in love with my husband. Still, I couldn’t wait until they finally met in person.

“I want to believe there is a somebody out there just for me. I want to believe that I exist to be there for that somebody.”

The story does a good job of showcasing how we all place people on pedestals. This is especially true when we only have a mental image of someone. Dash and Lily both got to know one another, but they still had unrealistic expectations. No one will ever be exactly how you envisioned them, but that’s okay. The story demonstrated that we can, and should, overcome our preconceived notion of somebody, and to get to know the real them.

The story had some flaws, as most do. One being that Lily was very confusing at times. She wanted Dash, but didn’t mind pursuing someone that she didn’t even like. I understand that Dash was just the guy in the notebook, but I would think that all his attempts to break her out of her shell would make her more brave. I want her to go get the guy, and not settle.

Dash annoyed me at times, because he could be really stuck-up. Without spoiling anything, there was a scene close to the end of the book where Lily messed up big. Dash was unforgiving, and it made me slightly annoyed, considering they hadn’t even met at that point. Cut the girl some slack.

As for the ending, I think it was simple, and wrapped everything up with a nice bow. The story as a whole was exciting, cute, and it took place in New York City! Spending the holidays in The Big Apple, even through a book, is fabulous. If you have read the book, go ahead and leave your rating in the comments. Also, follow the blog – all the cool kids are doing it!

Until The Next Chapter,
Bunny

The Final Girls Support Group // Book Review

Author: Grady Hendrix
Published: 2021
Genre: Adult/Horror
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Synopsis
In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?


This book had been extremely hyped up, which made me eager to pick it up. As a horror movie lover the plot sounded right up my alley, yet I did have my reservations about it. The plot centers around a group of the last girls standing. Each girl has faced some horrific event, but made it out alive. They all attend a support group, because nobody understands the struggle of being the one that survived, except others that have done the same.

This book did take a bit to get into, but I think that was a personal thing. Adult fiction isn’t something I  generally read, so I was going into it with a young adult reader mindset. We follow Lynnette Tarkington, a final girl that survived a massacre as a teenager, essentially by playing dead. Because she didn’t fight to survive others don’t see her as a ‘true’ final girl. She was a decent character, with a lot of dimensions to her. You could tell that out of all the girls in the support group, she struggled most with reintegrating into society. I wouldn’t say that she was a protagonist that I enjoyed reading about, but I did understand her issues.

As for the other girls, they were a diverse bunch, and each had their own emotional scars from the fearful events they had to face. Some of them tried to put the past behind them, while others tried to do good. One used substances to cope with the nightmares. Throughout the story, it was evident that despite all the time they spent together, they weren’t very close to each other. I attribute this to girls not wanting to get close to people and having to risk losing them.

“Isn’t the point of therapy that one day you don’t need it anymore?”

There were many nods to classic horror movies that I know and love. However, it wasn’t as if the author took these events right out of the movies. And, though one could spot the movie similarities you could tell that they were used solely as inspiration. My favorite horror movies have actual plots, and not just killing for the sake of killing. This book balances mystery and horror well. The mystery was interesting, and had me changing my suspects throughout the story. When I thought I knew who the killer was, the author would add something that made me rethink my initial guess.

The book wasn’t necessarily slow, but it wasn’t fast paced either. It fell somewhere in between. However, the second half of the book picked up the pace significantly. The last half was probably the easiest to get through, too. In all honesty, I would most likely have DNF’ed this book if not for the hype surrounding it. But, I’m glad that I stuck with it, since the ending really shocked me. The author did a great job, with a twist ending that I never saw coming. I found the moral of the story to be about tragedy, and it’s effect on people. We cannot guarantee that bad things won’t happen, but when they do, we only have two choices. Live in fear that they will occur again, or try to move on and live life. The author did a fantastic job conveying such a heavy message.

I wouldn’t call this a favorite book, since I expected a lot more from it. Also, I can also say with fair certainty that I won’t reread it, but I am happy that I gave it a chance. It will be interesting to see what this author will release next. I might read another one of their books in the future. In the comments, tell me know if you agree with the hype surrounding the book. And, be sure to give this post a like so that I know you enjoy my reviews.

Until The Next Chapter,
Bunny

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein // Book Review

Title: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
Author: Kiersten White
Published: 2018
Genre: YA/Gothic/Retelling
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Synopsis
A stunning and dark reimagining of Frankenstein told from the point-of-view of Elizabeth Lavenza, who is taken in by the Frankenstein family. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost…as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.


I heard mixed things about this book; some people thoroughly enjoyed it, while others didn’t care for it. I’m not particularly well versed in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, so I was going in completely unbiased. However, I will admit there were a few times throughout the book that I looked up cliff-notes on ‘Frankenstein.’ I found the book very easy to read and follow. The plot was straightforward, and even the ‘flashback’ moments were incorporated well.

It wasn’t a book that I was dying to finish, at first. But once we got into the meat of the story, I wanted to keep reading. The plot was captivating enough to keep me invested in what was going to happen next. I wouldn’t say that I couldn’t put it down, but I did want to know out how the story would end.

Elizabeth was a complex character, with lots of worries and insecurities that she kept hidden. Before meeting the Frankenstein family, her childhood was depressing, and she thought that she came from nothing. She wanted to have a place in society and desired to fit in. She was smart, and crafted plans that would keep her out of the poor house.

I think that Elizabeth’s best quality was her heart. She had a sensible and tough exterior, but would do anything for her loved ones. This did get her in trouble at times. Especially when it came to her devotion to Victor. I am unaware of the ‘original’ Elizabeth’s personality, but I still liked White’s take on the character. She seems like a simple girl, yet there are many layers underneath.

“Death is never allowed to touch you.”

Personally, I enjoyed the slower pace of the story. I think that a more atmospheric telling worked well in this case. However, I understand how some people would consider the book to be boring. The story was primarily character driven while still being plot focused. There were secondary characters that played big roles throughout the story, but the focus and storyteller was Elizabeth herself.

It wasn’t a scary story, which I believe is unlike ’Frankenstein.’ It is more of a sad story about protecting the people we love versus seeing the real them. Elizabeth could only ignore the truth for so long before it came crashing down on her. It was frightening to see the situations that Elizabeth, Justine, and Henry ended up in. Elizabeth’s predicament was the most unsettling, since it was something many women in 19th century faced. Men would silence women through manipulation, which is horrifying and despicable.

As for Kiersten White writing style, it was very familiar to me. She wrote with such class, almost melodic, if that makes any sense. It was almost as if this book was actually written back in the 1800’s. Her writing was poetic, but still plain. I don’t mean plain as an insult by any means, because I quite liked the writing. But I can see that she drew a lot of inspiration from Mary Shelley and the 1800’s era.

I don’t know if I will ever read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but the fact that she wrote it on a dare is inspiring. Women back than were seen as subservient, but she freed herself from the box society put her in. White took a classic novel and made it her own, while still writing it in the image of the original story. Amazing.

Let me know if you have read this book, or the original ‘Frankenstein’. Which do you prefer? Like and share this post with all your friends, family, pets, etc. And follow the blog if you want to get notifications for all my posts.

Until The Next Chapter,
Bunny

These Witches Don’t Burn // Book Review

Title: These Witches Don’t Burn
Author: Isabel Sterling
Published: 2019
Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal
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Synopsis
Isabel Sterling’s delightful, suspenseful debut is equal parts sweet romance and thrilling mystery. With everything she loves on the line, Hannah must confront this murderous villain before her coven—and any chance she has with the new girl—is destroyed.


I must admit, this book didn’t intrigue me that much. Still, I am glad that I gave it a chance. Once I was a few chapters in, I couldn’t put it down. This book follows Hannah, who is an elemental witch in Salem. It is such a cliche, but I love it when witch stories take place in Salem. Hannah’s family is part of a coven of elemental witches, which her ex-girlfriend, Veronica, happens to be in as well.

I thought that the breakup drama was well written. You could tell that they both still had feelings for one another, but Hannah wasn’t going to just forgive and forget. If you are curious about what Veronica did (like I was), apparently she left Hannah in a deadly situation with a blood witch. However, I wish that we got more context to the breakup, and perhaps even a flashback or two.

Throughout the book we see Hannah trying to sort out her complex feelings for her ex, while starting a relationship with the new girl in town, Morgan. Morgan was a sweet character, and didn’t blame Hannah for running off to, unbeknownst to her, deal with this supernatural crisis. Also, it’s hard when your crush still has a close relationship with her ex, but Morgan was very understanding throughout the story.

“And it’s not like Disney ever showed us how to fall for another girl.”

Hannah’s parents and best friend, Jemma were likeable enough supporting characters. Towards the end, Jemma became one of my favorite characters. She added a much-needed comic relief to the story. Also, she was quick to defend Hannah to other people in her life. Hannah’s parents might not have understood their daughter at times, but you could see that they truly loved her.

The main plot is finding out who is responsible for the dark magic being used in Salem. Yet, there were times when we focused on the romance and family side of the story. I wouldn’t classify this as a contemporary. The magic and mystery plot was the backbone of the book. But I did like the times we stepped-away from the main plot to focus on ‘normal’ teenager things, like dating, heartbreak and parental drama.

For the most part, the book kept me interested, and there were some confessions that threw me for a loop. However, the storyline and ending were easy to predict. I am not suggesting that’s a bad thing, because sometimes it is nice to know what to expect. But I would have liked a few more surprising elements. I didn’t foretell some of the sadder moments, and although they hurt my heart, I do think they were needed to push the story forward.

Seeing as this is a duology, I will most likely be picking up the second book. But it may not be until next fall, since I think witchy books make good October reads. Do let me know in the comments if you have read this one, and what your opinions are on it. And before you leave, why don’t you give the blog a follow? It is completely free, and you get to support me and get updates at the same time

Until The Next Chapter,
Bunny

Two Can Keep A Secret // Book Review

Title: Two Can Keep A Secret
Author: Karen M. McManus
Published: 2019
Genre: Young Adult/Mystery
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Synopsis
Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.


I didn’t expect this book to blow me away, and for the most part I was right. The plot follows a teenage girl, Ellery. She is sent, with her twin brother, to live with their grandmother in Echo Ridge. Their mother, a small time actress, is doing another stint in rehab, so the twins have to make the best of their new lives. Ellery’s only interest is the murder of the homecoming queen that took place five years prior.

This is a dual perspective narrative, which I didn’t anticipate. We get Ellery’s point of view, but we also get Malcom’s, whose brother was the prime suspect in homecoming murder. I didn’t like one perspective more than the other, which I find is good when it comes to books that alternate narratives. However, I did think that Ellery was always jumping the gun when it came to sharing her theories. She didn’t take the time to think things through fully, and went for the easy suspects.

One thing’s for sure, I couldn’t get behind Ellery and Malcom as a couple. Their relationship started instantly, without any development. I didn’t see the chemistry between the two characters. I was fond of, Mia, who is Malcom’s best friend. And, Ezra, Ellery’s twin brother. It was nice that they were both diverse characters, as Ezra is both biracial and gay. While Mia is a bisexual Korean. I could sense that Mia added some spice to Malcom’s life, while Ezra was more level-headed than Ellery. Also, I cannot get over the fact that his name is ‘Ezra’ and the book is titled ‘Two Can Keep A Secret.’ Pretty Little Liars Easter egg?

“I thought she was your mother.”

Something that I am not a fan of when it comes to books is multiple plots. In this book, we are trying to solve the homecoming murder from five years ago. But than there’s this hit and run accident, absent mother story-line and even some found family side plot. As if that wasn’t enough, Ellery is also trying to uncover what happened to her mother’s twin sister, who disappeared many years ago. All the pieces do come together at the end, but I think that was way too much for one book to handle.

The ending has got to be the best part. I think that somewhere around the last two chapters, you get a sense of whose the killer. Personally, however, I was still shocked at the reveal. The motive was done well, and it was jaw-dropping. At one point, you don’t think the characters are going to make it out of alive. Also, the final page had a major twist that I never saw coming.

Even though the book didn’t wow me like ‘One Of Us Is Lying’ did, Karen M. McManus is still an exceptional author. I probably wouldn’t give this one a reread, but I do wish that it was a bit longer since there was sort of a cliffhanger ending. I needed to know more.

Let me know if you have read this book, tell me your thoughts about it in the comments. Give this post a like and a share, and follow for content updates and more.

Until The Next Chapter,
Bunny

A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder // Book Review

Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Author: Holly Jackson
Published: 2019
Genre: Young Adult/Mystery
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Synopsis
The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?


A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is the first book in a YA mystery, thriller trilogy. These books are highly popular and seen as great introductory books to the YA thriller genre. In this book, we follow Pippa, a high-school senior, working on her capstone project. Her topic is a murder that happened five years prior. The case went cold when the prime suspect killed themselves. Pippa believes the wrong person was accused of the murder, and wants to uncover the truth.

I can completely see why other readers would suggest the book to thriller newbies, or even people that don’t particularly fancy the horror and thriller genre. It read more like a contemporary than a traditional thriller, which was a nice. Especially for someone, like myself, that primarily read YA contemporaries. However, if you are looking for a dark, suspense-filled thriller than this probably isn’t the book for you. I found the plot to be fairly tame and not too nail-biting.

Pippa was a solid enough female-lead with some stereotypical aspects. She boarders the ‘smart girl’ and ‘I’m not like other girls’ personality cliches. The other characters weren’t very prominent in the story, so I am in different to them. I don’t love them or hate them.

“I’m not sure I’m the good girl i once thought i was . I’ve lost her along the way”

There were times when this book gave me ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ vibes. I can’t explain why, because they aren’t similar at all. The only comparison I can come up with is that both have twists when it comes to the killer. You think that you know who the murderer is, but at the last minute you realize you were completely wrong.

Overall, I don’t have a lot of cons, but I did find there to be one too many suspects. Perhaps the author wanted to keep us reader on their toes, since you don’t know who to trust. But I found it hard to keep track of all the suspects. Still, it did keep me guessing, which kept me interested. Everyone was suspicious making the case not so cut and dry.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy quick reads, especially when it comes to the thriller genre. I think mysteries, horrors and thrillers should have fast-paced stories. A thriller should be engaging with a lot of story development, and rarely any pointless chapters. Although, this mystery does take while to piece together, their wasn’t much downtime within the story.

I will be continuing on with the series, and excited to see what Pippa tackles next. If you want a list of all the trigger warnings that this book contains please visit Book Trigger Warning. Feel free to comment on your thoughts below. Share, like and follow so you can show your support for my blog.

Until The Next Chapter,
Bunny

 

One Of Us Is Next // Book Review

Title: One Of Us Is Next
Author: Karen M. McManus
Published: 2020
Genre: Young Adult/Thriller
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Synopsis
Come on, Bayview, you know you’ve missed this. A ton of copycat gossip apps have popped up since Simon died, but in the year since the Bayview four were cleared of his shocking death, no one’s been able to fill the gossip void quite like he could. The problem is no one has the facts. Until now. This time it’s not an app, though—it’s a game. Truth or Dare.


This is the companion novel to ‘One Of Us Is Lying’, which I have a review up for as well. In this book, we are following a new group of teens, one of whom is Maeve Rojas (Bronwyn’s sister, that we saw in book one), as well as appearances from characters in the previous book. A few characters had already been introduced in ‘One Of Us Is Lying’, which was a nice bonus. The plot walked the line between mystery and thriller. We follow this group of teens as they deal with a dangerous game of Truth and Dare. It was engaging, but then again I find that many Karen M. McManus books are (at least to me).

I enjoyed each character, and not one perspective bored me. There were a few parts that felt like unnecessary filler, and didn’t add anything to the story. However, it wasn’t common enough to be a problem for me. Overall, the story unfolded at a nice pace. I was happy to see that there wasn’t a best friends to lovers story in play. I am not opposed to that all, but it was nice to see the author go a different, less cliche route.

One of my favorite characters was Phoebe. She had a lot going on, and made some stupid choices, but was unapologetically herself. She didn’t hide her faults, and tried her best to own up to her mistakes throughout the book. Maeve was a solid character, and mini Nancy Drew, which is always fun to read about. Knox (Maeve’s best friend/ex-boyfriend) was the nice guy, but out of all of them, he was the least fleshed out. I didn’t feel like I got a true sense of his personality.

“I don’t understand why the world insists on stuffing kids into boxes we never asked for, and then gets mad when we won’t stay there.”

There was a bit of romance in this book, and I adored it. Maeve and Luis had great chemistry, and it was nice to watch their relationship unfold. But the pairing that I shipped most of all was Phoebe and Knox. They had some great moments together, so I could see them having real couple potential. Also, I liked that they were different, but grew closer as the book went on.

I am pretty bad at mysteries, but I did have my suspicions on where the plot was going. And, while I was sort of right, the ending shocked me. It was such a good twist, and the last chapter was amazing. I truly wanted to know what was going to happen next. I think a good book keeps you wanting more, which is exactly what Karen M. McManus achieved with ‘One Of Us Is Next’.

I would say that if you are in between fantasy books, you should give this one a read. It’s a good novel to pick up when you need a break from reading big, plot-heavy books. It’s an easy one to follow, and a fairly quick read. Don’t worry if thriller isn’t your preferred genre, it leans more towards the mystery side.

If you liked this review, then give this post a like and a share. Comment down below if you read this book, and your thoughts on it. Also, following the blog helps keep me going, so show your support!

Until The Next Chapter,
Bunny