ARC Review: Meme

I received an e-ARC of Meme by Aaron Starmer through NetGalley from Penguin Teen in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been on such a thriller kick recently I couldn’t resist requesting this book. This is one of the titles from Penguin’s Influencer group and it was a really good pick. I honestly think I’ll re-read it for the spooky season and if you’re hunting for spooky books to read this year, you’ll want to check this one out!

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Review: A Touch of Gold

I’ve been in this awful habit of requesting sequels I have the first book for and just haven’t read. It’s such a bad habit that it’s caused me to have more than 20 eARCs I had to read and simply not enough time. Which is why I’m basically bingeing off all the upcoming September and October reads right now. I’m overwhelmed!

I received an eARC of A Curse of Gold by Annie Sullivan through NetGalley from one of these requests. I owned the ebook of A Touch of Gold, so thankfully it wasn’t too much of a panic to receive book 2, but I was still panicking a little.


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Smoke and Key

I received an eARC of Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. While I was a little late, I reviewed it in time for opening week, yay!

Image result for smoke and key kelsey sutton

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

She has no idea who or where she is. Or why she’s dead. The only clue to her identity hangs around her neck: a single rusted key. This is how she and the others receive their names—from whatever belongings they had when they fell out of their graves. Under is a place of dirt and secrets, and Key is determined to discover the truth of her past in order to escape it.

She needs help, but who can she trust? Ribbon seems content in Under, uninterested in finding answers. Doll’s silence hints at deep sorrow, which could be why she doesn’t utter a word. There’s Smoke, the boy with a fierceness that rivals even the living. And Journal, who stays apart from everyone else. Key’s instincts tell her there is something remarkable about each of them, even if she can’t remember why.

Then the murders start. Bodies that are burned to a crisp. And after being burned, the dead stay dead. Key is running out of time to discover who she was—and what secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden—before she loses her life for good…

The first moment I picked up the book, I knew I would love it, but it was not the right time for me to read this. This short, creepy, fantastical mystery sucked me right in, but after finding out that a close friend died, it hit a little too close to home. To read about how Key died, and everyone around her, made me a little uncomfortable after dealing with a death myself, but it got easier as I read on.

This story is not just a mystery, but a good conversation on death and what happens after we die. Uncomfortable, I know, but an important conversation nonetheless. One thing I loved about this book was the simplicity of Under. When I read books regarding the afterlife, it tends to be a smokey city or unclear that the person is dead. In this story, Sutton makes it clear that they are in the ground and their city is meant for the dead.

Another thing I loved was how the mystery was slowly uncovered and solved. Death mysteries are fun with detectives, but to realize what is going on through flashbacks or memories is a “fun” approach. It was a nice break away from the typical detective mysterious I’m used to.

While it wasn’t the best time for me to read this story, I loved it. I read it that day and I enjoyed every minute of it. I would give this book a star.png star.pngstar.png /5 stars. It would probably be higher if not for the circumstances, honestly.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Devouring Grey by Christine Lynn Herman!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

The Devouring Grey

I received an e-ARC of The Devouring Grey by Christine Lynn Herman from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I ended up receiving a physical ARC too, which is how I read the book and what this review will be based off of!

Let’s get started!

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Here’s a synopsis from Goodreads:

On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…

Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?

The first thing that struck me about this book was the take on the stereotypical new kid in town. Violet is not some shy, awkward new kid moving to a small, close knit town. She’s a firecracker who is grieving and desperate to escape the loss of her sister. She comes to this new town and doesn’t back away from the people, but quickly embraces them and remains herself through it – which is not something that is usually done in these tropes, but I appreciated.

The second thing was the openness of the magic in the town. Everyone in Four Paths is aware of the Grey and the monster lurking inside. There is no secret that must be kept by the kids and their families regarding what they’re protecting the town from, which I thought was awesome. It also made it almost better that the “heroes” were not hiding the monster, but embracing it and making everyone aware. It also really helped the plot of the book later on and I thought it was very well done.

Third, the characters. I had a few issues at first with Harper and Justin’s character (mostly because I found them annoying) at the beginning, but began to love them as the story progressed – especially by the ending! I thought all of the characters were realistic, and even the secondary/side characters were fleshed out. The fact that she also includes bisexual main characters made this story less … vanilla. While the characters love lives are not very important to the overall story, including LGBTQ+ characters is important and realistic. And the fact that she doesn’t exploit a characters sexuality for plot/emotional gains shows why there should be more Own Voices stories. Herman does a great job giving her characters personality, and while sometimes they have annoying attributes, everything is cleared up by the end and I adore them!

Finally, the plot itself. The only thing I can say about it is – WOW! When I originally finished the book I was staring at it, my mouth dropped open, and angry that book 2 isn’t in my hands currently so I can devour it. The storyline of The Devouring Grey is not fully original (monsters, must protect town, kids save the day), but Herman’s spin on this concept surely is. The way she incorporates magic, witches, monsters, and real people made it so easy to get sucked into the story. I found myself not being able to put it down.

Overall, I adored this book. I thought it was well written, dark, funny, engaging and so many other words I could use to describe it. I gave this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

The Cerulean

Okayyyy, wow. That’s how I’m going to start off this review because – wow. I read The Cerulean by Amy Ewing, which is currently available to buy or borrow from the library. I read the ARC of The Cerulean with a friend of mine recently and both of us were severely disappointed – let’s get into why!

Image result for the cerulean

Here is the description from Goodreads:

Sera has always felt as if she didn’t belong among her people, the Cerulean. She is curious about everything and can’t stop questioning her three mothers, her best friend, Leela, and even the High Priestess. Sera has longed for the day when the tether that connects her City Above the Sky to the earthly world below finally severs and sends the Cerulean to a new planet.

But when Sera is chosen as the sacrifice to break the tether, she doesn’t know what to feel. To save her City, Sera must throw herself from its edge and end her own life. But something goes wrong and she survives the fall, landing in a place called Kaolin. She has heard tales about the humans there, and soon learns that the dangers her mothers warned her of are real. If Sera has any hope to return to her City, she’ll have to find the magic within herself to survive.

So first things first, when I read the description and first received this book I was so excited. Not only did it sound amazing and new, it had such a unique plot I had to read it and see what it was all about.

My first reaction to this book was, what is going on? The premise of the plot does not even cover the first 50 pages out of 500. There is so much more that goes on during this book that it gets so confusing and sporadic it’s hard to keep up. And the layout of it did not help. For one, there are so many different points of view (POVs), it’s hard to keep up in the sectioned setup. We have Sera, Leela, Agnes, and Leo all somewhat thrown together based on location – which made it so difficult to establish a timeline when switching POVs.

To further explain why I did not like this book, I’m going to break it up into a few sections.

1) The fact that the main character Sera is the only straight woman in her society, which consists of polyamorous lesbian couples, is unnecessary to me. Besides the fact that she claims she is different, Sera acknowledges that some women do not feel attraction and choose not to marry – which would have been fine. But making her straight added nothing to the plot in this entire book, which makes it feel like she’s trying to make her feel like an “other” to the reader and I was not a fan of that. The author continually makes a point of mentioning that Sera is different, but does nothing to explain why her being different matters. I would have been much more impressed if she had made her Ace/Aro than making her straight, because at least then she would be different without countering the idea that straight people are somehow “weird” or “different”. Because they’re not – they’re the norm.

2) The character Leo had a weird and sudden character shift that was somewhat explained, but so underdeveloped it felt wrong and out of place. It felt like he was made to be the bad guy and then changed his mind and decides he wants to be the good guy? He starts off wanting to do anything to please his father with no regards to other people around him, but suddenly when it affects Sera, he changes his mind and becomes a good person and wants to help her. It seemed so sudden and out of character, I’m not sure if it was Ewing’s intention to make it that sudden or not, but regardless, it was very confusing. 

3) I adored Leela and Agnes’ character so much and honestly I just wanted to read from their POV and nobody else’s. The way they were written and portrayed in the book not only made me love them, but it made it much harder to read from Leo or Sera’s POV later in the book, especially since they both came across so childish and whiny in comparison to Leela and Agnes.

4) The set up of the book by location did not make sense to me and made the story so choppy. Instead of sprinkling different character POVs in to explain what’s going on in the meantime, we get six different sections and have to connect the dots that way through four different POVs. Not only would it jump to different POV by location, but we mostly get Sera, Leo, and Agnes’ POV until suddenly about 75% of the way through, we finally get Leela’s POV and it’s such a sudden shift, it was honestly annoying. I would have much preferred if it was a constantly changing POV and the author can set the location so we know where they are, instead of splitting up by section and then POV. To sum it up, it was not enjoyable to read it that way for me.

Now to give the author the benefit of the doubt, I did read the advanced copy of this book, so some of those issues may have been resolved in the final draft, but if they weren’t I would not recommend this book to a friend.

Overall, I really wanted to like the story and the mystery of what was going was enticing. But the setup and some of the characters killed it for me and unfortunately, as much as I wanted to like this book, I didn’t. I would give this book star.pngstar.png/5 stars.

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If you’re looking for a cool science fiction, space getaway, I would honestly suggest anything else at this point – I’ve heard Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff  is amazing and so is Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston.