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Relentless by Karen Lynch

Relentless (Relentless, #1)Relentless by Karen Lynch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is such an excellent series! I adore it. I am so happy to be rereading this. The plot is interesting. The world building is spot on. The characters are fascinating! I’ve been listening to the Audible books, and the narration is good. I’m totally in love with this world, and these characters, all over again.

PREVIOUS REVIEW:
This was fantastic, and the cover does it no justice. In fact, I refrained from reading it, not even knowing what it was about, as I wasn’t sure it was going to be good…just another book with sword and faces on the cover. That is so overdone, even though the cover is nice, that it put me off.

But wow, I was wrong. This is the first series to have really caught my full attention this past few months, and it grabbed me right from the start. I pretty much don’t want to do anything but listen to this series, and as soon as I hit stop on book one, I started book 2. I’m even annoyed that work exists, because it is getting in the way of this world and all of its mysteries.

World building= A

Characters = A+ (especially the non-human characters)

Action & Excitement = A

Drama = A (Not overly dramatic, but plenty of real, solid drama that is not just silly nonsense)

Lack of characters named Becky = C-

Variety of paranormal creatures = A+

Ratio of male to female characters = B- (almost every character is male, except the MC–that’s not bad, and I get it. I had far more guy friends in high school than girls, and there is a reason for the gender difference. But still. I hope book 2 turns out some more believable female side characters)

Hell Hounds = A+++++ (Please can I have some of my own? Pretty please?)

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Say It Out Loud by Allison Varnes

Say It Out LoudSay It Out Loud by Allison Varnes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is stunning. I am infatuated with this book. It sent me on an emotional journey back 29 years to middle school, with all the anxiety, insecurity, and defining moments that go with it. While I read this, I felt 11 all over again. Sometime that was fun, and sometimes, it was awful. I experienced so many moments of crying, followed by laughing, and then crying again. If anyone had watched me read this book, they would have been convinced I had come unhinged, which would have been correct, because that’s what happens when you read a book that is so achingly raw and honest. It takes you to all these real and sometimes difficult places, and let’s you have a look back on who you’ve been and consider who you still want to be.

This novel addresses the bystander effect in a real way, a way that so many people are going to relate to on all different sides. It also provides us with the most lovable character ever in Charlotte. She’s sweet. She’s funny, and she’s afraid of a lot of things, particular that who she is as a person won’t be good enough or will be mocked by others. It’s the kind of fear that eats her up from the inside out and impacts how she reacts in intense or emotional situations. Charlotte struggles to be the best version of herself, but when she panics, she sometimes makes poor choices that hurt herself and others.

Charlotte stutters, and is very self conscious about it. This plays a major role in the story. I have read a lot of middle grade novels, but I have never read one that addressed stuttering in such an interesting and through away. It’s a way that helped me really understand what it must feel like to stutter and all the challenges, stereotypes, and disrespect that can come along with that. Since the author also stutters,

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Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Wilder GirlsWilder Girls by Rory Power
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I confess, I have tried to read this book over and over and over again for about the past year. Usually, I’m not this dedicated, and if I’m struggling that much to connect and invest in a book, I just move on. However, I received a free copy of this from Netgalley and hated the idea of not finishing and review it.

I think the general concept is fascinating, and I was extremely interested, which is why I kept reattempting this book. Unfortunately, I could never connect with the storytelling or world. It was hard to get settled in with the characters, as they were not always introduced well, so there was none of that instant emotional connection that is required to help you remember who is who and why you should care.

I needed the setting and world building to be stronger, and the characters to have more distinct personalities and reasons for having been included in the story.

In the end, I did not complete this book. After about 17 failed attempts, I finally decided to DNF and let it go. I’m still kind of sad about that, because I think there could have been something good here. It just didn’t quite come together.

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Mind Games by Shana Silver

Mind GamesMind Games by Shana Silver
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m seriously behind on reading this book. Sorry, Netgalley. The concept is good, but I just had trouble engaging with the storytelling and characters. It’s overdramatic in moments, but the emotional resonance just isn’t there for me. It’s like the characters are a bit stereotypical or one dimensional, as opposed to being 3D, where I’m in the moment with them and feeling the emotions with them.

I did receive the ebook free from Netgalley almost a year ago, but I sort of stopped reading in print and have primarily read audiobooks this past year, which meant I just never got to this until now. I ended up grabbing the audio, since I still couldn’t talk myself into reading the ebook. I like the narration which is clear and emotional, though sometimes it draws attention to the flaws in the writing and storytelling.

I should note that this could all just be me. Maybe I’m the one that isn’t connecting with this story, because I can’t point to a whole lot of specific reasons or examples in this story that felt flawed or made it hard to connect. It was just this overall feeling of disconnect and lack of emotional connection to the characters and story. It felt like something I had to get through, rather than something that I couldn’t wait to listen to for longer. Typically, I love sci-fi, so I’m sad this didn’t do it for me.

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The Toll by Neal Shusterman

The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3)The Toll by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved books one and two so much, so it’s with a heavy heart that I’m giving this 3 stars, and probably feel only 2.5 of them at most. This is long, and not in a delightful way. It’s sort of all over the place, yet it also feels like it’s going nowhere for most of the book. I had no idea what I was even supposed to be rooting for or hoping for, because the plot is random, character intentions are unclear, and there are so many scenes that seem to lead absolutely nowhere.

The pacing probably could be worse, though I’m not quite sure how at this moment, because I’m still so shocked and sad that it felt like a complete chore to read this book. I had to force my way through the last half and was relieved when it was finally over. I mean, there are some great moments here and there. It just isn’t enough to make this feel like an exciting and worthwhile story. Now I have to go, because I kind of want to wallow in despair.

PRE-RELEASE COMMENTS:
I NEED THIS BOOK. RIGHT NOW.

GET IN MY WAY, AND I MAY HAVE TO GLEAN YOU.

RULES SCHMULES.

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