2.5 star, YA

Review: Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin

Series: Serpent & Dove #3

The spellbinding conclusion to the New York Times and IndieBound bestselling trilogy Serpent & Dove. This stunning fantasy take on French witches and forbidden love is perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.

Evil always seeks a foothold. We must not give it one.

After a heartbreaking loss, Lou, Reid, Beau, and Coco are bent on vengeance more than ever before—and none more so than Lou.

But this is no longer the Lou they thought they knew. No longer the Lou that captured a chasseur’s heart. A darkness has settled over her, and this time it will take more than love to drive it out.



“I am capable of great evil.” The words hung in the air between us, as sentient as the mist. They waited, coiled, for my response. For my clarification. For my own truth.

I looked directly in her eyes. “We all are.”

I may not have been the most vocal about it, but I am not the biggest fan of this series. I just chugged my way through it since I got the ARC for Serpent & Dove. I thought maybe I could come to like it since it’s so well loved but it’s good to know I guess that that’s not the case at all.

Set in the aftermath of the crazy conclusion of book 2, I’m still a little quite salty about the death of a main character. Thankfully, they make a cameo appearance in some capacity in this one so there’s some closure to their story, but I’m still upset because they’re my favourite of all of them.

Lou upsets me most of the time. I just can’t stand her. I’m sorry if you loved her character, but she seems so over the top and unnecessarily trying to rile people. I understand she hasn’t had it easy in life with, you know, her mother trying to kill her and all that, but I lose my patience with her often.

Reid isn’t all that much better, but at least I enjoy him more. Together, their relationship is fun entertainment but I didn’t understand this enemies to lovers romance because they seem like such fundamentally different people. I suppose I’m not one of those people who think opposites attract (and last).

So why isn’t this rated lower? Great question, friend.

First, 1 full extra star rating was given because I listened to this as an audiobook. I very rarely listen to audiobooks but this was a great book selection to do so. The actors voicing Reid and Lou had very entertaining voices they gave each other and it just made the drier sections of the book pass by quicker. I have to applaud them for that in some way.

Second, I don’t love Reid and Lou’s relationship in any way – I stand by my opinion that there are better enemies to lovers stories out there and I don’t love the trope enough to love any couple that comes to be because of it – but the romantic angst in this one was on point. There was a reason why there was drama between them that was relevant to the plot and played a major role for what needed to happen in their final battle against Lou’s mother.

Third, Shelby made one good messaging point in this book and the series that no one is righteous. Reid the holy chasseur seeking out witches and the witch who saved another from their suffering on the stake are equally capable of great evil and good. It’s a choice to make, over and over again. That was something Lou and Reid had to learn about themselves, beyond the upbringing and world they grew up in. I think that’s something that resonates deeply with me and I do appreciate that.

The ending wrapped up in a way I think gave proper closure to these characters if you loved them throughout the journey they took. The climax felt like it went by too quickly (we were all waiting on this since the BEGINNING of book 1), but others may be satisfied with the big battle with Morgane.

All I can say is, Gods & Monsters wasn’t for me, but at the same time, I will be fair in saying it wasn’t the worst out there. I can see why people love it, but these were the reasons why I couldn’t.

Overall Recommendation:

Gods & Monsters is a conclusion to a beloved series I just still cannot fully fathom. Listening to the audiobook version made the slower middle parts more bearable but the climax, the penultimate battle against Lou’s mother and her band of witches, fell a little flat after all the set up that went into it. I’m still not on board with Reid and Lou’s relationship, but I will admit at least the romantic angst in this last book was relevant to the plot and entertaining in that way. But most of all, the most positive thing I have to say about the book, is the message that we are all capable of great evil. It’s the choices we make that matter. If that’s the one thing I can hold onto from this series that didn’t hit it for me, I will take it.

3 star, YA

Review: As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson

Series: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #3

The highly anticipated, edge-of-your-seat conclusion to the addictive A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series that reads like your favorite true crime podcast or show. By the end, you’ll never think the same of good girls again.

Pip’s good girl days are long behind her. After solving two murder cases and garnering internet fame from her crime podcast, she’s seen a lot.

But she’s still blindsided when it starts to feel like someone is watching her. It’s small things at first. A USB stick with footage recording her and the same anonymous source always asking her: who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? It could be a harmless fan, but her gut is telling her danger is lurking.

When Pip starts to find connections between her possible stalker and a local serial killer, Pip knows that there is only one choice: find the person threatening her town including herself–or be as good as dead. Because maybe someone has been watching her all along…



Save herself to save herself.

Where do I even begin? If you’ve read my reviews of book 1 and book 2 in this series, you’d know how much I absolutely adored Holly Jackson’s writings. Both were a 5-star rating and I guess my expectations just soared too high in a way. Even after taking a day or two to process my feelings, I think this is the best way that I can articulate it all.

The plot and pacing

The writing (at least for the first half of the book) was just as splendid and well thought out as I’ve come to expect in Holly’s previous books. It was definitely darker than the first two books as now Pip, our favourite amateur detective, is potentially a victim of a crime than just objectively investigating one.

Likewise, this made the pacing go by quite quickly as she tries to outwit the stalker who first made a minor appearance in book 2. I particularly loved how so many little things that popped up in her first two cases can be somehow linked back to this most personal case yet. Things that made sense in the course of her investigations for the other crimes can still create new mysteries for this current one. Talk about full circle moments! Pip is always going on about that, but it’s so true. Everything that has brought her to this point in her life is tied to what is happening to her now, and I absolutely loved it. Holly Jackson is a genius plotting this.

The format is more like a regular book instead of the cool texts and interview formats that were more present in her other cases. Regardless of this, the writing was excellent here and I was on edge to find out what’ll happen next.

Then the second half of the book hits and it’s…different. The suspense immediately dies down because, well, the story isn’t a whodunnit anymore. That’s my favourite part in mysteries, by the way, and the previous books in the series didn’t show their hand so quickly.

The rest of the story drags a little in my opinion. It’s a lot of Pip’s meticulous brain planning and all of this clearly marks the end of the series since it’s so different from how her other cases resolved. A part of me even wanted to take a break from this book because it was dark and conflicting.

Characterization of Pip

This brings me to Pip herself. I loved her as a protagonist. She’s brilliant for an 18-year-old and carries herself like she’s on equal footing with all the adults she interviews. She’s confident and bold, loyal and empathetic. She’s a good girl who loves her family and works hard in her studies.

Now, I know some people really enjoy morally grey characters in their books. I’m not necessarily opposed to that. It’s interesting to dive deep into a morally grey character’s thoughts up front. But I think it’s different when the trajectory of the character arc goes from “good girl” to morally grey without it turning into a villain arc. And here is where I’m conflicted.

I understand in the aftermath of the 2 previous cases how that unsettled her, changed her, and left her rather traumatized. In fact, she’s hiding a lot of her PTSD from her family, friends and even Ravi. I get her motivations, I get where she’s coming from.

So do I see how her character arc turned this way? Yes. But do I think it had to be the only way her story could’ve gone in order to end this series realistically? Not necessarily, but for the most part, I accepted it as I continued along.

Romance with Ravi

Let’s take a little breather to talk about romance! Like the other books, it’s definitely not a focal point by any means but sometimes less words is more. I love the secret way Pip and Ravi communicated that they loved each other. They understood each other. Even though so many bad things had to have happened to bring them together, they were meant to be.

This third book showcases maybe even more so than the others the lengths their love for one another goes. I personally LOVE Ravi. He’s sarcastic, uses humor as his fear tactic, and is loyal to a fault. He wears his emotions on his sleeves and loves Pip with all he’s got. Who wouldn’t want a Ravi in their life? And As Good As Dead doesn’t ruin this one beautiful thing.

Now onto the ending (without spoilers, of course)

I don’t have many words to share without spoilers except that I was disappointed in some ways. I shed a tear or two. I thought Pip’s decisions were just driving things towards a pretty sad ending.

While I don’t think it is necessarily a sad ending by any means, it is a bit open-ended so I don’t feel like I have the closure I would want for Pip and co. I loved following her, Ravi, her family, Cara, the Reynolds brothers, even Nat throughout all the books. These were the people she helped, the ones she fought for, the ones impacted by the cases she followed. Do I feel like I got to see how this final case impact everybody? No, I don’t.

Do I feel like Pip dealt with all the baggage her cases dropped onto her? Heck no.

If I was a tiny bit upset at the mid point, the ending didn’t make it better. I’d like to imagine what would happen after the actual ending because I still feel frustrated that I turned the page and there was no more. I normally enjoy open endings if they’re done well, leaves things up to the imagination of the reader. This is more about closure and not receiving much of any.

Final words

Kudos to Holly Jackson. She took a creative idea and really took it to such great heights. What a feat! There is so much imagination and creativity in here, the depths of research to write some of the subject matter, the well-thought out plot points across THREE books.

I will always point people to this series, even non-readers. It’s just that good. I may not have agreed with everything she chose to end in this book, but I can understand the vision she had for it and at least accept that. Because I love the art of it, I kept my rating a little higher than I initially thought I would go.

This may be more of an unpopular opinion and you may end up loving Holly’s vision. If so, even better. As Good As Dead may not have been the conclusion I had envisioned, but it’s a remarkable enough finale to keep readers thinking (and discussing) about it for ages to come.

Overall Recommendations:

As Good As Dead concludes the trilogy with a conflicting and darker story as Pip now deals with a personal crime of her own. The formatting is more like a regular story, but the excellent writing and pacing still shines through. I was so tense throughout the first half of the book! When the story took a different turn, I can’t say I loved the morally grey character arc Pip was given, but I understood why it happened this way. I might’ve preferred a different second half, particularly the ending, but I can appreciate the full circle moments Holly Jackson incorporated from all the books in this series. Regardless of my personal feelings on this last book, I highly recommend A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series to anyone looking for a good read.


My copy of As Good As Dead (@downtherabbithole_blog)
5 star, YA

Review: If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

High school senior Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: bitch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her cutting and brutal honesty. So when she puts her foot in her mouth in front of her crush, Andrew, she fears she may have lost him for good. 

In an attempt to win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Katherine in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. First, she’ll have to make amends with those she’s wronged, which leads her to Brendan, the guy she labelled with an unfortunate nickname back in the sixth grade. At first, Brendan isn’t all that receptive to Cameron’s ploy. But slowly, he warms up to her when they connect over the computer game he’s developing. Now if only Andrew would notice…

But the closer Cameron gets to Brendan, the more she sees he appreciates her personality—honesty and all—and wonders if she’s compromising who she is for the guy she doesn’t even want.



Normally I am very picky when it comes to contemporaries. I enjoy them, they’re my guilty pleasures when I just want a solid read to fall in love with characters and the issues they have to overcome in their own lives, but very rarely do I do so in such a way that it makes me laugh and cry and feel for them the way I have with this book.

If I’m Being Honest features a protagonist I didn’t think I would love that much. Not only is she brutally honest to a fault – like, the word blunt has no meaning in her vocabulary – but she definitely falls under the category of mean girl more than your typical shy girl/people pleasers I find in YA contemporaries as our heroine. Yet, there is something refreshing about her because of this. The authors do not just write her as someone who is “bad” so simply, but is nuanced, especially in the way she becomes “better”.

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