4.5 star, YA

Review: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

broken things -lauren oliverIt’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods.

Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.

The only thing is: they didn’t do it.

On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.


4.5 Drink Me Potions


**Broken Things comes out October 2, 2018**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

The problem with fairy tales isn’t that they don’t exist. It’s that they do exist, but only for some people.

I’ve been in a book slump for a while (actually, for quite a bit of this year, really), but Broken Things has definitely been a wild journey that spun me breathlessly through the lives of our protagonists, Brynn and Mia.

While I love a good thriller/mystery, what sets this novel apart in its genre is also the element of a story within a story. The girls were accused 5 years ago of murdering their best friend in the exact same way that was depicted in the fan fic sequel they were writing on an imaginary place called Lovelorn. Already sounds kinda good, doesn’t it?

The pacing was just the right amount. Alternating between Mia and Brynn’s POV – both in the present and in the past around the time of the murder – the pieces of what happened that day slowly unfolds while we try to understand who these girls are now in the aftermath of what happened. The town gave them a name: the Monsters of Brickhouse Lane. And the question that haunted me sometimes while reading this was this: did one of them actually do it and earn that name? Or are they really victims?

As mysteries go, it was the perfect blend of slowly unfolding clues and unique character story arcs to fill the in-between. And oh boy, were there some amazing characters here. I felt I knew Brynn and Mia by the end of it. Brynn, the girl who wants to appear all strong and tough on the outside but really was tired of the world calling her a monster. Mia, the dancer whose thoughts were in beautiful dance moves and poses, struggled to find the right words sometimes but in doing so showcased her underlying strength all this time.

Supporting characters such as Mia’s best friend eccentric Abby and Brynn’s cousin Wade who was dead set on proving her innocence were just the icing on top of the cake. Romance was interweaved into the story yet I found it wasn’t the most important thing. So I was VERY glad for its presence but happy it was kept more on the sidelines to allow the focus on the heart of the mystery.

And the world building of Lovelorn.

Oh my.

In between chapters, there were gorgeously written excerpts of the original story the girls loved, Return to Lovelorn as well as the sequel they wrote in the past. For a contemporary story, this felt like it had something lovely to add for fantasy lovers. Like it’s the best of both worlds put into one.

And the beautiful prose doesn’t just stop at these story excerpts. Lauren Oliver has outdone herself in her writing. I’ve read her past books before (and not all of them were particularly amazing) but I just really couldn’t put this book down largely in part ’cause of how she worded ideas or even the mundane events happening with Brynn and Mia.

So that is where I’ll end this review with. If this were a list to check off, then Broken Things definitely has it all: a gorgeous air of mystery/suspense, good pacing, realistic and fun characters that felt 3-dimensional, and beautiful prose.

And that ending was definitely perfect. You’ll know what I mean.

All these people, these hundreds of thousands of people, have stories. Fascinating, ever-unwinding stories. I am just one of them. And I am still midsentence.

Overall Recommendation:
Broken Things ties together elements that make for an exceptional mystery, whether in YA or otherwise. With good pacing and unique characters, there was always this air of intrigue hanging over me as I wonder who really killed Brynn and Mia’s best friend all those years ago. Beautiful prose by the one and only Lauren Oliver catapults us quickly to an ending that explodes with a culprit we may not have guessed, and it leaves me wanting more from these characters and the world of Lovelorn within their story. You definitely should check it out!

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2 star, YA

Review: The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

Series: Charlotte Holmes #3

the case for jamie -brittany cavallaroThe hotly anticipated and explosive third book in the New York Times bestselling Charlotte Holmes series.

It’s been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven’t spoken.

Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for.

Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex—and Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows her Watson can’t forgive her.

Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but when strange things start happening, it’s clear that someone wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time.

Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead.


2 Drink Me Potions


As mysteries go, A Case for Jamie wasn’t too complex or heavily-focused on the whodunit that I particularly enjoy in mystery novels. No, in fact, this story revolved more around the complexity of Holmes and Watson’s messed-up relationship.

I mean, I guess there are people who absolutely adore their strange chemistry lined with thinly veiled sexual tension. I, for one, am not part of that group of people. And while it was mildly more enjoyable due to the fact that Holmes and Watson were separated for the majority of the book, their thoughts revolving around each other and the toxic nature of their dependency, particularly Watson’s, on one another didn’t make me a huge fan.

Okay, I will backtrack and talk more about the ACTUAL story.

A year’s passed since the events of book 2 – no, I am STILL not over the fact of how that book ended even though it’s been over a year since I’ve read it – and you would think Jamie’s moved on with his life a little. There’s been no signs of Charlotte Holmes, who you can guess, is out for blood in the aftermath of the mess SHE created.

Fan favourites Uncle Leander Holmes and Jamie’s father make fun appearances in this book, playing a bigger role in some ways than in the previous ones. The other students at school are still kicking butt when push comes to shove, although that may only apply to Holmes’ ex-roommate Lena. And as usual, someone’s out to pin the blame on Jamie for crimes he didn’t commit. What’s really new, hmm? You’d think, new year, new Jamie, right?

The main plotline is to find Lucien Moriarty. Holmes for one reason, the Watsons and Leander for another reason (and that’s obviously to find Charlotte themselves). While that may seem kind of exciting – we’re chasing an infamous Moriarty who’s actually representing his last name! – like I mentioned before, this story hardly focused too heavily on it. The one highlight I can think of is finally getting to see inside Charlotte Holmes’ head. And it’s not always pretty thoughts that go on inside that girl.

So how do I really feel about this supposed conclusion? I liked that the relationship was kept minimal due to the separation between Jamie and Charlotte. I still think it’s toxic and they’re not really good for each other. I do, however, think the way this book ended felt right, especially on where their relationship stood. It was healing in a healthier way.

The secondary characters could’ve played a bigger role, in my opinion, and that could’ve happened if the main mystery behind Watson’s supposed crimes and the connections to Moriarty were better fleshed out. But I suppose we don’t get everything we want in life. The mystery culprit(s) behind it all was hardly too astounding, very quickly wrapped up and tied with a bow. I didn’t feel very impressed, but then again, I hardly brought many expectations into this book.

Overall, The Case for Jamie fared better than I felt the other 2 books before did in some ways, but it slipped a lot from its potential as a true MYSTERY novel. Would I necessarily recommend this book (or this series, for that matter)? That answer is a blatant no. The will-they-won’t-they nature of their partnership/relationship was too much and overshadowed all else in this series to make it too enjoyable. In that way, it really limited its ability to just soar with a modern day Holmes-Watson pair in America. Why couldn’t Brittany have taken a page from the show Elementary? No tension, just friendship and plenty of ass-kicking mysteries. Now that’s my kinda Sherlock story.

Overall Recommendation:
The supposed conclusion to this modern-day Sherlock pairing was neither exciting or mysterious in any way. While our Holmes and Watson are separated after the events of book 2 (be still my heart!), their POVs revolved too heavily on what the other was doing or thinking instead of the main “mystery” at hand. Someone was trying to make Watson look bad (oh no!), but it’s not like that hasn’t been done before. You could hardly call it a true mystery when SO little of the book space was truly given to it. Aside from possibly making fans of this Charlotte-Jamie pairing happy, this book didn’t make me feel anything, not even anger at this point, which in my books is not good enough. And no, it doesn’t give any more peace of mind about what happened before. In case you’re wondering.

4 star, YA

Review: Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys

dead girls society -michelle krysYou are cordially invited to participate in a game of thrills and dares. Tell no one, and come alone. If you dare.

Hope is sick of everyone treating her like she’s breakable. Sure, she has cystic fibrosis (basically really bad lungs), but she’s tired of being babied by her mom and her overprotective best friend, Ethan, not to mention worrying about paying for her expensive medication and how she’s going to afford college. And she’s bored with life in her run-down New Orleans suburb.

When an invitation arrives from a mysterious group that calls itself the Society, Hope jumps at the chance for some excitement. This could be her ticket out. All she has to do is complete a few dares and she might win some real money.

But the Society isn’t all it seems . . . and soon Hope finds that playing the game isn’t a choice—it’s a requirement.


4 Drink Me Potions


5 girls. The Sick Girl, the Rich Girl, the Sporty Girl, the Smart Girl and the Badass Girl. What do they all have in common?

Dead Girls Society dramatically set up a mysterious air that mostly lived up to its conclusion. In the same vein as Pretty Little Liars (or so it felt), this book also centred on the unlikeliest friendships and familial relationships surrounding the girls dragged into this Dare Club Society.

Written by a Canadian author (yay, Canada represent!), I was excited about this book since I first heard of its publication. Mystery? Check. Secret societies leaving anonymous letters/clues? Check. Falling for your best friend? Check. It had all the makings of a book that spelled out I WOULD LIKE THIS.

Creepy, fast-paced and filled with things that kept you guessing at the Society’s identity as the girls followed along with the dares that promised a fulfilling ending, I was pleasantly surprised at how the story progressed.

The protagonist, Hope Callahan, was one of the biggest highlights of the book. Aside from the general “whodunit” kind of thread that most mysteries contain, I really enjoyed having a sick girl as the focus of the story. Yes, she knows she’s not going to live forever, but surviving isn’t the same as living (taken from a certain poetry book I’ve read recently). So within the mystery is an underlying vein of a girl who is pushing herself to do things outside of her comfort zone – outside of her mother’s comforts and maybe even her body’s – but for the first time is possibly finding herself since her cystic fibrosis diagnosis.

Honestly, I had some inkling about who may be behind the Society but it wasn’t until near the end that it all clicked into confirmation. Without ruining anything, I thought the motives (which are always important, not just the person) were reasonable although one of the red herrings made it all the more obvious as to the true identity of the Society.

Nonetheless, Dead Girls Society filled its pages with a list of possible suspects, a protagonist struggling to be like a normal girl for once, and a cute romance that didn’t feel like it took away from the main plotline. Secrets came into the light and the dangers escalated for these girls. What started as a daring game they chose to take part in became something a lot more.

My one comment would suggest that this book could’ve been a duology or something. It had such potential with unveiling the individuals in the Society, and the dangers our group of girls faced with each dare could have been prolonged. While this made the book feel more fast-paced, I think fleshing out these ideas could have been a good thing as well.

Overall, Dead Girls Society has something to offer for fans of mysteries, secrets you want to keep buried, and a romantic trope or two. It showcased a wonderful message that couldn’t be better summed up than this quote that I am going to close off with.

“I know I made a lot of mistakes…I did damage to my body, maybe even irreparable damage…But I’m not prepared to go back to my old life. With Mom so desperate to make sure I don’t die that she won’t let me live. To sit in that apartment collecting dust until I can’t breathe anymore. Until I turn to dust.
I can’t live with fear and limits dictating everything I do [anymore].”

Oh, and did I mention that ending? I thought it was the perfect amount of open-endedness.

Overall Recommendation:
Dead Girls Society met the standards of an engaging, fun mystery with characters you could cheer on as well as secretly guess their possible ulterior motives as potential suspects. I liked how this book didn’t heavily focus on Hope’s cystic fibrosis illness as some YA tropes do, but instead used it to showcase courage, bonds of friendship and living for oneself. Whether you picked up this book for the mystery, the cute little romance or the Secret Society-esque vibes, I’m sure there’s more than enough here to keep you wanting for more!