March & April 2020 Reading Round-Up

The Sun Down Motel  by Simone St. James  ★★★★☆ Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with at least a four-star rating...

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James ★★★★☆

Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with at least a four-star rating on Goodreads

Brief synopsis: 35 years ago, Carly's aunt Viv took on a job as the night clerk of the Sun Down Motel in the small, mysterious town of Fell, NY. Then she disappeared. Now Carly, the same age as her aunt was when she disappeared, leaves college to enter Fell and search for answers. In Fell, Carly finds herself taking on the same job as her aunt, living in the same apartment, and facing many of the same terrors.

Overall thoughts: I thought this book was great! It took me a bit to get used to writing style, so the story started off quite slow for me. I really enjoyed the switched perspectives - you get chapters from Carly's perspective, and then chapters from Viv's perspective 30 years prior. There are so many parallels in both of their stories, so it was just the right amount of haunting and suspenseful. If you enjoy true crime and paranormal ghost stories, this one is definitely one to be picked up! Full review here.

Anna K by Jenny Lee ★★★★☆

Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book featuring one of the seven deadly sins (lust)

Brief synopsis: Anna K is rich, beautiful, and about as perfect as can be. By her side, she's got the perfect boyfriend, Alexander W (the Greenwich OG). But when she meets Alexia Vronsky (Count Vronsky), it flips her love life upside down. Meanwhile, Anna's brother Steven is cheating on his girlfriend Lolly. And Lolly's little sister Kimmie is in love with Vronsky. And Steven's tutor Dustin is in love with Kimmie. It's all basically a teenage modern day soap opera.

Overall thoughts: I've never read Anna Karenina, but that didn't impact my love of the story. In fact, it may have made me love this book even more. I was so immersed in the story and invested in the characters' lives that I could hardly put it down. There are definitely a lot of triggering things in this book, so I do encourage you to check out my full review for those trigger warnings. But this was such a fun book that carried some deeper, darker plot lines within the story. It's definitely very Gossip Girl-esque. Full review here.

Girls Save the World in This One* by Ash Parsons ★★★★☆

Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book you picked because the title caught your attention

Brief synopsis: June has been looking forward to this day for months. Her favorite show, Human Wasteland, is hosting its inaugural convention ZombieCon, and it just happens to be taking place in her tiny hometown. She saved up for this event and can't wait to spend the entire day with her best friends, worry-free, no thoughts of the upcoming SATs or being college-bound. She'll even have the chance to commemorate her day with her biggest celebrity crush. But when a fine line crosses between cosplayer and actual zombies - June and the gang must fight to survive, and save the world.

Overall thoughts: Who wouldn't want to read a book about a zombie outbreak at a zombie con? I loved all the little easter eggs about Georgia and kind about The Walking Dead (though the show in the book is Human Wasteland). I loved all the girl power, and the stories of friendships, and the action sequences. This was just a really good, really fun book. Full review here.

All Your Twisted Secrets* by Diana Urban ★★★★★

Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with a great first line ("I spent the last hour wondering if I would die tonight.")

Brief synopsis: Aspiring film scorer Amber is invited to a local scholarship dinner alongside some friends and frenemies - her jock boyfriend, her queen bee bff, her loner ex-best friend, her valedictorian childhood friend and crush, and the school stoner. But when they arrive at the dinner, they get locked in a room with a syringe full of poison and a live bomb. They have an hour to decide one person to die, or the bomb will go off and they'll all be dead. As the countdown begins, secrets start to come out and tensions rise.

Overall thoughts: Wow. How can I best describe how much I loved this book? It was shocking and unexpected. I was so freaking immersed in this book, I went to bed at 3 am and woke up at 6 am so I could finish it. I continuously needed to know what was going to happen next, and I truly didn't expect the ending. Read this book! Full review here.

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know* by Samira Ahmed ★★★★☆

Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book by a WOC

Brief synopsis: Khayyam is a 17-year old American, French, Indian, Muslim girl in Paris with her parents for their regularly scheduled summer holiday. Though she should be embracing her time in a city full of art history (her ultimate goal!), she's full of discontent. She may have ruined her chances at an amazing opportunity, her boyfriend (maybe ex?) is being super shady, and she really just wants to be home in Chicago getting her life back on track. But she meets a mysterious boy who may be the key to discovering key art history, she feels her luck may be about to change. In a parallel timeline, some 200 years prior, Leila is fighting for survival and love - mixed in a love triangle with a powerful Pasha and her true love. As Khayyam works to uncover irreplaceable art history, she begins to learn more about the mysterious Leila and must decide between history and herstory.

Overall thoughts: I was worried this book was going to be too historical fiction, but it was actually just the right amount. The story flashes between chapters in current day, and much shorter chapter snippets for the historical piece. I enjoyed the story, while simultaneously learning a lot about Alexander Dumas, which was pretty cool. I found myself Googling facts a lot during reading. Full review here.

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher ★★★☆☆

Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book you meant to read in 2019

Brief synopsis: Thursday is happily married to Seth. She's crazy about him. Their relationship is strong, but there's one, well two, things that make their marriage so unique. Seth's a polygamist and has two other wives, referred to as Monday and Tuesday. In their arrangement, Thursday knows nothing at all about the other wives, other than the days of the week Seth spends with each of them. But she begins to feel insecure, and breaking the rules of their relationship, she begins to search for more information about her husband's other wives. And what she finds out is not what she expected.

Overall thoughts: This book was totally over-hyped, and I was left feeling incredibly disappointed. It's an incredibly unique premise and I was into for about the first third of the book. Then things took an incredibly predictable, and almost offensive turn, and it all went downhill from there. The very end was pretty shocking, but the major twist just left a bad taste in my mouth. Full review here.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver ★★★★☆

Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with a pink cover

Brief synopsis: On Lydia Bird's 28th birthday, her fiancé gets into a fatal car accident. This novel follows the next year and half-ish of her life. During that time, she begins taking a trial sleep agent because her grief prevents her from sleeping. Surprisingly, the pill she's testing allows her to enter into a parallel universe where her fiancé (Freddie) is still alive and well. She's able to live her sleeping life with Freddie, while simultaneously continuing her waking life without him.

Overall thoughts: If you are looking for a sweet, but fully emotional tearjerker, this. is. it. Honestly, wow. This book was so good. It was very reminiscent of the Me Before You series, and Lydia reminded me a lot of sweet and quirky Louisa. I will definitely be reading more from Josie Silver based on my experience with this book. Full review here.

The Familiar Dark* by Amy Engel ★★★☆☆

Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with a three-word title

Brief synopsis: In the smallest and poorest part of the Ozarks, Eve Taggert was born, grew up, and had a daughter of her own. As a young, unwed mother, she did her best to raise Junie to be her own woman in a happy and safe environment. So when Junie is found brutally murdered in the park alongside her best friend Izzy, Eve must venture back into her own past to find the grit and darkness she had in her youth, and assert vengeance for her daughter's death.

Overall thoughts: This book was good, but felt too short and like too much was missing. It's really, really dark and hard to read at parts because it gets pretty graphic. It wasn't quite as poetic and lovely as The Roanoke Girls, but it was still a good story. I felt like it was just missing something that I couldn't put my finger on. Full review here.

This Coven Won't Break* by Isabel Sterling ★★★★☆

Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with at least a four-star rating on Goodreads

Brief synopsis: After Hannah's near-death experience due to witch hunters, she's lost most of her magic and is only able to feel her elements when her girlfriend, Morgan (a blood witch), is around. But the hunters are still around, and they're worse than ever. They've developed a drug that will get rid of a witch's magic, and it's up to Hannah and her clan to save magic.

Overall thoughts: This book is the sequel to These Witches Don't Burn, and I would absolutely recommend reading the first book before picking this one up. Where the first book was full of getting to know the characters and finding a close connection to them, this sequel expands on that connection and dives deeper into an action-filled realm. I really liked this followup and would definitely continue this series if more books are released. Full review here.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley ★★★☆☆

Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book by or about a journalist

Brief synopsis: When magazine creator, Jules, and tv show survivalist, Will, are plan to get married, they do so somewhere no one else has before - a private folly on a tiny island off the coast of Galway, Ireland. But there are secrets and lies between the happy couple and their guests. When a horrible accident takes place the night of the wedding, they'll all have to question who held the biggest grudges, and why.

Overall thoughts: Another book that I thought was too overly hyped. The story is good, but I knew who the "bad guy" was right from the start. There were some weird storytelling errors in the book that irked me maybe more than they should have, though I'm starting to think I imagined it because no one else seems to have noticed. I needed some more from the book, particularly close to the end near the big reveal. The story is really fantastic and I loved the setup of the book, but it wasn't all I expected it to be. Full review here.

Last Girls* by Demetra Brodsky ★★★★☆

Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book on a topic you know nothing about (doomsday preppers)

Brief synopsis: Honey Juniper and her sisters, Blue and Birdie, are not normal teenage girls. Their entire lives, they've moved around with their mother living the lives of doomsday preppers. Now they've landed in Washington State as part of a doomsday compound, alongside several families living the same lifestyle. When an incident at school leads Honey to exposing a bit of her lifestyle to her classmates, things start to unravel at the compound. And the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) may be coming sooner than anyone could have ever realized.

Overall thoughts: I loved these characters immensely. This novel is full of strong, yet emotional teen girls who are so deadset on doing the right thing, while taking care of each other. The story is fully about family, and what that may truly mean. I would've liked a switch perspective POV a little better, but overall this was a really wonderful read. Full review here.

We Didn't Ask for This* by Adi Alsaid ★★★★☆

Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: NA book about or involving social media

Brief synopsis: Maria Cuevas loves the reefs. She's been diving into them for as long as she can remember. But when she realized the reefs aren't nearly as beautiful as they were 20 years ago, that coral reefs around the world are in fact dying and fading into extinction, she knew she had to fight for change. She decides that Central International School's lock-in night is the perfect opportunity. CIS's lock-in night is the stuff dreams are made of. It's life-changing - the night people make best friends, fall in love, party like there's no tomorrow. So when Maria and her "cronies" chain themselves to all the school's exits, they disrupt the entire lock-in night itinerary, causing their classmates to take notice, then maybe the rest of the world.

Overall thoughts: Though the writing was a little confusing and the format of the story was hard to connect with at times, this story this novel tells is so smart, timely, and relevant. The story itself really upped my thoughts on the book and increased my rating from where the writing failed me at times. I'd definitely recommend this one! Full review here.

What have you been reading since quarantine?

* denotes book was received free in exchange of an honest review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own. 

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