Book Review: Finale by Stephanie Garber

Finale by Stephanie Garber

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BOOK INFO
Title: Finale
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publish Date: May 7, 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Caraval #3
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.30

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Welcome, welcome to Finale, the third and final book in Stephanie Garber’s #1 New York Times bestselling Caraval series!

A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…

Finale by Stephanie Garber
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MY REVIEW
The third and final book in the Caraval series by Stephanie Garber. Caraval may be over, but there is more to Tella and Scarlett’s stories. Favorite characters are back, and new characters are introduced.

Told with the alternating points of view of Tella and Scarlett. They have individual storylines, but they are also part of the same larger story. Their individual stories mostly focus on their love lives. In the larger story, the Fates have been freed and are a tremendous threat to Valenda.

This is a series that must be read in order. I enjoyed my time in the world of Caraval and Valenda. The worldbuilding is creative and vivid. The characters are intriguing. While I enjoyed this final book in the series, I liked the first two books, Caraval and Legendary better. A fantastic young adult fantasy series. Magical and enchanting.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: King of Fools by Amanda Foody

King of Fools by Amanda Foody

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BOOK INFO
Title: King of Fools
Author: Amanda Foody
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publish Date: April 30, 2019
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: The Shadow Game #2
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.24

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Indulge your vices in the City of Sin, where a sinister street war is brewing and fame is the deadliest killer of them all…

On the quest to find her missing mother, prim and proper Enne Salta became reluctant allies with Levi Glaisyer, the city’s most famous con man. Saving his life in the Shadow Game forced Enne to assume the identity of Séance, a mysterious underworld figure. Now, with the Chancellor of the Republic dead and bounties on both their heads, she and Levi must play a dangerous game of crime and politics…with the very fate of New Reynes at stake.

Thirsting for his freedom and the chance to build an empire, Levi enters an unlikely partnership with the estranged son of mafia donna Vianca Augustine. Meanwhile, Enne remains trapped by Vianca’s binding oath, playing the roles of both darling lady and cunning street lord, unsure which side of herself reflects the truth.

As Enne and Levi walk a path of unimaginable wealth and opportunity, new relationships and deadly secrets could quickly lead them into ruin. And when unforeseen players enter the game, they must each make an impossible choice: sacrifice everything they’ve earned in order to survive…



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MY REVIEW
The second book in The Shadow Game series by Amanda Foody. This book picks up where the first book, Ace of Shadows, ended.

Favorite characters are back (Enne, Levi, Jac) and new characters are introduced. The characters in this series are so intriguing. This novel is told using multiple points of view, which gives insight into several characters. I especially love the strong female characters.

The fun thing about this series is the politics in New Reynes. With so many people trying to be in power, nobody can be trusted. That’s made very clear in this book.

This YA fantasy series is action-packed and fun to read. I can’t wait for the next book… especially after that ending.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

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BOOK INFO
Title: Four Dead Queens
Author: Astrid Scholte
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publish Date: February 26, 2019
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.79

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Four dead queens. Three days to catch a killer. Two forbidden romances.
One shocking twist you won’t see coming.

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.


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MY REVIEW
Keralie is a skilled thief. Varin is a on a mission to deliver a package. When Keralie steals the package, both Keralie and Varin are caught up in a conspiracy that results in four dead queens.

A standalone young adult fantasy novel. I enjoy YA fantasy, and am always happy to see standalone reads for those of us not wanting to get into another series. Anyway, I enjoyed the world in this one. Quadara is divided into four quadrants – Archia, Eonia, Ludia, and Toria. Each quadrant has a queen (Iris, Corra, Stessa, and Marguerite) and a specialty/trade (agriculture, technology, arts, and commerce). This is reminiscent of Divergent, but it works in a different way for this novel.

Told with alternating points of view – Keralie and the four queens of Quadara (Iris, Corra, Stessa, and Marguerite). Based on the title, the reader knows the queens are expected to die. Keralie is a thief who gets caught up in the conspiracy around the deaths of the queens. An interesting idea, but the multiple viewpoints didn’t completely work for me. I know multiple POVs are popular, but, for me, it often makes the story not flow as well. Keralie is well-developed and I enjoyed learning about her. The queens are not as well-developed, but there were glimpses of very interesting characters in them.

A murder mystery fantasy. I enjoyed the mystery and fantasy aspects of this novel. I was not a big fan of the romance. It was unnecessary and lacked chemistry.

A great debut novel. I look forward to more from this author. Exciting, fun, and imaginative.

I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library.

Book Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

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BOOK INFO
Title: Two Can Keep a Secret
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publish Date: January 8, 2019
Genre: Young Adult – Mystery
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 4.01

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone has declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.


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MY REVIEW
Twins Ellery and Ezra move to Echo Ridge to live with their grandmother. They’ve never been to the small town, but they’ve heard about it. When their aunt was a teenager, she went missing from there. Then, five years ago, the homecoming queen was killed. Before the twins even get settled in their new town, someone starts threatening the newest homecoming court.

Told using the alternating points of view of Ellery and Malcolm. Ellery is not happy with the move to Echo Ridge. She has a hard time adjusting to the new town and finding where she fits in. Ellery loves true crime, and soon becomes interested in the town’s past mysteries. Malcolm’s a decent teen with a sordid connection – his brother was the prime suspect in the death of the homecoming queen five years earlier. For that reason, Malcolm feels like people judge him and expect the worst.

Ellery and Malcolm hit it off, and are soon working together to solve the local mysteries. As Ellery tries to discover who is behind the current threats, she learns of her family’s connections to various town residents. It seems everyone has secrets.

A solid YA mystery with intriguing characters. Fast-paced, compelling, and entertaining.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

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BOOK INFO
Title: In an Absent Dream
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: Tor.com
Publish Date: January 8, 2019
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 4.28

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
A stand-alone fantasy tale from Seanan McGuire’s Alex award-winning Wayward Children series, which began in the Alex, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning, World Fantasy Award finalist, Tiptree Honor List Every Heart a Doorway

This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.


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MY REVIEW
Lundy is smart, serious, and lonely. When she finds a doorway leading to a world based on logic and reason, she thinks she has found home. In this world, everything has a cost and must be given fair value. Everyone who doesn’t pay what they owe or tries to outsmart the system is punished.

The fourth book in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. This book is Lundy’s story, and tells of the magical world she entered through her doorway. Lundy was introduced in the first book, Every Heart a Doorway. I recommend reading Every Heart a Doorway first, but In an Absent Dream can be read as a standalone.

I enjoy the imaginative worlds in this series. This book continues the magic with the unique world of the Goblin Market. Lundy is an interesting character, and I enjoyed reading her story. Admittedly, this isn’t my favorite book in the series, but I did enjoy it. A good addition to this YA fantasy series.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: Kingdom Cold by Brittni Chenelle

Kingdom Cold by Brittni Chenelle

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BOOK INFO
Title: Kingdom Cold
Author: Brittni Chenelle
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: February 14, 2019
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.80

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Attempted murder, that’s how sixteen-year-old Princess Charlotte’s engagement starts. It seems like the only thing she has in common with Prince Young of Vires is their mutual discontent.

When her kingdom’s attacked, Charlotte’s parents renegotiate her hand in marriage to a handsome stranger with a sinister plan. With the people Charlotte loves dying around her, and her kingdom’s future at stake, the only person she can turn to is the prince she betrayed. But, should she save her kingdom or her heart? One must fall.


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MY REVIEW
It has been arranged for Princess Charlotte of Besmium to marry Prince Young of Vires. Charlotte is not excited about marrying Young, and their relationship gets off to a rocky start. However, before the nuptials take place, Besmium is attacked. It is up to Charlotte to decide what is right for her kingdom.

Told with alternating points of view from Princess Charlotte, Prince Young, and a a few other characters. Most of the story is from Charlotte and Young’s POVs, but a few chapters are from other characters – Minseo, Emmett, and Milly. Minseo is Young’s brother. Emmett is a prince competing for Charlotte’s hand in marriage. Milly is Charlotte’s lady-in-waiting. I enjoyed the alternating POVs from Charlotte and Young, and felt it added to the story.

Charlotte is a spoiled and selfish princess. Unfortunately for her, her kingdom is on the verge of war, and she needs to marry to help save Besmium. Prince Young is a kind and honorable prince. With their union, his family’s kingdom of Vires will have a strong alliance with Besmium. When Besmium is attacked on their wedding day, the future of their relationship and the kingdom of Besmium is at risk.

This is a standalone young adult fantasy novel. With so many YA fantasies being part of a series, it was refreshing to read a standalone novel in this genre. The characters are diverse, and I enjoyed that the multi-cultural aspect of the story was written simply and without fanfare.

I found this book to be light and entertaining. It’s not very long, and made for a quick read. My only complaint is that the characters were not very well-developed. I would have liked to go a little deeper into some of their stories. Due to that aspect, I would say this is more geared toward younger teens. Overall, a fun, charming, and fast-paced book.

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Mentalist Series by Kenechi Udogu

The Mentalist Series by Kenechi Udogu

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BOOK 1

BOOK INFO
Title: Aversion
Author: Kenechi Udogu
Publisher: Self-Published
Publish Date: December 1, 2012
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.00 / Community 3.80

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
For Gemma Green’s first time, things should have been straightforward. Find your subject, hold their gaze and push a thought into their head to save them from future disaster – Aversion complete. A pretty simple process given that the subject was to have no recollection of the experience. But Russ Tanner doesn’t seem to want to forget. In fact the more she tries to avoid him, the more he pushes to get to know her. Gemma knows she has a problem but is she facing the side effects of a failed Aversion or has the school’s tennis champ really fallen for her?


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MY REVIEW
Gemma Green is special, but blends into the background. She’s what is known as an Averter – someone who can change other people’s behavior to help save them from bad decisions and dangerous situations. Gemma is ready for her first Aversion, but things do not go according to plan.

The first book in The Mentalist series by Kenechi Udogu. A short, entertaining YA fantasy. I like that Gemma is smart and independent. The story has some romance, but it isn’t the usual formula. A fresh and interesting read. I look forward to the next book in the series.

BOOK 2

BOOK INFO
Title: Sentient
Author: Kenechi Udogu
Publisher: Self-Published
Publish Date: October 27, 2013
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.00 / Community 3.88

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Mastering her Progressive Empath abilities isn’t going as well as Gemma hoped. In fact, months after finding out what she really is, she still has no clue what this truly means. All she can do is wait to see if any new abilities will eventually manifest. Things aren’t going great with Russ either. Unsure of how to handle her Sentient Link with him, she tries to integrate herself in his busy social life but struggles to adjust to her new circumstances.

When she is plagued by recurring nightmares, Gemma realises things are changing and knows she has to do something, fast. The arrival of two sets of strangers in town, both offering the much needed assistance she needs to unearth her powers, escalates the situation even further. Gemma attempts to decipher whose intentions are genuine, but does she have enough time to figure out who has her best interest at heart?


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MY REVIEW
The second book in The Mentalist series by Kenechi Udogu. In the first book, Aversion, Gemma learns she is more than just an Averter and she finds out about Sentient Twins. This second book gives more information about the world of the Mentalists. That’s interesting, and needed, but this was a slower paced read than the first book.

A short, entertaining YA fantasy. Great characters. Interesting story. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

BOOK 3

BOOK INFO
Title: Keepers
Author: Kenechi Udogu
Publisher: Self-Published
Publish Date: December 19, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.03

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
The dust appears to have settled after the brief descent of the Progressive Empaths on Sandes. But, if there is any truth to Anthony’s story, Gemma and her friends know they might soon have to face the mysterious Keepers. Myth or real threat, one thing is certain; running is no longer an option, for any of them. Can Gemma protect the ones she loves without forming an unlikely alliance?


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MY REVIEW
The third book in The Mentalist series by Kenechi Udogu. Gemma and friends are faced with new challenges and have to question who they can trust. This book wraps the series up nicely, and adds even more to the world of the Mentalists.

Keepers is a little different than the first two books because it uses alternating points of view. It was great to get not only Gemma’s POV, but Russ’s viewpoint in this last book. Also, this book is a little longer than the others, and it allowed for a little more development of the story and characters. A great ending to the series.

PREQUEL

BOOK INFO
Title: Broken Ties
Author: Kenechi Udogu
Publisher: Self-Published
Publish Date: May 1, 2014
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.00 / Community 3.87

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
“There was nothing unusual about the night everything changed. No flashing lights in the sky, no searing fire in my belly; no sign whatsoever to suggest the shift which was to come…Nora Brice did strange things to me. Strange and awful things…”

Paul Colt has a problem, and it is not one most teenage boys face. Yes, he likes a girl; one he’s pretty certain he’ll do foolish things for, given the chance. But he can’t go after her, or any other girl for that matter. That’s what he gets for being an Averter; forced to toe the line for the propagation of the collective. He knows some rules are okay to trifle with, and there are some which should never be broken. The gravest of them all?

Don’t fall in love.

Ever.

This is the story of how Paul breaks that rule.

This prequel novella to the Mentalist Series can be read before or after Aversion, Book One of The Mentalist Series.


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MY REVIEW
A prequel in The Mentalist Series by Kenechi Udogu. This book takes place before book 1, Aversion, so it can be read at any time. Broken Ties is about Paul and Nora, Gemma’s parents. This is the story of how they met and fell for one another.

Told with alternating points of view, this novella gives a glimpse into the lives of Paul and Nora. They are in high school, and suddenly find themselves irresistibly drawn to one another. A quick and entertaining read.


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I received a free digital copy of this book series from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

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BOOK INFO
Title: Vanishing Girls
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publish Date: March 10, 2015
Genre: Young Adult – Mystery
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.59

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged.

When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked.

Now, Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.


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MY REVIEW
Two sisters, Nicola (Nick) and Dara, were once best friends. As teenagers, their relationship has become strained, and it is forever changed after a terrible car accident.

This story is told using alternating timelines – before the accident (“then”) and after the accident (“now”). The story is also told using multiple points of view – Nick’s POV, Dara’s POV, random news reports, and entries from Dara’s diary. I found the hopping around to be a bit jarring. It wasn’t hard to follow the story, but it didn’t flow well.

The “then” part of the story deals with the sisters crumbling relationship, which has to do with a boy. Nick’s best friend is a guy, and Dara goes after him. Not cool. The “now” part continues to deal with the sister’s relationship, but also involves a young missing girl. When Dara goes missing too, Nick believes it has something to do with the other missing girl.

A dark story with a twisty ending. I read this in one sitting, so it was a compelling read, but it was also awkward. Mainly, it was too disjointed with the jumping narrative. I’ve enjoyed other books by Lauren Oliver, and will continue to read her work, but this isn’t one of my favorites by her.

I won this Kindle ebook in a Goodreads Giveaway.

Book Review: What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards

What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards

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BOOK INFO
Title: What You Hide
Author: Natalie D. Richards
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publish Date: December 4, 2018
Genre: Young Adult
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.65

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Mallory didn’t want to leave home, but it wasn’t safe to stay. So she sleeps at her best friend’s house and spends the rest of her time at the library, doing her online schoolwork and figuring out what comes next. Because she’s not going live in fear like her mother.

Spencer volunteers at the library. Sure, it’s community service for a stunt he pulled, but he likes the work. And it’s the perfect escape from his parents’ pressure to excel at school, at ice hockey, at everything. Especially after he meets Mallory.

Then there is a tragic death at the library. Suddenly, what was once a sanctuary turns sinister. Ghostly footprints, strange scratching sounds, scrawled messages on bulletin boards and walls… Mallory and Spencer don’t know who or what is responsible, but one thing is for sure:

They are not as alone—or as safe—as they thought.


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MY REVIEW
Mallory is sixteen and has a difficult home life. Her stepfather is controlling, and a little disturbing. She wants to get her and her mother away from him, but it’s hard to convince her mom to leave. Mallory decides to go on her own, and ends up being homeless while she spends her nights with friends and her days at the library. Spencer, also a teenager, comes from an affluent family, but still feels lost and unsure about his future. He’s a little rebellious, and, after getting into some trouble, ends up doing community service at the library. When he meets Mallory, he is immediately drawn to her.

This story is told from the alternating viewpoints of Mallory and Spencer. Both are struggling with personal issues in their lives – Mallory has a troubled home life and Spencer feels pressure from his family about his future. They are from completely different backgrounds, but are attracted to one another.

What You Hide is a contemporary young adult novel with a little romance and suspense. The two main characters are clearly drawn to each other, but, of course, things are complicated. The suspense part deals with happenings at the library. After a mysterious death at the library, strange events start occurring. Someone is leaving messages around the library, unknown footprints are found throughout the library, and occasionally strange sounds are heard. Mallory and Spencer both encounter some of these strange events, and are curious as to who could be behind them and why.

This YA book combines romance and mystery in an interesting coming of age story. The main characters are very different – Mallory is homeless and struggling, Spencer is rich and privileged. This is a light read with some darker elements. I enjoyed the coming of age story, but the mystery wasn’t gripping.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie by Courtney Summers

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BOOK INFO
Title: Sadie
Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publish Date: September 4, 2018

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.


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MY REVIEW
Sadie’s younger sister Mattie is found dead. Sadie loves her sister more than anyone else in her life, and she’s determined to find and kill the man responsible for Mattie’s death. Sadie goes in search of the man, but she doesn’t tell anyone what she is doing. When Sadie is not heard from, she is reported missing. West is a man with a podcast, and when he hears about Sadie and Mattie, he starts looking into Sadie’s disappearance. As he looks for Sadie, he interviews the different people that Sadie has encountered after leaving home.

This book uses Sadie’s point of view and West’s podcasts to tell the story. Sadie’s POV tells about her experience with the people she encounters on her journey. The podcast includes West’s interviews with people from Sadie’s hometown and the people she meets after leaving home. Using the information he gathers about Sadie, West tries to find her. His podcast follows Sadie’s story several months after she is reported missing. I’ve read a few books that use a podcast to tell the story, and have found it an intriguing way to tell a story.

Sadie and Mattie have a difficult childhood. Their mother is a drug addict and leaves when they are still young, but Sadie takes it upon herself to provide for her and her sister. The only adult in their lives is their neighbor, who has known the girls their entire lives and does what she can to help them out.

Sadie is stubborn, independent, and loving. I was rooting for Sadie the entire time. Sadie’s life is an unhappy one, and that makes for a very emotional read.

Sadie is considered a young adult novel, but it read almost as an adult novel. Some difficult topics are covered, including pedophilia, sexual abuse, child abuse, and poverty. Heartbreaking, dark, and tragic.

I borrowed this book from my local library.