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Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
After reading Black Spire, I decided to tackle the entire Del Rey Star Wars canon. For those counting, it's currently at 23 books long. Jumping in at the beginning of the canon, my first read was Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott. Now this one is a little bit different, in that it was originally created as an audio production, then the script was turned into a book. Because of this, I chose to listen to the audio while I read along to the script so I was able to consume the media in its intended form.

This is basically Count Dooku's back story. This tells the tale of how Dooku started as a Padawan, training to become a Jedi. It talks about his family, as well as the relationships he had with other major Star Wars players, like Master Yoda (he was Yoda's own Padawan), and Qui-Gon Jinn (who Dooku chose as his Padawan). It also tells of how he abandoned the life of a Jedi to become Count of Serenno. The whole story is basically told through flashbacks, as his assasin Asajj Ventress learns about what makes her master tick.

I loved listening to the audio of this story as I read along with the script. It did take me a while to get through it this way, but hearing the full cast along with the sound effects really brought the story to life. I don't listen to a ton of audiobooks, but when I do I really prefer ones with a full cast.

I think learning about Dooku's back story was fascinating, and I really enjoyed the insight into why he is the way he is as we know him in the movies. You also got to learn more about Ventress through this story as well. 

Next up in the canon for me is Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray, a story about Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Bunny by Mona Awad

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What did I just read? I knew that Bunny by Mona Awad was going to be weird based on the reviews I was seeing, but I don't think I ever expected how weird it actually was. I picked this one up after seeing it reviewed by Books and Lala over on YouTube. This story follows Samantha, a student in an elite MFA writing program. As a scholarship student, she constantly feels alienated from her wealthy peers, not like she would want anything to do with them anyway. Especially The Bunnies. 

The Bunnies are four pretty, dainty, rich girls who are obsessed with one another and call each other Bunny, and they happen to be the only other members of Samantha's writing cohort. When Samantha gets an invitation to join them one night, she goes, more out of curiosity than anything, but soon finds herself absorbed in the twisted and sweet world of The Bunnies.

I was just so obsessed with The Bunnies themselves! I can absolutely see being fascinated with people like them in real life. From their clothes, to the way they talked, to the way they were obsessed with tiny food, I loved it all. This story was dark and twisted and super disturbing. 

There should be a trigger warning on this for brutal animal deaths. Interestingly enough, that's usually a big problem for me and something that turns me off from a book, but it didn't bother me at all in this story.

As weird as this book was, I really enjoyed it! I could see this one being a fantastic movie. The only reason I knocked off a star was because I felt the ending wasn't as strong as the rest of the book and left me wanting more than I was given.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan

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If you haven't yet read Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, where have you been? I absolutely adored this read when it came out last year so I was really excited to get my hands on an ARC of the next book in the series, Girls of Storm and Shadow. This series is a YA fantasy full of Malaysian influences and great LGBTQ+ representation.

Since this one is a sequel, I can't give too much away in a synopsis. In this world, there are three castes, including humans (paper), demon/human hybrids (steel), and pure demon (moon). The paper caste is the lowliest of them all, and they are frequently mistreated by the castes above them. Something HUGE went down at the end of the first book and the main character Lei is having to deal with the repercussions of that event throughout this second installment. Feel free to check out my review of the first book to get a little more detail on the back story of this world. 

Unfortunately this book just didn't live up to the first one for me, which was a shame since this was one of my most anticipated books of 2019. I felt like not much happened and I didn't like the direction some of the characters started to take. I did like the inclusion of some new characters here, especially Nitta, Bo, and Merrin. The ending of this one was not nearly as gripping as the first book either. It was still good, don't get me wrong. I love this world and Lei's character. But it didn't suck me in like Girls of Paper and Fire did.

There is still one more book to come in this trilogy and even though I didn't love this book as much, I still plan to pick up the third to see how everything plays out. 

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Little Brown/Jimmy Patterson Books for an arc of this thrilling fantasy! Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan just released last week!

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
If you've been reading my blog lately, you may have noticed that I've been getting more and more into romantic comedies. I've come to really love this genre and can't seem to get enough of these funny, swoon-inspiring reads. 

After a near-death experience causes web-designer Chloe's dull and boring life to flash before her eyes, she decides to get a life...an exciting one. Enter the list. From enjoying a drunken night out and riding a motorcycle, to meaningless sex and going camping, Chloe has determined that by checking off the things on her list, she'll have a life worthy of flashing before her eyes should a near-death experience hit again. She never expected to find love with that list, but when her gorgeous superintendent Redford agrees to help her check some items off, she finds herself falling deeper than she ever expected.

First, let me give a huge shout out to Talia Hibbert for putting a content warning about a character recovering from an abusive relationship in an author's note at the beginning of the book! THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT PEOPLE! It didn't take away from the plot at all but was the perfect way to let a reader know that something potentially triggering existed in the book.

I absolutely appreciate that the main character struggled with a chronic illness. Chloe has fibromyalgia, and even though I have a different chronic illness than her (endometriosis here), I really identified with a lot of the things she went through. I thought she was really stuck up at first, but soon realized that this was just a coping mechanism that she used to protect herself from the fear of people leaving. I thought Red was a super stand-up guy and really loved seeing the softer, artist side of him. This book also had an adorable cat named Smudge, so I couldn't possibly leave that part out of the review!

There was a little too much instalove in this one for me, even though that normally doesn't bother me much. I just thought that Chloe and Red went from completely despising each other to being all over each other in literally seconds flat.

It looks like one of Chloe's sisters is getting an installment next, so I can't wait to read that book as well!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Avon for a finished copy of this read! Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert is out TODAY, November 5th, so be sure to pick up a copy to get your rom-com fix!

The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams

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Like almost everyone else I've seen on social media, I've been gobbling up the creepy reads before Halloween hits. Just the title alone of The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams made this a perfect choice for this spooky season.

On the surface. Esme seems to be just a normal teenager. She loves thrifted clothes and putting together outfits. She has a best friend named Janis and a pit bull named Pig. And she has a babysitter's club. But lately odd things have been happening to her. From cars driving on their own to volleyballs changing direction, Esme doesn't know what's going on. And when the kids she and Janice babysit for appear to be in danger and a mysterious new girl shows up eager to join their club, it's a definite wake up call that something isn't right.

First, can we talk about this cover? That pastel goodness is the stuff of dreams.  The book started out strong for me, but my rating dropped lower and lower as it went on. I really liked the plot of this story, but didn't think it was original at all. It's like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but Sitters instead of Slayers, a Counsel instead of a Watcher, etc. The strikingly high amount of similarities was hard to ignore. They even mention Buffy numerous times throughout the book. Another thing that rubbed me the wrong way was that they kept calling  Esme's mom "crazy" when there are much more appropriate terms to use for mental illness. The story itself felt fairly juvenile even though the main characters were supposed to be seventeen. I really liked all the mentions of the different outfits the girls put together though, and how they themed all their outfits.

The story was fun and the book was an enjoyable read for the most part, but like I said, I felt like I had seen most of this stuff via other mediums before, and anything unique in this read was pretty forgettable. It looks like there is a second book coming out next fall, but I will probably pass on that one. This is really more of a 2.5 star read for me, but since I don't do half stars, I chose to round up just for the nostalgia factor.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

I received an ARC of this read at the ALA Annual Conference. The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams is out now!

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

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I really enjoyed reading The Wedding Date, so I was excited to pick up Jasmine Guillory's next book, The Proposal. This book was focused on Carlos, a side character in The Wedding Date who I absolutely loved!

When Nik's boyfriend Fisher surprises her with a proposal during a game at Dodger Stadium, she is shocked, and not in a good way. When she turns him down, on the JumboTron no less, the whole stadium turns against her, and a kind stranger behind her (enter Carlos) offers to help her escape before the news crews can hunt her down. 

Nik is grateful to her kind, thoughtful, and super handsome rescuer, so when they decide to spend more time together, she is overjoyed. The only problem is she has no desire to get into another relationship, but to her relief, neither does he. 

This was another adorable read, and I enjoyed this even more than The Wedding Date! Like I mentioned in the review for that book, I really love Carlos as a character, and I was really excited to get to know more about him in his own story. Alexa and Drew from The Wedding Date were in this book a few times as well!

I thought the issues addressed in this book were important, and much less frivolous than some of the things in other romance books I've read. I loved Nik and her friends, and really admired her for putting her career so high on her priority list. There was wonderful diversity in this book as well, and a feminist message that really resonates with what society is going through today. I laughed so much while reading this, and felt so many warm fuzzies along the way.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

29 Seconds by T.M. Logan

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Last year, I read Lies by T.M. Logan and really enjoyed it! I decided to pick up 29 Seconds by the same author as my thriller for Spookathon this year, and while I did enjoy it, it wasn't quite as much of a hit as Lies.

A lot can change in 29 seconds. For Sarah, 29 seconds could upend her entire life. After saving the daughter of a mysterious and wealthy man, Sarah is given a favor of sorts in return. Give him a name, any name, and he will make this person disappear. Could this save Sarah from the terrible situation with her disgusting boss, Alan Hawthorne?

There should definitely be trigger warnings for sexual assault and sexual harassment on this one. Unfortunately I didn't like this one as much as Lies. I honestly couldn't stand the main character. While I did absolutely feel for her and her predicament, she spent a lot of the book complaining about other things in her life, like how her kids didn't get along, and I didn't see how any of this was important to the plot. Some parts of the story were extremely unbelievable as well, specifically in relation to how people got away with some of the things they did. 

It was an okay read overall, and the issues addressed in the book are very important in today's society, but it just didn't grab me like I had hoped, which I feel like a thriller really has to do in order to be successful.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

I received an ARC of this read at the ALA Annual Conference. 29 Seconds by T.M. Logan is out now!

Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I read the first book in this middle grade series, City of Ghosts, last fall, and felt like it was a very middle of the road read. I enjoyed it fine but really wanted more than it delivered. Still, I'm a big fan of Victoria Schwab and wanted to see where this story went, so I picked up book two, Tunnel of Bones, when it was recently released, and decided to use it as the "Book with Red on the Cover" challenge for Spookathon. I'm glad I did! I liked this one a lot more than the first book.

Cassidy Blake can interact with ghosts. Not only that, but after almost dying, it is her life's purpose to send ghosts to the beyond. Wouldn't be too bad, except for the fact that her parents host a show about the paranormal, leading the family to travel to the most haunted places in the world. This time, they're in Paris, and when the family goes to explore the Catacombs, a poltergeist is released that begins wreaking havoc on the city. 

I still want to know more about the side character Lara, but I liked how her and Cassidy developed a friendship that continued into this read. I also still thought the parents were clueless with Cassidy literally disappearing all the time, but I've written that off as a suspension of disbelief that is necessary for these adventures take place.

I really saw Casssidy growing in this one: not only maturing, but really coming into her own with her ghost-banishing talent. You get to see her grappling a lot with encountering danger versus fulfilling her purpose, ultimately deciding that there's a difference between being scared to do something and TOO scared to do something. Fear doesn't define action. The overall plot in this one was much better than the first as well, and the poltergeist story line really kept me intrigued. We hope to go to Paris in a few years, so I'll definitely write down all the haunted places mentioned in this book for my visit!

While I think this was originally supposed to be a duology, it looks like there will be a third book, Bridge of Souls, releasing some time next year. I heard rumors that this would be taking place in New Orleans, and if so I can't wait to read it!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars