Amy Cole is Zen as F*ck by Elizabeth McGivern

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I was part of a blog tour for Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind a few months ago, and when the author Elizabeth McGivern reached out to me asking if I wanted to review the new, second installment, I jumped at the chance! I absolutely loved the first Amy Cole book, and I couldn't wait to have more of Amy's chaos in my life.

In Amy Cole is Zen as F*ck, Amy has finally gotten herself together. She is wrapping up therapy and ready to tackle her new life head on. Until she hits someone with her car. But in true Amy fashion, things can't be wrapped up neatly after an incident. Now Amy's best friend Elle has decided to marry the same man that Amy hit, who was a complete stranger a few days earlier. Now the calm and stress-free life Amy envisioned seems virtually unreachable, as she has to grapple with the chaos surrounding her.

This book ALMOST lived up to its predecessor. It definitely made me laugh out loud, and was nearly as zany as the first. I loved all the new drama added this time, and seeing Amy grow to realize that life isn't all about her. I also loved that Elle had a bigger role in this story. I'm happy that Amy and Elle have created their own small business, and that they're still tied to Joseph and his coffee shop. This one definitely took a dark turn at the end, as well as added a big surprise, so it will be interesting to see how Amy handles those events in the next book.

It just wasn't quite as good as the first book, which is why I had to take off a star for this one.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to the author, Elizabeth McGivern, for a digital copy of Amy Cole is Zen as F*ck! This second installment of the Amy Cole series is out now!

Severance by Ling Ma

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I recently resubscribed to Book of the Month, and this was my December pick. Severance by Ling Ma promised plagues and zombies, and a post-apocalyptic New York City. While it did deliver on those promises, it did not deliver in the way that I had hoped.

Candace lives in New York City, and works at a company who outsources the publishing of books. When a major pandemic hits, people are left as shells of their former selves, technically alive but forced to repeat the mundane tasks in their lives over and over again in a zombie state. Candace escapes New York after being found by a group of survivors, and embarks on a journey with them to a promised safe-house facility.

I just could not get behind this story. It was told in alternating chapters of before the plague and after, and I thought most of the before parts were unnecessary and didn't add anything to the story. I thought Candace was boring, and I didn't care what happened to her character. So many of the plot elements didn't make sense with what had been established already, and lots of questions were left unanswered. I also hated the way it ended.

When I saw this was a post-apocalyptic novel with zombies caused by a plague, I was excited, but this story just left me bored. The zombies aren't scary. There are no real high-stakes. It had all the bad parts of The Walking Dead with none of the excitement. I did enjoy the pieces about the NY Ghost blog, and the descriptions of desolate New York were good.

I found myself barely skimming towards the end just to get through it. Maybe there was a deeper meaning here that I just missed. All I know is I wanted an exciting zombie story and did not get it.

Overall Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

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Like I said in my last post, my disdain for holiday reads has completely vanished this year, so I had to pick up a few new books to get into the spirit of the season. The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand was one of them. This YA fiction is a modern twist on the classic story of A Christmas Carol. 

Holly Chase is not a nice girl. When she is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve who beg her to change her ways, Holly laughs it off and refuses. Then she dies. At least, she thinks she does.

When she wakes up, trapped somewhere between dead and alive, she is the newest employee of the top-secret company Project Scrooge, the same organization who tried to save her before her death. Now she has to work with them year after year as the Ghost of Christmas Past to help save each year's chosen Scrooge from the same fate that Holly endured.

This book was really cute, and had some unexpected twists as well! I liked how this really didn't end up being centered around romance or a relationship (although parts of it do lend itself to that).  I was very satisfied with the ending. It reminded me a lot of that really obscure movie from ABC, Teen Spirit. It was a little slow in parts, but I really liked all the characters. I mean come on, they all had nicknames based on Dickens' stories! 

This story definitely has the perfect Christmas message, and would be enjoyable for both teens and adults (even if you don't commonly read YA!). I can see this being a read that I revisit each holiday season.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

The White Christmas Inn by Colleen Wright

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Aside from Halloween, I don't typically buy into holiday books. But at the last minute this year, I decided to participate in the Tistheseasonathon and just so happened to have the perfect book for it. The White Christmas Inn by Colleen Wright had been sent to me unsolicited by Howard Books and since, like I said, holiday books aren't normally my thing, I had just put it to the side after I received it. Since it fits the readathon theme, I grabbed it on a whim and ended up really enjoying it! In fact, I placed an order for 5 more Christmas books after reading this, so I guess my disdain for holiday reads is gone thanks to this book!

The White Christmas Inn follows a cast of multiple characters who end up getting stranded in a quaint bed and breakfast over Christmas due to a bad snow storm. During their time at the inn, they bond with one another and realize that the problems each of them had in their lives might not be so bad after all.

The chapters were short, and transitioned seamlessly from one character to the next. It was a warm and fuzzy, clean, feel good story appropriate for any age. 

The one thing I didn't like about this book is that I felt that all the characters had the same voice. They all kept calling each other honey, and without being told, it was hard sometimes to determine who exactly was speaking.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Howard Books for sending me a copy of this read! The White Christmas Inn by Colleen Wright is out now!

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

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YALL THIS BOOK BLEW ME OUT OF THE WATER. That's all there is to it. I saw like 20 amazing reviews of this book in the span of a week or so and knew I had to pick it up. Those reviews were not wrong. Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand is a supernatural YA horror/thriller that actually managed to give me nightmares. 

This story follows three teen girls who live on Sawkill Ridge: Marian, the new girl who has just lost her father; Zoey, the police chief's daughter who is pretty much an outcast; and Val, the disgustingly rich popular girl who tends to run the show. Sawkill has a history of girls going missing, and Marian's sister Charlotte becomes the newest girl to disappear. Zoey is hellbent on figuring out what happened, as her best friend Thora went missing not too long before Charlotte did. And Val might be more involved in the disappearances than she wants anyone to know.

This book was amazingly atmospheric, with a setting that took on a persona of its own. There were monsters and magic, feminism and friendships. The lesbian and asexual representations were amazing, and done in such a way that made them just a normal part of everyday life. This book is full of kick-ass girls taking control of their own destinies and fighting against the way things have always been. 

I almost got really mad at the ending, but it turned itself around just in the nick of time! I will completely lose it if this becomes a movie, because I can just see it being so good!

Definitely read this. Just maybe not late at night before bed.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars