Book Review: Out of Order (The Survivor's Club #1) by Casey Lawrence

Out of Order (The Survivor's Club, #1)Out of Order by Casey Lawrence
Review Copy: Provided via NetGalley
Purchase: Amazon

Description From Goodreads:
Corinna “Corey” Nguyen’s life seems perfectly average for a closeted bisexual whiz kid with her eyes on college and a budding romance with her friend Kate. Sixteen and navigating senior year with her tight-knit group of best friends through crushes, breakups, and pregnancy scares, Corey mistakenly believes that running for valedictorian and choosing the right college are the worst of her worries. That is, until prom night, when she’s left alone and in shock, hiding inside a diner restroom, the only witness to a multiple homicide.

With graduation looming, the pressure is on for Corey to identify the killer and ensure that the crime that has changed her life forever will not go unpunished.

My Review:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a hard one to rate because, as wonderful as it is, it's the time of book that would be even better if it were a standalone story. Had this been a standalone, with a satisfactory ending to the story, I definitely would have given the book five stars.

With that said, moving onto my actual review.

OUT OF ORDER is an important book. Not only does it deal with a topic that we find ourselves constantly dealing with in reality - gun violence - but it also highlights the struggles many LBGTQ youth face growing up. It's a powerful story, with fantastic writing, and I'm beyond glad that I took the time to read it.

I will admit that OUT OF ORDER didn't come on my radar until I found it on NetGalley. In fact, I initially passed it over because of the cover. (I know, I know.) The cover does not do this book justice. Sure, it captures an important part of the story, but it's not the kind of cover that sells this book properly. But as I learned when I began reading the story late last night, beneath the cover, Lawrence had crafted such a wonderful story about friendship, grief, and self-identity, that it was nearly impossible to put the book down.

As I stated above, my one and only problem with this book is that it is meant to kick off what appears to be a series. While I am interested in what Lawrence will do with this story going forward, I wish the story had ended with a bit more closer and as a single story. The ending with the reveal felt too rushed at the end and came off as a set-up for the sequel. It kind of made it so it took away some of the emotional punch. (Note: I said some, not all.)

Overall, OUT OF ORDER is a must-read. Just be prepared to have your tissues on hand.

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Book Review: Lost in Wonderland (The Twisted and the Brave, #1) by Nicky Peacock

Lost in Wonderland (The Twisted and the Brave, #1)Lost in Wonderland by Nicky Peacock
Review Copy: Provided via NetGalley
Purchase: Amazon

Description From Goodreads:
Monsters, serial killers, and imaginary friends—being a Wonderlander can be murder...

Once upon a time, Kayla was lost. Then she found Wonderland, but not the one you know. Run by ex-government agents and funded by an eccentric Silicon Valley billionaire, this Wonderland is the name of a collective of highly trained vigilantes who hunt serial killers. Now Kayla, aka Mouse, works tirelessly alongside her fellow Wonderlanders, Rabbit and Cheshire, baiting dangerous murderers. But even her extensive training hasn’t prepared her for the return of her older brother…

Shilo has spent most of his life in an insane asylum, convinced his mother was abducted by a sinister Alaskan monster who lures the lost away to feast upon their flesh. And now he’s certain that his sister is in the same monster’s crosshairs. But if Shilo is going to save what’s left of his family, he’ll have to convince his sister that maybe, just maybe, we’re all a little mad.

My Review:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lost in Wonderland is the type of book that pulls you in almost immediately and doesn't let go until the very end.

While scrolling through NetGalley the other day, I happened upon this book. I'd never heard of it - or the author, for that matter - before, but the idea of a new take on Alice in Wonderland intrigued me. As did the cover. So I decided to give it a go. And now that I've finished the book? I'm glad that I did. The way the author developed this story was fantastic. She made it her own, while still paying homage to the original story throughout. That isn't an easy task to do, and yet, Peacock did it with such ease.

I wasn't sure what I was getting into in the beginning, but Lost in Wonderland ultimately proved to be a story about a family and finding yourself. As we saw with Kayla, she had to lose herself before she came into the person she felt she was meant to be all along. But it's also very much a fantastical and deadly take on Alice in Wonderland. The two shouldn't work, and yet, they do.

I adored Mouse, and I liked Shilo. Seeing how their relationship grows going forward, and seeing if their able to look past what got them to this point is going to be interesting. Both characters have their own issues - more so Shilo than Mouse - but seeing them team up together to take down the monster that led to Shilo being put into a hospital would be wonderful.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. It's on the shorter side, but Peacock has managed to tell a fully contained story arc with no problem. It's hard not to get excited about what she has planned in future installments!

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Book Review: Young Scrooge: A Very Scary Christmas Story by R.L. Stine

Young Scrooge: A Very Scary Christmas StoryYoung Scrooge: A Very Scary Christmas Story by R.L. Stine
Release Date: September 13th, 2016
Review Copy: Provided via NetGalley
Pre-Order: Amazon

Description From Goodreads:
Rick Scroogeman hates Christmas. He can't stand the carols and the pageants. He can't stand the lights and the mistletoe. But what he hates the most is having to watch the old movie A Christmas Carol every year at school. Since his name is Scroogeman, all of his classmates start calling him Scrooge. And he hates being called Scrooge.

But everything starts to change when three ghosts visit him. At first, he thinks it's a dream. But then he realizes that it might be a nightmare. A nightmare that could become real.

Young Scrooge: A Very Scary Christmas Story is a funny, scary middle-grade send up of A Christmas Carol, about a boy who hates Christmas, from bestselling Goosebumps author R. L. Stine.

My Review:

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I ended up requesting this one off of NetGalley for two reasons: the fact that it was written by R.L. Stine, and it looked like a quick, enjoyable read. Thankfully? It was.

Coming in a little under 200 pages, Young Scrooge is an easy read and a fun one at that. There are enough spooks included to make it feel like a true R.L. Stine book, but the main focus here is taking the familiar story told in A Christmas Carol and presenting it in a manner that kids these days can relate to. Admittedly, Rick (the main character) is a bit annoying at first, but it's vital that the story sets up how terrible Rick is in order for the rest of the story to have an impact.

This is the type of middle school book I'd easily feel comfortable giving to my nephew. (In fact, it's a book I've already gone ahead and pre-ordered for him.) It'd be right up his alley, and I think it's a story that - while well known thanks to A Christmas Carol - is one that should be continually passed down.

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Book Review: The Art of Living Other People's Lives: Stories, Confessions, and Memorable Mistakes by Greg Dybec

The Art of Living Other People's Lives: Stories, Confessions, and Memorable MistakesThe Art of Living Other People's Lives: Stories, Confessions, and Memorable Mistakes by Greg Dybec
Release Date: January 3rd, 2017
Review Copy: Provided via NetGalley
Pre-Order: Amazon

Description From Goodreads:
Elite Daily managing editor Greg Dybec worries about rent, sex, love, family, and—the most millennial topic of them all—a desire to leave a legacy. In The Art of Living Other People’s Lives, Greg delivers a funny, brash, and insightful collection of twenty never-before-published stories on becoming a pick-up artist to get over an ex-girlfriend, late-night adventures with his Uber driver, having a Twitter-induced panic attack, picking up a gig writing about men’s underwear, and more.
Greg’s writing is all at once candid, honest, and unapologetic, and his hilariously neurotic and self-analytical journey will strike a chord with anyone struggling to balance their IRL selves with their virtual ones.

My Review:
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Actual rating: I'd probably go with a 3.5.

I enjoyed this for what it was, a collection of fun, personal stories. Unfortunately, as I neared the end, the book began to lose steam. The stories weren't as engaging. This isn't to say the book isn't worth a read, though. "The Art of Living Other People's Lives" does offer some wonderful stories that nearly everyone can relate to - whether it be insecurities, dating, growing up, family, etc. There's at least one story in this collection that you'll be able to relate to. With that being said, there are also a few that'll more than likely frustrate you as you read them.

I went into this book, not really knowing what to expect and thoroughly enjoyed it for about the first 50%. I just wish it had held my attention through the end. Still, don't let my rating keep you from giving this a read. There's bound to be at least one story in here that you can connect with.

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Book Review: Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall

Been Here All AlongBeen Here All Along by Sandy Hall
Review Copy: Provided by NetGalley
Pre-Order: Amazon
Release Date: August 30, 2016. 
Publisher: Swoon Reads

Description From Goodreads:
Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. They do NOT include falling head over heels for his best friend and next door neighbor, Kyle. It’s a distraction. It’s pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn’t know what to do.

Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can’t quite figure out what he did wrong…

My Review:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is the kind of book I wished that I'd had while in high school. It's one that I can easily relate to, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. See, when I was in high school, I was going through my own questioning period like Gideon. I know what it's like to question yourself and your emotions, and Hall managed to perfectly encapsulate that.

This book was adorable and sweet. It was a cute romance story that just so happened to feature a LBGTQ couple, but never really seemed intent on making that the biggest deal. Which was a nice change-up. It's also the first book I've ever read by Hall, and I feel like it was the perfect introduction.

Unfortunately, as much as I enjoyed this, I couldn't give it five stars, and that''s simply because at times the character's sounded much younger than they actually were. Although Hall did a great job at giving each character their own distinctive voice - truly great job - the gang of characters (outside of Buster and Ezra) all sounded as though they were in middle school as opposed to high school. This took me out of the story from time to time.

Overall, I highly suggest this book. It's absolutely worth the read.

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Book Review: Rose Petal Graves (The Lost Clan #1) by Olivia Wildenstein

Rose Petal GravesRose Petal Graves by Olivia Wildenstein
Review Copy: Provided via NetGalley
Purchase: Amazon

Description From Goodreads:
Ancient secrets cannot remain buried forever.

Founded two centuries ago by an aloof and powerful tribe of Gottwa Indians, Rowan was a quiet town, so quiet that I fled after graduation. Staying away was the plan, but Mom died suddenly, so I rushed home.

Dad said she suffered a stroke after she dug up one of the ancient graves in our backyard, which happens to be the town cemetery. Creepy, I know. Creepier still, there was no corpse inside the old coffin, only fresh rose petals.

As we made preparations for Mom’s burial, Cruz, the new medical examiner, arrived. I should have felt relieved, but how could I? He was unnervingly handsome, glowed like a human firefly, and knew absolutely nothing about examining dead bodies.

But, he did know what killed my mother…or rather who.

My Review:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not typically a big fan of fae books, but the description for Rose Petal Graves immediately pulled me in when I read it on NetGalley. In this book, Wildenstein has crafted a unique tale full of romance, betrayal, and mystery. Although the novel is on the shorter side, Wildenstein has wonderfully set up a series here, giving readers just enough information and background to stick with her going forward.

The story begins with the death of Cat's mother. A rather somber subject to begin a series off on, sure, but it's her mother's death that ultimately sets Cat on a new and mysterious journey over the course of Rose Petal Graves. What makes Wildenstein's take on fae standout is the rich history she provides for not only the fae, but also Cat's family. Not only does she craft this rich world, full of intriguing and complex characters, but she also takes the usual tropes in those books and adds her own flair to them.

Although Cat did come off as unlikable from time to time, I could understand her actions given the fact that she was still grieving. And then add in the fact that she'd had this entire new world and mythology thrust upon her? Cat's frustration and anger made sense. I'm hoping that going forward, however, we'll see another side to Cat, especially as things continue between her and Cruz.

Overall, Rose Petal Graves is a thoroughly enjoyable read and I'm already anticipating the sequel!

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New to My Shelves!

I haven't done one of these in a long, long time, but given that I went on a bit of a book buying spree this week? I figured it was time to start doing these again.

Zom-B Angels (Zom-B #4) by Darren Shan
Untold (The Lynburn Legacy #2) by Sarah Rees Brennan
Mystic City (Mystic City #1) by Theo Lawrence
Paradox by A.J. Paquette
How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey

I had a bit too much fun at the dollar store. I already have a massive "to-read" pile (or rather, piles) all over my room thanks to my various used book sale trips, but I couldn't help myself.

Received from Netgalley:
The Art of Living Other People's Lives by Greg Dybec
The Matchmaker's Replacement (Wingmen Inc. #2) by Rachel Van Dyken
The Ones (The Ones #1) by Daniel Sweren-Becker
Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
Rebel Genius by Michael Dante DiMartino
Black Rain by Matthew B.J. Delaney

I'm currently reading The Art of Living Other People's Lives and have already started The Ones. Both are pretty enjoyable so far.

What did you get this past week? Do you have any reading recommendations? Let me know in the comments below!

And keep an eye out. I plan to do a Book Depository giveaway next week.