Happy Wednesday everyone! If you’re in the US, I’m definitely feeling the anticipation of Election Day which is still going on. I hope that no matter what, you all voted and feel good about voting and that you’re staying safe! Today I’m finally coming back to catch up on more books I’ve read/listened to recently. These aren’t in the order that I read them, just the 5 most recent books to review all at once 🙂

 

49397758Title: Grown

Author: Tiffany D. Jackson

Genre: YA Thriller/Contemporary/Mystery

Release Date: September 15th 2020 from Katherine Tegen Books

Format: Library audio book

Narrator: Joniece Abbott-Pratt

Listening Time: 8 hours, 18 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis: Korey Fields is dead.

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields?

All signs point to Enchanted.

I was really looking forward to this book since it was being talked about on Twitter and Booktube channels. Even though this is kinda inspired by the R. Kelly cases, the author brings the horrible reality of how Black women aren’t believed in situations like this. They’re sometimes taken advantage of, abused and feel like they don’t have a voice. There’s also the reality of how older men have younger girlfriends and this is a book that shows the awful side of that. Personally, I knew girls my age that had much older boyfriends and they were not good fits for my friends. I never liked the boyfriends and sadly, I don’t know the outcome of those friends. This book hits HARD and frankly, I really think this book needs to be read in high schools and be books that parents read and discuss with their kids. I don’t want stories like Enchanted’s to happen. But I will say that Tiffany D. Jackson doesn’t pull punches; her words sear you to the soul.

The first thing I loved about this book was the narrator! This was my first audio book by Joniece Abbot-Pratt and she’s incredible! She brings the darkness, anger, fear and innocence to this story. She pulls you into the story immediately and she becomes both Enchanted and Korey. I cannot wait to listen to more audio books by this narrator. I know she did narrate books like Raybearer and Legendborn so I hope to get those on audio books. So if you’re into audio books and been wanting to try this book, the audio book is a fantastic option.

The next thing that I loved is how Jackson creates tension in this story. While Enchanted is excited both that a huge celebrity like Korey Fields is paying attention to her but also that she has a chance to have a music career. I liked the music references and seeing how passionate that Enchanted is about her dream. But after a few incidents of seeing Korey’s manipulation and rage, Enchanted notices the red flags. She has moments where she knows that she’s not safe and wants to get out. But she’s also conflicted because of how Korey has manipulated her to fall in love with him. You completely see how he locks her in her room, hits her, threatens her, doesn’t let her parents see her and so on. He is NOT a good person! He is a skilled predator who knows what he’s doing. The tension is real with the “now” chapters after Korey is dead and finding out what happened, along with the “then” chapters that lead up to Korey’s death.

But I will say that there were a couple of things that prevented me from giving this a higher rating. The first thing, which could just a preference for me, but I didn’t completely love how Enchanted’s parents approached the Korey situation at first. Their daughter is 17 but she clearly reads like a 14 year old to me. I think one of them should’ve gone on tour with her since she was a minor. The fact that they allowed Korey’s assistant to be a temporary legal guardian, someone they don’t even know, kinda boggled my mind. They love their daughter and you see that, but they were too willing to let her go and that didn’t sit well with me. The other thing was what I had just mentioned was Enchanted herself. She does read like a 14 year old, given her real innocent nature. She didn’t seem like a 17 year old to me. I also think her obsession with Disney movies much stronger than music which I thought was a bit of an odd choice. It’s fine with liking something but with how she has her dream of being a singer, the Disney obsession seemed more prominent and that was odd to me. The final thing is that there is a minor sub plot with a side character that seemed completely out of left field. I don’t want to spoil it but I will say that this minor sub plot really distracted the story and should’ve been cut to make the story tighter.

Overall: This book is very important and young girls need to read this to see how to make sure you use your voice if you’re ever in a bad situation, as well as showing the cycle of abuse. This author put so much of herself into this book and it shows. It’s tension filled, horrifyingly realistic and very well written. I will try more books from this author. Plus the audio book was perfect. In regards to the ending, I liked it but wish a couple things were a bit more definitive. But that’s just me. I did have some cons about it but overall, this was a tough but necessary read. I will also link a few own voices reviews from Goodreads that you should totally check out!

Rating: .5 stars

 

Bang Bang Books Goodreads review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3352320866?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1

Olivia Goodreads review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3473885522?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1

 

♦♦♦♦♦♦

 

43319657Title: Tunnel of Bones (Cassidy Blake #2)

Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: Middle Grade horror/Paranormal

Release Date: September 3rd 2019 from Scholastic Press

Format: Library audio book

Narrator: Reba Buhr

Listening Time: 5 hours, 5 mins

 

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis: Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.

I finally got around to this sequel! I really liked the first book City of Ghosts last year! It was a great surprise for me and I loved how we explored haunted Scotland. Also this was the perfect book to listen to right before Halloween. The cover is also a PERFECT Halloween book cover as well. But sadly I didn’t love this book as much as the first one. This will be a short review since I don’t have a lot to say about this sequel. I am bummed that this wasn’t a fantastic sequel but it was a lighter Halloween read that helped satisfying the spooky itch for me.

The things I did like were the narration, Jacob as a character, the Catacombs as a haunted site and the ending that will set up the third book. Reba Buhr continues to be a fantastic narrator of this story, offering great French, American and English accents for the various characters. Her narration helped me finish this book and I will continue to listen to the series via audio book. Then, I do like that the Catacombs was the main haunted setting in this book. The Paris catacombs is a place I’ve always been fascinated by and it’s a place I would love to visit due to the history and of course how scary it looks. The feeling of easily getting lost and darkness felt very true to other books I’ve read that have this setting.

Then, we do learn more about Jacob and I really like him. His friendship with Cassidy is sweet and I’m glad we got more development of him and possible foreshadowing for later books. I actually like him more than Cassidy. His humor and personality makes him more compelling than Cassidy so I’m glad he’s continued to be an important presence in the book. Then finally, there was a hint of something to come in later books that I really enjoyed. I think this small event at the end could be the set up for the third one which is slated for next year. I do appreciate how this series is evolving naturally and offering interesting tidbits to keep the overall arc fresh and fun.

But I do think this sequel was boring in a few ways. With Paris being the new setting, we don’t explore a lot of the haunted sites or history of this country like we did in Scotland. While Paris has more well known tidbits of history like the Catacombs, Cassidy’s parents didn’t travel to many haunted places and we don’t learn a lot about the country itself. I’m not sure why but this plot was very thinly stretched since there aren’t a ton of various haunted locations. Plus, the “villain” of this story is a more flat villain compared to the first one. It took a long time to discover who this villain was and while the way the villain is dealt was well done, the villain wasn’t that scary nor the stakes fell flat once the villain’s identity was revealed.

Overall: This was a disappointing book compared to the first one but these books are short and easy to get through. I do like the characters and the overall idea of Cassidy’s parents traveling around the world to do their ghost hunter TV show. This one was just too boring and the stakes that were established in the first half fizzled out by the end for me. But the ending offered a possibly darker storyline for the third book so I am excited to listen to the series as they come out. But this didn’t wow me.

Rating:

 

♦♦♦♦♦♦

 

4266746344059084

Titles: Space Boy volumes 4 & 5

Author: Stephen McCranie

Genre: YA Comic/Graphic Novel/Sci-fi/Coming of Age

Release Dates: July 9th 2019 (volume 4) and November 5th 2019 (volume 5)

Format: Library physical books

 

Synopsis: Since I have read volumes 4 and 5 of a graphic novel series, I want to avoid spoilers. You can read my review for volume 1 right here if you’re interested in this series. But this a sci-fi coming of age that follows Amy. Amy sees that everyone has a flavor attached to them. She and her parents live in a deep space mining colony. But when her family has to move to Earth, they are cryogenically frozen for 30 years, so when Amy starts high school on Earth, she’s very out of touch. But then she meets a white haired boy named Oliver who doesn’t have a flavor. He is very mysterious and doesn’t have any friends. Amy is drawn to him and tries to be his friend. But there’s more to Oliver’s mystery than Amy ever thought.

These volumes were great! This is a cute and heartfelt story with how Amy tries her hardest to make friends and belong. This Earth has completely embraced AR technology and Amy is an honest sweet girl. These volumes bring pieces of Oliver’s mystery to light and I really like where the direction of Oliver’s story is going. Despite being threatened and followed, Amy refuses to give up on Oliver. Also her group of high school friends are changing as well, possibly for good. I this is a light but heartfelt series to marathon if you  need something light and fluffy but goes deep enough to make you care about the characters from volume 1. Volume 5 left me on kind of an unexpected cliffhanger so I’m excited to get caught up on the series soon.

Rating: 4 stars (volume 4) and 5 stars (volume 5)

 

♦♦♦♦♦♦

 

44025159. sx318 Title: The Way of the House Husband Vol. 2

Author: Kōsuke Ōno

Genre: Manga/Graphic Novel/Humor

Release Date: January 21st 2020 (English version)

Format: Library manga (now returned)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: This is a manga about a man who was dubbed “The Immortal Dragon” and was a feared yakuza member. But now he’s turned from that business to be a house husband! He cooks, cleans, organizes the home and does all the stuff while his wife works. Each volume shares his random adventures, as many gang members still seek to take him out with him being so feared.

I needed this volume so much! I read it in a couple sittings when I had to work all day. If you want to read my review for the first volume, it’s right here in case you’re not familiar with this manga. So far, only 4 volumes have been released in English. But these stories in volume 2 are SO MUCH funnier than the first volume! From exercise classes, a little extra manga about his cat and others, this had me laughing at every single story. The humor always hits home for me; the characters are unique and they have their distinct personality and voice. These stories must’ve been well thought out, since they’re always executed and well balanced. I love how Tatsu is SO husband material with how he cares for his wife but his old ways do make him awkward. THIS NEEDS TO BE AN ANIME so bad! It would really help find even more people to love it. If you love funny situations and a twist on a bad guy turned good trope, this is such a funny series. If you need something humorous to read, get this if you can find it 🙂

Rating:

 

What have you finished reading lately? Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!