Blogmas Book Review: The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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GoodReads Summary:
Told in alternating points of view from Chess, Emma, and Finn Greystone, Greystone Secrets #1: The Strangers is the beginning of a new page-turning adventure that examines assumptions about identity, family, and home, from the master of middle grade suspense.
What makes you you?
The Greystone kids thought they knew. Chess has always been the protector over his younger siblings, Emma loves math, and Finn does what Finn does best—acting silly and being adored. They’ve been a happy family, just the three of them and their mom.
But everything changes when reports of three kidnapped children—who share the same first and middle names, ages, and exact birth dates as the Greystone kids—reach the Greystone family. This bizarre coincidence makes them wonder: Who exactly are these strangers? Before Chess, Emma, and Finn can question their mom about it, she takes off on a mysterious work trip. But puzzling clues left behind lead to complex codes, hidden rooms, and a dangerous secret that will turn their world upside down.
The Strangers (Greystone Secrets, #1)Review:
The Strangers was such a fun and suspenseful story. I loved Haddix’s books when I was growing up so now that I’ve been starting to read middle-grade books again I had to get this when I saw it. I’m so glad that I did.
The Strangers was wholesome and bizarre in the best ways. I thought this was just going to be a fun mystery, which it was, but it took a turn toward science fiction that I was not expecting, but definitely loved.
I adored all three kids that we follow. Emma was smart and clever, but still very clearly loved her siblings and mom. Chess was the oldest and felt responsible for all the others, even though he really shouldn’t have all that weight on him. I liked Finn most of all. He was the youngest and always being underestimated. He played a role just as important as the others.
I loved how obvious their love for one another was. And their love for their mother fueled their mission. I also really enjoyed how they got Natalie in on helping them.
Overall, this book was an absolute delight. I really had fun reading it. The characters were easy to love. I definitely suggest this one to anyone that liked middle-grade books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Question of Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro

GoodReads Summary:
Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson think they’re finally in the clear. They’ve left Sherringford School—and the Moriartys—behind for a pre-college summer program at Oxford University. A chance to start from scratch and explore dating for the first time, while exploring a new city with all the freedom their program provides. But when they arrive, Charlotte is immediately drawn into a new case: a series of accidents have been befalling the members of the community theater troupe in Oxford, and now, on the eve of their production of Hamlet, they’re starting all over again. What once seemed like a comedy of errors is now a race to prevent the next tragedy—before Charlotte or Jamie is the next victim.
A Question of Holmes (Charlotte Holmes #4)Review:
A Question of Holmes is the final book in the Charlotte Holmes series. Part of me is really sad that this series has ended, and another part of me thought it was the perfect ending. This final book is told entirely from Charlotte’s perspective, which is something I wanted in the first two books. But in this one, I mostly just wanted to hear from Jamie again.
Charlotte had grown exponentially in this series. This final book is evidence of that. We see her trying to use the things she’s learned in therapy. She’s trying to not fall back into old habits, even though it would be so easy to do so. I really liked this new version of Charlotte. She’s always been really self-aware, but now was trying to get out of her self-destructive habits.
Jamie has also changed. We only see him from Charlotte’s point of view. But it’s still clear that he sees Charlotte for who she is. He no longer adores her without abandon. He still obviously loves her, but he also isn’t afraid to leave if she starts becoming self-destructive again. He knows she has flaws and encourages her to overcome them.
The mystery in this one was exactly what I was expecting the first book to be. It was a light-hearted, curious but mostly harmless mystery. It was not the life or death matter that the other books turned out to be. I really enjoyed that. The stakes were much lower for everyone involved. I liked that because while the high stakes made the story fast-paced and exciting in the previous books, I don’t think that would have been right for this final book.
Overall, I enjoyed this one so much. I’m still undecided on whether or not I love the ending. I liked it, but did I love it? I honestly don’t know. It wasn’t the happily ever after that I wanted, but I think maybe it’s what was best for Jamie and Charlotte. Not a solid ending, but hope for a better future for both of them. If you haven’t read this series, please stop what you’re doing and go read it now.

Quotes:

“Whatever Watson and I were to each other was our business, no matter how the world leaned in and breathed against the glass.”

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t love these moments—him looking at me like I had in my hands a curtain pull, that I could reveal the underbelly of the world.”

“A secret is something embarrassing. Something compromising, something with power. Secrets are what we make art from.”

“My past made me who I am. There is no way to wipe that clean.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

GoodReads Review:
It’s been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven’t spoken.
Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for.
Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex—and Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows her Watson can’t forgive her.
Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but when strange things start happening, it’s clear that someone wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time.
Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead.
The Case for Jamie (Charlotte Holmes, #3)Review:
The Case for Jamie is the third book in the Charlotte Holmes series. It’s also the first book where we get dual perspectives through the whole book. In this latest mystery, things are…worse than they were in the other books. Things kind of went out of control in the final pages of the last book, and we are seeing the aftermath of that in this book. Charlotte and Jamie are no longer partners in anything and have gone their separate ways.
Jamie is just trying to get back to school. Trying to get his grades up and play rugby and try to get into a good college. But his dad and Leander keep dragging him back into the mysteries. Jamie was a little annoying in parts of this book. He clearly needs some sort of help, but just doesn’t get it. He doesn’t communicate, with anyone. And his relationships suffer because of this.
The same sort of goes for Charlotte. I wanted more from her perspective in the previous two books, but once I got it, it kind of makes me dislike her. She, like Jamie, clearly has issues. But we also learn her backstory, which ended up making me not dislike her. I really liked getting to see her back story.
Leander was my favorite of all the characters. He’s funny and wise, and mostly always does the right thing. I wish Jamie and Charlotte had gone to him for help sooner.
The ending of this book, like the last one, was pretty wild. I seem to have the same issue as the last one though. We don’t get anything from Jamie’s point of view after all the drama goes down and I don’t like that. So much of what happens involves him and people he cares about, but we don’t get to see any of what he’s thinking about it all in the aftermath, which bugs me.
Overall, this was another mystery that I really enjoyed. I like that Charlotte and Jamie are so flawed. They’re realistic characters with hard, real-life issues. I liked all of their friends and family. This series is complex and dark. One that I definitely recommend.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund

GoodReads Summary:
It’s been more than 50 years since a tornado tore through a drive-in movie theater in tiny Mercer, Illinois, leaving dozens of teens — a whole generation of Mercerites — dead in its wake. So when another tornado touches down in the exact same spot on the anniversary of this small-town tragedy, the town is shaken. For Brenna Ortiz, Joshua Calloway, and Callie Keller, the apprehension is more than just a feeling. Though they seem to share nothing more than a struggle to belong, the teens’ paths continue to intersect, bringing them together when they least expect it, and perhaps, when they need it most. Both the living and the dead have secrets and unresolved problems, but they may be able to find peace and move forward–if only they work together.
We Speak in StormsReview:
We Speak in Storms was a book I picked up at the recommendation of Alana @ The Bookish Chick. I’m forever grateful for all of the book recommendations she sends my way. I loved this book. The cover pulls you in first, the colors of the storm contrasting with the colors in the field. I’m obsessed with this cover.
Then you open it up and the story sucks you right in. We follow three characters, the outsiders. Brenna is Latina in a small town that finds her too different. But her family considers her not Latina enough. She considers herself an in-between girl and hides herself among the other kids in her school that purposefully make themselves seem different. I really liked Brenna and her journey to accepting herself. Dot really helped Brenna see that she needed to embrace what makes her different and to get back to doing the things she loves.
Joshua was my favorite though. He’s a fat, queer kid that used to be bullied, but since coming out is more invisible than anything else. He has a mostly good relationship with his mom and sister and a not so good relationship with his stepdad. It was really heartwarming to see the changes in his confidence and the rest of his life with the help of Luke. I found Joshua and Luke’s interactions the ones I wanted more of. I didn’t think there was enough. Luke mostly just told him to not let anyone get him down.
Then, Callie. Her mom is dying and Callie might as well be dying too with the way she is acting. She doesn’t eat, doesn’t interact with her friends. She’s going through the motions in an attempt to not feel the huge emotions that revolve around knowing her mother will die soon. Enter Ellie. She’s a wise older woman that knows just how to help Callie deal with the loss she’s about to go through.
The way these visitors came back to mentor the three main characters was honestly so heartwarming. I loved the mystery at the beginning of the tornado and who these new people were. I loved Callie, Joshua, and Brenna coming together and forming an unlikely friendship. I loved the atmosphere of the small town they lived in. Their problems were huge and real. This was a book about the ‘different’ kids learning how to be happy with what made them different and I loved every page of it. There was a mystery and a little bit of spookiness and it was perfect.

Quotes:

“Did death scare him? Had he been afraid of how much he wanted to live?”

“Mistakes help us figure out who we are becoming.”

“It was comforting to think the universe was so big that Brenna could find a place where she didn’t have to wear her shell, where she didn’t have to perform, or shut off parts of herself.”

“There’s such sweetness is ordinary, in the calm before a storm.”

“But our stories, our coming out, they belong to us.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

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GoodReads Summary:
Watson and Holmes: A match made in disaster.
Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter-break reprieve after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But Charlotte isn’t the only Holmes with secrets, and the mood at her family’s Sussex estate is palpably tense. On top of everything else, Holmes and Watson could be becoming more than friends—but still, the darkness in Charlotte’s past is a wall between them.
A distraction arises soon enough because Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring. The game is afoot once again, and Charlotte is single-minded in her pursuit.
Their first stop? Berlin. Their first contact? August Moriarty (formerly Charlotte’s obsession, currently believed by most to be dead), whose powerful family has been ripping off famous paintings for the last hundred years. But as they follow the gritty underground scene in Berlin to glittering art houses in Prague, Holmes and Watson begin to realize that this is a much more complicated case than a disappearance. Much more dangerous, too.
What they learn might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.
The Last of August (Charlotte Holmes, #2)Review:
I am officially obsessed with this series. I don’t know why I waited so long to pick it up. I think part of me was worried it wasn’t going to live up to the hype, but it absolutely does. The Last August was just as good as the first book in the series.
I love Charlotte Holmes. She’s flawed and so utterly human. But she’s also highly trained and is always thinking about a hundred steps ahead. I love the way her mind works and I wish we got more chapters from her point of view. She is really just a fascinating character.
Then there’s Jamie, sweet, dear Jamie. I just adore him. He’s always got something to prove. That he doesn’t need Charlotte’s training or affection. That he’s better than August. I enjoyed seeing his relationship with his dad get better over the course of the book. He finds himself in need of advice regarding the quirks of the Holmes family member, which I thought was an interesting way for them to bond.
The mystery in this book. Phew, it was a doozy. The ending was confusing and I’m honestly still not totally sure what happened. Every time I thought one thing was going on, Charlotte proved me wrong, over and over.
Overall, this was a fast-paced thrill ride with characters who have depth and real problems. I love this series and I cannot wait to continue on to the third book. If you haven’t picked up this series, what are you waiting for?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Twenty-Three: Thriller TBR

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Hi, lovelies! Last week we talked mystery/thriller recommendations and today (even though the month is almost over) we will be talking about the books that fit these genres that have been living on my TBR shelves. These are all books I already own and just haven’t picked up yet, so let’s talk books!

The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

S.T.A.G.S by M.A. Bennett

A Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor

All The Rage by Courtney Summers

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

These are some of the books I’m hoping to get through and knock off my TBR list! I might have even read some of them already because I am prewriting this post, but we shall see what I get through when I post my October wrap up! Have you read any of these? Do you want to read any of these? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Blogtober Book Review: This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

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GoodReads Summary:
Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her Oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.
But suddenly there’s a fork in the road in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, and her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it. Why does he act like he knows her so well—too well—when she doesn’t know him at all?
Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending the chapter of another: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule, or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac.
Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.
This Darkness MineReview:
This Darkness Mine was interesting in the sense that I couldn’t put it down and read it in just a few hours. But…that doesn’t mean that it was good. I have loved every Mindy McGinnis book that I have read so far, until this one.
While the story was compelling, it was also kind of screwed up and I hated everything about it when I finished the final pages. I never really like Sasha at any point in the book. She was cocky and not in a good way. She clearly had issues. I also didn’t like how she was to her family. She was stuck up and I just generally didn’t like her.
The one person I did like was Issac. I liked that he was the ‘bad boy’ but he really wasn’t. There was so much more to him than that. I hated how Sasha treated him, like a piece of meat. I also mostly liked Sasha’s friends. Though I don’t even remember their names so they obviously weren’t memorable enough.
I’m going to keep this short because even though this book was a pretty wild ride, I just didn’t like it. It didn’t sit well with me. Sasha was crazy and not in a good way. I don’t like to use that word to describe people, but she was honestly kind of a sociopath and I ended up hating her. I’m unhauling this book and I’m hopefully never going to think about it again.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.