Review// House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy & Mystery/ Thriller
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Book Length: 304
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Review: 5/5

My Review:

One of the most hauntingly beautiful books I’ve ever read.

On one New Year’s Eve ten years ago, three young sisters – Grey, Vivi, and Iris – were on a walk in Edinburgh, with their parents trailing behind them. For a split second, their parents turned to each other to share a midnight kiss, and when they looked up ahead, their children were gone. A month later, the children were found standing on that same road, naked, each with matching half moon scars at their throats, their dark hair turned white, and none of them remembering how they got there. Except, maybe one of the sisters does remember, and now that a masked man is starting to appear everywhere, seemingly after them all, continuing to live the lie means the difference between life and death. 

What initially drew me in was the cover – I mean, just look at it. As I started reading though, I realized that what’s inside is even more awe inspiring. The characters!! The setting!! The mystery!! The unraveling of secrets!! It was all so good. The book gave me witchy, fairytale vibes, and I loved it. There were a few parts that were pretty gorey, and actually spooked me out, but it was nothing too intense. It was creepy but beautiful at the same time, and I’m so impressed with how the two opposites were portrayed so well together.  

I think it ended perfectly because it could be good as a standalone, but also has a perfect segue into a second book if the author chooses. I could definitely go for a House of Hollow sequel, so I’m going to hold out the hope that there’s another book because I couldn’t get enough of this!

– Catherine

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Review// A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

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Author: Holly Jackson
Series: A Good Girl's Guide to Murder #1
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller
Release Date: May 2, 2019
Book Length: 433
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Review: 5/5

My Review:

This book is the poster child for the phrase, “just one more chapter” – I could not put it down. It was like Pretty Little Liars, with all the drama and secrets, meets the narrative style of Sadie, with interviews woven in between chapters, and I loved its mixed-media style.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is about a high school student named Pippa who chooses for her senior Capstone project to be about the media’s influence on criminal investigations. Turns out, this topic is inspired by a murder investigation that happened in her small town 5 years prior of a girl named Andie Bell who attended the same high school. Andie’s case is closed, as the police believe they had enough evidence to convict Andie’s boyfriend, Sal, who had killed himself shortly after the investigation opened. But Pippa isn’t so sure that Sal killed Andie, and she’s going to use her project to prove it.

I can honestly say that this thriller was thrilling . Even though the answers were kind of right under my nose, I still was not 100% sure of anything until the end when things were revealed. I think what most impressed me is that even when the reader has the ‘aha moment’ of what happened, there is still a huge twist attached to it that makes you want to find out more!

Pippa as the main character was amazing; I absolutely adored her. I also loved Ravi, Sal’s brother, and them two as a duo, trying to solve the mystery together. From the beginning, I liked that they were always a bit flirty, but their attraction to each other never overpowered the story. I hate when books try to steer away from the main plot with a love story, and I’m so glad that didn’t happen here.

If I had one criticism of this story, it would be that as I was reading, I sometimes thought that a few things that led Pippa forward in her investigation were a bit coincidental, but when I really thought about it, if things were not a little bit coincidental sometimes, mystery books would simply not exist, and I’m so glad this one does.

Please pick this book up if you are into the mystery/thriller genre; it may just be the best one from it I’ve ever read. 

– Catherine

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Review// Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

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Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Shadow & Bone Trilogy #2
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Book Length: 448
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review: 3/5

Warning: This review may contain spoilers.

I’m going to be honest here, I felt a little disappointed with this! It just didn’t feel like that much happened, and what did happen, I wasn’t super excited about.

First, the good:

Nikolai was a very fun addition to this book; without him in it, I think I would have to knock my rating down a star – he was that impactful. His character has the perfect amount of charm and sarcasm, I love it. Other then him, it’s really hard to think of something else I loved. I guess I liked that the world building got better, but it was in such a subtle way in my opinion that I don’t know if it warrants making it to my ‘good’ list.

Now, the not so good:

Okay the plot… what even happened in this book – I don’t know if I can name 5 interesting things? The beginning was exciting, and the ending was a whirlwind, but the middle consisted of a whole lot of nothing.

Oh wait, it did consist of something: Mal being jealous and possessive of Alina. I’m trying to like Mal so badly, but their relationship doesn’t make sense to me! I find it so random because Alina apparently liked him for years, but now he is noticing her all of a sudden and is being really possessive over their relationship. Wasn’t she also described as ‘plain’ in the beginning? So tell me why Mal likes her now if he’s known her most of their lives? Not to mention, after all his whining about how he thinks he’s going to lose her to the Darkling, he goes and kisses Zoya? Facepalm, honestly. How am I supposed to root for a guy like that?! I would actually prefer if Mal got with Zoya instead, because then I wouldn’t have to hear him being so possessive about Alina anymore.

Speaking of the Darkling though, he was barely in this book. I’m sure that was done for a reason, but he’s part of the reason I liked the last book so much, so him not being in this one too much made it meh for me. Genya also barely made it into this book, and that’s another thing I liked about the last.

Notice how I’m mentioning side characters before I mention Alina? That’s because I feel like she is such a boring main character! I don’t dislike her, but I also don’t feel anything for her, she’s just sort of there. I think if I felt more strongly about her, it wouldn’t have mattered if all the missing characters were there more or not. I don’t know, I just feel like she’s replaceable, and it’s not how I prefer to view the main character of a book I want to love.

We’ll see what happens in the next book – here’s to hoping this one was on the more boring side because it’s supposed to set the stage for an amazing finale.

-Catherine


Review// Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Shadow & Bone Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Book Length: 358
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.

My Review:

I LOVED this book; my only regret with it is that I slept on Leigh Bardugo for so long!

I’m not even gonna lie, a huge reason why I didn’t pick this up sooner is because I think the original cover is ugly (yes, I judge books by their cover; sue me) but wow, I’ve been missing out.

I know not all of the Russian aspects of this book are 100% accurate, but I actually loved doing supplementary research into some of the things I found interesting and getting to learn more about Russian culture that way. I would describe this as a Russian-inspired mythology, and I thought it was so cool.

While I like Alina, I hate that she feels like she needs Mal every second in order to be somebody. Usually it would bother me more that I didn’t love the main character that much, but in this case it didn’t for some reason. I think because I loved how she interacted with Genya and the Darkling – who are also big parts of the book – that it didn’t really matter.

Of course, I’m also that person who still ships Darklina even though he’s evil – sorry, Mal, you’re nice but you’re boring! I can’t wait to see how the trilogy plays out in the other 2 books, and what transpires between the Darkling and Alina; I really hope there’s something.

– Catherine

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Review// Sadie by Courtney Summers

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Author: Courtney Summers
Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult / Mystery
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Length: 308
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Review: 4/5

My Review:

‘How do you forgive the people who are supposed to protect you? Sometimes I don’t know what I miss more; everything I’ve lost or everything I never had.’

Best audiobook I’ve ever read, and I think it would be best read in audio format because it is told like a podcast with a full cast of characters, as well as through Sadie’s perspective and it switches between the two. These characters tell the story of a missing girl, Sadie, set on a mission to bring justice for her little sister’s death by their mother’s ex-boyfriend. I also really love the cover a lot; I think it’s so beautiful.

It was such an emotional read with so many grief-stricken characters; it’s hard not to feel for them. I liked how it went back and forth between the podcast about finding out what happened to missing Sadie, and Sadie’s first hand account of events as they happened – I really liked the contrast and it was so suspenseful when the podcast host, West, found more leads that got him warmer and warmer to the truth.

However, with that said, the one thing I was a bit iffy about was West. He felt a little bit one dimensional, like there was something off about him but I can’t even pinpoint what exactly it was. In addition, the open-ended conclusion felt a bit frustrating! Then again, a lot of real stories like this unfortunately don’t have clear, solved endings, so maybe the author was trying to pack a bigger punch by leaving it up to the interpretation of the reader. I’m not sure, but I still wish it had ended differently.

Overall, I’m really glad I finally got to read this, and I will be thinking about the story for a long time.

– Catherine

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