#BookReview : All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault #AllthePrettyThings #Mystery #Thriller @PRHGlobal #BooksTeacupnReviews

All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault
Publication Date : March 17th 2020
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Genre : YA / Mystery-Thriller
Pages: 352
Stars : ★★★☆☆

For fans of Sadie and The Cheerleaders comes an all new thriller about a boy who turns up dead under suspicious circumstances and the one girl who may be the key to solving the mystery of his untimely death.

For Ivy, summer means roller-coaster season, spinning cotton candy at the Fabuland amusement park, and hanging out with her best friend, Morgan. But this summer is different.

One morning, Morgan finds a dead body. It’s their former classmate and coworker Ethan. To make matters worse, Morgan is taken to a hospital psych ward only days later, and she’s not saying much–not even to Ivy.

The police claim that Ethan simply took a bad fall, but Ivy isn’t convinced and realizes it’s up to her to get answers. What she finds is unsettling–it’s clear that some people aren’t being honest about Ethan’s last night at Fabuland. Including Morgan. And the more secrets Ivy uncovers, the closer she gets to unraveling dark truths that will change her life forever. 

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

All the Pretty Things was YA small town mystery that revolved around Fabuland amusement park, Ethan’s death and reason behind Morgan’s silence. It was about workplace harassment, health risks at amusement park, motivated perception and ignorance.

Writing was easy, intriguing and good but not best. Setting of Fabuland- amusement park in small town, Danville was fabulous. Story was first person narrative from Ivy’s POV.

All the Pretty Things started with Ivy receiving news about her best friend- Morgan. She discovered dead body of coworker and classmate on her way to Fabuland. Soon they found Morgan but she wasn’t herself and was admitted in psych ward. She wouldn’t talk to anybody, not even to Ivy. She just vaguely pointed her questions about Ethan’s death. To find out what happened to Ethan and how it affected to Morgan, Ivy carried out her own investigation. And what she found out in process was disturbing that might change her life. The story was all about what was the mystery behind Ethan’s death and Morgan’s distressed state, Why she would shut out her best friend, and what Ivy discovered at the end.

Mystery behind Morgan’s state was clear. I could figure out what might have happened to her. Within few chapters I also could see who might have caused her distress. As for Ethan’s death that was tricky in first half but easy to figure in second half. First half was all about introduction of Fabuland, Ivy’s family, her friendship with Morgan, Fabuland employees who were mostly young high school students and Ivy’s class mates, her father’s nature and dreams, and mainly Ivy’s investigation. This part was a bit slow.

Characters were interesting but not in depth. We see the world and characters through Ivy’s eyes and we know them only with their connection to mysteries so it was really hard to know or connect with characters, even with Ivy. 

 Ivy was okay, she was mostly playing Nancy Drew and piping her thoughts on what she found out. I couldn’t exactly say if she liked working at Fabuland or not or if she was working their out of love for her father- It seemed like combination of all of these. I didn’t like her for judging her brother as he didn’t came back to work at Fabuland and for taking side with her father without knowing whole story. At one point she was developed for her age- responsible daughter and helping her father and other employees, while at some point she was naïve and saw the world and her family’s issue through what she perceived as child during her parents’ divorce. And I can’t imagine how she couldn’t see her father’s vulgar language and behavior. One thing I liked was her reaction to truths she discovered. It was realistic and her decision at the end was perfect.

Best part of the book was setting. Amusement park was described wonderfully. Roller coasters, carousel, spin rides, cotton candy, ice cream parlor, food zone, water rides, princess parade, and sparkly doughnuts- All The pretty Things were there at this park. And I loved new ideas in promoting the park, fun activities and giveaways. And beneath those pretty things there was darkness and shadiness that made the story atmospheric. I liked the way author represented workplace harassment and possible health risk and accidents at amusement park. Through Ethan’s story it was also shown importance of health assessment and parent permission for under age kid before giving them job.

In second half, Ivy not just solved mystery of Ethan and Morgan but also reason behind why her brother Jason wouldn’t join them this summer and never work for their father. Winnie’s story and revelation at climax was perfect. Loved Ivy’s development and the way she accepted her ignorance and took right step at the end. End was perfect. I loved that big revelation just before end, slight different from what I guessed but I enjoyed it.

Why 3 Stars-

It wasn’t exactly thriller. I would say it was more like cozy mystery with a bit darkness. Plus it was easy to predict who was culprit because there was only one person who behaved wrong and inappropriately.

Dialogues were not good. All conversations started with huh, uh-huh, umm…! I lost count how many times these words were used. It really made conversations dull.

As I said above in characters part, there was no feel or connection to characters. Book was first person narrative but I know and see everyone else except main character. Maybe because it was more plot driven but characters were important part so I was expecting to know them better, at least Ivy and Morgan.

Overall, All the Pretty Things was simple and quick read with had great setting and interesting plot but predictable and not exactly a thriller. If you want an easy mystery, love amusement park and mystery in it with a little creepy feel, go ahead.

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What do you think about the book? Have you read it already or any book by the same author? Have you read a book set in amusement park?

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New Waves by Kevin Nguyen #NewWaves #GeneralFiction @PRHGlobal #BooksTeacupnReviews

Publication Date : March 10th 2020
Publisher : Spiegel & Grau
Genre : General Fiction
Pages : 320
Stars : ★★★☆☆

Set in the New York City tech world, a wry and edgy debut novel about a heist gone wrong, a secret online life exposed, and a young man’s search for true connection….

Lucas and Margo are fed up. Margo is a brilliant programmer tired of being talked over as the company’s sole black employee, and while Lucas is one of many Asians at the firm, he’s nearly invisible as a low-paid customer service rep. Together, they decide to steal their tech start-up’s user database in an attempt at revenge. The heist takes a sudden turn when Margo dies in a car accident, and Lucas is left reeling, wondering what to do with their secret–and wondering whether her death really was an accident. When Lucas hacks into Margo’s computer looking for answers, he is drawn into her secret online life and realizes just how little he knew about his best friend.

With a fresh voice, biting humor, and piercing observations about human nature, Kevin Nguyen brings an insider’s knowledge of the tech industry to this imaginative novel. A pitch-perfect exploration of race and start-up culture, secrecy and surveillance, social media and friendship, New Waves asks: How well do we really know each other? And how do we form true intimacy and connection in a tech-obsessed world?

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

New Waves was general fiction that revolved around two friends Margo and Lucas, Lucas discovering more about Margo after her death, and coping with grief and loss. It was about technology and start up tech companies in 2000s, music, work and living in New York, and mainly friendship, loss and grief, racism at workplace and in society.

Writing was crisp and intriguing, both serious and witty at some point while trivial on another. It felt like I was reading documentary. Now from synopsis I guessed this might be a mystery, a techno thriller, (who tagged it mystery on Goodreads!) I thought Margo died because of data they stole or to keep Lucas safe or something. But that’s misleading. There is no mystery in this book, not anything like thriller. So don’t just get the book thinking you will have a mystery to solve. It is a pretty simple fiction about loss and grief and companionship.

New Waves was narrated from Lucas and Jill’s perspective. Both characters connected through Margo after her death. Lucas’ perspective told about how he met Margo, how they started working together, how he was coping after her death, how he met Jill and what they found in Margo’s laptop. Jill’s perspective showed her emotions, her writer’s block, her life before she met Margo and Lucas, what she talked to Margo, how she felt after Margo died, and what she thought about her and Lucas, how she found inspiration once again.

Characters were interesting and realistic but not exactly likable and were hard to connect. The plot and scenario actually made them interesting. The only interesting character died in first chapter.

Lucas didn’t have degree and still found job but didn’t appreciate it. He was aimless and passionless. Only thing he liked to do was chat with Margo, later sex with Jill, drink excessively, and wallow in loneliness and grief. I didn’t like his attitude and his mindset. I felt sorry for him that he had to face and experience racism at every level of his life. I know how it feels to be different from majority, not just in looks but in all other things but that doesn’t mean you hurt even those who cared for you or gave you opportunity. He messed in everything and with people who tried to help him and then turned all the failure in anger towards them. Most of the time he was boring character but some dry-wit scenario made him entertaining enough to keep reading.

Jill was full time author and was experiencing writer’s block. I liked her a little, she was at least better than Lucas. She had aim and goals, all she needed was inspiration and motivation that she received from Margo and after her death through her audio files. One thing I don’t understand about her is how she has money to waste on drinks if she claims to be broke?!

Her and Lucas’ relationship was okay. They lacked seriousness and love. They liked each other but it was not enough. At some point I thought, they might be together and help each other grow but they messed it too.

Margo was most interesting character. We know her from Lucas’ memories of her, from her chat with Jill and her audio files and all these three medium showed different side of Margo they weren’t aware of.

Lucas and Margo’s relationship showed what real friendship is and it takes whole life to know them and still there will be things about person that surprise you. You only know a person from what they share with you.

Grief isn’t just the act of coping with a loss. It’s reckoning with the realization that you’ll never discover something new about a person ever again.

I didn’t know the meaning of title until I read it in book and googled it – popular pop music in 1970s and 1980s. There was a lot about music, piracy and TV shows and characters’ thought on it was interesting.

There were many layers in this booktechnology and startup tech companies, misuse of internet and social media (This part was both serious and entertaining); Asian-American culture and discrimination they faced, gender inequality and companionship.

I loved some facts included in the book about face recognition technology and later its military funding (but here the year founded and its takeover was different. What I liked was Jill’s thoughts behind it. I don’t agree with her that the technology was racist in this but I agree the way government wanted to use it was racist), internet messaging that started in 2009, The longest record for running a marathon with the time of 54 years 246 days 5 hours 32 minutes 20.3 seconds (Lucas told whole story behind this longest record which was fascinating and real. What he was trying to say through it made me chuckle), and great Kanto earthquake (142,800 died in this earthquake, more than people died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, combined! I didn’t know that and I liked what characters said about it).

Climax was unexpected. I didn’t expect Lucas mess things this bad. I couldn’t understand what he wanted in life. Jill’s development was good and I liked how she finally moved on in life and with her dead project. I liked reading what happened to Lucas after he messed things and what he did at the end. That last chapter, last story and insight of it was great.

Why 3 stars-

Plot and pace was bumpy. I lost interest in the middle of the book. I didn’t care about characters until climax. Characters were not impressive and I didn’t like them.

Though I liked those audio files they felt disjointed with the main story. There was no character development until climax. Lucas’ development was not full even after climax. He grew but not totally. I still don’t like him.

I don’t know why Jill was given whole chapter (and I tell you chapters are long, there are total 8 chapters in this book) in the middle of the book telling about her ex and her life with him. I would have preferred her story short and in conversation with Lucas, there was no need to switch narration. Again second last chapters with 6 detailed weeks of Jill’s life was too much.

Overall, New Waves was different read than usual. Some things I like, some I didn’t but definitely very observant fiction. This can be hit or miss so read excerpt first.

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#BookReview : Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan @PRHGlobal #VeronaComics #LGBTQ #Contemporary #YA #Booksteacupnreviews

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Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan
Publication Date: April 21st 2020
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA / LGBTQ / Contemporary
Stars: ★★★★★

From the author of Hot Dog Girl comes a fresh and funny queer YA contemporary novel about two teens who fall in love in an indie comic book shop.

Jubilee has it all together. She’s an elite cellist, and when she’s not working in her stepmom’s indie comic shop, she’s prepping for the biggest audition of her life.

Ridley is barely holding it together. His parents own the biggest comic-store chain in the country, and Ridley can’t stop disappointing them—that is, when they’re even paying attention.

They meet one fateful night at a comic convention prom, and the two can’t help falling for each other. Too bad their parents are at each other’s throats every chance they get, making a relationship between them nearly impossible…unless they manage to keep it a secret.

Then again, the feud between their families may be the least of their problems. As Ridley’s anxiety spirals, Jubilee tries to help but finds her focus torn between her fast-approaching audition and their intensifying relationship. What if love can’t conquer all? What if each of them needs more than the other can give?

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

Verona Comics was cute and complicated YA, queer contemporary that revolved around Jubilee and Ridley. It was about anxiety disorder and mental health issue, dysfunctional family, love and complications, learning to love yourself and life, looking for a solution of problem rather than finding an exit door.

Writing was gripping and fast paced. At first it felt light hearted and cozy but as I read more that vibe turned so intense and heavy. If you are expecting lot of fun, humor and light YA romance just hold your thought here because it’s much more complicated with serious issues. Verona Comics was written from Jubilee and Ridley’s POV that provided clear view of total opposite life style, family and their views towards comic books business.

Plot was interesting. As synopsis said Jubilee and Ridley met at comic convention prom that Ridley’s dad’ company, Geekery, sponsored. Geekery had a reputation of destroying Indie comic shops and had an evil eye on Verona Comics ever since Verona laughed at Ridley’s dad’s offer. When they met at prom they didn’t know who their parents were but Ridley found out Jubilee was Verona’s step daughter and they hate Geekery. I knew it was going to be complicated but even Ridley agreeing to spy on Verona comic for his dad to please him to go back to his childhood home was shocking. I was curious to see where this will go from here, how Jubilee will find out about his real identity and what Ridley will do to come out of the mess he created.

Characters were interesting. I loved family dynamics and balance of family, friendship and romance. Jubilee’s family was great. Both her moms were supportive, loving and caring. Verona was the stepmother everybody would love. I didn’t like Ridley’s family. I blame them for everything happened in this book. But I liked his sister Gray. She was amazing from the very beginning.

There were so much diversity. Jubilee’s mom was bi and her stepmom, Verona, was lesbian. Both Jubilee and Ridley were bi, Jubilee’s friend Jayla was black and lesbian. I liked Jubilee for her non-label thoughts. She was bi but haven’t experimented it and didn’t care for a label and accepted who she was.

Jubilee was smart, overachiever student, and amazing cellist. Audition for scholarship to summer program to study with famous cello teacher was her dream. Her passion and dedication was admirable but at the same time I agreed with her both friends. She should have applied other camps and she should managed things normally like she did before Ridley entered her life. Her concerns and emotions were well written. As adult I didn’t agree the way she handled situation in climax but I can see and understand why she did that. I might have done the same at her age. Young love does that to us. Her decision later was fabulous. I liked her even more for it.

“I’m just saying, don’t let one moment define you. Because there are going to be a lot of moments till to come, no matter which way things shake out.”

Ridley was good person but he was struggling with many things. He had narcissist parents who didn’t love him as he wasn’t prodigy and stopped caring for him once they knew he was bi, had anxiety disorder and suffered with depression. My heart went to him, I wanted to snatch him away from those parents who not only were not helping him but also made him feel worthless. But at the same time I didn’t like him exactly for what he was doing from the beginning even though he knew it was wrong. When he spent more time with Jubilee I started to warm to him as it was helping him coping with his mental health and also for his wish to come out clean.  But climax changed it once again because he was asking a lot from Jubilee and was not even thinking about her family, he was being selfish. I exactly felt like Jubilee did, I liked him but at the same time I didn’t. I was so glad after climax things started to change for him and I was happy with his efforts.

“If my ride was music, then his is a symphony, and I don’t want it to stop.”

I loved how author showed young love and complications that comes with it, how course of life can be changed at any minute, one cannot have full control over life and most of all representation of anxiety disorder and panic attacks. How character suffering with mental health act and behave and what are their thought process, how difficult it’s for them in life and how they need more than just medications. Honestly I wasn’t expecting this heavy topic in the book so it was total surprise but I was glad to read author’s realistic approach with this topic.

Climax was tense. As I said I wasn’t happy with characters’ decision at this point and wanted to shake them out of whatever they were thinking so they could see what was coming. I swear my heartbeats stopped for a moment and I was dreading what happened next. But at the same time something good came out of it, they learned many things, it changed their life and developed stronger and healthier. I like the end. It was great.

I thought I will rate this 4 because I was not happy with characters’ decisions and I wasn’t happy with Ridley and what he did throughout the book but when I gave it some time, put myself in their situation, it felt so real and apposite. They were just 17. Who has wisdom and maturity about love, life, and relationships at this age! And let’s not forget mental health issue. So, yes, full star to this.

Overall, Verona Comics was realistic, deep, complicated, and heartwarming YA LGBTQ cotemporary romance. I highly recommend this to fans of this genre.

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The break up cover

#BookReview : The Break Up by Tilly Tennant #TheBreakUp @bookouture

The Break Up by Tilly Tennant
Publication Date: March 26th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Chick-Lit / Romance / Women’s Fiction
Pages: 315
Stars: ★★★★★

What happens when Mr Right goes rogue?

Lara doesn’t have a back-up plan. So when her safe-bet boyfriend Lucien dumps her for her best friend, Lara’s world implodes. Life after the break up stretches bleakly ahead, lonely evenings on the sofa with only a bottle of wine and her grey cat Fluffy for company…

Down the road, Theo loves his job as a jazz musician, giving other people great nights out before coming home in the early hours and unwinding with his loyal cat Satchmo.

What they don’t know is that it’s the same cat.

And when they find out, standing in the streets in their pyjamas, both on the hunt for their lost pet, sparks of the wrong sort fly.

Lara can’t deny that Theo is one of the most gorgeous men she’s ever met, but she can see exactly why he’s still single. They do say opposites attract… but is she ready to move on? And when Lucien comes back into the picture, will she be tempted back to her life before the break up, or risk everything on the chance of something new?

A wonderfully warm will-they-won’t-they romantic read that will have you laughing one minute and crying the next. If you’re a fan of Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews, The Break Up is the love story you’ve been waiting for.
Previously titled: A Cat Called Cupid 

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to publisher and NetGalley. ***

The Break Up was heartwarming chick lit, cozy romance and women’s fiction that revolved around Lara and life after heart break. It was about betrayal, working on your dream, coming out of heart break and finding closure of hurtful chapter in life, friendship, love, and pet love.

Writing was cozy, lovely and uplifting. Book was written in third person narrative from Lara perspective. It started with the Break Up (so this new title make sense), but it was not just that. After ego-centric, narcissist, Lucien dumped Lara, she found out he left her for her best friend which left Lara heart broken and alone.

Good thing, she didn’t wallow in misery because she found love and companion once again. Not in man, in cat called Fluffy that arrived to her on the very same fateful day to lift her spirit. She started her own business and year had been great with no time to think about heartbreak and man-less life.

But cats are like men. They love to roam around especially at night and go where they get food and cuddle. Fluffy was no different. When Lara was out in her Pajama to find Fluffy, she came across Theo looking for his cat, Satchmo. Turned out both were looking for same cat and that followed by arguments, disagreements, and finding middle solution to work together.  Lara found him handsome and attraction was undeniable. But was she really over her heartbreak, ready for another relationship? Can she trust Theo not breaking her heart? As soon as life was going on right track for Lara, Lucien came back in her path to destroy her life and confidence.

It was interesting to find out who will keep the cat in question, if second chance at love would be lucky and what she will do about Lucien.

Lara was, without a second thought, my favorite character. She was sensible, developed, kind, compassionate, and lovely person. The way she treated her cat, her mother, her one and only employee- Betsy, and clients spoke the volume. She loved with full heart and that’s why it was just so sad to read her heartbreak and I could see why it was so hard for her to come out of it.  She needed closer, to come out of it fully and when that moment came I admired her even more.

Her friendship with Betsy was wonderful. I so wish I could work under such employer. Working hours, amiable tone and treatment, crying shoulder and helping person when in need… Who gets such employer! Honestly, I’m jealous even though I don’t have job.

I even loved her love for her cat. My mom’s cat (partially mine, whenever I’m there) is so like Fluffy. Only thing different is he doesn’t sleep at anybody’s house. But like Fluffy he loves to roam, his freedom, treats and yes he loves variety in his food. I could understand Lara’s worry, what it’s like when cat is lost more than a day, how it feels when it gets hurt.

When it comes to Theo. I liked him but I guess he was bit idiot too! How can he believe in rumors and then question Lara even when she needed understanding and support. I sided with Lara when she gave him hard time. He deserved what he got. His cocky and arrogant exterior made it hard for Lara and me to warm to him, initially. But I’m also glad he wasn’t like Lucien or any men. He was caring, kind and decent guy. At the end he made it hard not to like him.

I enjoyed reading Lara’s dedication towards her business, Places she visited for her wedding services, all sort of clients she dealt with and moreover perks of working from home office set in her own garden. I so wish I could carry my laptop and kindle over there while reading this book. It is different thing blogging is not job but girl can dream, right?

Lara and Theo’s hate-to-Love relationship was entertaining. They both disliked and somewhat hated each other. Every time they met there was arguments and disagreements over the cat, each wanting to take their cat back for good. Attraction was there from the beginning, but both were too pride to admit it until one had to swallow it and other had to be good and kind. I liked how it progressed. It was not usual, like they went on date or something but chemistry was there until that douchebag Lucien stuck his nose in. My goodness, he was do obnoxious. I just couldn’t fathom how Lara could have dated him in the first place!

Climax was sad. It broke my heart seeing Lara heartbroken once again and felt new found admiration for all she did for Betsy and the way move ahead in life. I thought she would lose everything but that wasn’t the case. I’m still shocked and thinking how can her ex-best friend could be so blind and naïve.

The tension near end was palpable and I feared the worst but happy ending was inevitable like all chick lits. I loved how things turned out and I could see why it was title ‘Cat Called Cupid’ first. I still think that title was better.

Overall it was lovely, refreshing and cozy chick lit, part romance and women’s fiction. I highly recommend this book to cat lovers and fans of this genre and those who loves pretty covers. Isn’t it absolutely eye-catching?

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Are you going to add it to TBR?
Are cat lover or dog lover? or both?


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Rewritten cover

#BookReview : Rewritten (Unwritten #2) by Tara Gilboy #Rewritten #Fantasy #MiddleGrade @JollyFishPress


Rewritten (Unwritten #2) by Tara Gilboy
Expected publication Date: April 7th 2020
Publisher: North Star Editions/Jolly Fish Press
Genre: Middle Grade / Fantasy
Stars: ★★★★★

“After learning the truth about her own fairy tale, twelve-year-old Gracie wants nothing more than to move past the terrible things author Gertrude Winters wrote about her and begin a new chapter in the real world. If only things were going as planned. On the run from the evil Queen Cassandra, the characters from Gracie’s story have all been forced to start over, but some of them cannot forget Gracie’s checkered past.

Even worse, Gracie discovers that as long as Cassandra has her magical book, the Vademecum, Gracie’s story is still being written and none of the characters are safe, including her mom and dad. In a desperate attempt to set things right, Gracie finds herself transported into another one of Gertrude’s stories—but this one is a horror story. Can Gracie face her destiny and the wild beast roaming the night, to rewrite her own story?”

*** Note: I received e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Publisher and NetGalley. ***

Previous book I read in series-

Rewritten was strong sequel of Middle Grade Fantasy series Unwritten. It revolved around story characters and author of the story who created them and gave them life. It was about forgiveness, accepting the way you’re, being yourself, freedom to live your dream, consequences of restraints and lack of appreciation, and good vs bad.

Writing was intriguing, compelling and fast paced. All characters, setting and plot was well written and well described. I didn’t remember most of the things from first book because of 2 years gap between books but there was bits of first book here and there that helped me to recall important details. To know characters, their journey and world better, this should be read in order.

Plot was interesting. It was third person narrative from Gracie’s perspective. That synopsis perfectly said what was going on and how the book started so I’m not repeating those things.

First half of the book (actually 40% of the book) was about Gracie’s feelings, her frustration and desperation to prove herself; her life with all characters from her story along with her story’s writer and creator Gertrude Winters; how she discovered other stories written by Gertrude and why she wrote them; how evil Queen Cassandra of her story came back in her life; some interesting and most important discoveries about the magical book- Vademecum- how it was still writing Gracie’s story and was creating portal to other stories. And why and how Gracie entered one of Gertrude’s stories, The Beast of Blackwood Hall, where terrifying beast roamed at night and its ending was even worse than her story.  

It was interesting to see how Gracie will save Walter in this horror story, if she can get away from Cassandra or steal Vademecum from her, how she and Walter will escape this horror story world or if something terrible will happen.

Characters were interesting. It was good to meet old characters once again but this time they were well written. Gracie was still grumpy, impulsive and stubborn girl in the beginning. Her feeling was genuine. Other characters looked at her like she was a trigger that might explode a bomb any time, bound to do something bad as she was a villain of her story… even though she changed the end of her story and saved characters. She was desperate to prove she was not what Gertrude has written. As story progressed she developed eventually.

I didn’t like the way Walter’s parents talked to Gracie. They were also spiteful towards Gertrude and banned her from writing any kind of fiction. It was not fair when they tried to blame her on discovering her past stories and forced her to throw them. Shouldn’t they be more mature and little forgiving after what she did for them? If I was in place of Gertrude, I would have thrown them out of my house. They made me think if I ever become writer and my stories came alive, I better write happy ending and pleasant character.

I really felt bad for Gertrude. Gertrude was expressing her guilt and feeling by letting them in her life and house. It was not her fault her story literally came to life or mean to hurt people in stories. I liked to know her and her life story in this book. It explained why she wrote such tragic stories and why characters of Bondoff only could travel to real world and not any of her other stories. This cleared many things that I couldn’t get in first book. She was wonderful character, she understood Gracie more and helped her grow by letting her know about her own faults and stories.

Story still focused on Gracie but I liked how her development depended on new characters Bryant and Mina and their story in The Beast of Blackwood Hall, which was rest of the book. This part was filled with Victorian horror world- the graveyard, old mansion, cold weather, Blackwood Hall, and beast. It all gave the story spooky feel. I loved Mina but didn’t like her brother Bryant. I could understand Gertrude’s mind and pain through this story.

We know Walter even more in this part. He was nerdy kid who unlike his parents liked story world and Gracie. His character was not explored much in first book but along with Gracie, we also learn about his feeling. How terrible he felt being under his parent’s watch all the time, for being hapless character of the story who didn’t contribute much and how he too wanted to feel important by changing the end of the horror story.

I liked the message in the book– How criticism from people you love affects your dream and make you feel shackled; respecting other’s privacy is important and some mistakes are less forgivable but at the same time all deserves second chance; how people are complicated and act based on situation, they can’t be boxed in just good or bad, bad behavior doesn’t mean person is bad or bad choice or act doesn’t mean you can’t ever be good.

Suspense of the beast was interesting. I could solve the half mystery by that first line Gracie remembered but what happened in the climax and later was uncertain. At some point I thought Gracie was going to get in so much trouble and wouldn’t able to get out of it. Walter shocked me more than anything else in this part. I was glad for the change of events and how Gracie understood to accept what she was rather than running away from it and got motive in life through this story. End was great. I can’t wait to see how she was going to change Lila’s story.

Overall, it was wonderful fantasy set in story world with a good message. I sure recommend this book and previous one to middle grade readers.

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Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and my review?
Have you read this book already or previous book in series?
Are you going to add it to TBR?
Which is your favorite book in which characters could travel through portals?


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