#BookReview : Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust #GirlSerpentThorn @HodderBooks

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Expected publication : July 7th 2020
Publisher : Flatiron Books
Genre : Fantasy
Pages : 336

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

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

Girl, Serpent, Thorn was amazing fantasy based on Persian mythology that revolved around cursed princess and her efforts of trying to free herself from curse. It was about good vs evil, choices and its consequences, accepting flaws than fearing it, finding beauty in imperfections, family, loyalty, love, and betrayal.

Writing was flawless, compelling and magical. It was written in third person narrative told from Soraya’s perspective. There was fabulous world building, interesting and mysterious character and gradual character development with a little bit romance.

Stories always begin the same way: There was and there was not. There is possibility in those words, the chance for hope or despair.


As soon as I started reading this book, I knew I’m going to like this. The beginning was fantastic. A mother telling her daughter a story about a girl how she was cursed by a demon and birthed a princess with poison in her blood, a curse, whoever she touch will die. But it was not just story but reality of Soraya. Approaching marriage of her brother, a demon imprisoned in dungeon who might help in finding answers about her curse, and a boy who was not afraid of her curse, ready to help and understood her more than her family, put her in situation she never imagined she would found herself in and couldn’t come out of it without putting her family in danger. Her one question started a untoward chain reaction. It was interesting find out who was that boy, if demon will help her or not, how she would free herself from curse and save her family.

I loved this concept of girl alone in her room and garden craving for touch and love, deceived by a demon and found help from another demon to right the wrong she did, and save her family. Cover and title was perfect and made more sense after reading the book.

Lot of things happened in first half that described world, Soraya’s story, about her family and Golvahar, lies she discovered and range of emotions she felt in trying to get rid of her curse. Some things I could see coming like- Demon in prison was mysterious, she was keeping some secrets but I could see spark of relationship between them which we don’t see igniting until second half of the book. And mainly I knew, that new boy looked too good to be true. Something was off about him, no matter how convenient he sounded, and I feared for Soraya. I knew she was putting her faith in wrong place but I was curious to see what that boy wanted and when he would show his true color. When he did, I must say I was surprised. I didn’t expect what was revealed and I was not sure what would happen next. Second half was all about Soraya’s development, her conflicts, knowing love for first time, and many twists and turns.

Soraya was great. Usually when heroine shows weakness and self-doubt in half of the book, I get frustrated but here it felt right and real. Even though she was most powerful in realm, most deadly person, she felt low and fearful. She didn’t see her curse as untouchable power but a poison, and she feared for herself, for her family and people who might come near her. Her fear made her weak, small, and yielding. But hope of getting rid of this poison, crave for human touch, companionship, happiness and her family’s love was too strong that made her want to change that about her. When she faced worst consequences of her wish and choices, we see how misguided she was. I felt for her at this point. I couldn’t help but put myself in her situation and from what she discovered, her actions made sense. Her intentions were selfish but felt genuine. I loved the way she learned her lessons, kept fighting for her family even though she heard worst things from them for her mistakes, and how she found a way to make things right. Her guilt, anger, self-doubt, determination, a new experience of touch and love, it was all written perfectly.

“I’m not afraid of you,” Soraya whispered. Parvaneh’s eyes sparkled, not with usual mockery, but with something like hunger. “Of course not,” Pervaneh said. “You could kill me with a single touch. Why should you ever be afraid of anyone?” She peered closed, tilting her head. “No, it’s only yourself that you fear.”

All secondary characters specially Azad and Parvaneh were interesting and mysterious. I couldn’t tell whom should I trust and whom should not until second half of the book. They were all keeping secrets, told lies and will betray to achieve what they wanted.

World was best part of the book. All elements were well explored. There were maze of secret passages of Golvahar palace and Soraya’s beautiful rose garden, Persian terminology, different types of demons, their appearance and power, legends and stories, mythical creature, and spellbinding forest and mountain of demons. It was fascinating to read how author created world inspired by ancient Persia and its folklore. It all made more sense in author’s note.

F/F relationship was lovely in second half. It was for a short while but worked as breather in this tense and fast paced plot. Trust issues along with tension to save family made it interesting to see how they will confess their feelings to each other and when that moment came, I couldn’t help but smile ear to ear.

Climax was brilliant. With a surprising discovery, an emotional twist, and tense situation that left me without any hope. Even one last effort by Soraya didn’t work but then that magical effect and all that happened till the end was amazingly thrilling and exhilarating. End was perfect. My only complaint was I didn’t want it to end. I want more stories in this world.

Overall,

Girl, Serpent, Thorn was fast pace and fabulous #fantasy with magical world based on #PersianMythology, and mysterious and interesting characters.

Books Links : Goodreads Amazon

Affiliate Link : Book Depository


I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about my review and this book, if you have read it already or are you going to add it to TBR. Which different mythologies have you read in books so far?

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#BookReview : Say Yes Summer by Lindsey Roth Culli @PRHGlobal #SayYesSummer #YA #Contemporary

Say Yes Summer by Lindsey Roth Culli
Publication Date : May 12th 2020
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Genre : YA Contemporary
Pages : 256

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Netflix/Hallmark Channel rom-coms, this is the story of a girl who decides to give in to the universe and just say yes to everything, bringing her friendship, new experiences, and, if she lets her guard down, true love.

The perfect book to kick off summer! For as long as Rachel Brooks can remember, she’s had capital-G Goals: straight As, academic scholarship, college of her dreams. And it’s all paid off–after years of following the rules and acing every exam, Rachel is graduating at the top of her class and ready to celebrate by . . . doing absolutely nothing. Because Rachel Brooks has spent most of high school saying no. No to dances, no to parties, and most especially, no to boys.

Now, for the first time in her life, there’s nothing stopping Rachel from having a little fun–nothing, that is, except herself. So when she stumbles on a beat up old self-help book–A SEASON OF YES!–a crazy idea pops into her head: What if she just said yes to . . . everything?

And so begins a summer of yes. Yes to new experiences and big mistakes, yes to rekindled friendships and unexpected romances, yes to seeing the world in a whole new way. This book is a fresh and fun take on the coming-of-age novel that explores the quintessential themes of growing up: taking risks, making mistakes, and, of course, love. And who knows? Lindsey Roth Culli’s hilarious and heartwarming debut may just inspire your own SAY YES SUMMER. 

*** 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. ***

Say Yes Summer was cute and fluffy YA Contemporary, a coming of age story of Rachel and her summer of saying yes to everything. It was about pros and cons of saying Yes or No that comes with opportunity cost, experiencing the world for the first time, friendship, family, and love.

Writing was simple, easy, and entertaining. It was super-fast paced, I finished this book within a day, which rarely happens with me.  It was first person narrative from Rachel’s perspective that made me understand her feelings and how she was seeing the world and experienced her summer adventure. Setting of Michigan and all beautiful touristy beach, Kalamazoo lake, Lake Michigan, Mt Baldhead and Rachel’s parents’ new venture cream cart and ice-cream gondolas (yum yum) gave the story whole summery vibe.

Plot was simple that started with Rachel suddenly realizing she missed out so much in four years of high school by saying No to everything except studies. Now she felt nobody knew her, she successfully made herself invisible and boring and now she wanted to change that. When she found her grandma’s self-help book ‘The Freedom to Say Yes’, she got idea of saying yes to everything and fully enjoy this summer. In doing so, she experienced many good things but also messed up lot of things.

It was interesting to read how Rachel came out of her shell, overcame her fears, rekindled friendship, found lovers, learned many things specially what it’s like to be free and live out in real world. It was pretty simple plot, I knew how this was going to end but at the same time it was cute and lovely to read Rachel’s summer adventure.

“I think balance is the key to finding out what you really, actually want. Not just what you’re forcing yourself to say yes to.”

I loved all characters specially Rachel. She was smart, caring and lovely person. We see her thoughts towards her classmates and friends, how she saw them through their social media life and gossips she heard but not by knowing and interacting with them in real but as soon as she started interacting with them, she learned how wrong and judgmental she was, how much she blocked out reality and picturized them how she wanted to see them. It was bit weird to see she was observing Clayton so much that she could tell what was going on in his life but at the same time she literally didn’t know what Miles felt whom she knew in real for her whole life both in school and at job at her parents’ restaurant. She was wrong about lot of things and I liked how she realized that. Her development was best part in the book.

Clayton was popular guy, Westfield’s Soccer star and so very handsome but he was nothing like those famous boys who act like they own the world. He was lovely, kind, and gentle soul. Rachel thought he was perfect guy but in reality he was normal human who had his own issues. I loved him for being true and real all the time, even when Rachel messed things.

Miles was Rachel’s childhood friend and worked at her parent’s restaurant. He too was going through his own issue, trying to get over grief and loss. He was not bad. I knew he liked her. I felt for this guy and his reaction to both loss and feeling for Rachel was genuine but still I wasn’t completely at his side.

Carrie was my favorite secondary character. She was wise and smart and lovely girl. I liked the way she helped Rachel and how they sorted their problems. Bethany and Rouxi, her family and Nona were also great.

Love triangle and dating two boys at same time didn’t work that long. Romance and two-timing was wrapped pretty soon. But there were cute moments that made me smile and I liked how they knew each other better in this short relationships.

I liked message in the book given through Rachel’s development- not judging people based on what they show out to the world, even popular girls and boys have their problem and behind all their fame they are normal human being; it’s never easy for anyone to be out in the world and experiencing the real world and life; even best laid plans can go wrong; it’s okay and to mess things but important to not to hurt anyone’s feeling and make things right later; going out of comfort zone is good but also should stay true to yourself; and most importantly it’s okay to say NO.

“Every choice has embedded within it an opportunity cost. Saying yes isn’t free. When you said no to parties and to boys, you were saying yes to your family, and to your friends, and to your responsibilities. And sometimes that- learning when to say no and especially what to say no to- is just as important.”

Climax was filled with lots of drama with boys and then with family. But then Nonna’s wisdom made Rachel gather all courage and make things right by apologizing for her royal mess. End was lovely with packing, time with friends and surprise gift from family and Rachel finding her love.

Why 4 stars-

It’s not like I don’t like love triangle but what makes me not so inclined for love triangle stories is protagonist always going with a boy I don’t like as much as I like the other boy. And that’s what happened here! And another reason was, I have read/seen something like this before. It sounded a bit clichéd and predictable.

Overall,

Say Yes Summer was fluffy, feel good, enjoyable, cute and coming of age YA contemporary with lovable characters. I recommend this to fan of this genre.

Books Links : Goodreads | Amazon

Affiliate Link : Book Depository


I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about my review and this book, if you have read it already or going to add to TBR. What are your favorite fluffy contemporaries?

Happy Reading!

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#BookReview : Just Me by Deidre Huesmann, Roxas James, Kate Larkindale, Medeia Sharif #JustMe @evernightpub #Anthology #LGBTQ

Just Me by Deidre Huesmann, Roxas James, Kate Larkindale, Medeia Sharif
Publication Date : April 17th 2020
Publisher : Evernight Teen
Genre : Anthology / YA / LGBTQ
Pages : 205
Stars : ★★★★★

Love is in the air…


JUST ME is a hand-picked collection of stories about self-discovery and being true to yourself. This LGBTQ+ young adult anthology is not afraid to take on real issues facing today’s teens.

“Witty, fast-paced, and well written.”

Wilde Girls by Deidre Huesmann
Broken Rules by Roxas James
Bullet Me by Medeia Sharif
We’ll Always Have This by Kate Larkindale

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. Many thank to publisher. ***

Just Me was collection four lovely and refreshing YA, LGBTQ stories. It was about feelings and life of queer young adults that included problems they face in the world, self-identity as queer for first time, their feelings on coming out to world and family, accepting and expressing true feelings, love, friendship and family.

1. Wilde Girls by Deidre Huesmann

Wilde Girls was first person narrative from Aislynn’s perspective. She was fiery and wild girl who expressed her feelings and thoughts openly. I loved character description. Rosella was amazing old lady and I loved her flower shop. That’s where Aislynn met Phoenix, not first time, of course! They had a history, Aislynn hated Phoenix for her crappy behavior in school but as they started working together things changed. Phoenix was passionate fashion designer and all girly, opposite of Aislynn but equally fiery and wild. I loved her confession and development.

This was enemy-to-lover trope with a bit clinched arc but I still enjoyed the story of Aislynn and Phoenix. End was sweet, cute and lovely. A perfect opening story.

2. Broken Rules by Roxas James

Bastian woke up naked after party. He didn’t remember who he slept with until his friend told her and Colin came to talk to him. Narrated from Bastian’s POV in his refreshing voice, made story enjoyable. I loved him, his family and best friend. I didn’t like the way Colin broke his heart. I felt for Bastian and I was angry for him but at the end when Colin stood up for Bastian, I loved him. It was best part of the story.

Broken Rules was lovely romance with heartbreak, and discovering gender for first time, first time reaction and doubts. Importance of giving self-discovery a time and think through all aspects before you come out to world and decide to date.

Only thing was, I would have like to know what was Abby’s issue.

3. Bullet Me by Medeia Sharif

This was my most favorite story. Lonnie was lovely creative girl who was amazing at journaling her life. She had crush on her friend and classmate Ezzie but she never told her. She didn’t came out in her school and family, only her parents knew about her love for girls. She put her feelings for Ezzie in journal. Her journal craze was infectious and I loved her from very first page of this story. When Richie started to mess with her one day, her happy school day turned depressing. His act exposed Lonnie’s feeling. It turned out good for her, but I felt mad at him. What Richie did was horrible. But, I’m glad there was so much positivity in this story.

Bullet Me was really amazing story with message of supporting fellow students, standing up against manhandling, harassment and perverts mistreating girls; about positivity of journaling, how it’s therapeutic, helps in organizing thoughts and feeling.

4. We’ll Always Have This by Kate Larkindale

This last story was so emotional. It was Leo and Jack’s love story that started at heavy and sad time and place, at hospital. Leo was there as her brother Chris tried to kill himslef and Jack was there as his father was dying and he had no one else after his ex-boyfriend left him. While sharing a coffee and night alone, they got to know each other, told their story and felt connection and spark in just two days which brought huge change in both of them.

I loved the way Leo narrated her family’s issues, introduced each brothers and her father, her feeling for Jack and how she felt first time being attracted to a boy. When I knew her whole story, it brought tears in my eyes. Jack had his own issues with his father which was not as serious as Leo’s but I felt for him too. It made me think how parents’ action affect kids in worst way.  Love between Leo and her brothers was amazing. I loved and felt for all characters in this story.

End was great with finding hope and love amidst dark time of life. I wish there was more to this story and I could know if there was happy ending and not just for Leo and Jack but for all Leo’s brothers.

Overall, each story in Just Me was compelling, fast paced, engaging anthology with lovely romance, interesting characters, and amazing message. I highly recommend this book.

Book Links:

Goodreads

Affiliate Links: Amazon (IN) | Amazon (US) | Amaon (UK)

What do you think about the book? Have you read this already or any book by these authors? Which is your favorite Anthology?

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#BookReview #Releasedayblitz : As Much As I Ever Could by Brandy Woods Snow @FillesVertesPub @brandy_snow #AsMuchAsIEverCould #YA #contemporaryromance

Hello Readers! It’s a release day of AS MUCH AS I EVER COULD by BRANDY WOODS SNOW and please to be part of Release Day Blitz. Check out book snippet and my review in this post.

Cover Designer: Jena R. Collins/JRC Designs

As Much As I Ever Could by Brandy Woods Snow
Publication Date : May 26th 2020
Publisher : Filles Vertes Publishing
Genre : YA Contemporary Romance
Stars : ★★★★★

Seventeen-year-old CJ Ainsworth doesn’t drive—not because she can’t, but because she won’t.

She’s been living with the guilt of being the sole survivor of the head-on
collision that claimed her mother’s and sister’s lives. It’s the reason she refuses to get behind the wheel. It’s the reason her father has nearly abandoned her. It’s the reason she’s sent to piddle the summer away at her estranged Memaw’s house in Edisto Beach. 

All CJ wants to do is isolate herself and make it to the trial at summer’s end, where she’ll testify against the stranger who couldn’t keep his car in its own lane.


She doesn’t expect to fall for a boy, especially not Jett Ramsey, a hotshot racing champion destined for greatness on the NASCAR circuit. 

CJ’s resolve crumbles when she loses a bet that puts her squarely in Jett’s
driver’s seat. While he patiently reintroduces her to driving, they confide in each other, and CJ learns she’s not the only one silently suffering through a loss.

As their connection deepens, Jett’s focus on the track is called into question. CJ can’t be the cause of another car crash, but her heart is broken either way. Can CJ learn to put her heart in drive? Or will she throw it in reverse?

Excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

A summer away at Memaw’s can’t rectify everything that fell apart in a single minute, but that won’t stop my dad from forcing it on me.

My fingers wrench tighter around the handle grip of Dad’s Ford Explorer as he hugs the center line, tires thumping over golden reflectors in waves and shooting vibrations through my seat. I glance over my shoulder to make sure the door lock is crammed to its neck into the tan vinyl interior. Not that it’d make a difference if he were to flip this thing head-over-end into the muddy goop of tidal flats along either side of the road. If a body’s going to exit a car in a hurry, it sure as hell won’t wait for an unlocked door.

These kinds of thoughts never shoved their way into my brain before the accident. Now they circulate like a washing machine stuck on the spin cycle.

I sigh and yank my phone off the dashboard. 4:15 PM. Only ten more minutes to get my summer of hell underway.

A notification blinks on the home screen. One new email from Trent Casey and all I can see of it is “CJ, things have changed so much this last year that I think…” Inbox preview cruelty at its finest. A little sneak peek of my on-again, off-again boyfriend kicking me to the curb because I’ve been too screwed up to screw him the past year. Not that I’d screwed him before, or anyone else for that matter.

I toss the phone in the cup holder and stare over at my dad in the driver’s seat, his eyes fixed and hooded as if in a trance. He hasn’t spoken in over a hundred miles, but I’ve strategically coughed from time to time to make sure there’s at least a reaction to the noise, and he’s not comatose or something. Plus, it’s easier than actually talking, and it warrants no response from him. Win-win.

Dad flips on the blinker, its dink-doonk, dink-doonk, dink-doonk signaling a right turn. Into where I have no idea, and unless Memaw has taken up living in a dilapidated open-air shack, he’s seriously misguided. He pulls into one of the ten open parking slots, demarcated by rows of conch shells instead of actual painted-on lines. How beachy of them.

Dad lets the engine idle, sliding his phone from the pocket of his polo and pecking out a text message without so much as a word or glance in my direction. I unlatch my seatbelt and open the door, easing out onto the hot, gritty sand, which creeps into my sandals and scratches at the skin.

“Where are we?” When he doesn’t respond, I step beside the open door, banging my hand on the window. “Dad, where are we?”

“Edisto Island, of course,” he mumbles, never looking up from his phone, his fingers still moving furiously over the screen.

I point to the rectangular banner draped atop the entrance with what looks like a hand-stenciled Welcome to Edisto Beach, SC! in blue paint. “No shit. I mean, what is this place?”

“Watch your mouth, CJ. I’m still your father.” He finally looks up long enough to glare across his steering wheel at the banner, squinting as if it’s written in some foreign language before looking back at me. He waves his hand around. “We’re obviously at the market.”

The entrance isn’t a single open-close door but one of those garage-style deals that pulls down from the ceiling. Oyster shell wind chimes tinkle in the breeze. I take a deep breath, the briny air expanding in my lungs and coating my skin, and somehow start imagining myself as one of those slugs we used to find on the back porch at home and pour salt over. Almost immediately, their slimy little bodies would foam up and implode, turning into a dried-up crispie we’d flick off in the grass the next day. Maybe that’ll happen to me, and I can simply shrivel up and disappear.

Dad gets out and lifts the back hatch, and I walk to meet him, giving an extra foot shake on each step to loosen the stowaway sand from my sandals.

“But why are we here?”

“This is where Memaw’s picking you up.” He hauls out my two large suitcases and sets them under the overhang. “She’s running late, but she’ll be here within the next twenty minutes.”

“And you’re just gonna leave me here?” I thumb over my shoulder.

He stares at me as if I’ve just asked for an explanation on the meaning of life, standing like a statue except for the front flip of his thinning auburn hair that tousles with the breeze. That hair, along with his chocolate brown eyes and freckles, are the only things we even share anymore. Everything else is gone. Evaporated.

“Don’t be dramatic, CJ. I have a long drive home.” He slams the hatch, walks to his still-open driver door and slides in behind the wheel. The passenger window rolls down part-way. “I’ll see you at the end of summer. Bye.” The words scarcely exit his lips before the window’s rolled up and he’s peeling out of the parking lot on two wheels as if he’s off to a five-alarm fire.

Wow. Truly heartfelt. I think he might miss me. I lock my jaw, forcing my quivering stomach back in its rightful place. Part of me loathes him for just dumping me here. The other part understands, though. He hates me for what happened and wants me gone too.

I can’t blame him for that.

  • Awards, Recognitions, and Reviews:
  1. Second Place, YA Contemporary – NEORWA’s Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest
  2. Second Place YA Contemporary – Music City RWA’s Melody of Love Contest
  3. “A swoonworthy summer read with a hopeful lesson about how to move forward without fear.” – Kirkus Reviews

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. Many thank to publisher. ***

As Much As I Ever Could was wonderful YA contemporary romance that revolved around CJ grieving loss of mother and sister in accident. It was about getting over loss, giving second chance to life and love, learning to love yourself again, accepting the reality than running away, forgiveness, friendship, family, and racing.

Writing was smooth, gripping, and emotive. Loved the setting of Edisto Island, community, and Memaw’s sea themed house and its description. It made me want to pack my things and move in with her for whole summer. There was everything one want in YA contemporary. There was drama, family issues, friendship, car racing, rivalry, teenage angst, romance, misunderstanding, and development.

As Much As I Ever Could started with CJ’s father dropping her at Edisto Island with her grandmother for summer and left without even a goodbye. She was there until the date of trial in August. She expected to spend summer locked in room with her guilt and try not to think about accident. But it didn’t turn out as she thought. Within few minutes she made new friends (Gin and Bo), met hot dude (Jett) who was trouble, and grandma full of life who gave new house rules- Live life, get drunk, and fall in love. It made me instantly like her grandma. She was fun. When CJ lost bet with Jett, made her spend more time with him, and learning to drive again, slowly they formed a connection and fell for each other. I was curious to see where this new found relationship will take her, can she ever be confident to drive again and what will happen when Rachel’s, (Jett’s racing partner) threat comes true.

First of all I loved that cover and all characters’ name. They were all shortened but I l loved original names.

I loved CJ (Camelia Jayne). First losing mother and sister then estranged father who exiled her to live with grandma she hardly knew, guilt of overcorrecting her car that resulted in flip and ultimately death was gnawing from within and anxiety never left her fully whenever she was in car… She was going through a lot. No wonder she wasn’t ready to love herself or someone else or drive car again. I could feel her pain and fear but I loved it when she gave Jett and Memaw a chance to bring back happiness in life. I felt so sad when she once again had to face her fears, angry at Rachel for implanting that doubt and at Jett for not focusing on his racing properly and saying those nasty words. Her development was amazing. I admired her for listening to her father, reconsidering her belief, making right decisions, and living life once again.

Jett (Jarrett) was great throughout the book. He was handsome, confident and charming hero who loved racing and lived life at fullest. But unlike his racing partners he wasn’t haughty or showoff. He had trust issues because of his family and that caused a bit drama in the middle of the story and at climax. But I liked how he took CJ’s advice and learned from his father’s mistake.

All side characters were amazing. Gin (Ginny Lee) was lovely girl, I would love Bo (Beauregard) as brother and I want Memaw in real. I liked the way Jett’s parents and CJ’s dad changed at the end. I even enjoyed drama Rachel, Trevon and Tyler added to the story. The way CJ made up with Em and that surprising entry of Trent made it interesting. They all were perfect cast and made story refreshing, dramatic, fun, and lovely.

Chemistry between Jett and CJ was natural, hot and swoon worthy. They both felt connection very early in the book but romance built gradually. All moments they spent together, secrets and pain shared was heartwarming.

It was so sad to see fear, misunderstanding, and accident breaking them apart in climax.  The situation was written well. I couldn’t pick a side, they both were right in their own way. CJ’s dad surprised me in this part and I loved his last effort that ultimately break through CJ and helped her in facing the trial. I loved her speech there and what she decided to do. End was perfect. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Overall, As Much As I Ever Could was compelling contemporary with refreshing characters, summery setting and amazing emotional rollercoaster. I highly recommend this book to fans of YA Contemporary.


About Author:

Brandy Woods Snow is a Young Adult author, journalist, wife, mama of three, Christian, and proud Southerner. Born and raised in the area of Greenville, South Carolina, she still resides in the rolling foothills of the Upstate region, though she plans to one day retire to the state’s famous Grand Strand. Brandy has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Writing from Clemson University. While creative writing pursuits have always held her heart, she’s built a career as a journalist and editor. Brandy has more than 19 years’ experience and a strong platform that includes articles and columns published in Delta Sky Magazine, Greenville Business MagazineColumbia Business Monthly and Home Design & Décor Magazine (Charlotte and Raleigh). Currently, she also works as the Marketing Manager and an Acquisitions Editor for Filles Vertes Publishing.


Her first novel MEANT TO BE BROKEN was published by Filles Vertes Publishing in May 2018, and she has a short story featured in FVP’s LOVE ON MAIN anthology, forthcoming in February 2020.

When Brandy’s not writing, reading, spending time with her husband or driving carpool for her three kids, she enjoys kayaking, family hikes, yelling “Go Tigers!” as loud as she can, playing the piano and taking “naked” Jeep Wrangler cruises on twisty, country roads.

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#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?

Happy Reading!

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