ARC Review: The Cats Came Back (Magical Cats #10) by Sofie Kelly

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: The Cats Came Back

Author: Sofie Kelly

Category: Adult Mystery

Publisher/Date: Berkley/4 September 2018

Edition: eARC

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37538833-the-cats-came-back

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Cats-Came-Back-Magical-ebook/dp/B0782VC3Y6/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-cats-came-back-sofie-kelly/1127620590?ean=9780399584596#/

The charming Minnesota town of Mayville Heights is hosting a music festival, and the whole place is bustling with musicians and tourists. Kathleen is looking forward to taking in some fabulous performances–and her two cats, Owen and Hercules, are looking forward to taking in some fabulous sardine crackers. But then the trio stumbles across a dead body by the river.

The victim is a close friend–who also happens to be a look-alike of a popular cabaret singer set to perform at the festival. Who could have wanted to harm this innocent girl? Was it a case of mistaken identity?

As accusations abound and suspicions swirl, Kathleen, Hercules and Owen will put their abilities–both mundane and magical–to the test, and lay down the paw. 

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Penguin’s First to Read program. This book has content warnings for death, murder, and violence.

Cats and librarians in mysteries tend to draw me in quickly, and this one did not disappoint. The supernatural elements in regards to the cats were rather fun, and the story was intriguing and well-paced overall. The mystery itself was interesting and well-done; it was the kind that an astute reader may be able to figure out on their own but not so quickly it ruins the reading experience, which is my favorite kind of mystery plot. The subplots also worked really well with the main plot, making this overall an enjoyable read.

My only slight disappointment was with our narrator, Kathleen. I didn’t dislike Kathleen — most of the time I liked her very much — but there were a handful of instances where she and I just didn’t mesh together very well. It was kind of strange because this wasn’t consistent and this didn’t occur for long stretches of the book by any means, but at times something about her character just bothered me. This didn’t make the reading experience too unpleasant, but it made it somewhat more uneven.

This wasn’t one of my favorites, but it was a solid, fun read, and I would definitely recommend it.

Final rating: 4 of 5 stars

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August (and July!) Preorders!

I forgot to make a preorders post for my July preorders, so I’m just going to do both here in one post! And my August preorders aren’t even on my August TBR… Oy. (I’ve been good about preordering ebooks instead of physical books, though, so at least I’m not taking up more physical shelf space.)

Anyway, here are my July picks!

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 7/10/2018
Format: Kindle
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Fawkes-Novel-Nadine-Brandes-ebook/dp/B077CXZGHB/

I need more dark magic books, and this one looks really, really good. I have high hopes.

If Only by Jennifer Gilmore

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 7/31/2018
Format: Kindle
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/If-Only-Jennifer-Gilmore-ebook/dp/B071JLP74C/

The narrative structure of this is intriguing, and I really love teen pregnancy books for some reason, so I’m excited!

Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Justina Chen

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 7/31/2018
Format: Kindle
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Lovely-Dark-Deep-Justina-Chen-ebook/dp/B0756KZPPF/

This cover is lovely, and I’m really intrigued by the photosensitivity rep. I hope it’s good.

 

And here are my August picks!

Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 8/7/2018
Format: Kindle
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0785LQ7NH/

This book has the teen pregnancy storyline that I love AND it combines it with another one of my favorites: teen musicians. I can’t wait.

#MurderTrending by Gretchen McNeil

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 8/7/2018
Format: Kindle
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/MurderTrending-Gretchen-McNeil-ebook/dp/B077XMXRN6/

I first heard of this book through a library webinar, and I was instantly intrigued. I hope it’s a little bit scary. I like scary stuff!

Our Stories, Our Voices Anthology

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 8/14/2018
Format: Kindle
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Our-Stories-Voices-Injustice-Empowerment-ebook/dp/B075RSWTSY/

I really love essays, and this anthology has them from some of my very favorites. Yes, please!

To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 8/21/2018
Format: Kindle
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Be-Honest-Maggie-Ann-Martin-ebook/dp/B078X23DCX/

This book has been all over my timeline on Twitter lately, and I’m really excited about it. I hope it’s as good as people have been saying it is!

 

Are you preordering anything this month? Let’s talk in the comments!

August To-Read List!

I don’t usually do to-read lists because I’m kind of a mood reader and tend to throw these lists out the window, BUT I have a few distinct piles of books that I need to read and I want to make sure I touch upon all of them. I have LOTS to read, and I think that listing out what I’m hoping to read this month will help!

Pile 1: #SummerOfPLL reads

The first half of #SummerOfPLL is over, and I’ve surprised myself by staying on course with this for an entire month without reading anything early or late. At all. Which is very Not Me. So, despite that the second half of this series so far is DEFINITELY going downhill when the first half wasn’t anything particularly special to begin with, I’m determined to keep on track through August, too! Here’s my PLL reading list for August:

  • Stunning
  • Burned
  • Crushed
  • Deadly
  • Toxic
  • Vicious
  • Alison’s Pretty Little Diary
  • Pretty Little Secrets
  • Ali’s Pretty Little Lies

Pile 2: Library Books

So, while volunteering at the library I spent about 6 hours over the last couple weeks shelving nonfiction books… And I KIND OF usually find a lot of stuff I want to read while I’m shelving things… So… I KIND OF checked out a giant pile of library books at once… Good job, me! Here’s my library book pile:

  • The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer
  • Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham
  • The Librarian’s Book of Quotes complied by Tatyana Eckstrand
  • This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson
  • How To Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use by Randy J. Paterson, PhD
  • Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
  • Wicca’s Charm: Understanding the Spiritual Hunger Behind the Rise of Modern Witchcraft and Pagan Spirituality by Catherine Edwards Sanders
  • Archie: Volume One by Mark Waid, Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, and Veronica Fish

Pile 3: ARC August!

Since it’s August and I have A VERY LARGE NUMBER OF UNREAD ARCS, I’m going to make a concentrated effort to catch up on as many of them as possible this month! Here’s all of the unread ARCs I have that have a release date in September or earlier (not all of my ARCs, though… Good luck, me):

  • Harbor Me by Jacqueline Wilson
  • Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
  • Dream Country by Shannon Gibney
  • Disbanded Kingdom by Polis Loizou
  • How To Speak Cat by National Geographic Kids
  • Like Never And Always by Ann Aguirre
  • Scream Site by Justina Ireland
  • Rules of the Ruff by Heidi Lang
  • Love Letters to Jane’s World by Paige Braddock
  • The Adventures of Wilhelm: A Rat’s Tale by Maria Ritter
  • The Lost Art of Reading by David L. Ulin
  • The Splintered Light by Ginger Johnson
  • Big Words Small Stories: The Missing Donut by Judith Henderson
  • The Ghost Road by Charis Cotter
  • Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon
  • Unbroken Anthology
  • Black Diamond Fall by Joseph Olshan
  • Trans Teen Survival Guide by Owl Fisher and Fox Fisher

Considering that my total August TBR is now at 35 books, I have NO illusions about actually finishing all of these things this month. Ideally, though, I would at least like to get through a large chunk of them (and I know that some will take me longer to review than they will to read, as a few of my ARCs are picture books). I feel that this list at least puts me in a good starting place for getting many of the books I actually NEED to read… well, read!

What’s on YOUR reading list for August? Let me know in the comments!

 

July Wrap-up!

July was a great month for reading, but not so much for blogging… I participated in the #24in48 Readathon and read a whopping 15 books in one weekend, which is more than I’ve been averaging PER MONTH all year, and the #SummerOfPLL readalong has also boosted my reading, so I’ve got QUITE a list of books I read last month.

Reads for July

Here’s all I read in July:

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard — 4 of 5 stars

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid — 5 of 5 stars

Flawless by Sara Shepard — 3 of 5 stars

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan — 5 of 5 stars

Perfect by Sara Shepard — 3 of 5 stars

Unbelievable by Sara Shepard — 3 of 5 stars

Maudlin Towers: Curse of the Werewolf Boy by Christ Priestley  (ARC) — 4 of 5 stars — review here!

Wicked by Sara Shepard — 3 of 5 stars

Killer by Sara Shepard — 3 of 5 stars

Heartless by Sara Shepard — 2 of 5 stars

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes — 5 of 5 stars

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King — 4 of 5 stars

Trapped in Death Cave by Bill Wallace — 3 of 5 stars

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle — 4 of 5 stars

Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno — 4 of 5 stars

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke — 5 of 5 stars

1984 by George Orwell — 3 of 5 stars

Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner — 5 of 5 stars

From a Buick 8 by Stephen King — 3 of 5 stars

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore — 4 of 5 stars

Lizzie by Dawn Ius — 4 of 5 stars

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon — 5 of 5 stars

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald — 4 of 5 stars

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon — 5 of 5 stars

The Outsider by Stephen King — 5 of 5 stars

Wanted by Sara Shepard — 4 of 5 stars

Twisted by Sara Shepard — 1 of 5 stars

The Cats Came Back by Sofie Kelly (ARC) — 4 of 5 stars

Ruthless by Sara Shepard — 2 of 5 stars

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend — 5 of 5 stars

 

Reading stats:

  • Number of books read: 30
  • Number of nonfiction books: 0
  • Number of ARCs: 2
  • Number of books by marginalized authors: ~8
  • Number of library books: 11

Considering that I only read 11 books in June, I am SHOCKED by the number of books I managed to read in July. I wish I could have had more marginalized authors in my reading last month, but a third of my reading was from #SummerOfPLL and I made a concentrated effort to complete or work on some of my DayZero reading goals during #24in48, so I’m not that surprised. I’ll just need to work on that a little harder.

On The Personal Side…

I’ve surprisingly been exercising regularly this month! I’ve been going to yoga classes and water exercise classes, and I’ve actually been enjoying them and looking forward to going. This is weird because I usually hate exercise! I think it probably helps that the temperature has been pretty regularly close to 95 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the month, so going to the indoor pool has felt like a treat. I haven’t been swimming in ages, but I’ve been really happy that I’ve been going.

I also have been driving my car! For how weird getting a car on a short timeline in an unconventional way while still not having my license is, I am really happy that I have my car because I just really love it. I’ve only found one downside to this situation: walking past my car to go to the bus to get groceries, and then walking past my car again with an armload of grocery bags. I take the bus to work and back almost every single day and that doesn’t bother me, but the grocery thing is mildly irritating. I’m getting better at driving, though, and while I usually don’t get to practice more than once a week I’ve actually gotten to practice three times this week! I’m getting much better, and I’m happy with my progress.

I’ve got at LOT of ARCs on my plate (again) and because I did a poor job of reading ARCs in July, I’m going to be doing #ARCAugust this month in an attempt to catch back up again! We’ll see how that goes — I’ve got a lot to read!

How was your July? What are you looking forward to in August?

ARC Review: See All The Stars by Kit Frick

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: See All The Stars

Author: Kit Frick

Category: YA Contemporary

Publisher/Date: McElderry Books/14 August 2018

Edition: eARC

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32718970-see-all-the-stars

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/See-All-Stars-Kit-Frick-ebook/dp/B075RQ3FQC/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/see-all-the-stars-kit-frick/1127208720?ean=9781534404373

Part love story, part thriller, We Were Liars meets Goodbye Days in this suspenseful, lyrical debut.

It’s hard to find the truth beneath the lies you tell yourself.

THEN They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system.

NOW Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.

THEN Lazy summer days. A party. A beautiful boy. Ellory met Matthias and fell into the beginning of a spectacular, bright love.

NOW Ellory returns to Pine Brook to navigate senior year after a two-month suspension and summer away—no boyfriend, no friends. No going back. Tormented by some and sought out by others, troubled by a mysterious note-writer who won’t let Ellory forget, and consumed by guilt over her not entirely innocent role in everything and everyone she’s lost, Ellory finds that even in the present, the past is everywhere.

The path forward isn’t a straight line. And moving on will mean sorting the truth from the lies—the lies Ellory has been telling herself.

I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley. This book has content warnings for drug use, alcohol use, unhealthy relationships, and death.

loved this book — it’s one of those books that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until the very end. This book alternates between two timelines: Ellory’s junior year and Ellory’s senior year. The switching was handled really well and really created tension and mystery surrounding the story, and it had me on my toes as I read.

The emotion in this book is raw and gut-wrenching; there is so much sadness and loneliness and it all really rang true to me. There is a stark contrast between the friend-surrounded Ellory of junior year and relatively-isolated Ellory of senior year, and it hurts to read, but it hurts to read in a way that made me want to share Ellory’s pain as I read.

See All The Stars dives deep into first love and teenage friendships in a beautifully heartbreaking story. There is a twist at the end, which I will not spoil, that really changes the way you see the rest of the book that you’ve just read. It’s wonderfully-crafted and engaging, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Final rating: 5 of 5 stars

ARC Review: Maudlin Towers: Curse of the Werewolf Boy by Chris Priestley

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: Maudlin Towers: Curse of the Werewolf Boy

Author: Chris Priestley

Category: MG Mystery

Publisher/Date: Bloomsbury/5 October 2017

Edition: eARC

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36150286-maudlin-towers

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Curse-Werewolf-Boy-Maudlin-Towers/dp/1681199327/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/curse-of-the-werewolf-boy-chris-priestley/1127084657?ean=9781681199320

Mildew and Sponge don’t think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloom­laden, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when somebody steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the Christmas holidays until the culprit is found, our heroes must spring into action and solve the crime!

But what starts out as a classic bit of detectivating quickly becomes weirder than they could have imagined. Who is the ghost in the attic? What’s their history teacher doing with a time machine? And why do a crazy bunch of Vikings seem to think Mildew is a werewolf?

Hugely funny, deliciously creepy and action-packed by turns, this brand new series from Chris Priestley is perfect for 8+ readers who like their mysteries with a bit of bite. Fans of Lemony Snicket and Chris Riddell will love Curse of the Werewolf Boy.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

This book was cute and funny, and it has a lot going for it. It reads a lot like a satire of some magical boarding school books; so many on-the-nose names and silly traditions as well as adults with exaggerated characteristics fill the pages of this one. The all-important School Spoon goes missing, and as Mildew and Sponge try to figure out what happened to it they run into more questions than they do answers. This book has a lot of twists and turns, and it’s very amusing.

At the same time, I don’t feel like this book was the right book for me. Though this is usually the kind of book that I like, I didn’t feel particularly grabbed by this book; it didn’t read as anything particularly unique, and the pacing of it felt a bit too quick for my taste. I think the plot was a bit too all over the place and the writing could have been a little bit clearer. It wasn’t necessarily poorly-written or anything, but it wasn’t quite meshing with me.

Younger middle grade readers who love creepy yet funny mysteries would probably really love this book. Though it’s not one of my personal favorites, it still has a lot going for it and may be very entertaining for young readers.

Final rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Reads of 2018 (So Far!)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is Best Reads of 2018 (So Far!). I’ve read a lot of amazing books this year so this list was difficult to make, but it reminded me of just how many amazing books I’ve come across recently!

10.) Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

This is a truly nerdy book, and the fact that it takes place in the area where I live and grew up made this book a really fun read for me!

9.) The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno  

This one was recommended by my friend Silly Little Ravenclaw for its excellent Dissociative Identity Disorder rep, and it did not disappoint!

8.) Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White by Michael Tisserand

A fantastic biography of an excellent comics artist, this book was probably the best nonfiction book I’ve read in quite a while.

7.) American Panda by Gloria Chao

Funny, relatable, and absolutely charming, this book hit on so many early adulthood notes that felt so true to me.

6.) Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

I came to this book for the cats, and I stayed for the mental illness rep. This comic was so relatable and funny, and I definitely read it at the right time.

5.) Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Talk about a gut-punch. This book hurts to read, but it’s cathartic at the same time, and it’s well worth it.

4.) You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon 

This is another one of those books that hurts to read, and it is so, so worth it. The sibling and family relationships in this book make it truly something special.

3.) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

I was on the waitlist at the library for this book for nearly half a year because of how many good things I’d heard about it, and it was worth the wait. Wow. Just wow.

2.) Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

This book felt personal to me for a number of reasons, from the characters to the writing. This is one of the books I most frequently recommend to others, for sure.

1.) Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

I have a thing for books that hurt me, apparently. This book hurts. It hurts BAD. And it’s just perfect.

What are some of your favorite reads of 2018 so far? Does your list overlap with mine at all? Let me know in the comments!