Review: Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

Saint Death
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

A propulsive, compelling, and unsparing novel set in the grimly violent world of the human and drug trade on the US-Mexican border.

On the outskirts of Juarez, Arturo scrapes together a living working odd jobs and staying out of sight. But his friend Faustino is in trouble: he’s stolen money from the narcos to smuggle his girlfriend and her baby into the US, and needs Arturo’s help to get it back. To help his friend, Arturo must face the remorseless world of drug and human traffickers that surrounds him, and contend with a murky past.

Hovering over his story is the unsparing divinity Santa Muerte, Saint Death–and the relentless economic and social inequalities that haunt the border between Mexico and its rich northern neighbor. Crafted with poetry and cinematic pace and narrated with cold fury, Saint Death is a provocative tour de force from three-time Printz Award honoree Marcus Sedgwick.


Before I start my review, I would like to thank Kelly @ Here’s to Happy Endings for giving me the chance to read an ARC of Saint Death. We trade books often, and she’s amazing to trade with. She also runs an awesome YA book blog. Make sure to check it out.

Saint Death is the second book I’ve read by Marcus Sedgwick. I read The Ghosts of Heaven right after it was released, and it blew my mind. When I saw Kelly wanted to trade an ARC of his upcoming release, I had to talk her into trading me. I wanted to see if Saint Death with its creepy title and amazing cover would be just as good.

I can’t compare The Ghosts of Heaven with Saint Death. They’re so different. It’s crazy how different they are. Usually an author’s books at least have a similar writing style. These two don’t. They only similarity they have is the slower pace.

Saint Death is a dark book. Very dark. There’s nothing warm and fuzzy about it. It made me feel sad and unsettled. I can’t say I liked it because I didn’t enjoy reading it. Saint Death may have been fictitious, but I can imagine the life described in it is very real.It was eye opening, though. I hurt for the main character, Artutro. His life was not easy or happy.

I’m honestly not sure what else to say. I may not have enjoyed the Saint Death experience, but I do think it is an important book to read and very relative to everything going on in the world today. It’s worth giving a chance. It definitely made me appreciate the life I live.

Review: Bad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher

Bad Mommy
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Publication Date: December 24, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Suspense

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

When Fig Coxbury buys a house on West Barrett Street, it’s not because she likes the neighborhood, or even because she likes the house. It’s because everything she desires is next door: The husband, the child, and the life that belongs to someone else.


Bad Mommy is a mind$#%^. I don’t know how else to explain it. It was everything I expected from Tarryn Fisher, but nothing like I expected. Every time I thought I had a grasp on what was going on, I would start a new section of the book and become completely disoriented. It was such a trip!

I want to go back and read Bad Mommy a second time. That’s high praise because it’s rare for me to re-read a book. I feel like I would grasp more from the story a second time, and enjoy it even more.

Anyone who loves a great psychologically suspenseful novel will enjoy Bad Mommy. It’s dark, deceitful and will keep you turning the pages long after you should have gone to bed.

And that’s all I’m saying because I’m not going to ruin this book for anyone. 😉

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Publication Date: August 16, 2011
Publisher: Random House Audio
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?


I know what you’re thinking. Deanna read a YA science fiction novel??? Yes, yes I did. Well, actually I listened to it, but same difference. And I had so much fun doing it, too. I know, I’m just as shocked as you are.

One of the problems I have reading science fiction is that I’m just not interested in the topics many of them contain. I’m not into stories about science or the future of technology. I’m definitely not into aliens, zombies, or any of the other things that cross between fantasy, horror and science fiction. I don’t like reading about the world ending. So, why would I want to read Ready Player One? First, I saw the cover and was drawn to it. Second, I read a lot of great reviews. Third, I heard about the multitude of 1980’s references. Fourth, Will Wheaton narrates the audio version. It was pretty much the 80’s and Will Wheaton thing that made me give it a try.

Ready Player One was a fantastic book. I was obsessed with the story from the minute I began listening to it in my car. I would find myself sitting in my drive way long after I had returned home. I’m very happy I chose the audio version of Ready Player One. By listening to it I wasn’t overwhelmed by the amount of information I was being given. There was so much to take in, and I think I would have been easily overwhelmed by everything if I was reading it. All the information would have slowed down the pace of the story, but it didn’t in this format. Plus, Will Wheaton did an amazing job narrating. I actually pictured a younger version of him as Wade while listening.

As for the story, it’s really something you need to experience for yourself. It’s wrapped around a future video game called the OASIS and Wade’s quest to win its creator’s fortune. I loved how the story progressed and how action packed it was. The amazing number of references to classic video games and 80’s pop culture were really cool. I wasn’t a teenager like Halliday was in the 1980’s, but I was alive, and I absolutely loved every reference to the decade I got.

I’m not sure what else to say about this marvelous book other than I think you should listen to it, too. Rumor has it a Ready Player One movie is coming, and I’m excited to see what they do with it.

Review: Marrow by Tarryn Fisher

22253643Marrow
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Publication Date: April 16, 2015
Genre: New Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

In the Bone there is a house.

In the house there is a girl.

In the girl there is a darkness.

Margo is not like other girls. She lives in a derelict neighborhood called the Bone, in a cursed house, with her cursed mother, who hasn’t spoken to her in over two years. She lives her days feeling invisible. It’s not until she develops a friendship with her wheelchair-bound neighbor, Judah Grant, that things begin to change. When neighborhood girl, seven-year-old Neveah Anthony, goes missing, Judah sets out to help Margo uncover what happened to her.

What Margo finds changes her, and with a new perspective on life, she’s determined to find evil and punish it–targeting rapists and child molesters, one by one.

But hunting evil is dangerous, and Margo risks losing everything, including her own soul.


Um…I don’t even know where to start when reviewing Marrow. This book was just so…disturbing. There wasn’t one thing about it that didn’t get under my skin or make me uncomfortable. It disturbed me so much at times that I take breaks from reading it. This shouldn’t surprise me. I felt the same way while reading Fisher’s Mud Vein. Still, I wasn’t prepared for what this story had to give.

Marrow is the story of Margo Moon. Margo barely exists. She lives with her mother in a horrible neighborhood filled with horrible people and horrible things. The only bright light in Margo’s life is her friendship with Judah. Despite being in a wheelchair, Judah sees the good in life. Their relationship gives Margo hope she hasn’t had before. That hope lasts until Margo’s young neighbor girl goes missing. Margo takes it upon herself to find out what happened to Neveah. What she finds will force her into avenging the wrongs taking place around her.

Margo was an interesting character. In the beginning, I loved her because I felt so bad for her. Margo was stuck in a situation created by her birth. There was nothing she could do to change it. She was a child who deserved more from life. Margo just didn’t have any positive support until she became friends with Judah. He made her want things to be better. I loved seeing that change in her.  As she grew older and horrible things began to happen around her, Margo changed again. Her new-found confidence created a person who felt the need to take justice into her own hands. That Margo freaked me out.  The more Margo took on her role of punisher, the darker the story became — and it was already pretty dang dark to begin with.

I never saw the twists and turns coming in Marrow. There were moments where I was disgusted. There were moments when I was sad. There were moments when I was completely confused. When I got to the end, all I could say was,

What the heck did I just read? 

I’m still not sure of the answer to that. My mind has been messed with in ways only Tarryn Fisher can accomplish. Once again, she’s written a beautifully disturbing tale. Marrow will suck you in, torment you and leave you thinking about it for weeks after you’re done. If you’re a fan of dark storytelling, this one is for you.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books That Put Me On Edge

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Halloween Related Freebie. I am not a fan of scary novels but I do read thrillers every once in a while, so I decided to go with Ten Books That Put Me On Edge.


1. The Weight of Blood
by Laura McHugh

2. Sharp Objects
by Gillian Flynn

3. Those Girls
by Chevy Stevens

4. Delicate Monsters
by Stephanie Kuehn

5. Mud Vein
by Tarryn Fisher

6. One Kick
by Chelsea Cain

7. In the Woods
by Tana French

8. Bone Dust White
by  Karin Salvalaggio

9. Hannibal
by Thomas Harris

10. Jagger
by Heather C. Leigh

Jagger-ebook

Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

22299763-1Crooked Kingdom
Series: Six of Crows, #2
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Orien Children’s Books
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.


I’m not really sure how to review Crooked Kingdom without giving away too much of the story, so I’ll keep my thoughts brief.

  1. All of my favorite Six of Crows characters were back. I loved getting to know them better. All of the relationships really blossomed.
  2. The twists and turns in this story were just as phenomenal as the first book.
  3. It took me “forever” to read Crooked Kingdom because the middle of the story lagged a little bit for me. (Forever was about 5 days.) I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I don’t read fantasy novels often and get a little bogged down by the fictional worlds? I was enthralled by both the beginning and the ending, though.
  4. I didn’t get every outcome I wanted, but I was completely satisfied with the ending. It was amazing!

Overall, Crooked Kingdom was a terrific conclusion to an epic duology. Fans of the series are sure to love it. I did.

Review: Dark Water by Sara Bailey

darkwater7Dark Water
Author: Sara Bailey
Publication Date: October 3, 2016
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Note: I received an ARC from Nightingale Editions in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

Friendship doesn’t die, it waits…

A haunting and lyrical novel, Dark Water is a psychologically intense portrait of adolescent yearning and obsession.

When Helena returns to her childhood home in Orkney, she is forced to face memories that she has spent half a lifetime running from. Her best friend, the charismatic Anastasia, disappeared after a swimming incident. But what really happened that night by the wrecks?


I have mixed feelings about Dark Water. On one hand, it was an incredibly strong debut novel. On the other, it didn’t really feel like a psychological thriller.

Sara Bailey’s writing in Dark Water is exceptional. The pictures she paints in her novel are clear and concise. Her descriptions of Orkney were so beautiful and haunting. They took over the novel at times, but that was a good thing because the setting played a huge part in the story. I liked the characters and their dark history.

There were a couple of things that kept me from truly appreciating Dark Water, though. First, The story unraveled so slowly that it never truly pulled me in. I wasn’t truly invested in it until the last third of the book. That’s when the story felt like it really took shape and built toward an amazing ending. Second, I was interested in the characters and their present points of view, but not as much as I was interested in the past. The little bits of it I got weren’t enough. I wanted more of them. They were the only parts that made me feel like I was reading a psychological thriller.

Overall, Dark Water was a well written and interesting tale of the bond of an obsessive adolescent friendship. It wasn’t quite the psychological thriller I was hoping, but it was still a tale I think readers of the genre might enjoy.