ARC Review: Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black

devil and theGoodreads/Amazon/B&N

Release Date: May 17, 2016

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“Devil-at-the-crossroads” folklore finds its way to YA via this moody, magical tale

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass.

Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself to finding family in unexpected places.

In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a heart-wrenching depiction of loss and hope.

review

3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Amulet Books 

PROS:

  • The supernatural moments were sultry, devious, and insanely creepy. The kind of stuff that makes your skin crawl. I was crazy impressed with how terrifying these small scenes were. Chills. The devil is seductive, manipulative, playful, and yet, doesn’t seem inherently evil. She’s complex (I wish there was more of her and these teeny scary scenes).
  • This blend of folk legend and cross-country journey of self discovery is pervasive and grips you immediately. Blue’s quest to find her sister to hold on to some semblance of the life she used to know is poetic, beautiful, and cathartic. There’s a smokey air of supernatural and uncertainty that keeps the story fresh despite the slow pace.
  • Secondary characters are something else. They each have strong, unique voices and carry their own pain. No matter how fleeting their time in the story, they add a sharp “realness” that contrasts strongly with the paranormal. Diversity is a powerful component. There are people from all walks of life, trans, homeless, extremely religious, wanderers, dreamers, musicians. They’re all there, bursting into life with each moment on the page. There are a lot of dangers on the road as well. From thieves, to traffickers, to serial killers, you never know what’s coming.
  • This story is really about finding yourself when everything spins out of control and all stability is lost. When so much of who you are is based on your relation to others and how they perceive you, what do you have left when they’re gone? Blue struggles to learn who she is, who she wants to be, and to find her voice after it was robbed from her by the devil. Ironically, Blue’s voice, her individuality was gone well before that and only through her deal with the devil does she realize how much she wasn’t living.

CONS:

  • The pacing was overall pretty slow. The story dragged a bit, especially when there wasn’t something supernatural happening (granted hitchhiking across the country is not the fastest). The constant wandering got monotonous at times, partially because Blue’s voice wavered. Occasionally it was strong and passionate; she was finding herself along the way, but other times it is diminutive and she reverts back to the little sister constantly being cast in the shadow of everyone else’s talent. 
  • The romance was light and felt randomly inserted. Unnecessary is a better word. It jumps from attraction to instalove and it shifted the focus of the story, not in a good way. 
  • Blue’s relationship with her sister wasn’t built up enough. What little we know of Cass makes her extremely unlikable and you sort of wonder why Blue is putting so much effort into finding someone who is ungrateful and clearly doesn’t want to be found. She totally abandoned her sister in her time of need. Not cool.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Spooky reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: The Way to Game the Walk of Shame by Jenn P. Nguyen

way to gameAmazon/B&N/iBooks/Goodreads

Release Date: June 7, 2016

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Taylor Simmons is screwed.

Things were hard enough when her single-minded dedication to her studies earned her the reputation of being an Ice Queen, but after getting drunk at a party and waking up next to bad boy surfer Evan McKinley, the entire school seems intent on tearing Taylor down with mockery and gossip.

Desperate to salvage her reputation, Taylor persuades Evan to pretend they’re in a serious romantic relationship. After all, it’s better to be the girl who tames the wild surfer than just another notch on his surfboard.

review

3.5/5 Stars

The Way to Game the Walk of Shame is a feel good romance with tons of laughs and flirty banter. The comedy got me from the very first page, but the chemistry kept me engaged. 

PROS:

  • Taylor has a powerful voice. She knows exactly who she is and is confident in herself. That’s so refreshing. Taylor doesn’t let nicknames like the Ice Queen get to her, she thinks outside of the box and makes the most out of every situation. She’s smart, snarky, passionate, and oh so nerdy. 
  • Evan is popular, gorgeous, and totally at easy with his sexual prowess. Nothing really gets under his skin. He’s a genuinely kind-hearted, nice guy. His only problem is not processing his feelings and lashing out. He’s complicated and it’s the guy beneath the playboy exterior that draws you in. 
  • This story is hilarious. There are so many cute, laugh out loud moments that it’s easy to fall for this story and their sweet romance. Even though it’s a game, it feels real and right. 
  • Taylor and Evan are adorable together. They compliment each other so well, it’s pretty undeniable how right they are for each other. They’re witty, their flirty banter, and soft touches, everything is fun and full of life. They make each other’s world brighter just by being a part of it. 

CONS:

  • The cover. This is a playful romance. The cover looks like a sultry new adult romance or something. It just doesn’t fit. 
  • Secondary characters faded in and out. What there was of them was vibrant. The “other woman” was highlighted much more than the friendships with the main characters. While this added drama, it didn’t add much to the story.
  • The ending felt rushed and cut off abruptly. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Happy reading, 

Jordan