Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey

Berkley Publishing – Review: 5 Stars

Thanks so much to the author, Edelweiss+, and Berkley for the complimentary advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own. { partner } All of my full reviews can be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on my blog at tacklingtbr.home.blog.

TW: Alzheimers in a parent, dysfunctional family, caretaking of a parent.

Most people who follow me on Instagram or are aware of my blog could tell you that I absolutely LOVED Waiting for Tom Hanks! I am a huge sucker for all things romantic comedy (I start watching Hallmark Christmas movies earlier and earlier every year, my poor husband). And just like I love reading books about people who love reading books, I loved getting to read a story about someone as rom-com obsessed as I am! And so I was already sure I was going to love this book – I am very pleased to announce that I was not at all disappointed. While I loved reading Annie’s story last year, and relating to how much she loved being in her own romantic comedy, it was almost even more fun to get to read Chloe’s story – watching her the whole time trying to deny that she was in one too!

As far as the characters go, all of the key players in this story that I had already had a chance to fall in love with in the first book, so it was nice that this story just jumped right in and gave further information and back story – without feeling like it was trying to give a full introduction all over again, you know? One of my favorite things in rom-coms (both on the page and on the screen) is the sassy and witty banter that can exist between characters, especially when it is present before any sort of relationship is being explored. And that is definitely what you get with Nick and Chloe in this story! It made the dialogue so quick and enjoyable to read, as well. Their chemistry wasn’t entirely un-predictable, but the banter was so quick and the feelings so sweet and relatable that I didn’t really mind that I saw where it was going.

I also really loved the side plot love/hate triangle between Chloe, Annie, and Annie’s movie based off of Chloe. While that obviously isn’t exactly the most relatable situation to be in (sadly not all of us have best friends who get famous and write movies about our lives), all of the emotions driving their discussions and interactions in those scenes felt like they could have been my own best friend and I. One of my favorite parts of this book was those conversations, because in a way you got to see both sides and see why both women were right and wrong at the same time. I found myself really connecting with the emotions driving this bit of the plot, and I would have read an entire book just about the two of them going through these friendship speed bumps, even without all of the other parts where I got to swoon over Nick.

But believe me, there was plenty of swooning. There were definitely a few scenes that were a bit steamier than others, but if you are someone that doesn’t love a typically steamy romance novel, I don’t think those scenes in this book would be too much for you. I would say it was a nice, middle-ground steam level. Maybe even a gateway to something steamier!

Overall I would highly recommend this book to my friends! In fact, I already have once or twice. Maybe three times. I would say that I think you will get more out of this book if you have read Waiting for Tom Hanks first, but that you don’t necessarily have to have read the first one if you only want to dip your toes in to Chloe’s story. While these are characters from the first one, there weren’t too many references to the first book, and the times that there were there was generally enough information given about it to give the reader enough context on it’s own. That being said, again, just read them both. They’re so fun, I don’t think you’ll regret it. In fact, binge both of them over a weekend and maybe throw in a quick viewing of You’ve Got Mail! Make it a full rom-com marathon. But make sure to let me know when, and I’ll bring the popcorn and a bottle of wine!

The Player Next Door by K. A. Tucker

Blog Tour: Courtesy of Valentine PR

Thanks so much to the author and Valentine PR for the complimentary advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, and blog tour participation. All opinions are entirely my own. { partner } All of my reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads

Book Description from Goodreads:

Scarlet Reed has returned to Polson Falls, convinced that twelve years away is long enough to shed her humiliating childhood identity as the town harlot’s daughter. With a teaching job secured and an adorable fixer-upper to call home, things in her life are finally looking up.

That is, until she finds out that Shane Beckett lives next door.

Shane Beckett, the handsome and charismatic high school star quarterback who smashed her heart. The lying, cheating player who was supposed to be long gone, living the pro football dream and fooling women into thinking he’s Prince Charming. Shane Beckett, who is as attractive as ever and flashing his dimples at her as if he has done no wrong.

Scarlet makes it abundantly clear that old wounds have not been forgotten. Neighbors they may be, but friends they most certainly are not. She won’t allow herself to fall for the single father and firefighter again, no matter how many apologies he offers, how many times he rushes to her aid, or how hard he makes her heart pound.

But as she spends more time with him, she begins to fear that maybe she’s wrong. Maybe Shane has changed.

And maybe this time she’s the one playing herself—out of a chance at true happiness.

Review: (4 Stars)

TW : childhood trauma, mention of infidelity, mention of bullying, injury to a minor

Despite what my “Dates Read” will say (I started this book and then put it down to finish another current read), I DEVOURED this book! The Player Next Door is a brand new second-chance romance from author K. A. Tucker. It was fairly lighthearted compared to some of her other work (though there were definitely some more intense scenes), a good middle-of-the-road steamy, and overall a delicious binge read during this continued quarantine.

Much like many others, I am a huge sucker for second-chance romances. Doesn’t everyone have that fantasy at least once or twice that their big ex, possibly love of their life, turns around and realizes that you’re the best thing that ever happened to a fool like them? Or maybe that they come back into your life just to see how you’re #thriving? I definitely have been known to. So what better type of story to throw yourself into and read over the course of about 48 hours! I loved getting to dive into all of the backstory of Scarlet and Shane’s past, and sort of getting to see both timelines (through Scarlet’s memories). It really helped me to feel invested in their story right from the word go.

As far as characters go, I thought both of our leads were extremely likable, while not immune from annoying characteristics or dumb decisions. But again, I think that getting to hear so much of their backstory really helped with falling in love with not only the characters, but also their love story in general. I found myself really aching for them when things weren’t going their way. I wanted them to succeed, and to be happy. Which I always think goes a long way! Although I will say that a few of the other characters, while more minor players in the story, really shone through for me in a way that almost stole the show for a few of the scenes! Characters like Justine specifically had me laughing right out loud at how ridiculous she could be, but how I could see myself being friends with her too. And if down the line a sequel were to come out putting my girl Justine in the spotlight, I would definitely not turn it away!

One of my favorite parts of this story was the setting – at the beginning of the book Scarlet is moving back to her small town that she grew up in. That’s another thing that always seemed so idyllic and charming to me – small town living, where you have fun town events and everyone knows everyone else. (Or maybe I just watched too much Gilmore Girls growing up?) But my favorite thing about it as a setting for this type of story that while it is a charming town, and she is getting all of that “new beginning” excitement by moving into her childhood dream house, the small town is also the catalyst for a good number of the mix-ups and challenges as well. Yes, everyone knows everyone, but that means that they also know everyone’s private business, and that is always an angle that I find really fun to read about.

Overall, I really, thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have already recommended it to more than one friend who I know will tear through it as quickly as I did, and I’m sure it will continue to come up for me in those conversations with girlfriends. As I said in the beginning, I think it is close to the perfect story to lose yourself in during what is still a fairly uncertain time. Because, much like those pesky neighbors in the book – it’s much better to get to focus on other people’s drama than on your own, right? At least, it’s certainly more fun!

About the Author:

K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge. She is the USA Today bestselling author of 17 books, including the Causal Enchantment, Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series, He Will Be My Ruin, Until It Fades, Keep Her Safe, and The Simple Wild. Her books have been featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, First for Women, and Publisher’s Weekly. She has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance 2013 for TEN TINY BREATHS and Best Romance 2018 for THE SIMPLE WILD. Her novels have been translated into 16 languages.K.A. Tucker currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her family.

Connect with K.A. Tucker:

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2MYEDhK
Instagram: http://bit.ly/2MZEk6A
Twitter: http://bit.ly/2FqzR8K
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QPwJZs
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/36Ga0W8
Pinterest: http://bit.ly/2MXBLSf
Bookbub: http://bit.ly/2rZkYXP
Website: https://www.katuckerbooks.com/

Link to buy on Amazon:

Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner

Revell Books – Review: 4 Stars

Thanks so much to the author and Revell Books for the complimentary advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are entirely my own. { partner } All of my full reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on my blog tacklingtbr.home.blog

TW : mention of addiction, mention of loss of a parent

They say that the quickest way to your love’s heart is through their stomach, right? Along with that, my mom always said that feeding people was one of her easiest ways of showing love for people. So I’ve always loved stories of food and cooking as a part of a love story. And this cute rom-com did not disappoint on that front!

I really enjoyed that this story centered around two chefs who are equally passionate and qualified, rather than the “small town baker falls in love with inn owner during Christmas” that I tend to see in books and other media fairly frequently. Not that I have any issues with those stories – if you’ve read some of my other reviews then you know I’m a girl who loves a Hallmark Christmas movie – but I enjoyed reading this other story as well. I did really enjoy both of our main characters, titular Hadley Beckett and rival chef Max Cavanagh, although I don’t think it was quite exactly right for me.
While Max was written as a realistically flawed character that had plenty of room for growth throughout the course of the story, Hadley seemed just the tiniest bit too perfect for me. I LOVE a flawed character that can show a full character arc by the end of that last page. And while she did have a few moments of showing a temper, or speaking without listening, there were just moments that felt like the girl that goes into a job interview and says her greatest challenge is that she’s “too trusting” or works “too hard.” You know what I mean?
That being said, I did really enjoy that they were both characters where you could see exactly how hard they both have worked (and continued to work) for all of their success. Again, it felt like a really nice change of pace compared to the more hard working underdog vs. the successful professional that somehow got there the easy way. These were just two dedicated and passionate people who seemingly deserve all of the success and praise that they have received, and I definitely appreciated that.

For the romance itself, as I said in the beginning, I love reading about folks who fall in love through food. And not only is it cooking based, but it is very much an enemies to lovers type of story as well. So from the get go, this love story is already right up my alley. I will say that there were one or two moments earlier on (like, early-middle of the book) where the story started feeling a tiny bit slow and a little moment of the romance may have felt a bit out of nowhere. But for the most part I really enjoyed making my way through the love story with these characters.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book to my friends that enjoy rom-coms or are needing a light, fun read. I can see myself rereading this at a time that I want to get out of a reading slump, or if I want to curl up with a warm, fresh baked good and read something along these lines. It felt about as easy, sweet, and comforting as a dish that Hadley herself would come up with, and I loved getting to taste it.

Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich

She Writes Press – Review: 4 Stars

Thanks so much to the author and She Writes Press for the complimentary advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are entirely my own. { partner } All of my full reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads.

TW : murder, murder of children, religion, mention of addiction, mention of thoughts of suicide, deceit

I want to start off by saying that I was reading this at a time that I’m not sure my heart was wanting a thriller – with all of the stress and uncertainty in the world right now with people being in isolation, I had a little bit of a hard time first getting into this book, and it did take me a little while to read it. But all of that being said, I really enjoyed it! And I do see myself returning to this book and rereading it at a later time, when thrillers are more fun again.

Let’s start with the story itself. In this book, the intense story starts right away from the very first page. You don’t have to get through chapters and chapters of exposition and set up before you get to the main mystery. I will say that the main crime that is being solved in this story does involve the murder of very young children – this does happen before the beginning of the book, so you don’t have to read the act itself, but you do get the aftermath from it. Any of these types of stories involving children can be really difficult for a lot of people to read, so I do think it is important to know before you start reading.

The story over all is really interesting, and once I got drawn in I really didn’t want to put it down. It was fast paced, and you get a ton of different perspectives while following the two different story lines. The book follows detective Linda Turner while she works to solve the case, as well as following the story of the prime suspect while she is on to her next victim. I will say that at times there were a few points of view that only had one or two chapters from their perspectives, and I could have done with a few less points of view. It is written more like a movie in that sense, where the scenes go wherever they need to, even if it’s a character that you haven’t really met yet, in order to see what the author/director wants you to see. I didn’t mind that at all, but as I said I could have done with getting a few less people’s points of view, and maybe getting the important parts of those chapters from someone that we were already familiar with.

Quickly touching on the characters, I loved our two female leads – Detective Linda Turner and our prime suspect Susannah Baker/Pamela Jane Watts. They are both such strong female characters, and very fun to read about in their ways. Linda is the type of character that you want to root for and see succeed from the very first time that you meet her. She was so smart and determined, you knew she was going to solve it and get her guy in the end, so it was really fun getting to watch her get to that point. As for Susannah, she is the type of villain that you love to hate. She is the person who is used to always being the smartest person in the room and using her charm to really get her way. She is a master manipulator, and I really enjoyed getting to read about her, while still knowing that she would be caught in the end.

Over all, I really did enjoy this book. I will say again that I don’t think this was the perfect time for me to be reading this particular story, but I definitely see myself rereading it at some time in the future when I am more in the mood for a thrilling adventure. I will definitely be recommending this one to my friends and family!

Four Faces of Femininity: Heroic Women Throughout History by Barbara McNally

Spring Pop-Up Tour: Booksparks courtesy of She Writes Press

Thanks so much to the author, Booksparks, and She Writes Press for the gifted advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts, and participation in this pop-up blog tour. { partner } All of my posts and reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads.

Book Description from Goodreads:

Four Faces of Femininity tells the story of remarkable women who, through their creativity, passion, intelligence, and sheer determination, have left an indelible mark on the history of mankind. The book is divided into four sections, with figures placed in Mother, Lover, Warrior, or Sage. Accessible, informative, and uplifting, Four Faces of Femininity explores the many ways in which women have changed the course of history – and demonstrates how crucial it is that women from every background be provided with role models that inspire. The book includes questions for exploration to help modern multifaceted women see these qualities in themselves and balance them to lead a fuller life.

Mt Thoughts/Mini Review (5 Stars):

You guys, I am so excited to be a small part of the #SpringPopUp with Booksparks, but I’m even more excited that this was the book that I was chosen for! First of all, the illustrations are GORGEOUS! And I love getting to read about all different types of women and their contributions – I think that is one of my favorite parts of this book, getting to see all of the different sides of strong women. Not every women is going to be a warrior in the traditional sense, but being a motherly soul is just as important, and strong, and empowering!

My fiancé and I have loved going through this book, and I think it will probably be one of our go to coffee table books, so that we can share it with everybody else!

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Flatiron Books – Review: 5 Stars

TW: Emotional abuse, stalking, abusive relationships, hospice, end of life hospice treatment, imprisonment of an innocent.

This book was on my TBR list for a long time, ever since it was published last year. I thought it would be a light, sweet read, and it absolutely still was that. But it was also so much more than that, and I loved it all the more for that. It was still the sweet read that I was looking for, but at the same time it had so much heart and showed so much growth in its characters.

So let’s start there, with the characters. The secondary characters (I’m including Richie, Mo, and Gerty in this category) were all so great in the context of their characters and the overall story. They were developed just enough to not feel like you were greatly missing parts of their characters and personalities that you would have liked to have, and to perfectly fit them into the different roles in the lives of the leads, but not so much that they took over the main plot line of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed each of them, and if there was a spin off on any of them (though specifically the brother, Richie) then I would read them in a heartbeat. I will make one quick note here, to say that I won’t be touching on Justin as a character. He is also one of the secondary leads, but I’m not going to discuss him in depth, outside of talking about his relationship with Tiffy.

Now on to our two leads, Leon and Tiffy. We get chapters from each of their perspectives, and they have very different writing styles, and it was really interesting getting to go back and forth. If you know me then you already know that I love multiple points of view in a story. I’m going to start with Leon – I loved his character, and I felt like I know a lot of people that if they read this story would really relate to Leon. He is a very caring and empathetic person, who may be a little bit lost at the beginning of the story, and who has become so comfortable in his life the way that it is that he doesn’t notice when maybe it isn’t working for him anymore. And as I said, I know a lot of people that would relate to that, either in part or in full. I will say that in the beginning I wasn’t sold on the writing style of his chapters – he is a very analytical type, and he doesn’t use unnecessary words. Things like pronouns get completely left out. As I said, I didn’t love these chapters immediately upon starting, but they definitely grew on me as the book went on. It really added to, and supported, his character, in my opinion, and it really drew on the differences in character between he and Tiffy.

Now to my favorite character, Tiffy. (Note that this paragraph is where I will be talking about the emotional abuse TW, so if you don’t want to read a discussion on that topic, skip to the next paragraph!) Tiffy is a slightly wacky and larger-than-life character, who mixes bright colors and drinks tea on a bean bag chair and fast talks/fan girls about crochet. I adore her. And in this book, for those reasons and others, she is a character that I really relate to on multiple levels. Tiffy is also the character that shows the most growth from the beginning to the end of the story. At the beginning of the story she is recently out of a fairly long term on-again-off-again relationship with someone that she was always trying to impress, and her friends never liked.
As the story goes on she starts having flash back style memories about this man and about their relationship, and she starts coming to terms with the emotional abuse that she had been living through at that time. I have seen people and reviews who wished that this had been more transparent from the beginning, but I personally really loved how this part of her story developed. As someone who has been through that type of relationship as well, I can say that I had no idea that that is what I was experiencing until long after I was out of the relationship. And as her chapters are through her eyes and point of view, we didn’t know any of that about her relationship until she knew it. And I personally loved watching it unfold and seeing it become clear with her, and then watching her not only come to terms with it but find the strength to escape and move past it.

Alright. Even if you’ve never read one of my reviews before, now you know that the characters are the main thing that will make or kill a book for me. So that got a bit ramble-y. But now that we are finished with that, I will just say that the setting of the flat was almost a character in itself. When Tiffy moves in and she and Leon are just starting to get used to sharing a space we get to hear about how she changes the flat as well to make it more homey for herself, and then throughout the story we see the flat coming to a happy medium between their two styles at the same time that the two characters are getting used to each other and finding a way to coexist with each other as well. I just found the blending of their styles to be really charming.

Over all, I really loved this book, even more than I expected to. I am so glad that I finally got the chance to read it (and as a virtual book club pick, so that I could discuss it with lovely friends!) and am sad that I waited so long to read it. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys romances, although I would make sure everyone is aware of the trigger warnings before beginning. I will also say that the steam level of this book is really relatively low – there are implied acts, and a few things are lightly touched on, but it is very low-key and the language is very non-graphic. So this is an easy read, even for those that don’t enjoy the super steamy reads. This will definitely be on my list of books to reread in the future, maybe as a nice summer read!

Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace

Andrews McMeel Publishing – Review: 5 Stars

Thanks so much to the author, NetGalley, and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. All opinions are entirely my own. All of my reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads { #partner }

TW : child abuse, toxic friendships, toxic romantic relationships, sexual harassment, eating disorders, fatphobia, suicide, trauma

I love all of Amanda Lovelace’s work that I have read, which is most of it. Particularly her Women Are Some Kind of Magic series is very dear to my heart. I read the first in that series, The Princess Saves Herself In This One, when I was recently out of (and recovering from) a very toxic situation, and after entering into a relationship with the amazing man that I would marry. It was a perfect time to read it, and it taught me so much about myself, and helped me work through things emotionally that even then I was ignoring.

So when I heard that she was coming out with another collection of her feminist, therapeutic poetry, and this time themed around a classic fairy tale like Cinderella, I knew that I was going to read it the second that I got my hands on it. And I did, and I loved it just as much as I was sure that I would. She turns the fairy tale details on their head – my favorite being that the Fairy Godmother is a personification of the voice we all hope for in our lives that counteracts the harmful voice in our heads, with positive, healthy, and affirming self talk.

All of this being said, and as much as I love Lovelace’s work, you definitely need to know exactly what you are getting into when you pick up one of these collections. As I noted earlier, these poetry collections deal with matters related to some very serious trigger warnings. So if this is something that would be harmful to you after reading, then please make note of that. And as she states at the beginning of each of her collections – “Remember to practice self care before, during, & after reading.”

Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Gallery Books – Review: 5 Stars

I knew before I even started this book that I was going to love it. I mean, it’s Christina Lauren. What’s not to love, right? Well little did I know that it would still exceed the already high expectations that I had for it! I have read a good number of Christina Lauren’s books, but this ended up being one of their tops for me! I only wish I hadn’t let it sit on my backlist-TBR for as long as I did.

Lets talk about the characters. Josh is cool, calm, and collected, and a perfect straight-man in this romantic comedy. He has this delightfully sarcastic and sometimes dry humor that just really tickled me while I was reading it. I mean it, this book had me in giggle fits almost the entire time reading through it! And now let’s talk about Hazel. Oh, Hazel. Hazel is now absolutely, 200% a favorite female lead in a book for me! She is so silly, and sassy, and wild, and I just want to be more like Hazel Bradford in my day to day life! She is a character that really knows how to have fun and get the most out of life, and I just really admired that in her as a character, and it made everything about this duo and their story just so enjoyable to read!

I love a friends-to-lovers romance as much as the next guy, but every once in a while it can feel like the stories can tend to blend together. There’s only so many versions of the same type of story, right? Well, sometimes that is true. And don’t get me wrong, that will not even remotely stop me from reading them! But this story went above and beyond the trope and added in some really fun details and twists that I hadn’t seen in the books that I’ve read before.
Josh and Hazel are friends that start living together while Hazel’s apartment is being fixed and updated, and soon after they start setting each other up and going on these (sometimes hilariously terrible) double dates. And that, to me, was just a really fun way to set up their story and transition into the next chapter in their relationship!

I don’t want to get into too many details on the plot, because I really don’t want to spoil any bit of this delight for anyone else who hasn’t read it yet. But let me say this – I finished this book in only a couple of days because I absolutely did not want to put it down. Hazel is forever my #WCW. This is one of the very top Christina Lauren books, in my opinion. And I would very highly recommend it to anybody who enjoys friends-to-lovers with a little bit of steam, and a whole lot of joy.

The Simple Wild by K. A. Tucker

Atria Books – Review: 5 Stars

Another book that I was told over and over again that I needed to read, and about how much I would love it – from friends, fellow readers on Instagram, etc. And oh my goodness, were they right about this book! While yes, like just about any other book it is not without a fault or two, I absolutely devoured this read.

Just to jump right into the downer part before we get to the more fun part, my biggest annoyance with this book was the main character Calla during the first portion of the book. And up front I was to specify, it was not at all an issue with the way that the character was written – she comes across exactly how the author had meant her to for the purpose of the storyline. She is a deeply, and intentionally, flawed character. Which on principle I have nothing against, because you need the flaws in order to show growth. There were just a few more chapters (from Calla’s perspective) of the inconveniences and trials of her time in Alaska. Although, again, this gives the character the opportunity for all of the growth and development that she shows throughout the rest of the novel. And by the end of the novel I found myself liking and relating to her much more.

That being said, on to the fact that I really loved this book! Other than first-half-of-the-book-Calla, all of the characters in Alaska are incredibly charming and heartfelt, and it made me want to go for a visit myself! This story deals with some difficult subjects, like loss and sickness in a family member, but it tells those stories with such heart and such care that I couldn’t help but fall in love with the book and all of it’s characters.

This book was incredibly enjoyable, and had just the perfect amount of steam to meet my contemporary romance needs without being too much to read in public. It is perfect for a summery beach read, or curling up by a cozy fire in the dead of winter, with your favorite sweater and glass of wine. And I will definitely be going back in for second and maybe third trips into this world!

The God Game by Danny Tobey

St. Martin’s Press – Review : 4 Stars

Thanks so much to the author, NetGalley, and St. Martin’s Press for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. All opinions are completely my own. All of my reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads { #partner }

TW : attempted suicide, strongly implied abuse, manipulation, death, bullying.

I just want to start by saying that this was a WILD read. This book was action packed, and smart, and a really intriguing cross between a number of different genres – young adult, sci-fi, suspense/thriller, and even moments of fantasy. What a way to start out my 2020 reading, by getting a little bit of everything in one of my first new reads! It was incredibly enjoyable, and it drew me in from the very beginning.

Jumping off of that point, I read this book in three sittings. It was a very quick read. And yes, part of that comes from the fact that it is YA, but (cough cough, no shade to any specific books) I have read some YA books that took me almost a month to read because I was having trouble getting through them. This book was the exact opposite experience for me. I had to know what was going to happen next with these kids, and what the next “level” of the game would look like, and I practically tore through this book in order to get those answers. Which made it a perfect addition to my TBR list this month, and to help me get out of a slight reading slump that I’ve been in. Highly recommend it if you’re needing a quick read for any of those reasons too! (Or just if you need to get your numbers on your Goodreads reading challenge back on track for the year. No judgement. Same, girl.)

Now I don’t think that we could talk about this book without talking about the characters and the different character development that we see throughout the book, as this game affects each of these high schoolers in very different ways. This book follows a group of high school seniors who are very close friends and call themselves “The Vindicators,” who are very smart and computer savvy, and who also perform yearly pranks. At the beginning of this novel they are planning their big, senior year prank, and in doing so they get themselves invited to be a part of this super exclusive online game, The God Game. But, while it seems so attractive to them in the beginning, and it doesn’t seem to be hurting anyone, soon everyone who is now playing The God Game have to follow every rule – and as the rules get more insane and more dangerous, so do the consequences for not following them.
Without going into any spoilers, we get to see each character in this group go through their own independent transformations (as well as the transformation that the group and their friendships themselves go through) as they start to struggle with really hard real life issues – things like having to determine right and wrong on levels that greatly impact the people around them, and even things like having to figure out what is real and what is only virtual.

I am going to stop myself before I go too far in talking in this circle, since I want to make sure to avoid spoilers – which can be very difficult in these types of stories! Over all I will say that I really, thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you enjoy sci-fi and you are looking for a really quick read that will drag you in from the very first page, then this is the next book for you. I would even recommend it to friends that sci-fi may not be their favorite genre, just because it is a really interesting and inherently terrifying story – what happens if AI and technology get so smart that they can be in control of the situation? And how do we know when we are on the path when it’s gone too far?