The Gallery of Unfinished Girls ★★★☆☆

gallery of unfinished girlsA little slow and a little weird, but definitely worth the read.

Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn’t been able to paint anything worthwhile since her award-winning piece Food Poisoning #1 last year.

Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is lying comatose in faraway Puerto Rico after suffering a stroke. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings.

Despite Mercedes’s creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the Red Mangrove Estate.

At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she never has before. She can share her deepest secrets and feel safe. But Mercedes can’t take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. As her life continues to crumble around her, the Estate offers more solace than she could hope for. But Mercedes can’t live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality.

Let’s start with the awesomeness that is a bisexual main character. I really loved watching her come to terms with her sexuality and how that inward struggle prevented her from addressing her passions, as many inward struggles do. Her front most struggle is to create a second painting in a series about… well… food poisoning… a little weird but you do you. But her real struggle is not only coming out to her best friend but also admitting that she has more than friendly feelings for her. All great things needed in YA.

And even with that–it’s not really a romance. Don’t go into this expecting a romance. Go into The Gallery of Unfinished Girls expecting a coming of age story. Because that’s what this is. And honestly, I think we need more “coming into feelings” stories and less “having feelings returned” stories.

Now onto other things. The writing is not bad. It’s not meh, either. It’s actually a very well written book, but I wasn’t ever really drawn into the book. I blame the flat opening. A piano suddenly shows up on the front lawn one day and then… nothing really happens for a few days… I think the opening would have benefited from more magical things occurring to keep us interested. Instead, there is a lot of introspective downtime in front of partially complete canvases.

Which is totally relate-able to as a writer who has sat in front of many a blank screen before, but I need that summed up in my fiction.

Ultimately, I enjoyed it and recommend that you pick it up, but it’s not a must have or don’t bother.

Granted ★★★☆☆

grantedIt was definitely an adorable idea, but the slow pacing really got to me.

Everyone who wishes upon a star, or a candle, or a penny thrown into a fountain knows that you’re not allowed to tell anyone what you’ve wished for. But even so, there is someone out there who hears it.

In a magical land called the Haven lives a young fairy named Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets. Ophela is no ordinary fairy—she is a Granter: one of the select fairies whose job it is to venture out into the world and grant the wishes of unsuspecting humans every day.

It’s the work of the Granters that generates the magic that allows the fairies to do what they do, and to keep the Haven hidden and safe. But with worldwide magic levels at an all-time low, this is not as easy as it sounds. On a typical day, only a small fraction of the millions of potential wishes gets granted.

Today, however, is anything but typical. Because today, Ophelia is going to get her very first wish-granting assignment.

And she’s about to discover that figuring out how to truly give someone what they want takes much more than a handful of fairy dust.

Little Monsters ★★★★☆

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I don’t know if this is obvious, I love thrillers.

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

Everless ★★★☆☆½

everlessTime is a prison. One girl holds the key. This is a thrilling, high-stakes new fantasy duology, perfect for fans of Red QueenThree Dark Crowns, and Six of Crows.

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is extracted from the blood, converted into coins, and used as currency or consumed to add to one’s lifespan. The rich aristocracy amass eons in their vaults, while the poor are forced to cut their futures short in order to survive in the present. And few families are richer than the Gerlings, who lord over the peasants from Everless, their palatial estate.

A fateful accident once spurred Jules and her father to flee Everless in the dark of night. But ten years later, in order to save her dying father, Jules must secretly return. Everless holds more temptations—and dangers—than Jules thought possible. Soon, she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets, and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

This dazzling debut novel, starring a fierce heroine and rife with high-stakes adventure, engrossing mysteries, star-crossed romance, and captivating magic all set in a richly built world, will leave you counting down the seconds until the next installment.

I’m mixed about this one. I definitely loved the prose and the very literal take on “time is money.” I really loved the greater world that Holland created here with the Sorceress and the Alchemist, and general fantastical elements that wove their way around this story.

But I hated the pacing and particular character flaw so much I put it down.

Little Monsters ★★★★☆

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I don’t know if this is obvious, I love thrillers.

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

Recently, I posted a big long list of YA tropes, which you can view here. On it, are evil (cheerleader-esque) teenage girls. And there were a lot of them in Little Monsters. BUT… I love them so much. They’re so evil I love it. I’m a terrible person.

Kacey is a new girl in a small town. She had a big fight with her highly unstable mother and moved in with her father, whom she’s never met, and his family in Broken Falls. But lucky for her she made new friends: Bailey and Jade.

Queue my other least favorite tropes: girl goes to party, girl doesn’t make it home.

Okay, the party is presented like the usual “girl goes to party and tries drugs for the first time,” it’s a legitimate social gathering here and it’s huge, because Kacey wasn’t invited. As the summary says.

In a small town where everyone already has tight and long-form relationships, it’s not long before everyone suspects Kacey and she, rightfully so, begins to retreat inward and keep her loyalties to herself.

I did, despite many red herrings, guess the culprit, but I did suspect a few others before that.

I really loved the depiction of the small town, complete with its own local legends and universal small town culture. It really added to the general mood of Little Monsters.

I also loved the friendships. It was all so accurate about how complicated teenaged friendships can be. All the obsessions and jealousy was turned up for the sake of the story but it never popped me out of the book.

One thing that did bother me is Kacey’s “Mysterious Past,” which is never fully pinned down. It added to the mystery for sure, but definitely took away from the project as a whole. I think if Bailey’s journal entries, our only alternate viewpoint, could have been expanded to help us better understand Kacey.

Definitely a solid YA thriller and it’s already out! So go pick it up and… you know… don’t read it before bed. (You’ve been warned)

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls ★★★☆☆

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A little slow and a little weird, but definitely worth the read.

Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn’t been able to paint anything worthwhile since her award-winning piece Food Poisoning #1 last year.

Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is lying comatose in faraway Puerto Rico after suffering a stroke. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings.

Despite Mercedes’s creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the Red Mangrove Estate.

At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she never has before. She can share her deepest secrets and feel safe. But Mercedes can’t take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. As her life continues to crumble around her, the Estate offers more solace than she could hope for. But Mercedes can’t live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality.

Let’s start with the awesomeness that is a bisexual main character. I really loved watching her come to terms with her sexuality and how that inward struggle prevented her from addressing her passions, as many inward struggles do. Her front most struggle is to create a second painting in a series about… well… food poisoning… a little weird but you do you. But her real struggle is not only coming out to her best friend but also admitting that she has more than friendly feelings for her. All great things needed in YA.

And even with that–it’s not really a romance. Don’t go into this expecting a romance. Go into The Gallery of Unfinished Girls expecting a coming of age story. Because that’s what this is. And honestly, I think we need more “coming into feelings” stories and less “having feelings returned” stories.

Now onto other things. The writing is not bad. It’s not meh, either. It’s actually a very well written book, but I wasn’t ever really drawn into the book. I blame the flat opening. A piano suddenly shows up on the front lawn one day and then… nothing really happens for a few days… I think the opening would have benefited from more magical things occurring to keep us interested. Instead, there is a lot of introspective downtime in front of partially complete canvases.

Which is totally relate-able to as a writer who has sat in front of many a blank screen before, but I need that summed up in my fiction.

Ultimately, I enjoyed it and recommend that you pick it up, but it’s not a must have or don’t bother.