Review: Read Between the Lines (Ms. Right #1)

Title: Read Between the Lines
Author: Rachel Lacey
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, LGBTQ
Publisher: Montlake
Source: Thomas Allen and Son
Format: Paperback
Release Date: December 1, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From award-winning author Rachel Lacey comes a playful romance about a Manhattan bookstore owner and a reclusive author who love to hate—and hate to love—each other.

Books are Rosie Taft’s life. And ever since she took over her mother’s beloved Manhattan bookstore, they’ve become her home too. The only thing missing is her own real-life romance like the ones she loves to read about, and Rosie has an idea of who she might like to sweep her off her feet. She’s struck up a flirty online friendship with lesbian romance author Brie, and what could be more romantic than falling in love with her favorite author?

Jane Breslin works hard to keep her professional and personal lives neatly separated. By day, she works for the family property development business. By night, she puts her steamier side on paper under her pen name: Brie. Jane hasn’t had much luck with her own love life, but her online connection with a loyal reader makes Jane wonder if she could be the one.

When Rosie learns that her bookstore’s lease has been terminated by Jane’s company, romance moves to the back burner. Even though they’re at odds, there’s no denying the sparks that fly every time they’re together. When their online identities are revealed, will Jane be able to write her way to a happy ending, or is Rosie’s heart a closed book?

Review:

Rosie Taft runs the Between the Pages bookstore in the Upper East Side. She loves romance novels, and she’s started an online friendship with her favourite author Brie. However, Brie is a pen name, so Rosie doesn’t know who she is. One day, Rosie gets a letter that she’s being evicted from the store because the building will be torn down. Jane Breslin works for the company who owns the building, and she’s the one who sent the letter to Rosie. But Jane’s secret is that she’s a romance author who uses the pen name Brie. When Jane and Rosie meet, Rosie only sees her as the woman who’s tearing away her store. Their secret online relationship is undeniable, so they have to decide if they can put aside their differences to have their happy ending.

Enemies to lovers is quickly becoming one of my favourite romance tropes. The tension in their “enemy” relationship didn’t last long in the story though, so most of it was a cute romance. It was so adorable to see how their relationship started with a love of books online and then moved to the real world.

I liked the progression of their relationship in this story. There was a lot of tension, with Jane’s secret identity as an author and the fact that Jane’s company had destroyed Rosie’s store, so it was bound to explode at some point. I was really happy with the way it ended though.

Read Between the Lines is an adorable queer romance! I can’t wait to read the next book!

Thank you Thomas Allen and Son for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

No Rings Attached by Rachel Lacey

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

Other books in the series:

  • No Rings Attached

Have you read Read Between the Lines? What did you think of it?

Review: The Witch’s Hand (The Montague Twins #1)

Title: The Witch’s Hand (The Montague Twins #1)
Author: Nathan Page, Drew Shannon
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy, LGBT
Publisher: Knopf
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: July 14, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Brothers. Detectives. Witches? Meet Pete and Alastair Montague in the first installment of a new graphic novel duology that is the Hardy Boys meets Paper Girls.

Pete and Alastair Montague are just a couple of mystery-solving twins, living an ordinary life. Or so they thought. After a strange storm erupts on a visit to the beach, they discover there is more to their detective skills than they had thought. Their guardian, David Faber, a once prominent professor, has been keeping secrets about their parents and what the boys are truly capable of.

At the same time, three girls go missing after casting a mysterious spell, which sets in motion a chain of events that takes their small town down an unexpected path. With the help of David’s daughter, Charlie, they discover there are forces at work that they never could have imagined, which will impact their lives forever.

An exciting new graphic novel from innovative creators Nathan Page and Drew Shannon that is at once timely and thrilling.

Review:

Pete and Al Montague are teenage twins who live with a professor and his family. Pete and Al solve mysteries in their town. However, they have a magical secret behind their success. After a storm, the boys find a mysterious witch in a lighthouse. Then three girls disappear, including the daughter of a prominent man in town. Along with the professor’s daughter, Charlie, Pete and Al investigate this disappearance and the mysteries of their town. 

This story was set in the 1960s, which reminded me of vintage Archie comics meets the Hardy Boys. There was some diversity in this story, with queer characters talking about coming out. I enjoyed this setting for this story. 

This was an exciting mystery novel. I loved the addition of some magic along with the mysteries. There was some witch lore involved as well. I liked that the mysterious elements were introduced in this story, and it left a lot of questions to be explored in the next volume. 

The Witch’s Hand is an exciting start to the Montague Twins series!

Thank you Penguin Teen Canada for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Devil’s Music by Nathan Page and Drew Shannon

Other books in the series:

  • The Devil’s Music

Have you read The Witch’s Hand? What did you think of it?

Review: Chef’s Kiss

Title: Chef’s Kiss
Author: Jarrett Melendez, Danica Brine
Genre: Graphic Novel, LGBT, Contemporary
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 1, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Watch things start to really heat up in the kitchen in this sweet, queer, new adult graphic novel! 

Now that college is over, English graduate Ben Cook is on the job hunt looking for something…anything…related to his passion for reading and writing. But interview after interview, hiring committee after hiring committee, Ben soon learns getting the dream job won’t be as easy as he thought. Proofreading? Journalism? Copywriting? Not enough experience. It turns out he doesn’t even have enough experience to be a garbage collector! But when Ben stumbles upon a “Now Hiring—No Experience Necessary” sign outside a restaurant, he jumps at the chance to land his first job. Plus, he can keep looking for a writing job in the meantime. He’s actually not so bad in the kitchen, but he will have to pass a series of cooking tests to prove he’s got the culinary skills to stay on full-time. But it’s only temporary…right? 

When Ben begins developing a crush on Liam, one of the other super dreamy chefs at the restaurant, and when he starts ditching his old college friends and his old writing job plans, his career path starts to become much less clear.

Review:

Ben Cook is a recent college graduate with an English degree. When he can’t find a job in publishing after weeks of interviews, he finds a restaurant that is hiring with no experience necessary. It doesn’t hurt that Ben also likes the cute sous chef who interviews him. Ben must do a series of challenges to prove to a tough critic that he has the skills to work there full-time.

I loved the quirky characters in this story. All of them, even the minor characters, had distinct personalities. There was also a pig, named Watson, who was just adorable.

The one thing I didn’t understand was why Ben had to do weeks worth of challenges for this job. He didn’t spend time actually working in the restaurant. He had to work on one dish a week to perfect it, but it seemed more like a training program or school rather than a job.

Chef’s Kiss is a cute queer graphic novel!

Thank you Oni Press for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Giant Days by John Allison, Lissa Treiman

Heartstopper, Vol. 1 by Alice Oseman

Have you read Chef’s Kiss? What did you think of it?

Review: Nick and Charlie (Solitaire #1.5)

Title: Nick and Charlie (Solitaire #1.5)
Author: Alice Oseman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT, Novella
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 16, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A short novella based on the beloved characters from the graphic novel Heartstopper and Alice Oseman’s debut novel Solitaire, which was praised as ‘The Catcher in the Rye for the digital age’ by The Times.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

CHARLIE: “I have been going out with Nick Nelson for two years. He likes rugby, Formula 1, dogs, the Marvel universe, the sound felt-tips make on paper, rain and drawing on shoes. He also likes me.”

NICK: “Things me and Charlie Spring do together include: Watch films. Sit in the same room on different laptops. Text each other from different rooms. Make out. Make food. Make drinks. Get drunk. Talk. Argue. Laugh. Maybe we’re kind of boring. But that’s fine with us.”

Everyone knows that Nick and Charlie are the perfect couple – that they’re inseparable. But now Nick is leaving for university, and Charlie will be left behind at Sixth Form. Everyone’s asking if they’re staying together, which is a stupid question – they’re ‘Nick and Charlie’ for God’s sake!

But as the time to say goodbye gets inevitably closer, both Nick and Charlie question whether their love is strong enough to survive being apart. Or are they delaying the inevitable? Because everyone knows that first loves rarely last forever …

Review:

Nick and Charlie have been the perfect couple for two years. Now that the school year is ending, and Nick will be heading off to university in September, they can feel things changing. After another couple at their school breaks up because they don’t want to have a long distance relationship next year, Charlie thinks that’s what him and Nick should do too, even though neither of them want to break up. A misunderstanding separates them, leaving them questioning if they should be together.

These characters are so lovable. I can see why there have been many stories written about them. Nick and Charlie love each other so much, but they have a hard time communicating, like many people. This was one of those stories that made me want to shout at the characters to just talk it out. Luckily this is a short story so it doesn’t take long for their problems to be resolved.

Though this is a novella, it has a complete story arc. Sometimes, novellas or short stories within a series feel like they’re lacking the plot that the full length stories have. There was a clear problem (Nick and Charlie wondering if they should stay together when Nick goes off to university) and a solution at the end. This story made me love the characters even more.

Nick and Charlie is an adorable novella!

Solitaire by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper, Vol. 1 by Alice Oseman

Other books in the series:

Have you read Nick and Charlie? What did you think of it?

Review: A Spindle Splintered (Fractured Fables #1)

Title: A Spindle Splintered (Fractured Fables #1)
Author: Alix E. Harrow
Genre: Fantasy, Novella, LGBTQ
Publisher: Tordotcom
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: October 5, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

It’s Zinnia Gray’s twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it’s the last birthday she’ll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no one has lived past twenty-one.

Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia’s last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.

USA Today bestselling author Alix E. Harrow’s A Spindle Splintered brings her patented charm to a new version of a classic story.

Review:

Zinnia Gray never expected to live past her twenty-first birthday. She has a rare medical condition, which destroys her organs. No one with her condition has ever lived to twenty-two. As a child, she became obsessed with Sleeping Beauty, who also had an expiry date on her life. Since it’s Zinnia’s last birthday, her best friend, Charm, throws her a Sleeping Beauty party, that ends in Zinnia pricking her finger and ending up in an alternate universe. Zinnia goes to another version of the Sleeping Beauty story, where she must save the princess to return to her world.

I love any fairy tale themed story so I was excited to read this one. I went into it without knowing what it was going to be about. Zinnia goes into the Sleeping Beauty universe, where all versions of the story live. She had to interact with a few different girls who are living through that storyline.

A big theme of this story was the toxic masculinity surrounding the Sleeping Beauty story. There are versions that are much more terrorizing than the Disney version that we all think of. The whole idea of a woman being awoken by the non-consensual kiss of a man is problematic enough, without looking at other versions where the men did more than that. This story had a good twist on that ending that made it more pleasant and feminist.

A Spindle Splintered was a great modern fairytale. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Have you read A Spindle Splintered? What did you think of it?

Review: Something Fabulous (Something Fabulous #1)

Title: Something Fabulous
Author: Alexis Hall
Genre: Romance, LGBTQ, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Montlake
Source: Thomas Allen and Son
Format: Paperback
Release Date: January 25, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the acclaimed author of Boyfriend Material comes a delightfully witty romance featuring a reserved duke who’s betrothed to one twin and hopelessly enamoured of the other.

Valentine Layton, the Duke of Malvern, has twin problems: literally.

It was always his father’s hope that Valentine would marry Miss Arabella Tarleton. But, unfortunately, too many novels at an impressionable age have caused her to grow up…romantic. So romantic that a marriage of convenience will not do and after Valentine’s proposal she flees into the night determined never to set eyes on him again.

Arabella’s twin brother, Mr. Bonaventure “Bonny” Tarleton, has also grown up…romantic. And fully expects Valentine to ride out after Arabella and prove to her that he’s not the cold-hearted cad he seems to be.

Despite copious misgivings, Valentine finds himself on a pell-mell chase to Dover with Bonny by his side. Bonny is unreasonable, overdramatic, annoying, and…beautiful? And being with him makes Valentine question everything he thought he knew. About himself. About love. Even about which Tarleton he should be pursuing.

Review:

Valentine Layton, the Duke of Malvern, has always known he must marry Arabella Tarleton. Their fathers were friends, and they decided before they died that their children would marry. However, Arabella doesn’t accept Valentine’s proposal as expected because he doesn’t love or even care for her. After the proposal, Arabella runs away with her friend, so her twin brother, Bonaventure “Bonny” Tarleton, insists that Valentine go with him across the country to bring her home. Valentine soon learns that Bonny likes men, which is something that Valentine had never considered. As they travel around, trying to track down Arabella, Valentine starts to question everything he’s ever thought about love.

This story started out with an author’s note that said some of the linguistic choices are modern and almost all of the characters are queer. The modern language was quite funny at times, especially for a book set in the 1800s. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where almost every character, except for one or two, are queer. This made for some tense situations during a time period where it wasn’t accepted. This story also had quite a steamy romance!

I was very curious to see how this story would end. Since it’s a romance, it should end with the main couple being in a relationship or getting married. However, a male couple in the 1800s wouldn’t be able to get married, and their romance would be frowned upon public, especially when one of the men was a Duke who must have an heir. I won’t give away the ending, but I was pleasantly surprised. It really made a lot of sense, yet I hadn’t thought it would happen. It was the perfect ending for this story!

Something Fabulous is a great queer historical romance!

Thank you Thomas Allen and Son for providing a copy of this book.

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Have you read Something Fabulous? What did you think of it?

Review: Frankie and Bug

Title: Frankie and Bug
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: Middle Grade, LGBTQ
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 12, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In the debut middle grade novel from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Gayle Forman comes a poignant and powerful coming-of-age story that follows a young girl and her new friend as they learn about family, friendship, allyship, and finding your way in a complicated world.

It’s the summer of 1987, and all ten-year-old Bug wants to do is go to the beach with her older brother and hang out with the locals on the boardwalk. But Danny wants to be with his own friends, and Bug’s mom is too busy, so Bug is stuck with their neighbor Philip’s nephew, Frankie.

Bug’s not too excited about hanging out with a kid she’s never met, but they soon find some common ground. And as the summer unfolds, they find themselves learning some important lessons about each other, and the world.

Like what it means to be your true self and how to be a good ally for others. That family can be the people you’re related to, but also the people you choose to have around you. And that even though life isn’t always fair, we can all do our part to make it more just.

Review:

1987: Ten-year-old Bug just wants to spend the summer with her older brother at the beach like they’ve done for the past few years. Instead, her fourteen-year-old brother Danny, has decided he needs to spend time with his friends instead of his little sister. Their neighbour’s nephew, Frankie, comes to visit for the summer and spend time with Bug. However, Frankie isn’t interested in the same things as Bug. He doesn’t want to go to the beach. Instead, he wants to investigate the murders happening in the area. Throughout the summer, Frankie and Bug learn life lessons, including that family can be the people you choose to be close to, instead of your relatives.

This was such a beautiful story. It included some important life lessons that Frankie and Bug had to learn. They both had problems within their family, with some family members not treating them fairly. Bug often pointed out when things weren’t fair, but not everything in life is fair.

There were some emotional subplots in this story. I won’t give away what happened, but there was a transgender character as well as a gay character. Neither of these characters were treated fairly when others knew their gender identity. Though these were tough subjects, they were handled really well for a middle grade reader. There were some upsetting scenes, but generally these topics were treated in a positive way.

Frankie and Bug is a beautiful middle grade coming of age story!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Shark Summer by Ira Marcks

Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz

Have you read Frankie and Bug? What did you think of it?

Review: This Winter (Solitaire #0.5)

Title: This Winter (Solitaire #0.5)
Author: Alice Oseman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ, Novella
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: November 5, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A short story, based on characters from Solitaire – praised as ‘The Catcher in the Rye for the digital age’ The Times
I used to think that difficult was better than boring, but I know better now…

I’m not going to think about the past few months, about Charlie and me, and all of the sad. I’m going to block it all out. Just for today.
“Happy Christmas, ” I say.

The festive season isn’t always happy for Tori and her brother Charlie. And this year’s going to be harder than most.

Review:

The Spring family is going to have a difficult time at Christmas this year. Charlie has just returned from treatment for an eating disorder. Tori wants to make sure he feels included in the holiday, but everyone else makes a big deal out of it. Meanwhile, their little brother, Oliver, just wants to play Mario Kart. The Spring siblings have to figure out a way to get through this tough holiday.

When I first picked up this book, I didn’t realize it was part of the Heartstopper series. I’ve only read the first graphic novel in that series but I loved it. This edition of the book also included some illustrations of the characters that looked like the graphic novel.

This story had a brief look at mental health and disordered eating in males. Usually in fiction, disordered eating is only portrayed in female characters, though it could happen to anyone. I appreciated this unique look at this disorder.

The difficult holiday that the Spring siblings experienced was so relatable. There are often relatives at holiday events that ask inappropriate questions or make hurtful comments, like they did with Charlie. Sometimes the best thing to do in that situation is to just remove yourself, which is what Charlie had to do.

This Winter is a great Christmas novella!

Solitaire by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper, Vol. 1 by Alice Oseman

Other books in the series:

  • Solitaire

Have you read This Winter? What did you think of it?

Review: The Girls Are Never Gone

Title: The Girls Are Never Gone
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, LGBT
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Conjuring meets Sadie when seventeen-year-old podcaster Dare takes an internship in a haunted house and finds herself in a life-or-death struggle against an evil spirit.

Dare Chase doesn’t believe in ghosts.

Privately, she’s a supernatural skeptic. But publicly, she’s keeping her doubts to herself—because she’s the voice of Attachments, her brand-new paranormal investigation podcast, and she needs her ghost-loving listeners to tune in.

That’s what brings her to Arrington Estate. Thirty years ago, teenager Atheleen Bell drowned in Arrington’s lake, and legend says her spirit haunts the estate. Dare’s more interested in the suspicious circumstances surrounding her death—circumstances that she believes point to a living culprit, not the supernatural. Still, she’s vowed to keep an open mind as she investigates, even if she’s pretty sure what she’ll find.

But Arrington is full of surprises. Good ones like Quinn, the cute daughter of the house’s new owner. And baffling ones like the threatening messages left scrawled in paint on Quinn’s walls, the ghastly face that appears behind Dare’s own in the mirror, and the unnatural current that nearly drowns their friend Holly in the lake. As Dare is drawn deeper into the mysteries of Arrington, she’ll have to rethink the boundaries of what is possible. Because if something is lurking in the lake…it might not be willing to let her go.

Review:

Dare doesn’t believe in ghosts, despite having a podcast called Attachments where she’s investigating the paranormal. She takes an internship at Arrington Estate, a house that is haunted by the ghost of Atheleen Bell. Dare suspects that the circumstances of Atheleen’s death aren’t supernatural, though that is the rumor. Dare becomes friends with Quinn, the daughter of the new owner of the house, and Holly, another intern. They’re all pulled into the mystery of the house, with ghost sightings and messages left on walls. Dare has to figure out the truth of what’s going on, before the ghost claims another victim.

Dare was a great detective for the story. She was drawn to this ghost story to investigate for her podcast. I liked that even though she was interested in this story, she was a skeptic. That made it even more convincing that something supernatural was happening when she started to suspect there was a real ghost. I would have loved to see more transcripts of her podcasts throughout the story to hear what she was reporting on.

I can’t comment much on the ending without giving anything away. I will say that it was surprising. The reveal was kind of complicated, involving many generations of residents of the estate. The ending was surprising and a little sad.

The Girls Are Never Gone is a great YA paranormal story.

Thank you Razorbill for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain

Horrid by Katrina Leno

Have you read The Girls Are Never Gone? What did you think of it?

Review: A Lesson in Vengeance

Title: A Lesson in Vengeance
Author: Victoria Lee
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Thriller, LGBTQ
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Owlcrate
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School.

Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds.

Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.

It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called “method writer.” She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource.

And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.

Review:

Felicity Morrow has returned to Dalloway School to redo her senior year, after her best friend and secret girlfriend, Alex, died the year before. Her dorm, Godwin House, is rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of five former students who died in mysterious, magical circumstances. Felicity has always been drawn to dark things, but she had to give up her magic beliefs after Alex died. Now, Ellis Haley, a writing prodigy, has moved into Godwin House to complete her senior year. Ellis needs to complete her second book, and she enlists Felicity’s help in researching the ghosts of Dalloway for her project. Felicity can’t help but be drawn to Ellis, until they both take their research too far.

I knew I would love this book as soon as I heard about it! It had a dark, isolated setting in a dormitory of a girl’s school. Their house was separated from the other dorms and close to the woods. The girls didn’t even use cell phones, despite being teenagers, so they were isolated from the rest of the world that way too.

Felicity was a very unreliable narrator, but that kept the story unpredictable. When Felicity would explain certain things or tell a story from her past, it would soon be revealed that it was untrue. Sometimes this can be frustrating in a narrator, but in this case, it made for some shocking twists throughout the story.

I highly recommend A Lesson in Vengeance!

What to read next:

S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett

Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain

Have you read A Lesson in Vengeance? What did you think of it?