Bite-Sized Reviews of After the Fire, Watersnakes, Into the Bright Unknown and House Arrest

December 6, 2018 Reviews 14 ★★★★

I’ve got four reviews for you today: a YA contemp, a YA historical fantasy, a graphic novel, and a MG contemp in verse. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!


Bite-Sized Reviews of After the Fire, Watersnakes, Into the Bright Unknown and House ArrestAfter the Fire by Will Hill
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on October 2, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 464
Source: NetGalley
My content rating: YA (Abuse depicted, including some sexual abuse--though it's mostly hinted at)
My rating:
4 Stars

The things I've seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.

Before, she lived inside the fence. Before, she was never allowed to leave the property, never allowed to talk to Outsiders, never allowed to speak her mind. Because Father John controlled everything—and Father John liked rules. Disobeying Father John came with terrible consequences.

But there are lies behind Father John's words. Outside, there are different truths.

Then came the fire.

add-to-goodreads 

If, like me, you’re fascinated by stories about cults, this book will be just what you’ve been searching for. It explores what happens to people after they leave a cult environment—in this case, unwillingly. I love that the book looks at all sides of the life that Moonbeam (the MC) led while she was a member. There were horrors, but she has fond memories of some aspects of her early life too. And I loved seeing the world from her perspective and understanding why she thought some of the things that happened to her were normal or acceptable (when they definitely weren’t). As the story progresses, she has to come to terms with how her belief systems were twisted and what that means for her moving forward. There are also some really interesting mysteries woven in about what actually happened at the compound that we learn through flashbacks. My one and only complaint was that the book felt a little longer than it needed to be. Sometimes the sections between revelations felt a bit dragged out. But I still really enjoyed the journey.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews of After the Fire, Watersnakes, Into the Bright Unknown and House ArrestWatersnakes by Tony Sandoval
Published by Lion Forge on November 20, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Pages: 144
Source: NetGalley
My content rating: Mature YA (Nothing sexually explicit, but some nudity and some images that might be considered violent or disturbing)
My rating:
4 Stars

Mila is a solitary teenager ready to put another boring summer vacation behind her until she meets Agnes, an adventurous girl who turns out to be a ghost. And not just a regular ghost, but one carrying the essence of an ancient fallen king and a mouth full of teeth that used to be his guardian warriors.

Three-time Eisner Award–nominated writer/artist Tony Sandoval presents a wondrous world of secret places and dreamlike magic hidden in the everyday corners of our sleeping imagination.

add-to-goodreads 

This graphic novel is honestly a bit trippy, but that’s definitely the style and the intention. And I will fully admit that when I read graphic novels, I’m all about the artwork, and I LOVE the style of the artwork in this book. Some parts of the story were … strange and a little disturbing (for instance, there’s a bit of a weird tooth fetish thing going on that I didn’t quite understand—and an army of teeth creatures that … yeah, I’m not sure). Still, I found myself compelled to keep reading, and while I was sometimes confused and a little disturbed I was entranced by the story. Definitely an upper/mature YA graphic novel, though. If you like dark and creepy and a little bit weird, you’ll definitely be a fan.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews of After the Fire, Watersnakes, Into the Bright Unknown and House ArrestInto the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #3
Also in this series: , Walk on Earth a Stranger, Like a River Glorious
Published by Harper Audio on October 10, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 368
Narrator: Erin Mallon
Length: 8 hours and 59 minutes
Source: Library
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Some violence)
My rating:
4 Stars

The stunning conclusion to Rae Carson’s New York Times–bestselling Gold Seer trilogy, which Publishers Weekly in a starred review called “Simply terrific.” A historical fantasy brimming with magic, romance, and adventure—perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Sarah Maas, and Westworld.

Leah Westfall, her fiancé Jefferson, and her friends have become rich in the California Territory, thanks to Lee’s magical ability to sense precious gold. But their fortune has made them a target, and when a dangerous billionaire sets out to destroy them, Lee and her friends decide they’ve had enough—they will fight back with all their power and talents. Lee’s magic is continuing to strengthen and grow, but someone is on to her—someone who might have a bit of magic herself. The stakes are higher than ever as Lee and her friends hatch a daring scheme that could alter the California landscape forever. With a distinctive young heroine and a unique interpretation of American history, Into the Bright Unknown strikes a rich vein of romance, magic, and adventure, bringing the Gold Seer Trilogy to its epic conclusion. Includes a map and an author’s note.

add-to-goodreads 

This conclusion to the Gold Seer Trilogy has our crew of miners planning a heist to bring down a major political player in California. They have to figure out how to outsmart the people who would hold them back and hold them down (and cheat them out of what they deserve). While I didn’t love this conclusion to the series quite as much as I enjoyed the first two books (mostly due to the way the ending played out with their whole plot being explained instead of us seeing it), I’m still glad I got to witness Leah’s happy ending. And I do love the focus on the racial and gender inequalities of the wild west. I also really loved that Leah’s “witchy” powers were a major factor in their success. These books make me want to read more historicals from this time period, and that right there is a ringing endorsement.


Bite-Sized Reviews of After the Fire, Watersnakes, Into the Bright Unknown and House ArrestHouse Arrest by K.A. Holt
Series: House Arrest #1
Published by Chronicle Books on October 6, 2015
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Verse
Pages: 304
Source: Library
My content rating: MG (Deals with issues like divorce, illness and crime; Budding romance)
My rating:
5 Stars

Stealing is bad.
Yeah.
I know.
But my brother Levi is always so sick, and his medicine is always so expensive.

I didn’t think anyone would notice,
if I took that credit card,
if, in one stolen second,
I bought Levi’s medicine.

But someone did notice.
Now I have to prove I’m not a delinquent, I’m not a total bonehead.

That one quick second turned into
juvie
a judge
a year of house arrest,
a year of this court-ordered journal,
a year to avoid messing up
and being sent back to juvie
so fast my head will spin.

It’s only 1 year.
Only 52 weeks.
Only 365 days.
Only 8,760 hours.
Only 525,600 minutes.

What could go wrong?

add-to-goodreads 

This is one of the best novels in verse I’ve ever read. It’s written as Timothy’s poetic journal that he keeps while he’s on house arrest for stealing a credit card to pay for his little brother’s medication. At first, I wasn’t sure how the journal style would work, but it turned out to be incredibly emotionally compelling. It’s impossible not to sympathize with him as his family struggles to deal with his little brother’s illness and all of its ramifications (including poverty and their need to still occasionally break the rules that have been set for them out of desperation). I was in tears by the end of the book. I think its good for kids to be exposed to the fact that sometimes people try really hard to do their best in difficult situations and things still don’t go their way. For instance, we see Timothy’s mom making poor decisions sometimes, but we never get the sense that she’s a “bad mom.” She’s doing the best that she can in impossible circumstances. And sometimes the system steps in and tries to help, but that can have both good and bad ramifications as well. I liked the fact that the book wasn’t black and white—the line between what was good behavior and bad behavior was a bit blurred, just as it often is in real life. I highly recommend this book for fans of verse novels … or someone who’s just curious and would like to try one out.

I didn’t realize until writing this review that there’s a second book in this series (that focuses on the little brother once he’s older), but I’ll definitely be picking that up now.


That’s it for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think?

14 Responses to “Bite-Sized Reviews of After the Fire, Watersnakes, Into the Bright Unknown and House Arrest”

  1. Sam@wlabb

    I just tweeted about Into the Bright Unknown. I loved that series, because, well, Rae Carson, but I also loved the characters and their grit. Even the fantasy version of the gold rush was tough, and the characters had bad guys making it even more difficult. I was very, very satisfied with that ending.

  2. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    Yeah I agree with Into the Bright Unknown. Though I might have been a little more disappointed than you were, tbh. Only because I was SO excited for it- not that it was that bad or anything! And yeah, I agree about After the Fire. I liked it a LOT, but it was awfully long! And now I need Watersnakes in my life because it sounds wonderfully weird, and then also House Arrest because it sounds just plain wonderful! Great reviews!!

  3. Lisa W.

    I loved House Arrest as well, and I also had no idea there was a second book! I need to get my hands on that ASAP!!!!

  4. Lindsi

    I’ve been curious about Watersnakes! Someone did a review on Goodreads with pictures from the graphic novel, and woah. It seems like the images themselves are really intense! I haven’t read a graphic novel in ages, since I tend to read a lot of comics, but I might check this one out.

    I love books written in verse, so I added House Arrest to my TBR! It sounds like the book addresses difficult decisions and how they effect everyone around them. I like that it shows a mom doing her best, but not always making the best choices. I think that makes her more relatable! Sometimes we do what we think is right in the moment, but doesn’t work later on.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

  5. Terri @ Alexia's Books and Such

    Love your bite-sized reviews! After the Fire sounds intriguing. It’s always interesting to hear about life inside of cults and the survivor’s different perspectives. And House Arrest sounds good too. Really like the idea of being written as a journal.

    Terri @ Alexia's Books and Such recently posted: My Book Haul 12-8-2018

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