Reviews in a Minute: Books With Words

Two of these are book birthday books, like last week. The other isn’t. That’s all I’ve got. 

The Raging Ones by Krista & Becca Ritchie
School Lies by Kimberly G. Giarratano
See All the Stars by Kit Frick

Reviews in a Minute: Books With Words The Raging Ones by Krista Ritchie, Becca Ritchie
Series: The Raging Ones #1
Published by Wednesday Books on August 14, 2018
Pages: 352
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

From New York Times bestselling authors Krista and Becca Ritchie, comes The Raging Ones, an edge of your seat sci-fi romance with twists and turns that you will never see coming!

In a freezing world, where everyone knows the day they will die, three teens break all odds.

Franny Bluecastle, a tough city teen, dreams of dying in opulence, to see wealth she’s never known. Like the entire world, she believes it’s impossible to dodge a deathday.

Until the day she does.

Court Icecastle knows wealth. He also knows pain. Spending five years in Vorkter Prison, a fortress of ice and suffering, he dreams of life beyond the people that haunt him and the world that imprisoned him.

Mykal Kickfall fights for those he loves. The rugged Hinterlander shares a frustrating yet unbreakable connection with Court—which only grows more lawless and chaotic as their senses and emotions connect with Franny.

With the threat of people learning they’ve dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet to survive. But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people far smarter, who’ll live longer, and never fear death the way that they do.


Le sigh, another book I was certain I would love and didn’t quite. The premise was great- I always find the whole “know what day you’ll die” thing fascinating. And really, quite a mindfuck. And I enjoy the way it is explored in this story, too. People who know they’ll die at certain ages have fully different life experiences, which… wow. I imagine it would make sense! But… what happens when someone misses their deathdate in a world in which that is not a thing that happens?

Well, of course the book explores all of that via three main character/death dodgers, Franny, Court, and Mykal. Here’s another fun fact: these three are somehow “connected” in a weird, even creepy kind of bond (we’ll get to that.) The beginning (solidly the first half, really) explored this bond, the relationships among the characters, and the world in general. It was a bit boring, basically.

The second half of the book did pick up, as the three tried to secure themselves a spot on a mission into space. Figuring that if they could get off-planet, no one would care that they didn’t die when they were supposed to. So it’s a competition (a bit akin to Dare Mighty Things, actually) in which a select few will earn this opportunity during a rigorous trial. That part was pretty decent, and the end was actually quite good- some big twists that I definitely did not see coming! There were a few other bits that bugged me during the book:

  • I was hoping for way more space antics. There were not many space antics. (This will probably be remedied in future books, however.)
  • I honestly felt like not much even happened for most of the book. There was so, so much setup, and like, five minutes of action. I didn’t feel like there was enough conflict, and when there was, it was a bit predictable.
  • The “bond” started to freak me out. Like- they could ummm “feel” each other while they were bathing, and being intimate and such, and… I won’t lie, it grossed me out. Can you imagine? You’re in the shower and some dude you just met can feel you washing yourself? Hard pass on that.

But there were good things! 

  • Aforementioned awesome premise.
  • I did like the characters, in general. While I felt they probably could have been a bit more distinguishable and fleshed out, I liked them.
  • The ending was honestly so good it kind of makes me want to read the next one? Even though I was sure up until about 90% that I wouldn’t be?

Will I Read the Next Book: I’m going to wait and see. If I hear good things, I presume I will be tempted enough by the ending to go for it.

Bottom Line: Awesome premise, kind of mundane execution. The great last quarter really couldn’t fully make up for the first three, but it helped.

Reviews in a Minute: Books With Words School Lies by Kimberly G. Giarratano
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on July 5, 2018
Pages: 292
Source:Copy provided by author for review

Guilt, lies, and betrayal--all before first period. After finding his headmaster father slumped over his desk from a gunshot wound, Levi Abrams is ready to sever his ties to Hulbert Academy with a sharp blade. Though the authorities have ruled his father's death an accident, Levi has his doubts. But with graduation only weeks away, Levi wants to get his diploma and move on. Then Troy Byrne returns to school. It's been three years since Troy got expelled from Hulbert on bogus drug charges--but he's over it. And over his parents' impending divorce. Maybe even over his feelings for Levi. But when his troubled sister disappears, he must return to the treacherous halls of Hulbert. Photo negatives in her trashed apartment connect her disappearance to the headmaster's death. To find his sister, he'll need Levi's help. Now Troy has no choice but to confront his feelings for a boy he was hoping to forget. As Troy and Levi follow a scavenger hunt of clues, they unearth a dangerous blackmailing scheme that extends far beyond their claustrophobic prep school. Is Troy's sister missing or did someone make her disappear? And are the boys next? Set against the backdrop of the mid-1990s, School Lies explores the depths we go to protect ourselves and those we love, even if it means betraying others.


This was one of only three books I read in July that I liked! Seriously friends, it was rough. Anyway, that isn’t why we’re here, so let’s move on.

Let us start by getting the one thing I didn’t love about the book out of the way, so we can move on to all the stuff I did. Basically, it was kind of hard for me to get into at first. I was having trouble keeping the characters straight (erm, pun definitely not intended, but we’ll go with it), and I wasn’t sure how into them I was. BUT. I held on for a bit and ended up really becoming invested! So, I would definitely say worth the little bit it took me to get deeper into a great mystery. Now, the promised good stuff:

  • The little local mentions made my heart happy. Do you know how many books are set in Northeastern Pennsylvania? That’s right, it’s zero. And okay, this is a fictional place, but there are mentions of very real towns. And when you’re from a small area, you’ll always love seeing it in literature.
  • It’s set in the 90s! My only other (super minor) qualm was that maybe the 90s references would go over the heads of some younger people, and seem out of place? But I loved the time setting- and for many, many reasons it worked in the book. I mean, for one, while obviously LGBTQ+ people still face tons of discrimination, there was a lot of stuff that was very time-specific (like military restrictions and such), and a lot of the backlash these boys faced just felt very discriminatory in a way that was super common twenty years ago. I hope that makes sense? Also, not having certain technology made the details of the case work out in a much more intense way.
  • I really genuinely cared about the characters. And I cared about the people they cared about, which made me quite invested in the outcome of the mystery. And, I might have had some feels. (Fine, who am I even kidding, I had lots of them.)
  • There was a ton of focus on family, even if some of the families were pretty dysfunctional. Having the characters explore these bonds was certainly a great addition to the story. And seeing some of the more supportive family members was lovely (and hopeful, tbh).
  • The mystery kept me guessing til the end! And obviously I will tell you no more than that ?

Bottom Line: An intense mystery set in the backdrop of the 90s with characters I was invested in.

Reviews in a Minute: Books With Words See All the Stars by Kit Frick
Published by McElderry Books on August 14, 2018
Pages: 320
Format:eARC, ARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley, ALA

Part love story, part thriller, We Were Liars meets Goodbye Days in this suspenseful, lyrical debut.

It’s hard to find the truth beneath the lies you tell yourself.

THEN They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system.

NOW Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.

THEN Lazy summer days. A party. A beautiful boy. Ellory met Matthias and fell into the beginning of a spectacular, bright love.

NOW Ellory returns to Pine Brook to navigate senior year after a two-month suspension and summer away—no boyfriend, no friends. No going back. Tormented by some and sought out by others, troubled by a mysterious note-writer who won’t let Ellory forget, and consumed by guilt over her not entirely innocent role in everything and everyone she’s lost, Ellory finds that even in the present, the past is everywhere.

The path forward isn’t a straight line. And moving on will mean sorting the truth from the lies—the lies Ellory has been telling herself.


Looks like it is time for another positives versus negatives, because that seems to be the best way to organize this book. I want to give you more background, but… I think just reading the synopsis is sufficient? Short version: Ellory used to have friends and a boyfriend, now, not so much. And it’s for reasons, which is what this story uncovers, basically. There you go, you’re very welcome.

The Things I Liked:

  • Ellory did grow quite a bit as a character as the story went on. That’s always nice, especially since she really, really needed to. I mean, she had these friends, but she didn’t even seem to like them, so much as need them? Like a crutch? Anyway, she does go through some great character development.
  • The reveals did, in fact, surprise me. That is hard to do, so I am glad the book was able to!

The Things I Didn’t:

  • I do fully understand why Ellory was upset, but I couldn’t help but think that she was better off without these characters? Ugh, they just made me mad all over the place. Don’t get me wrong, Ellory did too, but at least I felt a modicum of sympathy for her? They were just pretty boring, and what wasn’t boring about them was crappy, so basically I wouldn’t have wanted to be friends with any of them. My inner dialogue was mostly like “well Ellory, you dodged a bullet here, my friend”.
  • It just seemed to drag at times. Even though it was a relatively quick read, it was just so underwhelming for me. By the end, while I did appreciate some of the twists/outcome, I was just too over it to care. Which I don’t think has ever happened to me before, first time for everything? Is shocked apathy a thing? It is now.
  • Nirvana Effect™. I know this is probably more of a personal trope hate, but wow I am not a fan of the Nirvana Effect™.

Bottom Line: If you can get on board with the characters, you may enjoy the twists. I, however, could not.

Have you read any of these books? Planning on it? Let’s talk about them! 

Posted August 14, 2018 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in In a Minute, Review / 26 Comments


26 responses to “Reviews in a Minute: Books With Words

  1. Man, I have been seeing some mixed reviews for The Raging Ones! Mostly skewing a little average but a few good ones too, but I think I’m gonna pass on this one. There’s just too many books I want to read more? See All The Stars sounds like a nope too. The premise sounds okaaaay, but it just doesn’t sound compelling enough to make the effort lol. Glad you reviewed these though, so now I know. 🙂

    • Pass. Like okay if you like the whole “compete for space race” thing just read Dare Mighty Things, I loved it. And See All the Stars… sadly, I have to say pass there too. Like the end was kind of good but definitely not worth the slogging through the rest of it. July reading was a REALLy rough month.

    • Bwhahah thanks- I seriously couldn’t think of anything else, and I was tired and just wanted to schedule it ? School Lies was really quite good- I liked that the relationship was interwoven with the mystery but like, in a believable way. And right!? They got seriously CREEPY like dude doesn’t need to telepathically feel me up in the shower when I do not KNOW HIM!

    • Like- I didn’t want to get TOO into them because of spoilers but like- none of them were NICE to each other! Why are you friends with these people who are not nice!? So then of course, I couldn’t like, give a crap when they weren’t friends, you know? Ugh. What a mess.

  2. Sorry you didn’t really care for the Raging Tides and See All the Stars. I am so curious about School Ties though. I hadn’t heard of it but you know I love LGBT+ novels and set in the 90’s? yes please!


    • Yesss it was really good! It’s not pricey either. The author did another great mystery series (that was paranormal, this one isn’t) that I loved, also set in the 90s. I really wanted to explain the LGBT thing better, but it was hard, like- I don’t have firsthand experience, but I have friends who of course shared theirs in detail (since they were going through it at the time) and it just sounds… really quite authentic? In a sad way because well, that WAS the downfall of the 90s, wasn’t it? m

  3. I’m curious about the Kimberly G. Giarratano one because I liked her other books about dead people!! LOVE ghost books! This one seems adult tho? Which, I mean…I do read adult sometimes but ’90s books go over my head AND I WAS BORN IN 1994 SO I DON’T KNOW. I’M SUPER HOPELESS. ?The other two seems a bit of a dead loss though. (And gross to that connection thing?! That creeps me out so much.)

  4. I feel like you’ve been reading a lot of not so great books lately, and I am so sorry to hear that! I hope you’ll be able to pick up some more wonderful books soon and be able to really enjoy them. It sounds like the first one was a huge let down, especially as you had hopes. I am glad you could like the School Lies time period setting and that you really liked the characters too!

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  5. I was really looking forward to The Raging Ones but it just didn’t quite work out for me – I had a difficult time telling the difference between the characters and the whole bond thing was a bit creepy…

  6. I don’t know if they are set in NE PA, but AS King set all the books I have read of her’s in PA (not Philly either). I digress….. I am not seeing such stellar reviews for See All the Stars, which is disappointing, because it sounded so promising. By the way, I was a senior in college at a party (Chi-Psi-chotic) eating jello shots when I found out Kurt Cobain died. Uh, old enough for Nirvana, but I loved reading about your lesser tropes.

  7. I have seen so many mixed reviews about The Raging Ones – that one didn’t caught my eye right away, but now I think I’ll definitely stay away from it, that whole “bond” thing would freak me out as well, just thinking about it is giving me disgusted chills haha.
    I’m sorry that See All The Stars didn’t work out for you, I’ve been eager to read that one – it sounds like it’s either a hit or miss for a lot of people… I’m still curious so I’ll have to see, hopefully I’ll enjoy it more than you did 🙂
    Lovely reviews! 😀

  8. I’ve seen “All the Stars” around, but haven’t yet read much about it. The book cover certainly intrigues though…!!

    Thanks for the reminder to take a second look at this one, Shannon.

  9. I really hoped that I was going to like The Raging Ones too (especially with my current obsession with the Syfy series The Expanse) but, like you said, it didn’t really add up to me. I don’t feel like anything was explained (like I wanted more explanation for the “link” and why did everyone know when they were going to die in the first place?) and about why the world was the way it was. The ending opened up for more explanation and action in the next book, but I don’t think readers should have to wait for a sequel to solve confusion. If I hear stellar reviews, then I might attempt the next book, but the odds aren’t great right now. (Even though I loved Mykal, he was the literal best).

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