Reviews in a Minute: Late July ’19 Books

Oh yay, more July books! These are a bit more of a mixed bag than my earlier July books, but 2/3 were good, at least?

I already posted about the Early Julys. But these are more July books, yay!  

How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates
The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
The Arrival of Someday by Jen Malone

Reviews in a Minute: Late July ’19 Books How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates
Published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books on July 23, 2019
Pages: 368
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

A plague, called Wicked, is pulsing through the world; and in its wake, it’s dividing the population into thirds:

The WICKED: Already infected by the droves of Singers, the ultraviolet mosquito-like insects who carry the plague, the Wicked roam the world freely. They don’t want for much—only to maim and dismember you. But don’t worry: They always ask politely first.

The TRUE: The True live in contained, isolated communities. They’re the lucky ones; they found safety from the Singers. And while the threat of the Wicked may not be eliminated, for the True, the threat has certainly been contained…

The VEXED: The Vexed are the truly fortunate ones—they survived the sting of the Singers, leaving them immune. But they’re far from safe. The Vexed hold the key to a cure, and there are those who will do anything to get it.


I have no idea how this book isn’t on all the radars, but it isn’t. And that’s a complete shame, because it is phenomenal. The kind of book I flew through reading, but was also sad cause I never wanted it to end. You know the kind. So let us chat about why I am such a fan, yeah? Though I am purposely keeping this short, because it’s best to go into this knowing as little as possible, like I did!

  • Incredible atmosphere! It fit perfectly with the vibe and tone of the story, and made me feel like I was on this secluded island. Think Sawkill Girls meets the apocalypse. Good stuff.
  • I cared about the characters immediately. And never stopped. There are two main POV characters, and I adored them both. I also enjoyed learning about their families, and in some cases, the other people around them. This is so wonderfully vague that I am probably confusing more than helping at this point, but just trust that there will be characters you love, characters you hate, and characters so gleefully gray you won’t be able to decide.
  • The layers that unravel and the twists that unfurl… simply delicious. Wow I love a twist. And this book just keeps them coming! It’s like a layer is peeled back, we learn something about the characters or world, but then we get new questions. Remember what I said about not being able to put it down? Yeah, that.
  • Everything about the book feels very fresh. The world itself, the plot, how everything turns out… it just feels new. Like nothing I’ve ever read before. Sure, there are bits here and there that you can compare to other books, obviously, but as a whole it’s an incredibly unique story that captivated me from the start.

Bottom Line: Eerily atmospheric, genre-bending, and wholly unputdownable, How We Became Wicked is one of the best books of 2019.

Reviews in a Minute: Late July ’19 Books The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
Series: The Merciful Crow #1
Published by Henry Holt (BYR) on July 30, 2019
Pages: 384
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review

A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?


Sometimes I read bird books and think “Shannon, you are so silly for avoiding birds!” but this is not that book. Fine, look, in fairness, I think it might be a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”? Because I liked the characters quite a lot, and in theory, I even liked the world. But I was just so lost and overwhelmed by all the different types of powers, and the hierarchy of the society, and who was using whose teeth for what reason.

Yeah, that’s a real thing here! Teeth! Of the dead, that help… Idk, create better magic? I wasn’t lying when I said I was kind of confused, okay? And while I did genuinely care about what happened to the characters, it was a real slog getting there. Which isn’t to say the writing was bad; it wasn’t. Nor was the world, just… it was a lot. And sometimes I don’t want to work that hard while reading. So I might have skimmed in the middle. A lot.

I honestly might try this one again, if I hear good things about the sequel. Because I wanted to love it, and there were parts of it I enjoyed. But as it stands, I was kind of bored and definitely frustrated, so here we are.

Also, birds. So many birds.

Bottom Line: Definitely a unique world with a great cast of characters, I struggled to become immersed in the world and plot.

Reviews in a Minute: Late July ’19 Books The Arrival of Someday by Jen Malone
Published by HarperTeen on July 23, 2019
Pages: 352
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss

In this heartfelt and emotionally candid contemporary YA, author Jen Malone delves into the life of a teen whose world is brought to an abrupt halt when she learns she’s in dire need of an organ transplant.Hard-charging and irrepressible eighteen-year-old Amelia Linehan could see a roller derby opponent a mile away—and that’s while crouched down, bent over skates, and zooming around a track at the speed of light. They don’t call her Rolldemort for nothing! What she couldn’t see coming, however, was the unexpected flare-up of a rare liver disorder she was born with. But now it’s the only thing she—and everyone around her—can think about.

With no guarantee of a viable organ transplant, everything Amelia’s been sure of—like her college plans, the mural she’d been commissioned to paint, or the possibility of one day falling in love—has become a huge question mark, threatening to drag her down into a sea of what-ifs she’s desperate to avoid.

Then a friend from the past shows up. With Will, it’s easy to forget about what’s lurking underneath the lightness of their time together. It’s easy to feel alive when all signs point elsewhere. On the other hand, with the odds decidedly not in her favor, Amelia knows this feeling couldn’t last forever. But what can?


My heart! Oh, this book gave me the feels. But not all the feels were of a depressing sort, not even close! For a book about a very ill young woman, it manages to be incredibly heartwarming and uplifting. Lia faces an incredibly difficult battle, one that upends her life. She needs a liver. And they’re not exactly selling them at Target.

The story focuses not just on Lia’s health though. Obviously, it’s a big part of it, and we’ll get to that. But her journey is about so much more. It’s how her plans have to shift now that her body isn’t cooperating. It’s how her relationships have to grow and change and evolve. It’s readjusting her outlook on life in general, with or without a transplant. It’s a lot, basically.

And luckily, Lia has some great people in her corner. Her best friend is one of my favorite characters, she’s so charming and funny, and even though she and Lia have a few tiffs, you can clearly tell that her heart is always in the right place. Lia’s family is equally incredible. I found her relationship with her brother (kind of distant, but you know they both absolutely care for and love each other) refreshingly honest. And her parents, wow. They’re like, you know, good parents who’d move heaven and earth for their kid. And as Lia faces the unknown, she begins to realize how deep their love- and hers for them- goes.  There’s not really romance here either, just a really good friendship with some extra feelings of “maybe”. Which I feel was a really good choice for the story. Regardless, her more-than-a-friend-? is a fabulous guy, and he cares for Lia no matter in what capacity. Plus, he cares about the whole family, which earns him points in my book.

One of the big takeaways from the book is how complex organ donation is. There’s a bit of a plot point about making sure kids at school signed up and such, and while the method may have been a wee bit hokey, the message is good enough that I can overlook it. Point is, organ donation is a literal crapshoot. Luck of the draw. Did your blood type match that guy who just got hit by a car? It’s your lucky day! And that, at it’s crux, is the hardest to accept- if Lia wants an organ, it’s going to be someone else’s worst day.

And not enough people are organ donors. Hence why Lia remains ill for so long. Obviously, not every cause of death lends itself to organ donation. But if the unthinkable happened, I’d like to know that someone like Lia could benefit, even from the worst possible situation.

Bottom Line: An incredibly touching and heartfelt book, Jen Malone has written another book I won’t soon forget!

Have you read any of these books? Plan to? Let us chat about them! 

And are you an organ donor? If you can, certainly consider it and discuss your wishes with family! 

Posted July 23, 2019 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in In a Minute, Review / 18 Comments

18 responses to “Reviews in a Minute: Late July ’19 Books

  1. Looks like you’re continuing to read good books, Shannon! Out of these, I’ve read The Merciful Crow. I agree that the world and characters are enjoyable, though it isn’t a book I wanted to finish in one sitting. I actually had an easier time with the hierarchies, magic system, and teeth, but I can see where it can get overwhelming. I would be interested in seeing a general fantasy set in this world with more time spent exploring the world and the complexities wrought by its caste system.

    • Yeah I think I am definitely part of the problem- if the magic system doesn’t click for me soon-ish, I am usually hard pressed to enjoy it. And perhaps when I have more time to really slowly read it and not have to worry if it takes me awhile, it might be easier?

  2. I’m an organ donor! I don’t understand why people aren’t. If you’re not using them anymore, why not pass them on? I don’t know much about how donation works, so that book sounds really interesting.

    • Dude right? My grandparents used to say “because the paramedics will be less likely to save you” which is completely ridiculous, but I guess maybe some people think that? It is really an interesting book! And it;ll give you feels!

  3. I heard about HOW WE BECAME WICKED a few months back for the first time, and I was a bit hesitant, so I never actually added it to my to-read list… until now. Your review totally sold this for me – I mean, calling it one of the best books of 2019 is HUGE, I can’t wait to get it, especially because of how you stressed that it’s fresh/unique. Fantastic reviews!

  4. The arrival of someday definitely intrigues me! The organ donation topic seems super interesting, especially for young audiences. How we became wicked sounds fantastic. I would have never picked this one up but wow, one of the best books of 2019! That’s amazing! Also, I love an eerie atmosphere in novels so I’m all for it!
    Genesis @ Whispering Chapters

  5. Sawkill Girls meets the apocalypse. Hmm. Okay! 🙂 Works for me.

    What is it with crows these days? After Black Spot I feel like I’m crowed out, I don’t know.

    And oh this last one is by Malone? I didn’t notice that at first, but her books all look good. Nice when YA has good parents. And it addresses important topic too. Sounds great.

  6. Nope. I checked. No livers at Target. You slay me! And, you know I am crying over here right now just thinking about Lia. How We Became Wicked is not necessarily my thing, but wow! That is quite the high praise from you (and a bell too!). I will have to put that one on my daughter’s radar. She loves that stuff.

  7. How have I never noticed until this month that you read a lot of plague/post-apocalyptic/infection type books?! I LOVE THOSE. I always want to read more but I never notice any reviews for them but HERE YOU ARE. So, yeah, that first one, I’m adding to my list. I’m sad you didn’t like The Merciful Crow, I’m looking forward to that one and I’m pretty sure it’s a book in one of the book boxes I subscribed to. We’ll see if I like it!

  8. I’m slightly disappointed in myself that (1) the only book of this lot I’ve heard of is Merciful Crow aaand I bought it 😫and (2) the others sound so good and I had not bought them?!?! WHAT LIFE do you lead, cait. 😭😂Anyway! I am very keen on adding these on GR. Especially the contemporary one because bring it, feels.

  9. Beth W

    Oh yay- the two you liked are already on my list (and at my local library). I’ll put a hold on them right away. 😀

  10. Ummm How We Became Wicked sounds really good! I hadn’t even heard of it, but I’ll definitely be checking it out! Honestly what’s with all the bird books lately? I’m sorry you didn’t love that one. :/

  11. I’ve heard of the Arrival of Someday, it looks so good! I’ve also been seeing the Merciful Crow around the blogosphere for months now. There are so many fantasy esque books out now, that confuse me to no end 😂 Sometimes it’s only towards the end of the book, but no matter how good the book was up to that point, I can never give it such a good rating because I’m not the biggest fan of being confused. Great reviews!

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