Monday, 26 May 2014

Review: (Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

Title: (Don't You) Forget About Me
Author: Kate Karyus Quinn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publisher: June 10, 2014
Buy: The Book Depository

This book is magical and bizarre and messy and wonderful. It’s like trying to piece fragments of a dream together; a story interspersed with moments of harsh clarity and unsettling confusion. Granted, it won’t work for all – you’ll need to have patience and a draw to the unusual to get through this one – but as my first taste of Kate Karyus Quinn’s writing, I could not be more impressed.

There is SO much creativity in this book. The small town setting is beautifully depicted, a disturbing sort of isolated paradise where there is quiet, longevity and a wondrous lack of illness. Gardnerville is terrifying and enchanting, home to main character Skylar Gardner, and a place where teenagers are overcome with fatal, unnatural compulsions every four years. In Gardnerville, you can live easily into your second century, but first, you have to get through adolescence.

“…this was a fourth year in Gardnerville, and there were no happy endings.”

Skylar Gardner, who has the ability to read secrets, begins as an unreliable protagonist, thoughts murky and muddled as a result of the forget-me-not pills that she heavily relies on. The book is split into alternating chapters of past and present, and those set in the past are addressed to Piper Gardner, Skylar’s older sister, the girl who led sixteen teenagers to their deaths. The plot is slow and unhurried, more atmospheric than eventful, and it works perfectly with Skylar’s narration. There is a lingering sense of mystery that comes from wondering about Piper, the town, and what is really fuelling the impossible magic that is Gardnerville.

“What I really dread are the memories that might bubble up to the surface. It’s funny – I don’t even remember what I am hiding from; all I know is I don’t want to know.”

Normally, flashback-type chapters are not something I feel particularly enthusiastic about, but it works miraculously well here, even with everything in a non-chronological order, and it’s never cluttered to the point of exasperation. In fact, if anything, the early sense of not knowing will only get you to turn the pages faster. It’s with a desperate curiosity that I ploughed through the second half of this book. There are a few surprising twists and mind-bending revelations that make the whole hazy journey fill utterly worth it.   

Besides Skylar and Piper – the second of which is better met without knowing too much about – the other characters prove to be just as intriguing. Two stand-outs for me are Foote and GG. I want to call the first the love interest, but really, that term feels too ordinary and familiar for a book like this, and too restricted for a character like Foote’s. There is romance, but it is slight and well-paced, and captivating in a quiet way that suits the story. GG is brilliant. Her bluntness and no-nonsense attitude is refreshing and hilarious. The best thing about the people in this book? You can’t put them into boxes. They are all interesting, they all have their secrets, and they all make you wonder if they can be trusted.

I am, now, tempted to demand that you forget everything about this book and its premise and enter it blindly. The confusion is part of the experience, the wonder even more so. (Don’t You) Forget About Me is mesmerising and original. It is one for those who like stories that mess with your mind, and one for those who like the line between reality and the imaginary to be blurred. To put it simply, I am a fan.

Rating: 4 stars

96 comments:

  1. Oh, Sam, wow. This sounds amazing. Actually, seriously, I spent 5 minute staring at the cover before I read your review--which was even more amazing and compelling. I'm... Kind of already itching to know what happens in this one, and the way you've described it. Wow. WOW.

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  2. ooohh, this sounds like something I'd really like to read. I love stories that jump between the past and the present, and it sounds even better when you said that it really works great for this book. Great review!

    I'm definitely adding this on my tbr list :D

    czai @ the Blacksheep Project

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  3. This really was a rather strange read but in a good way. I have this one coming up as well to review. Glad you liked it!

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  4. I wasn't actually planning on reading this, because I wasn't too sure about the premise. After reading your review, though, I am so going to give it a go! The characters especially have me intrigued. Wonderful review, Sam!

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  5. Hmm... like Renu, I didn't plan to read this, but your review convinced me to put it on my read list. The setting seemed really bizarre and if confusion was part of the experience, I think I could let go of my usual reluctance re: things unfolding in a non-chronological order. Thanks, Sam!

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  6. I am so glad you loved this one, Sam. I am always up for reading a weird, beautifully written book. I have this scheduled for review next week so I am tackling it in the next few days. Loved the quotes.

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  7. Emily @ Books & Cleverness26 May 2014 18:45

    This book looks AWESOME. I've had my eye on it for a while now and I can't wait to read it! Your review got me all excited about all over again! :)

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  8. Natalie Aguirre26 May 2014 19:18

    Sounds interesting but it might be too slow for me. Thanks for sharing about it.

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  9. Wow Sam! This sounds absolutely wonderful - from the original concept, to the characterization, to the writing. I agree...flashbacks don't typically work for me very often either, but I'm trusting when you say that they are well-done here. ;) Definitely going to give this one a try! Thanks for sharing, and, as always, BEAUTIFUL review! So glad you enjoyed it so much! :D

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  10. Oh I am all for books that mess with your head! I'm glad that I don't really know much about this book, as then I won't know what to expect. I'm happy that you were able to enjoy this book Sam, especially as that it gave you something (flashback chapters) that you're not normally fond of! Gorgeous review!

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  11. Devin Norwood26 May 2014 22:26

    I was already super excited about this book, now after reading your review, I'm even more excited! This book sounds SO good!

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  12. I just cannot wait to get my preorder of this one!! I loved the author's debut and reading your review makes me want to read it even more!
    Thank you so much for a great review, Sam!

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  13. I'm actually going to read this very soon! I'm so glad that you liked it, and great review! There is so much buzz going on about this book, and I can't wait to join it!


    My Blog: http://www.thatgirlybookworm.blogspot.ca

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  14. I only skimmed your review since I plan to read this soon, but I'm so happy to see that you liked it! I expect to be thoroughly confused, yet happy that I read it. :)

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  15. Holy creativity Batman!! I am kind of extremely blown away by your description of this premise. Really don't even know what to make of it! But I am loving what I'm hearing and I LOVE being confused while reading. I mean, confused in a good way, you know what I mean. It's okay that I've read your review and have a general impression what this book will be like - pretty sure I'll love it anyway even without going in completely blind! And I never would have thought about reading this one without this review!

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  16. Gabby Holtan27 May 2014 03:44

    This sounds so fab and exciting! I am demanding a copy fall into my hands right now! wonderful review Sam :)

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  17. Thanks, Gabby! I hope you can get your hands on it!

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  18. Yep! There's something quite thrilling about putting puzzle pieces together yourself. This is definitely a good sort of confusion where everything comes together quite satisfyingly. :) I'm glad you're interested in reading it now, Aylee.

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  19. Woo hoo! I can't wait to see what you think of it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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  20. I can't wait to see what you think of it, Michelle. I'm really glad that this book is getting some buzz. I definitely think is deserves it! :)

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  21. I can't wait for you to read this one, Pili. In the meantime, I need to get started on the author's debut! I'm definitely a lot more curious about it now.

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  22. I'm so glad that you're excited, Devin. I hope the book lives up to your expectations! :)

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  23. I am a huge fan of the mind-bending. It's always cool when an author does something new, too. I can't wait to see what you think of this, Jasprit!

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  24. I think my issue with flashbacks and chapters set in the past is that I get very impatient. I always just want to return to the present-day story. I'm glad I was able to enjoy both parts equally here! :)

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  25. It is quite slow-paced, and I know that isn't for everyone. I'm glad you think it sounds interesting, though!

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  26. I hope you enjoy it when you read it, Emily! It's certainly one of the books that's stood out for me this year. I can't wait to get your thoughts.

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  27. I always love getting something different - especially when I am not expecting it! I look forward to reading your review next week, Heidi.

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  28. I'm very fond of order and structure, so I understand that usual reluctance! But the confusion and haziness (mostly at the start here) works really well in this book. I hope you will agree! :)

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  29. I didn't have many thoughts about it before starting (as I hadn't read the author's debut), so it kind of took me by surprise, how much I enjoyed this! I hope you will like it, too. :)

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  30. I'm very curious about Another Little Piece. I never did get around to it last year, but I'm a lot more eager to give it a try now. I hope you enjoy this one, Faye! I know Rashika liked it too. I'd love to get your thoughts. :)

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  31. Definitely strange in a good way! It was quite a refreshingly odd little story, and I'm curious to see what the author will do next.

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  32. Stories that jump between past and present aren't always the sort I get excited about - mostly because I get very impatient and always just want to return to the present! - but it worked so, so well here. I hope you enjoy this one, Czai!

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  33. I am a HUGE fan of the cover. Having read the book, I think it's pretty fitting too, in terms of tone. I'm glad you're curious about this one, Sarah! I hope you'll give it a try. :)

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  34. Good to hear! I hope you will like it as much as I did.

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  35. This is something that doesn't always work for me either, but I think Quinn handled it incredibly well here. Reading excerpts sounds like a good idea though. Thanks, Michelle!

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  36. I've been hearing so many good things about this book lately. I actually didn't download a copy from EW because I'm cutting down on my review books, but I sure do regret it now because it sounds fantastic. I like how the protagonist is unreliable at first. That would definitely make me feel very confused throughout the book, but at the same time curious. I'm going to get a copy of this when it comes out.
    Lovely review, Sam!

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  37. THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY SAM!
    I don't even know what else to add because you put everything so brilliantly. The characters, the setting, everything about this book is magically and I wish I could shove it down everyones throats but like you said, not everyone will enjoy this one.

    I have to say though, I was also a little vary about the flashback chapters as well but they are done so well!


    LOVELY review as always, Sam!! :)

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  38. This is the second review I've read about this book today, and now I can't wait to read it :)

    Just found your blog and now following through bloglovin!

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  39. Thanks for an awesome review, Sam. I was a bit weary of picking this one up but your review convinced me otherwise. I'll be sure to check this one out now.

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  40. Well, I scrolled down a bit further in the page than I meant to, saw the rating, and caught my eye on the last paragraph of your review, and am now afraid to read the rest of it, LOL. I do really want to read this book, so I AM going into it blindly ;)

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  41. I love the cover. I'm not sure about the subject matter of the book, but the cover certainly catches my attention!

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  42. I originally wanted to read this, then I read some negative reviews and decided to leave it off my tbr. Now your review & rating has made me add it! I love that things that don't usually work for you, like flashbacks, were a positive feature, and I like how thrilling and twist-filled this sounds!


    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

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  43. ♥Rachel♥28 May 2014 03:20

    I'm going to have to check this out, Sam. I love how original and creepy the plot and atmosphere sounds! Lovely review! :)

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  44. I am so intrigued! This sounds a bit like magical realism, perhaps? I'm a huge fan of that genre in general. I was a bit hesitant to read Karyus Quinn's debut, but this sounds like the sort of novel I can really enjoy, especially knowing that you rate it so highly.
    Lovely review, Sam!

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  45. I just finished this one a couple of days ago, actually! I'm not really sure what to think of it right now. The last couple of pages were a whirlwind and so, so interesting, but I wish the story had been more interesting throughout -- so yup, patience is definitely a necessity. I don't know how many times I told myself to put it down. Glad I stuck with it till the end, though!

    YES. CREATIVITY. Oh my gosh. Kate Karyus Quinn constantly amazes me with her imagination and total originality. Have you read ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE by her? I really enjoyed that one; it had the same dark and unsettling and confusing atmosphere this book has. And just as you're beginning to ask yourself what the hell is going on, she comes up with this horrifying explanation that makes so much sense and just blows your brains out, because it's SO imaginative.

    "I want to call the first the love interest, but really, that term feels too ordinary and familiar for a book like this" -- Exactly! I found him adorable, if a little frustrating for following Elton's every command like a puppy at times, but then his story grew into so much more. I don't even want to call him a secondary character, even though he doesn't really make a whole lot of appearances in the book, compared to the main ones. That's how deep I found him to be, too.



    And I just realized how well the cover fits with the book. Green leaves for paradise, but the tree is almost bare -- just like how Gardnerville crumbles as we progress further in the book. And the messy font is like how messed-up Skylar's thoughts are... or am I just overthinking? ;) Anyway, fabulous review as always. Being the constantly distracted person that I am, I really wish that the book had captured me from the beginning, which is mostly the reason why the rating I'm giving it won't be that high. But damn, this was definitely a one-of-a-kind story, for sure. :)

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  46. This sounds really interesting, Sam, and you wrote a brilliant review! I think I would quite probably like this, and I'm definitely adding it to my tbr (I haven't read the synopsis, only what is in your review, so I'm pretty in the dark about most of it) and see what I think, though hopefully the darkness of it doesn't overwhelm, since creepy stuff creeps me out very easily.

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  47. Wow, this book sounds like it has an unreliable narrative which is really interesting to me, as the reader who puts the pieces together! It sounds brilliant and as always, lovely review Sam!

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  48. Crystal Colleir28 May 2014 22:43

    Huh. That sounds like a really amazing premise. I'm totally on board with a little unexpected mental trauma.

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  49. Ooooo a horror book. *hides* I've never done very well with scary movies/books because I'm easily scared :P The creativity aspect does have me looking into this book more though =)

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  50. Ooh you have me so curious to read this one now! I think going in with as little info as possible will be best, so I'll try not to read any plot info before checking it out. I love that the book is creatively written and that Kate has made you a fan. Lovely review Sam!

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  51. Wow, fantastic review Sam! I love that confusion and wonder are such an intricate thread in this tale. Reviews have been strong and I hope to read this myself.

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  52. A Canadian Girl30 May 2014 03:52

    I've got this one in my TBR pile, Sam, and now can't wait to read it. I love it when books feature complex characters that can't be put into boxes!

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  53. Amazing review Sam. <3 It makes me SO HAPPY that you loved this book as well. I loved it so much :) So good. Sigh. I adored Foote, hih :D This story was just amazing and I really loved it. And now I am wishing very much for a sequel. Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

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  54. I read Another Little Piece a few weeks ago and really loved it. It sounds like this one is just as original and exciting. Thanks for the review.

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  55. I've read some mixed reviews for this book, with some bloggers hating it because it was so slow. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and that you stuck out with the book even though it's slow. The story does sound extremely intriguing. Thanks for sharing, I'm looking forward to reading this!

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  56. Jess Hearts Books2 June 2014 18:19

    "It’s like trying to piece fragments of a dream together" you had me sold right there, Sam! I wasn't initially fussed about this one but your review makes it sound like something special that I have to check out. Thanks for the gorgeous review!

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  57. I find books with unreliable narrators can either turn out to be very interesting or fall flat on its face. I'm very glad that you feel that it's a positive for this novel! I'm still not quite sure what to make of it, but there's something about the mysteriousness of this place and these people that makes me want to pick it up at some point. Wonderful review, Sam!

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  58. I think I'm going to be in a relatively open and calm mind to read this book and I can't wait! I have this on my Kindle so now that I'm back again, I can crack on with this really soon. Thank you for a lovely review and hope your enjoying Heir of Fire!!!! :D

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  59. This book was one of the many I got from Edelweiss, so I'm curious to see how I feel about it. Flashbacks work for me most of the times and it's good to hear you liked in it in this book too. I love the sound of that setting :)

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  60. Oh this does sound delightfully creepy!! :D I remember reading Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn too!! SO confusing, horrifying, but still an intriguing experience! :D Like you said, Miss Quinn really has the smart capability to mess with your head, it's extraordinary! :O
    Wonderful review, Sam! :)

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  61. Wonderful review, I'd been debating whether to buy Another Little Piece but this one sounds more up my street so I'm glad I snagged a copy on EW!

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  62. I was unsure about Another Little Piece too, but I think I'll definitely have to give it a try after this. Can't wait to see what you think of DYFAM!

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  63. I'm really looking forward to Another Little Piece now. I'm glad to hear it delivers the same sort of experience. Thanks, Emily!

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  64. Gardnerville is a really brilliant setting. I love the way it was depicted here. I both want to visit it and never step foot there! I hope you enjoy this one, Mel. :)

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  65. I hope it works for you, Emma! And I'm so glad to hear you're back. :) Heir of Fire was amazing, though I did like Crown of Midnight and Throne of Glass just a teensy bit more. I can't wait to see what you think of it.

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  66. I agree, and I'm so glad it worked for me here! I don't always enjoy waiting for answers, but Quinn did a fantastic job of keeping me hooked. If you do give it a try, Alexa, I hope it doesn't disappoint!

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  67. This impressed me so much more than I thought it would, so I'm glad that I decided to read it. I hope you do check it out, Jess!

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  68. It IS meant to be. ;) Thanks, Paulina! If you end up reading this one soon, I hope you like it as much as I did.

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  69. I can definitely see how it won't be for all. I'm not always the most patient of readers, but Quinn had me hooked from the start. The slow pace didn't bother me at all here - if anything, it made it better! I hope you enjoy it when you read it, Joy. :)

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  70. I wouldn't mind a sequel if just to get more of Foote. ;) Though I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what Kate writes next! I'm happy that this book worked so well for both of us. :)

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  71. I'm looking forward to seeing what you think, Z! Complex characters that aren't easily defined are the best sort of characters. I can't get enough of them. :)

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  72. Thanks so much! I hope you do give it a try soon, Kimba. I get the feeling that this book will split opinions, but I would love to see what you think of it. :)

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  73. I'd forgotten what this book was about by the time I picked it up, so the strangeness of it surprised me - in a positive way! I look forward to seeing what you think if you end up reading it. :)

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  74. Ha, this is so me. I get spooked very easily, though at the same time, I can't stay away from scary movies and books! This is more atmospheric/dreamy creepy than horror, though, so I don't think it'll have you watching the shadows at night. ;)

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  75. I'm glad you like. :) I hope you will give it a try one day!

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  76. She's definitely unreliable at the start, where her thoughts and memories are most foggy. It's been a while since I've had a character like that, and Quinn did a fantastic job!

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  77. It's a very dreamy sort of creepy, more atmospheric than actually scary. So I hope it works for you! I look forward to seeing what you think, Romi. :)

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  78. I haven't read Another Little Piece, but it's definitely on the to-do list now. It never really caught my attention last year, despite the positive reviews, though I will make sure I get around it soon. I am all for more dark and unsettling storylines from this author!


    And I'm glad to hear Foote grew on you. I found him quite intriguing at the start, wasn't sure what to make of him during the middle, but really adored his character by the end. His own story was completely heartbreaking and fascinating.


    I agree! The cover captures the mood of the story pretty well. Even though this didn't completely worth for you, I'm glad it at least left an impression. Also, *squishes Meg*. It is SOOOO great to see you around the blogosphere again. Missed you!

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  79. It does have that magical realism feel at times, though I wouldn't say it can be put entirely in that category. And I haven't read Quinn's debut novel yet, but I'm certainly curious about it now. Thanks, Amanda!

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  80. Yay! I hope it works for you, Rachel. I need more atmospheric and creepy reads like this in my life. :)

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  81. I can see this being the sort of book that might split opinions. The style won't work for all, nor will the pacing. But if you give it a try, I hope you enjoy it, Mandee!

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  82. Thanks, Courtney! There are plenty of unusual and chilling facts about Gardnerville that get revealed in the story. It's definitely brilliant unravelling all the secrets.

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  83. I'm glad you're a fan of the cover! I didn't think much of it at first, but having read the book now, I think it's completely fitting to the mood of the story.

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  84. For the best! I didn't mention anything too specific, but it is a great experience when you enter this one without knowing what to expect. It certainly was for me, anyway. :)

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  85. I'm glad you're convinced now, Rummanah. I hope it doesn't let you down!

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  86. I hope you decide to pick it up, Finley. It's a one-of-a-kind read. :) And thank you for following!

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  87. Flashbacks always trigger a mental groan in me for some reason - I guess I've had too many bad experiences with them in the past! - but I'm glad Quinn actually managed to make the whole parallel past-present thing work so well. And I would love to shove this down everyone's throats too, but like you said, this definitely won't be one everyone will enjoy. I'm glad you did too though! :D

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  88. I pretty much felt the opposite about everything you said which is weird since I usually agree with you or vice versa. I didn't like the memories.. or Piper.. or the other secondary characters.. also, Skyler annoyed me with her need to forget everything about the world… I pretty much only liked the twist in the end and the writing itself. Quinn signature all over it right?I'm sad I didn't like it as much as you (i gave it 3 stars). Still, I can't wait for another book by her since I loved Another Little Piece!

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

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  89. Hawwa @ It Was Lovely Reading10 June 2014 19:47

    This book..ahh..I've heard about it so much and after this review I NEED TO READ IT. Creativity+books=I AM SO THERE. Also can I just say, do you have superpowers? HOW HAVE YOU HAD THE TIME TO REPLY TO ALL YOUR COMMENTS?! give me your talents..please..I can't even reply to the meager 3ish comments I get a post. O__O ..Bad I know..;p

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  90. Danielle @ Love at First Page10 June 2014 23:58

    This book sounds so STRANGE and I'm not at all sure I'll connect with it or like it, but I know I have to give it a try! Your description of it definitely intrigues me all the more. Great review, Sam! :)

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  91. This book sounds intriguing and weird all at the same time. I definitely want to read it, so I can experience for myself all the twists and turns and confusion. I'm not a fan of flash-back books either, so I'm happy to hear that it actually works here. I can't wait to meet Skylar and Foote and GG, and discover the mysteries of this book. Glad you enjoyed this, Sam! Fabulous review! :D

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  92. Lauren, Love is not a triangle11 June 2014 02:02

    This book just sounds so weird! I've been hesitant to pick it up. BUT I've seen a lot of great reviews of it, so I'm thinking I might need to check it out soon. I love those subtle-sweet romances. Often they are my favorites. Also, that Queen of the Tearling cover is GORGEOUS. Curious what you think of that, especially the direction of the romance and some later scenes involving a fireplace.

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  93. I wasn't a fan of Karyus' first novel, Another Little Piece because it was just a little to disorientating and confusing however ever since I started to see the reviews rolling in for this one, I've become very intrigued! I will get to this book one of these days.


    Brilliant review, Sam! <33

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  94. First time hearing about this book, but I'm definitely wanting to check it out now! (because I trust your reviews immensely, haha!) I personally think a beautiful, dream-like mess, that is still amazing, is a state that is not easily achieved... so this book sure sounds really intriguing. Fantastic review as well, Sam! I love how you can always write such wonderful reviews for amazing books. If I read a really smashing book, I won't be able to come up with a review for it XD

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  95. Wendy Darling16 June 2014 09:59

    Okay, I only read the first two lines of your review, but that is enough for me! That's precisely how I felt about KKQ's first book, so I'm thrilled to hear her sophomore novel doesn't disappoint. 4 stars is terrific, can't wait to read it!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  96. This is most intriguing! The cover is mesmorizing. I almost feel like I see a face in the tree with the way the title is written. I am very curious about this one. Thanks for sharing! :)

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