Cover Image: Starlings


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Starlings by Amanda Linsmeier, 336 pages. Delacorte Press, 2023. $19. lgbtqia
Language: R (57 swears, 7 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13
Kit (17yo) grew up believing her father was the only living member of his family. After her father’s funeral, she learned it was a lie: her grandmother was still alive. The trip to meet her grandmother in Rosemont during winter break sounded like a good idea, but, the longer Kit and her mother stay, the less likely it looks like they’ll be able to leave.
The unknown lurks in every shadow, hints of the secrets that Rosemont is built on. Linsmeier carefully layers the unexplainable with hints to the truths Kit—and the reader—seeks in this surface-perfect town that gaslights its newest visitor. Betrayal, demons, secret codes that could have been more helpful—Kit’s story has a little bit of everything.
Kit is portrayed as White on the cover. The majority of characters are White. The mature content rating is for alcohol use and innuendo. The violence rating is for discussion of cannibalism, implied suicide, scary elements, and murder.
Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen
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Starlings is a beautifully atmospheric story, filled with mystery and betrayal that will keep readers turning page after page until the very end! It's what I envisioned Stars Hollow could be if the town had a haunting secret. The characters are well written, & memorable. I would highly recommend this book to others!
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I really wasn’t sure of this book at first, but as it went on the better it got! I was a bit nervous it was going to be another “oooh a mysterious town. Im meeting family I’ve never met. Uh oh there’s a cult” but it honestly was just different enough to keep me hooked. This is probably the fastest I’ve read a book lately!

I can definitely understand how people see Midsommar in this, but I would argue that fans of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina would love this as well. 

The story takes a few different twists than I was expecting and the climax was not where I expected the reveals to be at where it was.
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Starlings was absolutely fantastical! Linsmeier wrote a story that was so well written I found myself flying through the pages, unable to put the book down, pondering what would happen next. My favorite piece of this entire story was how believable the characters were. 

The writing is clear and clean, and very immersive. The book hums along at a good clip, but the pacing makes sure we're given time to breathe between plot-intensifying moments. The story was absolutely engaging and the work that went into the settings was noticeable and superb. I felt absolutely transported and I'm so incredibly glad I was able to read an arc of this story.
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This Debut novel by Amanda Linsmeier is YA Gothic thriller with Pleasantville meets Goosebumps vibes. It was creepy but not gory. The FMC was a relatable teen visiting a too perfect town with an "off" feeling regarding the people and places. The author did a great job building the vivid setting and vibe. There were some great twists and turns. Some were surprising and unique, a few were predictable. The predictable ones didn't distract from the overall story. 

This was a definite instance of picking a book based solely on the cover. It is absolutely gorgeous and perfect for the book. In my opinion the inside was just as good as the outside with this novel. I was able to read this in one sitting and really enjoyed it. It would be great with a cup of coco and Halloween in the atmosphere.  It will send a chill up your spine, but you will still be able to sleep at night. 

Thank you to Amanda Linsmeier, Delacorte Press, and NetGalley for a digital copy of Starlings.
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I think the problem was that I did not care for the protagonist. The book takes about thirty percent for getting us warmed up to know there’s some sort of danger, and honestly, everything about her is super corny and ridiculous. She immediately calls a boy cute. She’s overly charmed by a cafe. To the weird things happening around her she acts either too accepting or just reacts oddly. Like when her mother disappears and her grandmother admits they didn’t get along, she doesn’t suspect the grandmother at all, though her parents didn’t trust the grandmother to the point of never telling her about her until her fathers death.

When something does happen, it’s just, as I said, I really didn’t care, and this is the sort of book where you had to care to have fun or anything in the second half.
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I am always down for a good YA mystery that involves some weird paranormal catch! This one worked well to keep me engaged, but the payout fell short.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Kit Starling. She has never known her grandmother or the town her father grew up in. After his death Kit and her mother find their way to Rosemont where everything isn’t as it seems.

Kit isn’t one to believe that there isn’t anything weird going on in town. She becomes obsessed with figuring out what everyone is hiding. I wouldn’t say that there is a lot of character development for her or the other characters in the book. Everything is very much plot driven which is fine since I don’t think it takes away from anything. Every character is a bit suspicious though since no one seems to tell Kit anything and when clues start appearing not even her grandmother will say anything about them. It definitely made me want to continue reading since I wanted to know what all of the secrets were.

Even though I was intrigued, there were two things that made me fall out of this book. The romance, or start of relationships, was very quick. She found herself kissing them without even really knowing them and for someone being so leery of those around her it was kind of odd she would just throw that out the window. The romances aren’t even a big part even after everything comes to an end and only one really felt significant to the overall plot.

The second thing I didn’t like was how quickly everything wraps up at the end. With all of the talk about how dangerous a certain someone was it was odd to just have the climatic part be done and over with in a matter of seconds. Kit is a strong character but I don’t know if she was that strong. I also still had so many questions left unanswered and I wish there was more to all of the paranormal stuff.

Overall, this was okay. I did like aspects of it and thought that it was engaging but I just didn’t more from other parts of the book.

Rating: 2.5 stars
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‘Starlings’ by Amanda Linsmeier was dark and nail-bitingly-creepy in the best way, and the mystery was intriguing as hell. Highly, highly recommend!
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Linsmeier has created a very unique and atmospheric story with Starlings. I was pulled into the strangeness of this world almost immediately and it has one of those paces that, once the Plot with a capital P kicks in, it doesn't let up for a second.

I love books that leave me thinking about them when I'm not actively reading them, and this is certainly one of them. I like the outsider looking in feeling that Linsmeier went with, allowing Kit to be as clueless and confused as the reader is. Finding out about the nature of things in a quinessential town like Rosemont felt satisfying. I do wish there was a little more world building around Rosemont itself, and as a sucker for the ins and outs of families with long histories such as the Starlings, I wish we got to understand their line more, but that would make this a longer/likely more adult book and this is YA. But it is YA fantasy at its finest.

One of the things I truly applaud Linsmeier for is that this book is self-contained and the story wraps up in a satisfying manner. I'm unaware of any plans for sequels or anything, but this story doesn't need it. Maybe a prequel, but Linsmeier concludes Kits story in a wonderfully written standalone, something I feel like YASFF is lacking these days.

The other thing that felt truly satisfying about this story was Kit's agency. This is a wonderful play on "the princess saves herself" type trope and its very well earned. Given the history of the Starlings and what their sacrifice entails, I felt it was very important for the story to play out the way that it did.
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okay hear me out. i really wanted to like this book. truly, i did. but alas, it did not work for me. i'm so sorry! but i'm so thankful to netgalley for allowing me to read it early!!!
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Thank you Netgalley and Delacorte Press for allowing me to read and review Starlings! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

First off, the cover is gorgeous, it's very eye-catching, and it reminds me of the film Midsommar starring Florence Plough.

Secondly, Starlings is an enticing young adult mystery read.

Kit Starling is grieving from the loss of her father when she arrives in a new and overly friendly town called Rosemont, to meet her grandmother for the first time. Kit has never known of her father's family and he had always claimed his mother was dead. Kit will discover that the town of Rosemont is not what it seems and why the Starling name and its legacy is revered by the townspeople.

Starlings is an eerie, slow-burn mystery with a dash of romance and an unsettling atmospheric writing style. I highly recommend if you've read and enjoyed House of Hollow, Where Darkness Blooms, Dark and Shallow Lies, and the film Midsommar.

The only nitpick I really have is the pacing. Some chapters were almost too slow and towards the end it was almost too quick and rushed. I did enjoy the build up and the little hints of there being 'something-not-right' and the oddness of the town and it's people.

On a personal note: I've been having a hard time with most YA mystery reads recently but Starlings is definitely one of the good ones.

4 stars.
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I got to read an ARC of this thanks to NetGalley.  The description sounded pretty good so I figured I'd try this book out. 

Katherine, Kit, Starling is on her way to meet the grandmother she didn't even know was alive until a little bit ago.  She arrives with her mother in Rosemont, the city of perpetual roses, and starts to realize things just aren't right.  Almost no technology works, everyone seems to know her and worship her family, and things are just hinky.  Then her mom goes missing and the mystery really starts.

The premise was fun, but the execution was lacking.  Kit obviously has boundary issues because she super bonds to any other adolescent that so much as makes a move on her.  The similes are kind of odd, and there are other really awkward descriptions.  

I think this author has some great potential, she just needs help with editing.

This review is also on Goodreads but I can't figure out the link on my phone.
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I will be the first to admit that the cover is what made me snap this one up. The insides didn't quite capture my attention nearly as well as the cover did as well. The storyline was interesting enough, but the beginning dragged so much I almost DNFed. All I can say is push through that slow start!
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This book is a deliciously creepy read that blends suspense, mystery, drama, and romance. It delves into dark themes such as death, suicide, depression, and anxiety, but the author handles them deftly, not allowing them to overwhelm the plot or leaving them unaddressed without discussing healthy coping mechanisms.

While it shares some similarities with House of Hollow, This Poison Heart, and Dark and Shallow Lies, it also stands out as a unique story. However, I would rate it 3.5 stars due to its slow start, which made it challenging to connect with the plot initially. The story picks up once Kit arrives in town, though, and takes readers on a thrilling ride with numerous twists and turns, spine-tingling suspense, mystery, and monsters. Once I got invested, I couldn't put it down, finishing the book in just two days.

However, my primary issue with this book is its ending. While it did provide closure, it failed to live up to the tantalizing build-up and did not deliver the satisfying redemption arc that I anticipated. The conclusion felt rushed, leaving many loose ends and unanswered questions, which left me feeling somewhat disappointed.

Despite these flaws, I would still recommend this book and even read it again.
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This fast-read horror fantasy novel is fun and creepy but not gory. I enjoyed the character and environment development. I think that teens who like shivers, but are not ready yet for Stephen King, will enjoy this story.
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Cute small town meets horror movie. After her father's death, Kit and her mother travel to the small town of Rosemont, her father's hometown, and to meet the grandmother he always claimed was dead. When they arrive the town seems charming and quaint, but Kit quickly realizes that the town has secrets...and they center on her family.

I found this story to be slow starting, but once I hit around 30% things really began to take off and secrets began to unravel. It activated a lot of latent teen/feminine rage about not being believed and wanting to burn something down that you never agreed to. I found the underlying premise pretty interesting and unique. This is going to go great on my gothic/spooky shelf. 4 stars.
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STARLINGS is worth your time. Amanda Linsmeier breathes fresh life into creepy YA with this thrilling, unsettling paranormal mystery. I loved it, and you will too. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC.*
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I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The words and opinions in this review are entirely my own.

This book is a wonderfully creepy book full of suspense, mystery, drama, and romantic flings. This book includes topics of death, suicide, depression, and anxiety. Personally I think the author does a great job at incorporating these topics without making them the whole story or talking about them without addressing healthy ways to deal with these mental health issues. 

The story has very similar vibes to House of Hollow all while being incredibly different. (It felt like a mixture of House of Hollow, This Poison Heart, and Dark and Shallow Lies) However, I personally would rate this book as a 3.5. My reason for this is that the start of the story is slow and hard to connect with. The story does pick up relatively quickly after Kit arrives to town. This story has tons of twists and turns, creepy suspense and mystery, and monsters. Once I got into this story, I could not put it down. I finished this book in 2 days.
However, my problem with this book is the ending. There was so much build up. So much leading up to a fantastic twist of an ending with a beautiful redemption story. That ending just never showed up. :( 
Don't get me wrong, this book does have an ending and is concluded, it just wasn't the ending I was expecting and hoping for. The ending felt kind of rushed and left me with disappointment. There were so many unanswered questions. I had so many questions that the book pointed out as you read, however, they were just left completely unanswered and ignored with the ending. Unfortunately :(

However, I would definitely read this book again and recommend others to read it.
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This cover is absolutely stunning. I really enjoyed this! I was hooked by the super cool synopsis, so I was really hoping the contents would live up to those expectations. My expectations were largely satisfied. There were definitely parts that felt a bit under-explained or rushed through, that really would have served the story better had they been fleshed out. I loved Kit as a main character, and the overall spooky vibes were really solid and fun. A solid read and I cannot wait for my library to get physical copies of this! I can't wait to promote it!
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Starlings is such a great read. This book will be added to my monthly October read fest. The vibes are spooky and we are here for it.
I would give it a solid 3.7 stars and rounded up because the cover is stunning.

The storyline is great but there are parts I felt were rushed or not explained out as well as I’d liked. What I did love about Kit was her tenacity and she really became such a strong character by the end of the book.
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