Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner Review

Title: Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction, memoir
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book through my local library and reviewed it.

Jennifer Weiner has been one of my favorite authors for a very long time. My grandmother, when I was a senior in high school, began to insist that I read 'adult' fiction and start branching out. I was a little reluctant, because I wasn't sure what to expect. But I picked up Little Earthquakes, and loved it, and that was shortly followed by In Her Shoes. I instantly fell in love with her prose, and even though I haven't read anything more recent, I'd heard about Hungry Heart and been looking forward to it. It's been sitting in my library stack, and I'm so happy that I read it. I laughed, I cried, I raged. I really related to her, especially from a career standpoint. I felt inspired by her; I still do.

Weiner, in this collection of insightful and hilarious essays that chronicle her life as well as a generous offering of topics, wrought with signature humor and wit. Frankly, I'm inspired and really impressed. She writes with such honesty, such skill, and I found myself entirely moved. If I wasn't weeping, I was laughing. I really feel like I got to know her, and those that she dearly loved. A stalwart feminist, activist, writer, and mother, she speaks of a childhood being distinctly different, and the insecurities that she fought valiantly as she grew toward a tempestous adulthood. Rife with emotion, humor, and plenty of advice on writing, this book felt like a new, suddenly dear friend, and I was really sorry when it ended!

I'm so happy with this book. It inspired me, made me laugh more times than I could count, comforted me, and made me cry more than once! In Hungry Heart, Jennifer Weiner does nothing less than bare her soul in this touching, beautiful book. I'm so glad that I read it! The bottom line: A memoir from one of my favorite authors, Hungry Heart is an inspiring, honest, and hilarious book! One of the best of 2016! Next on deck: Unrivaled by Alyson Noel!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare Review

Title: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy
Author(s): Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I've made no secret about just how much I love Cassandra Clare and her books. My love affair began with City of Bones, and has only grown since. She's one of my favorite authors, and frankly, I would follow her anywhere, as long as she continues to crank out such promising, powerful stories. And I have to admit that I have a bit of a bias when it comes to this book--I've been eagerly looking forward to it since I've known of its existence. I'm a Shadowhunter, through and through, and these characters feel like one of my families, if that makes any sense.

Tales from the Shadowhunter takes place after the Mortal Instruments series ends. But each story expands on a certain time in the existing universe of the previous novels. (And that's all I'm going to say, because I don't want to give anything away for my readers that haven't read it yet!) These stories fill in the gaps left by the Mortal Instruments series, and honestly, I loved every one of them. There wasn't a time during this book that I wasn't laughing hysterically. This book felt like coming home, and as such, it has become one of my favorite books of the last year. It was just so much fun!

It also really made me happy that Clare collaborated with other bestselling authors that I love: Sarah Rees Brennan, the author of the bestselling The Demon's Lexicon series, Maureen Johnson, author of Thirteen Envelopes, and Robin Wasserman, author of the runaway hit, the Skinned trilogy. I loved how each author brought their own unique, individual flair to Clare's world. It really expanded a lot of things for me. It was so satisfying. And that ending! All the ugly crying! I really loved that, too, even though it was really bittersweet. The bottom line: A collection of short stories that take place after the bestselling Mortal Instruments series, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy was so much fun! One of my favorite books of 2016! Next on deck: Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love and Writing by Jennifer Weiner!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Avenged by E.E. Cooper Review

Title: Avenged
Author: E.E. Cooper
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mystery/Thriller
Series: Vanished, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book through my local library and reviewed it.

Avenged is the sequel to the smash hit published last year, Vanished. (Review can be found at this link: http://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2015/04/vanished-by-eecooper-review.html) I loved that book so much. I loved that the main character was diverse, the creepy premise of a group of girls who were all hiding skeletons in their closets. Honestly, it was one of my favorite books of last year, and I didn't realize until I'd ordered it that there was a sequel. It's been sitting in my library stack, and I've been looking forward to it. I'd hoped that it would be good, but this was completely beyond my expectations.

Avenged picks up where Vanished left off, and that being said, I don't want to say too much about the plot--I don't want to ruin it for anyone. But this book was so good. Breakneck pacing, creepy tension, and amazing prose all combine to form a sequel that is deeply satisfying. The payoff was so killer, it was worth waiting for! Cooper has a real talent for writing chilling, spine-tingling mysteries. (And what better time to read a thriller than winter?!) It is honestly one of my favorite books of 2016, easily my favorite duology. It was so much fun! What a thrill ride! The bottom line: The sequel to Vanished, Avenged is a meaty, satisfying end to a great mystery duology of the last year! I loved it so much! Next on deck: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Choksi Review

Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Star-Touched Queen, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book through my local library and reviewed it.

Okay, so I'll be honest: I've been looking forward to this book since I knew of its existence, way back in April of last year. Because of all the books I've had to read, I haven't gotten to it until now, and frankly, I'm really kicking myself over it. I mean, it's literally almost everything I wanted in a novel, especially a debut, and I'm so happy with it! I can't wait for the sequel! There were a few little things that made it not completely perfect, but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. What a great book!

Maya is cursed, born under a set of stars that foretell death and destruction, literally. Because of that, everyone in the kingdom that her father rules fears her. Whispers about her. Avoids her entirely. Consumed by loneliness because of something she cannot even control, she longs for something more to her life: friends, a family that truly loves her. But all of that changes when the political tides churn with war, and Maya soon finds her life changed forever. Forced to go on an epic quest to save everything she's come to know, she discovers that the answers she craves lies in the place she least expects: inside herself...

Like I said, this book was just wonderful. I mean, what first sold me was the main character, and how diverse she is. (The world needs diverse books, and I'm so happy that we're making more headway now! Fingers crossed for more next year!) But more than that, the story was just so good! Excellent worldbuilding, breakneck pacing, magic, mayhem, gods and goddesses! I loved The Star-Touched Queen so much, and I can't wait for the sequel later this year! But there were a few little things that bothered me; I wish more about Amar had been explained, and Gupta as well. It also bugged me a little, how Maya and Amar's relationship was basically instant. But regardless, this book is definitely a favorite! The bottom line: A brand-new, magical adventure through dangerous, seductive worlds of Indian mythology, The Star-Touched Queen was a fun debut--I can't wait for the sequel! Next on deck: Avenged by E.E. Cooper!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh Review

Title: Fear the Drowning Deep
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction/Horror
Series: N/A, standalone
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book through my local library and reviewed it.

I heard about this novel through an article on the internet--If I'm not reading books, or writing them, I'm reading about them. (I know, so surprising! Lol) And it sounded so intriguing, I just had to order it through my library. Since then, it's been sitting in my library stack, waiting patiently to be read. I was considering taking it back to open up a space in my stack, and I'm so happy to tell you all that I'm so glad that I didn't return it before I read it!

This book is a strange, compelling, seductive mix of horror, obscure Irish legend, and historical fiction, along with a more than healthy dose of romance, just to spice it up a bit. I wasn't sure what to expect, as this was Marsh's debut novel. But this book was nothing less than a home run, for me. It was just so good--it seems that 2016 was a very promising year for books, and I'm so happy about it!

Set on the beautiful, secluded Isle of Man in 1913, Fear the Drowning Deep opens with seventeen year old Bridey, who has been terrified of the ocean ever since her grandfather's mysterious death when she was nine, the washed up body of a young woman on the shore, and a mysterious, brooding boy who Bridey takes home and saves. Desperate to solve the mystery, certain that the events are connected, Bridey must face her fear of the ocean, or risk everything she knows and loves disappearing into its dark depths...

Like I said, this book was just fantastic. It was such a genre-bender, and it was so unique! I loved every moment of it. Marsh is something of a storyteller to me; this story was wholly original, dark, and exciting, and it completely stole my heart! The pacing was breakneck, and I loved the way Marsh mixed the vibes of the story as it went along: There was so much tension as the book went on, mixed with the swoon-worthy romance of Bridey and her beloved Fynn, who is hiding more than his fair share of secrets. But it was Bridey herself who really sold this book for me; I felt like I really had a friend in her, and I loved her character development--it was amazing! I can't wait for more from this promising debut author! The bottom line: A totally unique and original novel, Fear the Drowning Deep is one of my favorite books of 2016--I can't wait for more from Sarah Glenn Marsh! Next on deck: The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Heartless by Marissa Meyer Review

Title: Heartless
Author: Marissa Meyer
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: N/A, standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book through my local library and reviewed it.

I'll begin this review on a somewhat sour note: Marissa Meyer and I have not gotten along. I read her first novel, Cinder, a few years back, and I liked it, but I wasn't head over heels for it. But when I heard about Heartless, way before it even had a cover or a title, I just knew I had to read it. I love retellings. In fact, retellings of fairy tales or classics are some of my favorite subgenres. I waited, and waited, and waited, and it's been sitting in my library stack. I finally got a chance to read it yesterday, and I'm so glad that I did! This book wasn't quite a retelling, but it did do justice toward the original, and that ending--I hope to the book gods that there is a sequel! I loved it so much!

Cath, heiress to Turtle Rock Cove and the daughter of a noble marquess, wants a simple life: A husband who adores her, a family, and her very own bakery, where she can concoct recipes for her sweets to her heart's content. But her parents, fate, and even Hearts itself has other plans for the young woman. Forced to choose between her own desires and familial duty, Cath discovers that love just may cost her everything, even her heart...

What can I say? I really, really enjoyed this book. Adored it, actually. It was just so good! The pacing was breakneck, the writing beautiful, and I loved the way Meyer skewed Lewis Carroll's Wonderland, just enough to do justice to the original but keep the integrity of the new tale. But what I really loved about this book were its characters, especially Cath. I loved all of the characters, but she was my favorite. Heartless is definitely one of my favorite books of 2016, and I'm hoping and praying that there's more to come! Meyer's novel has carved a permanent place in my heart, and I'll never forget Heartless, or Cath, the woman who grows to become the infamous, bad-tempered Queen of Hearts! Next on deck: Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh!

Scythe by Neal Shusterman Review

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Utopian Fiction
Series: Arc of a Scythe, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book through my local library and reviewed it.

Neal Shusterman won my heart with his runaway hit last year, Challenger Deep, which was illustrated by his son. Brendan. I've had one of his books on my Kindle for a while now, but when I read about Scythe, I just knew I had to read it. I ordered it from my library and it's been my steadfast companion through the last days of December, into the new year. And what a journey it was! This book was spectacular, pretty close to perfect but not quite hitting the mark. The worldbuilding! The characters! The pacing! The ending. Holy crap, I'm so ecstatic about this book, and I hope that there's a sequel!

In Citra and Rowan's world, death has been all but conquered, and I mean that quite literally. There is no disease, no crime, and it is quite possibly the closest thing to world peace that humanity has achieved. It is a perfect world. But in this perfect utopia, Scythes--killers, powered by the government and the nearest thing to royalty--must 'glean', or kill, as compassionately as possible. Despite Citra and Rowan not wanting the job, they are nonetheless chosen and pitted against each other in a deadly, politically intriguing game, where death lurks for the loser and Scythedom to the victor.

What can I say? This book, though it wasn't completely perfect, was pretty darn close. It was so good! The worldbuilding was phenomenal, the characters well-drawn and sympathetic, and the pacing was absolutely breakneck--I couldn't put it down, even though there were times when I really wanted to. The premise was so original and interesting, I really loved it. I'm so excited for the sequel! And that ending though--it was amazing! Gimme that sequel right now, Neal! Please! The bottom line: A fantastic series debut for the autumn of 2016, Scythe is one of my favorites--I can't wait for the sequel! Next on deck: Heartless by Marissa Meyer!