Thursday, August 17, 2017

Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger Review

Title: Follow Me Back
Author: A.V. Geiger
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Follow Me Back, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

Follow Me Back was brought to my attention the way most of my library loans are; I found it as a recommendation for one of the book sites I follow religiously. I was absolutely intrigued from the get-go; the cover was compelling and creepy all at the same time. I was even more excited to read it when I realized that Geiger was a sleeper hit on the writing forum, Wattpad. I had my last renewal on it through the library, and as I'd been looking forward to it, I didn't want to return it without reading it. And I'm so, so glad that I didn't take it back without reading it! Geiger has penned a spine-tingling, creepy thriller of a series debut for the modern digital age! I was blown over, and I can't wait until next year for the sequel! Ugh, that ending! I'm so mad! (How could you do this to me?!)

Tessa Hart has severe agoraphobia, a result of a traumatic event that happened over the previous summer. One of her coping mechanisms is the pop star, Eric Thorn, and being part of the fandom she has made her internet persona comfortable in, mostly through Twitter and Tumblr. When Eric sets out to troll her for his own amusement, an unexpected friendship forms between them. The friendship leads to the possibility of more, but soon obsession begins to spring up from all sides, all because of the handy little follow button...

I really, really enjoyed this book, a lot more than I expected to! The cover was one of the first things that drew me to it, honestly; it looked so spooky and unnerving. But what shocked me the most was what lay between the covers. The format was deliciously different and unusual; it was told in a mix of third person narration between Tessa and Eric, with more than a healthy portion of tweets, blog posts, and police transcriptions.  I was immediately drawn in. I loved the way Geiger created a creepy, modern horror story for the digital age. But even more than that, I loved Tessa and Eric, their ill-fated, more than a little twisted love story. I also really liked the way that Tessa's mental illness was depicted, it was frank and refreshing. Plus, the pacing was breakneck and I couldn't put the book down. And that ending! I can't wait until June 2018 for the sequel! You're freaking killing me here! The bottom line: A creepy, spine-tingling thriller for the digital age, I loved Follow Me Back, and I can't wait for the sequel! One of my favorite books of 2017! Next on deck: House of Furies by Madeleine Roux!

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody Review

Title: Daughter of the Burning City
Author: Amanda Foody
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Thriller/Fantasy
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

This book was a recommendation, as a lot of my books are. But it was honestly the cover that drew me in. A gorgeous, mysterious shade of purple, with columns of smoke billowing from what looked like a circle of circus tents? Sold. But what lay inside the book was what was really amazing. A unique, darkly fantastic coming of age story with a mystery at its heart, Daughter of the Burning City was an enthralling, spellbinding fantasy that won my heart and wormed its way into my mind, even when I closed it. Amanda Foody has penned a solid, achingly lovely debut that explores the true meaning of family, sense of self, and what it really means to be human.

Sorina is the daughter of the proprietor of the traveling, burning city of Gomorrah, where the most secret and forbidden of desires are doled out like currency. She enjoys a status that no one else in the city has; she is also a performer in her very own freak show. But though she likes performing, and deeply loves her family, she knows that she even among freaks, she is unusual. She can create illusions, and her family is just that. Her position and her safety are put at risk when one of her beloved family members is brutally murdered. Sorina is forced to team up with a boy named Luca, who is hiding his own secrets before the killer gets to her next. And when she begins to dig, she discovers that the murderer may be closer than she could have ever imagined...

This book was amazing! First of all, the prose was gorgeous, and I was sucked into Sorina's world almost at once. I loved the world-building of this book as well; it was so dark and lovely and frightening. Gomorrah was such a dark, forbidding, beautiful place that held me spellbound. But my favorite things about Daughter of the Burning City were the characters, especially Sorina and her family. And Luca! Ugh, all the romantic tension. I love it when an author can skillfully master political intrigue, and Foody has that mastered in spades! The pacing was breakneck, and I could only hold on tight as the tension ratcheted higher and higher. The format, unusual and surprising, also made this debut original. I loved the setting--it was so circus-like, and I loved the feel of it! And that ending--talk about a surprising twist! Oh my God, it's been two days, and I'm still reeling over it. What a gorgeous, magically written standalone about a loving, magical group of misfits!

Sometimes, though, it got confusing, trying to keep up with the names of cities, characters, and political figures; I almost wish that there had been a glossary or reference at the back that I could've refreshed with. Nonetheless, what a lovely, enchanting debut! The bottom line: A gorgeous, beautifully written debut about a magical family with a dark mystery at its heart, I loved Daughter of the Burning City! Next on deck: Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy Review

Title: The Disappearances
Author: Emily Bain Murphy
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

The Disappearances was the next book in my library stack, and I wanted to be able to read it before I had to return it. I found it the way I find most of my library books; it was recommended to me on one of the sites that I follow. But what initially drew me in, even more than the intriguing synopsis, was the cover, haunting and creepy and compelling all at once. I started the book not quite sure what to expect; this debut novel was kind of like a mashup of Stephen King, with more than a healthy dose of magical realism, with romantic and supernatural elements sprinkled throughout. Add to this formula gorgeous prose, a creepy, gothic setting, breakneck pacing, and secrets and twists and turns, and you'll have something close to The Disappearances.

Aila and her younger brother, Miles, are being shipped off to the tiny town of Sterling after their father goes to fight in the war. Simmering with resentment and grief after the mysterious death of her mother, she begins to realize that everything in Sterling isn't quite what it seems. Ostracized by the townspeople and confused by her feelings for her house mother's son, she decides to dig deep into Sterling's past. But someone out there doesn't want their secrets unearthed, and Aila and her friends are on a race against the clock to set things right....

I really liked this book! The prose was so gorgeous, and I was sucked in immediately. The pacing was breakneck, and I'm not gonna lie, there were times when I got really upset, when I had to set the book down. There were times when I was obsessing, even when I wasn't reading it. But more than that, I loved Sterling, and the creepy, Stephen King vibes that I was getting from it, as well as its people. One of the most intriguing parts of this book was the mystery that the town held. But I also really adored the characters, especially Aila, Miles, George, and William. Aila was an awesome heroine, feminist and fierce and flawed. I also really enjoyed the way Murphy deftly blended genres: historical fiction, magical realism, and romance. One of the best parts of the book was Aila and her friends working their hardest to unravel the mystery of Sterling and how the town (and the surrounding towns) became cursed. And the villains in this novel! Some of the best I've ever seen. This book was a fun, twisty mystery that emphasizes the themes of family and first love. At times, though, it was kind of difficult to keep up, because of the unusual format, but it wasn't too terrible! The bottom line: A deliciously creepy, gothic mystery with plenty of twists, turns, and shocking secrets, The Disappearances was a wonderful debut! I look forward to more from Emily Bain Murphy! Next on deck: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandya Menon Review

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

I finally got to this book in my library stack, and I had my last renew on it. I'd heard many great things about When Dimple Met Rishi, and I didn't want to miss it. I'm so glad that I read it. First of all, Indian main characters! Diverse books for the win always! Plus, that cover was just so adorable; it felt like I was standing with the smiling girl in the sunshine. But the cover was nothing next to what this lovely, bittersweet book contained. I fell in love with it, and it was an insanely funny, inherently hopeful roller coaster of a rom-com. The romantic in me just melted. Sandya Menon has become one of my favorite authors of 2017 with this book!

Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel are both Indian, but they are two very different people. Dimple is headstrong and independent, intensely focused on making her dreams of being a well-known coder come true. Rishi is a practical romantic with a deep love of tradition and family, as well as his own Indian identity. The two young adults collide at a workshop in San Francisco, and, with a series of events straight out of a romantic comedy, begin to actually think that they have a chance together. But Dimple begins to pull away, and the two must decide if their budding love is worth fighting for.

I loved this book! I loved the way that it gave the reader a peek into real Indian culture. I loved the pacing, the tone of it, but especially Dimple and Rishi, two very real and contrasting individuals. One of my favorite parts of the story was the spark between them. I live for an author that can do banter well, from a reading and writing standpoint! It was so cute, funny, romantic, and hopeful. It made me remember the feeling of what it is to be in love for the first time, and it was so bittersweet. I laughed often, and cried just as much. This book made me feel so much. I loved Dimple and Rishi's families as well, the thing that brings them both together in the first place. It was just so lovely and fresh and hopeful, and I enjoyed every minute of it! One of my favorite books of 2017! The bottom line: A romantic first novel that made me laugh, cry, and swoon, When Dimple Met Rishi is one of the best books of 2017! Highly recommended! Next on deck: The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Hunger by Roxane Gay Review

Title: Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
Author: Roxane Gay
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Biography/Memoir
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

Roxane Gay has become a household name in the arenas of both fiction and nonfiction, and when I heard that she had a new book coming out, a memoir about her body and her own personal experiences, I was really excited. I've read short fiction and articles by her, and was so stoked to finally get my hands on her work, to gain some personal insight on one of my favorite authors of all time. What I discovered is a deeply honest, painful, and poignant memoir that highlighted the pain of severe trauma, the deep love of family, both blood and not, and resilience of every kind. I read this book and came away with a feeling of inspiration and hope; I feel like everyone should read this moving, wonderful memoir. Gay lays herself bare for the reader, all of her scars and wants and hopes and regrets, welcoming you into her mind. One of my favorite books of 2017, hands down!

Roxane Gay is a highly successful author and professor at a university in Indiana, but in Hunger, she talks about her childhood, her past and how it formed her into the woman she is today, and I was just awed by the sheer degree of honesty. Memoirs are very touch and go with me, because if I feel that the author is not being truthful, that can turn me off and make me hate the book. But Hunger was so honest and so open, about every great and ugly thing that ever happened to Gay. I'm so awed, moved, inspired. (And it also didn't hurt that she talked about writing, a lot!) Gay writes frankly about feminism, body image, the meaning of self-love and getting there on her own terms, as well as a whole life's worth of personal growth. What an amazing, outstanding memoir; I can't wait to see what Roxane Gay has in store next! The bottom line: A warm, funny, and completely no-holds barred, honest memoir that had me feeling everything, I loved Hunger! One of the best books of 2017, hands down!

Rise of the Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz Review

Title: Rise of the Isle of the Lost
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Descendants, book three
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

UGH! This book. This book. I'm so freaking sad now! I know it had to end, but I still can't help feeling like I came away with a group of lovable, hilarious new friends. It ended really well, but methinks that the ending leaves room for another story. (Maybe it's just wishful thinking?) I think, of all the books, this one was my favorite of the series. Twists and turns, new characters, magic and mayhem and adventure... As far as series closers go, this was amazing! I was as satisfied as I was sad. (You know a series is great when you walk away from it feeling like the characters are your friends.) I can only hope that this isn't the end of The Descendants, because it was just so much fun!

The Rise of the Isle of the Lost picks up where Return left off, with Mal and her friends doing their best to lay rest to their dark, wicked histories. But their peace is interrupted when King Triton's trident goes missing. Forced against the clock and other villains throughout the Isle, the kids are determined to set the rogue magic to rights, leading them on a mission on the ocean. But other forces are brewing, doing their best to stir up trouble and get the trident for their own uses. If the kids don't hurry, evil and villainy will triumph once again...

I loved this book! The pacing was breakneck, leading the reader to Auradon, the Isle of the Lost, and the ocean as the book goes on. I loved the characters, both the old ones and the new. (Especially a certain someone I won't mention because spoilers!) Adventure, magic, mayhem, secrets and political intrigue--this book delivered in spades. I also really enjoyed the way all the loose ends were tied up; it was a nice ending, and I really enjoyed it! I was laughing, crying, screaming, throughout the whole book. This series has straight up won my heart, and cemented my status as the ultimate, die-hard Disney fan! I had so much fun with the next generation of Disney villains, and I can't wait to see what de la Cruz has in store next! The bottom line: The last book in a trilogy about mini Disney villains, I loved The Rise of the Isle of the Lost! Next on deck: Hunger by Roxane Gay!

Return to the Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz Review

Title: Return to the Isle of the Lost
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Descendants, book two
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

I found out that the third, and possibly last, book of this fun series was coming out soon, so in order to prepare myself, I ended up ordering Return to the Isle of the Lost. As you guys well know, I'm pretty much a sucker for anything Disney. I loved Isle of the Lost, and I was so stoked when I realized that this was an ongoing series. And as far as sequels go, this was a really good one! I'm so excited for what the last book in the trilogy has in store for me and the characters I've grown to love so much.

Return to the Isle of the Lost picks up where the first book left off, with the children of Disney's most notorious villains settling somewhat uncomfortably into their new places on the island of Auradon. But soon, the kids start receiving threatening messages that warn of trouble in the place they once called home. Forced to go back, the kids realize that they may be the only thing standing between Auradon and a wave of catastrophic destruction, and unless they band together and stop their parents, they just might have to kiss their brand-new, good lives goodbye...

I really liked this book! I liked the premise and concept of the whole series (I mean, mini villains? Come on now, de la Cruz, you're killing me here!). But this sequel was good; it tied up a lot of loose ends, fleshed out characters, brought in new and old ones, as well as more twists and turns. It also didn't hurt that the book was full of adventures and magic, as well as many familiar characters, spun different ways, for a modern audience. That ending, too, was wonderful, and I'm so happy that the sequel is sitting next in my book stack. However, I couldn't give it a complete five stars, mostly because some of the references were a tad cheesy. Nonetheless, a solid, fun sequel, full of action, magic, and adventure! The bottom line: A meaty sequel in a fun series about the next generation of Disney villains, I loved Return to the Isle of the Lost! Next on deck: Rise of the Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz!