Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Miles Morales: Spiderman by Jason Reynolds Review

Title: Miles Morales: Spiderman
Author: Jason Reynolds
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Action
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

Okay, so, anyone who knows me really well will tell you that I am absolutely obsessed with superheroes. DC, Marvel, it doesn't matter, just give to me! Spiderman was one of the first Marvel superheroes I was ever obsessed with, so when I heard that Jason Reynolds, a prominent African-American, young adult author, was writing a new book about one of Spiderman's incarnations, I was so stoked. And I was even more excited when I realized that the book focused on Miles Morales, a boy who is half African-American and half Puerto-Rican. Yay for diverse characters! Penning a novel full of action, with important, timely issues spread throughout, like racism, classism, and the sorry state of the U.S. prison system. What a thought-provoking book; definitely one of my favorites of 2017!

Miles Morales is just an average kid from Brooklyn, attending a posh boarding school and doing his best to get the attention of Alicia, a pretty girl in his class, and stay under the radar of his creepy, not so subtle racist teacher, Mr. Chamberlain. The one exception to his ordinariness? He's Spiderman! Yes, the Spiderman, web-slinger extraordinaire. When he uncovers a plot with his family and the entire city of Brooklyn at its center, Miles must decide if he wants to leave the mantle of Spiderman behind, or if he will continue his legacy as the friendly neighborhood hero...

I adored this book! Easily one of my favorite books of 2017, and what a time to read this! Rife with personal issues, hilarious banter, beautiful prose, and timely political issues, Reynolds has done nothing less than hit a home run with this book. Plus, I loved the way that a diverse character was introduced. The Spiderman that I'm used to is the classic Peter Parker, and it was really refreshing to get a Spiderman that had a diverse heritage. And the chemistry between him and Alicia! Excuse me for a moment while I swoon. But even more than all of these things, I loved the way Reynolds talked about racism, the way it affected the past and present. And that ending though--I loved it! It was such a fitting end to a book that spoke so much about activism and helping your fellow man! If there was ever a book we needed to read in this current political climate, it's Miles Morales! A superhero novel for all ages, I loved it so much! I can only hope that there's more to come from Reynolds and our friendly neighborhood Spiderman! The bottom line: A book that revolves around family, identity, and what it really means to be a hero, I loved Miles Morales! One of my favorite books of the year! Next on deck: The Spell Book of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh Review

Title: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Flame in the Mist, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

Renee Ahdieh's first novel, The Wrath and the Dawn, is sitting on my shelf, a self-bought Christmas present from two years ago. I love retellings, and I've heard so much buzz about her debut. When I heard that she was writing a new book called Flame in the Mist, coming out in May, I just knew I had to put it on hold at the library so I could read it. It's been sitting in my library stack for a while, and I knew I wanted to read it before I had to return it. It took a little while for me to get in to, but once I did, it stole my heart and became one of my favorite books of 2017! Think Mulan set in feudal Japan, complete with political intrigue, secrets, romance, magic, and mythology! I've been waiting for this book since I was tiny. Renee Ahdieh has won a place in my heart, and I'm so excited for more!

Hattori Mariko is a young woman that tends to break the mold. Despite being a high-ranking noblewoman in her own right, her worth to her family lies in her marriageability. Longing for more than what her family wishes, she is soon drawn into a dangerous web of political intrigue, magic, and romance. When she begins to dig deeper, infiltrating into a criminal organization called The Black Clan disguised as a boy, she discovers that she might have a place to belong, if all of her lies don't catch up to her...

I really, really enjoyed this book! It took me a while to get into it, but once I did, I couldn't put it down. I spent most of yesterday and last night, devouring Mariko's adventure. I was absolutely spellbound by the prose. The premise, too, was what won me over: Mulan in feudal Japan! My little tiny girl self has been waiting for a book like this my whole life! But even more than all this, I loved the magic, the political intrigue, the pacing, the constant twists, and turns. All of this combined with strong, complex characters, with a kick-butt, inventing, sharp-tongued heroine, and romance and action? I was completely and utterly sold. Reading this has made me even more excited for her first book, as well as the sequel to this promising series starter! What a lovely, magical book, full of adventure and excitement! The bottom line: A fantastically funny, heartfelt series starter, I loved Flame in the Mist, and I can't wait for the sequel! Next on deck: Miles Morales: Spiderman by Jason Reynolds!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Everyone We've Been by Sarah Everett Review

Title: Everyone We've Been
Author: Sarah Everett
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

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

Everyone We've Been was one of my library's book club picks for August, and I have to say that when I read the synopsis, I was really intrigued. It sounded like a twisty, screwy mystery with many family secrets and an interesting, original premise. Unfortunately, I didn't really like this book; the potential for it was so high, but the characters felt flat, and the format made it kind of confusing to follow. I liked the idea of this book, but unfortunately, the idea of it was better than the actual execution. There were some parts I liked, so it wasn't a complete loss, but this book definitely wasn't my favorite. Hey, you like some, you don't like some. Such is the life of a reader. And hey, it made for a lively book discussion, so it wasn't a total loss!

Addison 'Addie' Sullivan feels like she's losing it; she's seeing a boy that no one else can, and she's got the feeling that she's losing chunks of time. Digging deeper into what her life used to be, she discovers that the boy is named Zach, and she had him erased. But the even bigger question is: why? In her quest for answers, Addie realizes that there is more to the situation than she could've ever imagined, and the answers she needs may end up being the death of her soul.

I was really excited when this book was recommended to me. The blurb sounded interesting and I liked the cover. The main character, Addison, is a person of color and a musician; I was beyond stoked about it. I liked the way that it was a love story. But the pacing was really erratic, and the story became hard to follow. I liked the premise, but I think that it could have done with some more polishing. The characters felt really flat, and it was hard to relate to them. The discussion of mental illness came off as kind of trite, especially with some of the events that are essential to the plot. Nonetheless, it was a solid first try, and I didn't hate it, but I just wasn't feeling it. The bottom line: A solid attempt at a twisty love story, I didn't much like Everyone We've Been. It was a good idea, but it needed more fleshing out. Next on deck: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

House of Furies by Madeleine Roux Review

Title: House of Furies
Author: Madeleine Roux
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: House of Furies, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

Madeleine Roux became famous a few years ago with her debut series, Asylum, and when I heard that she was writing another book, due out in May, I just knew that I had to order it from my library. It's been sitting in my library stack for a while, and I had my last renew on it; the last thing I wanted was to take it back without reading it. I'm so, so happy that I held out, because not only did I enjoy it, but I'm very much looking forward to more from her! What an unusual, beautifully written debut, peppered with vintage photographs and drawings. House of Furies is one of the best books of the year, hands down, and I'm already dying for the sequel! What a creepy, twisted, disturbing start to a promising new gothic horror series!

Louisa Ditton is a thief, a drifter, an outcast. She's different, more prone to selling fortunes and stealing than to do honest work. But her life changes irrevocably when she is recruited by an old hag to work as a scullery maid at an old, dilapidated house called Coldthistle House. Louisa soon discovers that the house seems to have a mind of its own, and with mysterious, bloody disappearances, secrets about her employers, friends, and even herself. But as she digs deeper for answers, and even becomes a reluctant friend for a young guest, she realizes that death is lurking in her new home and that she may be closer to it than she could have ever realized...

This book was absolutely amazing! First of all, gothic, supernatural horror, mashed up with Jane Austen? Sign me up, sign me up right now! I've been waiting for this ever since I got into Jane Austen in college. Adaptions and inspirations of her work are many, but I've never seen the Regency period skewed quite like this. The format was another key element that won me over; it reminded me a lot of the Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children series, and I mean that as a compliment! Between the vintage photos, gorgeous drawings, and the beautiful, dark prose that kept me captivated even when I wanted to put it down, I was totally sold. The pacing didn't hurt either; I was immediately immersed into Louisa's world, where power hides in the most unlikely places and darkness rules all. I loved the secrets that kept unraveling throughout the book. And that ending though! Ugh, someone kill me! Lee and Louisa were my favorites, but I really enjoyed the way the secondary characters played a part in the story. As scary and frightening as Coldthistle House was, I want to go back again, and I can't wait for the sequel! The bottom line: A beautifully written historical horror show that brings elements of Jane Austen into it, House of Furies is one of my favorite books of 2017, and I can't wait for what comes next! Next on deck: Everyone We've Been by Sarah Everett!

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!