Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green Review

Title: Turtles All the Way Down
Author: John Green
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mystery
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

John Green is a household name, a bestselling sensation, in the United States and around the world. For me, personally, I read one of his first novels, Looking for Alaska, and fell in love. It remains on my bookshelf to this day. I read The Fault in Our Stars, and ever since, I’ve been waiting with bated breath for his latest. His first novel in five years, Turtles All The Way Down tells the story of Aza Holmes, a young woman whose life is bogged down by crippling, debilitating anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. When her best friend, Daisy, catches wind of a billionaire on the run, she is soon roped into an intriguing, race against the clock mystery. And the reward? A whopping hundred thousand dollars. In the process, Aza reconnects with a childhood friend, the son of aforementioned billionaire fugitive, Davis Pickett. As she navigates her mental illness, she is also trying to be a good daughter, friend, student, and amateur sleuth. This book was tender, beautiful, heartbreaking, and laugh out loud funny. One of my favorite books of 2017, it explores friendship, resilience, and what it means to be yourself, even if you happen to feel like you’re imprisoned in your own head. With his usual panache and gentle humor, John Green gets personal in this book; he himself suffers from OCD and wanted to show readers what it is like.

  I’ll admit, first of all, that I was really nervous, to begin with. After all, it’s been five years since John Green’s prose swept the world over, and I was very anxious to get my hands on it, so when I got it from my local library, I was excited and anxious all at once. But I tried to put my reservations aside because this was John Green, and as soon as I got wind of the publication of Turtles All The Way Down, I reserved it at the library. And I wasn’t disappointed. This book offers a poignant, bittersweet look on Aza and her coming of age story. She was a sympathetic, complex main character that had me laughing and crying in droves. Her tentative relationship with Davis made my heart ache. And Daisy… Daisy. I’ve never had such mixed feelings about a character, and that’s saying something. The pacing was breakneck, and as I followed Aza on her ill-fated journey toward more money than she’s ever seen, I couldn’t put it down. Even when I did, Aza worked her way into my mind and heart, and I will never forget her. Usually, books about mental illness make me nervous, because it can be handled wrong. But John Green didn’t just write a wonderful book; this is quite possibly a hit right out of the park. This is my second favorite book of Green’s, and I absolutely cannot wait for more! The bottom line: With beautiful prose, tender, poignant moments, an ill-fated romance with a mystery at the center, I loved Turtles All The Way Down! Next on deck: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo!

Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic Review

Title: Wicked Like a Wildfire
Author: Lana Popovic
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Hibiscus Daughter, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

I found Wicked Like a Wildfire like I find most of my library books; a recommendation for one of the new books of 2017. I was enthralled by the cover, as well as the description. But the book itself, the beautiful prose, intriguing worldbuilding and plot, engaging characters, and the killer ending—Wicked Like a Wildfire has become one of my favorite books of 2017! Full of magic, dark family secrets, myths and legends, and a heck of a lot of girl power, it stole my heart and enchanted my imagination, and I can’t wait for the next book!

Sisters Iris and Malina live cloistered lives, keeping to themselves and the company of their strange, icy mother, Jasmina. They have strange abilities called ‘gleams’, passed down through their bloodline. Each daughter is born with an ability to create their own kind of beauty. For Iris, that means creating beautiful, kaleidoscope-like fractals in everything, but especially flowers. As for Malina, she can create music out of feelings she senses. And their cold, formidable mother, Jasmina, can conjure the tastes and smells of familiar places. They keep to themselves, until one night, their mother is found barely clinging to life, stuck in a strange place between it and death. Iris and Malina begin to search for answers, only to find that their gleams are the result of an ancient and deadly curse, and they must race against the clock to save themselves, their mother, and their family, or it could mean the end of the world as they know it…

This book was so lovely! Though it was initially the cover that drew my attention, it was the story inside that bewitched my imagination and took my breath away. The worldbuilding was unique, dark, and exciting, and combined with the pacing, I couldn’t put it down. Even when I did, it invaded my dreams. The gorgeous setting of Montenegro had me dying of wanderlust, and I couldn’t help but follow the sisters on their journey to discover their origins and save their prickly, cantankerous mother. The pacing was breakneck, and I loved the way the classic ‘magical girl’ trope was turned onto its head. But even more than that, I loved the characters, Iris and Malina’s quirky, secretive family. I cheered for Iris and Malina, but Iris was my favorite; I loved the way she wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted, the consequences be damned. I was absolutely enthralled throughout the book, but my favorite part was the second half. And that ending! Oh my gosh, how am I supposed to wait until next summer for the sequel?! I’m dying here! Dying, I tell you! I mean, talk about a cliffhanger! I can’t wait to see what Lana Popovic has up her sleeve! The bottom line: With complex, well-drawn out characters, exciting, original worldbuilding, beautiful prose, and a killer ending, Wicked Like a Wildfire has cemented its place in my must-read line up of 2017! Next on deck: Turtles All The Way Down by John Green!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Invictus by Ryan Graudin Review

Title: Invictus
Author: Ryan Graudin
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

I found Invictus through one of the many book sites that I follow; the plot (time travel! Always time travel for the win!) and the gorgeous, modern cover was what caught my eye. I've heard of Ryan Graudin, with her books about fairies and then a weird, wonderful take on World War II, but this is the first novel I've ever read by her. And what a book it was! Time travel, high-speed chases, hilarious banter, sexual tension so high it'll make you scream in frustration, and characters who I loved instantly, I loved Invictus! Despite some issues that had me confused, it has become one of my favorite books of 2017!

Farway Gauis McCarthy is a boy born outside of time, literally. His mother, Empra, fell in love with a Roman gladiator. And Farway wants nothing more than to be a Recorder just like his mother. But when his final sim exam at the Academy goes wrong, all of his dreams seem to go up in smoke. That is until he is approached by a mysterious benefactor, offering the opportunity of a lifetime: He can be the captain of his own ship, but only if he jumps through time and steals valuable historical objects. But when a mysterious girl botches his crew's first mission, Far begins to realize that bigger forces than he could've ever realized are coming, and if they catch up to him, it could be the end of time itself...

This book was a fun, wild thrill ride through time and space, and I really enjoyed it! Time travel is iffy for me, personally, because first of all, it's an overdone trope in sci-fi, and it can be hard to follow. But Invictus, regardless of the confusing parts, really won me over. The plot was like a futuristic Ocean's Eleven, and it was really exciting. But more than that, I loved the characters; by the end of the book, I felt like I had lost a great group of friends. (All the ugly crying!) The pacing was breakneck, the format unusual, and by the end, I was frantically turning pages, desperate to know what was going to happen. I laughed, swooned, and cried, sucked into Far's adventure across time. I also really adored the way that family (in all of its forms) was emphasized. And that ending, goodness! I cried so hard! I couldn't give this a full five stars, though, because some of the technological information was hard to follow. Nonetheless, it was great! The bottom line: Invictus was a wonderful, heartfelt romp through time and space, complete with action, romance, and more than a few twists and turns! One of my favorite books of 2017! Next on deck: Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas Review

Title: Little Monsters
Author: Kara Thomas
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

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

I found Little Monsters the way I usually find my library books; a recommendation. It's been sitting in my library stack for a few weeks now and after some rearranging, it sat at the top of the stack, beckoning me with its curiously colorful, ominous cover. And what better thing to read in preparation for Halloween, but a twisty, taut thriller that had me on the edge of my seat? Normally I'm leery about thrillers because usually, I can predict the ending/killer before the book is half over. But Little Monsters surprised me in the best kinds of ways, and it's become one of my favorite novels of 2017. Dark, thoughtful, and genuinely frightening, I devoured this book in two and a half days, until the shocking, explosive conclusion. Kara Thomas has become one of my new favorite authors with this hair-raising, creepy thriller!

Kacey Young is a girl that doesn't fit in, with her messy family situation. After a feud with her volatile mother, she moves to Broken Falls, Wisconson, to live with her distant father. Alone in her new, wintry surroundings, Jade and Bailey take her under their wings. They are a tight-knit trio who do everything together. But when Kacey isn't invited to the biggest party of the year, she can't shake the feeling that something is wrong. That feeling only worsens when Bailey disappears. Forced to dig deep into Broken Falls's history and the rich, dark inner lives of its residents, Kacey realizes that she can't trust anyone and that Bailey's disappearance may be closer to home than she could've ever realized...

This book was so much fun! From the unusual format, revealing Bailey's mysterious motivations between chapters, to the breakneck pacing, and the constant red herrings, Little Monsters has restored my spotty love for the mystery/thriller genre. I devoured it in a short, frenzied two and a half days, and even when I wasn't reading, the grim, chill setting of Broken Falls seeped into my mind, sending my mind spinning in circles. It also helps that I have a special love for friendships gone bad stories, especially teenage girl friendships gone bad. I was captivated, and I couldn't figure out who did it until the end. Even then, I wasn't expecting it; the ending had me screaming in shock! Kacey's terse, tight narration kept ratcheting up the tension, and even when I was finished, I was still reeling. If you're looking for a good mystery because you don't want to be done with Halloween, (and I count myself among that number) you should definitely check out Little Monsters! The bottom line: Secrets, lies, gossip, and poisonous jealousy all combine in a lethal cocktail in Kara Thomas's sophomore novel! One of the best thrillers of 2017! Next on deck: Invictus by Ryan Graudin!