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!