Friday, May 31, 2019

Honor Bound by Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine Review


Title: Honor Bound
Authors: Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: The Honors, book two
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

                Honor Among Thieves was one of my favorite books of last year, and so I’ve been eyeing the sequel since before it came out. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while now, and once I realized that I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it to the top of the stack as soon as I was finished with Somewhere Only We Know. I devoured Honor Bound in two and a half days, and for the most part, this sequel did not disappoint! It took me a little while to remember what was going on, as it’s been over a year since I read Honor Among Thieves, but this series: It’s so unique and well-written. I’m such a sucker for space opera novels, and Honor Bound totally delivered. There were times when I was a bit lost, and the worldbuilding got a tad muddled, but I’m totally obsessed with these books, and I can’t wait for the sequel! I mean, this book has everything: aliens, war, secrets and political intrigue, love and friendship and danger! These characters and the story they tell are so unique and original to me, and I will never forget this ragtag band of space explorers! Aguirre and Caine have, yet again, stolen my heart and sent it soaring past dark, dangerous galaxies!

                Honor Bound picks up where Honor Among Thieves left off, with Zara, Bea, and Nadim scrambling to deal with the new vicious, voracious alien threat, a hive-mind horde known as The Phage. With their Leviathans, Nadim and Typon, both injured from the aftermath of the battle Honor Among Thieves ended with. Forced to go even deeper into uncharted territory, our Honors must make their way to a thriving crime planet known only as The Sliver. Once there, they must strike a dark, Faustian deal with a powerful alien being to stop The Phage. But as it turns out, a nearly forgotten threat has begun to stir, and our heroes must tap into their every ability in order to survive, or it could mean the destruction of the entire universe as they know it…

                This book; it was so awesome! Honor Among Thieves was one of my favorite books of last year, so needless to say, I’ve been very much looking forward to the sequel. And for the most part, it really lived up to my expectations. It took a little bit for me to remember what was going on, but once I did, I was absolutely captivated. Aguirre and Caine have created a dangerous, enticing world that I wish I could live in forever. The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately at home again, among some of my favorite characters. I feel so close to them; they feel like my family. I also enjoyed Zara and Nadim’s narration. One of my favorite things about this book was the character development; I was cheering throughout the book for Zara, Bea, and their friends and Leviathans. The twists and turns, though, were what really made this book shine: I was laughing, crying, gasping and screaming as the book went on. And that ending! Oh, my goodness, it was crazy! I can only hope and pray to the gracious book gods that there will be a sequel! The only little flaws I have with this book was that the worldbuilding was a bit muddled, and it was difficult to keep up with all the different names and types of aliens, as well as planets, but that was only minor, and it didn’t distract from the main narrative too much. Honor Bound was well worth waiting for and like its predecessor, Honor Among Thieves, it has become one of my favorite books of 2019! Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine make an unstoppable and dynamic team, queens of young adult! The bottom line: Lush, thrilling, high-octane, and unforgettable, I loved Honor Bound! I can only hope that there’s more to come in the future! Next on deck: Kingsbane by Claire Legrand!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo Review


Title: Somewhere Only We Know
Author: Maurene Goo
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                Maurene Goo has long been on my TBR stack, since her first book came out. Unfortunately, I had to return both of her books to the library before I could read them. I’ve had Somewhere Only We Know in my library stack for a while, and once I realized that it had a hold on it, I pushed it to the top of my stack as soon as I was finished with Girls with Sharp Sticks. Romantic, hilarious, tender and thoughtful, this book melted my heart and then broke it, then put it back together again. It was like one of the best Korean romcoms, but in literary form. It turned out to be the perfect antidote to my emotional heaviness. It made me laugh, cry, giggle, and shriek. It reminded me of how much I love contemporary fiction. Maurene Goo has penned one of my favorite books of 2019, and I will never forget Lucky and Jack!

                What do you get when you combine a runaway Asian-American KPop star and a discontent expat living in Hong Kong? A recipe for hilarity, accidental romance, and more than a few hijinks. Lucky is the most sought-after KPop star in Asia, and despite her glowing success and the fulfillment of her dreams, something feels off. It doesn’t feel fun anymore. Discontent and hungry for an American-style burger, she wanders out of her hotel room and runs into Jack, who is taking a gap year from college and struggling to find his way and pay his bills. This chance meeting leads to all kinds of hijinks, and the two teens team up to have a dream day in Hong Kong. Will this meeting become just a memory, faded but remember fondly? Or will it lead to, dare I say it, love?

                This book; it was such a cute reminder of why I love contemporary fiction, and romance. Somewhere Only We Know was pure magic. I was immediately captivated by Lucky and Jack’s voices; they were each so distinct and unique. The pacing was breakneck; I devoured this book in half a day. It was charming, hilarious, heartwarming and tender. It was so thoughtful and well-written. I loved Jack and Lucky, and their wacky, spontaneous trip through Hong Kong. I loved that most of the characters were Asian or Asian-American; diverse books for the win, always! One of my favorite parts of the book was how Jack and Lucky were explored as people; Lucky with her career, and Jack with his indecision about his own path after high school. I laughed, I screamed, I cried, I cheered. This book was like getting a long, warm hug from a friend, or sitting under a blanket and warming up after a long day. After Girls with Sharp Sticks, it was the perfect antidote, and I will be looking into the rest of Goo’s body of work because I’m totally addicted now. I loved how this chance meeting, straight out of a rom-com, turned into true love. Somewhere Only We Know is a musical, sweet, funny romance that had me laughing, crying, and cheering; Maurene Goo has earned a special place in my heart with her third novel. (Plus, I love how each of her books are also the names of song titles! Score!) I loved every moment, and I will never forget it. Realistic, sweet, funny and thoughtful, I loved Somewhere Only We Know! Highly recommended for all ages! The bottom line: I will be screaming about this book from the rooftops; Maurene Goo has outdone herself completely with her latest novel. Full of humor, heart, joy, and love, I adored Somewhere Only We Know, and Lucky and Jack have become one of my favorite YA couples! Absolutely outstanding. Next on deck: Honor Bound by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young Review


Title: Girls with Sharp Sticks
Author: Suzanne Young
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Series: Girls with Sharp Sticks, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


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

                Suzanne Young is one of my favorite authors; I’ve been obsessed with her work ever since I read The Program. So, when I found out that she was writing a new series opener, I was super excited. It’s been in my library stack for a while, and once I realized I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it to the top of my stack after I finished Grim Lovelies. I devoured this book in a day and a half, a strange fever dream reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale. Visceral, timely, vicious and thought-provoking, Girls with Sharp Sticks was a series opener that I will never forget, and I can’t wait for Girls with Razor Hearts! This book is one of my favorites of 2019; it was unforgettable.

                The Girls at Innovations Academy are beautiful, obedient, and pleasant. Under the watchful gazes of their male Guardians, the all-girls school trains its students to be the best society has to offer. They are perfect, free of ugly emotions like arrogance and defiance. But Philomena, or Mena for short, begins to realize that their carefully curated lives are not as perfect as they first appear. As she and her friends begin to unearth the dark secrets of what’s really going on in Innovations Academy—and who they really are—they will discover what they’re truly capable of, because the most beautiful flowers have the sharpest thorns…

                This book. This book! I absolutely loved it. It reminded me of a mashup of The Handmaid’s Tale and Westworld, with spare, gorgeous prose and a sick feeling of dread throughout. The pacing was breakneck; Mena’s voice grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go until long after the last page. The whole book, I knew what was coming, but I was dreading it all at once. The twists turns, and secrets had me gasping or shrieking. I also loved the characters, especially Mena; her character development as someone who was content to be used into a young woman who grows into her own agency and learns to fight back against the men imprisoning her and her friends. I also applaud the way that Young pointed out rape culture through the narrative; this book was vicious, visceral, and pulled absolutely no punches. It was shocking and timely, especially in our current America, where women’s rights are being steamrolled as I write this review, including in my own state of Ohio. The ending was shocking, and more than a little scary. This book read to me like a horror novel, with a sprinkle of science fiction thrown in for flavor. But it was absolutely necessary, and it should be required reading for everyone. I loved its message: Down with the patriarchy and the way it tries to control girls and young women under impossible double standards they cannot possibly keep themselves. I can’t wait for Girls with Razor Hearts next year! Suzanne has knocked another one straight out of the park, and I can’t wait for more! The bottom line: Dark, dreadful, necessary and visceral, I loved Girls with Sharp Sticks, and I can’t wait for the sequel next year! Next on deck: Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd Review


Title: Grim Lovelies
Author: Megan Shepherd
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Grim Lovelies, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


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

                Grim Lovelies has been on my library loan list since it came out, so when I found it at my library, I took it home. It’s been sitting in my stack for a while, and once I realized I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it to the top of the stack and began reading as soon as I was finished with America Was Hard to Find. Megan Shepherd is one of my favorite authors; I loved The Madman’s Daughter and The Cage series. I was so happy with this book. It was full of magic, mystery, seductive darkness and dangerous secrets, with Beasties, Goblins, Witches and Royals that stole my heart. I can’t wait for the sequel to come out in August! I daresay that this book is one of the strongest in the entirety of Shepherd’s body of work.

                Anouk is a Beastie, an animal who was turned into a human girl to do a Witch’s bidding. Despite loving her mistress, she longs to join the world of the Pretties, the humans that the Witches and Royals rule over. But her content existence is shattered when she discovers that Mada Vittoria has been brutally murdered. To add to this mess, one of her fellow Beasties, Luc, has disappeared. Forced to make a mad dash across Paris, Anouk and the others must race against the clock to retain their humanity. But more than one person has conspired to see Anouk lose, and she must discover the hidden power inside of herself in order to emerge from the trials unscathed, or she just might lose everything…

                This book was amazing! It was a seductive, dark fairy tale full of dangerous magic and secrets that had me shocked. The characters were my favorite; I fell in love with Anouk and her strange little family. The pacing was breakneck, and the prose was gorgeous; Shepherd’s writing and worldbuilding were unforgettable. But even more than that, I loved the tense, mad dash through a magical, dangerous Paris that I felt was just on the other side of our world. The twists and turns had me gasping, laughing and crying as the book went on. I’ve been waiting for something like Grim Lovelies my whole life. There wasn’t a character that I didn’t love, didn’t feel for in some way. I loved every crazy moment, and I wanted more. That ending! Oh, my goodness! I wish I had Midnight Beauties right now because two days later, I’m reeling! I won’t say anything about it, in case there are some readers that haven’t yet read it. All I can say is that I can’t wait for Midnight Beauties; there was nothing about this beautifully wrought fairy tale that I didn’t love. It’s probably my favorite of all of Megan Shepherd’s books, and I will never forget Anouk and her friends! This is one of my favorite books I’ve read recently, and I can’t wait until Midnight Beauties. The bottom line: Gorgeous, dark and dangerous, I loved Grim Lovelies! One of my favorites that I’ve read recently, and I can’t wait for the sequel! Next on deck: Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young!

Friday, May 24, 2019

America Was Hard to Find by Kathleen Alcott Review


Title: America Was Hard to Find
Author: Kathleen Alcott
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

                I received a copy of this book in a First Reads contest giveaway—my thanks to Goodreads and Ecco Publishers!

                I won this book as a prize in a First Reads giveaway, and I’ve been winning so many books recently that I’m trying to coordinate them by the month so as to line them up close to their actual publication dates. America Was Hard to Find was the first book in that stack that I could find that was published in May, so I decided to read it before I went back to my library stack. I just finished this book this morning, and I don’t know how I feel about it, honestly. Sad, thought-provoking, strange and visceral, this reimagining of The Cold War era was a strange story that I will never forget. It revolves around Fay Fern, a bartender turned radical, Vincent Kahn, an astronaut that is about to take America’s first steps on the moon, and the son that results from their forbidden union, Wright. Spanning decades and generations, this book was odd, brutal, strangely tender and thought-provoking. It’s hard to get my feelings on paper, because they’re all tangled up. This book was heartbreaking, tender, sad and blatantly political.

                Fay Fern is the daughter of affluent, wealthy parents, and both she and her sister, Charlie, have spurned their family’s wealth and constrained way of living. The girls’ only friend is a mean, drunk horse named Lloyd. Faye spends her days bartending and reading books. But the monotony of her life is broken by the arrival of a married astronaut, Vincent Kahn. They two begin a secret, forbidden affair, and nine months later, Fay’s son, Wright, is born. This book documents how Fay and Vincent attract one another, and Wright’s coming of age in the wake of his mother becoming a radical domestic terrorist. As I said, I’m not really sure how this book made me feel. It was vivid and well-written, but there were a lot of words that I wasn’t familiar with, and the pacing was kind of all over the place. But the characters were well-drawn and sympathetic: I liked how Fay and Charlie turned their backs on their controlling, constraining family boundaries, and I also enjoyed Wright as he grew up with his strange, radicalized mother. I liked the ending, and the other characters, but I really didn’t like Vincent. He just seemed thin and emotionless, and the book was bittersweet. Searing, eye-opening, and more than a little strange, America Was Hard to Find was a good book, even though it wasn’t normally one I would pick up. The bottom line: Political, bittersweet, tender and strange, I really enjoyed America Was Hard to Find. Next on deck: Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen by Serena Valentino Review


Title: Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen
Author: Serena Valentino
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Villains, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

                I was reading an article a few weeks ago and discovered that Serena Valentino’s series of retellings of Disney villains’ origins is becoming a TV series, so I decided to start it. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while now, but I couldn’t renew it anymore, so I pushed it to the top of my stack as soon as I was finished with The Guest Book. I adored this adaptation of Disney’s first villain; it really gave a new perspective on how Grimhilde became The Wicked Queen. It humanized her, and I very much enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read the rest of this book series, especially since it’s officially concluding in July!

                Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. A beautiful girl, a jealous queen, an apple, and a happy ending. We think we know the story. But what about The Wicked Queen’s side of things? How did she become so evil? Fairest of All imagines an origin for Grimhilde, the only daughter of a renowned mirror maker. Plucked from obscurity when her father passes away, she marries the King and becomes Snow White’s stepmother. Fairest of All documents the queen’s decline from a loving wife and mother to a monster capable of killing her own child. I really liked this book; I love retellings, but one of my favorite things is one told from the point of the view of the villain. The writing was simple but gorgeous, and the pacing was really nice. I liked how it took the Disney movie and expanded on it. This book really made me sympathize with The Wicked Queen, and I loved watching her descent into the darkness. The ending, too, really redeemed this book; I loved the continuity of it. One thing I can’t help wondering about, though, is the mysterious Odd Sisters. If it hadn’t been for them, would Grimhilde have stayed good? Or would her envy and insecurities have gotten the better of her anyway? A thought-provoking novel about beauty, envy, insecurity, and society’s heavy and unrealistic expectations for women, I never imagined that before now, I would ever feel sorry for The Wicked Queen! I can’t wait for the next books in this deliciously dark new series! The bottom line: Beautifully written, dark and seductive, I loved Fairest of All, and I can’t wait to read more from Serena Valentino! Next on deck: America Was Hard to Find by Kathleen Alcott!

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake Review


Title: The Guest Book
Author: Sarah Blake
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


                I received an advanced readers’ copy of this book from the publisher, Flatiron Books. Thank you so much!

                I received The Guest book in the mail a few months ago, and since I’ve been alternating between library books and ARCs, I recently made the decision to sort them by month so I could make my reviews line up as the books were officially published. As soon as I was finished with a comic book I’d borrowed from the library, I started The Guest Book. At first, I wasn’t sure about it; I’d never read any of Sarah Blake’s work before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It took me a bit to get into the book, but once I did, I was spellbound. The Guest Book is one of the most anticipated books of 2019, and I can see why it has so much hype. A family saga reminiscent of Downton Abbey, only American. I absolutely adored The Guest Book, and it has become one of my favorite novels of the year. I feel so lucky to have received an early copy. Rich, dynamic, and thoughtful, The Guest Book takes a harsh, unflinching look at American culture, its oppression of marginalized peoples, but especially Jews and black people. This book should be required reading for all.

                The Guest Book goes back and forth in time, between different members of the affluent Milton family. But the main focus is on one of the granddaughters of Kitty and Ogden Milton, Evelyn. A historian with a passion for piecing together the past, she is brought to an emotional crossroads when an offer for the island her grandparents bought comes to light. Haunted by the secrets lurking just beneath the shiny veneer of her family’s past, she is determined to uncover the truth. Even if shatters what remains of her family…

                This book was a surprising gem! It really snuck up on me and gripped me by the throat, long after I’d closed it. It took me a little bit to get into it, mostly because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a little worried I wouldn’t enjoy it. But once I got into it, I was spellbound. The prose was both spare and gorgeous, and I loved the way that the point of view jumped between each member of the family, as well as Len Levy and Reg Pauling, a Jew and a black man invited to Crockett Island for the summer. I also really enjoyed the way the book went back and forth between the past and the present; it provided a much deeper scope on the characters and events that were happening. But my favorite thing about The Guest Book was its timeliness: it took a good, hard and unflinching look at the American cultural system, and how white people, especially the rich, have contributed to the oppression of other people, especially black people and the Jews. Len and Reg made a compelling, painful foil to the Miltons, who are so blinded by their own privilege that Kitty, its matriarch, issues a refusal that haunts her until her dying day. Evelyn has always loved Crockett Island and treasures the memories of her summers she spent there as a girl. When her family begins to look into selling it, she bucks against it at first, not wanting to lose such a valuable piece of her family’s legacy. But she starts to dig deep into the secrets her family has long kept hidden and finds that her family’s wealth comes from an association with an awful organization. (I won’t say what, because I don’t want to spoil the book for people who haven’t yet read it.) I loved that Evie was a historian, and how she dug deep into what her family’s secrets were, even as it upended everything, she thought she knew. I loved the way it ended; it was bittersweet and very real to life. I will never forget the Milton family, Reg, Len, or Evie; these characters will forever have a place in my heart. Sarah Blake has penned a masterful sophomore novel, full of heart and social commentary in equal measure, and I will never forget it! The bottom line: Beautiful, rich, hard-hitting and thought-provoking, I loved The Guest Book! It was one of my favorite books of 2019, and I can’t wait for more from Sarah Blake! Next on deck: Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen by Serena Valentino!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Slayer by Kiersten White Review


Title: Slayer
Author: Kiersten White
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: Slayer, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


                I won a signed copy of this book in a contest from Fierce Reads. Thank you so much!

                Shows like Buffy and Angel were things that I was obsessed with as a teenager because they contained all of my favorite things: monsters, magic, darkness, high stakes, and forbidden love. I haven’t seen either of them in years. But I ordered this book from my local library and before I could finish it, I had to take it back. Which was just as well, because a few days later, I received a copy of Slayer from Fierce Reads, and it was signed! I was so excited. It’s been sitting on my ever-growing book stack for a few months now, and once I was finished with The Everlasting Rose, I started Slayer. Taking place in the same universe as Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer but after the events of the comics. Dark, hilarious, heartfelt and scary, I loved this take on the Buffyverse by one of my favorite authors! One of my favorite books of 2019!

                Nina Jamison-Smythe knows her place in the world. She and her twin sister, Artemis, are both in training to become Watchers, the organization of individuals that help guide Slayers.  She is the healer, the medic, the gentler of the two. She lives in her sister’s shadow, something she both takes refuge in and resents. But when Buffy literally breaks magic, The Watchers are rendered obsolete. Consumed by rage and hatred toward Buffy and Slayers in general, whom she blames for her father’s death, Nina is determined to make a difference in the world. But everything changes when she becomes a Slayer. And not just a Slayer, but the very last Slayer in existence. Forced to bear the burden of powers she never wanted; people begin to die around the castle. Enmeshed in the mystery, Nina must use her newfound powers to save the people she loves. But is she meant to save the world? Or to destroy it?

                Kiersten White is one of my favorite authors, and so when I found out that she was writing a novel set in the Buffyverse, I was so excited! And I was lucky enough to receive a free, signed copy! I loved this book; it felt like I was returning to a place that I had dearly missed, without even knowing! Right out of the gate, I loved it so much. It had all of the darkness, humor, and mystery of Buffy. It’s not a requirement to be a Buffy fan to read this book; it can be read without knowing anything about the comics or show. But I loved the little Easter eggs I kept finding. The pacing was breakneck, and I loved the characters, but especially Nina; I really related to her. I loved her character development, her growth from a timid, resentful child to a fiercely powerful and kind young woman who uses her Slayer powers for the good of her loved ones. Artemis, Leo, Honora, and the girls’ mother were also distinctive characters who provoked a strong reaction with me. Dark, terrifying, and full of humor and heart, this book felt like coming home. I very much enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to read Chosen! At times, Nina butting heads with everyone got on my nerves; it kind of took away from the book, but overall, this series starter was strong, and I can’t wait for the next book! Next on deck: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake!

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton Review


Title: The Everlasting Rose
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Belles, book two
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
       
         I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
    
            Dhonielle Clayton is one of my favorite authors, and my favorite book in her body of work was this book’s predecessor, The Belles. I’ve been salivating for the sequel to that explosive, thought-provoking and dark series debut since I finished it. So, when I realized there was a copy sitting on the shelf of my local library, I went and grabbed it as soon as I possibly could. It’s been sitting on the top of my library stack for a while, and I was delighted when I realized that it was next in line. Unfortunately, this sequel didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but I greatly enjoyed it nonetheless. Action-packed, thoughtful, shocking and romantic, I loved The Everlasting Rose!


                The Everlasting Rose picks up where The Belles left off, with Belle favorite, Camellia Beauregard, fleeing the royal palace from the mad princess, Sophia. Realizing the rotten core that lies under the luxurious, glittering veneer of the country of Orleans, she is rightfully furious and desperate for revenge and freedom for herself and her sisters, her fellow Belles. Camellia soon realizes that revolution is brewing right under the surface of everything, and that to do what is right, she may have to bargain with an even more secretive enemy, The Iron Ladies. With the help of her sisters, Edel and Amber, and her bodyguard, Remy, Camellia must decide if she is strong enough to see this mission through, or fall into a web of intrigue and deception that she may never claw her way out of…

                I really liked this book! It fell a little short for me, in comparison to The Belles, but it was a solid sequel. I just hope that this isn’t the end! The ending seemed as if it was a cliffhanger, but I couldn’t tell for certain. Sequels unnerve me, every time: all too often, it just doesn’t hold up to the first book. But overall, The Everlasting Rose really delivered! It took me a little while to remember what was going on, but once I did, I was all in. This book grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go, not for a moment. I also adored all of the characters, particularly Sophia, but it was Camellia that really stole the show for me. I loved her development from a na├»ve, ambitious girl to a fierce, angry warrior of a young woman. I also really liked the way that old and new characters were brought in, to great effect. But I think my favorite part of this whole book was the way that Clayton peeled back the extravagant, glittering layers of Orleans to expose its black, rotten heart.  I really enjoyed the way that Clayton finally elaborated on Orleans, and how it was created, but we finally got to what I was most curious about: The Belles and how they were created. The ending was good, but I’m hoping that there’s more: It can’t end like that! I still have so many questions! Dhonielle Clayton has created a beautiful, dark, gilded world full of thorns and secrets and intrigue, and I was absolutely captivated by it! I really hope that there’s more because this book was just not enough! The bottom line: Dark, beautiful, romantic and twisted, I loved The Everlasting Rose, and I really hope that there’s more, because I won’t be able to deal with it if there isn’t! Next on deck: Slayer by Kiersten White!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Cape May by Chip Creek Review


Title: Cape May
Author: Chip Creek
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


                I was given an advanced readers’ copy of this book by the publisher, Celadon Books. Thank you so much!

                I started alternating between library books and review copies, so when I was finished with The Vanishing Stair, I decided to push Cape May to the top of my stack. This book is fantastic, gorgeously written and full of heart and emotion. I wouldn’t put it any particular genre; to me, it was a drama. But I absolutely adored it. The prose was gorgeous, the pacing breakneck, and I loved the way that it was a coming of age story. Lush, emotional, painful and satisfying, I loved this debut from a brilliant new talent! Chip Creek has penned an unforgettable first novel that had me in awe. I was crying, laughing, cringing, and there were several times that I had to close the book and walk away to process my feelings.

                Cape May opens with two young, lovestruck newlyweds, Effie and Henry, on their honeymoon. Given Effie’s uncle’s beach house for the week, they are drunk on one another. But boredom begins to set in when they realize they’ve come to the oceanside town on the off-season when there is no one there. But their ennui is soon alleviated when they become friends with three bored, young rich people: effervescent, bubbly Clara, smooth jokester Max, and his younger half-sister, Alma. Pulled into the drama of these strangers, Effie and Henry soon find their young marriage in jeopardy, and they must decide if their new love is worth saving…

                This book was wonderful and nearly perfect. It came as a surprise in the mail, and as soon as I was done with The Vanishing Stair, I dove in. The prose was gorgeously wrought, and the pacing was breakneck. I was utterly seduced by the empty seaside town of Cape May; the setting was vivid and beautiful, and I could almost taste the salt in the air, feel it fall on my skin. I also loved all of the characters in this book, particularly Effie, Henry, and Alma. This book was beautiful, seductive, and erotic; it was a debut that swept me away and stole my heart. Watching Effie and Henry ingratiate themselves into this group of wealthy, bored young people were both stunning and painful. As the book went on, I found my heart breaking, for Effie, in particular. This book was about fidelity, lust, marriage, and friendship, but most of all, it was about watching a new marriage crumble in the summer heat. I really didn’t like Henry as the book went on; he was foolish, selfish, and was rationalizing his indiscretions in the worst, possible way. By the end of the book, I hated him. But the ending saved the book for me; I loved the way that it ended. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, lush and seductive, and I loved every moment of it, even the ones that were painful and made me cry. The bottom line: A beautiful, poignant novel about lust, fidelity, marriage, and desire, I loved Cape May! Next on deck: The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton!

Friday, May 3, 2019

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson Review


Title: The Vanishing Stair
Author: Maureen Johnson
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Truly Devious, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                Truly, Devious was one of my favorite books of last year, so I was so excited when the sequel finally dropped back in January. I had to return it to the library the first time I checked it out, as I couldn’t read it before it had to go back. It’s been sitting on the top of my stack for a while, and I realized that I couldn’t renew it anymore, so as soon as I was done with Saving Meghan, I pushed it to the top of my stack. I devoured it in less than two days, and even though I finished it last night, my head is still spinning! Maureen, how could you end it like that?! How am I supposed to wait until 2020 for the last book in the trilogy?! Smart, shocking, and chilling, The Vanishing Stair was a fantastic sequel, and I can’t wait for the next book! A great sequel to one of my favorite books of last year!

                The Vanishing Stair picks up where Truly, Devious left off, with Stevie still reeling from the events of the last book. For the sake of those who haven’t read it yet, I won’t say too much about the plot; I don’t want to spoil it. But Stevie returns to Ellingham, trying to refocus on the famous case that brought her to the school to begin with. Unable to leave well enough alone, she begins to investigate the deaths that caused her to leave. But it turns out that the deeper she digs, the more she realizes that nothing stays truly stay buried, forever…

                The Vanishing Stair was absolutely wonderful! Truly, Devious was one of my favorite books of last year, and I’m so happy that I finally got the read the sequel! I really enjoyed it. Sequels made me so nervous; all too often, they don’t live up to my expectations. But The Vanishing Stair more than delivered; I almost enjoyed it more than the first book. The pacing was breakneck, and it took me a little while to remember what was going on, since it’s been more than a year since I read Truly, Devious. I loved the way that Johnson braided two mysteries together; I was constantly left wondering and scratching my head. I was also screaming, laughing and crying; this book gave me so many feels! The transition between the past and present were really smooth. I also adored the characters, but Stevie and Janelle were my favorites. The twists and turns of the book had me dealing with literary whiplash, and more than once I had to walk away so I could puzzle them out. And that ending! That ending! Oh, my goodness, how on Earth am I supposed to wait until 2020 for the next book?! Come on, Maureen, you’re killing me here! I loved this book, but the ending was what really clinched it for me; I can’t wait for the last book in the series! Absolutely amazing! The bottom line: Dark, twisty, and thrilling, I loved The Vanishing Stair, and I can’t wait for the last book in the series! Next on deck: Cape May by Chip Creek!