Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Kill The Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky Review


Title: Kill the Boy Band
Author: Goldy Moldavsky
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Horror
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

                I’ve had Kill the Boy Band at the top of my library stack for a while now, and when I realized I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it to the top of my stack. As soon as I was finished with The Grace Year, I dove in, and I devoured this dark, twisty, humorous mystery in less than a day. It was like something peered inside me and took out everything that made me tick as an obsessed fan girl. The Backstreet Boys, N*SYNC, One Direction—it doesn’t really matter which boy band it is; Moldavsky took the very essence of that feeling and turned it into a book, only she frames the plot around a circle of toxic fans and one of the members of a fictional band called The Ruperts. Darkly funny, thoughtful, insightful and shocking, I loved Kill the Boy Band; I’m really mad I didn’t discover this gem earlier!

                They didn’t mean for things to turn out this way; it was all an accident. They got a hotel room hoping to get a sneak peek of the boys they love so much, The Ruperts. What starts as a night of harmless, nostalgic fun quickly spirals into a nightmare, straight out of a horror movie. But when the girls get their hands on Rupert P., they also have the boy’s phone and his most dangerous secrets. When said Rupert ends up dead, the girls are soon turning on each other, and the narrator begins to worry if these events actually happened, or if they were all figments of an overactive imagination…

                I loved this book! I started it right after I finished The Grace Year, and I was immediately obsessed. The prose was sharp, spare and snappy, and I was either gasping in shock or giggling out loud. The pacing was breakneck and almost against my will, I’d devoured the whole story in a matter of hours. I loved the way that it showed a thoughtful and nuanced take on girls and young women, as well as their desires, hungers, and wants, and what can happen when those things turn to obsession. I also adored the narrator, as well as the three other girls who get swept up in the madness that eventually leads to the boy in their keeping dying under mysterious circumstances. Who killed Rupert P.? Why? And that ending; it landed like a punch to the gut, it was so unexpected! A dark, funny, and slightly gruesome take on the experiences of an obsessed fangirl, gone too far. The bottom line: Hilarious, dark, honest and more than a little twisty, I loved Kill the Boy Band! Next on deck: Toil and Trouble by Augusten Borroughs!

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett Review


Title: The Grace Year
Author: Kim Liggett
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                I’ve been wanting to read The Grace Year since before it actually came out, so I put a reserve on it at my local library. I was so surprised when I got the call that I’d have my library’s first copy. It’s been sitting at the top of my stack ever since, and as soon as I was finished with Her Body and Other Parties, I pushed it to the top. This book is difficult to describe; I finished it a few days ago, and I’m still stunned. The Grace Year was like a mix of Lord of the Flies and The Handmaid’s Tale, by way of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation. It was strange, terrifying, emotional and shocking; it might be one of my favorite books of 2019. Combining horror, romance, and chilling secrets, The Grace Year is one of those books that get under your skin and into your blood and heart. I will never forget it. One of the best for me, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

                In Garner County, unwed young women carry within them magic so potent that it can make a wife claw her face in wrath and jealousy, and draw grown men from their marriage beds. Tierney knows only vaguely what happens on a woman’s grace year. This year, it is hers, and she will be forced to go out into the wilds to purge herself of her magic before she is married to her closest childhood friend. But Tierney wants a life of her own, while she is beholden to no one, least of all a man. When the grace year begins, not everyone will make it back alive, and Tierney will discover secrets that will shatter her sheltered existence, best left buried…

                I loved this book. Horror is one of my favorite genres, and Liggett took the Mean Girls plus body horror route. It was fast paced, and I was immediately spellbound by the frightening, brutal world Tierney and the other characters lived in. I was both terrified and transfixed; I couldn’t have stopped reading this book, even if I’d wanted to. Tierney’s voice was lyrical and frightening, and I loved it. I also adored the concept of this book: to me, it really felt like a call out of purity culture, and I loved it! This book was pretty damn close to perfect. It was like Shirley Jackson and Stephen King had a lovechild, and it was an amazing feat of a book. But my favorite part was Tierney and her growth as a person, especially over the second half of the book. But this book was written with such violence and brutality; I love books that flip gender expectations on their head, and this book did that so beautifully. And that ending! Oh, my goodness, that was amazing! Tierney’s journey will forever stick with me. The bottom line: The heir apparent to Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, and Margaret Atwood, I loved The Grace Year! Next on deck: Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky!

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado Review


Title: Her Body and Other Parties: Stories
Author: Carmen Maria Machado
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Anthology/Short Story Collection
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                I’ve been wanting to read Machado’s debut set of stories for a long time; the first couple times that I tried to read it, I had to return it to my library before I could actually read it. As soon as I was finished with Come November, I pushed it to the top of my library stack. This collection of seven stories was dark, comic, feminist and shocking, and I loved every single one of them. Carmen Maria Machado has become one of my new favorite authors, full of talent and dark truths. I cannot wait to see what comes next from this amazing, wonderful new talent; this set of stories is unforgettable. I was laughing, crying, and gasping. Machado grabs the horror genre and turns it on its head.

                A wife refuses her husband’s pleas to take off the green ribbon around her neck. A lonely woman recounts her sexual history while a plague ravages humanity. A salesclerk at a thrift shop in a mall makes a gruesome, horrible discovery inside of used prom dresses. A woman decides to have a weight reduction surgery and receives an unwelcome and unpleasant houseguest in return. And the novella that has garnered the most attention in the collection reimagines seven seasons of the hit crime show, Law and Order: SVU. I loved this bloody, dark, and gory collection of stories; all of them were unique, some retellings and some original tales. I loved the way that it seemed to peel off the skin of the female psyche; reading this book made me feel both exposed and hidden, like Machado had peered into the deepest parts of my heart and soul. The stories in this collection were about hunger, desire, and the hidden longings that we speak of rarely, if at all. I can’t even decide which story was my favorite, because they all ended up affecting me in different ways. By the end of the book, I was sad it was over, and felt like there were new parts of myself, unearthed by Machado’s lush words. Reading this collection felt like nothing less than a shock, and I cannot wait to see what comes next for this talented, exciting new author. The bottom line: Surprising, wry, darkly funny and honest, I loved Her Body and Other Stories! Next on deck: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett!

Come November by Katrin van Dam Review


Title: Come November
Author: Katrin van Dam
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Come November, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

                Come November was the book club book for one of the clubs I go to, Young Adult for Adults. I finished it last week and I still can’t get it out of my head. This book is van Dam’s first, and I was so happy when we realized that she was writing a book about November’s younger brother, Daniel. This story was so unique, I will never forget it. It was emotional and more than a little stressful, but I’m so glad that I was able to accompany November on her journey through life. It wasn’t perfect, but I liked that a lot as well; it felt like it was truer to life that way. This debut novel was strong and beautifully written, and even with the flaws, it is one of my favorite books that I’ve read this year. I won’t forget November and her family! Props to the head of the book club for picking this book. (You know who you are!)

                Rooney Harris knows that the end of the world isn’t truly coming, but trying to say that to her passionate and flighty mother is next to impossible. She knows that she’s the only responsible one for herself and her brother, Daniel, since their mom joined a cult called The Next World Society. On November 17th, her mother and countless others are going to be taken away to live on a new planet and live with otherworldly beings who will save anyone brave enough to part with all of their worldly possessions. But the day finally arrives, only to cause massive disappointment and confusion when it doesn’t actually happen. Rooney’s already complicated existence gets even scarier when she finally reaches out to her father, who left their mother behind years ago to start over with someone else. Rooney begins to learn to let people in, and that nothing about her life is quite what it seems.

                I loved this book. It was a hell of a kick, right to the feels, but I just adored it. It made me so stressed and emotional, at times. There were times I got so emotional that I had to walk away, set it down. But I finished it in a day, and I still haven’t been able to get November’s poignant, sad voice out of my head. The pacing of this book was breakneck; it enthralled me, right out of the gate. I also adored the other characters in the novel: Rooney’s parents, Daniel, Anjelica, Mercer, and the Fishers. Rooney, though, was the star: I loved her defiance, her rage, her sweet but broken writer’s heart. I loved the ending, too, even though it left me feeling a bit cheated at first. Upon further thought and discussion, I liked that there were some loose ends, because in all honesty, that’s usually how life goes. Nothing is ever cut and dried, and I liked that. Katrin van Dam has outdone herself with Come November, and I’m so excited for the sequel! The bottom line: A lyrical, darkly funny and thoughtful debut, I loved Come November! Next on deck: Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Frankly in Love by David Yoon Review


Title: Frankly in Love
Author: David Yoon
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Series: Frankly in Love, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

                I’ve been curious about this book since before it came out, so, as soon as I was able, I reserved it at my library. Since then, it’s been sitting at the top of my library stack, begging me to read it. I picked it up, expecting a love story, but to call this book a love story would be to do it a major disservice. This book is about family, identity, self-acceptance, racism, and true love, and everything in between. Frankly in Love is that rare book that perfectly embodies the young adult genre, in the best kind of way. David Yoon has penned a fantastic and unforgettable debut, and I can’t wait to see what he delivers next! Frankly in Love just might be one of my favorite novels of 2019; I just finished it on Saturday night, and my heart is still aching from following Frank on his journey through life!

                Frank Li is a boy who is stuck between two worlds: his all-American upbringing and the expectation of his Korean parents and culture. He longs to be himself in a world that is always trying to press him into a mold. When he meets a white girl named Brit, he knows that his traditional, straitlaced and racist parents will not approve. He concocts a plan to stay under the radar: pretend to date a childhood friend, also Korean-American, named Joy Song, while dating Brit. But things get complicated when he begins having feelings for his fake girlfriend. What could possibly go wrong?

                I loved this book! It was hilarious, heartbreaking, honest and tender; it might just be one of my favorites of 2019. I was laughing, crying, and screaming throughout the whole book. Frank’s voice was honest, funny, and poignant; my heart ached for him as the book went on. The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately spellbound by his narration. I adored Frank’s friends also, especially Joy, Q, and the Limbos. His family, too, was a fantastic foil to him; I loved the way it portrayed his parents and the immigrant parents-half-American dynamic. One of my favorite things about this book was the way that it highlighted racism! Unfortunately, that is a horrible and outdated practice that still persists in the lifeblood of America today. I loved the way that it went deep into Korean culture; it was as informative as it was funny and entertaining. I also adored the romance in this book; it reminded me of when I first fell in love with my husband. I was swooning as the book went on. I loved the ending; it was so heartbreaking and bittersweet. The only thing I didn’t like was that I wish there had been more said of Hanna, and her situation with Frankie and their parents. I wish she’d been more involved than she actually was. Nevertheless, I very much enjoyed Frankly in Love! One of my favorite books of the year! The bottom line: Hilarious, honest, heartbreaking and wonderful, I loved Frankly in Love! One of my favorite books of 2019! Next on deck: Come November by Katrin van Dam!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee Review


Title: Loki: Where Mischief Lies
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
                Mackenzi Lee is one of my favorite authors of all time; I read The Montague Siblings series and became obsessed. So, when I heard that she was writing a book from the point of view of one of my favorite Marvel antiheroes, Loki himself, I was ecstatic. As soon as I had a space in my library stack, I reserved it at my local library. It’s been sitting on the top of my library stack for a while, and once I realized I couldn’t renew it any more, I dove in right after I finished Renia’s Diary. And for the most part, Lee did a fantastic job! I loved Where Mischief Lies; I’ve been curious about the young Loki for a long time now, and this book did a fantastic job of filling in the gaps. There were a few little things that I wish had been fleshed out, but overall, this was a fantastic entry into the Marvel canon, and I hope there’s more in the works! Long live Loki, god of lies, mischief, and magic!

                Loki has spent his whole life in the shadows of his father, Odin, and his brother, Thor. He longs for a chance to rule Asgard, even though he knows that Odin won’t give him a chance. On top of that, he only has one friend in his father’s court: a fellow sorceress named Amora. When Odin sees a vision in The Godseye Mirror of Loki leading an army of the living dead, Loki realizes that his father thinks he may be the catalyst that sends Ragnarok into motion. When a routine political intrigue mission goes awry, Odin metes out a terrible punishment: Loki must journey to Midgard, or Earth, to investigate a series of mysterious deaths. Once on Earth, Loki finds someone that he never thought he’d see again, and he discovers that he may be able to change the fate that everyone has envisioned for him…

                I loved, loved, loved this book! Mackenzi Lee is one of my favorite authors, and Loki is one of my favorite antiheroes in the entire Marvel canon, so this was a match made in book nerd heaven! The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately spellbound by Loki; even his younger, more naïve self was fabulous! He was one of my favorite characters in the book, and I also adored the dynamic between himself, Thor, and his father, the formidable Odin. I really liked the other characters, too: Amora, Theo, Mrs. S, and the rest of their ragtag team of mythbusters. But my favorite thing about this whole book was Loki’s growth throughout, and the way that he grew into and accepted himself, regardless of how everyone else saw him. And that ending! Oh, my goodness, what a way to end with a bang! Lee has done a fantastic job of filling in the gaps of how Loki became the sly and wily god of mischief. I loved it, so much, and I really, really hope that there’s more in the works at Marvel! I was totally obsessed! The bottom line: Hilarious, honest, dark and thrilling, I loved Loki: Where Mischief Lies! Next on deck: Frankly in Love by David Yoon!

Renia's Diary by Renia Spiegel and Elizabeth Bellak Review


Title: Renia’s Diary: A Holocaust Journal
Author: Renia Spiegel and Elizabeth Bellak
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction; Biography
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                The Holocaust has always been a period in history that I’ve enjoyed learning about, but never before have I read a primary source. I’m ashamed and sorry to admit that I’ve never read Anne Frank’s diary, either, but after reading Renia’s diary, I would like to! Renia’s diary is just that: the diary of a young woman named Renia, who was about to turn nineteen when she and more than sixty others were murdered by The Nazis. Translated by her surviving older sister, Elizabeth, this book was so moving, honest, and unbearably sad. I laughed, I wept, and despaired over Renia’s life, taken too soon, as well as the countless others who lost their lives in The Holocaust. Reading historical fiction is nothing like reading the real account of an actual person who lived through part of the event. This book ripped my heart out and broke it into pieces, and I’m so glad that Renia’s words and her life were not forgotten. I will never forget Renia, her words, and her life, taken all too soon. I loved this book, and I will never forget it; I will be seeking out more of these works, especially that of Anne Frank! Enlightening, heartbreaking, beautiful and honest, I loved this journal so much!

                Renia Spiegel is fourteen when the Nazis take over and occupy her beloved Poland. Missing her mother, sister, and father, she is staying with her grandparents while the war rages on. Just a young adult focusing on the future, Renia longs to be a poet and writer, as well as a wife and mother. She documents everything, no matter how small the detail: petty squabbles between her friends, the bright hope of first love and a new spring, missing her family members. But the shadow of the war and the Nazi takeover cast dark clouds over her optimistic and hopeful outlook, and as the book goes on, Renia doesn’t know how it all ends, but the readers do. This book was frank, honest, and moving, particularly the excerpts of the teen’s poetry. Seeing such promise, such a bright light snuffed out all too soon, was absolutely heartbreaking; more than once, I found myself in tears. I knew how it all ended and it was so very painful. At times it was hard to keep up, between Renia’s diary entries and the notes her sister added at the back, and I had to flip often to the end of the book to get full context. But nonetheless, despite some thoughts needing clarification, I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading more first-person accounts of this heartbreaking, terrifying period in world history. The bottom line: Honest, rich with detail, and unspeakably moving, I loved Renia’s Diary, and I’m looking forward to reading more primary sources about this dark period in world history! Next on deck: Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee!


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg Review


Title: The Kingdom
Author: Jess Rothenberg
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction/Mystery
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                The Kingdom has been on my to-be-read list since before it came out, but unfortunately, the first couple times I borrowed it from my library, I had to return it before I could read it. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while now, and as soon as I finished Five Dark Fates the day before last, I dove in, uncertain of what to expect of Rothenberg’s sophomore novel, as I hadn’t read any of her work previously. What I got was like Disney Princess and I, Robot had a lovechild, and I absolutely loved it. This book was a dark, thoughtful and frightening mashup of romance, science fiction, and mystery, and I adored it! The Kingdom has become one of my favorite novels of 2019, and I’m really hoping that Jess has something more in the works, because I am totally obsessed. This book might be one of the most original I’ve ever read. Telling the story of an android, a human-cyborg hybrid, it also brought up interesting questions about choice, free will, fantasy and reality and the fine line between the two, and what it means to be truly human. A stunning, thought-provoking novel that still has me stunned, and I just finished it this afternoon! This book was nothing less than absolutely stunning, and I will never forget it!

                In the magical land of The Kingdom, somewhere in the distant future, happily ever after isn’t just something that everyone aspires to; it is a rule, a command, an order. For Ana, a Fantasist, she is one of the park’s most lively and sought-after attractions—literally. She and her sisters are machines, made to look like real people. But Ana’s pleasant, sheltered existence begins to fray at the edges when one of her sisters disappears, and when she meets a young man who works at the park, Ana begins to feel things that should be forbidden, things that she shouldn’t have learned. But it turns out that Kingdom Corp. will do anything to hide its dark, dangerous secrets, maybe even kill. Ana finds herself questioning everything she thought she knew, and she realizes that she may not be able to trust anyone…

                There aren’t enough words in the English language to tell you all just how much I loved this book. I’m a complete sucker for any kind of science fiction, but I’m obsessed with robots, cyborgs, and the like. And this book was like Disney Princess and I, Robot had a baby. This book was so unique; I’ve never read another like it. The pacing was breakneck, and I was totally spellbound by Ana’s frank, innocent voice. But I also adored how this book wasn’t afraid to ask hard questions: what does it really mean to be truly human? What marks the difference between human and machine? Is it possible to have too much fantasy in our reality? I also really liked the layout: interspersed with Ana’s first-person narrative are trial transcripts, photos, and case files; it added to the mystery of it all. The twists and turns were so crazy at times it felt like I had emotional whiplash, and that ending: I did not see it coming! The other characters made great foils for Ana: her sisters, ‘parents’, The Kingdom employees and investors, as well as Owen, the man that Ana falls in love with. This book was thoughtful, chilling, shocking and totally unique, and I loved every moment of it. This book was nothing less than perfection, and honestly, I’m just sorry that it’s all over! The bottom line: Rich, compelling, thought-provoking and utterly frightening, I loved The Kingdom! Easily one of the best books I’ve read all year! Next on deck: Renia’s Diary by Renia Spiegel and Elizabeth Bellak!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake Review


Title: Five Dark Fates
Author: Kendare Blake
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Series: Three Dark Crowns, book four
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                Kendare Blake is one of my favorite authors; I’m a diehard fan, honestly, and have been so ever since Anna, Dressed in Blood. When I saw Two Dark Reigns sitting on a shelf at my local library, I snatched it up, and on that same shelf I also found the last book in the quartet, and I checked that as well. I finished Two Dark Reigns in less than three days, and then I just finished Five Dark Fates yesterday. Normally, I’d allow a bit of time to pass until I actually reviewed it, but I’ve been really behind and have been trying to catch up for the last week and a half. But honestly, this book: It was satisfying, frightening, and heartbreakingly sad; I’m still in shock that it’s all over, and that I had to say goodbye to Mirabella, Arsinoe and Katharine. The series closer to one of my favorite series of the year did not disappoint; the only thing I’m really upset about is that it’s all over!

                Katharine is the Queen Crowned now, but the spirits that have slipped inside of her body are longing for another vessel, one more powerful than she. Meanwhile, Arsinoe and Mirabella, still in hiding on the mainland, are desperate to find a way to defeat their sister and free Fennbirn from the darkness that refuses to let it go. Arsinoe is haunted by visions of a queen from the past, and knows that they hold answers to the questions that haunt her. Mirabella finds herself torn between her two sisters, while Jules, Arsinoe’s best friend, finds herself reluctantly at the head of a rebellion to take the crown from Katharine. But the queens who inspired the dark traditions aren’t about to let the girls go unscathed, and not everyone will make it out alive…

                This book was, in a word, heartbreaking. The pacing was breakneck, and I started Five Dark Fates as soon as I was finished with Two Dark Reigns. I was immediately spellbound, and despite this being the longest book in the series, I devoured it in less than two days. Even when I wasn’t reading it, it was lurking in my mind; I even dreamed of it several times before I finished the book. I tried to take it slow; I didn’t want to save goodbye to the girls, even while I knew this was the end. Every loss, great and small, felt like nothing less than a punch to the gut. And even though I knew everyone would collide, all three sisters and Jules as well, I was not ready for the confrontation at the ending. Every moment of this novel was painful and bittersweet, but not unsatisfying. That ending, man—it’s been stuck in my craw for the last few days, replaying on a loop since I finished it. I cried, laughed, and cheered, and I know now that I will miss all of the characters, even ones I disliked. This may be the end of Fennbirn, but you can be sure that I will visit again! The bottom line: Powerful, rich, and bittersweet, I loved Five Dark Fates, the final book in the Three Dark Crowns quartet, and I will never forget the island of Fennbirn or its powerful queens! Next on deck: The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg!                                                                                                       

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake Review


Title: Two Dark Reigns
Author: Kendare Blake
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Series: Three Dark Crowns, book three
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                Kendare Blake is one of my favorite authors of all time; I read her debut novel, Anna, Dressed in Blood, and have been a longtime devotee ever since. I’ve adored her Three Dark Crowns series, but have only just got around to finishing the quartet. I devoured Two Dark Reigns in three days, and I loved every dark, tense moment of it. Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katharine have competed for the crown, and it turns out that the youngest sister, Katharine, the poisoner, has won the right to be Queen Crowned. Mirabella and Arsinoe have fled the island of Fennbirn, seeking out shelter with Arsinoe’s lover’s family. Katharine has found victory, but a steep and terrible price: her body is being shared with all the lost, dead queens that came before her and sisters, and they will stop at nothing to make sure that they have a willing vessel, even if it means hurting everyone that Katharine still loves. Meanwhile, Arsinoe is haunted by visions of a dark specter: The long-lost Blue Queen, who keeps telling the girls that they must return to the island. Jules, too, is in a strange place, also in hiding and in disguise. Her only confidants, the war-gifted soldier Emilia, and her oracle friend, Mathilde, are encouraging her to do the impossible: become a legion-cursed queen who will lead the rebel army straight to Katharine’s doorstep. An uprising that The Blue Queen may have predicted or foreseen, or even expected, is coming, and not everyone will make it out alive…

                This book was nothing less than wonderful. Normally, sequels make me nervous, but I had nothing to fear from Blake. This book picks up where One Dark Throne left off, with Katharine anxious about her sisters still being alive and coming to take the throne she has worked her whole life to rule on, and Arsinoe and Mirabella still reeling from losses of their own. The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately thrust into the world of Fennbirn and its murderous, powerful queens. As with all sequels, it took a little while for me to get back into the swing of things, but once I did, the book went by in a flash. I devoured it in less than three days, and I very much enjoyed it. I was so happy that I had Five Dark Fates next in line, because after that ending, I was reeling. I’m so happy that Blake decided to continue in the series, finishing up with Five Dark Fates. This series has been a recent favorite of mine, and I’m so excited to finish it! The bottom line: Rich, detailed, thrilling and shocking, I loved Two Dark Reigns, and I cannot wait to finish up the quartet with Five Dark Fates! Next on deck: Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake!

Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan Review


Title: Season of the Witch
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

                Sarah Rees Brennan has been one of my favorite authors for years now; she won my heart with her Demon’s Lexicon trilogy, and I loved it. Ever since, I’ve kept an eye out for her new work. When I found out she was writing a brand-new prequel series for one of my favorite Netflix Original shows, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I was so stoked! It’s been sitting at the top of my library stack for a few weeks now, and as soon as I was finished with Kingdom of Exiles, I dove in. I devoured this prequel novel, the first in a series, in less than a day. The book takes place the week before Sabrina’s sixteenth birthday, and the night of her Dark Baptism. Torn between what her family expects of her, what she wants, and the love and care of her mortal friends, Roz and Susie, and most important of all, her boyfriend and first love, Harvey Kinkle. Sabrina is at a crossroads, contemplating what she wants. But darker forces than she knows lurk in the forests of Greendale, and they have plans for her…

                This book was awesome; of course, I’m probably biased because I’m obsessed with Sarah Rees Brennan and this new rendition of Sabrina, gone darker and closer to the actual source material. I also liked the way that it took what was already established in the show and expanded upon it. The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately spellbound by Sabrina’s frank, wry voice. I also loved the way Greendale itself, and its secrets, were a beloved character in and of themselves. I loved the way that the book took all of the side characters and made sure that they had the spotlight. But I think my favorite part of this novel was the spotlight on Sabrina’s wayward, carefree cousin, Ambrose, as well as the villain. I wish there had been more said, overall, about Sabrina’s other family members, but overall, this book was really enjoyable, and I’m really looking forward to the next book, which comes out in December. Sarah Rees Brennan has outdone herself again! The bottom line: Dark, more than a little spooky and chilling, and wonderful, I loved Season of the Witch! Next on deck: Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake!

Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau Review


Title: Kingdom of Exiles
Author: Maxym M. Martineau
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: The Beast Charmer, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                I’ve been wanting to read this book since before it came out, and unfortunately, I had to return it to the library twice before I was finally able to read it. I pushed it to the top of my stack, as soon as I was finished with His Hideous Heart. Normally, romance as a genre makes me leery, but it has got me through some tough times, so I’ve been trying to expand my literary horizons somewhat. But I was really excited for this dark, magical and romantic series opener, and I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint. The best way to sum this book was like something of a mashup of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Assassin’s Creed, with a lot of romantic tension and humor thrown in. Kingdom of Exiles is one of my favorite books of 2019, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

                Leena Edenfrell is an exiled beast charmer, forced to sell her beloved creatures in order to make a living after she is falsely accused of an unforgivable crime. Now in hiding and trying to avoid getting caught for the hefty bounty on her head, things get even more complicated when one of the magical underworld’s most dangerous assassins comes for her. She strikes a deal with him: her own magical creatures in exchange for her life. Unknown to her, though, the undying are bound by magic to fulfill their contracts, and Noc cannot risk his brotherhood—his family—of assassins, not even to save the woman that he can’t live without…

                I loved, loved, loved this book! The pacing was breakneck, and I loved the worldbuilding; I was immediately spellbound by Leena’s voice. I adored the creatures that Leena tamed and used as teammates, but my favorite part of this book was the romance between Leena and Noc; it was so white-hot that I was practically fanning myself as the book went on. I gobbled this book up in a day and a half, and I cannot wait for The Frozen Prince next year! Unique, magical, romantic and sexy, I loved every moment of it, and I really enjoyed the mystery behind Leena’s sudden and unexpected exile. And that ending! It was nothing less than perfect! I’m so, so excited for the sequel! Maxym M. Martineau has gained a diehard, lifelong fan in me with Kingdom of Exiles! The bottom line: Magical, full of humor, wit, and romance, as well as political intrigue, I loved Kingdom of Exiles! One of my favorite books of 2019, absolutely unforgettable! Next on deck: Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan!

His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler Review


Title: His Hideous Heart: 13 of Edgar Allen Poe’s Most Unsettling Tales, Reimagined
Editor: Dahlia Adler, et. al
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror/Short Story Collection/Anthology
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                I’ve been a fan of Edgar Allen Poe’s work for a long time, since I was a preteen. So when I saw His Hideous Heart sitting on a shelf at my local library, I snatched it up! As soon as I was finished with Nightingale, I returned to this book, which I was in the middle of before I even began the book club book. Dahlia Adler gathers some of YA fiction’s best and brightest to remix Poe’s most frightening and unsettling tales, and what’s really nice about this anthology is that it has the original stories printed in the back of it for easy referencing. Since there are 13 tales, both remixed and original, I will highlight the standouts and give the whole book an overall review.

                She Rode a Horse of Fire by Kendare Blake, inspired by ‘Metzengerstein’: 5 out of 5 Stars. This story tells of a devoted servant, loyal to her master even to the end, despite a dark, bloody and murderous secret. Chilling, unsettling, and shocking, especially the ending! One of my favorite stories in the entire collection.

                It’s Carnival! By Tiffany D. Jackson, inspired by ‘The Cask of Amontillado’: 5 out of 5 Stars. A wronged woman learns that revenge is a dish best served cold, and buries a classmate deep within the walls of an old, abandoned building. I also adored the way that the story took place in Jamaica. Darkly funny, terrifying, and full of wit, I loved this story!

                Night-Tide by Tessa Gratton, inspired by ‘Annabel Lee’: 5 out of 5 Stars. I loved this gorgeous, lesbian take on Annabel Lee; it was sad, bittersweet, and lovely; this story in particular struck a chord with me. The narrator lost her beloved Annabel, her best and only friend, after an awful tragedy, and she can’t help but wonder if it was her love that killed Annabel… One of my favorite stories in the whole book!

                Happy Days, Sweetheart by Stephanie Kuehn, inspired by ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’: 4 out of 5 Stars. The Tell-Tale Heart is one of my very favorite Poe stories, so I was really looking forward to this one! The main character in this story has ambition seeping out of her very pores, so when a classmate beats her out in everything she tries, she forms a plan to get the upper hand—even after she and the boy get romantically involved. This story was particularly chilling, especially the ending!

                And, last but definitely not least:

                The Oval Filter by Lamar Giles, inspired by ‘The Oval Portrait’: 5 out of 5 Stars. After the disappearance of his girlfriend, a prominent Instagram influencer, a former football star becomes obsessed with solving the mystery associated with her. When he discovers just how and why his lover disappeared, he exacts revenge all his own. Dark, creepy, and shocking, this story might be my favorite of the entire book! I also loved the way that the back of the book held all of the original stories for comparison. This book is one of my favorites of the year 2019, and I can promise you that I will never forget this gorgeous, dark and beautifully written collection of tales! The bottom line: Retelling some of Edgar Allen Poe’s most imaginative and frightening work, I loved His Hideous Heart! One of the best books of 2019! Next on deck: Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau!

Nightingale by Amy Ludavics Review


Title: Nightingale
Author: Amy Ludavics
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

                Nightingale was the October pick for my young adult book club at the one of the libraries I go to, and I’m embarrassed to tell you all that I forgot about it until the day we were supposed to meet, and because I’d forgotten, I was halfway through an anthology I’d started a few days before! Luckily, I reminded my friend who gives me a ride and we were able to make it. However, I didn’t finish the book until later that week. It’s been two weeks, and I’m still absolutely stunned. This is the first book I’ve read by Amy Ludavics, and I can happily inform you all that it certainly won’t be my last! In fact, that very night one of my other friends demanded I take home her sophomore novel, The Women in the Walls. Nightingale was her third novel, and even after all of this time, I’m still not quite sure what to think of it. It was dark, gory, terrifying, and strange, but there were several loose ends that I wish had been elaborated on more. Nonetheless, this book was a great mashup of science fiction and horror, and I loved the feminist overtones! One of my favorite books I’ve read in 2019, hands down!

                June Hardie has always known that she’s not normal. After all, she’s not drawn to improving her homemaking skills, despite her mother’s persistence. Nor does she long for a fiancé. Instead, she dreams of being a writer. In 1951, she is considered strange and even radical. When a strange and astonishing accident happens, harming one of June’s acquaintances, her parents, fed up with her behavior, commit her to Burrow Place Asylum. With awful, inhumane conditions, abusive staff members, and brutal torture disguised as medical treatments, June’s new home is more like a prison. She fears that the people who run the asylum are preying on her deepest fears and darkest secrets, and she isn’t alone. The other girls begin to show signs of mysterious, unexplained powers, and June begins to realize that some things are just better left alone…

                This book was nothing less than a knockout, for me. Horror is one of my favorite genres, and I especially love to indulge in it when fall begins, all the way through Halloween and beyond. I feel bad for forgetting about this book, but I’m so happy I was able to attend Young Adult for Adults, and I loved Nightingale. The pacing was breakneck, the prose almost hypnotic; this was horror at its finest. I also loved the way the book made me feel: paranoid, claustrophobic and on edge. That’s how you know you’ve got it, folks. That unexplainable, explanation-defying feeling of having found a winner. (Shout out to the head of our book club for picking it! Absolutely fantastic!) I also adored June, who was years ahead of her time, and her ambition to become a writer. I felt a real kinship with her as the book went on. But I think the best part of the novel was the horror elements. Blood, gore, hallucinations, monsters and supernatural powers? Sign me up! It kind of reminded me of Stranger Things a little bit. I also loved the historical details, though I was grating at most of the other characters, the adults in particular. I loved the girls June formed friendships with, especially Eleanor. That ending knocked me flat, but I wasn’t sure what to make of it, exactly, and I wish there hadn’t been so many loose ends. Nonetheless, Amy Ludavics has proven herself to one a formidable and memorable author, and I can’t wait to dive deep into her other works! The bottom line: Terrifying, thought-provoking, feminist and perfect to get in the mood for Halloween, I loved Nightingale, despite some strange loose ends! Next on deck: His Hideous Heart: 13 of Edgar Allen Poe’s Most Unsettling Tales Reimagined by Dahlia Adler!

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks Review


Title: Pumpkinheads
Author and Illustrator: Rainbow Rowell, Faith Erin Hicks
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Graphic Novel
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                Okay, so, I’ve made no attempt to hide how obsessed I am with Rainbow Rowell, so when I heard that she was collaborating with Faith Erin Hicks for a graphic novel, I was so stoked that I reserved it at my local library right away. It’s been sitting at the top of my library stack, and I figured that this book would be perfect to get in the autumn/Halloween holiday mood. So, as soon as I was finished with The Lady Rogue, I dove in, excited. I’ll be honest: I devoured this book in a matter of hours. The art was warm, detailed, and absolutely gorgeous, and Rainbow Rowell wrote this graphic novel with her signature humor, wit, and romance. This book is easily one of my favorites of 2019, and I really hope another partnership between this dynamic duo is in the works, because I’m obsessed! This book was so achingly lovely that right after I finished it, I was longing to have it for my own collection!

                Josiah and Deja have worked every fall at their neighborhood’s pumpkin patch, but this is their last autumn before they graduate and go off to college. Deja is funny, fierce, and outgoing, and wants to try all of the fall festival’s treats before the night is completely over. Josiah, meanwhile, has been working up the nerve for the last year or so to talk to a young woman who also works at the patch. Add in crazy goat, lost children, hilarity and hijinks, secrets and friendship and maybe, just maybe, true love, and you’ll get something close to this lovely little book. I loved it so much. It was like sitting in your house, warm and cozy and sipping something hot, in front of a warming fire. This book is the literary equivalent to a cup of warm hot chocolate on a chilly fall day, and I loved it so much. But my favorite part of it was the romance of this book, unexpected and totally heartwarming. I really hope that there’s a sequel in the works for one of my favorite fall books! Rainbow Rowell’s writing was spare, sharp, and wonderful, and I loved the art; it was so lovely! Talk about a killer team! I loved Pumpkinheads, and you can be sure that I will be seeking out more of Rowell’s and Hicks’s work, both graphic and prose! The bottom line: As warm and comforting as a big mug of hot apple cider (I am NOT a pumpkin spice latte girl), I loved Pumpkinheads! Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks have utterly outdone themselves with this wonderful graphic novel! Next on deck: Nightingale by Amy Ludavics!