Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics Review


Title: The Ravenous
Author: Amy Lukavics
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.

                When I finished the first book I’d ever read by her, Nightingale, a friend recommended The Women in the Walls, Lukavics’s first novel, and I read that. Right after I finished it, I ordered The Ravenous through my library’s interloan system. Since then, it’s been sitting on the top of my library stack, the creepy cover drawing me in. When I realized I was not able to renew it any more, I pushed it to the top of my stack to read after Big Lies in a Small Town. As soon as I finished, I dove in to The Ravenous, and it might be the most gruesome book I’ve ever read by Lukavics. Dark, terrifying, thoughtful and chilling, I loved The Ravenous! I love monster stories of every type, but zombies are one of my favorites; this might be my favorite of all of Lukavics’s work.

The Ravenous tells the story of the Cane family: their military father, who is overseas so much that his daughters barely remember life with him, her alcoholic, moody and distant mother. On the outside, they appear to have the perfect family, and no one reinforces that image more than the Cane sisters. But when a terrible accident happens, their mother uses desperation and a secret ritual in order to bring the youngest sister, Rose, back to life. But her sacrifice has awful, unforeseen consequences: Rose is alive, but not quite. After returning from the dead, she develops a terrible craving for human flesh. When their mother disappears, in search of a permanent cure, the sisters are forced to take care of Rose themselves. But helping their sister may cost them their very souls…

I loved, loved, loved this book! The prose was permeated with suspense and dread, as sharp and cutting as knives. This book was terrifying, chilling, and had a killer ending (pun fully intended, sorry not sorry!)! I finished this book in less than two days, and I’m still stunned by the ending. I was instantly spellbound, hypnotized by the spare, sparse prose. The words were invoked with such a sense of dread. I love monster stories, but especially monster stories full of blood, gore, and body horror! The Cane family was such a strange facsimile of perfect; from the outside, they looked like a well-knit family. But on the inside, they were all falling apart: Mona, the middle sister, has crippling alcoholism, Juliet trying her best to hold the family together, even if it means murder, and Taylor becomes a clone of Juliet, trying not to anger her oldest sister. And there’s Anya, more into her books and her girlfriend, Everly, than her sisters. Rose, though, is the glue that holds the family together, and the Cane sisters must do unthinkable in order to keep her. And that ending! Oh, my goodness, I just finished it last night and I’m still floored over it. I can’t get it out of my head! The Ravenous is my favorite of Amy Ludavics’s work, and I loved it so much! I can’t wait to read the rest of her work! The bottom line: Dark, chilling, and so scary you’ll sleep with the lights on after! Next on deck: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han!

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain Review


Title: Big Lies in a Small Town
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                I have a confession to make: Before now, I haven’t read Diane Chamberlain’s work. I’ve had an ARC of The Dream Daughter, but I haven’t read it yet. When I heard about Big Lies in a Small Town through one of my book clubs I’m in on Facebook, my curiosity was such that I just had to order it at my local library. I was lucky enough to receive my library’s first copy! This is my first Chamberlain book, and I can happily tell you all that it most definitely won’t be my last! A rich, compelling mystery, I loved every dark and surprising moment of this beautiful book; it might be one of my favorites of 2020 so far. Tender, compassionate, dark and shocking, I loved Big Lies in a Small Town!

                In 2018, Morgan Christopher is sitting in a dark, tiny jail cell, stewing over the incident that may well have ruined her life, as well as that of an innocent. When a lawyer visits her, telling her that she has a way out, she jumps at the chance. But her freedom is contingent on one thing: She must restore a mural that is sixty years old by August sixth, or she will go back to prison to serve out the rest of her sentence for a crime she didn’t commit. Despite not knowing a thing about painting restoration, Morgan starts the job. But in doing so, Morgan discovers that the mural hides dark and deadly secrets, and what she uncovers will have repercussions that echo through the quaint little town’s history…

                I really, really enjoyed this book! Mysteries and thrillers can be so hit and miss with me; either I don’t see anything coming or I’ll have solved it within the first hundred pages. But this wasn’t the case with Big Lies; I was captivated, and the pacing was spot-on. A sense of suspense and dread had me constantly on edge, and I really enjoyed Morgan’s frank, honest voice. I also enjoyed the way the book went back and forth through time, from 1940 to 2018. It took a little while to get used to it, but once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed it! Big Lies in a Small Town exposes the often glossed-over underbelly of a very real town in North Carolina. I also enjoyed the way that Big Lies intertwined two different but similar stories, sixty years apart. I also adored every single character in this book, but Morgan holds a special place in my heart, as does Oliver. Anna Dale, the artist who comes to Edenton as a young woman after winning an art contest was also a compelling character; I loved her growth as a character. The only thing I wish had been more fleshed out was her mother and her mental illness. Nonetheless, I loved this book; it is easily one of my favorites of the entire year so far. The bottom line: Detailed, compassionate, and surprising, I loved Big Lies in a Small Town! This may be my first Diane Chamberlain book, but I can promise you all that it definitely won’t be my last! Nothing less than a work of art! Next on deck: The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics!

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black Review

Title: The Queen of Nothing
Author: Holly Black
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Folk of the Air, book three
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                Holly Black and I have a bit of a strained relationship: Some of her books I’ve fallen heads over heels for, and others just weren’t my cup of tea. I loved The Cruel Prince and its sequel, The Wicked King. If I’m being totally honest, I put it off for as long as I could because I’d heard that there were quite a few people who disliked the series’ last book. I just finished it yesterday and I’m still shocked that it’s all over! This book had everything: romance, dangerous secrets, political intrigue, magic, and shocking twists and turns! I loved it. I was screaming, crying, tearing my hair out the whole time I was reading it. And I’m more than a little sad that it’s all over! But I enjoyed every crazy, emotional minute of it all.

                The Queen of Nothing starts where The Wicked King left off, with Jude being exiled to the mortal realm and stripped of her title as High Queen of Elfhame. Forced to return to her sister, Vivi, who lives in the mortal world, Jude is resigned to a fate worse than death: to be exiled from Elfhame and the land of faeries forever. But when her twin, Taryn, arrives, pleading Jude for help, she finds herself once again within Elfhame. Forced to disguise herself, she infiltrates the castle, determined to plead her case to Cardan, her husband and former lover. But time stops for no one, not even Jude, and she realizes that while some enemies are closer to home than others, she must force herself to confront the darkness inside, or risk losing everything she’s ever fought for and everyone she’s ever loved…
                I really, really liked this book! As I said, I was nervous (and if I’m being totally honest, I was putting it off), so I held it off as long as possible; I didn’t want to be disappointed. But I’m very happy to report I wasn’t! The pacing was breakneck, and despite not rereading the first two books, within ten pages I knew what was going on. I loved Jude, Cardan, Taryn, and Oak, as well as their parents, Madoc and Oriana. To be honest, there wasn’t a character that I didn’t love in this trilogy’s finale. There were twists and turns, political intrigue that had me gasping and almost full-on screaming, romance that had my heart fluttering, and several other surprises I won’t go into detail revealing, in case any of my readers hasn’t read it yet. I wasn’t upset about the ending; in fact, I really don’t know how Holly Black could’ve ended this explosive trilogy any other way. I loved every single nail-biting moment in The Queen of Nothing, and I’m so, so sad that one of my favorite series of recent years is over! Cue the major book hangover, slump, and the eternal question: What to read next? The bottom line: Richly detailed, meticulously plotted, and surprising, I loved The Queen of Nothing!

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young Review


Title: The Fragile Ordinary
Author: Samantha Young
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

                Before Wednesday, I’d never read anything by Samantha Young. The Fragile Ordinary was the chosen book for one of the clubs I go to for the month of January, and I was intrigued. I didn’t finish it until this morning, and holy smokes! Samantha Young, where have you been my whole life?! This book was unique, powerful, and heartfelt, but I wish that there had been more clarification on some issues, but nonetheless, this book packs one heck of a punch. Lyrical, painful and true to life, The Fragile Ordinary was a fantastic novel, despite a few little things that I wish had been wrapped up. A contemporary romance with a healthy dose of coming of age, I loved this book so much! It makes me wish that I’d picked up one of her books a whole lot sooner! This may be one of my favorite books of 2020!

                Comet Caldwell hates her name with a burning passion. Comet is the name of a girl who isn’t shy, awkward, and greatly prefers books to people. Her two best friends, Vicki and Steph, have been encouraging her for years to take a leap of faith, be a normal teenager for once. But after being bullied at school by classmates and being ignored by her parents for pretty much her whole life, Comet has decided that life is better avoiding the spotlight. But when a young American boy named Tobias comes to her school, she feels an almost immediate attraction to him. Comet must decide whether to stay the same, or change and become a better person.

                This book; honestly, at first, I didn’t know what to think. I saw Comet’s name and almost laughed; it was such a surprise. It took me a little while to get into it, but I took Wednesday and yesterday off work so I could at least read most of it before we met last night. The pacing was breakneck, and I was almost immediately entranced by Comet’s voice, colorful and shy and sweet, but also ringing with so much pain. I really related to Comet, at first: the insecurity, the desire to hide in literature, as well as her writing aspirations! I loved watching her character development as the book went on. She transformed from a shy, quiet and kind of repressed little mouse into a freaking lioness who takes what she wants, whether it’s first love, her career and what she wants to do after high school, or making amends with her distant, cold parents. And the ending! I adored it! The only issue I had with it was that I wish there had been things in the narrative that were explained more clearly, and it made me cry! A lot! But nonetheless, I will be looking into more of Young’s books, because this one was a total knockout! The bottom line: Emotional and cathartic in the best way, I loved The Fragile Ordinary! Next on deck: The Last Wish: Introducing The Witcher by Andrzej Sapowski!

The Raven's Tale by Cat Winters Review


Title: The Raven’s Tale
Author: Cat Winters
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.

                A note for the sake of full disclosure before I start this review: I didn’t finish Kingdom of Souls. It felt like it was dragging on the whole time, so I reshelved it. Maybe I’ll go back to it later! Cat Winters is one of my favorite authors, so her latest book has been on my list since before it came out. The first time, I couldn’t read it before it went back to the library. But it’s been sitting at the top of my library stack, and as soon as I was finished with Kingdom of Souls, I dove in. The Raven’s Tale reimagines Edgar Allan Poe’s childhood and young adulthood, stifled under his cruel stepfather’s iron fist. Despite his dreams of being a writer, his stepfather demands that Edgar work toward more lucrative pursuits. But on the evening Edgar is set to go to university, a Muse named Lenore appears, promising him wealth, greatness, fame: everything he’s ever wanted. In exchange, she demands to be shone to the world. But will Edgar give in to his tyrant of a foster father, or make his dark, macabre dreams a reality?

                This book might be my favorite in Winters’s entire body of work; I remember being totally spellbound by EAP when I was younger, so this opportunity to have a fictional spotlight on him as a young man was awesome! The prose was gorgeous, and I loved the way that Winters actually incorporated Poe’s writing throughout. The pacing was breakneck, and I was totally riveted; I loved the way Winters talked about the arts, but especially writers. I also adored the way that she explained the complicated and dark relationship between Edgar and his dark muse, Lenore. Edgar’s voice was wry, humorous and melancholy, and I loved it. I also adored the other characters: Edgar’s lady love, Lenore, his parents. They provide a great foil for Edgar, brooding and at times even vicious. The tension was also crazy; there were several times that I had to walk away to take a few deep breaths. But Winter’s reimagining of one of the most prominent writers in the English canon was nothing less than fantastic, and I loved the way it paid tribute to him and the muse who inspired his work. The bottom line: Creepy, richly detailed, gorgeous and surprising, I loved The Raven’s Tale! Next on deck: The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass by Mariko Tamaki Review


Title: Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass
Authors: Mariko Tamaki and Steve Pugh
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Graphic Novel
Series: DC Ink
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                Everyone who knows me knows I love comics and graphic novels, and Harleen Quinzel is one of my favorite characters in the entire DC universe. So, when I went to book club last month and saw the gorgeous cover of this graphic novel sitting on a display, I knew I had to take it home with me. Mariko Tamaki, Steve Pugh, and DC Ink has hit another home run; this one just might be my favorite of the series so far. This book, colorful and vivid and distinct, was amazing: the art was gorgeous, and I devoured this book in a matter of hours. This book revisits Harley as a teenager, fighting with Ivy to save the neighborhood from corrupt businessmen and gentrification. She lives with a group of kind, hilarious drag queens who entertain Gotham City after dark. When Harley realizes that a corporation is doing its best to take over her city, she gets mad. Teaming up with Poison Ivy, Harley realizes that sometimes, the choices you make can define or destroy you…

                I really, really enjoyed this book! Harley Quinn is one of my favorite characters, so as soon as I got an opportunity to read it, I dove in. The art was gorgeous, colorful and compelling; I loved the way that Pugh used a muted color palette for everything in the book except for Harley herself; it provided great contrast. I was captivated by Harley’s hilarious, honest voice; the pacing was breakneck. I also loved the cameos from other, familiar DC characters: Poison Ivy and the Kane family, even Batman himself! But baby Harley is the star of this beautiful graphic novel, still destructive, fierce, and protective of her city, even its ugly underbelly. I was laughing, crying, and cheering by the time that I finished this book, and I absolutely loved it! Colorful, heartfelt, hilarious and honest, I loved this rendition on one of my favorite antiheroes. DC Ink, Mariko Tamaki, and Steve Pugh have done a fantastic job of fleshing out the younger years of one of Gotham City’s most memorable characters! The bottom line: Funny, beautifully drawn, surprising and honest, I loved Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass! Next on deck: Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater Review


Title: Call Down the Hawk
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Dreamer Trilogy, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

                Okay, so I just finished this book last night and I’m still so emotional. This is going to sound crazy fangirly, but whatever, here we go. There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe just how much I love and have missed Maggie Stiefvater’s writing. The Raven Cycle is one of my all-time favorite series, and once I found out that one of my favorite Raven Boys, Ronan Lynch and his family, got the spotlight in Call Down the Hawk, I was so excited! I was lucky enough to receive my library’s first copy, and as soon as I was finished with Supernova, I dove in. This book is dark, weird, lyrical and surprising; I loved it so much. It might be one of my favorites of Stiefvater’s entire body of work. I loved this weird, strange book, but most of all, this book made me realize just how much I love the brothers Lynch. This is the second book of 2020 for me, and I loved every crazy, insane moment of it. One of my favorites of the year, and I can’t wait for the next two books!

                Ronan Lynch has always known that he and his family have been different. Left alone at the Barns after his boyfriend, Adam Parrish, goes to start college at Harvard, Ronan soon discovers that the world his late, also dreaming father inhabited hides dark, dangerous secrets, some of them about Ronan himself and his brothers. But when he meets another dreamer, the mysterious Hennessey, Ronan begins to realize that there is a war raging, dreams and destiny are crashing together, and unknown forces are working behind the scenes to make sure that the Dreamers stay hidden. But Ronan must decide if he will become the hero everyone wants him to be, or turn his back on his loved ones…

                I loved, loved, loved this book. The Raven Cycle is one of my die-hard, deserted island series; I wish I had it in my own collection, and reading this book felt like nothing less than coming home. It made me so emotional that there were several times where I had to put the book down to cry. I’ve missed these characters so much; it felt like I was being welcomed back into an old group of dear, loving friends. The pacing was breakneck, and I immediately felt at home with Ronan and his brothers. The prose was dark, lyrical, and per Maggie’s signature, confusing; there were times when I had to go back and reread to make sure I really understood it. But she puts her signature magic into this new trilogy, and one of my favorite parts of the novel was the way that the Lynches’ dreaming was explained. I also adored the characters, old and new, but especially Hennessey and the girls, Bryde, and the Visionaries and Zeds. I don’t want to say too much about the plot; it’s confusing, tangled, but best experienced blind; the better to keep the surprises under wraps! The bottom line: Weird, dark, surprising and funny, I loved Call Down the Hawk! I can’t wait for more from this new trilogy! Next on deck: Cursed by Frank Miller and Thomas Wheeler!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Supernova by Marissa Meyer Review


Title: Supernova
Author: Marissa Meyer
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Renegades, book three
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
                Supernova was the first book I finished in 2020, but due to the holidays, I wasn’t able to finish it until a few days ago. If I’m being totally honest, I didn’t want to finish it, because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Gatlon City, or any of the Renegades or Anarchists just yet. But I finished it, and I’ve been sitting on it ever since. This book was so bittersweet. I was eager to see what would happen, but I was also dreading the end, because it meant that it was really, truly over! Supernova picks up where Archenemies left off, with a traitor in the midst of The Renegades. Nova and Adrian are both left scrambling to hide their identities, and must withstand even more lies and betrayal as they do their best to protect their loved ones. Their greatest fears are about to come to life, and unless they can mend the rift between villains and heroes, they stand to lose everything, including each other. But secrets don’t stay buried, and Nova and Adrian must do everything to save their broken world…
                I really, really liked this book! I got it a few weeks ago, and it’s been sitting on the top of the library stack ever since; I finished it right as the new year started, but due to the holidays, I’ve been sitting on my review. Sequels always make me anxious, especially when I don’t have the previous books to refer back to, but I had nothing to fear like that from Supernova. I was instantly thrown back into the action, and it didn’t take long to remember everything that was going on. The pacing was breakneck, and I have to say that I had to walk away from the book sometimes, both to get a hold of myself emotionally and to make it last longer. I cried through a lot of it, and the fight scenes were some of the most nail-biting I’ve ever read. But even more than that, I loved the resolution that was presented in this book, even with all of the pain involved. All of my questions were answered, all loose ends were tied. But my favorite thing about this series is how it took one of our culture’s most prominent myths and turned it on its head, forming a brand-new classic. I love Heartless, but for now, Renegades and its sequels hold the place in my heart for this author’s best series. Marissa Meyer has done an outstanding job, and I will never forget this series! The bottom line: Dark, emotional, and surprising, I loved Supernova! Definitely a great choice for the first novel of 2020! Next on deck: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater!

Runaways by Brian K. Vaughn Review


Title: Runaways: The Complete Edition
Authors: Brian K. Vaughn, Adrian Alphona, et. Al
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Graphic Novel
Series: Runaways, books 1-18
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

                Okay, so, the reason I was curious about the comics was because of the TV show on Hulu; I started watching it a while ago, and I wanted to read the source material. I just finished it this morning upon waking up, and let me just say, whoa. The adaptation was definitely different, but I enjoyed the first set of comics nonetheless! This darkly funny and surprising series asks a serious question: Every group of teenagers thinks that their parents are evil incarnate. But what if your parents actually were? When a group of children discovers that their parents are murdering supervillains, they run away, furious that they’ve been lied to all their lives. I’m a sucker for good characterization, especially with young adults. The art is gorgeous, sharp, and colorful; I’m looking forward to more from this series! Next on deck: Supernova by Marissa Meyer!