BOOK REVIEW: Karen Thompson Walker “The Dreamers”

81-ovSFCcPLTitle: The Dreamers

Author: Karen Thompson Walker

Genre: Science Fiction

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

What a strange read with such strange writing. I’m still on the fence on whether I enjoyed this writing style or not, but it felt very dream-like (for lack of a better word). I suppose considering what the book is about, this isn’t a bad thing, but it could absolutely potentially turn off readers.

The story is multi-perspective, following several different characters from a town that is struck with a sudden sleeping sickness. It’s not a scary or tense read, but it’s very interesting and there’s an air of mystery as mass amounts of people begin to fall asleep. The town is put under quarantine while scientists and doctors alike try to keep the growing number of sleeping patients alive while also trying to understand the cause. While observing these patients, doctors are beginning to notice that every one of them is dreaming, and their brain activity while in this state is off the charts.

It’s hard to get into this review without getting spoiler-y, as some of the biggest things that happen are towards the end of the book. Because I don’t want to discuss these things, let me just say that the actions of one of the characters pissed me off so much. Also, the end was not at all satisfying. I still have loads of questions, but the author chose to leave readers in the dark. I understand this was intentional but it still makes me livid because I don’t like unanswered questions.

Yet while these things angered me, I still think about this book. I read The Dreamers in the middle of February and the events are still fresh in my mind. It’s thought-provoking and fascinating, and I could actually see myself rereading this.

This read left me with so many mixed feelings, but I can see this being a great book club read because it could bring about so many awesome discussions. If the premise interests you at all, I recommend at least trying this out simply so you can form your own opinion, and then discuss it with me because I’m furious.

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BOOK REVIEW: Courtney Summers “Sadie”

34810320Title: Sadie

Author: Courtney Summers

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

This book was intense.

I listened to the audiobook version of Sadie and absolutely loved it. The story alternates between Sadie’s point of view as she’s on the run and seeking revenge, and a podcast where they’re solving the mystery of Sadie’s disappearance. The audiobook has a full cast and is so well done; the podcast is recorded like an actual podcast, the narration is excellent and it truly makes you feel as if you’re part of the story. It pulls you in so thoroughly, and I found myself invested almost instantly.

Nobody knows who killed Sadie’s sister, but Sadie does. This is how she finds herself on the run and in search of a man. We follow Sadie on her travels as she follows clues and leads to her final destination, complete with huge climax and bittersweet ending.

The story deals with some heavy subject material, including rape and murder. It can be dark and difficult to read, but overall I’m glad that I did. It handles the tough subjects well and delivers a (semi) satisfying ending. I can’t say too much else without spoiling, but if you like thrillers or mysteries, I highly recommend Sadie.

BOOK REVIEW: Brittni Chenelle “Cold Kingdom”

419tsE4RbKL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Cold Kingdom

Author: Brittni Chenelle

Genre: YA/Fiction/Action

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

First of all, I have to say that this cover is stunning! It captures the essence of the book very well, so props to the designer!

Brittni Chenelle is a very promising writer. Her style and flow was so easy and I really enjoyed the prose. The story was promising also, but I found I couldn’t get on board with the characters, particularly Charlotte. I realize that the characters were supposed to read younger, as they were as young as 16. However, there was a pettiness about Charlotte I couldn’t stand. She was snobby and annoying, and it made it difficult to read anything from her point of view.

The representation in this book was awesome! I understand the author lives in South Korea and is very influenced by the culture; it shines through in her writing. The cast of characters were diverse and colorful, which I appreciated.

The political intrigue the author was trying to infuse here didn’t quite work for me, but I appreciated it nonetheless! Plus, there were some funny moments that keep the book light-hearted despite some of the darker tones.

Chenelle is on my radar after this read. Even though I may not have loved Kingdom Cold, I can’t wait to see what else she writes in the future.

An e-arc was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Purchase the book: Amazon

Meet the Author: Wattpad | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

ARC REVIEW: Lea Geller “Trophy Life”

51LwxADg7OLTitle: Trophy Life

Author: Lea Geller

Genre: Contemporary/Fiction

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Release Date: April 9, 2019

 

What a sweet, funny book! Based on the synopsis, I wasn’t expecting the level of depth we got here and was pleased to find it wasn’t a fluffy, superficial read. This is Geller’s debut novel and she is someone that I’d definitely keep an eye on in the future.

The story of Agnes and her abruptly uprooted life is funny, but also full of heart. The relationship between Agnes and husband (who is 20 years her senior) is real, although many others doubt the love between them thinking that she’s just a gold digger and he’s going to replace her with a younger woman down the line. Agnes struggles when her husband goes MIA and wonders if the people in her life were right to be skeptical. She doubts the sincerity of her marriage, doubts her own abilities as a wife and mother.

It was interesting to see the dynamic of this particular marriage and this author’s insight into being in a relationship with an older man. I don’t feel like she generalized and it wasn’t a stereotypical relationship; I found myself invested, wondering what would happen to them.

Such a lovely read that I recommend to those who love women’s literature and author’s such as Kristan Higgins and Jojo Moyes.

An e-arc of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

 

Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author: Goodreads | Twitter | Blog

ARC REVIEW: Christine Lynn Herman “The Devouring Gray”

51oeEQFtk7L._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Devouring Gray

Author: Christine Lynn Herman

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Release Date: April 2, 2019

 

What a strange book. Not in a bad way necessarily, but with some definite haunting, atmospheric vibes.

The premise is intriguing: Violet, our MC, moves to a new town called Four Paths where she discovers herself to be the descendant of one of the four founders. What’s more, the founders possessed special abilities that allowed them to keep a vicious beast prisoner in a mysterious place called the Gray.

So down the line, the children of Four Paths’ founders are tasked with protecting the town and keeping the monster imprisoned. Except now the founder families are struggling to contain the Gray and its beast, and the town’s death count is rising fast.

I’d compare this book to How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather, another story in which a girl moves to a town where she’s the descendant of the man responsible for witch trials in their city. I also saw that another reviewer compared this to a CW show, and I think feel like that’s the perfect way to describe it. It’s just got the feel of a supernatural teen drama.

There’s nothing wrong with CW shows, per se! And if you like them, I’m sure you’ll find The Devouring Gray entertaining.

The way the author introduced each of the characters was very deliberate, and I appreciated the time she took to help us get to know the cast instead of just throwing a bunch of names out there. All of the founder children were complex and fascinating, shocking us with secrets and causing us to feel their pain along with them.

It took me a bit to understand what was happening and for the author to explain what exactly the Gray was. As I’m writing this review, I still don’t know if I quite understand it, but I get the gist. The magic system here was interesting; Herman kept it fresh and original.

The Grey itself and the beast within were both rightfully creepy. I’m home alone and reading some of these scenes caused me to actually shudder, and I had to continue the book with my back to the wall. Don’t judge me.

Overall, I think many people will enjoy this. The Devouring Gray was too weak for my taste, but I bet you Herman has many more stories to tell; I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

An e-arc of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Pre-order here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author: Goodreads | Website | Instagram | Twitter

BOOK REVIEW: Jenna Fischer “The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide”

51lpLheLJeL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide

Author: Jenna Fischer

Genre: Memoir/How-To/Self-Help

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

While I’m not an aspiring actor and therefore not the intended audience of this book, I still found it incredibly interesting.

Less memoir and more “how to make it as an actor”, there were still plenty of really cool tid-bits and stories from the filming of The Office and some of Jenna’s other projects. I immediately watched the Casino Night episode upon completion since I now have some of the “behind the scenes” knowledge.

So while this might appeal to fans of Pam and The Office for some special insights and stories, I also found this read informative. This is the perfect book for someone who is looking to become an actor, and would highly recommend that every wanna-be check this book out. Fischer shares some great pointers and advice, making this both a fun and educational read.

In conclusion: this book is meant for aspiring actors, but can also be enjoyed by some die-hard fans of The Office. I happened to find it highly entertaining!

PS: if you listen to the audiobook, the foreword (written by Steve Carell) is read by Rainn Wilson and is hilarious. If nothing else, listen to it for that reason.

ARC REVIEW: Christine Riccio “Again, But Better”

81kW7J18kvLTitle: Again, But Better

Author: Christine Riccio

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

My Rating: 2/5 stars

Release Date: May 7, 2019

 

Oh boy. Where to begin.

I don’t mind Christine Riccio. I’ve watched her Booktube videos and I think she can be very funny sometimes. I wanted to read this because I was curious to see how someone who is forced to be critical about the books she reviews would write a book of her own. She can be insightful sometimes, so I hoped that Riccio would learn from other author’s mistakes and publish a good debut.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

Let’s start with the things I liked: Again, But Better has a great setting. Stories in Europe are great, and I love being able to live vicariously through the characters since I’ve never been able to experience any of these great locations. Riccio infuses lots of fun, nerdy things and makes references to shows, movies, books: Lost, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Vampire Academy, etc. Some of the dialogue was also very clever and sharp, and I appreciated some of the banter between characters, particularly Shane and Pilot.

Which brings me to things I didn’t like. You see I mentioned a character named “Pilot” above? That’s his actual, given name. One of Shane’s roommates is named Babe. Again, not a nickname. And there wasn’t even a cool story as to why they had these strange, unique names? Oh, and then there was the guy that Babe had a crush on, “Chad”, who’s your stereotypical jerk who says “yo” a lot.

While I did enjoy some of the dialogue and banter, there were other parts that felt clunky and awkward. Some of Riccio’s phrasing was weird to me and didn’t make for a flowing, easy read. I had to reread a few paragraphs to understand what exactly was being said.

I’m not even going to get into the odd subplot with the spirit guide? This didn’t add to the story and frankly, made this book so much more cringe-y.

I feel I would have liked this book more had the characters acted their age. These were supposed to be college students studying abroad in Europe, but they read like 14 year old brats. I hoped this would feel less like YA given the age of the characters, yet there was really no change in the way they spoke or acted.

I do hope that Riccio takes some of the criticism of her debut novel and uses that to improve, because I’d love to see her succeed. Again, But Better just wasn’t imaginative or polished enough.

An e-copy of this book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

BOOK REVIEW: Jenny Han “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”

15749186Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han

Genre: Romance/Contemporary

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

My thoughts:

So this is actually a reread for me, but I originally read this back when it was first published! I was so intrigued by the concept, especially because I had imagined scenarios similar to Lara Jean’s happening to myself.

That’s why initially, this turned out to be a little bit of a bummer for me the first time around. It wasn’t quite what I expected it to be and I ended up coming away from it with slightly negative feelings.

However, in light of the movie being released soon I decided that a reread was in order; and since I know how the trilogy ends now, I thought that maybe I would be able to read this with a fresh perspective and possibly enjoy it more. Luckily, I was right!

Since I was able to set aside my misgivings from my first read-through and just enjoy the adorableness of this story, I ended up loving it so much more!

The things that annoyed me the first time still annoyed me this time… that’s mostly just the lie that makes up the entire basis of this book. I hate when the main characters lie and the entire plot is all about keeping up that lie. It’s so frustrating to me and I have a hard time sympathizing with the characters when things fall apart and people have gotten hurt. Like, you caused this, you literally asked for it.

That being said, this is the perfect, fluffy summer read and I think there are very few who will be immune to the charms of Lara Jean and Peter K.

 

Jenny Han: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Stephanie Garber “Legendary”

9781250095312Title: Legendary

Author: Stephanie Garber

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

It almost feels pointless to write a non-spoiler review for this book… I can’t give anything away and I can’t rant and rave about what went on. Why am I even here? And who’s going to read a review of Legendary anyway? Anyone who’s planning to read the book will be avoiding spoilers at all costs, and anyone who isn’t planning to read it simply hasn’t read Caraval yet. (While I’m at that, here’s some self-promotion: read my review, then read Caraval. Just do it.)

Legendary was everything I wanted it to be.

It had heartbreaking romance, magic, mystery, surprise, action. Legendary had everything needed to be the perfect story. I am beyond impressed with Stephanie Garber, and so pleased that she managed to ward off second-book syndrome. There was nothing lacking in this, it didn’t feel like it was a filler novel, and it was perfect.

Donatella was a wonderful main character. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it just based on her character in Caraval, but she was really great. She was strong and independent and funny and so completely human. It was so easy to relate to her and feel for her and did I mention the utterly heart-shattering romance? I adored the love interest in this novel, adored the villain… I have all the love for every aspect of this book.

I think I actually enjoyed Legendary more than the first book, which is saying a lot because I loved Caraval. I can’t wait for the final book in this series, although Garber is welcome to write as many books in this world as she wants to. I will read them all.

 

Stephanie Garber: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Carolyn Gross “Domani”

9780692979419Title: Domani

Author: Carolyn Gross

Genre: Science Fiction

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 

Lulu knew the people of Dalia deserved to live in darkness. The knowledge existed in her bones as surely as she knew that the flames were coming to end their existence.

She stood hidden in the crowd gathered before the steps of the Sanctuary as she did every day to hear the doyen speak. The doyen spoke of hope in a world shrouded in darkness by the enormous gas planet spinning above it. That planet protected Dalia from the raging fires of a sun positioned too close to sustain life. But their protector planet was shifting away from them and the shadow that once sheltered them was disappearing.

The doyen normally told calming sermons to a beleaguered and frightened people, but this time was different. He would tell them that their destruction was assured. Before he could, he would have to survive an assassination attempt.

Lulu was the only one who could see it.

The strength and power Lulu discovers about herself will place her at the head of a massive uprising that will span across an entire galaxy. Will she become the catalyst needed to destroy the empire that created her?

My thoughts:

I struggle sometimes with reading science fiction because it can be so bizarre that it’s difficult to picture the world being described. There are a few that have managed to grab me and suck me in, but generally I find myself lost and confused.

Sadly, this was the same with Domani. Carolyn Gross had an intriguing idea, and I was definitely interested in the story she was trying to tell. Yet from the very first pages, with brows furrowed and brain jumbled, I felt like I was thrown into the story with very little explanation or background. I had so many questions and it was hard to follow, especially since there’s immediate action… and the book just moved on without me.

Gross is a promising author and I would be very interested to see her try either another genre or a more fleshed out science fiction world. However, Domani fell flat for me.

Special thanks to the author and Smith Publicity for sending me a copy for review!

 

Carolyn Gross: Goodreads