November 30, 2017

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I read We Were Liars about two years ago, and at the time I wasn't really sure how I felt about it. I do remember really loving how it was written and loving the plot twist, but being insanely confused along the way. When Genuine Fraud came out, I knew I wanted to pick it up to get more of that twisted, mind-bending writing that E. Lockhart has become known for. Luckily for me, this was one of the books that Barnes and Noble had signed copies of for Black Friday, so I added this to my haul without hesitation.

Genuine Fraud is about a girl named Jule who becomes borderline obsessed with her friend Imogen. The story is written backwards, so you actually start with the end and end with the beginning, with the exception of one final chapter. As you read, you start to piece together things that were difficult to understand at the beginning. Nothing in this story is really definitive. What you think you know, you don't, and one sentence here or there can send everything you thought you knew spiraling out of control. 

Who is Jule? What is her background? Is she a spy? And what's her deal with Imogen? Is someone chasing her? All these are questions you will ask yourself throughout the book, and you'll only get answers if you read very closely. Although this is a very quick and short read, you really have to pay attention or you can miss details that will put everything in perspective for you.

It's honestly hard to do a review on this book without giving anything away. I did really enjoy it. I loved Jule's character, and all the thrilling drama and mystery in the plot. It was a little difficult to grasp the concept that everything was happening in reverse, but I adjusted to that pretty quickly. There were a few minor characters that I didn't like, such as Brooke and Forrest, but I can see why they were necessary to the building of the plot.

If you like twists, constantly asking questions, and trying to guess for yourself what is happening, then this book is definitely for you. There are lies, chases, and secrets. Murder and manipulation. It is not a book for people who want the whole story handed to them without having to do any thinking of their own. After really enjoying this book, I think I'm going to have to reread We Were Liars just to stay in the mystery mindset.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

November 29, 2017

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November 27, 2017

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I've heard so much praise for Marieke Nijkamp and her book This Is Where It Ends, although I haven't read it. I might in the future, but as a Virginia Tech graduate, stories of school shootings just sit wrongly with me. Before I Let Go however, was my opportunity to discover what this author was all about, through a safer (to me) story line. This story does chronicle depression and suicide, so I wanted to note this in case this is not a safe story line for some.

Before I Let Go follows Corey, a former Alaska native who has moved to Canada for school. As she prepares to return to her former home to visit her best friend Kyra, she receives the startling news that Kyra has committed suicide. Heartbroken and confused, Corey decides to keep her plans intact, returning to Lost Creek to try to get answers about Kyra's mysterious death and attend her memorial. But upon arriving, Corey discovers that things are not quite right. She doesn't know her town anymore, or the people in it. And worst of all, she doesn't understand why they suddenly idolized Kyra, a previous outcast due to her mental illness and outbursts. 

When Corey starts asking questions, the townspeople turn on her, claiming that she doesn't understand and that she abandoned Kyra in her time of need. As Corey pieces together what happened, she comes to realize that Kyra became a tool for the townspeople as they forced her to prophesize the future through her depressive painting episodes. Kyra fell more and more into herself as they exploited her illness, ultimately giving in to her depression and trying to escape, but the people of Lost Creek would not let her. Corey tries to bring the truth to light, but the townspeople make an attempt on her life and try to chase her away. All that Corey has left of Kyra are some possessions she left hidden for Corey to find. 

This book was a mental rollercoaster, that's for sure. Told through letters, first person POV, and even script format, the emotion is raw and real. The plot itself was  a little empty, but I think that was the point. It wanted to hone in on feelings versus actions.  I will say the different formats of writing were confusing and difficult to piece together. I think it was also a little too drawn out, this took me a lot longer to read than I was expecting, and although that is common for heavy books, it was not THAT heavy that I needed over 10 days to read it.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Thanks to SOURCEBOOKS Fire for access to an advanced digital copy of this book! Before I Let Go releases on January 2nd, 2018!

Author Spotlight: Adriana Mather

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I hadn't heard much about this author until I was offered the chance to review her newest book. Upon researching, I discovered that her subject matter seemed right up my alley. If you've heard of Adriana Mather, you know that she wrote the fantastic YA novel How to Hang a Witch. Her new book, Haunting the Deep, was also just released. Since I obviously couldn't read the second without reading the first, I had to pick up a copy of How to Hang a Witch so I could jump right into the world of Samantha Mather, her main character (and yes, their last names are the same!).

How to Hang a Witch follows Samantha Mather, a high school girl who moves to Salem with her stepmother when her father falls into a coma. Sam is immediately an outcast, due to being related to Cotton Mather, one of the main players in the Salem Witch Trials. When strange things start happening and people start dying, Samantha seems to be the one at fault, and the Decendants (relatives of the original accused and hanged witches) are quick to pin the blame on her. But everyone soon realizes that Sam might not be the cause, and in fact may be the only one able to help put a stop to the disastrous events occurring in Salem. Throw in a cute next door neighbor, a handsome ghost that only Sam can see, and some mean high school girls and you have the making of the perfect paranormal YA novel.

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Haunting the Deep picks up with Samantha about six months after the dramatic ending of the first novel. Her father has woken up, and she has found some unlikely friendships. Everyone has moved on from the scary events, or so it seems, until one day at breakfast Samantha spots another ghost. As the Spring Fling theme of the Titanic is announced, more strange things begin occurring, as items begin being left for Sam and her father, and she becomes transported to the Titanic in her dreams. Is it a coincidence, or the makings of something more sinister? Using her newfound allies, Sam and her friends must work to save the spirits lost on the Titanic, and Sam herself, from meeting the same repeated fate of the cursed ocean liner.

Both of these books were fantastic. I loved Samantha's character, and the Descendants as well. I thought the plot was definitely realistic, and wasn't too paranormal to be believable. They were both quick reads that kept me engaged the entire time. My only issue with both books was that I was able to predict the villain a little earlier than I would have liked. I was satisfied with both endings, however less than satisfied with Sam's choice of love interest. I think these are both great paranormal YA reads and would 100% recommend them!

Overall Rating (for both books): 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks to Blogging for Books for the copy of Haunting the Deep to review! All opinions are 100% my own.

November 19, 2017

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Let me start this review by saying that I've never really been sure where I stand on John Green. I only read two of his books prior to reading this one, one of which I loved and one I hated. Looking for Alaska was fantastic, with interesting characters and a plot that drew you in, while The Fault in Our Stars was dull and sad, with unlikable characters and a pretty predictable ending. Because I was 50/50 on this author, and everyone seems to rave about him, I decided to give his newest book a try. Turtles All the Way Down follows Aza, a sixteen-year-old with anxiety and mental problems, who gets wrapped up in a disappearance and a love story all at once.

When the millionaire father of her old friend Davis goes missing, Aza and her best friend Daisy decide to investigate, more for the reward than for anything else. Little did Aza know, she would not only get the reward money, but gain a pseudo-boyfriend in the process. Unfortunately for Aza, she has a mental disorder that leaves her obsessed with germs, perpetually afraid of contracting a disease. This proves to be a burden on Davis, and Daisy, and relationships become strained as Aza reaches a breaking point where she has to determine whether or not she will spend her life letting her anxiety control her.

This story also includes an overprotective mother, a car named Harold, and a tuatara that will inherit millions, which is a lizard-like creature I didn't even know existed until I read this book.

Unfortunately, this story didn't sway me on John Green one way or the other. This book was just average to me, not great but not terrible. The plot left something to be desired and I was unsatisfied with the ending, although I loved the complexity of Aza's character. At some point I guess I'll have to tackle another book by John Green and see where that takes me. If you have any recommendations let me know!

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

November 15, 2017

Busted by Gina Ciocca

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I love a good YA contemporary. They're fun, quick reads with relatable characters and relevant plots. Busted by Gina Ciocca was no exception. Busted follows Marisa, a high school student who catches her best friend's boyfriend cheating. But once word gets around as to what she's done, she accidentally goes from an everyday student to Marisa, cheater buster and sleuth extraordinaire.

When Marisa's old frenemy Kendall solicits Marisa's help in catching a cheater of her own, drama brews as Marisa starts to fall for TJ, the boy Kendall wants her to track. Trouble brews when Kendall discovers that TJ feels the same about Marisa, and sets out to ruin her by exposing her private eye secret. But Kendall doesn't know that Marisa may know a secret about her as well. All this coupled with some additional academic drama makes for a quality contemporary and a really fun read. How far is Marisa willing to go to expose the real truth, and who is she willing to take down with her?

This was a fast-paced story that I devoured quickly. There were never lulls in the plot, and I thought all the characters added something to the story. It also really made me want a leather bracelet like the ones TJ makes! The cover for this book is absolutely gorgeous, but I think it is a little misleading. An image from Marisa's website might have been a better, more fitting option. 

When I read books about high schoolers, I always wonder why everyone has oblivious parents who can't spot an obvious lie. I know when I was in high school, my parents were always ON IT when it came to knowing whether or not I was telling the truth. Aside from a few unrealistic scenes, I really enjoyed this read and think it would be a great choice for any fan of YA contemporary!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Busted by Gina Ciocca hits shelves this coming January, so be sure to pre-order a copy! Thanks so much to SOURCEBOOKS Fire for granting me early digital access to this fantastic read!

November 13, 2017

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
When this came up as a Book of the Month choice for October, I read the synopsis and immediately knew this would be my pick. Not only did the cover look beautiful, but the plot seemed full of fantasy and wonder, something we all need a little more of in our lives. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang follows Weylyn Grey, a boy of the wilderness, and those he leaves an impression on throughout his life. These include Mary, a girl who once ran away with him to live with wolves, and Lydia, his foster sister when he was brought back into civilization, in addition to a small-town mayor who hired him to handle a problem plaguing the town, and his supervisor at a logging company who witnessed some very unique characteristics in Weylyn.

Weylyn has never fit in with society. He has always felt more comfortable in the company of animals. Even though he tried to fit in numerous times, he always retreated back to the comfort of nature, whether that be living with a wolf pack, sleeping amongst a colony of bees, or befriending what appears to be a magical horned pig named Merlin. Throughout the story, readers come to discover that Weylyn is more than meets the eye, with some magical abilities that connect with his love of nature, but that could also destroy him and those he loves.

This was a fun, lighthearted read that makes you want to appreciate the beauty and wonder all around you in nature. The characters were easy to identify with, although sometimes the constant flipping back and forth from one point of view to another made it difficult to understand who was talking. I enjoyed the magical elements in the book but at times they just didn't make sense, and a lot of things were left unanswered. It also took longer to get through this book than I would have liked. Overall the story was great, but I think the execution left something to be desired.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

November 12, 2017

David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Ever since I was a little girl I was fascinated with David Bowie, and I was beyond distraught when he passed away. From the movie Labyrinth, to Ziggy Stardust, I was enthralled with this man who could morph and mold himself into almost anything, and be insanely attractive while doing so. David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones, is the story of Bowie and how he came to be this magical man.

I love biographies, but they are often a lot to slog through, this being no exception to that rule. A thick and detailed biography, this gathered bits and pieces of information in the form of hundreds of quotes from those who worked with Bowie. These included puppeteers from Labyrinth, fashion designers, fellow recording artists, directors, journalists, and more. And of course, there were some choice stories and quotes from Bowie himself. Unlike many biographies that seem so much like reference books, this was written in a way that felt more like a story, even though it was broken up into so many quotes.

While I already knew a lot about Bowie, I learned even more through this biography. Bowie was a much more reserved man that I realized, often getting embarrassed about things and occasionally drawing into himself. But above all that, he was kind, creative, intelligent, and thoughtful. He went on daily walks through Chinatown and spent hours in art museums. More than anything, I was shocked to learn that he was not a fan of his Jareth costume, which has become so iconic over the years (for more reasons than one, if you know what I mean!). I loved getting into the artist's head to see what made him tick and learn more about his rationale behind his crazy stage persona.

The best, albeit saddest, part of this book was the last chapter, with interviews from loved ones after Bowie's passing. Here you see the true impact of this man on the lives of others, and how much they were shaken by the loss of this icon and friend. Overall this was a fantastic, although long, read. I highly recommend it for anyone fascinated with David Bowie and the wonderful aura that surrounded him.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, but all opinions are honest and are my own.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Cover Art Courtesy of St. Martin's Press
This book has been on my radar for a while. The kind folks at St. Martin's Press sent me a copy when they learned I was a big fan of thrillers, and I wanted to get through Halloween before I tackled it. I can see now why they were so excited to send this to me, I couldn't put it down! The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is a thriller that follows Vanessa and Nellie and the love interest Richard, and the complicated web weaved between them. I devoured this book in a few hours, and I can tell it will be a story I think about for a long time.

Like the back of the book says, everything you think you know about this book is wrong. And it's a sweet slap in the face when you actually learn the truth, because you never will have seen it coming. The characters were fantastic: Vanessa, the haggard and jilted ex-wife obsessed with her replacement, Nellie, the bright-eyed and hopeful teacher excited to marry the man of her dreams, and Richard, the seemingly perfect man with a dark and manipulative personality. Throw in a few other characters and you have a network of obsession and deception, wrought with mystery and intrigue, that makes for the perfect thriller.

I don't want to give anything away and spoil it for you if you intend to read it (and you should!), but I do want to add a disclaimer regarding abusive relationships and stalking. If this is a triggering topic for you, you might want to stay away from this novel.

Overall, I thought the plot and the characters were fantastic. It had me on the edge of my seat and I couldn't stop reading until I found out what happened. I was VERY satisfied with the ending, but I still had a few lasting questions (like what is the deal with Maureen??). I've seen that there are already plans for this to be made into a movie, which of course I will have to see! If you are a fan of Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, be sure to pick this up because it will be right up your alley.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

The Wife Between Us hits shelves on January 9, 2018, so be sure to place your preorder now or pick up a copy when it comes out! Thanks to St. Martin's Press for sending me what has already become one of the best books I've read this year!

November 8, 2017

Reading Slump (and a DNF Review)

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
As you can probably tell from the lack of posts, I've been in a terrible reading slump lately. While I'm not quite positive what started it, I'm pretty sure it was The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken (more on that later). I just didn't feel like picking up any books, and none of the books on my TBR appealed to me. For the last 3 weeks or so (or basically since I got back from my honeymoon), I just didn't read. I didn't even have a desire to wander aimlessly around Barnes & Noble like I usually do...weird right?!

The whole time, I felt terrible about it. I kept thinking that I was neglecting my shelves and this blog, but I think honestly you need some time away from something you love to make you appreciate it more when you go back to it. I finally got the urge to read again, and devoured an absolutely fantastic book that I will be reviewing on here next. And now that that book is finished, I can't wait to jump right into another. 

But as for the book that started my reading slump, I was so insanely disappointed. I had been looking forward to The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding for MONTHS, and bought it the day it came out. But I could not for the life of me get through this book. It could be for a few reasons: 1) It was a middle grade novel, which is definitely not my style. I only bought it because the plot seemed up my alley, it had been hyped a ton, and the cover was gorgeous. 2) The characters were just plain boring. And annoying. And because of this I just couldn't get myself invested in the story. And 3) The plot was extremely slow. After the first few chapters, it almost came to a halt. I kept picking up this book to try to get through it, but could only read a page or two at a time before I got bored and went to do something else. Finally I just gave up about 2/3 in, which is really a shame since it takes a lot for me to DNF a book. But in a way, I'm glad I didn't make myself finish it, because I believe this is supposed to be the start of a series, and I don't want to force myself into another series that I'm not invested in.

So that's where I've been all this time, doing everything imaginable EXCEPT reading! But I'm back now with an exciting TBR pile and and a rejuvenated thirst for the written word. Happy reading!