Category: 4 out of 5 stars

It’s Always the Husband by Michelle Campbell R…

Title: It’s Always the Husband

Author: Michelle Campbell

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               I’ve
heard great things about It’s Always the Husband; in fact, I was so curious
about it that I ordered it from my local library. It’s been sitting in my stack
for a while, and once I realized that it had a hold on it, I pushed it to the
top as soon as I finished Pachinko. Once I finished it, I dove right in, not
sure what to expect, as I’d never read any of Campbell’s work before.
Thrillers, in general, make me leery: either I guess who did it within a
hundred pages, or it’s just so predictable that I lose interest. That wasn’t
the issue here, quite the opposite, in fact. The writing was a bit simplistic,
but it really suited the book, and I loved the concept: How well do we truly
know the people we love, especially our friends? The pacing was breakneck, and
once I began, I couldn’t stop reading. I just finished It’s Always the Husband
last night, and I’m still in shock. I was blindsided by the ending; I thought I
had it all figured out, but it was still a nasty surprise! Michelle Campbell
proves her writing chops with It’s Always the Husband, and I can’t wait to read
more of her work!

               The
book begins at Carlisle College in New England, with three young women from
different walks of life: Aubrey, the poor kid desperate to make friends and fit
in, Kate, the charismatic and wild rich girl with undeniable magnetism, and
Jenny, the overachiever from a middle-class family. Roommates all, the girls
form an unbreakable bond that stands the test of time, up to adulthood. But
that all changes when Kate dies unexpectedly. The police are thinking that it
was a suicide, but some people in town believe that she was murdered. Soon,
everyone in town is under scrutiny, and dark, dangerous secrets threaten to
disturb the peaceful, sleepy town of Belle River…

               This
book was wonderful! It was a bit simplistic, but I think that it suited the
book and the genre. The pacing was breakneck, and once I started reading, I
couldn’t stop. Even when I had to put it down, it stayed in my mind, and I kept
trying to untangle the gnarled, knotted threads that the mystery presented. The
large cast of characters, too, made it nearly impossible to figure out who had
hurt Kate. I loved all of the characters, whose true motives were hidden under
layers of secrets and deceit. I was left guessing at nearly everyone’s motives,
and the ending, when it came, hit me like a brutal punch to the chest. I
thought I had it all figured it out, but I definitely didn’t: I finished it
last night in the tub, and I’m still totally stunned. Michelle Campbell did a
fantastic job with this soapy, dramatic thriller that focuses on frenemies, and
I can’t wait to look into more of her work! The bottom line: Dark, oppressive,
and twisted, I loved It’s Always the Husband! Next on deck: We Set the Dark on
Fire by Tehlor Kay Meija!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/09/its-always-husband-by-michelle-campbell.html

The Whisper Man by Alex North Review

Title: The Whisper Man

Author: Alex North

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Horror

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this from my local library and reviewed it.

               I’ve heard so many good things about The Whisper Man, and I was so sad when I didn’t receive an advanced readers’ copy. So, when I found it on the new display shelf at one of the libraries I go to, I snatched it up. I wasn’t sure what to expect, exactly, but I just finished it last night and my skin is still crawling, my mouth tasting faintly of bile and revulsion. This book just left me stunned, and if I didn’t have to return it immediately, I would’ve at least thought it over for a few days, until I got my thoughts in order. But Alex North has penned a horrifying, thoughtful debut that highlights the relationship between fathers and sons, in every way, and the darkness that hides inside of all of us. I was spellbound until the final page, and the ending will haunt me forever. I still can’t get it out of my head. I can’t wait to see what Alex North has in store for the horror, mystery and thriller genres.

               Tom Kennedy and his young son, Jake, have traveled to the small, sleepy village of Featherbank, England after the untimely death of Tom’s wife and Jake’s mother, Rebecca. Desperate for a new start in a new place, Tom tries to settle in. But he begins to discover that Featherbank has a dark past: a monster called The Whisper Man has killed little boys, and it began with the children hearing a deep, gruff voice at their window. Enter DIs Pete Willis, who has been chasing The Whisper Man for more than twenty years, and Amanda Beck, the green young detective that has been assigned to the new case. Some say that the murders are copycats, as Frank Carter is in prison for The Whisper Man’s first reign of terror. Things get even more frightening when Jake tells Tom that his imaginary friends, The Boy in the Floor, and The Little Girl, are warning him of danger. Tom finds himself entangled in a dark web of terror, deceit and true evil, and not everyone will escape The Whisper Man unscathed…

               Mysteries and thrillers are a touchy thing for me; sometimes, I can guess who did it within the first hundred pages of reading, and then the rest of the book fizzles out for me. But The Whisper Man was a twisty, intricate and dark mystery, interlaced with an awful lot of horror. The pacing was breakneck; I was utterly haunted by the tone of the book. I devoured this book in less than two days, and to say that it was a nailbiter would be a major understatement. My only complaint was that the point of view changed so often that it was sometimes difficult to figure out who was speaking. I enjoyed the large cast of characters, especially Frank, Pete, Tom, and Jake. But I think my favorite part of it was the elements of the supernatural throughout the novel; it gave the mystery such a great tone! And that ending is not one that I will be forgetting any time soon! Alex North has established himself as a new thriller writer to keep an eye on! The bottom line: Dark, terrifying, thoughtful and unique, I loved The Whisper Man! Next on deck: House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin A. Craig!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/09/the-whisper-man-by-alex-north-review.html

No Beast So Fierce by Dane Huckelbridge Review

Title: No Beast So Fierce: The Terrifying True Story of the
Champawat Tiger: The Deadliest Animal in History

Author: Dane Huckelbridge

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Nonfiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               I was
reading an article about a month ago, a book list that challenged readers to
get brave by reading the books they recommended, all without leaving the
comfort of their own home. I was intrigued by every book that was on that list,
but No Beast So Fierce was the book that caught my eye first. Normally, I’m not
a big nonfiction reader, but I’ve been recently trying to branch out into new
genres. This book was really interesting and informative, though it seems that
a lot of the facts seem based on conjecture. Nonetheless, I liked it a lot. It
taught me a lot about tigers, which was great. But even more than that, No
Beast So Fierce examines the perfect storm that created one of nature’s most
notorious maneaters. Though this book is obviously not without bias, I think
Huckelbridge did a really good job of tracking the tigress’s movements and
explaining just how this wounded but still magnificent creature was driven to
hunt, and kill, humans, with the numbers climbing almost up to the triple
digits.

               No
Beast So Fierce is a naturalist, environmental nonfiction offering, taking
place in both India and Nepal. Dane Huckelbridge pieces together its journey
from its native Nepal, where it had already killed and eaten several people,
and follows it across the border to India, where the tigress lived out the
remainder of its life, feasting upon humans when she was unable to catch normal
prey. Huckelbridge attempts to lay out the facts as best he can, murky though
they are. He uses a lot of primary sources, but a lot of it seemed to be based
on his personal conclusions. They were certainly backed up, but something about
this didn’t seem to add up to me. Nonetheless, Huckelbridge traveled across
Nepal and India to use the information in this book, and I really enjoyed the
writing style, even if it didn’t gel with my expectations. I was intrigued;
I’ve been fascinated with animal and marine life for as long as I can remember,
especially big cats. I learned a lot about tigers, and that’s what I set out to
do.  But the story of this particular cat
was so compelling, a manmade monster that had to be brought down for the safety
of others. Injured by a hunter in the prime of its life, the female tiger
eventually had to resort to survive in an altogether different way: hunting
humans. People disappeared from the edges of villages and in the woods, gone
within moments. It proved to be a frightening and enlightening read, for this
mess was all caused by the plights of man, imperialism and colonialism. The
tiger was contained within an ever-shrinking habitat, and had injured teeth,
had cubs to feed. Really, it was a tragedy all around, to both man and animal. I
really enjoyed it, even if there were some parts that seemed unbelievable. It
was informative and really made me think. Definitely one of my favorite books
of 2019, as well as nonfiction in general. The bottom line: Despite some spotty
research, I really enjoyed No Beast so Fierce; it was a nonfiction
environmentalist eye-opener, and I learned a lot. Next on deck: Wilder Girls by
Rory Power!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/08/no-beast-so-fierce-by-dane-huckelbridge.html

Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly …

Title: Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales

Editors: Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Anthology/Horror

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               I’ve recently been craving short stories again, and Monstrous Affections has been sitting at the top of my stack. I just love them, and as short stories are my forte at the moment, I figured, why not? I’ve found many new authors like that, and I was really looking forward to this one. There were some stories that were amazing, others just left me feeling lukewarm. That’s usually the case with anthologies, and I very much enjoy them. I loved the theme around these stories, one of my favorite things: monsters! This book of fifteen tales explores every kind of monster, including a few that I’d never before heard of. Some of these stories were unbearably sad and made my heart hurt, others were like a darkly weird, funny joke, and still more made me feel brave. Understood. Dare I say vindicated?

               I like to do anthology reviews a bit differently than other novels and forms of prose. I give the anthology an overall rating, but I like to highlight the stories that made a really lasting impression. So, without further ado, here we go:

               Moriabe’s Children by Paolo Bacigalupi: 5/5 stars. This story is one of my favorites in the entire volume. A young woman has been able to hear the kraken talking in the ocean since she was a child, and when she is at risk of dying, she finds an ally that she’s never before seen. Dark, brutal, weirdly funny, and satisfying. I’m really, really curious about this author now; I’d like to look into his work more in future.

               The Whole Demoning Thing by Patrick Ness: 4/5 stars. Patrick Ness is one of my favorite authors, so I was really excited for this story. It was confusing in spots, but overall, I enjoyed it a lot. I loved the tone of it and the twist ending. It was horror in a way that I’ve never seen written before, and it really made me happy.

               Wings in the Morning by Sarah Rees Brennan: 5/5 stars. This story was hilarious. I was laughing, snorting, and crying through the whole thing, and SRB is one of my very favorite authors. It was a hilarious, modern fantasy with a surprising love story at its center, and I’m looking forward to the book she wrote in that same universe, In Other Lands! This is probably one of my favorite pieces of her writing.

               Left Foot, Right by Nalo Hopkinson: 5/5 stars. Oh, this story! It made me laugh and weep. I had to reread it twice to really understand the depth of it, and it just left me in awe. A young woman goes into a shoe store, purchasing one for her left foot, never the right. This story really felt like a strange fever dream, in a dark and crazy kind of way. I loved the style and structure of it.

               Kitty Capulet and the Invention of Underwater Photography by Dylan Horrocks: 4/5 stars. It took me a little bit to get into the dialogue, and I had to reread it twice to really absorb it. But it came across as a dark kind of warning, and it made me think of climate change and how quickly time is running out if we don’t acknowledge it. Thoughtful, funny, and original, this story reimagines a Maori god brought to life, and I loved it.

               The New Boyfriend by Kelly Link: 5/5 stars. I loved this story! It perfectly embodied the feeling of when you’re young and dreaming of those first feelings of love. It was wry, dark, funny, and thoughtful, and I really enjoyed it.

               The Woods Hide in Plain Sight by Joshua Lewis: 4/5 stars. I loved the tone of this story, and it dealt with a classic monster: the vampire, seductive and romantic but truly terrifying in their rage and bloodlust. It was really dark, and scary, but I loved the way it ended. It was fantastic, and my favorite vampire story in the volume.

               And, last but definitely not least: Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters, Because They Are Terrifying by Alice Sola Kim: 4/5 Stars. I had to reread this entry several times in order to really understand it. This story paints a different kind of horror. Four girls steal a spellbook, and use the magic inside to attempt to resurrect one of the girl’s mothers. They connect, and what ensues is a frightening event. It was creepy, oddly tongue in cheek, and I loved how it gave me the shivers! The bottom line: This anthology revolving around monsters is fantastic, and most of the stories were really memorable! Next on deck: A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/07/monstrous-affections-by-kelly-link.html

Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Ruth Re…

Title: Sky Without Stars

Authors: Jessica Brody and Ruth Rendell

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: System Divine, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               I’ve been intrigued by this book, and it’s been sitting on my library stack for a while now. As soon as I was finished with You Must Not Miss, I dove in, uncertain what to expect. What I got was an ambitious, atmospheric science fiction epic with memorable characters, fantastic worldbuilding, political intrigue and romance. It was one of my favorite musicals, Les Miserables, told in space! It was so cool to see Victor Hugo’s classic in a completely new way. I’m long overdue for a rewatch of that film, and as I was reading, I got several of the musical’s songs stuck in my head. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, and at times it was difficult to distinguish between them, but overall, Brody and Rendell have penned a knockout. I can’t wait to see what comes next for The System Divine series!

               On the planet of Laterre, the Second and Third Estate are forced to forage for scarps, while The First Estate live in Ledome, a sheltered paradise for the rich, ruling class. Five hundred years have passed since The Last Days, and revolution is brewing once again. The winds of change force three young people together, all from different walks of life. There’s Chatine, the scrappy daughter of thieves, desperate for a way off of the planet to forge a new life. In her quest for escape, she is forced by the brutal Regime to spy on Marcellus, the son of a traitor and grandson of one of the most powerful men on Laterre. Aloulette lives in a secret, underground refuge, where she guards the last library on the planet. But when she goes up to the surface for the first time in twelve years, she finds a world she barely knows or remembers, and is plunged into chaos when she goes searching for answers. Will Laterre rise from the ashes anew due to the revolution, or will chaos rule entirely?

`               I loved this heady, darkly wrought debut! Les Miserables is one of my favorite musicals, and to see it through a futuristic, science fiction-tinted lens was so cool! The pacing was breakneck, and I really liked the way the authors went from Chatine, Marcellus, Aloulette, and back. As I said, there were a lot of characters to keep track of, and I had to go back and reread every now and then to make sure I had the person right. To say this book is Les Mis in space is accurate, but it also doesn’t completely embody the feel of the story: the characters, all embodied with flaws and very real troubles, cyborgs and secret societies and political intrigue. This book is an amazing work to add in the growing body of YA space operas, and I loved it. There were many characters, but I loved them, despite my disorientation at the sheer number. This book was soulful, heart-wrenching, dark and funny. And all the references to the musical had me grinning from ear to ear. (When I realized, I had the entire soundtrack on loop in my brain as I was reading… And I wasn’t mad at it!) I cannot wait for the next book in the System Divine series, because this ambitious, meaty debut novel was fantastic! I loved every dark, charged moment of it. I will happily wait for what books come next in the series. And meanwhile, perhaps I’ll actually be brave enough to watch the musical? The bottom line: Ambitious, finely wrought, and darkly beautiful, I was utterly captivated by Sky Without Stars! What a fantastic series starter! Next on deck: Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales by Gavin J. Grant and Kelly Link!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/07/sky-without-stars-by-jessica-brody-and.html

You Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno Review

Title: You Must Not Miss

Author: Katrina Leno

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.

               Katrina Leno is one of my favorite authors, and I’ve been following her work ever since she wrote The Half-Life of Molly Pierce. I’ve been curious about You Must Not Miss since before I came out, and I was finally able to snatch it at my local library. As soon as I was finished with Under the Moon, I dove into this novel, not really knowing what to expect. This book was like a crazy fever dream that reminded me of Stephen King’s early work, like Carrie and several of his creepy, fantastical short stories. I loved every dark, scary moment, and this book is one of my favorites of Leno’s work, even though the ending seemed a little forced. Nonetheless, Leno has penned a book of darkness, dreams, rage and revenge, and the monsters that hide within us all.

               Margaret ‘Magpie’ Lewis once had the perfect life. A great best friend, a loving family and home. But that all unravels when she accidentally walks in on her father and aunt having sex. Her family, as a result, falls apart. Her mother becomes an alcoholic, her older sister, Eryn, leaves, unable to cope with her mother’s neglectful behavior, and Magpie loses everything. She is labeled a slut and quickly becomes a social pariah. Friendless, alone, and desperate for revenge, she begins to write in a notebook of a mysterious, magical place called Near. But when Magpie discovers that Near is actually real, a dark reflection of her town of Farther that she alone can control, she begins to realize that revenge is indeed possible. But once her world continues to spin out of control, Magpie must decide whether to give in to the monsters inside of her, or to begin the journey back into the light…

               I really loved this book; it might be my favorite in Leno’s entire body of work. Her prose is signature, dreamy and sparse and not altogether real. It was a book practically written with a scalpel. It made me want to rage, scream, and howl; I will never, ever forget Magpie or the dark, cruel trail of violence she leaves in her wake. The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately spellbound by Magpie’s story, as ugly and awful and monstrous as it was. The transitions were also good; I liked the way the book flowed between the past and present, explaining the before and after of Magpie’s life. I also adored the way that Leno portrayed her; the way that she was so unapologetically wrathful. I could understand why Magpie felt that horrible, awful need for revenge; some wounds just require retribution. I liked the way that the book was written; it felt as if I was caught up in a compelling but terrifying nightmare. The only thing that I didn’t like was that the end, and Magpie’s bloody revenge, seemed really forced. But nonetheless, I really think that this book is my favorite of all of Leno’s books. I love stories about angry girls, and You Must Not Miss really fits the bill, despite its minor flaws. The bottom line: Dark, furious, and bloody, I loved You Must Not Miss! Easily Katrina Leno’s best novel, despite its flaws. Next on deck: Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Ruth Rendell!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/07/you-must-not-miss-by-katrina-leno-review.html

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert Review

Title: City of Girls

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               I know of Elizabeth Gilbert the way most people do: post Eat, Pray, Love fame. I’ve read her self-help book, Big Magic, but before now, I haven’t read any of her prose offerings. Set in New York in 1940, City of Girls tells the story of Vivian Morris, sent to live with her Aunt Peg to live at The Lily Playhouse after leaving Vassar in disgrace. Once in the city, Vivian makes strange friends: a showgirl named Celia, her aunt’s boss, the serious and unflappable Olive, Peg’s impetuous, flighty ex-husband, Billy, and the most wonderful of all, an acclaimed actress that takes Vivian under her wing. Becoming the costume design for a brand-new play, Vivian, now at ninety-five years of age, recounts her life story to Angela, the daughter of a dear male friend. I have to say that this book is my favorite in Gilbert’s extensive body of work. Vivacious, funny, frank and strange, City of Girls is one of my favorite books of 2019, though it wasn’t perfect.

               It took a little while at first to get into this book; I wasn’t sure what to expect. But once the book got rolling, I was captivated. The pacing moved at a fast clip, and I loved bearing witness to Vivian’s coming of age. The cast of characters was dynamic and engaging, though I wish there had been a dramatis personae at the beginning; there were so many people spanning the novel that it was a little difficult to keep track of them all. New York City felt like a character in and of itself, and it seemed both welcoming and forbidding, all at once. The book follows Vivian through young adulthood, and catalogs her youthful mistakes, from getting kicked out of Vassar and finding refuge with her strange, drunk aunt to the bigger ones, ones that can’t be so easily excused by being young. I also adored the format, that Vivian was speaking straight to the reader. One of my favorite things about City of Girls was the love of theater, even its less glitzy aspects, and the way that Vivian led the reader through over forty years of American history. Gilbert’s latest work is honest, enchanting, electrifying, and I will never forget Vivian Morris, or her city. The bottom line: Gorgeous, funny, and tender, I loved City of Girls! Easily one of my favorite books of Elizabeth Gilbert’s! Next on deck: Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race by Lara Prior-Palmer!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/07/city-of-girls-by-elizabeth-gilbert.html

The Boy Next Story by Tiffany Schmidt Review

Title: Bookish Boyfriends: The Boy Next Story

Author: Tiffany Schmidt

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance

Series: Bookish Boyfriends, book two

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               A Date with
Darcy, the first book in the Bookish Boyfriends series, was one of my favorite
books of last year, so when I found The Boy Next Story sitting on a shelf in
the new book section, I took it home. It’s been sitting on the top of my stack,
and as soon as I finished Save Me the Plums, I dove in. This installment in the
series, The Boy Next Story, focuses on the youngest Campbell sister, Aurora,
Rory for short. Shy, artistic, and overshadowed by her older, more vivacious sisters,
she is harboring a desperate and unrequited crush on their next-door neighbor, Toby
May, who just so happens to have a crush on her sister Merri. Her grades are
slipping, and she’s totally not gelling with the assigned English book, The
Great Gatsby. She is assigned Little Women soon after by Ms. Gregoire. When she
is put in an advanced art class and starts exploring her talents, she finds
that there’s competition there, too. When a once in a life time arises, Aurora
must decide if she will let her fear rule her, or if she will gain the courage
to live her life as she pleases.

               I
really enjoyed this book, quite possibly even more than A Date with Darcy. One
of my favorite things about this hilarious, sweet series is how it focuses on
the Campbell family as a unit and each of the sisters individually. I loved how
shy, quiet, artistic Rory got the spotlight this time, and I really related to
her. I was captivated by her sweet, slightly insecure voice, and the pacing was
great. I adored her, honestly, for all her flaws: prickly, shy, snarky and
sarcastic, but artistic, kind, and gentle also. I loved reading about her
struggles: with math, the place in her own family, her identity and her
unrequited crush on Toby. The chemistry between the two of them was explosive,
full of sparks and barbs and so much passion that at times, I was screaming, giggling,
and tearing my hair out. This book made me feel a lot of things. Rory’s
character development from the baby sister unhappy with life to a young woman
unafraid to go after everything she wants, unapologetically. All of the other
characters provided great foils to her, and I loved the way they all played a
role in helping Rory find her courage. I adored the ending. At times, Rory
seemed a bit whiny, but it wasn’t a huge deterrent. I loved her, and the whole
Campbell family, and I’m hoping to the book gods that there’s another book in
store! I have so many questions! The bottom line: Warm, hilarious, romantic and
heartfelt, I loved The Boy Next Story! I hope that there’s more in store for
the Campbell clan! Next on deck: Again but Better by Christine Riccio!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/06/the-boy-next-story-by-tiffany-schmidt.html

Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl Review

Title: Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir

Author: Ruth Reichl

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Nonfiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               I’ve
always been a great fan of Ruth Reichl, from watching her on food shows such as
Top Chef and reading her restaurant reviews in The New York Times. I’ve been curious
about her other books of food writing, so when I heard about Save Me the Plums
on Instagram, I reserved it at my local library. It’s been sitting on the top of
my stack for a while now, and I wanted to make sure I was able to review it
before I had to return it. This wry, honest and sidesplitting memoir had me
laughing, gasping, and crying as I followed her journey to become the manager
of the now defunct Gourmet magazine. I very much enjoyed it, though I was
hoping that the focus would be more on the food. However, it’s definitely got
me curious about the rest of Riechl’s extensive body of work, as well as food
writing and nonfiction in general. It also makes me sad that I didn’t realize
Gourmet’s existence before it went under.

               Ruth
Reichl, in essence, is a writer. That’s how she’s made her living for a number
of years, so she was, to say the least, surprised when she was approached to
take over a classic food magazine, Gourmet. Which also inspired her to plunge
into the world of food and food writing, not unironically. Feeling intimidated and
completely out of her depth, she decides to go for it anyway, eager for an
opportunity to try something new and be closer to her family for the first time
in years. Hilarity ensues, and so does innovation: Reichl publishes the controversial
David Foster Wallace article about boiling lobsters alive, and more besides. Seeing
the magazine through many changes, I really feel that the magazine, classic,
was really in its modern heyday when she was heading the charge. This book was
thoughtful, entertaining, tender and surprisingly funny; I’d really like to explore
more of her work. As I said, I’d really liked it if more food was involved, but
it was very good! I’m happy I read it, and I’m really looking forward to
reading more of Ruth Reichl and food writing in general. The bottom line:
Hilarious and grim, thoughtful and entertaining, I loved Save Me the Plums!
Next on deck: The Boy Next Story by Tiffany Schmidt!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/06/save-me-plums-by-ruth-reichl-review.html

Kingsbane by Claire LeGrand Review

Title: Kingsbane

Author: Claire LeGrand

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Empirium Trilogy, book two

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               Furyborn was one of my favorite books of 2018, so ever since, I’ve been eagerly looking forward to Kingsbane. And for the most part, the sequel lived up to my expectations, but there were definitely parts that fell short. Nonetheless, if I wasn’t fully invested before, I most certainly am now! Full of dark magic, secrets, lies, and romance, Kingsbane picks up where Furyborn left off, with both Rielle, and her daughter, Eliana, racing against time to stop a terrifying future that could save the world, or destroy it. The prophecy both young women chafe against is about to come to pass, and across the centuries they fight for their own agency, even if it means losing everything…

               I don’t want to say too much about the plot for the people reading who haven’t read it yet, but I will say that LeGrand has penned a worthy sequel to my favorite book in her body of work. As with all sequels, it took me a little bit to remember what was going on, but once I did, the pacing was breakneck and I couldn’t pull away. Even when I was doing something else, the book was always in my thoughts, and my mind was forever working to unravel Kingsbane’s secrets.

I loved the characters, as well as their development; if I’m going to read a book, I have to engage with the characters, or nothing’s going to happen. I adored all of the characters, but Eliana, Rielle, Corien, Audric, Ludivine, and Simon were particular standouts. The pacing was breakneck, and the constant twists and turns had me gasping or screaming, either out of excitement or frustration. The flow of the events between Rielle and Eliana was smooth, though at times it was hard to keep up with all the different countries and customs. More than once, I had to refer to the map and appendix of the novel. However, this book was wonderful. For all its minor flaws, it was great. And that ending, though; my jaw hit the floor! I cannot wait for the last book! I can only hope that it’s going to answer all of the burning questions that Kingsbane has born. I can’t wait to see how this dark, feminist trilogy ends! The bottom line: Though at times a bit heavyhanded, and it was a bit difficult to keep up and keep everything straight, I really enjoyed Kingsbane, and I’m looking forward to the third book! Scary, romantic, and thrilling, I loved Kingsbane! Next on deck: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing!

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