Category: book review

Fierce Fragile Hearts Book Review

Author: Sara Barnard

Rating: 5/5

I’m not generally a fan of contemporary YA novels as series. I think stand-alone’s are far more satisfying, and far less drawn out. So you can see why I was reluctant to pick up a sequel to a book I loved (Beautiful Broken Things review here) which I thought would be unnecessary at best, a waste of time at worst. 

I was so wrong. This book was beautiful. It focusses in a girl named Suzanne, who was a victim of child abuse and, at the beginning of the novel, is in the foster care system. We follow Suzanne as she gains her independence in a very big and very complex world which is moving on faster than her. Whilst I’m not an abuse survivor, I find Barnard’s narration endlessly relatable; the way Suzanne reflects on the concept of death, her description of feeling you’re on the edge and being too tired to do anything about it, and so many other moments. 

The relationships between Suzanne and her friends are so raw and real. Caddy and Rosie are far more developed than in the first instalment, and I love the different directions that Barnard took these three in. That said, my favourite relationship is between Suzanne and her retired musician neighbour, Dilys. Dilys is the perfect example of the good in this world that Suzanne had been so deprived of, and their friendship was pure and benevolent.

Finally, I want to talk about Suzanne’s family. Her brother plays a complicated role in her life, having never been a victim of their father’s wrath. It’s both heart-wrenching and disgusting how his childhood was so opposite to Suzanne’s, and how that affects their sibling relationship. Her mother is also beyond complicated, and this book gave me an insight into why child abuse is so rarely reported by family members. It’s so much more difficult than I could ever imagine, having such a loving and supportive family myself.

So, as if you couldn’t tell, I loved this book. I loved it more than Beautiful Broken Things. One of my new favourites for sure.

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

Honor Bound by Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine Re…

Title: Honor Bound

Authors: Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: The Honors, book two

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               Honor Among Thieves was one of my favorite books of last year, and so I’ve been eyeing the sequel since before it came out. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while now, and once I realized that I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it to the top of the stack as soon as I was finished with Somewhere Only We Know. I devoured Honor Bound in two and a half days, and for the most part, this sequel did not disappoint! It took me a little while to remember what was going on, as it’s been over a year since I read Honor Among Thieves, but this series: It’s so unique and well-written. I’m such a sucker for space opera novels, and Honor Bound totally delivered. There were times when I was a bit lost, and the worldbuilding got a tad muddled, but I’m totally obsessed with these books, and I can’t wait for the sequel! I mean, this book has everything: aliens, war, secrets and political intrigue, love and friendship and danger! These characters and the story they tell are so unique and original to me, and I will never forget this ragtag band of space explorers! Aguirre and Caine have, yet again, stolen my heart and sent it soaring past dark, dangerous galaxies!

               Honor Bound picks up where Honor Among Thieves left off, with Zara, Bea, and Nadim scrambling to deal with the new vicious, voracious alien threat, a hive-mind horde known as The Phage. With their Leviathans, Nadim and Typon, both injured from the aftermath of the battle Honor Among Thieves ended with. Forced to go even deeper into uncharted territory, our Honors must make their way to a thriving crime planet known only as The Sliver. Once there, they must strike a dark, Faustian deal with a powerful alien being to stop The Phage. But as it turns out, a nearly forgotten threat has begun to stir, and our heroes must tap into their every ability in order to survive, or it could mean the destruction of the entire universe as they know it…

               This book; it was so awesome! Honor Among Thieves was one of my favorite books of last year, so needless to say, I’ve been very much looking forward to the sequel. And for the most part, it really lived up to my expectations. It took a little bit for me to remember what was going on, but once I did, I was absolutely captivated. Aguirre and Caine have created a dangerous, enticing world that I wish I could live in forever. The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately at home again, among some of my favorite characters. I feel so close to them; they feel like my family. I also enjoyed Zara and Nadim’s narration. One of my favorite things about this book was the character development; I was cheering throughout the book for Zara, Bea, and their friends and Leviathans. The twists and turns, though, were what really made this book shine: I was laughing, crying, gasping and screaming as the book went on. And that ending! Oh, my goodness, it was crazy! I can only hope and pray to the gracious book gods that there will be a sequel! The only little flaws I have with this book was that the worldbuilding was a bit muddled, and it was difficult to keep up with all the different names and types of aliens, as well as planets, but that was only minor, and it didn’t distract from the main narrative too much. Honor Bound was well worth waiting for and like its predecessor, Honor Among Thieves, it has become one of my favorite books of 2019! Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine make an unstoppable and dynamic team, queens of young adult! The bottom line: Lush, thrilling, high-octane, and unforgettable, I loved Honor Bound! I can only hope that there’s more to come in the future! Next on deck: Kingsbane by Claire Legrand!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/honor-bound-by-ann-aguirre-and-rachel.html

Woo hoo! It’s your fav mfred back with her fav…

Woo hoo! It’s your fav mfred back with her fav kind of post. Book reviews!

I’m 30 books behind on my Goodreads reading goals for the year. TBH, I’ve been in a bit of a slump. Nothing much is appealing and I don’t want to read anything new. While waiting for the next good book to find me, I’ve been re-reading old favorites and my usual standbys. Then I found Layla Frost.

I picked up Until Mayhem first, because it was a motorcycle romance and y’all know I love those.  Technically, this is out of order for the series, but it didn’t spoil much. Her books are connected but standalones, so you can pick and choose what suits you best.

What I really like about Frost is her Alpha-ish heroes. They are bossy, demanding, rough and gruff on the outside but have ooey-gooey emotional cores that melt around their true lady loves. In pursuit of the one true alpha, I’ve read some real doozies. Frost delivers a decent, yet still rough around the edges, hero. 

Her heroines are sassy and smart and capable, which is a great combo. Like the heroes, they are insanely attractive and everyone is either totally into them/dying of jealousy. It gets a little old when all female characters outside of the heroine and her close friends turn out to be catty bitches, but I liked more things about Frost’s books than disliked, so I could put it aside. 

Her books aren’t really romantic suspense, although each has some action and mystery that usually culminates in some kind of epic showdown right at the end. Really, tho, the books focus on the relationship building… and the sex. Yowza, there is a lot of sexy good times in these books! 

Hyde and Seek

Piper is a up and coming baker just trying to catch a break and get her business off the ground. Instead, she catches the eye of Jake Hyde, the insanely attractive yet aloof yet possessive mechanic. Jake plays it hot, then cold, then hot again and Piper calls him on that bullshit, because she adamantly refuses to play games. 4 stars.

Best Kase Scenario

Harlow Cooper is hiding things. Kase wants her, and wants to figure out all her secrets. Also, Kase is a big time romantic dude, and is willing to work to win Harlow’s trust and affection. He just wants to be loved, you guys. Nicely, his ethnic Hawaiian identity is present in the novel, but not put on the weird, semi-racist exotic pedestal that a lot of romance novels are guilty of. 4 stars.

Until Nox

Gus finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her the same day she is supposed to move in with him. With no place left to turn, she agrees to dog-and-apartment-sit for the hunk of a neighbor next door. Nox falls for Gus on first sight, and does everything in his power to care for her and be there for her when she needs him. Also, Nox is a something of a bad guy kingpin with a heavy Irish accent, if you are at all into those kinds of things. 3 stars.

Until Mayhem

Yay beefcake motorcycle dudes and then women they kidnap fall in love with! This book was the most over the top and fun. After creepin’ on a hot biker in the grocery store, Ophelia finds herself suspected of skulduggery by said biker, so he KIDNAPS HER! Also, he’s really, inexplicably attracted to her and wants to be with her forever, etc. Now Judge has to just convince Ophelia that they were meant to be together. 4 stars.

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus Revi…

Title: Two Can Keep a Secret

Author: Karen M. McManus

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               Before now, I haven’t read any of Karen M. McManus’s work. I’ve had an audiobook of her debut novel, One of Us is Lying, in my arsenal for a while now. When I saw her sophomore novel sitting on a shelf at my local library, the creepy cover and strange title caught my eye. It reminded me of that Pierces song that plays on the Pretty Little Liars credits! Creepy, dark, and shocking, I really enjoyed Two Can Keep a Secret, but there was also a lot of different threads that were confusing to me. Luckily, the ending was what saved the book for me; it was like a brutal punch to the gut! I can’t wait to listen to One of Us is Lying, and I can’t wait to see what this amazing author has in store next! This book was a bit overambitious, but it was an awesome read anyway! One of my favorite books of 2019 for sure!

               Echo Ridge is the essence of small-town America. But not everything is as picture-perfect in Echo Ridge as it seems. Twins Ellery and Ezra have to move to their mother’s hometown after an unfortunate accident that forces her to go to rehab. Living with a grandmother they’ve never known, Ellery, a true crime buff, knows that something is going on just under the surfaces of this town’s shiny veneer. When she meets Malcolm, the little brother of the man accused of murdering a missing girl, things grow even more complicated. But another woman disappears, and Ellery and Ezra are determined to unearth the town’s dangerous secrets. Even if it means risking their own lives…

               I really liked this book. For a mystery, though, it was a little too ambitious for me. There were three separate storylines happening throughout the novel, and it was really hard to keep track of all of the different characters and all of the events straight. There were times that I had to go back and make sure of what I was reading. Nonetheless, it was really enjoyable. Echo Ridge felt creepy and claustrophobic, and I constantly found myself wondering who the bad guy was. The pacing was good; I liked the way the viewpoint went back and forth between Ellery and Malcolm. Both of their voices were very distinct, but I think Ellery was my favorite, being a true crime buff myself. I liked all of the side characters, though they could’ve been fleshed out a little bit more for me. I also liked Ellery and Ezra’s family, particularly their mother and grandmother, and I loved how the history of Echo Ridge tied into their own personal pasts. The ending, though, was what really saved the book for me; it chilled my blood and I’m still thinking about it, nearly a week later. What a creepy, dark little book! The bottom line: Though it was a little overambitious for me, I really liked Two Can Keep a Secret, especially the ending, and I can’t wait for what Karen M. McManus has up her sleeve next! Next on deck: Lovely War by Julie Berry!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/two-can-keep-secret-by-karen-m-mcmanus.html

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus Revi…

Title: Two Can Keep a Secret

Author: Karen M. McManus

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               Before now, I haven’t read any of Karen M. McManus’s work. I’ve had an audiobook of her debut novel, One of Us is Lying, in my arsenal for a while now. When I saw her sophomore novel sitting on a shelf at my local library, the creepy cover and strange title caught my eye. It reminded me of that Pierces song that plays on the Pretty Little Liars credits! Creepy, dark, and shocking, I really enjoyed Two Can Keep a Secret, but there was also a lot of different threads that were confusing to me. Luckily, the ending was what saved the book for me; it was like a brutal punch to the gut! I can’t wait to listen to One of Us is Lying, and I can’t wait to see what this amazing author has in store next! This book was a bit overambitious, but it was an awesome read anyway! One of my favorite books of 2019 for sure!

               Echo Ridge is the essence of small-town America. But not everything is as picture-perfect in Echo Ridge as it seems. Twins Ellery and Ezra have to move to their mother’s hometown after an unfortunate accident that forces her to go to rehab. Living with a grandmother they’ve never known, Ellery, a true crime buff, knows that something is going on just under the surfaces of this town’s shiny veneer. When she meets Malcolm, the little brother of the man accused of murdering a missing girl, things grow even more complicated. But another woman disappears, and Ellery and Ezra are determined to unearth the town’s dangerous secrets. Even if it means risking their own lives…

               I really liked this book. For a mystery, though, it was a little too ambitious for me. There were three separate storylines happening throughout the novel, and it was really hard to keep track of all of the different characters and all of the events straight. There were times that I had to go back and make sure of what I was reading. Nonetheless, it was really enjoyable. Echo Ridge felt creepy and claustrophobic, and I constantly found myself wondering who the bad guy was. The pacing was good; I liked the way the viewpoint went back and forth between Ellery and Malcolm. Both of their voices were very distinct, but I think Ellery was my favorite, being a true crime buff myself. I liked all of the side characters, though they could’ve been fleshed out a little bit more for me. I also liked Ellery and Ezra’s family, particularly their mother and grandmother, and I loved how the history of Echo Ridge tied into their own personal pasts. The ending, though, was what really saved the book for me; it chilled my blood and I’m still thinking about it, nearly a week later. What a creepy, dark little book! The bottom line: Though it was a little overambitious for me, I really liked Two Can Keep a Secret, especially the ending, and I can’t wait for what Karen M. McManus has up her sleeve next! Next on deck: Lovely War by Julie Berry!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/two-can-keep-secret-by-karen-m-mcmanus.html

The Drawing Of Three Book Review

Author: Stephen King

Rating: 5/5

Stephen King is like the Smashing Pumpkins of story-telling: he isn’t afraid to sit back and explore his ideas, grow them and develop them, before he has to move on. He draws on other perspectives, tells the same moment from multiple characters, twists the timeline and takes the time to express a scenario completely. Yet, he does it effortlessly, without chunks of exposition or idle rambling (which isn’t uncommon for high fantasies).

This book came and went so so fast – and nothing except for everything has changed. It’s gonna be spoilers from here onwards, so for non-spoilery thoughts check out my review of The Gunslinger.

*SPOILERS FROM HERE ONWARDS*

Eddie Dean – what an unlikely hero. He came from misfortune and his brother cultivated until it was all he knew. Enter Roland, and he gets an odd redemption. One thing I loved was his brilliant reaction to this quest. His denial and despair was understandable and heart-breaking, until he reaches acceptance. I loved his relationship with Roland, and I’m hoping Roland becomes the older brother Eddie never had, someone to guide and nurture him.

Odetta was a curious case, and definitely someone I’m excited to see develop in this moved on world. Her becoming was… confusing for me – but I’m accepting it. Her story comes full circle, even if some parts of the circle were completed before others!

I hope we get to hear more of Jake in future instalments. Roland’s attachment to him is too precious of a character arc to drop!

Something’s Not Right Book Review

Author: Yves

Rating: 5/5

This is the biggest surprise of my reading year so far! All I knew about Something’s Not Right was that it’s a collection of magical realism/speculative fiction short stories. What amazed me the most is actually how short these short stories were! Some were less than 3 pages but still packed such emotional and narrative substance. The first story had me utterly hooked into this writer’s imagination – I wish I could take a journey inside their mind just to be able to see the world how they do.

I cannot commend this author enough. Even though we only witness snapshots into these characters, I became so quickly attached to them! They were expertly and genuinely crafted. The voices and grammatical persons were suited to each story, with a mix of 1st, 2nd and 3rd persons as well as just colloquial dialogue. Some authors struggle to write in one voice, let alone dozens! Finally, the world-building for each story was so smooth and natural that I hadn’t noticed how much information I’d swallowed since it was so seamlessly embedded.

Of course, I had some favourites. don’t feel guilty was so deliciously obscure and ominous; I loved the narrators voice here especially since it was so natural and real, yet still decorative. theoretical robots and the dynamic of love also sticks out in my mind for its exploration of emotion. It had a nostalgic and bitter-sweet ending, which I loved. Another gem was gold-based offerings; I loved the narrator and the cunning cheek of the love interest. My ultimate favourite had to be the butcher, but I can’t explain why! Maybe it was the combination of beauty and darkness.

So if you couldn’t tell already, I loved this book.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Regular

Mini review of Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson.

Synopsis: Grace Williams was sent to a mental institution when she was 11. Through the pain, abuse and torment, she meets debonair Daniel – and together they find little ways of not only surviving in this life, but truly living.

Kingdom Of Ash Book Review

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 3.5/5

So don’t kill me. This is the lowest official rating I’ve ever given an SJM book, but if I had my blog when I read Crown Of Midnight that may have been lower. To give you some context, I LOVED Throne Of Glass, HATED Crown Of Midnight, and gradually came to love the series again as it continued. But KoA, whilst being an epic end to this ambitious saga, was just too much. Where did the brave and snarky prisoner and her contest to be the king’s assassin go?? As much as I admire SJM’s world building and her ambition, I can’t deal with high fantasy novels with this much stuff. That is just a personal preference, and I can see why some people would die for this series – but for me, it’s become too Game Of Thrones.

*SPOILERS FROM HERE ONWARDS*

Props to SJM for the emotional rollercoaster! My eyes were watering the whole time, but there were two moments which made me bawl: Dorian reuniting with Chaol and Aelin, and ofc the Thirteen all Yielding to save Manon and the rest of the court. This series feeds off tragedy and sacrifice experienced by its characters, but it used to keep hope at the forefront too. I think this is what separates Kingdom Of Ash from the other instalments – the characters have lost hope completely and still keep fighting.

Unfortunately for me, the war and politics kind of fell flat. I don’t care for the battle strategy and endless fighting, and I know this is personal taste but I prefer books which focus on a smaller group of characters rather than multiple continents worth. I kept getting confused and I’d completely forgotten characters like Borte, Fenrys, Gavriel, Falkan, Nox Owen, Darrow, Rhiannon Crochan and quite a few more.

However, there were multiple moments that had me in awe of the beauty that SJM has produced from this novel:

  1. Evangeline and Darrow – Her fate as a lady of Terresan warms my heart because if anyone deserves the world, it’s Evangeline. The way that Darrow admires her had me tearing up and it shows how even the most experienced people can learn from someone with a kind soul.
  2. Elide riding into the battlefield to find Lorcan – Not only does this show how much these two truly mean to each other, it shines a much needed spotlight on the brave, reckless and strong-hearted nature of Elide. It reminds us that she will not be broken by her past, and would die for her friends to have a bright future.
  3. Fenrys breaking the blood oath – Firstly, Fenrys and Aelin’s relationship whilst she was trapped was perfect. They were each other’s reason not to break, and this can be relevant to anyone with any kind of struggle in our world. When Fenrys sacrificed his life to save Aelin, he truly demonstrated how much they’ve grown together and because of each other.

There are more, but these are definitely my top three.

Overall, very mixed feelings about this novel. I think it was too long, too dense, and too ambitious, but it was also full of beautiful, heart-warming and heart-breaking moments. It might just be down to whether or not you enjoy high fantasy, politics-and-war-centric series or smaller, more character-driven stories.