Category: next on deck

Fairest of All: A Tale of The Wicked Queen by …

Title: Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen

Author: Serena Valentino

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Villains, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               I was
reading an article a few weeks ago and discovered that Serena Valentino’s
series of retellings of Disney villains’ origins is becoming a TV series, so I
decided to start it. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while now, but
I couldn’t renew it anymore, so I pushed it to the top of my stack as soon as I
was finished with The Guest Book. I adored this adaptation of Disney’s first
villain; it really gave a new perspective on how Grimhilde became The Wicked
Queen. It humanized her, and I very much enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read the
rest of this book series, especially since it’s officially concluding in July!

               Snow
White and the Seven Dwarves. A beautiful girl, a jealous queen, an apple, and a
happy ending. We think we know the story. But what about The Wicked Queen’s
side of things? How did she become so evil? Fairest of All imagines an origin
for Grimhilde, the only daughter of a renowned mirror maker. Plucked from obscurity
when her father passes away, she marries the King and becomes Snow White’s
stepmother. Fairest of All documents the queen’s decline from a loving wife and
mother to a monster capable of killing her own child. I really liked this book;
I love retellings, but one of my favorite things is one told from the point of
the view of the villain. The writing was simple but gorgeous, and the pacing
was really nice. I liked how it took the Disney movie and expanded on it. This
book really made me sympathize with The Wicked Queen, and I loved watching her
descent into the darkness. The ending, too, really redeemed this book; I loved
the continuity of it. One thing I can’t help wondering about, though, is the
mysterious Odd Sisters. If it hadn’t been for them, would Grimhilde have stayed
good? Or would her envy and insecurities have gotten the better of her anyway?
A thought-provoking novel about beauty, envy, insecurity, and society’s heavy
and unrealistic expectations for women, I never imagined that before now, I
would ever feel sorry for The Wicked Queen! I can’t wait for the next books in
this deliciously dark new series! The bottom line: Beautifully written, dark
and seductive, I loved Fairest of All, and I can’t wait to read more from
Serena Valentino! Next on deck: America Was Hard to Find by Kathleen Alcott!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/fairest-of-all-tale-of-wicked-queen-by.html

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake Review

Title: The Guest Book

Author: Sarah Blake

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I received an advanced readers’ copy of this book from the publisher, Flatiron Books. Thank you so much!

               I received The Guest book in the mail a few months ago, and since I’ve been alternating between library books and ARCs, I recently made the decision to sort them by month so I could make my reviews line up as the books were officially published. As soon as I was finished with a comic book I’d borrowed from the library, I started The Guest Book. At first, I wasn’t sure about it; I’d never read any of Sarah Blake’s work before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It took me a bit to get into the book, but once I did, I was spellbound. The Guest Book is one of the most anticipated books of 2019, and I can see why it has so much hype. A family saga reminiscent of Downton Abbey, only American. I absolutely adored The Guest Book, and it has become one of my favorite novels of the year. I feel so lucky to have received an early copy. Rich, dynamic, and thoughtful, The Guest Book takes a harsh, unflinching look at American culture, its oppression of marginalized peoples, but especially Jews and black people. This book should be required reading for all.

               The Guest Book goes back and forth in time, between different members of the affluent Milton family. But the main focus is on one of the granddaughters of Kitty and Ogden Milton, Evelyn. A historian with a passion for piecing together the past, she is brought to an emotional crossroads when an offer for the island her grandparents bought comes to light. Haunted by the secrets lurking just beneath the shiny veneer of her family’s past, she is determined to uncover the truth. Even if shatters what remains of her family…

               This book was a surprising gem! It really snuck up on me and gripped me by the throat, long after I’d closed it. It took me a little bit to get into it, mostly because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a little worried I wouldn’t enjoy it. But once I got into it, I was spellbound. The prose was both spare and gorgeous, and I loved the way that the point of view jumped between each member of the family, as well as Len Levy and Reg Pauling, a Jew and a black man invited to Crockett Island for the summer. I also really enjoyed the way the book went back and forth between the past and the present; it provided a much deeper scope on the characters and events that were happening. But my favorite thing about The Guest Book was its timeliness: it took a good, hard and unflinching look at the American cultural system, and how white people, especially the rich, have contributed to the oppression of other people, especially black people and the Jews. Len and Reg made a compelling, painful foil to the Miltons, who are so blinded by their own privilege that Kitty, its matriarch, issues a refusal that haunts her until her dying day. Evelyn has always loved Crockett Island, and treasures the memories of her summers she spent there as a girl. When her family begins to look into selling it, she bucks against it at first, not wanting to lose such a valuable piece of her family’s legacy. But she starts to dig deep into the secrets her family has long kept hidden, and finds that her family’s wealth comes from an association with an awful organization. (I won’t say what, because I don’t want to spoil the book for people who haven’t yet read it.) I loved that Evie was a historian, and how she dug deep into what her family’s secrets were, even as it upended everything, she thought she knew. I loved the way it ended; it was bittersweet and very real to life. I will never forget the Milton family, Reg, Len, or Evie; these characters will forever have a place in my heart. Sarah Blake has penned a masterful sophomore novel, full of heart and social commentary in equal measure, and I will never forget it! The bottom line: Beautiful, rich, hard-hitting and thought-provoking, I loved The Guest Book! It was one of my favorite books of 2019, and I can’t wait for more from Sarah Blake! Next on deck: Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen by Serena Valentino!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-guest-book-by-sarah-blake-review.html

Slayer by Kiersten White Review

Title: Slayer

Author: Kiersten White

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Horror

Series: Slayer, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I won a signed copy of this book in a contest from Fierce Reads. Thank you so much!

               Shows like Buffy and Angel were things that I was obsessed with as a teenager because they contained all of my favorite things: monsters, magic, darkness, high stakes, and forbidden love. I haven’t seen either of them in years. But I ordered this book from my local library and before I could finish it, I had to take it back. Which was just as well, because a few days later, I received a copy of Slayer from Fierce Reads, and it was signed! I was so excited. It’s been sitting on my ever-growing book stack for a few months now, and once I was finished with The Everlasting Rose, I started Slayer. Taking place in the same universe as Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer but after the events of the comics. Dark, hilarious, heartfelt and scary, I loved this take on the Buffyverse by one of my favorite authors! One of my favorite books of 2019!

               Nina Jamison-Smythe knows her place in the world. She and her twin sister, Artemis, are both in training to become Watchers, the organization of individuals that help guide Slayers.  She is the healer, the medic, the gentler of the two. She lives in her sister’s shadow, something she both takes refuge in and resents. But when Buffy literally breaks magic, The Watchers are rendered obsolete. Consumed by rage and hatred toward Buffy and Slayers in general, whom she blames for her father’s death, Nina is determined to make a difference in the world. But everything changes when she becomes a Slayer. And not just a Slayer, but the very last Slayer in existence. Forced to bear the burden of powers she never wanted; people begin to die around the castle. Enmeshed in the mystery, Nina must use her newfound powers to save the people she loves. But is she meant to save the world? Or to destroy it?

               Kiersten White is one of my favorite authors, and so when I found out that she was writing a novel set in the Buffyverse, I was so excited! And I was lucky enough to receive a free, signed copy! I loved this book; it felt like I was returning to a place that I had dearly missed, without even knowing! Right out of the gate, I loved it so much. It had all of the darkness, humor, and mystery of Buffy. It’s not a requirement to be a Buffy fan to read this book; it can be read without knowing anything about the comics or show. But I loved the little Easter eggs I kept finding. The pacing was breakneck, and I loved the characters, but especially Nina; I really related to her. I loved her character development, her growth from a timid, resentful child to a fiercely powerful and kind young woman who uses her Slayer powers for the good of her loved ones. Artemis, Leo, Honora, and the girls’ mother were also distinctive characters who provoked a strong reaction with me. Dark, terrifying, and full of humor and heart, this book felt like coming home. I very much enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to read Chosen! At times, Nina butting heads with everyone got on my nerves; it kind of took away from the book, but overall, this series starter was strong, and I can’t wait for the next book! Next on deck: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/slayer-by-kiersten-white-review.html

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton Revi…

Title: The Everlasting Rose

Author: Dhonielle Clayton

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Belles, book two

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

           Dhonielle Clayton is one of my favorite authors, and my favorite book in her body of work was this book’s predecessor, The Belles. I’ve been salivating for the sequel to that explosive, thought-provoking and dark series debut since I finished it. So, when I realized there was a copy sitting on the shelf of my local library, I went and grabbed it as soon as I possibly could. It’s been sitting on the top of my library stack for a while, and I was delighted when I realized that it was next in line. Unfortunately, this sequel didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but I greatly enjoyed it nonetheless. Action-packed, thoughtful, shocking and romantic, I loved The Everlasting Rose!

               The Everlasting Rose picks up where The Belles left off, with Belle favorite, Camellia Beauregard, fleeing the royal palace from the mad princess, Sophia. Realizing the rotten core that lies under the luxurious, glittering veneer of the country of Orleans, she is rightfully furious and desperate for revenge and freedom for herself and her sisters, her fellow Belles. Camellia soon realizes that revolution is brewing right under the surface of everything, and that to do what is right, she may have to bargain with an even more secretive enemy, The Iron Ladies. With the help of her sisters, Edel and Amber, and her bodyguard, Remy, Camellia must decide if she is strong enough to see this mission through, or fall into a web of intrigue and deception that she may never claw her way out of…

               I really liked this book! It fell a little short for me, in comparison to The Belles, but it was a solid sequel. I just hope that this isn’t the end! The ending seemed as if it was a cliffhanger, but I couldn’t tell for certain. Sequels unnerve me, every time: all too often, it just doesn’t hold up to the first book. But overall, The Everlasting Rose really delivered! It took me a little while to remember what was going on, but once I did, I was all in. This book grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go, not for a moment. I also adored all of the characters, particularly Sophia, but it was Camellia that really stole the show for me. I loved her development from a naïve, ambitious girl to a fierce, angry warrior of a young woman. I also really liked the way that old and new characters were brought in, to great effect. But I think my favorite part of this whole book was the way that Clayton peeled back the extravagant, glittering layers of Orleans to expose its black, rotten heart.  I really enjoyed the way that Clayton finally elaborated on Orleans, and how it was created, but we finally got to what I was most curious about: The Belles and how they were created. The ending was good, but I’m hoping that there’s more: It can’t end like that! I still have so many questions! Dhonielle Clayton has created a beautiful, dark, gilded world full of thorns and secrets and intrigue, and I was absolutely captivated by it! I really hope that there’s more because this book was just not enough! The bottom line: Dark, beautiful, romantic and twisted, I loved The Everlasting Rose, and I really hope that there’s more, because I won’t be able to deal with it if there isn’t! Next on deck: Slayer by Kiersten White!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-everlasting-rose-by-dhonielle.html

Cape May by Chip Creek Review

Title: Cape May

Author: Chip Creek

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I was given an advanced readers’ copy of this book by the publisher, Celadon Books. Thank you so much!

               I started alternating between library books and review copies, so when I was finished with The Vanishing Stair, I decided to push Cape May to the top of my stack. This book is fantastic, gorgeously written and full of heart and emotion. I wouldn’t put it any particular genre; to me, it was a drama. But I absolutely adored it. The prose was gorgeous, the pacing breakneck, and I loved the way that it was a coming of age story. Lush, emotional, painful and satisfying, I loved this debut from a brilliant new talent! Chip Creek has penned an unforgettable first novel that had me in awe. I was crying, laughing, cringing, and there were several times that I had to close the book and walk away to process my feelings.

               Cape May opens with two young, lovestruck newlyweds, Effie and Henry, on their honeymoon. Given Effie’s uncle’s beach house for the week, they are drunk on one another. But boredom begins to set in when they realize they’ve come to the oceanside town on the off-season when there is no one there. But their ennui is soon alleviated when they become friends with three bored, young rich people: effervescent, bubbly Clara, smooth jokester Max, and his younger half-sister, Alma. Pulled into the drama of these strangers, Effie and Henry soon find their young marriage in jeopardy, and they must decide if their new love is worth saving…

               This book was wonderful and nearly perfect. It came as a surprise in the mail, and as soon as I was done with The Vanishing Stair, I dove in. The prose was gorgeously wrought, and the pacing was breakneck. I was utterly seduced by the empty seaside town of Cape May; the setting was vivid and beautiful, and I could almost taste the salt in the air, feel it fall on my skin. I also loved all of the characters in this book, particularly Effie, Henry, and Alma. This book was beautiful, seductive, and erotic; it was a debut that swept me away and stole my heart. Watching Effie and Henry ingratiate themselves into this group of wealthy, bored young people were both stunning and painful. As the book went on, I found my heart breaking, for Effie, in particular. This book was about fidelity, lust, marriage, and friendship, but most of all, it was about watching a new marriage crumble in the summer heat. I really didn’t like Henry as the book went on; he was foolish, selfish, and was rationalizing his indiscretions in the worst, possible way. By the end of the book, I hated him. But the ending saved the book for me; I loved the way that it ended. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, lush and seductive, and I loved every moment of it, even the ones that were painful and made me cry. The bottom line: A beautiful, poignant novel about lust, fidelity, marriage, and desire, I loved Cape May! Next on deck: The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/cape-may-by-chip-creek-review.html

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson Review

Title: The Vanishing Stair

Author: Maureen Johnson

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Series: Truly Devious, book two

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

               Truly, Devious was one of my favorite books of last year, so I was so excited when the sequel finally dropped back in January. I had to return it to the library the first time I checked it out, as I couldn’t read it before it had to go back. It’s been sitting on the top of my stack for a while, and I realized that I couldn’t renew it anymore, so as soon as I was done with Saving Meghan, I pushed it to the top of my stack. I devoured it in less than two days, and even though I finished it last night, my head is still spinning! Maureen, how could you end it like that?! How am I supposed to wait until 2020 for the last book in the trilogy?! Smart, shocking, and chilling, The Vanishing Stair was a fantastic sequel, and I can’t wait for the next book! A great sequel to one of my favorite books of last year!

               The Vanishing Stair picks up where Truly, Devious left off, with Stevie still reeling from the events of the last book. For the sake of those who haven’t read it yet, I won’t say too much about the plot; I don’t want to spoil it. But Stevie returns to Ellingham, trying to refocus on the famous case that brought her to the school to begin with. Unable to leave well enough alone, she begins to investigate the deaths that caused her to leave. But it turns out that the deeper she digs, the more she realizes that nothing stays truly stay buried, forever…

               The Vanishing Stair was absolutely wonderful! Truly, Devious was one of my favorite books of last year, and I’m so happy that I finally got the read the sequel! I really enjoyed it. Sequels made me so nervous; all too often, they don’t live up to my expectations. But The Vanishing Stair more than delivered; I almost enjoyed it more than the first book. The pacing was breakneck, and it took me a little while to remember what was going on, since it’s been more than a year since I read Truly, Devious. I loved the way that Johnson braided two mysteries together; I was constantly left wondering and scratching my head. I was also screaming, laughing and crying; this book gave me so many feels! The transition between the past and present were really smooth. I also adored the characters, but Stevie and Janelle were my favorites. The twists and turns of the book had me dealing with literary whiplash, and more than once I had to walk away so I could puzzle them out. And that ending! That ending! Oh, my goodness, how on Earth am I supposed to wait until 2020 for the next book?! Come on, Maureen, you’re killing me here! I loved this book, but the ending was what really clinched it for me; I can’t wait for the last book in the series! Absolutely amazing! The bottom line: Dark, twisty, and thrilling, I loved The Vanishing Stair, and I can’t wait for the last book in the series! Next on deck: Cape May by Chip Creek!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-vanishing-stair-by-maureen-johnson.html

Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer Review

Title: Saving Meghan

Author: D.J. Palmer

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I was given an advanced readers’ copy of this book from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press. Thank you so much for the book!

               I started alternating between library books and advanced readers’ copies, and once I finished Bad Blood, I decided to read Saving Meghan. (I’d read two library books in a row, so I wanted to read two ARCs as well.) I’ve had it on my rapidly growing stack for about two months now, and I decided, why not give it a shot? I was still in a dark, thriller-type mood after I finished Bad Blood, so I decided to go for it. Normally, thrillers and mysteries as a genre make me anxious. Either I can guess what’s going to happen within the first hundred pages, or I’m completely blown away; there’s no in-between for me. But I’m quite happy to report that D.J. Palmer has penned a fantastic, dynamic mystery, complete with thrills, chills, twists, and so much heart. It took me a bit to get into it, but once I did, I was glued to the pages! Twisted, creepy, unpredictable and shocking, I loved Saving Meghan, and I cannot wait for what he’s got up his sleeve next! This book is one of my favorites of 2019.

               Meghan Gerard is a very sick young woman. So sick, in fact, that people are pointing the finger at her fiercely protective and devoted mother, Becky. There are whispers that Becky has Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy; in layman’s terms, she’s purposely making her teenage daughter ill for attention. But could it be that Meghan is making herself sick? Or her father, Carl? Tensions begin to mount as suspicion clouds the entire family. Who is lying? Meghan? Carl? Becky? Her doctor, Zach Fisher? Or something else entirely? Is this a desperate child’s bid for attention? Or something much more sinister and frightening?

               This book was incredible! Saving Meghan kind of reminded me of Jodi Picoult’s works: thriller and mystery with a lot of medical jargon thrown in. It took me a little bit to get into the story, as the viewpoints were constantly shifting between Becky, Meghan, and Dr. Fisher, but once I did, I was glued to the pages! The medical jargon was kind of confusing at first; I kept having to go back and reread parts of the dialogue to make sure I was understanding what I was reading. I was spellbound, and for the life of me, I could not figure out who put this sick, twisted set of events into motion; I think that’s half the reason I loved the book so much. But even more than the mystery, the characters were particularly compelling; I loved them all, even in all of their ugliness. But my favorites of them all were Meghan, Becky, and Dr. Zach Fisher, who is determined to help figure out what’s wrong with Meghan. The pacing was breakneck, the prose taut and snappy, and that ending—I didn’t see it coming! It was absolutely amazing. Definitely one of the better mysteries I’ve read this year. One thing’s for sure: I’ve got D.J. Palmer on my radar, and I can’t wait to see what sick, twisted thriller he’s got up his sleeve next! The bottom line: Compelling, sick, twisted and shocking, I loved Saving Meghan! One of my favorite books of the year! Next on deck: The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson!

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou Review

Title: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Author: John Carreyrou

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Nonfiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I won this book and another in a contest on Instagram and reviewed it. Thank you so much, Alfred A. Knopf Books!

               I saw a giveaway on Instagram and threw my name in the ring, not expecting to win it. It’s been sitting on my ever-growing ARC stack, and once I decided to start alternating between them and library books, I chose Bad Blood as my next choice. Normally, I’m really picky about nonfiction; I find it rather dry. But I decided to take the plunge in this brutal, thought-provoking expose, and I wasn’t disappointed. Theranos, one of the most infamous Silicon Valley startups, is the topic of Bad Blood, and it carries all of the elements of a great story: a quick rise, a young woman in a profession dominated by men, emulating mystery and Steve Jobs, a deep voice and a dream perhaps too noble to be made real. I loved every moment of it; I’d heard of the scandal when it happened but didn’t take a deep look into what caused it. John Carreyrou, an investigative journalist with The Wall Street Journal, pulls back the curtain and exposes every sordid secret, from the beginning to the end. I’m in awe. It was informative, hard-hitting, thought-provoking and shocking. It was scandalous and surprising and one of the best works of nonfiction I’ve ever read, period.

              Theranos had every chance to be successful, and for a while, it was. Elizabeth Holmes, a Stanford dropout who is driven, articulate, and determined to become the next Steve Jobs. She proposed something that would completely revolutionize the health care industry: a device that could take a variety of blood tests in a fraction of the time that traditional machines could. Soon health care providers like Walgreens were taking an interest in the young innovator’s mysterious technology. There was only one problem: the technology did not work. Decidedly in denial, Holmes was trying to get her technology put in stores and even used in the United States military. Backed into a corner and desperate to hold on to her newfound success, fame, and celebrity, Holmes’s rise and fall, and the subsequent crumbling of her company are documented in this investigative book. The pacing was breakneck and I really enjoyed the tone; it was factual but not so dry that I wasn’t interested. I also enjoyed the format and the way that things were presented. This kind of book, I have a feeling that there was a lot I didn’t pick up on. I’ll have to read it again, this time with a thorough look at the notes. Nonetheless, I very much enjoyed it. I feel like I really know the issue now, and the book; I was just in awe, and shock. Here was this wildly successful, smart and innovative young woman, but she’d messed up by overshooting and overpromising, and so, she failed. It shocked me, saddened me, made me think. It certainly made me look at nonfiction in a completely different way (and that’s a good thing). I’m definitely more open to it as a whole now. I can’t wait to read the other book that came with it! Thank you again to the publisher! The bottom line: Informative, shocking, and in-depth, I loved Bad Blood! Definitely one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read! Next on deck: Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/bad-blood-by-john-carreyrou-review.html

Wrecked by Maria Padian Review

Title: Wrecked

Author: Maria Padian

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               Wrecked was the April book pick for one of the clubs I go to, Young Adult for Adults. I’ve been curious about Wrecked since I first heard about it. I attempted to read it when it first came out, but I had to return it before I could. Wrecked is a searing, thought-provoking novel about consent, agency, and the insidious, pervasive nature of rape culture. I’ve always enjoyed books that have been pulled straight from the headlines, but this book did more than that. It showed the taboo topic of rape of college campuses, through the eyes of two witnesses: Richard, roommate to the rapist, and Haley, roommate of the victim. Sucked into the issue despite wanting to stay out of it, these two characters provide an outsider’s point of view on a traumatic and dehumanizing event. This book was heavy and at times it was really hard to get through, but I’m happy I read it. This book should be required reading for everyone.

               Haley’s roommate, Jenny, claims that she was raped after drinking at a college party, by Richard’s roommate, Jordan. Jordan says that it was just a hookup, but Jenny did not consent. Soon, word starts spreading around the entire college, and it seems no one but the two involved really know what happened. Against their will, both Haley and Richard are drawn into the conflict, and lines are drawn as an investigation is carried out. Who is telling the truth? Who is lying? Will justice be served properly, or will a monster walk free?

               This book was hard to get through, I’m not going to lie. It was heavy and at times uncomfortable. But this book is absolutely necessary reading, for all ages, boys and girls alike. Searing, thought-provoking, and unfortunately true to life, reading Wrecked was like watching a trainwreck: terrifying and unforgettable, but you’re unable to look away, even if you want to. The point of view is split between Haley and Richard, two bystanders turned witnesses. The pacing was breakneck and I was immediately transfixed. I really liked the way that Padian used the point of view of two bystanders to get a read on the situation; it was a new, refreshing way to look at an uncomfortable, but all too necessary, topic. I also liked Haley and Richard as characters, and the way that they developed as the novel went on. At first, they didn’t want to be involved, then, through both of their roommates, they are entangled in the terrible, confusing web of lies and deception that surround the case. One of my favorite parts of it was the bittersweet ending because it was very true to life. Jenny and Jordan were also characters that leaped off the page for me. They were a stark contrast to one another, and I hated Jordan. My heart broke for Jenny, as well as Haley and Richard. At times, there were so many different characters that I had to go back and reread; it got hard to keep track of everything at times. Nonetheless, this book was heart-wrenching, thought-provoking, searing, and absolutely necessary. Required reading for all and highly recommended! The bottom line: A searing, thoughtful and necessary book that pulls no punches, I loved Wrecked! Next on deck: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/wrecked-by-maria-padian-review.html

The Secrets of Clouds by Alyson Richman Review

Title: The Secrets of Clouds

Author: Alyson Richman

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

               I was at the library a few days ago, and The Secret of Clouds caught my eye, sitting on a display next to the checkout desk. The cover was colorful and intriguing, and I was curious about the title. I just finished it last night and I was blown away. This is the first book I’ve read by Richman, and it certainly won’t be the last! Compassionate, tender, and full of heart, I loved The Secrets of Clouds and I will never forget it! The end of the book had me bawling like a baby but in a good way. I was blown away by this novel.

               Katya, a gifted ballerina and her star on the rise, falls in love with Sasha, a passionate and gifted scientist, in Kiev. When tragedy strikes, the young couple emigrates to the United States. They are overjoyed when they discover that they are expecting. Years later, their son Yuri is born with a delicate heart condition. A gifted and compassionate teacher, Maggie, begins to tutor him in language arts. From this bond a friendship is formed. The boy’s insatiable curiosity and unique wisdom light a fire in Maggie, despite being associated with painful childhood memories for her. But when horror strikes the family and Maggie all over again, she must decide to sink into despair or live a full, bright life full of joy and pain.

               This book was a sucker-punch; it bowled me over and blew me away. I was swept away from the first line, absolutely enchanted. The prose was beautiful and rich, and the pacing between Katya and Sasha and Maggie’s journeys flowed smoothly. I adored Maggie and her loving, quirky family, and I also really liked Katya, Sasha, and their tenacious, intelligent son, Yuri. I loved everything about this book, and I read it in all of two days. Even when I wasn’t reading, I was constantly itching to go back to it. And that ending! It totally gutted me in the best kind of way. Even having seen it coming, it still hit me hard, and I dissolved into bittersweet tears. Full of heart, compassion, and tenderness, I loved this book; it was like a balm to my soul. Alyson Richman has become one of my new favorite authors with The Secret of Clouds! Absolutely stunning! The bottom line: Beautiful, tender, compassionate and heartfelt, I loved The Secret of Clouds! Next on deck: Wrecked by Maria Padian!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/04/the-secret-of-clouds-by-alyson-richman.html