Category: standalone

Title: The Ravenous

Author: Amy Lukavics

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Horror

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

               When I finished the first book I’d ever read by her, Nightingale, a friend recommended The Women in the Walls, Lukavics’s first novel, and I read that. Right after I finished it, I ordered The Ravenous through my library’s interloan system. Since then, it’s been sitting on the top of my library stack, the creepy cover drawing me in. When I realized I was not able to renew it any more, I pushed it to the top of my stack to read after Big Lies in a Small Town. As soon as I finished, I dove in to The Ravenous, and it might be the most gruesome book I’ve ever read by Lukavics. Dark, terrifying, thoughtful and chilling, I loved The Ravenous! I love monster stories of every type, but zombies are one of my favorites; this might be my favorite of all of Lukavics’s work.

The Ravenous tells the story of the Cane family: their military father, who is overseas so much that his daughters barely remember life with him, her alcoholic, moody and distant mother. On the outside, they appear to have the perfect family, and no one reinforces that image more than the Cane sisters. But when a terrible accident happens, their mother uses desperation and a secret ritual in order to bring the youngest sister, Rose, back to life. But her sacrifice has awful, unforeseen consequences: Rose is alive, but not quite. After returning from the dead, she develops a terrible craving for human flesh. When their mother disappears, in search of a permanent cure, the sisters are forced to take care of Rose themselves. But helping their sister may cost them their very souls…

I loved, loved, loved this book! The prose was permeated with suspense and dread, as sharp and cutting as knives. This book was terrifying, chilling, and had a killer ending (pun fully intended, sorry not sorry!)! I finished this book in less than two days, and I’m still stunned by the ending. I was instantly spellbound, hypnotized by the spare, sparse prose. The words were invoked with such a sense of dread. I love monster stories, but especially monster stories full of blood, gore, and body horror! The Cane family was such a strange facsimile of perfect; from the outside, they looked like a well-knit family. But on the inside, they were all falling apart: Mona, the middle sister, has crippling alcoholism, Juliet trying her best to hold the family together, even if it means murder, and Taylor becomes a clone of Juliet, trying not to anger her oldest sister. And there’s Anya, more into her books and her girlfriend, Everly, than her sisters. Rose, though, is the glue that holds the family together, and the Cane sisters must do unthinkable in order to keep her. And that ending! Oh, my goodness, I just finished it last night and I’m still floored over it. I can’t get it out of my head! The Ravenous is my favorite of Amy Ludavics’s work, and I loved it so much! I can’t wait to read the rest of her work! The bottom line: Dark, chilling, and so scary you’ll sleep with the lights on after! Next on deck: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2020/02/the-ravenous-by-amy-lukavics-review.html

Title: Big Lies in a Small Town

Author: Diane Chamberlain

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

               I have a confession to make: Before now, I haven’t read Diane Chamberlain’s work. I’ve had an ARC of The Dream Daughter, but I haven’t read it yet. When I heard about Big Lies in a Small Town through one of my book clubs I’m in on Facebook, my curiosity was such that I just had to order it at my local library. I was lucky enough to receive my library’s first copy! This is my first Chamberlain book, and I can happily tell you all that it most definitely won’t be my last! A rich, compelling mystery, I loved every dark and surprising moment of this beautiful book; it might be one of my favorites of 2020 so far. Tender, compassionate, dark and shocking, I loved Big Lies in a Small Town!

               In 2018, Morgan Christopher is sitting in a dark, tiny jail cell, stewing over the incident that may well have ruined her life, as well as that of an innocent. When a lawyer visits her, telling her that she has a way out, she jumps at the chance. But her freedom is contingent on one thing: She must restore a mural that is sixty years old by August sixth, or she will go back to prison to serve out the rest of her sentence for a crime she didn’t commit. Despite not knowing a thing about painting restoration, Morgan starts the job. But in doing so, Morgan discovers that the mural hides dark and deadly secrets, and what she uncovers will have repercussions that echo through the quaint little town’s history…

               I really, really enjoyed this book! Mysteries and thrillers can be so hit and miss with me; either I don’t see anything coming or I’ll have solved it within the first hundred pages. But this wasn’t the case with Big Lies; I was captivated, and the pacing was spot-on. A sense of suspense and dread had me constantly on edge, and I really enjoyed Morgan’s frank, honest voice. I also enjoyed the way the book went back and forth through time, from 1940 to 2018. It took a little while to get used to it, but once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed it! Big Lies in a Small Town exposes the often glossed-over underbelly of a very real town in North Carolina. I also enjoyed the way that Big Lies intertwined two different but similar stories, sixty years apart. I also adored every single character in this book, but Morgan holds a special place in my heart, as does Oliver. Anna Dale, the artist who comes to Edenton as a young woman after winning an art contest was also a compelling character; I loved her growth as a character. The only thing I wish had been more fleshed out was her mother and her mental illness. Nonetheless, I loved this book; it is easily one of my favorites of the entire year so far. The bottom line: Detailed, compassionate, and surprising, I loved Big Lies in a Small Town! This may be my first Diane Chamberlain book, but I can promise you all that it definitely won’t be my last! Nothing less than a work of art! Next on deck: The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2020/02/big-lies-in-small-town-by-diane.html

Title: The Fragile Ordinary

Author: Samantha Young

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

               Before Wednesday, I’d never read anything by Samantha Young. The Fragile Ordinary was the chosen book for one of the clubs I go to for the month of January, and I was intrigued. I didn’t finish it until this morning, and holy smokes! Samantha Young, where have you been my whole life?! This book was unique, powerful, and heartfelt, but I wish that there had been more clarification on some issues, but nonetheless, this book packs one heck of a punch. Lyrical, painful and true to life, The Fragile Ordinary was a fantastic novel, despite a few little things that I wish had been wrapped up. A contemporary romance with a healthy dose of coming of age, I loved this book so much! It makes me wish that I’d picked up one of her books a whole lot sooner! This may be one of my favorite books of 2020!

               Comet Caldwell hates her name with a burning passion. Comet is the name of a girl who isn’t shy, awkward, and greatly prefers books to people. Her two best friends, Vicki and Steph, have been encouraging her for years to take a leap of faith, be a normal teenager for once. But after being bullied at school by classmates and being ignored by her parents for pretty much her whole life, Comet has decided that life is better avoiding the spotlight. But when a young American boy named Tobias comes to her school, she feels an almost immediate attraction to him. Comet must decide whether to stay the same, or change and become a better person.

               This book; honestly, at first, I didn’t know what to think. I saw Comet’s name and almost laughed; it was such a surprise. It took me a little while to get into it, but I took Wednesday and yesterday off work so I could at least read most of it before we met last night. The pacing was breakneck, and I was almost immediately entranced by Comet’s voice, colorful and shy and sweet, but also ringing with so much pain. I really related to Comet, at first: the insecurity, the desire to hide in literature, as well as her writing aspirations! I loved watching her character development as the book went on. She transformed from a shy, quiet and kind of repressed little mouse into a freaking lioness who takes what she wants, whether it’s first love, her career and what she wants to do after high school, or making amends with her distant, cold parents. And the ending! I adored it! The only issue I had with it was that I wish there had been things in the narrative that were explained more clearly, and it made me cry! A lot! But nonetheless, I will be looking into more of Young’s books, because this one was a total knockout! The bottom line: Emotional and cathartic in the best way, I loved The Fragile Ordinary! Next on deck: The Last Wish: Introducing The Witcher by Andrzej Sapowski!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-fragile-ordinary-by-samantha-young.html

Title: The Raven’s Tale

Author: Cat Winters

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Horror

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

               A note for the sake of full disclosure before I start this review: I didn’t finish Kingdom of Souls. It felt like it was dragging on the whole time, so I reshelved it. Maybe I’ll go back to it later! Cat Winters is one of my favorite authors, so her latest book has been on my list since before it came out. The first time, I couldn’t read it before it went back to the library. But it’s been sitting at the top of my library stack, and as soon as I was finished with Kingdom of Souls, I dove in. The Raven’s Tale reimagines Edgar Allan Poe’s childhood and young adulthood, stifled under his cruel stepfather’s iron fist. Despite his dreams of being a writer, his stepfather demands that Edgar work toward more lucrative pursuits. But on the evening Edgar is set to go to university, a Muse named Lenore appears, promising him wealth, greatness, fame: everything he’s ever wanted. In exchange, she demands to be shone to the world. But will Edgar give in to his tyrant of a foster father, or make his dark, macabre dreams a reality?

               This book might be my favorite in Winters’s entire body of work; I remember being totally spellbound by EAP when I was younger, so this opportunity to have a fictional spotlight on him as a young man was awesome! The prose was gorgeous, and I loved the way that Winters actually incorporated Poe’s writing throughout. The pacing was breakneck, and I was totally riveted; I loved the way Winters talked about the arts, but especially writers. I also adored the way that she explained the complicated and dark relationship between Edgar and his dark muse, Lenore. Edgar’s voice was wry, humorous and melancholy, and I loved it. I also adored the other characters: Edgar’s lady love, Lenore, his parents. They provide a great foil for Edgar, brooding and at times even vicious. The tension was also crazy; there were several times that I had to walk away to take a few deep breaths. But Winter’s reimagining of one of the most prominent writers in the English canon was nothing less than fantastic, and I loved the way it paid tribute to him and the muse who inspired his work. The bottom line: Creepy, richly detailed, gorgeous and surprising, I loved The Raven’s Tale! Next on deck: The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-ravens-tale-by-cat-winters-review.html

Title: The Fountains of Silence

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

               Ruta Sepetys is one of my favorite authors, and has been for a long time now. Salt to the Sea, her third book, was my first by her. So, when I found out that she was writing a new book, I put it on hold as soon as I could. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while now. I couldn’t renew it, so as soon as I was finished with Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, I began to read it. Historical fiction ie one of my favorite genres, because it gives me perspective into times of upheaval and change that I wouldn’t otherwise have. The Fountains of Silence opens not long after the end of the Spanish civil war, with several young people struggling to find their dreams in the aftermath. Daniel Matheson is a young Texan, come to Spain with his wealthy parents for a business meeting with Spain’s dictator, Francisco Franco. A passionate photographer, his eyes are opened to Spain’s dark secrets, some in places long before he was even born. But Spain also holds hope, promise, unexpected allies and perhaps, true love?

               I’ll be honest: This was a time period in American and Spanish history that I didn’t know much about. I knew the basics, of course, but even then, they were bare. I love how Ruta Sepetys takes so much care and meticulous research when she tells a story; I was immediately spellbound by her prose, but even more than that, the characters. I laughed, I wept, I raged, especially at my own ignorance. The thing about studying history, at least, for me, is that you have to study its nuances so the situations don’t repeat. And The Fountains of Silence was like a front-row seat to the conflict, but also to the many triumphs and flaws of humanity itself. The characters were beautifully drawn, especially Ana, Daniel, his parents, and Ana’s family members. As with all of Sepetys’s books, it was written with empathy and heart, and I loved the ending! It wasn’t quite perfect, but I loved the way that it was so true to life. This book may be my favorite in her entire body of work. It was just so good. I loved the characters, the lush, gorgeous Spanish setting, the attention to detail, and just about everything else. This is a great book to read if you want a behind the scenes look at a more obscure time in history, and I very much enjoyed it. The bottom line: Rich with detail, heartbreakingly sad and empathetic, I loved The Fountains of Silence! Next on deck: Runaways: Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/12/the-fountains-of-silence-by-ruta.html

Title: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me

Author: Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero O’Connell

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Graphic Novel

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

               I went to my book club last month and saw this book sitting on the new book display; I was immediately intrigued by the color palette and the fluid, emotional way that the pictures were drawn. I took it home with me that night and it’s been sitting at the top of my library stack ever since. I finished Monster, She Wrote and tried to read Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, and ended up not finishing it. So, I moved on to Laura Dean and devoured it in less than a day. This graphic novel was beautifully drawn, and the story broke my heart. I loved it so much; Laura Dean is one of my favorite books of 2019, and I can’t wait to see more from this dynamic duo! A fantastic, fresh graphic novel that won my heart completely! Highly recommended to all!

               Laura Dean, the most popular girl at school, was Frederica ‘Freddy’ Riley’s dream girl. She’s funny, sweet, beautiful, and sexy. The only problem is she’s fickle and mean, and is not the greatest girlfriend. Reeling from their latest breakup, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, takes her to a psychic, mysteriously called The Seek-Her. Seek-Her leaves Freddy with advice, even though Freddy doesn’t want to hear it: break up with Laura Dean. But when LD spins back into her life with all the force of a hurricane, Freddy begins to wonder if she is the problem. Maybe Laura Dean is only part of it, Freddy wonders as she loses friends left and right. Luckily, though, there are new friends, which she desperately needs, and the insight of an advice columnist to get her through the throes of teenage love. With Laura Dean, Tamaki and Valero-O’Connell asks us to consider what happens when we quit the toxic relationships we crave and embrace the healthy ones we need instead.

               I loved, loved, loved this graphic novel! The art style was what grabbed me initially, but it was the perfect antidote to the nasty feelings I had after the disappointment of Ninth House. The color palette was gorgeous, and I loved the way that the pictures were drawn. But I was instantly captivated by Freddy’s honest, sweet voice. The pacing was breakneck; I finished this book in a few short hours. I loved all of the characters, especially Freddy, her friends, and Laura. But I think my favorite part of this graphic novel was the way that it dealt with real issues, especially toxic relationships. The relationship between Freddy and Laura felt really familiar, with all of its ups and downs. I related to this because when I was younger, I had a lot of friends who weren’t really friends, and it brought back a lot of mixed, bittersweet feelings. I absolutely adored this graphic novel, even though there were several times when I had to put it down to cry. The bottom line: Rich, realistic, and honest, I loved Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me! Next on deck: Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/12/laura-dean-keeps-breaking-up-with-me-by.html

Title: Monster: She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction

Authors: Lisa Kroger and Melanie R. Anderson

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Nonfiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

               I heard about this book from the free magazine, Bookpage, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to order it. I’ve had it for a while now, and it’s been sitting at the top of my library stack ever since. I realized I couldn’t renew it any more, so, when I finished The Never Tilting World, I plunged in, not certain what to expect. Simply put, this book shines a spotlight on the many women who have helped forge the modern horror and speculative fiction genres, complete with illustrations and reading lists. This book is one of my favorite books of 2019, because it was funny, informative, and surprising. This book begins with women from the 16th century and goes all the way to the present day, with a wealth of information about them all.

               Everyone knows Mary Shelley, the young woman who wrote Frankenstein when she was just a teenager. But did you know that she wrote that novel in response to the grief she was feeling over the child she lost? (She was also rumored to have her late husband’s heart tucked into a desk drawer!) There is also Margaret ‘Mad Madge’ Cavendish, who wrote a science fiction epic 150 years earlier, and liked to wear risqué dresses to the theater and opera. Shirley Jackson, one of my personal favorites, also gets an honorable mention; despite her career as a wife and mother, she used al of that as inspiration for her writing; she came into the public eye again when Netflix adapted her book, The Haunting of Hill House. This book contained profiles for authors I knew and some I’d never heard of. Containing information about so many women who had a hand in developing the horror and speculative fiction genres, this book was funny, informative, and interesting, and it might be one of my favorites for the nonfiction genre of this year. If I had one little quibble, I wish there had been more authors of color discussed. Nonetheless, this book was wonderful: meticulously researched, beautifully illustrated, and informative, I loved it so much! The bottom line: Hilarious, informative, and surprising, I loved Monster, She Wrote! Next on deck: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/12/monster-she-wrote-by-lisa-kroger-and.html

Title: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Authors: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

               I’ve been a fan of Neil Gaiman for years, but I’m sorry to say that Good Omens is the first and thus far, the only book I’ve read by Terry Pratchett. But it certainly won’t be my last. I wish I’d read this book a long time ago, but I did it now because my husband and I watched the miniseries on Amazon Prime first. I’m glad that I watched it beforehand; it made it a lot easier to imagine what was happening in my mind. The story of a demon and an angel trying to stop the end of the world, this book was unique, funny, and well-written. It might be one of my favorites in Gaiman’s entire body of work; I almost feel cheated by myself, waiting until a show was made to read this gem. I loved it so much that I just finished it on Sunday afternoon, and I want a copy for my own collection. I was crying with laughter from practically the first page; there aren’t enough words to tell you all just how much I loved this book.

               Aziraphale and Crowley are two unlikely friends on opposite sides of a war older than humanity itself: Aziraphale is an angel of God, and Crowley is a demon, sly and wily and full of mischief. When the order comes through on both sides that they must kickstart Armageddon, they are both reluctant to usher in the end of humankind. Nonetheless, when Crowley is dispatched to find the Antichrist, he obeys. Add in a fake psychic, an old, angry Scot who hunts for the supernatural, witches in particular, and the descendant of a slightly mad witch, and you’ve got something close to Good Omens. Is humanity worth saving, or will the slate be swept clean for a new start?

               This book may be my favorite in Gaiman’s body of work, and for the moment, is my favorite work by Terry Pratchett. I love books that make me laugh, and from the first page, I was laughing constantly. The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately drawn into the story; I could picture Michael Sheen and David Tennant as I read the book. Despite the long cast of characters, I loved what each of them brought to the story. Hilarious, thoughtful, and full of the power of laughter and true friendship, I loved every moment of this crazy, cheeky novel. And the adaptation was pretty close to the book; aside from taking a few characters out, it was pretty faithful to the source material. I devoured this book in less than a week, and I loved every moment of it. Humanity, through Crowley and Aziraphale’s eyes, is redeemable, and thus they decide to stop The End of Days. I loved every character in this novel, but my favorites were Aziraphale, Crowley, and Adam and Them, as well as the various denizens of Heaven and Hell. I’m kind of upset that this wasn’t the novel that got me obsessed with Neil Gaiman; despite that, the book still means so much to me, and one day, I hope to own a copy so Neil can sign mine! The bottom line: A tale of how Armageddon almost happened but didn’t, I loved Good Omens! One of the best books I’ve ever read, hands down! Next on deck: The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/12/good-omens-by-neil-gaiman-and-terry.html

Title: The Women in the Walls

Author: Amy Lukavics

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.

               Amy Lukavics wasn’t an author I’d read before, until the October book for our book club was chosen. On the very night I finished Nightingale, one of my friends in the club dragged me over to the shelves and found The Women in the Walls, demanding that I take it home, because it was even scarier than Nightingale. I didn’t believe her, honestly, because Nightingale was pretty damn freaky, but this book, man! This is the second book I’ve read by Lukavics, and I can promise you all that it will not be my last. In fact, I’ve already got The Ravenous in my library stack, and she also begged me to read her debut, Daughters Unto Devils. I’m an addict for this woman’s writing. I’m obsessed! This chilling and ghoulish, gory ghost story is still stuck in my head, and I just finished it this afternoon! The Women in the Walls just might be my favorite in her entire body of work, depending on how I find The Ravenous.

               Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three years old, and ever since, she’s lived in an old, Victorian mansion with her cold, distant father and her eccentric aunt, Penelope. Penelope’s daughter, Margaret, is Lucy’s cousin and best friend. When Penelope disappears one cold, rainy night, Lucy finds herself entirely alone as well as utterly devastated. Margaret begins spending time alone in the attic, claiming that she can hear her mother’s voice through the walls. Forced helplessly to watch while her only friend’s sanity unravels, Lucy slowly begins to realize that her family, as well as the house itself, is hiding ancient and deadly secrets that have led her to a dark legacy that has marked her and the rest for generations. And Lucy realizes, too late, that some secrets are better left buried…

               This book was, in a word, weird. But I’m starting to realize that that’s Lukavics’s thing: gothic, spine-tingling horror with a ton of gore and more than a healthy heaping of terror. It was a little confusing for me at first, because I could not figure out, at first, whether the story took place in the Victorian era. Once I got past though, this book sucked me in entirely. There were times when I wanted to put it down, but I couldn’t, because I just had to know what was going to happen! I was thoroughly creeped out as the book went on; I was constantly paranoid and jumpy, due to the claustrophobic feeling of the Acostas’ home. I was hypnotized by Lucy’s chilling, honest narration, and the pacing was breakneck. This book grabbed my throat and didn’t let go, even after the last terrifying page. This might be a ghost story, but it’s certainly not run-of-the-mill; it is decidedly unique. I don’t want to give away anything about the twists and turns and the monsters of the novel; I’ll keep those as a surprise for anyone reading who hasn’t read the book. The other characters, particularly Margaret, Penelope, and Lucy’s father, were fantastic foils to her, and I especially enjoyed the creepy, terrifying promise of the ending. As I said before, this book may be my favorite of the two books I’ve read by Lukavics; I’ll certainly never forget it. The bottom line: Spooky, chilling, gory and shocking, I loved The Women in the Walls! Next on deck: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/12/the-women-in-walls-by-amy-lukavics.html

Title: Stepsister

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

               Jennifer Donnelly won my heart, all the way back in high school, with her debut novel, A Northern Light, and I’ve been reading her books obsessively ever since. When I found out she had a new book coming out, I was so excited that I had to put it on hold at my local library immediately. Since then, it’s been sitting at the top of my library stack, begging to be read. I finally was able to push it up to the front after I finished There’s Something About Sweetie, and I’m still just stunned. I finished it yesterday and I’m completely in awe; this might be the best book in Donnelly’s entire body of work, and one of my favorite books of 2019.

I’ll officially start with a confession. When I was a little girl, I hated princesses and all things pink and feminine. Snow White and Cinderella in particular, because they weren’t ‘feminist’. I gravitated toward Ariel when I was younger, and then Belle, later in life. But Stepsister gives us a glimpse of what happens after the happily ever after. Even before I knew the original story by The Brothers Grimm, I couldn’t help wondering what exactly happened to Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters. Donnelly focuses on one of Ella’s stepsisters, Isabelle. After being caught trying to deceive the crown prince into thinking that she is her lovely, sweet stepsister, she and her family are soon caught up in a game of truly epic proportions. All Isabelle has ever wanted is to be beautiful, but it turns out that the price of beauty may be too high for her to pay, and mysterious forces are working to change her fate. Will Isabelle succumb to the vices that got her labeled an ‘ugly’ stepsister? Or will she find the courage to forge her own path, in spite of her mistakes?

               I have to say that I absolutely adored this book. Written with Donnelly’s signature humor, fantasy, and style, I loved it so much. I also really liked the way that she flipped the script and started the story after Isabelle tried to fool the prince. But the real star of this was Isabelle and her growth throughout the book; it was so cool to watch her transform from a mean, petty child into a young woman capable of finding her own strength in the face of adversity. This book felt like a fairy tale, with distinct echoes from the original tale: the fairy godmother, the glass slippers, magic and mayhem. But I liked the way that she used war, love, and compassion to temper Isabelle into something stronger, in the end. The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately drawn in by Isabelle’s tale; I loved the way Chance and The Fates worked throughout the book to try and deter her from her true path. This is Cinderella as you’ve never seen it before, with the spotlight on the ugly stepsisters and given feminist twists! This is the Cinderella story I’ve been waiting on my whole life. Donnelly, once again, has penned a fantastic, beautiful and honest fantasy story with strong female heroines at its heart, and I loved it so much! Is it too much to hope for a sequel about Isabelle’s sister, Tavi? The bottom line: Rich, funny, romantic and brave, I loved Stepsister! Next on deck: The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/12/stepsister-by-jennifer-donnelly-review.html