Top 10 of 2016

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Yes, this is late, but I got inspired to decide on my top 10 books of 2016, so here they are. I read a lot of awesome stuff, and some not great stuff, but these are the ones that stuck with me the most, that I couldn't stop recommending and that I rated the highest.

10. Rat Queens (Mostly Volumes 1 and 2) by Kurtis J. Weibe
Why It's Awesome: Amazing art, badass heroines, hilarious and dark

9. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Why It's Awesome: Interesting concept, fast pacing, twists I definitely didn't expect

8. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Why It's Awesome: Incredible writing, deep and complex characters, heartbreaking and honest story

7. Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Why It's Awesome: Defies second book slump, action-filled, political intrigue, ass kicking heroine

6. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Why It's Awesome: Intense mind games, shock and awe, excellent writing

5. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Why It's Awesome: Ummm...monsters vs. humans. Also, amazing characters and structure

4. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
Why It's Awesome: It's insanely funny, creative and historically based

3. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Why It's Awesome: Great characters, shockingly realistic, suspenseful and fascinating

2. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

1. The Lunar Chronicles Series by Marissa Meyer
Why It's Awesome: One of the most addicting, creative, intelligent series I have ever encountered

Book Review: Her Every Fear

Monday, January 16, 2017

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

The author of the wildly popular The Kind Worth Killing returns with an electrifying and downright Hitchcockian psychological thriller—as tantalizing as the cinema classics Rear Window and Wait Until Dark—involving a young woman caught in a vise of voyeurism, betrayal, manipulation, and murder.

The danger isn’t all in your head . . .

Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

But soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. 
Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves . . . until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment—and accidentally learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? And what about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jetlagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself . . . So how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?

Yet the danger Kate imagines isn’t nearly as twisted and deadly as what’s about to happen. When her every fear becomes very real.

And much, much closer than she thinks.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

A suspenseful thrilling ride with gripping plot turns and fascinating characters. I love the perspective of a character with anxiety disorder, which is something I can relate to personally. Kate is a complex person, written and developed very well by Swanson.

Such intrigue. In the first half I was constantly second guessing my own opinions about what was happening and who did what, which is awesome to have in a suspenseful book. Swanson's writing is engaging and stimulating. It made for a very quick and enjoyable read!

You do discover the answer to the main question fairly early on, but then the rest of the book is spent slowly giving away more information and details to build the full picture, all leading up to the dramatic and suspenseful climactic moments.

I felt that a few parts could be more developed or longer to expand upon the suspense of the situation, but truly this book was very intense and extremely hard to put down! The characters and situations felt real because of the details and the writing. That makes for an awesome mystery/suspense novel. I'll definitely be reading Swanson's other books soon.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins for sponsoring the tour for this book! Check out the rest of the tour stops here

Mini Book Review: A Monster Calls

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (based on an idea from Siobhan Dowd)


Short synopsis:
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

. . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
This is not a perfect book. It didn't hook me immediately or teach a lesson on every page. However, it is one of the more important books I've ever read. In just 200 short, simple pages, this book offers so much knowledge about life and loss and love and grief. It took my breath away and left me crying in the middle of a family party. This book broke my heart and healed it at the same time.

No, the monster isn't cancer itself. No, it's not what you expect. No, it's not totally depressing. Yes, it ends with hope. Yes, it will teach you something. Yes, everyone should read this.

Seriously, it will take you a couple hours to read and you'll gain something so profound from this book. It's remarkable.

Book Review: The Fireman

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Fireman by Joe Hill


From the publisher:
From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes The Fireman, which was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller when published in hardcover last year. The Fireman is a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

This is one of the most ingenious, inventive book concepts I have ever encountered. The near-future, terrifying world Hill creates here took my breath away. It feels so darkly realistic (the pop culture and technology references promote this sense of reality) and so incredibly haunting that I absolutely couldn't put it down. This book is huge, but it feels like nothing. I flew through every page, craving more of the story, needing to know what would happen.

As with most large books, the description offered by the publisher just scratches the surface. There is so much depth to this book. It examines human reactions to trauma, loss and pain in such stunningly brilliant ways. This is an incredibly psychological book, as well as an edge-of-your-seat suspense novel. It's brilliant.

Harper is a protagonist I would read in any story. She's incredibly strong and passionate and relatable. That helps me so much as a reader. The events of this story don't feel too realistic yet, but they also don't feel totally impossible. Having a down to earth main character helps to ground the book and pull me in.

I had two small issues with the book. First, more often than I'd like, Hill ends a chapter with some premonition of what will come. For example, something like "But she was wrong." or "She didn't realize that was the last time she'd see her." (these are not ones he uses, don't worry). I like things like this once in a while in a book, because it gives me that suspenseful knot in my stomach. However, by the end, I felt like he'd used this technique just a few too many times.
Second, the way the author represents deafness and sign language communication was a little annoying. This is probably something that will bother almost no other readers, but bothered me just because I speak sign language and have a deaf aunt. There is a deaf child character in this book (which I love!) who can communicate with very few people, because so few of the characters speak sign language. The protagonist, Harper, eventually meets this boy and asks him to teach her sign language. By the last quarter of the book or more, she's somehow basically fluent and is constantly conversing with him using complicated words and full sentences in ASL. This is not very realistic. Sign language is challenging to learn and takes time; especially considering how much is going on in the book at this time, I don't really believe that she learned so much so quickly. However, I do realize that a character needed to give the deaf child, Nick, a voice, so that he can have dialogue. Also, the author continually includes something like, "Nick said with his hands" or "She replied in sign language." This is helpful to be reminded of from time to time, but at some point it's just assumed and becomes redundant. A deaf person is still just "saying" something, even if it's with ASL rather than out loud. However, these really are tiny complaints and took very little away from the story for me.  

This book really is amazing. It's epic, in size, scope and scale. I loved it. Highly recommended.

Thank you to HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours for sponsoring this tour Check out the rest of the tour stops here