Review: A List of Cages by Robin Roe

Publication Date: January 10, 2017

5-fabulous stars!! It is finally time for me to struggle through writing a review for this book. I just don’t know how to adequately express the way I feel about this one. It was quite honestly one of, if not the most, moving story I have ever read in my life. It was just so amazingly well done and I feel like it should be required reading for young people.

The story follows the point of view of two characters, Julian and Adam. Julian, the younger of the two, lost his parents to an accident when he was just a child and due to lack of immediate family is forced into ‘the system’. Adam’s Mother, a social worker, takes Julian in as a foster and thus, the boys essentially become brothers for a time. Once a distant relation (by marriage) of Julian’s comes forward and claims him, Adam and Julian have no further contact until Julian enters high school. This is where our story picks up.

These characters are so well drawn. Julian, so sweet, innocent and trapped in his loss. Adam, fun, popular and extremely caring. I love the relationship of the two boys and how it evolves over the course of the book. I tabbed a lot of sections, passages, sentences during the course of reading this as there are a lot of very important ideas in here. I feel like Robin Roe’s real life experiences working with ‘at-risk’ teens really helped add to the reality of this novel. This will be a hard one to forget. It was heartbreaking. I was shattered after reading it but also filled with love and hope. I ended up feeling a strong connection to these boys, just such good eggs, the both of them.

This book teaches a message of kindness and empathy. Being kind is free – we should all try it – you never know what someone else is going through; what someone’s reality is. I will be recommending this book to everyone in the world from this day forward but definitely do not expect a light fluffy read here. There are definitely moments of humor, Adam’s character in particular is very funny, but this book deals with very serious issues of abuse, both mental and physical, death, grief, loss, self worth and self preservation. Absolutely brilliant! 

Review: Wizard and Glass by Stephen King

Publication Date: November 4, 1997

5 of the most magical stars in the universe!!! Wizard and Glass. Wow, what do I even say about this book? This book is immense, epic and a beautifully told story of love and loss. If you are reading this, you most likely already know that Wizard and Glass is the 4th installment in Stephen King’s epic fantasy series, The Dark Tower. I have been reading this series back-to-back since last Fall and I was most concerned about this one.  At 700 pages it is not a small feat and I had heard that it was very different from the other books in the series.  It certainly was that but in a way that enhanced the storytelling of the series. It is mind-boggling to me that this entire world is the creation of one man’s brain!

In this book we hear an incredible tale of the early life of Roland of Gilead, our main protagonist throughout this series. We learn all about his life shortly after becoming a Gunslinger around age 14 or 15 (I can’t recall exactly what age he is stated to be at this point). He has been sent from home to travel to the Barony of Mejis with two of his closest companions and fellow future Gunslingers, Alain and Cuthbert, in order to keep him safe from the sinister Marten Broadcloak. The boys settle in Hambry under the guise of being ‘counters’ for the Affiliation; there they encounter a ruthless and shady cast of characters such as the Big Coffin Hunters, Mayor Thorin and my favorite witch, Rhea of Coos.

The main storyline involves Roland meeting his true love, Susan Delgado, and their budding and blossoming relationship. The intricacy within this story, within this world, is absolutely stunning. King is the master of character development and this story is no different. While reading this book I truly felt like I could see everything playing out before me like a movie. This book is completely different than the other books in the series, yes, but what a tale. I am absolutely in love with it. Spellbinding from beginning to end, in my opinion, and I feel more attached to Roland now than ever before. Excited to move on with my journey to the Tower!  In fact, I have already begun the 5th book of the series, The Wolves of Calla.

Review: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Publication Date: July 14, 2016

3-Stars:  I will get this out of the way up front – I listened to the Audio version of this book. The narrator…let’s just say, her style wasn’t my favorite as far as narration goes. This being said, I’m not sure how much that ended up affecting my ultimate rating for the book but I wanted to be sure to point it out.

I went into this book completely blind, I had heard a little buzz about it through social media, but really had no idea what it was about. I was completely surprised by the fact that the action kicked off so quickly. There were quite a few twists and turns, places where I thought I had it figured out, moments of revelation, etc., but overall it was pretty bland for me. It was a good book but I really had no feelings for it after it was over. It was a thing that happened, it kept me occupied, told me a little tale and then…that’s it. I did not enjoy any of the characters at all – I actually believe one of my mid-book status update comments was, ‘every character in this book is an asshole’ – so yeah. Bottom line, it was good, it didn’t blow me away but it was good. Average.

In other, much more exciting news, I pre-ordered my copy of Stephen King’s newest novel, The Outsider, which will be released on May 22nd!!!  Raise the flag, I am so excited to add a new, gorgeous King hardback to my bookshelves.  Check out the cover below – very creepy and cool!

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Publication Date: May 13, 2014

Star Rating: 3.5-stars!

We Were Liars is a book that is going to be hard for me to review. I actually finished it a couple of weeks ago and have been trying to come up with something of substance to write about it. I think part of the difficulty for me lays in the fact that there was a disturbing situation in this book that really, really, really made me uncomfortable – basically bringing one of my worst nightmares out of my mind and onto the page; because of this, I felt like my mind kind of turned off to this book after that. I was enjoying it a lot but that one aspect of the story was really very hard for me to move past.

The bulk of the action takes place mostly on a private island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I live on Nantucket, so literally, this story hit very close to home for me. A large number of the population of my community consists of summer families very similar to the one in this story. I felt like I knew these people, like I had heard many of the gossips and complaints and recriminations that flow throughout the family drama. The book itself, is actually hard to classify in my opinion. Is it a Thriller, is it a YA Contemporary? It really had aspects of both but I am going to call it a YA Contemporary. There was one really big plot twist that I definitely did not see coming even though I thought I had it all figured out. However, even with this taken into account it isn’t really ‘thrillery’ enough to earn that classification in my opinion.

I listened to the audiobook and one of the main reasons that I did was because Ariadne Meyers was the narrator. She also voiced Lydia in The Serpent King and I absolutely adore her work. She is so fabulous. She definitely did not disappoint with this one. In fact, the end was bloody brilliant. Overall, I enjoyed this book quite a bit but I definitely feel like it is a book that is only impactful your first time through.

Review: The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu

Publication Date: February 13, 2018

Star Rating: 2-lackluster stars

Phew. Well, I made it through. I am glad this was so short, otherwise I would have had to DNF it and I absolutely detest having to do that. I really struggled with this one. It was so all over the place for me, just not my style at all. It was nothing like what I expected and I’m not sure what exactly the author was trying to get across. I thought, going in, that I did but my thoughts of a modern, girl version of Lord of Flies was completely off base.

The writing itself was smart but lackluster, ultimately leaving me so that I just did not care one hoot about any of the characters. I would have preferred a more linear narrative, possibly with vignettes of how that shared experience affected the girls later lives, to this disjointed, completely chaotic story. I know many readers will enjoy this, however, it just was not the book for me.  Disappointing.

Review: Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

Publication Date: April 5, 2018

5-stars!!!! – A tour de force of brutality & ambition!!!

I was so excited when I discovered that the Hogarth Shakespeare series was adding Macbeth to its line up. It is my favorite of all the Shakespeare tragedies and I was looking forward to seeing how Nesbo would give it a modern twist. I have never read any of his books before but had heard very good things. He certainly did not disappoint – this soared above even my highest expectations.

The action takes place in a drug and crime-ridden city in the 1970s. Drug dealers and local crime lords hold as much power and sway over the people as do the police and politicians. The whole atmosphere is dark and visceral; you can smell and feel the dankness and despair. You are instantly dropped into this world and admittedly, at first, I was a bit confused as you are right in the action and all the players are already there. However, it didn’t take long (about 15% on an e-reader) before the tale truly starts to take shape and for me, I was so engrossed, I couldn’t put it down.

The characters are true to their roots as Shakespeare created them and I felt that the main premise of the action was extremely well planned and executed. The modern versions of the plot points were richly imagined and expertly woven into the final narrative. Macbeth, so strong and weak at the same time, so influenced by his Lady, easily steered, brutal yet kind, haunted and driven. Ughhh, it was soooo good! No one in this town was safe once Macbeth and Lady were set on their ultimate drive to power – aspirations and political intrigue, love for one another, plagued by their pasts – their relationship was just so spot on, there is no better way for me to describe it.

Slytherin book recommendation all day long – I absolutely adored this book! Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review. I cannot wait for this one to hit the streets -everyone needs a dose of this! Shakespeare himself would be proud!

Review: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Publication Date: December 5, 2017

5-stars!!! Luxury. Affordable. Industry standard. (inside joke, read the book!)

I received Foolish Hearts in one of my OwlCrate subscription boxes and I am so glad that they brought this book to us. This is a YA-Contemporary, which isn’t a genre that I would generally chose for myself, I tend to gravitate more towards YA-Fantasy or Science-Fiction. After completing Foolish Hearts however, I am all about the YA Contemporary and have been scooping them up left and right!
I was blown away by how smart, witty and downright hilarious the dialogue in this book was. The banter back and forth between the characters had me literally laughing out loud on multiple occasions. Our MC, Claudia, was such a good, sweet girl – not in a naive or annoying way but in a really good, goofy and endearing way. I found her to be absolutely relatable and loved her story arc of finding herself, releasing herself to be free to give and receive love….arghhhh, it was so good.
The relationships between so many of the side characters were amazing as well – the relationship between Gideon and his best friend – I loved that one – definitely a great male/male friendship; it played out so well. Also the relationship between Paige and Iris and eventually Claudia and Iris. The added bonus of having the story center around a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was just icing on the delicious YA-Contemporary cake. I would give this book ten stars if I could and will probably read it again someday. In short, I loved it!

Review: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Publication Date: August 20, 2013

4.5 STARS!!!

Okay, it’s best if I get this out of the way immediately: this book is a total mindf*ck. There, I said it. I know that may be an uncomfortable proclamation for some but there it is. This is the best way for me to describe this book.
It is really good…like, really, really good. So creative, dark, gripping, it wraps you up in this world of Cordova and has you second guessing even yourself. Who is Cordova? In this story Cordova is an uber-famous film director; mysterious and untouchable – he is the shadow that looms over this entire book.

Our protagonist, Scott McGrath, is a fallen from grace investigative reporter who becomes fixated on investigating the apparent suicide of Cordova’s daughter Ashley. Through the course of his investigation he becomes involved with two young people, Nora and Hopper, who aide him in his investigation. The story incorporates mixed media sources such as past magazine interviews and articles, online forum posts, etc., which makes you feel as though you too are part of the investigation.

The entire book blends the line between fantasy and reality and the idea of what your mind can come to accept as truth even without definitive proof. I don’t even know if I am making sense right now but this book will do that to you!

I listened to this book on audio and the narrator was absolutely perfect. His voice was Scott McGrath. The dialogue was so smart, I laughed out loud, I exclaimed curses when really scary stuff went down – I must have looked mad driving my car down the highway. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a dark story steeped in occultism and mystery. My rating of 4.5 versus 5-stars is because the ending didn’t quite work for me. I don’t want to say I was disappointed with the ending, I just wish certain elements of it had gone differently. Overall, this is a fabulous examination of the human psyche and a sick, spooky read!


Review: Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan

Publication Date: February 9, 2016

Rating: 3.5-stars:  This was a good book. A fun, fast-paced, easy read. I made the mistake of reading some Goodreads reviews before I started it, which I generally try to avoid, and kept waiting for the terribleness to set it. It didn’t for me. I had a great time reading this. Granted I didn’t go into it expecting Pulitzer Prize for Fiction quality so maybe that helped.

This story is a retelling of the fairy tale of Rapunzel. In this very dark world, where an eclipse of the sun has darkened the land for almost two decades, we meet Luna, now 17-years old, having lived in the tower since the day of her birth. She is sweet and innocent and obviously dreams of the world outside her tower walls. There is a boy, Fowler, who ends up at the tower and yes, there is instalove on her part. In some reviews people were quite negative on the instalove but I say in this case, it actually kind of works. I mean, the girl has legit been locked in a tower her entire life with only the two adults who have raised her for human interaction. I do not find it surprising or cliche that when a young man her age finally comes into her life she would be instantly attached to him. I mean, when I was 17, I could see a guy for 2-minutes and be smitten and I certainly didn’t grow up in a tower.

The action really picks up when Luna and Fowler are forced to leave the tower and try to make their way to the island of Allu where they anticipate safety. This world is really scary, dangerous and literally dark so they come to rely on one another and over their long journey do grow to love one another. The book left off on an amazing cliff hanger and I am excited to start the second book.

So, in conclusion (hehehe), was this book perfect? No. Were there parts I rolled my eyes at slightly or noted that the author had used the same exact phrasing in previous paragraphs? Sure. Did I have a heck of good time reading it? Yes.
If you are looking for a dark fairy tale retelling that you can read quickly and just forget about life for a while, I would definitely recommend this book!

Currently Reading Status Update

TGIF Bookworld!  I haven’t written anything in a while – I guess I have been feeling uninspired this week.  I just wanted to give a general status update today for my current reads.  Right now I am currently reading 7 books.

First up is my audiobook, Night Film by Marisha Pessl.  I first learned about this book through booktube.  I recently went on a long (8 hours round-trip) road trip and thought it would be the perfect book for that and it totally was! The book in its entirety though is over 20-hours so I am still working on it. The story is very dark, very creepy and involves some mixed media, such as emails, newspaper & magazine articles as well as online forum posts. The protagonist is an fallen-from-grace investigative reporter who starts looking into the apparent suicide of the daughter of an uber-famous and mysterious film director. I can’t even begin to describe more of the book than this. It is so brilliant, laugh out loud funny at times, jump out of your seat in fright at times, never-ending mind f*ck. I am absolutely loving it!

Next up, I have two ARCs I am currently working on.  MacBeth by Jo Nesbo is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series and is a modern day retelling of…you guessed it, MacBeth. This version of the story takes place in the 1970s in a city in Norway teeming with crime, drugs and corruption. As expected, ambition is the theme of day with this one. So far so good, it is very long but very well done. I strongly anticipate between a 4 and 5 star review with this one. This book is set to be released on April 5, 2018.

The next ARC, I just started last night so am not too far into yet, is The Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody. Right now it looks like this is going to be the first book in a YA-series set in the fictional city of New Reynes, dubbed the City of Sin of apparently very similar to our Las Vegas. This story follows our main character, Enne Salta, as she travels to the city of New Reynes to investigate the disappearance of her mother, Lourdes. She has very little to go on and pairs up with a young, well-known and well-connected card dealer and gang member, Levi Glaiyser. The expected publication date for this one is April 10th by Harlequin Teen.

My current non-fiction read is (STILL) Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I have been reading this book since last Fall.  It is a big one and a dense one and there are days I feel like I will seriously never finish it! When I am reading it, I am enjoying it and learning soooo much but at over 900-pages it is no surprise that this has turned into a 6-month labor of love!

Next, I am continuing on with two series.  The first of which is The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I am on the 4th book now, Wizard & Glass which is significantly different from the first 3 of the series. In this book, we are getting mostly backstory on Roland of Gilead, which is fantastic as he is such a mysterious and layered character! I love learning more about his earlier life in another place and another when. I have chosen to read this entire series back-to-back as it is so detailed, I am afraid I would forget great swathes of information if I were to take time off in between the books. At this point, I am ball-parking having this series completed by June 1st.

The next series continuation for me is the third book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. This is a YA-high fantasy series following the kickass female protagonist, Celaena Sardothian. This book, Heir of Fire, is proving to be just as exciting as the first 2, dropping us off pretty much right where book 2 left off. Currently, there are 6-books, plus a prequel in this series, with a 7th book due to be released this Fall! I am hoping to complete this series prior to the new book release so I can read it as soon as it comes out. So far with this series, I have been taking a 1-book break in between the books before moving on which seems to be working for me.

The last of my current reads is, Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. This is a fantastic YA-contemporary that I received in my OwlCrate book box a couple of months ago. This story follows high schooler, Claudia, as she navigates the ups and downs of her senior year in high school. Central to this plot is a high school production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream! The dialogue is so witty and frankly, downright hilarious, I am absolutely loving this book!

In other news, I received my first bullet journal today so I am looking forward to jumping on that train!  I have been seeing them all over booktube and finally couldn’t resist. I am planning to use it to track my monthly reading goals, hauls, wrap-ups, etc.

Have you read any of the books that I am currently reading?  Happy to hear your thoughts on any of them in the comments below!