Flashback Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

AllegedlyAllegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Hello, my lovely book friends! Today I thought I would bring you a Flashback review. I originally read and reviewed this novel back in September 2018.

Why am I bringing it up again, you may be wondering?

That’s easy. Because I love this book and still think about it to this day. Also, this novel introduced me to one of my FAVORITE YA Contemporary authors. Tiffany D. Jackson’s writing takes me places and I love every minute of it. Read my full thoughts below and I hope, if you haven’t already, you’ll seriously consider picking up some of Jackson’s work!

Allegedly was Tiffany D. Jackson’s debut novel!?

Yeah, think on that for a while. This. Is. A. Debut.

I am still reeling from this book. It’s one of those stories that sticks with you long after you turn the final page.

Following teenage protagonist, Mary Addison, after she is released from ‘Baby Jail.‘, she now resides in a group home and is trying to adapt to surroundings.

Mary Addison entered Baby Jail after being accused, and prosecuted, for killing a baby that she was helping her mother take care of.

Allegedly.

The majority of the book is stream of consciousness narrative, which generally is hit or miss for me. This is a definite hit and how it should be done.

It was incredibly moving to hear Mary’s remembrances of various parts of her childhood, her challenging relationship with her mentally ill mother, and of her alleged crime.

The rest of the book cleverly fills in the blanks with an excellent assortment of mixed media sources, such as police interviews and court transcripts.

I thought the blending of these two styles together was executed perfectly to reveal the truth at the heart of the story.

The thing I appreciated most about this book was the way it reflected upon the juvenile justice system. Shining a much needed light on the hopelessness and desperation these kids experience, not to mention the general systematic failures.

Behind every case number, inmate number and statistic, is a story. This is just one.

Mary Addison is a whip-smart, mixed race girl, who struggles with low feelings of self-worth and faces a boatload of obstacles.

Her codependency with her mother and her mental illness was so raw. I truly felt for this girl. I was drawn into her story. It was such a struggle to get through some sections, but completely worth it.

It was so well done that at times, I would be so wrapped up, I had to remind myself that Mary Addison is FICTION. Sadly, for a lot of kids out there, too many kids, this story is all too real.

I did listen to the audiobook for this and DAMN, Bahni Turpin can make you feel all the feels. She is so talented and truly brought the story to life for me. I was listening to Mary as far as I was concerned. I could not recommend this audiobook highly enough.

Loved it, loved it, loved it!

Tiffany D. Jackson is one hell of a writer!

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Review: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson

The Apocalypse of Elena MendozaThe Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elena Mendoza is a miracle, literally.

The product of parthenogenesis, a virgin birth, Elena’ life has been quirky indeed.

As you can imagine, this anomaly made the headlines, making Elena low-key famous.

She does her best to just live her life, ignoring the chatter around her, but it hasn’t always been easy.

Elena has never really fit in and although she has some close relationships, she’s far from one of the popular kids.

When the girl she has been crushing on, Freddie, comes close to losing her life, right in front of Elena’s eyes, she discovers she has the ability to heal. A power she never realized she had.

However, the power comes at a price.

Every time she heals, a random number of people disappear, sucked up by a bright light; raptured, if you will.

Through Elena’s own musings, as well as her conversations with certain inanimate objects, we begin to slowly understand the reality of her situation.

Somehow, she needs to save the world. The future of humanity rests on her young shoulders, or does it?

This was so good. Wildly creative and although the content may seem over the top, there are some incredibly important topics to be found within these pages.

Examining complex relationships, as well as the power of free will and identity, this will definitely stick with me.

There’s no doubt, if you are looking for a queer story to make you think about life and the choices we make, Shaun David Hutchinson is a good way to go.

This was completely unique and stole my heart in an oddly compelling way!

I’m so happy my random number generator selected this book for me to read off of my enormous TBR list.

Who knows how long it would have actually taken me to get to it otherwise!? I really enjoyed my time reading this.

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Review: Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

HorrorstörHorrorstör by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

I was so excited when my friend, Shannon, and I made a spur of the moment decision to buddy read Horrorstor!!!

I have owned a copy of this book since it was first released and have heard such great things. I would often stop, pick it up, flip through the pages and considering reading it, but for some reason never did.

I’m not sure why. The whole package of the book is unique and fun. Made to resemble an IKEA catalogue, each chapter begins with a picture of a specific furniture piece and its description.

It’s a really special book in regards to that creativity and for that reason alone, I would recommend people give it a shot to see what it’s all about.

Moving on from the engaging format, I was so pleased with the actual story!

Amy has been working at Orsk for a while, but she seems to be stuck in a rut. It’s so monotonous and honestly, it’s sucking the life out of her.

Additionally, her manager, Basil, is always after her. What’s his problem anyway? He’s such a stiff. She just needs him to let her do her thing, her way.

When mysterious things begin happening around the store, including damage to some of the product, the staff has reason to suspect someone is getting in after hours.

Basil approaches Amy and another employee, Ruth Ann, and asks them to work a dusk-til-dawn shift with him to hopefully catch the vandal.

Important people from corporate are arriving in the morning and he wants to have a handle on the issue prior to their arrival.

The two women agree and return to the store at the designated hour. Their plan, to patrol the showroom floor every hour to see if they can find anything.

On their first walk through the eerie, fun house scary showroom, with designated areas per room type, Amy and Ruth Ann stumble upon an unexpected surprise in Bedrooms.

Two fellow employees, Trinity and Matt, have snuck into the store to shoot footage for their prospective ghost hunting show.

They know of the mysterious happenings at Orsk and think supernatural forces may be at work!

The rest of the narrative follows these five employees, locked in the deserted super store for the night, as they discover the true root of the problem. And it is a serious problem.

I loved the set up for this. The brain-draining retail set-up was spectacular. I know they are not all that way, I have worked in multiple retail locations myself, but some are. The corporate speak and repetitive nature of some of the tasks, it rang real true.

I thought all of the characters were so well done. Even though they seem one dimensional to start, over the course of their time together, you learn much more about each of them. I personally began to feel quite attached.

The humor was also spot on for me. The satirical nature of the entire story, plus the witty banter between the characters, made this an absolute delight from beginning to end.

Added on to all of the great things mentioned above, the horror elements were a ton of fun. There were some yucky moments, cringe-worthy moments and creepy moments. It really offered a lot. I felt like the conclusion was a little rushed, but other than that one small thing, fantastic!

This is definitely Horror Comedy though, so if that is not your jam, you may want to steer clear.

This was my first Hendrix book and it seems like a solid place to start. I am glad to have buddy read this because it was fun to have someone to discuss it with while actually reading. I think it added to the overall experience.

I certainly will be picking up more books by Grady Hendrix in the future!

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Review: The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #3) by Michelle Hodkin

The Retribution of Mara DyerThe Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

A twisted, messy, horrifying, beautiful story! It’s done.

I’m astounded by how much I enjoyed this trilogy. I wasn’t expecting it. The feelings!

Following along with Mara as she discovers who she is, and truly what she is, is an absolute roller coaster of emotions.

In this installment, the true objective of the rehab center is revealed, as well as the players behind it.

Mara, as well as the other kids, have been subject to immoral scientific experiments since their entrance into rehab and it has left them shaken, haunted and disoriented.

Together Mara, Jamie and Stella are able to fight their way out, with the unexpected help of an unlikely source, but Noah is nowhere to be found.

Now on the road, they head to New York City in search of answers.

They are forced to use their powers along the way, like never before, in order to dodge authorities and travel unhindered.

I really enjoyed the bond between the three as they learned to trust and rely on one another. Particularly the relationship between Mara and Jamie. I just cannot imagine them without one another.

One glaringly obvious missing piece in this narrative is Noah. I missed having him there. The interactions between him and Mara.

However, Hodkin pulls through for her fans in the end and I am happy with the conclusion to this story.

There were some aspects I found to be slightly confusing.

Mostly the historic aspects from the perspective of Mara’s grandmother. With this being said, I do feel I understood the gist of it enough to be able to apply the ramifications to the modern-day storyline.

I liked the idea of there being a genetic manifestation to the abilities this set of kids display.

I thought that was very interesting. Another one of my favorite aspects to this installment, was Mara, Jamie and Stella investigating the mystery behind Dr. Kells.

I am so happy that I decided to pick this series up.

I think a lot of times all the focus is on the new releases, and they are so important, but there are some real gems to be found in the backlist as well.

Don’t ignore your backlist!

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People Like Us by Dana Mele

People Like Us (People Like Us, #1)People Like Us by Dana Mele
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

A deeply twisted private school mystery.

🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

So, yeah. Basically my aesthetic.

At Bates Academy, Kay Donovan and her glitzy group of girlfriends, are the most popular girls in school.

They basically decide the social ranking of the rest of their peers and seem to get away with everything, including perpetually bad behavior.

When they stumble across the dead body of one of their classmates, however, they do seem to finally be treading in deep waters.

But they didn’t do anything. She was already dead by the time they came along. Why does it seem like they are under suspicion?

Maybe the dead girl wasn’t innocent herself. Kay ends up receiving a computer-coded scavenger hunt from her, after she was already dead, that causes Kay to look a little deeper at those around her.

Before they know it, their tight little group is beginning to implode.

I thought this book was fun. It followed a fairly typical YA Thriller format and that’s okay.

If you are looking for a quick fun read, with lots of twists, turns and unlikable characters, you should definitely check this one out!

Yeah, you’ve got nothing but time. Backlist bump!!!

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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 Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

The Serpent King is a YA-contemporary novel that takes place in rural Tennessee and is told from the perspective of three main characters: Dill, Lydia and Travis. Our main characters are seniors in high school and the story mostly follows their daily struggles of breaking out of the molds that parents, and others, have set for them, as well as finding out who they are and who they want to become.

This story is incredibly moving and deals with some heavy topics but all told from an overwhelmingly sensitive voice. I was blown away by the quality and style of Jeff Zentner’s writing – this book made me feel so much – it awoke my soul and brought forth every emotion you could possibly imagine. Not only did I laugh out loud but I also cried, real tears, just flowing forth like my heart were breaking – now that is good writing!

I would recommend this story to anyone. I am not a big contemporary reader so was really surprised by how much this book sucked me in. Finally, it is important to note that I listened to the audiobook of this which had three different narrators for the three main characters – it was a fantastically seamless production!

Review: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Happy Saturday bookish loves!  Today I finally feel ready to discuss NOS4A2. I finished NOS4A2, by Joe Hill, almost a week ago and still do not think that I have a truly cogent way of explaining my love for this book. However, one of my 2018 book goals is to review every book I finish so here we go….
This book was so unique, so dark and amusing, so full of references to King works, so replete with character and world development, I find myself still pondering it days after completion. Halfway through I ordered a copy for my sister and had it sent to her because I just needed to share this with someone. This book tests the line between the world around us and the world we create with our minds.
Our villain, Charles Talent Manx (the III, I believe), is a vampire of sorts and so devilishly charming that he almost fooled me into developing a soft spot for him. He was all kinds of evil and powerful and wonderfully creative.
Next comes Victoria McQueen – Vic is our heroine. She was powerful in her own right – using her powers to ‘find’ things that had been lost – losing a little of herself every time she used her gift. The loving, yet apprehensive mother of Bruce Wayne Carmody, Vic’s strength (both mental and physical) are pushed to the limits numerous times during the story, all on account of Manx. Unfortunately, her little Wayne feels the pull of Christmasland and we watch his soul go on one hell of a dangerous ride!
Then we have our minor characters, who were so well drawn and complete – my favorites, Maggie & Lou, were so important to this story and in my opinion, two of the most likable people in the action. Both misfits, they were real, engaging, loyal and brave.
This book is long, really long, but worth the ride if you put in the time. I may read it again next year around Christmas – making it a sort of tradition. After all, once you go to Christmasland, you never want to leave!

Review: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill is another one of my 5-star reads from this year.  I finished up with this one in September and was once again blown away by Hill’s talent. I had previously read his novel, Horns, which has since been turned into a movie starring Harry Potter…..I mean, Daniel Radcliffe. For those of you who have never heard of Hill, he is the richly talented son of my favorite writer, Stephen King. Is writing genetic? Possibly.

In this one, we meet Judas Coyne, an aging rock star who has a penchant for younger women and collecting obscure, macabre items. This odd hobby (the item collection, not the younger women) brings him to buy a dead man’s suit and thus it begins – a gritty ghost story that grabs you from the very first chapter. I could not put this one down once I started. Joe Hill is such a fantastic writer – he writes with such persuasion and conviction that you find yourself believing what the narrator is telling you, no matter how dark. You can dive right into this one and never look up if you allow yourself. This was so creative and fast-paced and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute!

As a side note, I am currently reading Hill’s novel, NOS4A2 (which is a wonderful Christmas time read), and it is proving to be my favorite of his works thus far!!  If you like dark, you have to read Hill!