Super Delayed Review: The Outsider by Stephen King

The OutsiderThe Outsider by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been thinking about this book a lot lately.
Why, you may ask?

The answer is because this was my favorite book of 2018 and I never wrote an actual review for it. Full disclosure, I preordered this, started it on release day and then took my sweet ass time completing it, finishing in August of 2018. The fact that I never reviewed it haunts me.

Am I the only person this happens to?

In an effort to appease some of my guilt, let me get a few thoughts down:

I really enjoyed the topics explored in this book. Particularly, the idea that sometimes the court of public opinion is much more unforgiving and harsh than any court of law.

I also enjoyed how King showed vignettes of various flawed characters in the town where our drama unfolds. He described so well the way that the main event affected various people throughout the town like when a stone gets thrown in a pond. It created ripples spreading out and enveloping many lives. I loved this. It reminded me a bit of the way things roll out in Needful Things.

And of course, most of all, I loved my second favorite character from The Bill Hodges trilogy making an appearance!

I knew it was going to happen and I waited and waited and waited and then…

Reunited and it feels so good!!!

The supernatural elements were also fantastic in my opinion. There were classic King scenes that gave me absolute chills and left me wanting to leave the light on when I went to bed.

I would definitely recommend reading The Bill Hodges trilogy first. If you do and you don’t like it, this may not be the book for you. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m on the fence. I think for people who are huge fans of that trilogy, it makes this book extra special.

I suppose you could read this on its own, I just can’t attest to what your experience will be. For me, half the thrill was getting a character I thought I would never see again back in my life.

I know I will end up reading this again someday. I love to reread King books. Most likely if I do read it again, I will read the entire BH trilogy with this one added on the end.

Original: This officially wins my ‘Favorite Book I Read in 2018’ prize. Forever may it reign.

I do still plan to write a review for this someday. I really do. I annotated and everything but how do you review perfection? Just, how?

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Review: Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern IrelandSay Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Very impressive, Radden Keefe, very impressive.

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland is an intricate and moving piece of narrative nonfiction concerning The Troubles in the North of Ireland, particularly centered in Belfast, beginning in 1969 through the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

Bookending Radden Keefe’s extraordinary compilation of these events is the story of a mother of ten, Jean McConville, who was kidnapped from her home in late 1972, becoming one of ‘the disappeared’ during this bitter conflict. McConville had been accused of being a paid informant for the British Army and it was common knowledge at the time that the IRA was responsible for her disappearance.

This book seems remarkably researched and indeed, Radden Keefe, provides copious amounts of notes at the end of the main story detailing where his information is coming from, etc. During the course of his 4-years of research, he interviewed around 100 people, although many more refused to speak with him, as talking about The Troubles can still hold repercussions.

I was so impressed with how he was able to bring such a sensitive and emotional topic to life on the page. Weaving together an immersive account of a time fraught with violence, betrayals and loss. There are descriptive accounts of the roles of various players at the time such as Gerry Adams, Brendan Hughes, Bobby Sands and the Price Sisters, Dolours and Marian.

One of the most interesting areas explored, for me, was the hunger strikes carried out by many of the volunteers captured and imprisoned by the British. I hadn’t really heard too much about that before and found it a horrifying and fascinating avenue of resistance; handled really well within these pages.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone interested in 20th century Irish history or anyone interested in The Troubles in particular. I definitely have a couple of people in my own life that I will be purchasing this book for as a gift.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Doubleday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I truly appreciate having the opportunity to read this one. A big thank you as well to the author, Patrick Radden Keefe, for taking on this project as I feel this is a part of history that deserves to be remembered. Well done.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone. Read this book!

Slainte~

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Review: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Sal and Gabi Break the UniverseSal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sal Vidon is a magician. A young magician who has just lost his Mami, moved to a new school and is having a hard time fitting in.

Recently relocated to Miami, Sal quickly finds himself on the wrong side of the school bully, Yasmany.

To escape this run-in, Sal performs his trickiest of tricks yet. He makes a raw chicken appear in the bully’s locker! Take that!

Unfortunately, such antics have the opposite effect he is looking for when accused of being a brujo, the other kids at school become afraid of him. Of him! Sal Vidon, one of the kindest, most gentlest human beings in the world.

While pleading his case in the Principal’s office (again), Sal meets Gabi Real for the first time. Gabi swoops in like a hurricane. Smart, determined and funny, Sal thinks, this is somebody I could work with.

Over the course of the rest of the story, we get to watch Sal and Gabi’s relationship grow as they reveal more and more about themselves to each other and come to rely on one another for support. Sal is still struggling with the grief of losing his Mami and Gabi has an infant brother fighting for his life at a local NICU.

I was so impressed with this book. The writing style is fantastic, very fluid and easy to read. I LOVED the characters. Sal is one of the sweetest characters in any book EVER and Gabi is a true force to be reckoned with!

As a middle grade novel, I feel that this is an excellent introduction to the science-fiction genre. This explores the idea of multiple dimensions and travel between them. I loved that aspect of the story and thought it was really well done. There was just enough of that scifi feel without being overwhelming for readers who may be new to the genre.

My favorite aspect of this story: the humor!!
I was laughing out loud from the very beginning and never let up. The characters are so witty and fun. Very well done by Hernandez.

Another piece of this I really appreciated was the presence of such strong adult characters. I feel like often in YA or Middle Grade stories, the adults are either absent or not very nice people. All of the adults in this were really great, supportive influences in the kid’s lives and that was nice to see for a change. I think it sets a good example, not just for young readers, but for adults reading this as well.

This being said, even though this is a Middle Grade book and I am far from that, this has been one of my most enjoyable reads of the year. Keep in mind people,
there is no age limit on fun!
Everyone needs to read this. Go ahead, now…

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group and Rick Riordan Presents, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and was truly impressed with this one!

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Review: Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Daughter of Moloka'i (Moloka'i, #2)Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One moment while I put the pieces of my heart back together…

Daughter of Moloka’i is a follow-up novel to Brennert’s 2004 Book Club sensation, Moloka’i. This is a sequel I never knew I needed, until I did.
After reading it, I cannot imagine not knowing the conclusion to Rachel’s story.

This book.
I have never cried so much while reading a book.
Ever.

It never let up. That may sound like a negative, but it was cathartic, man.

This story follows, Ruth, the girl that Rachel was forced to give up for adoption just hours after she was born. We start with Ruth’s life in a Home For Girls and follow her all the way through into her adulthood. Moving from Hawaii to California with her adoptive Japanese family, Ruth, lives through some challenging times, including her family’s incarceration in a Japanese Interment Camp following the events at Pearl Harbor.

As with other disgraceful pieces of history, this type of atrocious event is not one you find often in modern fiction. I knew these interment camps existed but reading about it from Ruth’s perspective was heart-wrenching. To consider the types of injustices that were suffered upon so many innocent people, it was hard. I applaud Brennert for his research efforts which were evident.

I was asked a while back if you had to read the first book in order to read this one. While I believe that you can read this as a stand-alone, your reading experience can only be enhanced by reading Moloka’i first. Add to this the fact that Moloka’i stands strong as one of the most beautiful books I have ever read, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

If you like sweeping historical fiction that explores what it means to live and the strength of family, both blood and found, this is a duology you do not want to miss. While it broke my heart a million times, I am grateful to have read it.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Also, thank you to Alan Brennert for writing such a remarkable story. I will be thinking about Rachel and Ruth for years to come.

Original:

I wanted this ARC sooooo much!

This is the companion novel to Alan Brennert’s 2004 novel, Moloka’i which follows Rachel Kalama, a young Hawaiian girl who is separated from her family and sent to live in a leprosy colony.

This novel follows Rachel’s daughter, Ruth, who as a baby was taken from her care.

Mokoka’i is one of the most beautiful and moving historical fiction novels I have EVER read and I am absolutely beside myself that we are getting a second book in this ‘world’. If it is anything like this first one, I am in for a very special treat! Yayeeeeeeee!!!!

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Review: The Everlasting Rose (The Belles #2) by Dhonielle Clayton

The Everlasting Rose (The Belles, #2)The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5 stars rounded up**

We can’t expect one person — or even two — to take the entire burden of resisting on their shoulders. We all have to stand up and say no.


Attention:
If you have not read The Belles this review may provide little tid-bits that could possibly spoil you for some of the events in that book. Proceed with caution.

The evil Princess Sophia is set to rise to the throne. She claims her sister, Charlotte, is dead. She has sinister plans in mind for all the Belles and the future of beauty work throughout Orleans.

Camellia, the once favorite, is on the run. Forced to flee the kingdom, she now finds herself on the outside looking in. Pairing up with some old favorites from Book 1, including handsome savior, Remy, Camellia begins to set her sights on taking Sophia down. The task is made more difficult however since Sophia wants her found, making her the ‘most wanted’ person in all the land.

Discovering an underground movement of rebels also planning to revolutionize the kingdom, Camellia finds a place were she feels she can be of good use. But can she trust them?

This book picks up directly where Book 1 leaves off. There is a lot more action in the plot as the world has previously been built for you, we spend less time on those details. However, although there is more action, I still felt the pacing was a bit off for me.

There were times when I was really enjoying it, speeding along, and other times where I had to force myself to pick it up. This being said, Clayton’s writing feels lovely to me. Each word she chooses seems to add beauty to the text but at the same time, things can become very one dimensional.

I liked the scifi bits that were sprinkled through here. The way the Belles are ‘grown’ and Sophia’s plans for them seemed something more out of a dystopian novel than a fantasy. I did enjoy those elements and personally, I wish there had been a bit more of them.

That may seem odd but I couldn’t help but wish those ideas would have been expanded upon more. The origin of the Belles. We heard the mythological tale of where they came from but how much of that was true?

I did also enjoy the commentary about standing up to old-fashioned systems that need to be changed. Systems that take advantage of, literally USE, some individuals for the sheer pleasure of the better off within the society. This was an interesting examination of the concept of beauty, as well, and the negative effects of a strong societal emphasis on beauty.

The Everlasting Rose leaves off in a very interesting place. Is there going to be another book? I would definitely be interested in continuing on in this world. The events that take place at the end of this leaves a lot to be explored. I am crossing my fingers for a Book 3!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy to read and review. As always, I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to hearing other reader’s thoughts on this one!

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Review: For Better And Worst by Margot Hunt

For Better and WorseFor Better and Worse by Margot Hunt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

What would you do if someone hurt your child?

Unfortunately for Will and Natalie Clarke, they find out after their son, Charlie, makes a horrifying admission to them in this adult revenge thriller.

Alternating perspectives between Nat and Will, we follow them on a dangerous road to vengeance. Natalie, a criminal defense attorney, and Will, a civil attorney, met in law school. In fact, on their very first date they discuss how they have all the information necessary to get away with murder.

But talking about murder versus the act of murder are two extraordinarily different animals.

Full of domestic strife, Nat and Will eventually learn to work together and to reassess what is important in their marriage and their life. They are both highly unlikable characters, in my opinion. Nat is an demanding and overly organized twat while Will is an adulterer and a whiner.

I personally never felt like I really connected to the story and the end felt too rushed and too convenient. It explored some interesting topics, which is why I rounded up to three stars, but overall nothing really blew me away here, or even really kept me interested.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Harlequin – MIRA, for the advanced copy to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity to provide my honest opinion on the books I am lucky enough to read. Although this book didn’t work real well for me, I am sure there are many people out there who will enjoy it a lot!

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Review: The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

The InvitedThe Invited by Jennifer McMahon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

“Blurring the lines between the past and the present, the dead and the living”

Helen has always dreamed of a simpler life. One day, after a discussion with her husband, Nate, they decide to make that happen. Using money she has recently inherited after the death of her Father, they make a plan to move to a rural area and build a house of their very own.

Ultimately, they decide on a large plot of land in rural-Vermont with a rich history. Leaving their cushy CT-lives behind, they move into an old trailer on the new property and commence building their dream home.

Olive, a young girl, and new neighbor to Helen and Nate, is missing her Mom, who left home one night and never returned. Rumor has it that she has run off with a boyfriend but Olive doesn’t believe it. Acting out and skipping school, Olive is on a path to nowhere, if someone doesn’t step in an help her.

As with The Winter People, McMahon has blended perfectly past and present into this story. In addition to the main storyline, described above, we also learn about some characters from the past who have deep connections to Helen and Nate’s land. The way that all of these storylines are woven together and ultimately connect is seamless.

McMahon has such a haunting way of writing. There is an overriding sinister ambiance to her stories, that make them an absolute joy to read for any horror fan. She adds just the right amount of chilling atmosphere and occult references to give her stories a genuine horror feel without being gaudy or overdone.

Some of the plot elements I found were a little too easy to figure out, too simplified if you will, which is why I decided on a 4.5-rating for this as opposed to a 5-star. That is totally my opinion however and I would highly recommend this book. A ghost story with a twist.


“Some people move into a haunted house, but you, you want to build a haunted house, Helen. How fucked up is that?”

McMahon has quickly become an autobuy author for me. I feel like people are definitely going to love this one. Get your hands on it, people! Releasing next month!!!

A big thank you to the publisher, Doubleday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and are review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to reading more from McMahon in the future!

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Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

An Enchantment of RavensAn Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s official. I’m on the ‘really enjoyed this’ team!

Isobel, a human girl, is a skilled and renowned portraitist. Her number one clients are the fair folk, a race of immortal beings with sinister dispositions.

Her first royal client, the Autumn Prince, Rook, proves to be a lesson in self-restraint for our sweet, Isobel. She finds him captivating and over the weeks of their sessions, she finds herself becoming more and more enamored with him.

She sees something in Rook that she hasn’t seen in any of the fair folk she has painted before. Emotion. Raw, uncensored ‘human’ emotion. Sorrow. She paints his portrait displaying that in his eyes.

Upon seeing the portrait, Rook unexpectedly flies into a rage. How dare she paint him as such? Before Isobel realizes what is happening, he goes all Lord Grantham on her…

…and snatches her away to travel to the Autumnlands to stand trial for her insolence. However as their journey begins something seems to be amiss in the world of the fae. Soon they find themselves being hunted and even worse, falling for one another.

This was a beautifully written story of forbidden love and I was sold on it hook, line and sinker. My one issue, it wasn’t long enough. I was left wanting more! I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a little whimsy in their love stories. I am really looking forward to Rogerson’s next book, Sorcery of Thorns, releasing in June. If it is anything like this one, I know I will really enjoy it!

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Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

SadieSadie by Courtney Summers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Reaction:

Alternating between a Serial-type podcast, researched and narrated by a man named West McCray, and Sadie’s perspective, this book is a gut-punching tour de force of modern-American noir.

By the time she is in her teens, and maybe even before, Sadie has accepted the fact that she is the sole person responsible for the care and upbringing of her little sister, Mattie.

Although at times infuriating, she does love Mattie with her whole heart and has done her best to provide her with a safe and constant environment. Their mother, a junkie whose biggest concern is what man she’ll be shacking up with next, never truly provided the care the girls needed.

Sadie has never felt loved by her mother and this lack of connection displays itself through her outlook on the world. Jaded and cynical, Sadie has good reason to be, her situation only made more difficult by the severe stutter that has plagued her since early childhood. Her stutter makes it challenging for her to express her feelings and she feels people judge and underestimate her because of it.

After her mother runs off, seemingly for good, Sadie’s fate is sealed. She is left to provide for Mattie around the clock. After a fight regarding their mother’s whereabouts, Mattie runs off one night, only to be discovered later, murdered.

Sadie, rocked by her loss and overcome with anger and despair, is determined to track down Mattie’s killer and bring him to justice. Her own. She knows who killed her and won’t rest until he pays.

As sad as this story is, it is boldly realistic and I respect the fact that Summers never shied away from tough, taboo topics. I am not going to go into them here, but if you are a sensitive reader, you may want to check other reviews for trigger warnings.

I listened to the audiobook for this, while also reading the hardcover version. The audiobook is definitely worth listening to. The podcast sections were particularly well done and listening to it enhanced my reading experience.

While I did enjoy this a lot, I wasn’t as blown away by it as others seemed to be. It was really well told and the topics were well handled. I just think the hype made me expect a little more. I read a lot of gritty, dark stories, so nothing about this surprised me or felt particularly groundbreaking besides the format.

Overall, the story is depressing but important and I would recommend it to anyone, particularly the audiobook.

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Review: The Last Life of Prince Alastor by Alexandra Bracken

The Last Life of Prince Alastor (The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding #2)The Last Life of Prince Alastor by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

A beautiful conclusion to a delightful and deliciously wicked tale!

Picking up right where The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding left off, this stunning sequel takes us deep into Alastor’s world, the Downstairs. What on earth is the Downstairs, you may ask? Just think a goblin market meets The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Prosper is on a mission to save his sister, Prue, from the clutches of the Queen of the Fiends, who also happens to be Alastor’s sister, Pyra. Siblings versus siblings but whose side is Alastor really on?

This is an epic adventure through a dark and dangerous world. We learn so much more in this book about Alastor, his original deal with Prosper’s ancestor, Honor, and the world of the Fiends. We also meet new characters and get introduced to new and complex forms of magic.

Bracken’s signature descriptive style is on full display throughout this story. I was absolutely transported to this world. It was DARK and I loved every moment of it! There were a few areas in the beginning that I felt the pace dragged a little bit but by the mid-point, all traces of that were gone.

As with the first book, there is a light humor to this dark tale, and I did laugh out loud numerous times at Alastor and his musings. There are also some important lessons woven throughout this story that were nicely incorporated into this Middle Grade storyline.

*Please note, although this is technically Middle Grade, this book most definitely can be enjoyed by readers of all ages!

I loved the overall feeling of this book touching on topics such as: striving to do the ‘right thing’ regardless of obstacles or an easier way out; the value of strong friendships and familial connections; the idea that it is okay to fail at something as long as you learn and grow from it, and that traditions should not stand if the roots of them are not worth upholding.

I won’t lie. The end of this brought tears to my eyes. I have grown so attached to Prosper and Alastor over the course of these two books. Watching them both grow and evolve has been such a great thing to take part in. Although that isn’t a very eloquent way to describe it, I am at a loss for words to describe how much feeling I got out of this story. What seems like such a fun and uncomplicated story of a demon inhabiting a boy is really so much more than that.

If you haven’t yet picked up this story, I highly recommend it. They are short and quick to get through and an absolutely delightful reading experience. Two thumbs way up!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and had a wonderful time finishing this up.

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