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: They Both Die in the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the EndThey Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I may never be the same again!

What would you do if you were told your life would end within the next 24-hours?

A lot of us may say, spend as much time with our loved ones as we could, right?

But what if they were inaccessible or unavailable to you? What then?

You wouldn’t want to stay inside would you?
Curled up with your books…
Okay, maybe YOU would and maybe I would but most people would want to go out there, live life, have experiences…but with who?

For Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio these are very real questions. The day, September 5th, and they both have received their Death-Cast alerts. They will both die within the next 24-hours. Due to circumstances I will not go into here, they do not have loved ones to spend their last day with.

Through the use of a cleverly imagined social app called, Last Friend, they connect with one another. So begins the last adventure of their lives.

To say this book gutted me would be an understatement.

Once I started down the path of Ruf and Mateo’s journey, I could think of nothing else. I read this, via audio and hardcover, within the course of 24-hours which seemed fitting, considering the subject matter. Upon completion, I immediately added it to my ‘favorites’ shelf, an act I do not take lightly.

The emotions that Silvera is able to draw out – He is a master.

Who would I recommend this to? Anyone who has a heart and wants to read about what it means to LIVE.
All the stars.

Original: Book #4 for Contemporary-A-Thon!!!

Why did I save this one for last?
Basically, I think I will enjoy this one the most but I also KNOW it will crush me.

Pray for me.

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My Favorite Contemporary Novels from 2018

In honor of Contemporary-A-Thon happening this week, I thought I would write about my three favorite Contemporary Novels from 2018. It is important to note that these are the best Contemporaries I read in 2018, they were not necessarily 2018 releases.

To be honest, I really only started reading Contemporary books at the end of 2017. Previous to that, I generally read horror, science-fiction, fantasy, mystery and non-fiction exclusively. I mistakenly believed that I would find Contemporary stories boring or not relatable.

The book that really changed that for me was, Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills, which I received in an OwlCrate subscription box and figured I may as well give it a go. I absolutely adored it. I loved the humor and the characters and all the drama. After that I started picking up Contemporaries whenever I could. In the beginning, I mainly went with this that were recommended from various BookTubers. Now that I am more familiar with Contemporary authors and the styles that I like, I try to keep up with all the latest releases.

Without further chat, let’s get into my top 5 Contemporaries from 2018 (in no particular order):

  1. Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson – When Monday Charles goes missing, her best friend, Claudia, seems to be the only person to take notice. Claudia knows that Monday would never leave her with a new school year looming and all that comes with that. Claudia brings up her concerns repeatedly to her parents, to adults at school, even to Monday’s family and everyone seems to brush her off. More and more confused and more and more concerned for her friend’s safety, Claudia decides to investigate the matter herself. This book is vivid, heart-wrenching and important. Jackson’s writing is so smooth and engaging. I finished this book in 2-days, absolutely loved it and have recommended it to friends since who have enjoyed it as well. This story takes place in present day Washington D.C. and focuses on missing kids who are overlooked and abandoned. It examines failures in our society in a really creative way and I feel it is quite an impactful read.
  2. Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer – This is another vivid and heartbreaking story concerning loss, grief and the art of moving forward. Following two high school students with equally complicated histories, this story examines their relationship development and their efforts to rediscover happiness after great personal tragedies. Again, Kemmerer’s writing really set this book apart. I found it fluid and easy to enjoy. I felt connected to the characters and my heart truly hurt for them at times. I loved the format of this as well, which ties in correspondence, both in letter and email form. In my opinion, that trope tends to add depth to a story, as sometimes characters (and real people) are better able to express themselves through the written word than through interpersonal communications. I feel like it allows us to delve deeper into character’s inner thoughts, dreams, desires and motivations.
  3. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – At the time that I read this, I felt like I was the last person on the globe who had not read this story. I won’t go into too much detail here, as with the movie released last year, I feel like everyone pretty much knows what this is about. A boy, corresponding with a crush, coming out to his family, friend drama, teenage angst, it was amazing and adorable and I loved it. The end.

I am currently in the middle of three YA Contemporary books for Contemporary-A-Thon Round 4. Although not all created equal, I think they all do offer up a bit of modern day social commentary which can provide a great service to those who read them. So, with that being said, what are some of your Contemporary novels that you may have read lately? What would you recommend to others or what books do you feel are important for people to read and discuss? I want to know! Leave a comment below or contact me through any of my social media links.

Cheers & Happy Reading~

Review: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

An Anonymous GirlAn Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“How do you know if you can really trust someone?” I finally ask.
“If you need to ask that question, then you probably already know the answer,” he says.

Wow! First book of 2019 on record and WOW, I loved it!

An Anonymous Girl follows two main perspectives:


Jessica:
A single-gal, late 20s, living in NYC and working as a make-up artist. Jessica lives a fairly solitary life. She has a sweet little dog and a couple of close friends but most of the time, she’s alone. She is a bit haunted by her past. Back when Jessica was a teenager, an incident occurred with her little sister and she has a lot of residual guilt stemming from that. Also, due to this incident, she can find it painful at times to be with her family and they are under extreme financial distress.


Dr. Lydia Shields:
Dr. Shields is a wealthy and successful psychiatrist and author who works at a local college teaching seminars and performing research studies, mainly on morality. Her perspective is written in second person which I did find jarring at first but eventually became used to and even enjoyed.

Jessica and Dr. Shields become acquainted when Jessica lies her way into participating in one of Dr. Shields studies. Motivated exclusively by money at first, Jessica eventually finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into Dr. Shields web.

The relationship lines are extremely blurry with Jessica and Dr. Shields. I was so confused as to who was the predator and who was the prey initially. They both seemed so enamored with one another.

To add to the complication we get Dr. Shields husband, Thomas, thrown into the mix. Again, is he good, is he bad?

Everyone in this book is just too damn smart for their own good! Manipulation FACTOR 10!!!

The story is extremely fast-paced, a lot of twists and turns, ups and downs….

Someone pass the dramamine! I loved every minute of it. There was mystery, there was investigation, there was an ultimate game of cat-and-mouse…I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! In my opinion, this could definitely be one of the top Adult Thrillers I read in 2019…if not, the top. I know it is early but I really, really enjoyed this.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for kindly providing me with a e-copy to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity to provide my feedback. This book is definitely a winner. The Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen combo is something very special! I hope they continue to write books together in future, as I would certainly love to read them!

When money and morality intersect, the result can illuminate intriguing truths about human character.

Original:

Ummmm, this is going to be so good -ARC received and I am already rearranging my life to fit it in NOW!

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The Troop by Nick Cutter: Revisited

The TroopThe Troop by Nick Cutter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

12/7/18: Continuing my reflection on books I read in 2018, The Troop is going to win my ‘Favorite Book of March’ award.

It was a tight race between this and Wizard & Glass: Book 4 of The Dark Tower. I decided on The Troop because it was my first ever Nick Cutter book and to say I was impressed would be the understatement of the year. This man can write some horror and I am down for that. Now one of my autobuy authors, this book placed him towards the top of my most loved author list. Well played, Mr. Cutter. Well played.

Original: I finished this book back on March 18th and still haven’t written a review. The main reason for this is that I am nervous about being able to adequately express how much I enjoyed it.

This is a horror novel that follows a group of boys who are taken by their Scoutmaster to a island off the coast of Eastern Canada for a weekend camping trip. When a very ill stranger stumbles into their cabin, a horror is unleashed that is beyond all expectation.

The characters were so well drawn and their relationships and inner thoughts so well expressed that in spite of being a horror novel, this can be appreciated as a true character piece. In a way, it reminded me a lot of Lord of the Flies. With this comparison I am thinking of how each character is sort of placed into a stereotypical societal role and then we see how those roles play off one another. Among the group of boys we have the tough guy, alpha male; the nerdy, know-it-all, mother of the group; the golden boy who excels at sports and gets along with everyone; a wiry, cagey little guy with the absentee father and bad temper; and finally the sociopath who’s inner thoughts are a horror story unto themselves!

I was so impressed with the quality of Cutter’s writing and have already purchased another book of his, The Deep, which I plan to read in May. One of my favorite aspects of this book was the incorporation of mixed media sources; I believe I read in the Author’s Note him citing being inspired by Stephen King’s, Carrie, for this which is also very cool. I am so happy to have found a new horror writer that is original and who I can enjoy for years to come!

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Fierce Competitors

Hey bookies!  Happy Hump Day (…and I’m already ready for the weekend!) – this has seriously just been such a busy week and I have barely gotten any reading done which makes me sad.  Since I have no books currently to review, I figured I would write a post today showing some love for fierce competitors in books.  I love competitions in books – they are actually one of my favorite plot lines.  Not sure what that says about me but I am Slytherin after all and I can admit to being a fairly competitive person. In addition to the competitions themselves, I also really enjoy the training that oftentimes leads up to those competitions.

What got me thinking about this is one of my current reads, Nyxia, by Scott Reintgen. This is a fairly recent YA sci-fi novel that I am absolutely loving! It was published in September 2017 and although I do not see too much buzz about it through social media channels, it definitely deserves some. The book is set in the near future where this huge corporation, Babel, picks ten teenagers to go to space and compete for a chance to be sent to the planet of Eden to mine a new miracle substance called, nyxia. The characters are very diverse, coming from countries all over the world, and the competition is fierce. The author, who is a teacher, writes teens very well- the dialogue and how they relate to one another is spot on.  I am about half way through and the gist at this point is training, training and more training. These kids have so much to prepare for, being sent onto alien soil, that is in fact inhabited by aliens! A lot of the training takes place in VR (virtual reality) which adds a super cool gaming element to it as well!  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a great sci-fi story with teenage protagonists!

Of course, one of my favorite books of all time featuring a fierce competition would be The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. This book is pretty much the epitome of competition narrative. When this book was released in 2008 it quite literally took the world by storm.  Everyone of every age seemed to be reading it. The story takes kids seriously and puts them into a competition where the ultimate goal is to be the last man (or woman) standing – it was gritty and ground-breaking at the time and has seriously inspired a great assortment of other similar stories in YA-literature.

One of the main reasons why I love The Hunger Games so much is Katniss Everdeen.  I absolutely adore Katniss as a protagonist due to her smarts, her strength and her ability to overcome any obstacle set before her.  Her will and drive is unsurpassed and although at times aloof, I feel her character is one of the most likable around.  After she volunteers to be a tribute for her district, in order to save her younger sister, Prim, Katniss is swept away to the Capital for training. She is definitely in the position of underdog going into this competition. Firstly, she is a girl which people tend to underestimate in competitions of strength and survival, and also because she comes from one of the poorer districts. Once the media coverage for the games begins however she is quickly able to transform herself, owing especially to a cleverly plotted ‘romance’ with her district’s male tribute, to a crowd favorite. If you haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, at least watch the movie! A very well done adaptation in my opinion.

Now, I couldn’t possibly write a post about competitions in books without mentioning Harry Potter! Although a vein of competition runs throughout the series, through everything from Quidditch games, to the House Cup, my ultimate for the series would be the Triwizard Tournament. The Goblet of Fire, the fourth book in J.K. Rowling’s epic fantasy series, has always been my favorite and I think a lot of that is due to the competition itself. In The Goblet of Fire, we get to meet wizards and witches from other schools, which is also very cool and unique to this book. Even the legendary quidditch player, Viktor Krum is in residence at Hogwarts for this one! (swoon) The Tournament itself, well, it is by no means an ordinary competition – the level of danger and mystery is unequaled and this one, I know, will always stand on a pedestal to me!

Another book with an intense and highly satisfying competition element is, Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas.  This is the first book in Sarah’s hugely popular Throne of Glass series and it is where we meet 18-year old assassin, Celaena Sardothien. Celaena is a great character and has quickly taken a place on my ‘favorites’ list.  She is snarky, bold and haunted by a violent and mysterious past. In this start to the series, you learn that Celaena has been a prisoner at a labor camp, a mine to be exact, and she gets pulled out by Prince Dorian who offers her a chance to win her freedom.  In order to do so, she must act as his champion to compete for the chance of becoming the royal assassin. She agrees to his conditions and travels to the capital to begin her training. Once there she meets all the other champions, all strong, murderous burly men – okay, she is definitely an underdog but does she let it get to her? No way! Not Celaena – this girl is fully confident in her abilities and indeed they seem to be unmatched. She begins training with Chaol Westfall, the Captain of the Guards and Prince Dorian’s long-time friend. No matter what he throws at her she never backs down.  I love this girl! The competition is brutal and it pushes all contestants to their limits. This is a must read for anyone who enjoys a hearty competition!

Finally, the last book I would like to mention in this fierce competitors post is, Warcross, by Marie Lu.  This YA sci-fi novel was released in September of 2017. I pre-ordered a copy of this one for the cover alone but it ended up being one of my favorite books of 2017! The competition in this book is the International Warcross competition – what is Warcross you ask? In this story, Warcross is a VR game that essentially has taken over the world. Everyone in this story plays or at least it seems that way. Set in a rather bleak near-future, Warcross isn’t just a game, it is a way of life.  Our main character, Emika Chen, is a brilliant computer hacker who makes her living as a bounty hunter tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. When she uses her hacking skills to actually glitch into the real Warcross games she attracts the attention of the game’s creator, Hideo Tanaka, and our main course of action begins there. The gaming elements and competitive feel of this book keep it rolling along nicely with plenty of action. The final two chapters left me with chills. They say so much about our times, real life issues and philosophical ideas that could be hotly debated.  The second book in this duology is being release on my birthday this Fall (September 18th) so how perfect is that?  I will definitely be pre-ordering this one as well!

Do you know of any books with a strong competition element to the storyline that I haven’t mentioned here? If so, let me know about them! Comment here or message me on IG – I want to know and add them to my tbr! Cheers for now and happy reading!