Review: Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3)Obsidio by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am over the moon in love with The Illuminae Files. I certainly consider it to be ground-breaking and if this doesn’t gain Classic status, the world will suffer for it.

I’m sure AIDAN would see to that.

As Obsidio is the third and concluding book in the series, some mild spoilers are ahead. I will not be hiding them.

You have been warned.

After Hanna, Nik, Kady and Ezra, survive the attacks on the Heimdall Station, they find themselves crammed aboard the Mao, with 2,000 other desperate refugees.

The only choice for those aboard the Mao is to return to Kerenza, the site of the initial BeiTech assault. They’re not really sure what they’ll find there, but it has to be better than drifting through deep space, eventually running out of supplies, including oxygen.

On Kerenza, Kady’s cousin, Asha, has survived and joined the underground resistance, fighting against BeiTech’s continued presence on the small mining planet.

When her ex-boyfriend shows up, among the ranks of the enemy, she cannot believe her eyes, but perhaps she can use their prior relationship to their advantage.

The narrative alternates back and forth between the situation on the Mao and that on the ground of Kerenza. There is a lot of drama and a whole lot of action!

I loved how this brought everything together, including the style of the Files themselves. It all becomes clear and frankly, is just brilliant storytelling.

It’s hard not to fall in love with these characters, as you are with them through every step of the battle. I became so connected to each and every one of them.

There were moments when I had to step away. The ending got pretty hairy. I knew Kaufman and Kristoff weren’t looking to spare my feelings, so absolutely anything could happen to any one of our heroes at any time! It was intense, to say the least!

I’m so happy that I finally saw this series through to the end. I even read Gemina twice, which turned out to be my favorite book in the series upon reread.

Of course I am a little sad that it is done, but feel like it is a story I could revisit. For now, Hanna, Nik, Ezra, Kady, Ella and AIDAN, will live on in my heart; strong, funny, fearless and smart, just as they’re meant to be.

I highly recommend this series to everyone in the Universe!!!

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Review: Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan

Good NeighborsGood Neighbors by Sarah Langan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Welcome to Maple Street. Located in a Long Island suburb, it’s a setting we all know.

That picturesque cookie-cutter neighborhood where all the kids play together and everyone knows each other’s business; bad and good.

The Wilde family is new to Maple Street and it’s clear from the start that they don’t necessarily fit in.

Arlo, the man of the house, is a has-been rocker who, gasp, has tattoos.

His wife, Gertie, is an ex-beauty queen who dresses trashy and speaks with an accent. As sweet as she is, anyone can see she’s a hot mess.

Then there’s the kids. Julie, the preteen daughter, stole a pack a cigarettes when they first got to the neighborhood and showed the other children how to smoke. The little boy, Larry, carries around a doll!

When the Queen Bee of Maple Street, Rhea Schroeder, seems to take Gertie under her wing, the rest of the neighbors chill a bit. If the Wildes are good enough for Rhea, they must be good enough for them.

Seemingly out of nowhere, however, Rhea begins to snub Gertie and her family.

The main confrontation occurs at a block party and during this very party, a sinkhole opens up in the neighborhood park, sending residents scurrying to the safety of their respective homes.

It’s utter chaos.

The tension continues to mount on the street in the days that follow. Rhea’s daughter, Shelly, who has been told not to talk to Julie Wilde any longer, defies her Mom and confesses a dark secret to Julie.

This dramatic conversation ends with Shelly falling into the sinkhole. Lost to its dark depths.

Some crazy accusations are thrown around after this event and the target is, unsurprisingly, Arlo Wilde. Thus creating a boogie man to focus their anger and fear at. The infamous other.

Reading Good Neighbors was like peeling back the layers of a very quirky onion. I was so impressed with this!

The Wilde family, by moving to Maple Street, were hoping to provide potential upward mobility for their children. They had the best of intentions and although not perfect, were good people doing their best.

The reaction of the neighbors to them was absolutely fascinating and in a depressing way, 100% realistic.

Langan incorporated a lot of mixed media aspects into the telling of this story, which I loved! I always think that is a fun way to add energy into a storyline.

It is set in the not too distant future and the sinkhole, as well as a few other details, were clearly caused by climate issues. I liked how that was a backdrop, but none of the characters acknowledged it. So, like I said, real.

I also really enjoyed the group of kids in the neighborhood, coined the rat pack.

Sure, they weren’t perfect. There were some real assholes in the bunch, but when things were at rock bottom, they were the ones that banded together, showed some courage and solved a problem. All while their parents hid behind their closed doors and gossip channels.

Additionally, I really enjoyed the unconventional narrative style.

It felt like a season of Desperate Housewives if it were directed by Wes Anderson; and yes, at least one of the Wilson brothers would have been in it.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I really enjoyed my time with it.

It’s actually one of those books, that the longer I sit with it, the more I appreciate it.

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Review: Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff; Illustrations by Marie Lu

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)Gemina by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

THE BEST MOST WONDERFUL REREAD!!!
πŸ’™πŸ–€πŸ’™πŸ–€πŸ’™πŸ–€πŸ’™πŸ–€πŸ’™

I originally read Gemina, the second installment of The Illuminae Files, in December of 2019. I listened to the audiobook and I had a hard time connecting with it. I really felt like I didn’t retain any of the story.

I decided to pick it back up and give it another shot, as for me, I genuinely believed it was a choice of formatting issue and not a story issue.

Oh, how right I was. I loved my time reading my hard copy and was surprised to learn there was artwork by Marie Lu incorporated into the story, one of my favorite YA authors!

This time through I was connected right away. I could not put it down and ended up finishing it very quickly.

Gemina takes place on the Jump Station Heimdall and follows two new characters, Hanna, the station captain’s daughter, known to be a spoiled princess, and Nik, the resident bad boy with a heart of gold.

After the Kerenza invasion, you may recall from Illuminae, that Kady Grant was heading to the Heimdall Station; unfortunately, she’s not the only one.

When a BeiTech strike team boards the Heimdall, it is up to Hanna and Nik to work together to try to salvage all they can and hopefully expose BeiTech and their misdeeds along the way.

This gets seriously intense. As with Illuminae the unconventional structure makes this a unique reading experience. One that is memorable and a ton of fun!

I am hoping to continue on with Obsidio very, very soon and add this to my completed series list!

I cannot recommend this series highly enough. I am so happy that I went ahead and reread this as opposed to skipping straight to Obsidio. Hanna and Nik are now two of my favorite characters ever and I would have missed that had I not reread this.

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Review: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Illuminae by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I.
{ERROR}

AM.
IN.
{ERROR}

LOVE.

I would give a million stars to this if I could. Seriously, all the stars!!

I sort of feel like I was the last person in the universe to experience Illuminae. I call it an experience because, oh my stars, was it ever.

I wasn’t sure going in whether or not I would be able to handle the format. Scanning through the book before starting it seemed so chaotic. How would I ever keep track of it all?

In the end, it really worked for me! Something as simple as having a black page with white font makes the reading experience so unique. I was urged by quite a few folks to check out the audiobook but I didn’t want to miss out on any of the visuals.

Moving forward, I may switch back and forth between audio and hard copy for Gemina; see how I like it.

I won’t go into the plot here, as I feel at this point, we all pretty much get what this is about. One thing I will say though, is how impressed I was with the characters; including Aidan. They were so well done.

I felt extremely attached to Kady and Ezra but also, even the side characters, were well-fleshed out. At its heart, this story is an action-packed tale of love and loss. It tugged at my heartstrings, for real.

Even though it is a pretty chunky book, it went by so quickly. I didn’t want it to end. I’m not sure when I will be able to continue on with the series but am I definitely looking forward to it!!!!

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Review: The Child Finder (Naomi Cottle #1) by Rene Denfeld

The Child Finder (Naomi Cottle, #1)The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m speechless.
Those last couple of lines gave me the deepest chill.

Naomi was once a missing child.
Now as an adult, her solitary focus is finding others who need to be found.
She remembers nothing of her life prior to being ‘found’. The only thing that is clear is that she escaped from a horrific situation.

Her current case is to try to discover what happened to little Madison, who went missing in the mountains while hunting for a family Christmas tree. Long thought dead, as how could a little girl survive alone in deep snow and freezing temperatures, Madison’s parents hold out hope that she is still alive.

What struck me most about this story is the overall tone of the writing. Obviously, Naomi is experiencing lasting effects from her early trauma. She is plagued with strange dreams and over time more and more pieces become available in her memory. We learn about her foster mother, Mary, and adoptive brother, Jerome, and their relationships.

There is a lot about this book that is heartbreaking but it is told in such a magical, whimsical way. It’s like all of the horrors of the real world packaged into a old-time fairy tale.

I can see how some people may not enjoy this as much as I did. It is a slow-burn and there is nothing about it that will keep you on the edge of your seat. However, if you love to sink your teeth into some good, solid writing with engaging characters, this book is for you.

There is a second book set to release later this year following Naomi and I absolutely will be reading it. This one leaves off in a perfect place to continue on with Naomi’s personal story and I am really looking forward to reading about what she ultimately finds.

Well done!

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Review: Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Bellweather RhapsodyBellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


**A quirky and oddly compelling tale**

Bellweather Rhapsody was like nothing I have ever read before. I really enjoyed it. It was 100% unique and read like a Wes Anderson film.

The setting is the Bellweather Hotel: large, a bit in disrepair and possibly haunted. The cast of characters: flawed, nerdy, dangerous and dramatic. The plot: a weekend music gathering for the most talented young musicians in the state of New York; obviously dramatics ensue.

Two of our main characters from the high school perspective are Alice and Rabbit Hatmaker, a brother and sister duo, who are basically the novel interpretation of what would happen if Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel were brother and sister.

Aspirations and attitudes are high both among the kids and the adults. This was completely entertaining even though I can hardly form into words an accurate description of what I just read. There is a lot going on including murder, hauntings (both external and internal), disappearances, shouting matches, a love affair, self discovery, robbery and so much more.

I am so glad I picked this up. It was as random as this storyline and I’m down for that. I would recommend this for any music geeks out there – you know who you are. Be proud and read this book!

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Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The 7Β½ Deaths of Evelyn HardcastleThe 7Β½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Too little information and you’re blind, too much and you’re blinded.

The above line perfectly captures the spirit of the literary puzzle (aka. MIND F**K) that is The 7 1/2 Deaths o Evelyn Hardcastle. This book is bloody FANTASTIC!

Never have been so excited about being so confused whilst reading a book!

Turton is a Master. This was completely original and completely out there and completely compelling. I was so absorbed in every moment and….well, CONFUSED.

There is really not much I can say about the plot of this novel without getting all spoilery and stuff; something I am not looking to do. Go into this knowing nothing besides the fact that it is okay to be reading it and not understanding anything that is going on. The longer it goes, the more info you have and the more confusing it can become. It’s exceptional in its detail. I had so many theories, some panned out, others didn’t but I never stopped guessing, right up until the very end.

If you are looking for a completely unique mystery to get you through the holiday season, look no further! Stop right here! This is the book you need to read. I cannot wait to read more from Stuart Turton. I am already fangirling over him after one book. I love his ingenuity and style. Yes, I do! Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me a copy of this to read and review. I am blown away!!!

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Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, the Serial KillerMy Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

My Sister, the Serial Killer is a unique novella following the perspective of a young woman, Korede, living in Lagos, Nigeria. Korede is a nurse and seems to lead a fairly normal life; she is on the straight and narrow, if you will. ‘Normal’ until you discover that Korede’s younger sister, Ayoola, kills all of her boyfriends and then calls on Korede to help clean up the mess!

“You’re a big sister now, Korede. And big sisters look after little sisters.” Apparently, this is the sentiment that Korede was raised with and now, no matter what her sister does, she feels obligated to PROTECT HER from everything. Protect her?!? The witch is crazy. She shows no remorse or empathy for the things she does. At one point, Korede muses, “I am more haunted by her actions than she is.” Yeah! No kidding!

I did fluctuate throughout the story between feeling bad for Korede for all the bullshit she had to put up with and being angry at her for not standing up to her damn sister. It was like every other chapter, like a seesaw. Ultimately I wish it would have gone a different way. I really was hoping Korede would make more growth as a character and fight back against the treatments and judgments laid on her. This is a novella though, very short, and I just don’t think there was enough time for her character to get there.

Overall, I felt the story was compelling, it definitely kept me interested and was unique. Thank you to the publisher, Doubleday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity and I know a lot of people will enjoy this little tale. I look forward to seeing what comes next from Braithwaite. I like her style!

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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: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Publication Date: January 16, 2018

Bold, topical and completely riveting! Red Clocks took hold of me from the very beginning and never let up. It is honestly like nothing I have ever read before and is hard to describe, really. I received Red Clocks after making it my January 2018 Book of the Month Club selection. Hot on the heals of the recent success of The Handmaid’s Tale being adapted into a television series, readers every where have been prepared for a surge of feminist literature. This book is one of the most buzzed about new releases of that genre. I had to check it out and cannot express how happy I am that I did!

The novel follows 4 women (plus a historical 5th) who are all connected to each other through community and womanhood; these characters all grapple with difficult choices based on their sex/sexuality. I went into this book thinking that it was set in some sort of futuristic, dystopian world but it isn’t; it is very much a present day story but set up and delving into the possibilities of how very different our society could be if just one or two laws pertaining to female reproductive choices were changed. It was very raw, very real and not shy at all about challenging, often controversial, topics. I can definitely see a subset of folks who will not enjoy this book at all (although I haven’t seen any of those reviews yet).

If this is the quality of product we receive in a debut novel from Ms. Zumas, I cannot wait to see what else she has in store for us. She shows such courage in bringing this story to us. I am definitely a fan of her work and will be reading any other books she may publish in the future. Bravo!