Tell Me My Name by Erin Ruddy – ARC Review (10/27/2020 Release Date)

Thank you to Netgalley, Dundurn, and Erin for an advance copy of Tell Me My Name.

Tell Me My Name is a fast-paced page turner about a man’s obsession with a girl he used to serve drinks to 15ish years prior. This is told through multiple points of view and spans quite a bit of time. The formatting made it a little hard to recognize the transitions as they happened frequently and abruptly, but I am chalking that up to having an ARC as opposed to a finished copy.

I enjoyed the complexities of the characters and felt that we really got to know the core three involved, as well as many of the side characters. The plot itself was so fast moving, at 30% in, I couldn’t imagine where the book was going because I felt like we had already hit our climax…I was W R O N G. There are so many twists and turns, including a jaw-dropping final piece of the puzzle that I honestly did not even consider.

Foreshadow – Short Stories Edited by Emily X R Pan and Nova Ren Suma: ARC Review & Blog Tour (10/20/20 Release Date)

Thank you to Algonquin and all of the talented authors involved in the making of this collection for allowing me to be a part of the blog tour for Foreshadow.

Short stories are still fairly new to me, although I’ve read quite a few collections this year. I am happy to say that this is the most satisfying collection I have read to date. There were only a couple of stories that really didn’t do it for me, but I would say I thoroughly enjoyed 9-10 of the 13 stories.

Foreshadow covers all genres of YA writing. We get some fantasy, some horror, some romance, some general contemporary goodness, some historical fiction. Each story is followed by an author’s note (some of which were SO. Wholesome. I just can’t), as well as Emily or Nova’s insights on various pieces of the stories. Finally, some stories are also followed with writing prompts for aspiring writers. While I am not one, these prompts made me want to give it a try.

Each of these authors is relatively new to the world of being published, and it’s so great to see established authors reaching out and putting their names on a collection to help promote and create buzz for these fresh faces. Additionally, each story had a prologue from an established author hyping up the story to follow. It is so great to see a community helping bring their colleagues (and in some views, their potential future competitors) to the attention of YA readers in such a positive light. On top of these authors being new, they are also marginalized. Many of these stories are Own Voices, most from voices most of us have not read before – Venezuelan and Puerto Rican to name two examples. Overcoming racism, political turmoil, natural disasters, and emotional/physical abuse among other difficult experiences are covered through these 13 stories.

A couple of my favorites include:

  • Resilient by Mayra Cuevas
  • Break by Sophie Meridien
  • Princess by Maya Prasad
  • Pan Dulce by Flor Salcedo

This collection is a sure sign that the YA genre is going to continue to go strong for many years to come.

A Golden Fury by Samantha – ARC Review & Blog Tour (10/13/2020)

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books for inviting me to be on the blog tour for A Golden Fury.

A Golden Fury is a YA historical fantasy centered around aspiring alchemist Thea as she attempts to perfect and contain The Philosopher’s Stone. 

One of my favorite things about this story is that it’s historical fiction mixed with fantasy that features women in STEM. Being a female and making her own way in the world is important to Thea, which is such a cool piece to include in a YA story. As the plot would lead one to assume, themes of greed and betrayal are also evident throughout the book. 

The plot itself was fun, it was engaging and the story moved quickly with very little lag. Even if you have zero interest or knowledge of alchemy, it’s easy to understand and isn’t mindless info overload.

The characters – there were several. I enjoyed the core characters and thought they were developed well. There were a few side characters who were named but didn’t make an impact and I kind of wish they had just been referred to as ‘the cronies’ or ‘henchmen’ or whatever, as throwing the names in ended up confusing me a few times.

The ending was wrapped up nicely (a little too nicely for my personal taste). I’m slightly disappointed that this isn’t turning into a duology or series because it definitely could’ve been carried on. I prefer series over standalones, so this may be an unpopular opinion.

For a debut, this really was a great read. I’m excited to follow Samantha’s career and watch her continue to grow as an author.

The Three Mrs. Wrights by Linda Kier Review – 2020 ARC (9/29/20)

Thank you to Netgalley, Linda, and Lake Union for an advance copy of The Three Mrs. Wrights.

What a fun book!

Mr. Wright is all wrong. He has a wife with whom he’s built a beautiful life complete with three children. But why have one wife when you could have three? Your typical self-made, big shot sociopath, we follow the three women he has pulled into his mess of lies.

The plot itself was fun – reminiscent of John Tucker Must Die and The Other Woman, however The Three Mrs. Wrights also had more to the story than “these three women are involved with the same man.” All three of the women are strong, focused, successful women which adds a whole extra level of ‘girl power’ to the story.

I enjoyed all the characters, even Jonathan Wright. He was the kind of villain that you enjoy to read about mainly because you’re anticipating and hoping for his downfall. All of the girls had their flaws, of course, but they felt like girls that my friends or I could be. Supporting cast, although we don’t learn too too much about them were also good, they felt necessary despite us not spending too much time with them.

I did go into this thinking it would be a little more mystery/thriller rather than pretty much strictly fiction/women’s fiction, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment…I actually am surprised how much I liked it despite the lack of a mystery/suspense aspect.

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher Review – ARC (10/6/2020)

Thank you to Netgalley, T, and Gallery for an advance copy of this book.

Just another cold Swedish meatball in the TV dinner of life.

What a weird and humorous ride! This is my first T. Kingfisher book, but I doubt it will be my last. Don’t be fooled by my initial statement – while there is plenty of comic relief throughout The Hollow Places, it is still an incredibly spooky fun October read.

Kara (Carrot) finds herself 34 and divorced with no home. In lieu of going back to her parents house, she agrees to stay with her Uncle and help him run his wacky museum of oddities. When she is left to run the place on her own, she stumbles upon an alternate universe hiding in the walls. Her and the barista next door end up on a wild ride trying to keep whatever is ‘out there’ from coming ‘in here.’

I adored the characters. Typically in horror and thriller, I don’t feel that it’s common to really get to *know* the characters, but Carrot and Simon felt like old friends by the end of the book. And of course I loved Uncle Earl. Even the side characters that we only meet briefly, or never even fully meet but are discussed were brilliant.

The story itself (inspired by a Lovecraft story) was super engaging. It’s very rare that I make one book my sole focus (I am very guilty of reading 5-6 things at a time), but this book was the only book I read for the two days it took me to get through. The horror aspects were truly horrifying. Objects that are not scary suddenly become terrifying. Having to do a double take at everyday objects. Extremely gruesome methods of ~undoing~. Overall, this was a fantastic kick off to my month of nonstop horror/thriller books.

The Midnight Circus by Jane Yolen Review – ARC (10/1/20)

Thank you to Netgalley, Jane, and Tachyon Publications for an advance copy of this fun collection of stories, perfect for October.

The Midnight Circus is a collection of sixteen stories, most of which where something is not quite what it seems. As is the case with all short story collections, I enjoyed some stories immensely and others not at all. Each story has a haunting slow-burn feel to it. There is a sinister feel throughout the story, sometimes it is presented right away and other times you don’t get it until the final sentence. I specifically enjoyed this aspect, as it keeps the stories from being too repetitive.

If I had to select a few stories that I really enjoyed (stories that I would rank 4-5 stars), they are the following:

  • The Weaver of Tomorrow, in which a little girl is desperate to know the future.
  • The White Seal Maid, in which a fisherman takes a seal as a wife and together they have seven sons.
  • Wilding, in which Central Park hosts an uncomfortable futuristic game where the players turn into wild animals.
  • Dog Boy Remembers, which explores the relationship between a father and his son.
  • Little Red, a retelling of the classic tale.

Overall, I give the collection three stars, but I really did enjoy the above stories. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who’s into exploring the darker side of storytelling.

September Wrap-Up

How am I seriously typing a September wrap-up?! Where has this (awful) year gone?! I feel like it’s simultaneously been the longest and fastest year. But really, is there anyone who isn’t wishing this year away as fast as possible??

This was a weird month for me. I started SO. MANY. BOOKS. but only managed to finish 10.

  • 10 read
  • 5 audio
  • 3 physical
  • 3 kindle
  • 4 owned
  • 6 borrowed
  • 2 ARC
  • 3,660 pages read/listened to in September, bringing the yearly total to 42,972.
  • Despite not finishing a lot of what I started, the books that I did finish I really enjoyed for the most part.
  • 3 were five star reads, 1 at 4.5, and 2 at 4 stars
  • Favorite – no surprise here, Aurora Burning
  • Biggest surprise – Furia (!!!)
  • Biggest letdown – The Fifth Season 😦
  • 4 books were fantasy
  • 3 books were contemporary
  • 3 books were thrillers/mystery/suspense

Five Star Reads

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, YA Fantasy. Book two in the Aurora Cycle trilogy. As a 2020 book, this should’ve gotten its own post with a detailed review, however I honestly can’t form thoughts beyond “WHY DO YOU HATE YOUR FANS, JAY AND AMIE?” This one picks up right where Aurora Rising left off. It takes off running and does not stop until the end, at which point we’re all left saying are you fucking kidding me??? Book three does not even have a title yet. God dammit.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone, YA Contemporary. Nic Stone joins Jason Reynolds in my book for authors who so wonderfully handle sensitive and poignant topics with a level head and open heart. There is nothing easy about this book (it read easy and quickly, but subject-wise it is very heavy). There is a lot of reflection, regret, and remorse in this heartwrenching book about the reality of racism for teenagers today. The classroom discussions were probably my favorite part. Such a genius way to show exactly how many varying opinions can exist about a topic
Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez, YA Contemporary. Read my review of this fantastic book here.

Four and a half Stars

Don’t Look For Me by Wendy Walker, Thriller. Read my review here.

Four Star Reads

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, Contemporary Historical Fiction. I honestly don’t even know how to explain this book. It was beautiful and lyrical and haunting and heartbreaking. Literary fiction based on a true crime, with some mystery thrown in (if you’re unfamiliar with the story). After finishing, I was doing some research and have another reason to visit Iceland to visit the places mentioned and memorial stones. I also read that the movie rights have been purchased and I can imagine this being an insanely atmospheric movie if done correctly. I am always a fan of sympathizing with the antagonist and this book was a fantastic fix for me.
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James, Thriller. Read my review here.

Three and a half Stars

How Long Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin, Short Stories/Fantasy. Continuing down my path of reading more diversely in terms of authors and also formats. I definitely enjoyed this collection more than I enjoyed the other Jemisin I read (The Fifth Season). There were some stories that I just couldn’t get into at all, but others that I was fascinated by and listened to multiple times. I really enjoy the way she incorporates issues that are important to her in a subtle way through a fantasy or dystopian setting. The Elevator Dancer…just wow. What a great story.

Three Star Reads

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi, Middle Grade Fantasy. Book 1 in the Furthermore duology? I’m not sure if there will be more than two. I’m not a big middle grade fan, I usually find myself extremely detached and uncaring towards the characters, but I actually enjoyed this one. If you look at my Goodreads history, you’ll find me bashing Tahereh Mafi to the n’th degree years ago, but honestly to write a MG that sucked me in and kept me interested earns major points in my book. Interested to see what happens next!
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith, Thriller/Mystery. I enjoyed this, the premise itself is interesting and sinister and as you read on, it becomes another monster. I particularly enjoyed the last 20% or so. It wasn’t the wrap-up that I expected and that’s always refreshing.

Two Star Reads

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, Fantasy/Dystopian. Book 1 in the Broken Earth trilogy. I feel like I am in the minority here, but I was very underwhelmed. Maybe I missed something? I didn’t care about the characters. There was so much potential for world-building, but I felt like it wasn’t explored enough. I wasn’t a fan of the writing-style (nor the narration). I don’t know, I feel like I read a different book than everyone else ha ha

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James Book Review – 2020 Release

Finally tackling some of my physical backlist! I did a group read for this one and it was fantastic. Reading thrillers with a buddy (or several) is always so much fun.

The Sun Down Motel is a dual perspective story jumping between 1982 and 2017. Viv is a night clerk at The Sun Down in Fell, NY in 1982 and goes missing. In 2017, after the death of her mother, Carly goes in search of answers about her Aunt who went missing from the town.

This story is part ghost story, part mystery. But if you prefer one of those genres over the other I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I really enjoyed the story itself, it felt very ‘true-crime’ murderino-y, which is clearly all the rage right now. Both Viv and Carly were relatable characters and the 80’s flashbacks were so fun.

One thing that I found awful, although topical, is how throughout the story (both timelines) it is constantly reiterated that girls should carry weapons, girls shouldn’t travel alone at night, girls should be careful. It’s frustrating and annoying that nearly 30 years pass between these two stories and yet that is STILL a very relevant thing that we are told as women.

Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez – Blog Tour ARC Review (9/15/20)

Thank you to Yamile, Netgalley, and Algonquin YR for an advance copy of this book and for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour.

I absolutely LOVED this book. It has literally everything you could want in a book. Various relationships are explored, there is romance, passion, sports, female empowerment, overcoming obstacles, self-exploration, the reality of growing up in a less-than-stellar area and the crime that comes with it, physical and mental abuse, all the struggles that go along with adolescence and growing up…and possibly more that I am blanking on right now. Oh, and it’s Own Voices 🙂

Furia follows the story of Camila, an Argentine teenager, who leads a double life. Playing futbol is frowned upon by her parents, even though they are both avid fans…of her brother and her childhood (male) friend/crush. She plays on an all-girls team in secret, but when they advance to a big competition, she is at a crossroads and needs to come clean. Meanwhile, she is trying to navigate a relationship with futbol star and old friend, Diego. She also has to battle the tumultuous and dangerous relationship with her father. Watching la Furia navigate through all of these topics made me want to cheer, brought a tear to my eye, and gave me so much inspiration.

As a sports lover, there were moments that brought me back to being a kid and playing ball and the joy, pressure, and every emotion that went along with it. But, if you’re not a sports fan, don’t worry, while it is the focal point, there are so many other interesting side stories that you won’t even realize you’re reading about something you’re uninterested in. The sports story was the main reason I accepted this blog tour, but it honestly just became an added plus to me because the rest of the story was also so engaging.

I can’t recommend this book enough, I’m so happy that I was invited to this tour and I cannot wait to gift my physical copy to someone and hear their thoughts as well.

Don’t Look For Me by Wendy Walker – ARC Review (9/15/2020 Release Date)

Thank you to Netgalley, Wendy, and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of Don’t Look For Me.

This is my second Wendy Walker book, my first being Emma In The Night. I love Wendy’s ability to write flawed characters and flawed situations that you still can’t help but root for. Don’t Look For Me is a mod podge of people all battling demons that takes us on a wild ride trying to figure who exactly is responsible for all the problems encountered.

Molly goes missing on the anniversary of a family tragedy. Feeling unwanted and like more of a burden than asset to her husband and children, it’s widely speculated that she made herself disappear. However, the story is told through multi-POV and we learn that is not the case. Molly was taken, and it was not a random abduction.

I felt all of the characters were developed and explored nicely, even the small side cast. There were several twists. Every time I thought I had it figured out, I was wrong. It was a creepy read, I felt uncomfortable reading it home alone at night sometimes, which in my book is a job well done.