I’m back on this lovely Wednesday with another round of book reviews! The cold temps make me want to curl up in front of the fire with a good book! This time, I’ve added in a star system to give you an idea of how the books rank compared to each other. There were some really great reads in this group (Children of Blood & Bone) & a few really not-great reads (A Simple Favor, I’m looking at you). I’ve been reading a ton lately (some amazing thrillers!), so I’m already working on the next set of reviews. If you want to keep up with what I’m reading in between these reviews, you can follow me on Goodreads! As always, I’m on the lookout for suggestions, so please leave them in the comments!
1. Broken Things by Lauren Oliver. (3/5 stars) In this story, two teen girls are accused of killing their best friend, driven by the girls’ obsession with a magical world in a novel called The Way into Lovelorn. Except Mia & Brynn didn’t kill Summer, & 5 years later the girls will have to confront the town that labeled them as monsters to find the truth about what happened to their friend. The premise of this novel intrigued me since I followed the story of the two Wisconsin girls who stabbed their best friend 19 times in an attempt to impress the fictional character Slender Man. I liked seeing how the murder had affected Mia & Brynn in different ways, as well as the development of the additional characters. I got into the story quickly & but this wasn’t one of those books that I absolutely could not put down. I enjoyed that Oliver included bits of the Lovelorn story within the overall story.
2. Under My Skin by Lisa Unger. (4/5) How well do we really know the people we’re close to? A year ago, Poppy’s husband was murdered during his morning run in Riverside Park & Poppy spiraled downward only to turn up several days later with no memory of where she’d been or what had happened to her. When Poppy starts having nightmares she begins to wonder if she knows more about her husband’s murder than she realizes. This book was definitely suspenseful, due in large part to Poppy’s unreliability & dreams (memories?). The dual stories, Jack’s death & Poppy’s potential danger, immediately sucked me in & I couldn’t put it down. I just had to know what was real & what wasn’t. My only issue was Poppy’s sometimes self-destructive behavior.
3. Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. (5/5) This YA novel, the first in a series, is an epic fantasy tale. Zelie Adebola has grown up in land where magic was taken by a corrupt king & those descended from magic-bearers are lower-class citizens. When Zelie encounters a rogue princess, she discovers a way to bring magic back & save her people. Wow! This was a Bad on Paper Podcast selection, as well as a selection on so many Best of 2018 lists, & it totally lived up to the hype. The magical land reminded me of Africa, probably because the novel itself is based, in part, on African folklore. The novel combines a thrilling story with the themes of racism & social justice. It was really interesting to see how the characters grow & change over the course of the novel as they encounter new situations & people.
4. The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll. (3/5) Goal Diggers is a super-successful reality TV-show starring 5 super successful NYC women. Brett, the young spin studio executive, is a fan favorite until she is murdered at the end of the season. Brett’s sister, Kelly, will navigate the relationships among the cast-mates & go to any length to protect the secret that her sister was hiding. I really love reality TV, so I really wanted to love this book. While it was cool to imagine the behind-the-scenes aspects of a hit reality show, the characters seems a little too cliched & the storyline of back-stabbing, infighting, & jealousy was too expected. I thought this would be a guilty pleasure read, but it fell flat for me.
5. The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne. (4/5) Helena Pelletier has a secret that not even her husband knows – she was raised as the product of her mother’s abduction by a man known as the Marsh King. Despite loving her childhood, she has learned the extent of her father’s brutality & will help track him down when he escapes from prison to disappear back into the marsh. While I wasn’t as into the present-day storyline of Helena tracking her father, the storyline dealing with her past in the marsh with her kidnapped mother & abductor father was fascinating. It was heart-wrenching to read about her relationship with her father, whom she adored until she learned the truth, & her struggle to come to terms with what he had done. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to be expected to change 12 years of feelings in an instant. The setting was so developed, it was like another character.
6. Ghosted by Rosie Walsh. (4/5) Sarah & Eddie met unexpectedly, had 7 perfect days together during which they fell madly in love, then he went on a long-booked vacation & vanished. Sarah can’t forget about him, despite her friends’ pleadings, but she will be devastated when she discovers the real reason that Eddie never called. It took a little while to get into this book, as I was initially annoyed by Sarah’s obsession with Eddie after only 7 days. She seemed a little too old & too experienced to have that kind of puppy-love. Once I learned about the secret keeping them apart, I just wanted them to find a way back together & got invested in their story. It was definitely an interesting twist on “ghosting,” which is so commonplace in the dating world now.
7. A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell. (2.5/5) Stephanie is a widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger when she meets the glamorous & intriguing Emily at after-school pick-up. The women quickly become friends & when Emily asks Stephanie to pick up her son after school, Stephanie doesn’t question it. But Emily never comes to collect her son, leading Stephanie to realize that nothing with Emily is what it seems. Ok, first off, I almost put this book down immediately because I was worried that the whole thing would be written as Stephanie’s blog posts. Luckily, it was not. I did enjoy that you never knew which characters were good and which characters were bad, who was in on the scheme & who wasn’t. The plot promises to be Gone Girl-esque, but I thought it was just a little too predictable & the characters unlikable.