Made for Love by Alissa Nutting

This story is so bizarre but I loved it so much.  I can’t even go about beginning to explain it and even if I could I wouldn’t want to because it is best when you find out for yourself.

Nutting has done a great job of creating incredibly realistic and relatable characters who find themselves in very strange situations.  Even with the absurdity of everything going on, I still related to each character and could see moments of myself in them.  This book won’t be for everyone but if you are willing to relax and just accept the weird for what it is, you will enjoy and have a good time with this book.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

4-stars

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

I was too old (and not cool enough to realize that middle grade books are awesome at any age) to read the How to Train Your Dragon books when they came out but I am glad that I have finally gotten to experience Cressida Cowell’s wonderful writing.

The Wizards of Once is both beautifully written and filled with tons of fun illustrations that take the story to the next level.  Her main characters are royal underdogs (which seems like an oxymoron but actually made for an awesome reading experience) and I was immediately invested in their lives.

This is a perfect book for boys and girls alike, seeing as there is one of each as a main character.  It teaches acceptance of those different from you as well as the need to question authority when it seems to be leading you astray (which I believe to be important in this day and age).  I can’t wait for the next installment in the series.

4-stars

The Hunting Accident by David L Carlson, illustrated by Landis Blair

This story was FASCINATING and I haven’t stopped talking about it to people today.  The parallels between Charlie and his father made for an interesting manner of storytelling and Matt’s story was so interesting.  I knew very little about Leopold and Loeb before this book and now I want to learn everything I can about them.  Landis Blair’s art perfectly conveyed the story and added a fascinating layer to everything.  There is something strange and magical about a graphic novel about a blind person.

Sometimes, though, I felt like the poetry segments and the art got a little confusing, breaking me out of the story.  There were pages that were just lost on me.  These moments didn’t feel like they were from the same book as the rest of the beautiful story.

4-stars

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

My feelings about this book fluctuated a lot.  I had not read any Mary Kubica books before (but boy is she a doll in real life) and so I read this before I hosted her event.  Kubica is a skilled storyteller and this book definitely took me for a ride.  Flipping between the husband’s past and the wife’s present, the story picks up details from both and makes you realize that they are both unreliable narrators that you want to believe!  It’s incredibly frustrating in a good way.

I have to say that I found the end to be anti-climatic and was actually incredibly disappointed for a few days.  But now I think that it was such a cool choice, a very unique storytelling choice.  So it won me over in the end.  But goodness, it just helped to prove to me that I don’t want kids for a long time.  Also, psychological thrillers are still not my genre.

3-stars

Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides

I’m not usually a short-story reader but I have been trying to read more lately. As I have found with most collections I have read in the past, I really enjoyed some of the stories in this book and just didn’t care about others, which made it a weird reading experience. There are stories in here spanning all of Eugenides’ writing career and it was clear to see that he has grown and improved as a writer. Even though the years weren’t listed until the end, I could guess when I was reading them what was older and what was newer. A lot of his older pieces seemed, at least to me, to get stuck in the world and character building, not allowing plot to really occur. Not that short stories have to be plot driven, but these earlier pieces seemed like weird studies rather than polished stories. They weren’t bad, they just weren’t great. I never disliked reading this book but I also didn’t feel strongly about it when I finished it. I feel very so-so about the whole thing.

3-stars

Warcross by Marie Lu

I have to admit, this is a book I judged by its cover and I said, “No thank you!” But I had heard such good things about it so when the audiobook was an ALC on Libro.FM, I decided to give it a chance.

This book was great. Lu has created a fascinating world that isn’t very different from our own, making it easy to connect to the action of the characters. She has assembled an incredibly diverse cast of characters to tell a story that I think is very important to to the world today, namely privacy in a world of technology. (I am drawn to this kind of book, like The Circle by Dave Eggars and so I was glad to see one geared at teens.) Emika is an incredibly powerful female protagonist who shows everyone that girls can be just as good at things such as science and technology as boys. The plot is filled with twists and turns (even though I did see one of the big ones coming) and it made me want to go places and do things just so I could listen to the audiobook. Definitely worth checking out.

4-stars

Trouble Is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

Why did I wait so long to read this book? It was one of the first things I picked up when I started working at the bookstore I work at and I just never got around to it. I kept it on my shelf through many clean-outs and a move because it kept appearing on lists and I kept reading that it was great for fans of Veronica Mars. So I finally decided to pull it off the shelf and give it a try and boy am I glad that I did! Within the first 20 pages, there was a Veronica Mars reference and then, just 20 pages later, there was a reference to Jane Eyre! Gahh!

Trouble Is a Friend of Mine is a fun mystery filled with twists and turns and a lot silly antics. I sped through this book and slammed it shut when I finished it yelling, “What? WHAT?!” I then went to the bookstore I work at on my day off to buy the second book in the series. That’s how much I enjoyed this. I have so many other things I should be reading for work but Tromly has stolen my heart and pushed her way in front of everything else.

4-stars

Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi

Furthermore was one of my favorite books of last year and so I shook with joy when this was handed to me.

While still a great book, it didn’t live up to Furthermore for me.  And, as a bookseller, I am incredibly confused by this book because I am not sure how to sell it.  It is incredibly dark, dealing with a lot of death and very violent and gory descriptions of things.  (Bodies walking down the street without their skin will always haunt me.)  On the other hand, it was a great story of accepting help.  Seeing the characters from the last book interact with a new character and a completely new world was also a great experiences.  I love Mafi’s characters and her worlds are fully rounded out.  I liked that this is a companion book rather than a sequel but I just wish I could read Furthermore again for the first time.

4-stars

The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange

The Secret of Nightingale Wood is beautiful book that reminded me of classic children’s books.  In a world of extreme fantasy and adventure, this historical fiction was a breath of fresh air.  Strange beautifully discusses many difficult topics while creating an engaging mystery that kept me guessing until the end.  She deals with war and loss with grace and ease and reminds everyone that it is possible to get through horrible events.  I want more books like this one to come out.

4-stars

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

This was my first foray into the world of audiobooks.  I will add my review of the audiobook to the bottom of this review.

This is a gorgeous book about very not beautiful things.  When it started popping up on lost of “best of” and award lists, I knew that I needed to check it out.

Ward beautifully blends rough reality with fantastic magical realism.  Flipping between three different perspectives (one of which is a ghost), she takes a look at all angles of a family in crisis.  She questions what it means to be a person as well as being a black family in the modern day south.  Her use of words is incredibly powerful and had me blown away many times.

I had mixed feelings about the audiobook.  The guy playing Jojo was amazing.  I could listen to him talk forever.  He perfectly embodied the character.  The woman playing Leonie, on the other hand, was very hard to listen to.  Everything was very dramatic and didn’t seem to match the character Ward had created.  Plus, she talks so incredibly slowly.  I had to turn up the speed of her sections just to get through them.  This, I believe, is a testament to how well written the book is, seeing as a bad narrator didn’t turn me off.  Ward’s writing shines through and stands on its own.

4-stars

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

As a fan of Scooby-Doo, this book was a blast to read.  Cantero does a great job of sprinkling references to Scooby-Doo and the gang throughout the text while still keeping the story completely his own.  His gang is different and their dog doesn’t talk.  (In fact, it reminds me a lot of what Rainbow Rowell did with Harry Potter in Carry On.)  You don’t need to have ever watched the cartoon to have a good time reading this book.

Cantero has created a spooky and enthralling mystery that takes twists and turns that I could have never expected.  He brings together a group of adults who had once been a mystery-solving gang as tweens and makes them revisit their last and most successful case.  I deeply cared for each of these characters and wanted them to solve the mystery and get their lives back!

A fun, fast read that will keep you on your toes.  Just a warning: it gets surprisingly gory with no warning.

4-stars