Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Mini-reviews: Morning Star by Pierce Brown; When by Victoria Laurie; Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown
Rating: 3.75 stars
Goodreads Rating: 4.5 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender."

ReviewI think too much time passed from when I read the first two books until I started this one. I had forgotten a lot and didn't feel very connected to the characters. I figured my memory would refresh as I read, but... it didn't really. This book is action packed, which is normally a good thing, but I found myself more drawn to the quieter moments: little conversations between Sevro and Darrow; Moments of forgiveness or acceptance; pretty much any scene with Cassius; ... and that about covers the quiet scenes. The more I read the more engrossed I became, happily, but it took me a good long time to get there. I ended up skimming a good chunk of the battles because my stomach was not agreeing with them, which is too bad because I think I missed out on some fine plotting. I was satisfied with the ending, which was a huge relief since I wasn't sure that was a possibility.  This whole series is pretty brutal.  Though this story was maybe more bitter than sweet, I am glad I saw it through.  And I'm just as glad that it's over.

Review in a GIF:
relief phew

Bottom Line: A solid conclusion to an exhilarating series.  The level of crass and violence was a little above what I'd prefer, but I'm glad I stuck it out. 

When by Victoria Laurie
Rating: 4.75 stars
Goodreads Rating: 4.14 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client's young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie's whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it's too late?"

Review: This book was my favorite surprise of the year.  I picked it up from the library on a whim, not even expecting to read more than a few pages, but I couldn't have been more wrong.  It hooked me from the very beginning and I blew through the whole thing really quickly.  This book is a really fantastic mystery/thriller!  I don't usually reach for paranormal books anymore - I got a little over-saturated and needed other genres - but this book reminded me why I liked them in the first place.  Maddie feels real, which makes her wisdom and her bravery all the more impressive.  The plot was almost perfect.  I certainly didn't see the end coming.  This book came so, so close to five stars. Suspenseful, exciting, and satisfying. Definitely reach for this one next time you need a who-dun-it.

Review in a GIF:
dance crazy happy dance gru done with finals

Bottom Line: I wish more people knew about this book - it's a suspenseful and compelling thriller, and I bet you a dollar you won't guess the mystery's grand reveal.

Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads Rating: 4.03 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now. 

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series."

Review: I liked the Lunar Chronicles so much that I read this novella.  I think this is only the second novella I've ever read.  And while it was fun to be back in this world, I was reminded why I'm not particularly interested in novellas... they're just not as complete or as clever as I want them to be.  And I missed the humor that is so abundant in Meyer's other work.  This story made me feel badly for Levanna, but also frustrated that there weren't more checks and balances in place to prevent all the atrocities done during her reign, and the reigns preceding her.  All those poor people... especially Evret and Winter.  This novella is basically one giant cautionary tale of why it's a bad idea to have delusional people in positions of power.  AHEM.

Review in a GIF: 
film 90s pretty wink blonde

Bottom Line: Read it if you already love The Lunar Chronicles.  It won't make you love it more, but the greater context is interesting.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Review: Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Rating: 3 stars
Goodreads Rating: 3.57 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm."

Review: You guys, I WAS BORED WHILE READING A MORIARTY BOOK.  This has never happened to me before.  Perhaps my expectations were too high, but this one just didn't reach that level of amazing that I've come to expect from her.  It just wasn't as funny or as charming or as tightly spun as I know Moriarty is capable of.

The mystery wasn't that difficult to figure out either.  And the whole first half of the novel really dragged.  I was bored!!  Did I mention that I was bored?  Because I was.  Bored.  At no point did I feel that compulsion to keep reading.  I cared more for Clementine's audition than for any of the relationships between characters, and that's usually what pulls me in: the relationships.  I thought all the relationships were toxic.  Instead of being fascinated at how we all have such goodness and such blind spots and somehow make each other better despite all the crap we all deal with... instead I just wanted everyone in this story to call it a day and go their separate ways.  Including myself.

So I spent a lot of the novel being turned off and let down.  But still... Moriarty's worst is still a whole lot better than most other people's best.

Review in a GIF:
bored boring music video britney spears

Bottom Line
: Maybe my least favorite Moriarty.  But it's Moriarty, so I forgive her.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Review: The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev

The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev
Rating: 3 stars
Goodreads Rating: 3.54 Stars
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Ria Parkar is Bollywood's favorite Ice Princess--beautiful, poised, and scandal-proof--until one impulsive act threatens to expose her destructive past. Traveling home to Chicago for her cousin's wedding offers a chance to diffuse the coming media storm and find solace in family, food, and outsized celebrations that are like one of her vibrant movies come to life. But it also means confronting Vikram Jathar. 

Ria and Vikram spent childhood summers together, a world away from Ria's exclusive boarding school in Mumbai. Their friendship grew seamlessly into love--until Ria made a shattering decision. As far as Vikram is concerned, Ria sold her soul for stardom and it's taken him years to rebuild his life. But beneath his pent-up anger, their bond remains unchanged. And now, among those who know her best, Ria may find the courage to face the secrets she's been guarding for everyone else's benefit--and a chance to stop acting and start living. 

Rich with details of modern Indian-American life, here is a warm, sexy, and witty story of love, family, and the difficult choices that arise in the name of both."

ReviewThis book made me crave Indian food so badly. I loved everything Indian about this story: the colors, the clothes, the traditions, the family dynamics, and the FOOD.  Oh my gosh, the food.  I like Indian food anyway, but WOW this book gave me some serious cravings.

The characters themselves were fine, though they didn't really stand out to me. Ria was frustratingly uncommunicative, but she had her reasons.  It is clear from the beginning that Ria and Vikram have a lot of baggage to overcome, and most of the book is about their journey finding themselves and finding out whether or not they really belong together.  I appreciated that their story wasn't rushed, but never felt bogged down.  The pacing was just right.  I appreciate a good romance, so long as it isn't cheesy.  This, being Bollywood, certainly has its cheesy moments.  And the characters, while distinct and unique, weren't exactly lovable.  However, it was a fun, quick read, and I hoped Ria and Vikram had a happy ending.  You'll have to read it yourself to find out whether they do.  :)

In conclusion, the story was just okay, but the Indian elements made up for it.

Review in a GIF:
bollywood kajol kareena kapoor hrithik roshan amitabh bachchan
I am one of the above people, depending on what element of the book you're talking about.

Bottom Line: If you're in the mood for romance then read it on a beach somewhere.  Then go eat massive quantities of Indian food.