Review: FIREKEEPER’S DAUGHTER by Angeline Boulley (2021)

Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Year Release: 2021
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Trigger warning: Drug abuse, gun violence, rape (depicted, fade-to-black), microaggressions against indigenous people, vomiting, drug overdose, murder, kidnapping

Taking place on the border between the U.S. and Canada, this thriller follows Daunis Fontaine, a biracial, dorky, 18-year-old who deferred college enrollment to take care of her mother and grandmother. A newcomer captures Daunis’ attention and hidden truths come to light when she witnesses a murder. The body count starts climbing and the source of harrowing trouble might hit closer to home than initially expected.

Heart-breaking as it is beautifully written, Boulley presents a thriller that’s as much about the power of community and honoring those around you as it is about the terrible ways the drug trade ravages communities.

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ARC Review: MEET CUTE DIARY by Emery Lee (2021)

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Year Release: May 2021
Buy Links: | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warning: Vomiting, panic attack

Noah Ramirez runs a blog called Meet Cute Diary, a collection of short stories about trans people meeting the love of their lives in increasingly adorable ways. He writes most of the stories and an online troll calls it out in online-public ways. Noah’s also spending the summer in Denver with his brother as his parents move from Florida to California. To save the blog, he strikes up a fake relationship with a local while trying to balance the blog situation and a new job at a summer camp.

This book is adorable and refreshingly young as far as young adult protagonists go. Meet Cute Diary is a delightful light-hearted summer romp.

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Author to Author with Fran Wilde (The Ship of Stolen Words, 2021)

In The Ship of Stolen Words, Sam found himself relying a little too much on the word, “sorry.” Goblins had stolen it to help fuel their airships, along with its synonyms. Sam will stop at nothing to get his favorite word back through a whimsical adventure featuring goblins and pirates (I mean, prospectors) and learning the importance of meaning what you say.

A week after release, author Fran Wilde stops by the blog to talk about the process of bringing this heartfelt story to life, including her experience writing stories across markets and genres.

Buy Links: | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

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May 2021 Reading Recap

May came at me like a freight train. Specifically, Kentaro Miura, creator of Berserk, passed and that has been a sledgehammer to my heart and creative spirit. To get completely too personal, I’ve had to do an inventory of all my things and file them under “survival” and “creativity.” The blog is here to stay, don’t worry about that.

For yet another month, the mind is still a mess, but the reads have been fantastic.

I am so excited to have talked to Rivers Solomon about faer’s latest release, Sorrowland.

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Review: SOCIAL CREATURE by Tara Isabella Burton (2018)

Genre: Adult Literary Thriller
Year Release: 2018
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: Alcoholism, murder, drug use, dubious consensual sex, domestic violence, attempted suicide

This book is absolute bananas from start to finish. A worthy entry into books which spiritually remind me of My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, Social Creature features Louisa and Lavinia at its core. Louisa is a down-on-her-luck New York City transplant who works several jobs to not even make ends meet until one day, she’s booked as a tutor for Cordelia and meets Lavinia. Lavinia is a socialite who is one a sabbatical from Yale who lives in some kind of alternate universe where everything is beauty and poetry. We know Lavinia dies, and we beat witness to that toxic friendship.

This book has prose that hypnotizes with all the surreal glitz of oblivion. A wild ride from start to finish where having everyone be deeply unlikeable is part of the charm.

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Review: THE HOUSE THAT WASN’T THERE by Elana K. Arnold (2021)

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy
Year Release: 2021
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: Deceased parent

In this charming and heart-warming novel, Alder sees that the walnut tree between his house and his neighbor’s had been cut down. A new girl, Oak, moves right next door and the two are off to a rocky start. But due to school projects and adopting kitten siblings, I found it really sweet from start to finish and a brilliant use of literary devices to make an exceptionally satisfying resolution.

During the fall, I had taken Arnold’s Revision Season class and I feel like a lot of the concepts were on display here. The pieces of this story’s puzzle and its mystery fit so perfectly together, allowing the reader to fall to the rhythm and charm from start to finish. Great care was taken to make sure that motifs fit and that concepts were repeated, but not so much in a way that seemed repetitive. Really effective, really tight writing to be found here.

I greatly appreciated the range of children’s experiences and emotions present throughout the book. It was really great to see them disagree with their parents and have that interaction be honest and respectful. The fact that is mirrored among the children also added a necessary cohesion to the prose’s evolution as the we learned more and more about the goings on around.

Overall, really quick listen with a satisfying mystery to boot.

ARC Review: CINDERS OF YESTERDAY (Legacy of Shadows #1) by Jen Karner (2021)

Genre: Adult Paranormal Fantasy
Year Release: June 2021
Buy Links: Barnes & Noble | Indiebound (Audiobook)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the author
Content warning: trauma, parental death, house fires, fantasy violence, psychiatric hospital, immolation

A necromancer named Spectre killed Dani Black’s partner and the hunter is out for revenge. He also haunts Emilie Lockgrove, a medium with repressed memories and a whole bunch of family trauma to unpack. They come together in Dawson, Maryland, in search of a blade and a way to kill the necromancer once and for all.

Smooth as a knife’s edge and just as sharp, an exciting and sapphic new entry into the paranormal genre with plenty of scary monsters to go around.

An interview with author Jen Karner will be up on June 29th, 2021 (release day).

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Review: BENT HEAVENS by Daniel Kraus (2020)

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Year Release: 2020
Source: Chicago Public Library

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Torture, PTSD, poverty, psychosis, blood, bullying

Liv Flemming retreated from all but her best friend Doug when her dad went missing two years prior to the start of the story. Lee Flemming claimed to have been captured by aliens, and his ensuing psychotic episodes made him a bit of a lost cause to the town’s authorities. But when an unidentified humanoid winds up in the woods behind her house, Liv will stop at nothing to find out what really happened to her father.

Pissed all the way off and horrifying, this book has twists and turns with a compelling character arc of understanding and the prices paid for the truth.

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Review: WHAT BEAUTY THERE IS by Cory Anderson (2021)

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Thriller
Year Release: 2021
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: Hanging, drug-related crimes and violence, meth, poverty, violence against children, emotional abuse, blood, death of mothers

This contemporary thriller follows brothers Jack and Matty, whose father is in jail and her mother had just died by suicide. With funds dwindling, older brother Jack choose money to keep himself and his brother out of the foster care system. Except for the fact that a scoundrel named Bardem chases after them. A detective also tries to make heads and tails of the trail of bodies, but everyone is hardly a half-step ahead of the others.

A book that makes great use of its wintery setting in theme and tone, this tale of brothers tugs at the heartstrings something fierce as they rely on each other and another fellow child to make it to the other side.

This book is as brutal as its prose is beautiful. There were times I had to pause the audiobook because a line or a turn of phrase stopped me in its place. Or, in the opposite direction, some absolutely bananas turn comes out and the reader scrambles as much as the characters to figure out the next step. It works on a character and plot-level. With break-neck pacing and deliberate pauses for character development, Anderson shows deft guidance but also lets the reader experience this fraught journey.

While Jack wears his heart on his sleeve, Ava is a mystery that slowly unravels. We know from her introduction that Bardem is her father, and he raised her to be as closed-off from the goodness in the world as he is. This book toes the line between survival and cruelty, especially in her POV. She could have abandoned the brothers at any turn, but stays to help. The tension can be cut with a knife. But there is so much tenderness, of kids recognizing the hurt in each other. It’s so beautifully done, it hurts.

For those who need it, there is a puppy in the final act, and he makes it to the end.

April 2021 Reading Recap

Excuse me, but where did April go? This month went by so quickly, I cannot wrap my head around it. And what a roller coaster of a ride it was.

The big thing that happened to me was that my beloved Eclectus parrot, Investor, had to be put to sleep due to poor health. He was in our family for 20 years. I try to smile through the happy memories, but mostly it’s just tears.

In addition, the situation in India hit a close friend of mine in her immediate family, so I wanted to link to this thread of resources and places to donate to.

Honestly, my mind’s been a mess and the fact that I can focus on anything is a miracle.

Nino Cipri stopped by the blog this month to celebrate the release of Defekt, the unexpected sequel to Finna, which came out this month.

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