Saturday, May 8, 2021

Concrete Rose - Angie Thomas

 

Title: Concrete Rose 
Author: Angie Thomas
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5 Stars 

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International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can't just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.

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SPOILERS AHEAD: Sorry readers. This is not a spoiler free review. So if you haven't read this book yet and don't want to know anything, skip the review for now.

Concrete Rose is the prequel to Angie Thomas's bestselling novel The Hate U Give.  This book follows Starr's father Maverick Carter as a 17 year old struggling high school student and gang member in Garden Heights. Mav is just trying to live his life, playing ball and dealing, and then he finds out that the baby he thought was King's is actually his. This information is life changing, not just for Mav, but for his mother, his girlfriend Lisa, and Seven's mother Iesha, as well so many other people in this book. 

I loved and hated so much about this book. I loved the characters (most of them) and loved watching them grow throughout the book.  Let's talk about those characters a bit.  Mav and his mother were my favorite characters. Mav's mom was honest and blunt with him, and when they found out Seven was his baby, his mother made sure he took care of that baby like every parent should.  Mav certainly had struggles in this book, and I'm not even going to pretend I understand what his struggles were like.  I'm an old white lady from a small town. I've never had to deal with gangs, police violence, and the massive amounts of drugs pushed on communities of color.  So, I will just say, I loved watching Mav grow and mature throughout this book.  He started out not thinking that he could possibly take care of this baby because he was 17, and we all know how hard it is to take care of babies.  They cry, they wake up in the middle of the night, the test you.  But he did what he had to do, and some things fell through the cracks. But he learned some hard lessons throughout this book, and he stepped up and did what he needed to do make sure he and his son were taken care of. 

I also loved Dre, and I think he was a great role model for Mav.  He was always looking out for Mav, and I was so heartbroken when he got killed. I definitely saw a lot more struggle for a long time in Mav after Dre got murdered. 

The other characters in this book, even the minor ones, added a lot to this book, and really helped give an idea of what life was like for Maverick and his friends when he was young.  They were all so well written, and they were all part of this book for a reason.

The book was well written, which is what I have com to expect from Angie Thomas. The whole story was on point. If you've read The Hate U Give, you know that Mav was young when he got Iesha and Lisa pregnant, you know some of the background details of his life. And yet, this book still surprised me, and I loved it even when I was crying over what happened. Nothing in this book didn't fit. Even when I was pissed at what happened and wanted to rewind, I knew what had happened was important to the story and needed to be there. 

I liked that this book showed such strong role models for the young people in Garden Heights.  The owner of the store where Mav got his job, for example, was wonderful and very strict with Mav. Mav's mom, his counselor at school, Dre, and so many other adults, were always looking out for these kids and making sure that things were getting better for them. There are too many kids who don't have that kind of thing in their lives, and so it was good to see that here. I think that really helped Mav because it showed him that he not only had his son depending on him, but he also had all these other people around him who knew he could be more. 

If you're up for it, here are some booktube folks who have also reviewed this wonderful book.  Go check out their videos.




If you want to go check out Angie Thomas around the internet, here's her website:

http:www.angiethomas.com

Go follow her on the bird app too:

http://twitter.com/angiecthomas

If you've read Concrete Rose, drop your thoughts below. I'd love to know what you think!

Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires - Grady Hendrix


Title: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires
Author: Grady Hendrix
Format: E-Book
Rating: 4 Stars 

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Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the '90s about a women's book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.

Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia's life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they're more likely to discuss the FBI's recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club's meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he's a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she--and her book club--are the only people standing between the monster they've invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.

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I love a good vampire book, and that's what I got with this book.  It's definitely weird, quirky, and exactly what one can expect from Grady Hendrix. 

This book starts with a book club and ends with a lot of blood and gore. Patty, the nurse turned housewife, lives with a husband who thinks she does nothing all day and two kids who spend most of the novel hating their mother. Patty and some of her friends start a new book club after getting frustrated with the old one.  Watching their love of true crime develop in that book club was fun, and certainly gave insight into why Patty was so obsessed with their new neighbor... 

The characters in this book were...over the top in some senses, which I would sort of expect from a Grady Hendrix novel at this point.  (At the time, I've also finished another book of his, the review for which will be coming soon.  The characters in his books are something else, in a good way.) I never really expect the characters in horror stories to be super well defined, but to be honest, most of my experience in the horror genre has been with cheesy late 90's movies like Scream and I Know What you Did Last Summer.  So, going into this book, I was happy to see that the characters were very well written, and even though I hated them, I loved them.  I actually liked most of the characters.  James and Grace were atrocious though.  I literally did hate them! Each character was so well written that you could tell why they would do what they did, why they talked and behaved in their own way.  I could just feel their personalities and attitudes coming out as I read this book.

Even though this was not supposed to really be funny, there were definitely some comedic moments, which I seem to think is a pattern in Hendrix's books. The story was also really well written.  There was some great foreshadowing with James, and with Patty's mother-in-law too.  I don't want to spoil anything.  Let's just sat that Patty's MIL had a good reason to hate James.  As out there as some things in the story were (Patty hiding in James's attic?!?!?!?!!) everything in the book fit together and came right to a point at the end.  The way each little thing added into the next thing, into the next, let this story build up so much.  Every moment in the book wove together seamlessly. 

I loved that this book brought back vampires as well.  It's been a while since I've read a good vampire book, and I personally think we need a vampire resurrection in books.  

Considering that this was a vampire book that also involved some chopping, I'm actually surprised there wasn't more blood and stuff in the book.  I never thought I'd say this, but I'm a little disappointed in that.  I need a good vampire horror novel with even more guts and gore. 

Overall, I loved the book, and I would definitely recommend it to others who love creepy, horror, vampire books - especially if it's all rolled into one.  

If you've already read this book, be sure to let me know what you thought in the comments!  

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon


Hey reader friends.  I'm sure many of you have heard of Dewey's 24 hour readathon! This weekend they're having their spring readathon and I'm joining in the fun.  One of the book groups I'm in is also having a 24 in 48 readathon this weekend, so I'll have so much time to read.  

I've been debating for so long about which books I want to read.  I mean, where do you start when you have 24 hours to fill!  

I have a lot of books I've started that I'd like to either finish or make headway in this weekend.  So far, this is what is on my list: 




 

I also have some manga that I plan to check out from the library this week so I have something short and less intense to read.  

If you're doing the readathon, what do you have one your lists?  I'd love to know, so drop a link to your TBR in the comments below! 







Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Horrorstor - Grady Hendrix

 

Title: Horrorstor
Author: Grady Hendrix
Format: EBook
Rating: 5 Stars 

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Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.

A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör is designed to retain its luster and natural appearance for a lifetime of use. Pleasingly proportioned with generous French flaps and a softcover binding, Horrorstör delivers the psychological terror you need in the elegant package you deserve.

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This was the first book I've read by Grady Hendrix, and I really didn't know what to expect when I started.  I ended up loving the book more than I thought I would.  I say that because I don't read a lot of out and out horror books.  So, when I do read them I don't really know what's going to happen.  

I got sucked into this book from the start.  The writing was good enough to make me want to keep going, and the humor at the beginning of the book had me laughing out loud.  I loved the way the characters in this book played off each other throughout the entire story.  I think that the characters fit well into this book based on their personalities, and each character was so well written that I could see them being part of a horror story, to be honest. 

The characters were so well written, and even though it was a short book in the fact that most of it was over a 24 hour period, Amy did a lot of growing and self searching in the book and came to a lot of realizations about herself.  Much of that was thanks to Ruth Ann being so blunt with Amy about her attitude and behavior. It was good to see that Amy developed and matured through the event in this book. She really came to realize that it was important to care about people besides herself, no matter what position she was at in life.

I won't say that this book was realistic, but the way it was written made the outrageous events of the story flow together so well.  Let's be honest here - how many times do we read a horror book, or watch a horror movie, and think "Right, that could never happen in real life." It's not the realism that draws us in, it's the story, and this story drew me in.  It packed a punch, and made me sit up and go "Oh," more than once. 

The characters really developed a bond with each other in this book as well, although the end did shake that up a bit.  Going through a traumatic event like what happened in this book tends to bond people in some way. I think that was the right way to develop the characters, because they couldn't have gone through that without some sort of connection.

This book had what you would typically expect in a horror book as well.  Lots of blood and gore, plenty of surprises and twists, and  the bonus of some comedic moments thrown in near the beginning of the book. The events of the book, shocking though they were, fit well together, and the backstory added even more to the events that take place in the night that the story takes place.

Have you read this book yet? If so drop me a comment below and let me know what you thought!

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue - V.E. Schwab

 

Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue 
Author: V.E. Schwab
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 5 Stars 

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A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
 

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This book wrecked me in a thousand different directions. It is an amazing, wonderful book that is filled with so much heartache, and I loved every single page. 

Addie makes a deal with a "god" that makes her immortal yet completely forgettable. She cannot leave her mark on this world in any way. She cannot write, she cannot create art, whoever she meets forgets her with minutes of leaving her.  Henry comes into her life after 300 years of being forgotten, and he remembers her. This leads to a tragic story that I secretly hoped would turn out differently.  

Addie lived a remarkable life in many ways, but it was also heartbreaking and sad, and leaves her making decisions and choices she might not have made if she hadn't been immortal and also backed into a corner.  She meets the darkness, names him Luc, and spends time thinking about him, yet wishing she could forget him. Although she seems to wish she could forget him, I think she wants him in a weird twisted Alina/Darkling type relationship. Watching this relationship between Luc and Addie develop was weird and strange and amazing. 

Watching Addie grow and develop and change over the course of 300 years was the best part of this book, especially since every other part of this book is tied up in Addie's life and the changes she goes through. She spends an eternity coming to terms with what happened and who this new her is. She meets people who forget her, until she meets one who remembers her. She sees war, and famine, and destruction, and new life, and new inventions, and they all become part of who she is and who she will be.  I loved watching and reading about all of that and loved seeing how it became a part of her and who she is. 

I absolutely loved the surprise that met Addie when she realized that Henry remembers who she is.  She tried to steal book, then tried to return the stolen book and that ended up chancing her entire life.  Henry and Addie ended up developing a relationship with each other over the remainder of the book, and that relationship added to Addie's life and changed and altered her trajectory in massive ways. I had high hopes for this relationship, and I was crushed when the book went in a different direction.

The events in this story weaved seamlessly together.  The whole story and everything that happened moved together to created a book that I won't soon forget. There were some things that were easier to figure out, and some things that shocked me and made me want to throw my phone across the room.  Even when I was mad, and sad, and annoyed with Addie and with Henry, I still loved every single heartbreaking, lovely part of this book. I loved it so much I've now described it as heartbreaking more than once.  Sorry friends. And yet, not sorry. 

I think the dual timeline also worked very well with this book. It helped give us some insight into Addie's past, and helped us see the development of her character, as well as the development of the relationship between her and Luc.  That played well into giving some understanding as to why the book ended the way it did.  I didn't love the way the book ended - it was hard and I cried. But after watching the way that Addie and Luc were with each other throughout the entirety of the book, I sort of understand it. 

So, friends, have any of you read this book yet? If so, drop me a comment and let me know what you thought of it.  If you haven't read it yet, get your hands on it now -  you'll love it!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Get a Life, Chloe Brown - Talia Hibbert

 

Title: Get a Life, Chloe Brown 
Author: Talia Hibbert
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4 Stars 

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Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And... do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…
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Get a Life, Chloe Brown is one of those cute romances that leaves you feeling like you're being hugged by the main characters.  

Chloe, the MC, is a guarded woman who struggles to open up to people outside her family. Red, the dude, struggles to open up as well.  In spite of that, they form a relationship that starts out mostly for convenience, but develops into a smooshy real romance that gives you all the feels. 

I liked that Chloe and her sisters had such a great relationship with each other. They were so cool, and cute, and great to and with each other.  Their relationship was also so important to the story because it showed a part of who Chloe was and helped her grow and realize what she needed and wanted in her life. 

It was fun to watch the development of Red and Chloe's relationship. I never did figure out why Chloe was so....frosty towards Red at the beginning of the novel, so I can only imagine that it just takes her a while to warm up to new people. And once she did, boy did she ever.  She and Red had a weird relationship at first. She was so intent on only having him there to help her with her list.  Then it developed into actual feelings, which led to confusion and a fight and all sorts of typical relationship frustration.  This was expected as part of a romance novel, and based on the characters and what had happened in their past's it was understandable. Each character had things revealed about themselves that made who they are currently believable. 

I think the author did a great job of building up these characters, giving them their personhoods, their personalities, their own lives. All the characters were well written and wonderful. They fit into this story so well.  The only thing I would have like to see more of was Chloe's parents, only because they said their family was so close, but then she hardly ever sees them after she moves. 

The story was cute and well written. I loved the events of the story and laughed so hard throughout the entire book. This book had some great sizzly moments as well, and did a great job of building up the obvious sexual tension between Red and Chloe. They were obviously actually attracted to each other even though they tried to hide it for a while. 

Overall, this romance book hits the mark. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a fun and fluffy romance book with great characters and a fun story!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Before the Devil Breaks You - Libba Bray

Title: Before the Devil Breaks You
Author: Libba Bray
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4 Stars

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New York City.
1927.
Lights are bright.
Jazz is king.
Parties are wild.
And the dead are coming...


After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough lies. They're more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward's Island, far from the city's bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten--ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.

With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them face-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they've ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation--a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.

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There are so many words that I could use to describe my feelings about this book. I'm angry, sad, broken, completely and totally wrecked.

This book was an amazing continuation of the Diviners series. There were many things I loved about this book (and one big thing I HATED!!!!)

The Characters: were absolutely amazing as usual. In this book, they really all started coming into their own even more. They were all so well written and well developed as in the previous books. But in this book, they all seemed to really develop a sense of who they were and what they wanted in life. Evie really started to mature in this book and developed into a young woman is strong and vocal about things. There were a few wishywashy moments, but she's definitely started making more effort on different things. Mabel changed into a young lady who's not afraid to speak for herself even when she's scared as hell. Theta became someone who stood by Memphis even when her ex (sort of) was hounding her and trying to control her life again. And Memphis and Isaiah! Wow these two are becoming so strong and learning so much about how to tell when someone is using them and taking advantage of who they are.  Ling, the dear sweet ace, has become a woman who knows the odds are stacked against here, but who is finding love anyway and learning to trust others in a way she didn't before. All these characters are so special and so important, and I loved watching them grow throughout this book.

The plot of this book was definitely darker than the previous two books in the series. Readers can tell that Libba Bray is gearing up for something intense in The King of Crows. There is so much great buildup and foreshadowing in this book. There is plenty of action and each chapter flows well into the next one. The story is so well written, and the events of the story build up so well to the intense and very climactic ending. Each event builds upon the previous event until it all just blows up in your face. 

I loved the way the characters learned to separate themselves from each other as well.  Mabel realized she needed independence from her friends, Theta realized she was having more trouble getting away from her husband than she thought, Memphis found a way to help remedy Mabel's situation, Bill Johnson found a way to extricate himself from a potentially deadly situation in a way that saved two other people as well. It all was so amazing and so well done.  

The settings of this book worked well in the context of the book as well. The asylum was the perfect place for these kids to learn about who they were and what they should do for themselves and for each other to keep the city and themselves all safe.  The Hotsie Totsie club, the Museum of the Paranormal, even the radio station Evie worked at. All these places worked together to add to the story and give more depth to what was happening, because so much of these places is built into what these kids want to do to keep more people safe. 

 This was a wonderful book and if you haven't read it yet, you absolutely need to!  If you have read it, let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!