Since a lot of the reviews I've been writing lately seem to be between 1-3 star books, here are some mini reviews for books I've read this year that I've loved.
Sanctuary - Jennifer McKissack - 5 Stars - good reads link
Beautiful beatiful book. This tells the story of a young woman returning to her childhood home after being hit by some unfortunate financial circumstances in 1940s America. Trigger warnings for a verbally abusive uncle. But with the hope of a possible romance with a new young man who comes in as a professor interested in the mansion's history and library collection. It's rather bleak and quite a sad story. Involves ghosts and an old family legend as well as a moving look at mental illness in the family. Wonderfully descriptive and very atmospheric.
Fairest (Lunar Chronicles 3.5) 4 Stars
An interesting take on how Queen Levana became who she is. One hugely fucked up girl. Given her circumstances and what is learned from her history, it's quite understandable how she became the monster she is. Initially I felt quite bad for her at the start of the novel but the more I read, the more twisted Levana's behaviour became. Totally twisted, but kind of addictive as well. I read this in a day.
Very Bad Things - Susan McBride - 4 Stars - Goodreads Link
Prep school mystery with a Life Time Movie feel to it. Tells the story of a girl who finds herself dating the hottest boy in her class, (her roommate and BFF thinks its a terrible idea and makes no secret) the mean girl ex-girlfriend makes constant snotty remarks. Then an X-rated video of the boyfriend and a mystery girl turns up on line. And the girl from the video turns up dead shortly later. Not so brilliant characters, but faced paced and with some great plot twists. Even though it had an I think I've seen this in a movie somewhere feel to it - it was surprisingly unpredictable (even if it did get a bit silly at the the end). A fun read.
Winter Falls (Twin Willows #1) Nicole Maggi - 4 Stars Goodreads Link
Brilliant YA paranormal romance. I think this is one I came across whilst browning through Amazon at one point and purchased but it sat on my shelf for ages. Picked it up as a possible candidate for a reading challenge and read it in a day. Tells the story of a girl who becomes caught up in a war between two different types of shapeshifters fighting for power. Forbidden romance and of course girl discovers she's a huge part of the battle with new superpowers to learn. Excellently written and some great world building with a unique take on shapeshifters and powers.
Our Lady of The Ice - Cassandra Rose Clark - 4 Stars - Goodreads Link
Scifi/Dystopia with a Noire feel to it!! This is set in a strange world in Antarctica where people live in domes. Chill factor weather wise is a huge deal and there are robots and secret cyborgs. There's a lady detective, a rich widow with a secret, androids, a crime lord, his lackey who's in love with the lady detective. Lots of different plots that twist and intertwine brilliantly. The scifi aspects involving the robots and the technology was a little hard to for me to comprehend but once I got used to the style I really enjoyed the differentness of the novel. Stand alone too, it would appear.
Dumplin' - Julie Murphy - 5 Stars -Goodreads Link
Brilliant brilliant book. I loved everything about this one. I don't think I've ever identified with a character as much as I did with Willowdean Dickinson, particularly as a large plus sized person myself. If only they had had body positive books like this when I was in school. Brilliant voice, brilliant writing. And character flaws too! Not everything is perfect and in spite of the funny bits, it was quite angsty and painful in parts. Very moving. Very good.
Sword and Verse - Kathy McMillan - 5 Stars - Goodreads Link
Beautifully written fantasy. This one made me cry by the end. Tells the story of Raisa, who is a slave in a palace, who finds herself in the precarious position of Tutor in a world where written language is only for the Royals (the prince and the king) as dictated by the gods. Really fascinating mythology and creation myths. While the plot is very slow and practically non existent until well over half way through what I liked about this was seeing the more every day side of life as Raisa struggles with her position and her loyalties. There is (of course) a forbidden romance and a rebellion. Nothing that is highly different than a thousand other fantasy novels. But I did find the writing style and world building quite unique. In spite of a slow plot, and insta-love, it was a really good read. Another one that I finished in a couple of hours after getting past the first 100 pages.
The Radiant Road - Katherine Catmull - 5 Stars Goodreads Link
This is one of those odd books (at least for me) that falls somewhere between middle grade and YA. The main character, Clare, is 14 years old, and while she deals with some issues in a very mature way, in other times, she behaves like a child. So its hard to say YA or older middle grade. Either way, it was a fantastic book. It involves a strange and interesting take on faeries and changlings. Clare is the guardian of a link between the two worlds. She has to protect her link from a villain who wants to destroy the fairy gates. This is one of the weirdest most convoluted books I have ever read. I barely had a clue what was going on. In spite of that, it was still brilliant. Beautifully written in an odd, almost dream like way. Fantastically original take on fae lore, fascinating world building and incredible characters. Weird but brilliant.
Some Girls Bite (Chigacoland Vampires #1) Chloe Neill 5 Stars
Delightfully cheesy urban fantasy. Another one I've had on my shelves for ages. Finally started on a whim. And ended up loving it. Has everything I look for in urban fantasy - kick ass snarky heroine. BFF with a great roll that's more than just a funny side kick. Hot potential love interest. Great world building and a mystery aspect to solve as well. Dialogue was witty and on the ridiculous side, but as the novel progressed the tension built and the plot picked up. Sets up the scene wonderfully. Really looking forward to some more in this series.