Monday, September 28, 2020

Book Reviews - Made Up and Growing Up

Okay, y'all, for this round, I read so many different rounds - in the best of ways. There was a thriller, there was a thriller with a bit more of a horror spin, there was a novel in verse about growing up, and there was a novel about growing up with a fantasy spin. I loved each of these because of their uniqueness - in characters, in plot twists, in format, in literally everything. They couldn't have been more different, but I couldn't have collectively loved them more!

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia was such a beautifully written story. Honestly, I want to read this one again just to be swept away in the author's words again! The story focuses on Noemi. Noemi gets a concerning letter from her newly married cousin. After receiving the letter, Noemi decides to head to her cousin's mansion to figure out what's happening. She doesn't exactly know what she's going to do, but she knows she needs to do something. Once she arrives, she realizes something is definitely up, and it seems to possibly be in the realm of haunting/evil. The story is then "stuff" happening, and Noemi trying to find out the truth. I don't want to say too, too much because I want y'all to get the full effect of the twisty journey. This again is so wonderfully written. While it focuses on horror, I was just so darn captivated and swept away by the storytelling! 

The Places We Sleep by Caroline DuBois Brooks was such a wonderful and emotional middle grade novel written in verse. On September 11, 2001, there are the terrorist attacks, and Abbey gets her period. Because there is a family connection to the attacks, Abbey's mother is not able to be there for her as she might normally be, so Abbey is navigating what has happened alone. In addition, there is added anxiety for Abbey as her father is in the Army, and she worries what this attack means for him. Also, Abbey is the new girl as her father has recently been assigned to the base, so she doesn't yet have friends she can turn to as she navigates all the feels. This was so, so beautifully written. Given the target audience is kids who weren't alive to know what 9/11 was like, this does a great job of capturing the emotion of that day and the days following through the eyes of a kid. Additionally, it also focuses and names what it's like to get your period. I've noticed this as a topic that is being covered more and more in middle grade reads, and y'all, thank goodness. It's something that's important to normalize! This was just such a wonderful journey through Abbey's eyes and with such beautiful words!

Breadcrumbs by Anna Ursu was a truly captivating modern-day fairy tale. Hazel and Jack have been best friends forever. However, they're getting to the age where people start to question a boy and a girl being best friends, and that has an impact on them. Hazel notices they've started to drift apart, and that's hard for her. Then, Jack completely vanishes. Even though they haven't been spending much time together lately, Hazel just knows something is awry. She commits to figuring out what has really happened to her friend. This means she has to go into the woods after him. Y'all, in the woods, it is a literal other world, and Hazel encounters all the things. However, she's committed to finding Jack, so she treks through it all. This was such a unique blend of a real-time story with the elements of a fairy tale fantasy, and I was so drawn into this angle. I loved the driving force of friendship with a side of magic and mystery throughout. This is truly one that's a story good for all ages that I just adored!

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley was the latest read for my book club. I opted to do the audiobook. With that, I loved the narration, especially because it used different readers for different characters which is my personal audio preference. That said, it also took me some time to really "get" which voice was which person as there were multiple timelines and threads at play, but once I did, it was a wild ride y'all! The story focuses on a group of thirtysomething friends who have gotten together for a trip out in the country. The core group has known each other since college, and this trip has become an annual time to reconnect. However, this trip involves a death. The death is revealed early, but you aren't told who has been killed, and there is obvs also a killer involved. The story then backtracks through their time at the resort, as well as where their relationships have been. As the different narrators share their perspective, you start to see the cracks in the foundation of some of these friendships. With these cracks, you start to consider who might have been the perpetrator and victim of the crime. Y'all, the twist on this one was so darn good. I'd been craving a good jaw-dropping twist, and this was just what I needed. This was just a solid thriller all around!

Onto the next ones!