Final Girls by Riley Sager

Loved Loved Loved!  A psychological thriller that kept me guessing until the very end.  In the tradition of “Gone Girl” and “Girl on the Train”, Final Girls uses the unreliable narrator trope perfectly to weave a story that is believable, thrilling and a fun ride. It calls to mind some of the great “slasher” films and has a gripping ending that I did not see coming.  I would advise anyone getting ready to read this to buckle up and allow yourself to get sucked into the world of the “Final Girls.”

Artemis by Andy Weir

When I received “Artemis” as an Advanced Reader Copy through Netgalley, I jumped for joy. To say I am a fan of Weir’s first book “The Martian” is an understatement. After I finished it, I literally ran around my office cheering. And Artemis lives up to the standard “The Martian” set, in my opinion.

Featuring a diverse cast of characters and the hard science that I loved in his first novel, Weir paints a picture of a city on the Moon that is thriving, peaceful, yet has a seedy underbelly. Picture Ocean’s 11 in space.  That’s right.  It’s a heist on the moon!!!!!  Jazz is a strong female protagonist with a flare for the dramatic, a loose moral code and a lot of funny one-liners and sarcastic remarks. Her interactions with characters like Rudy, Bob, and even her own father builds her into a multi-dimensional woman who wants to do right, but someone who tends to get caught up with the wrong people and bets on the wrong horse. This was such a fun ride and sure to be a huge hit when this book comes out in the fall.

Poe: Stories and Poems by Gareth Hinds

I am an over the top Edgar Allan Poe fan. From tattoos to a room in my home devoted to the man, I eat up everything that I can with his name upon it. When I saw this graphic novel of Poe’s works available for early review, I knew I had to request it.

Poe’s work pairs beautifully with the visual design of this graphic novel. The images brilliantly portray the horror, despair, and Gothic feel of Poe’s stories, as well as the sadness and longing of his poetry. Since “The Cask of Amontillado” is my favorite Poe story, I was especially interested to see how it would be visually portrayed and I was not disappointed. The horror of the bricking up of the wall is perfectly captured.

I also enjoyed reading how Hinds picked the stories he was going to use and how he researched and drew inspiration for the book.

The Man Who Loved Libraries by Andrew Larsen

I couldn’t resist downloading this from NetGalley. Andrew Carnegie’s life had its controversies of course with his union busting actions, but you cannot deny the legacy he left building libraries all over the world. As someone who grew up right outside of Pittsburgh, in a town named Carnegie, those libraries were places where I could dream and they formed me into who I am today. This is wonderful book for children (and adults) to learn about this great man’s work and legacy.

The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell

W. Kamau Bell has written a funny and poignant look at his life and how it has his experiences have shaped his view of the world and his approach to life. I absolutely loved how open and honest he is about his own “awkwardness” in life, how he has had to bridge so many worlds and how it has affected everything from his family to his career. I think we all struggle to fit into the world and Bell writes so truthfully about finding his own way to become a success. I loved how each chapter examines a topic and the people that influenced him that helped him become who he is and make his own unique mark.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

“Beartown” is a complete departure from Backman’s previous novels and I absolutely loved it. This book starts off making you think this is going to be about a small town and their hockey team finally turning things around for the better. But then it takes a turn that brilliantly examines small town life, where everyone knows everybody and they all have a story to tell, along with opinions about each other. This was such a complex and emotional look at how people act when everything they know and believe is challenged, the power of belonging, loyalty and tradition, and the love of family and friends. Every character examined in this story left a powerful impression on me, and the topic is so timely in this day and age. A must read for fans of Backman as well as his first time readers.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

I absolutely love fairy tale reworkings, especially in the YA genre, and this one does not disappoint. A retelling of Cinderella, Geekerella reads like the Geek Girls Guide, with a true and complete understanding of the geek fandom lifestyle. Elle and Sage are the perfect team as they go on this adventure together, and the “evil” stepmom and twin stepsisters are fleshed out to not just be flat, mean people, but very nuanced in why they are the way they are. The love story between Elle and Darien builds beautifully and I loved how both characters fumble through it but ultimately prevail. The best part of the book however is how accurately Poston captures what these various fandoms mean to so many people. There were several times that my eyes filled with tears as Elle described how Starfield helps make her feel accepted and understood in the crazy world of being a teen girl.  This book is a fun adventure and definitely one of of my favorite YA Books for 2017!

Waking Gods By Sylvain Neuvel

I was eagerly anticipating this sequel to Sleeping Giants and was so happy to get a ARC of this thanks to NetGalley. Written with the same style of interviews as the first book, Waking Gods reunites us with familiar characters, Rose, Kara, and Vincent as they continue to work with and understand Themis, ten years in the future. But when another alien robot suddenly appears in downtown London, the game changes from research to war. This series is sci-fi blended perfectly with a thriller attitude. Full of new subplots, secret government organizations with mysterious men, and some of the best twists in the series so far, Waking Gods is definitely making me go crazy for the next installment in this exciting series.

Feral By James DeMonaco and B.K. Evenson

A dystopian novel that is scary, creepy and features women kicking butt! From the writer/director of “The Purge” movies, Feral explores what happens when women are left to fend for themselves after all of the men are infected with a genetically engineered virus that makes them violent and blood-thirsty, causing them to hunt women down and slaughter them.

The main character Allie is well developed and an emotional character to explore. Her mental toughness is balanced by the love she has for her sister and her loyalty to the community she is protecting and scavenging for. Each of the female characters add an aspect to the story that makes the whole community work well within the disaster they are living in, and the Sam twist definitely kept me reading. A fast paced read, filled with action, plenty of gore and horror. Although this book is marketed as an adult horror novel, I feel like this falls more into the YA genre and will be very successful with readers who like The Hunger Games and Divergent series.

Grendel’s Guide to Love and War by A.E. Kaplan

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Tom Grendel and his father, an Army veteran who is struggling with PTSD, are trying to lead a quiet life to allow his father to heal not only from his battle scars, but the loss of his wife and Tom’s mother.  But when a family moves in next door that threatens to upset the quiet neighborhood they all love, adventures ensue as Tom, his best friend Ed, and Tom’s sister vow to end the loud parties that have driven Tom’s dad from their home.  And then there’s Willow…

This book is everything that is right about YA.  I absolutely loved this reworking of Beowulf.  The adventures and plots were fun and crazy, together with the perfect amount of angst, the all important first love, and my new favorite best friend in a YA novel, Ed.  So many laugh out loud moments, but also moments that tugged at your heart and made the characters so easy to relate to and empathize with.  I had more fun with this book than I have in a long time and truly enjoyed every second of it.

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion

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I was really looking forward to this book as I am a huge fan of “The Rosie” series. “The Best of Adam Sharpe” is definitely a bit different. A story of true love and second chances, the book starts off great, building the story of Adam and Angeline, a love affair over 20 years ago that apparently neither can let go of. The build up of their love is absolutely incredible. Adam is an amateur pianist who enjoys playing at the local bar after work each day. This is when Angelina walks in and changes his life forever. The soundtrack throughout the path of their relationship is beautiful and emotional. Unfortunately her job as an actress and his job as a world traveling IT consultant causes the relationship to end and the two of them to go in opposite directions in life, finding other partners along the way.

An email from Angelina to Adam starts the two of them longing for one another again, and this is where the story takes a turn that ultimately made me dislike both and not want to root for their love anymore. It took all the charm and true love that the book had perfectly built and turned it ultimately into a adulterous mess. The story manages to somewhat redeem the characters in the end, but the damage was done for me at that point. Yes, relationships can be complicated and people are flawed, but from the “lemon tree” scene on, I completely lost interest in the two of them even trying to have a happy ending.

How the Hell Did This Happen? The Election of 2016 by P.J. O’Rourke

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P.J. O’Rourke is one of my favorite political writers for one reason – his pure and very humorous honesty about the state of politics in America. And this book is no different. O’Rourke takes apart the 2016 election bit by bit and he does it in a way that reflects the crazy and disjointed nature of the whole election cycle. Each candidate is equally criticized and praised, as is the entire election process starting with the primary and caucus process, through the hot mess that was the debates, to the final two choices that literally left the country asking “How the Hell Did This Happen?” Equal parts crying and laughing to help us plow through the next four years!

Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

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I absolutely love reading reworks of the classics told from an alternate point of view, and “Mr. Rochester” definitely caught my attention. “Jane Eyre” is one of my absolute favorites and Mr. Rochester ranks right up there with Mr. Darcy as far as I am concerned. “Mr. Rochester” is an imagining of the life of Edward Rochester, from his days as a young boy in boarding school, to his formative years as a young man learning the business world at a mill, to his time in Jamaica running his father’s sugar plantation. I love how Ms. Shoemaker was able to weave in what we know about the Rochester family, his turbulent love/hate relationship with Bertha, and his caring for Adele into his backstory leading up to the arrival of his dear Jane at Thornfield Hall. It was faithful to the tone of “Jane Eyre” and beautifully told, helping us to understand a bit more why Mr. Rochester had so many rough edges that only Jane could smooth down.

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