The Magic of Books
3 Stars
A Very Beautiful Story
Picture Us in the Light - Kelly Loy Gilbert

I wasn't exactly sure what I would be getting myself into when I picked up this book, but it ended up being a very beautiful story. The leading character, Danny, is where the focus of the story lies but there are a multitude of stories within his own. Even if the story is technically about him, I feel like its meaning extended beyond more than just the one individual. The narrative was beautifully written and I was definitely intrigued. However, I do have to admit that it didn't feel like anything was happening until I was more than half-way through the book. The first 200 or so pages essentially functioned as backstory. While this payed off in the long-run, it did initially make me feel like I had to push my way through the first half of the book to get to the good stuff.


Overall, I would rate this book around 3.5 stars!

4 Stars
An Amazing Start to a New Series
Furyborn - Claire Legrand

It wouldn't be an exaggeration if I said that this book has literally garnered all the hype in the world. Almost anywhere you turn, no matter what social media site you're using, it seems as though everyone is talking about this book. At times, such hype can be alarming since it can lead to disappointment if something doesn't live up to your expectations. However, Furyborn is a book which definitely withstood the hype test in my eyes and is deserving of all the commotion it has been making.


First and foremost, I have to say that this was a very unique book to read. Not only was the premise and style inventive (I really love the world this story is taking place in), but the fashion of jumping between separate-but-connected timelines was refreshing. Such a unique style of story-telling is uncommon for my reading taste so it was strange at first but also very fun to jump into.


Furyborn's cast of characters were also very fun. For the first half of the book, I didn't particularly care for Eliana but I really liked Rielle. However, as the story continued and readers were given further perspective into character's backstories and characterization, I began to quickly warm up to Eliana. Then, by the end of the book, she was undoubtedly my favorite character! Though she has a long journey to take in terms of growth, she is a character whose character arc I immensely look forward to. I am likewise intrigued by Rielle and her character arc, especially since the various time frames this story is told through hints at multiple directions that have yet to be realized. I'm very interested in seeing how such paths come into play, and if they are as good/bad as the future makes them out to be.


Overall, I thought this was a great first book in the series. I look forward to reading the sequel!

4 Stars
A Gripping Page-Turner
Lies You Never Told Me - Jennifer Donaldson

This book is one clever, clever page-turner. From the first page, I found myself drawn to the story and its characters, yearning to understand how their lives would intertwine and, if not, what connection they shared that would make them co-narrators of this story. My desire to find out what would happen next was so strong that it felt almost physically impossible to put this book down. I can't put my finger on what it was exactly, but something about the writing really drew me in. Both narrator's voices were very strong and distinctive. Not only that, they felt like the realistic thoughts and reactions of the teenagers they belonged to and their circumstances. Its been far too often that the books I've read have featured teenage protagonist with voices that were either too mature or too immature. I think Lies You Never Told Me hit the perfect middle-ground, in which the narrators' voices were perfectly reflective of their age and mindset, which I greatly appreciated.


That being said, I also have to say that there were several instances in the story where I was looking for more than what I was given. If I'm honest, Sasha's story-line felt a bit off at times. The character is vital to story, but a huge part of her arc seemed almost unnecessary in a larger context, with little motivation seemingly being given for her actions. Certain aspects of the story likewise didn't seem to meet full closure by the story's end, which was a bit disappointing.


Overall, this book is totally worth the read if only for that one plot twist. I can't say it or even hint at it since its so good, but I gasped out loud once I put two and two together. The author did a truly fantastic job.

3 Stars
Memorable for Its Message
The Dinner List - Rebecca Serle

About half-way through this book, I realized that the author was the same woman who wrote Famous in Love (which I shamelessly adored). This felt like a huge revelation, since this particular book seemed like a huge deviation from her former releases. The writing style and mature story line are almost unrecognizable, and I really appreciated this aspect. It showed me the diversity of her skills as a writer, which makes me even more excited for her future releases!


But onto the actual book review...


Though this book is short, there is a lot of info and emotion packed into the 288 pages that are given. Rather than reading a story from start to finish, the book's short chapters made me feel like I was taking brief sneak peeks into Sabrina's life. The timeline is as befuddled as her emotions, and though it seems as though it would be confusing to understand, it somehow works. I felt the emotions of the characters in all their anger, resentment, and denial. Audrey Hepburn's inclusion on the dinner list is truthfully what initially drew me in, but I definitely stayed for the characters and their tangled relationships. While there were some relationships that I felt deserved more of a spot light, I did feel like everything was successfully wrapped up by the story's end. Though the ending did feel slightly depressing, the book delivers a nice message that will leave an impression on readers. All in all, a good read that feels memorable! 3.5 stars!

5 Stars
A Unique and Inventive Universe
The Belles - Dhonielle Clayton

I knew from reading the synopsis of this book that I would immediately love it. The concept and plot of this story is superb, while its development is slow and steady. We meet our main character, Camellia, immediately and it’s through her naïve eyes that we are carried through the story. Since Camellia is essentially an outsider and separate from the bulk of society on account of her gifts, I believe that she worked as a great protagonist since readers are able to accurately and realistically learn about this creative universe through her perspective as she herself learns. Her slow character development led readers in a natural direction that was easy to follow. I absolutely fell in love with the mystery behind the true nature of this magical, fictional New Orleans.


My only complaint concerning this story is its writing style, which is technically only a matter of taste. I spent the first several chapters forcing myself to read rather than enjoying myself. However, once I became used to the writing style, I eventually came to love and enjoy it.


Overall, this is a completely original and thoroughly unique story which conveys a clear message that the author skillfully intertwines with the plot and heart of the story. Such a message is not thrust down reader’s throats, but told in a fashion that allows readers to develop their own perspective of the matter. The story works almost as an interpretative, symbolic piece representative of the struggles each and every individual likely feels each time they look in a mirror. I’m definitely anticipating book 2 of this series!