Review: The Dreamers

★★★★☆34409176

Let me just say it outright: I loved this book. I was pining for weeks before it was gifted to me for Valentine’s Day and I was thrilled to finally begin. I haven’t read Karen Thompson Walker‘s first book, The Age of Miracles but it has jumped far up my TBR after this.

In The Dreamers Walker transports you to the cozy town of Santa Lora, California where a mysterious illness descends has descended upon the local college. Told for the perspectives of a several of residents of Santa Lora, The Dreamers is an intimate portrait of a town in crisis.

This is not a fast-paced thriller, but something to bask in. There is a certain magic to the world Walker creates and the delicate way the lives of each character overlaps and intertwines. Even though this book succeeds in giving a full overview of Santa Lora in the midst of an epidemic, I felt like I had enough time to connect with each character and I cared deeply for all of them. No point of view felt unnecessary of wedged in, every life contributed to the story effortlessly. This book is simply mesmerizing. The Dreamers was published January 5, 2019.

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I received my copy of The Dreamers from Random House via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Cover art courtesy of Random House.

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Advance Review: Eight Lives

★★★★★43397089

David Tran is dead. The young doctor was poised to revolutionize immunology with his miracle drug, but just as the first clinical trial is set to begin, he dies under mysterious circumstances. Eight Lives begins in the aftermath as those close to Tran recount their intertwined histories, trying to piece together the truth of this tragedy, unprepared for the secrets they’ll uncover about the “Golden Boy” of Australian medicine.

Eight Lives is Susan Hurley‘s debut novel, and what an spectacular debut it is. One of the aspects of this novel that captured me the most was the technical detail interwoven. Fear not, the impeccable pacing isn’t slowed a bit. Instead Hurley enhances every turn of the plot with expertise, her decades of experience in medical research shining through as she shines light on an industry so vital, but so little known.

But this is more than a thoroughly researched thriller, Eight Lives is woven together with incredible precision. The story is told from the perspectives of David’s sister, his childhood friend, his lab assistant, his long-time girlfriend, and a “fixer” employed by his investors. Their stories, though many of them have nothing in common besides their relation to David, come together elegantly. Each holds a crucial piece to the puzzle and it is a thrill to watch realizations coalesce between parties that are, at times, completely at odds with one another. The truth of David’s death comes together slowly and painstakingly. It took my breath away as the truth was finally realized and Eight Lives has been in my thoughts for days since I finished. I’m certain this is one of those books you’ll have to read twice to truly appreciate. Eight Lives will be published March 26, 2019.

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I received my copy of Eight Lives from Affirm Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Cover art courtesy of Affirm Press.

Review: Defense of an Other

★★★★☆

Outside a gay bar in New Orleans, a young lawyer and a man he met only hours before are confronted by a group of drunks that have targeted them for a hate crime. So begins Grace Mead‘s Defense of an Other. In the first few chapters leading up to the inciting incident, plenty of the dialogue and character interactions fell flat, but after the fight that ultimately ends a man’s life, our protagonist is thrown in jail. Then the book really takes off.

Mead lays out the trial proceedings and events that follow in the riveting way I’m sure only a lawyer of 17 years could do. She presents vivid drama with none of the theatrics or hyperbole that I’ve found pervasive in other legal thrillers. Instead, reading Defense of An Other felt like sitting in the court alongside all the other spectators, reeling as the case transpires, hoping for a not guilty verdict. Defense of An Other was published November 13, 2018.

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I received my copy of Defense of An Other from Clink Street Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Cover art courtesy of Clink Street Publishing.

Review: Lord of The Butterflies

★★★★★

I didn’t intend to tear through Andrea Gibson‘s collection of poems so quickly, at such a late hour. But now it’s one in the morning and I have been deeply moved by all of her words. I found myself in tears, filled with hope, and warmed by the sweetness of some of her poems- and then through this cycle of these emotions once again. This collection touches on gender, sexuality, love, loss, and the state of our world in an age of apathy. Navigating each topic Gibson writes powerfully and sweetly, in a way that dares you not to connect with this outstanding collection. Lord of the Butterflies was published November 27, 2018.

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I received my copy of Lord of Butterflies from Button Poetry via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Cover art courtesy of Button Poetry.

Advance Review: Nancy Drew: The Palace of Wisdom

★★★☆☆43837351

Kelly Thompson has brought new life to this well-loved character with her quick, witty graphic novel. I was an occasional mystery lover growing up and though I was never an avid fan, I fondly recall the Nancy Drew books I took from my elementary school library. I enjoyed the reintroduction to familiar characters (including The Hardy Boys!) and how Thompson portrays them in their late teen years.

The story begins with the midst of her hi-jinks, finishing up a mystery involving the disappearance of her school’s mascot. As Nancy begins searching for her next case, she is suddenly drawn back to her hometown by a mysterious letter relating to the death of her mother. Back in Bayport, Nancy reunites with her old friends and rallies the group to aid her investigation.

The artwork throughout the entire graphic novel is gorgeous, I’m a huge fan of Jess St. Onge‘s style. The story is filled with interesting twists and a diverse cast of characters. Though the plot didn’t completely thrill me, I was definitely hooked by the cliffhanger and I will be looking forward to the next installment. Nancy Drew: The Palace of Wisdom will be published April 2, 2019.

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I received my copy of Nancy Drew: The Palace of Wisdom from Diamond Book Distributors via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Cover art courtesy of Diamond Book Distributors.

Advance Review: Build Yourself a Boat

★★★★☆ 41745741

I consume collections of poetry erratically, and only make it through those that I really connect with. This was one of those special cases.

Camonghne Felix‘s compelling debut drew me in and never let go as I progressed through Build Yourself a Boat. Felix’s ability to convey emotion and shape her words so beautifully. She masterfully tackles themes of trauma and healing in this collection that equal parts powerful and evocative. Build Yourself a Boat will be published April 16, 2019.

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I received my copy of Build Yourself a Boat from Haymarket Books via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. Cover art courtesy of Haymarket Books.

Advance Review: The Parade

★★★☆☆ 40819224

I read The Circle when it was first published several years ago. Dave Eggers had written a classic tale of dark secrets behind a glittering facade that devastates when it begins to fall apart. It was a quick, satisfying read and with this fond memory in mind, I jumped at a chance to read his upcoming book, The Parade.

The premise is simple enough: a pair of western contractors have been sent to an unnamed country that has been ravaged by years of civil war. In this time of peace, they have been contracted to pave a road bridging the northern and southern regions of this country. The story is narrated by Four, the older and more experienced of the two men. Four intends to carry out this job has he has every assignment before, but Nine throws a wrench in that. As Four keeps his head down and his gaze fixed on the finish line, Nine soaks up the landscape and the hospitality of locals.

The Parade chugs along at a steady pace. I wouldn’t characterize this as particularly suspenseful, but the book doesn’t drag on. Eggers leads you on with the promise of further intrigue and maybe, just maybe figuring out what this book is actually about. It feels almost allegorical with the way he layers on the vagueness: an unnamed company sending two men who go only by pseudonyms to an unnamed country after a conflict between nameless factions. It felt at times as if I knew the machine they were using to pave the road better than the characters before me. I enjoyed how both Four and Nine’s relationship evolved over time, but the ending ultimately fell flat. The final twist was tragically predictable and didn’t land with much more than a thud. For better or for worse, I’ve never read anything quite like The Parade before. The Parade will be published March 19, 2019.

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I received my copy of The Parade from Knopf via First to Read in exchange for an honest review. Cover art courtesy of Knopf.

Advance Review: oh no

★★★★

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Alex Norris‘s collection from the widely loved Webcomic Name is full of some of the best comics to date and several that have never been seen before. oh no (named for the comic’s running gag) is a unique take on “relatable” webcomics, framing daily disappointments in a truly hilarious way. Norris’s occasionally absurd art compliments this off-kilter collection perfectly. oh no will be published April 2, 2019.

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I received my copy of oh no from Andrews McMeel Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Cover art courtesy of Andrews McMeel Publishing.