Books With a Twist

You’re going along, innocently reading your novel, when suddenly the earth shifts beneath you – an unexpected plot twist! You thought you were reading one thing, but suddenly everything you thought you knew goes out the window. If you love a book that surprises you, that turns you inside out and upside down, that makes you toss it down and say “what just happened?“, then we have some reading recommendations for you.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. In this classic with a kick, en people, each with something to hide, are invited to an isolated mansion on Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. One by one, the guests reveal the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die…

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love. You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle. Assume nothing. 

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott. When a violent death rocks her close-knit gymnastics community weeks before an important competition, the mother of an Olympic hopeful works frantically to hold her family together in spite of being irresistibly drawn to the crime.

One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke. While on a sun-soaked Greek island for a bachelorette party to celebrate Lexi’s upcoming wedding, six very different women discover that someone is determined to make sure Lexi’s marriage never happens—and that one of them won’t leave the island alive.

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney. Every anniversary Adam and Amelia exchange traditional gifts–paper, cotton, pottery, tin–and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda. Rendered famous in childhood for her miraculous survival of a dangerous storm, a young woman changes her name and struggles to hide from the media before waking up one evening to find a corpse at her feet. And then the fun begins.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough. The secretary of a successful psychiatrist is drawn into the seemingly picture-perfect life of her boss and his wife before discovering a complex web of controlling behaviors and secrets that gradually reveal profound and dangerous flaws in the couple’s relationship.

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner, Chuck Aule, come to Shutter Island’s Ashcliffe Hospital in search of an escaped mental patient, but uncover true wickedness as Ashcliffe’s mysterious patient treatments propel them to the brink of insanity. The basis for a motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson.

Without her husband’s knowledge, Christine, whose memory is damaged by a long-ago accident, is treated by a neurologist who helps her to remember her former self through journal entries until inconsistencies begin to emerge, raising disturbing questions.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. When a single mom and a teen girl are found murdered at the bottom of a river in a small town weeks apart, an ensuing investigation dredges up a complicated local history involving human instincts and the damage they can inflict. By the bestselling author or another twisty novel, The Girl on the Train.

One Book, Two Readers – Teens Review “It Ends With Us”

Teens: did you know that you can earn community service credit for writing a book review and submitting it to us? Today, we’ll hear from two teens who did just that, and get their takes on the same book. Find out more about how to earn community service hours from home at cheshirelibrary.org/teens/.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. Reviewed by Anja J.

This book had me in actual tears by the end of it, and I finished it in less than 2 days. Colleen Hoover did an outstanding job at portraying the hard-to-hear truths of domestic violence in this book. The story outlines the childhood of Lily Bloom living and growing up in an unstable household, with a father that got angry at her mother very easily. At the same time, she falls in love with a boy, Atlas, with whom she found refuge and comfort. The two, however, part ways.

Fast-forwarding to her post-college years, she meets a man in Boston, Ryle, who seems like the perfect fit for her. Until he isn’t. Meanwhile, Lily runs into her first love, Atlas, after all these years, which challenges the strength and trust of Lily and Ryle’s relationship.

The story of Lily and Ryle’s relationship has the reader engaged from the very beginning. It perfectly demonstrates the gray areas of abusive relationships and how one can fall into the cycle of abuse and struggle to break their way out. Hoover’s beautiful writing creates a waterfall of emotions and exemplifies the contradictions in characters that we see in everyday life. Everything is written so personally and eloquently that it is like you are literally in Lily’s shoes and experiencing everything firsthand. Parts of the book were also written in the form of journal entries that provided so much more insight into the internal workings of Lily. This book has never made me hate, and yet, sympathize with a character more. After reading this book, I had realized this story could be so much more realistic than it is fiction. So many women face the same awful and heart-breaking situations that Lily was in and reading this story was getting to know, intimately, what that is like. This book has recently gained a lot of popularity, and it is justifiable, as it truly lives up to all of the hype.

5 stars.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. Reviewed by Jocelyn C.

Lily Bloom grew up in a traumatizing household. She never had it the same as some of her classmates and friends. She was born in a small town in Maine, graduated from college, and ended up moving. She moved to Boston and opened up her own business, which she’s always dreamed of. When she meets a handsome neurosurgeon, Ryle Kincade, her whole life is turned around. She falls in love with him.

Ryle had many attributes. He is stubborn, strong, and even a little conceited. Among all of these, he is extremely caring with a huge spot in his heart for Lily. As Lily navigates through her crazy and wild ride of a relationship with Ryle, thoughts of Atlas Corrigan come back to haunt her. Atlas was her first love. Her protector with the biggest heart and soul she’d ever met. They were together when they were in high school and were inseparable. They saw each other every waking moment of the day. They couldn’t bear to not see each other until one day Atlas left and Lily was left all alone, completely heartbroken. When she graduated college, she finally said she needed to get out of Maine, and that’s how she ended up in Boston, where everything seemed better.

When Atlas all of a sudden reappeared back in her life 15 years later, Lily and Ryle’s entire relationship is jeopardized. He was a link to her past that she didn’t want to remember. Lily and Ryle struggle to rekindle their relationship, all while Atlas is in the back of both of their minds. We see jealousy, anger, and reconciliation all throughout the book. It will make you fall in love, rip your heart out, and be so angry while dealing with sensitive topics. Colleen Hoover conveys an excellent novel of love and heartbreak that jump started a new groundbreaking career for her.

5 stars

Teen Book Reviews: the “Raven Cycle” series

Teens: did you know that you can earn community service credit for writing a book review and submitting it to us? Today, we’ll hear from someone who did just that. Find out more about how to earn community service hours from home at cheshirelibrary.org/teens/.

The Raven Cycle consists of four books, all reviewed below. WARNING: Possible spoilers exist.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Reviewed by Mia V.

The Raven Boys is the first book in the Raven Cycle, and is the story of four prep school boys, Adam, Ronan, Gansey and Noah, who embark on a journey to find the deceased Welsh king, Glendower. Adam is a poor farm boy with an abusive father, while Ronan is a somewhat scary and viciously protective friend, and Gansey is an extremely passionate and extremely wealthy boy who simply wants to find Glendower. And Noah… well we don’t know a lot about Noah other than that he is friends with the other Raven Boys.

Blue, the daughter of a psychic, also finds herself swept up in the quest to find Glendower, while she tries to make sense of the prophecy her mother has given her; that she will cause her true love to die. Despite coming from a family of clairvoyants, Blue does not possess the ability to see into the future. Although she initially dislikes the snobby, prep-school boys, she later becomes close friends with all of them.

The four boys spend practically all of their time together, at their school Aglionby Academy, and at their own place, Monmouth Manufacturing. Gansey leads Adam, Ronan, Noah and Blue, on the quest to find Glendower which proves to be both frustrating and dangerous. Gansey and his friends find themselves competing with Mr. Whelk, their high school Latin teacher. Mr. Whelk has his own reasons for finding Glendower, which are revealed later as the race to Glendower commences. Blue and the Raven Boys uncover shocking secrets and supernatural powers as they try to find Gansey’s king.

The Raven Boys is a beautifully adventurous novel with many supernatural elements and crazy occurrences. I also enjoyed the witty humor of many of the characters as well as their unique personalities and hobbies (and their secrets). Overall I would definitely recommend this book. But get ready to read the next three Raven Cycle books (which are just as good or maybe even better than the first,) because this book ends on a cliffhanger.

4 stars.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. Reviewed by Mia V.

The second book in the Raven Cycle focuses more on Ronan rather than Gansey. The Dream Thieves focuses on Ronan’s ability to bring items from his dreams to the real world and his struggle with controlling this power. Ronan tells his friends Gansey, Blue, Adam and Noah, about this skill early in the novel. Ronan and his friends had already been on a supernatural quest to find “Gansey’s king”, Glendower, who is a deceased Welsh king. At Aglionby Academy, the private school that Ronan, Adam and Gansey attend, Ronan’s brother, Declan is badly beaten by a sinister man who calls himself the Gray Man. The Gray Man was hired by a powerful man who wants to find the Greywaren, an object that can bring items back from dreams. Even though Declan knows his brother is the Greywaren and that it is not a physical object, he keeps his mouth shut to keep his brother safe.

Meanwhile, in the hunt for Glendower, Ronan finds himself accidentally bringing horrifying and powerful creatures back from his dreams. Ronan and his friends have to battle Ronan’s uncontrollable dream-nightmare creatures while continuing the quest to find Glendower. Simultaneously, Ronan is being hunted down by the Gray Man, who is out to kill Ronan because of his ability to bring things back from his dreams. This book is fantastic, and possibly my favorite out of all four of the Raven Cycle books.

The stakes have definitely been raised since the last book, with all of the characters experiencing more risks in the quest to find Glendower. Meanwhile, Ronan battles some deep internal issues which manifest in the things he brings back from his dreams, which can sometimes be dangerous. This book is great and I highly recommend it!

5 stars.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. Reviewed by Mia V.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the third book in the Raven Cycle, which continues the tale of Gansey, Ronan, Adam, Noah and Blue, and their quest to find Glendower, a dead Welsh king, whom Gansey feels a strange connection with. This connection has led him to embark on a quest to find Glendower, a quest that he drags his friends on as well.

After the friends discover Ronan’s ability to bring items and creatures back from his dreams in the previous novel, it is discovered that Adam also has a unique power. Henrietta, Virginia, the town where the book takes place, has a large ley line running directly through the town. Blue’s family of psychics are very familiar with ley lines, which emit energies that psychics are able to harness to help see the future. These energies are also responsible for the various supernatural occurrences in Henrietta. Adam discovers that he can harness the power of the ley lines with the help of Peresphone.

Meanwhile, the Raven Boys and Blue discover a new threat in an artifact collector, Colin Greenmantle who targets Blue’s mom, Maura. As the group continues their search for Glendower they discover many strange and supernatural occurrences. The Raven Boys and Blue navigate new territories, and encounter unexpected surprises in their quest to find Glendower. Blue and her family unveil new prophecies that tell terrible fates for some of the characters, and reveal hidden secrets. I really enjoyed this book.

Although I feel like the other Raven Cycle books are better, I still really enjoyed this book, and I know that the Raven Cycle would not be complete without Blue Lily, Lily Blue. This book sets the reader up perfectly for the last book in the series, The Raven King.

4 stars.

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. Reviewed by Mia V.

The Raven King is the final book in the Raven Cycle series, which completes the story of the Raven Boys and Blue, as well as their search for Glendower. Noah, the friendly ghost-friend, Ronan, with his powers in pulling objects from his dreams, Adam with his power to harness the energy of the ley lines, Blue the psychic’s daughter and Gansey, their fearless leader, face many challenges in finding Glendower.

Their quest has stretched out for a very lengthy period of time, and has taken a toll on many of the characters. However this quest for Glendower seems it may finally come to a close, though not without many obstacles and near-death experiences. One of which occurs when Gansey and his friends make a major blunder by awakening a demon which is set upon “unmaking” the world. Meanwhile, Cabeswater is in danger of dying due to a strange sickness. As black ooze drips out of the beloved trees of Cabeswater, Gansey and his friends become increasingly more concerned about the health of Cabeswater. Perhaps more terrifying, Adam, with his deep connection to Cabeswater, finds himself falling apart along with Cabeswater.

The quest to find Glendower becomes increasingly complex as new threats rear their ugly heads and time begins to run out. The final book closes the series with a dramatic flare as prophecies are tragically fulfilled and demons are fought. Additionally, during The Raven King, romantic relationships that were hinted at during the previous books are finally made official.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys adventurous books that involve the supernatural. The Raven King closes off the Raven Cycle with a fantastic ending that helps finish the Raven Boys’ story, while leaving an opening to other related books in the future (like Call Down the Hawk). All in all, highly recommended.

5 stars.

Solar Punk/Lunar Punk

Blame Cyberpunk.

The novel Neuromancer is credited as kicking off the Cyberpunk genre. You may not have heard the term, but you probably know it  – a dark blend of high-tech in a crumbling dystopian world where the poor get poorer and the rich have all the technology – think Bladerunner, Ready Player One, Alita: Battle Angel, Real Steel, Elysium, Guardians of the Galaxy, even Hunger Games and Divergent (you could make a serious argument for Star Wars, as well). They’re gritty, dark, and sometimes disturbing, and paint a not-so-nice view of the future, with emphasis on classism, violence, famine, and a disturbing police state. 

Steampunk is also a well-established fantasy genre, carrying on as if the gasoline engine never materialized and the world was stuck in 1890 and using steam power and copper pipes for everything. They’re wildly imaginative and adventurous – check out Chris Wooding, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, or Richard Preston Jr., or movies such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or The Golden Compass, among others.  

Since then, just like music has a thousand nitpicky subgenres (Simpsonwave, anyone?), fiction has also fractured into microgenres. Most are so nitpicky they’re pretty much covered under larger categories, but two more are becoming increasingly prominent: Solar Punk and Lunar Punk (Punk seems to be a word thrown in because someone is going against the establishment). Never heard of them? Neither have most people, but the genre is growing and defining itself.

Solar Punk is a backlash against all that dreary doomsday cyberpunk. Solar Punk is full of hope and ecology. Everything is green spaces, clean power, civil rights, encompassing communities, anti-establishment, and personal choice. Renewable energy, harmony with nature, and spirituality are key themes. Solar punk is a view of the future where everything finally does work out, a world where everyone benefits from the progress of mankind, because they’re all in it together. If steampunk is Victorian, Solar Punk is art nouveau. Think Star Trek, The Disposessed by Ursula LeGuin, Ectopia, by Ernest Callenbach, Dune by Frank Herbert, Disney’s Tomorrowland, and Black Panther (is anything more Utopian than Wakanda?).

If Solar Punk is all bright lights and butterflies, Lunar Punk is Solar Punk when the sun goes down. It’s moths and the twinkling of fireflies. It’s night-blooming lilies instead of sunflowers. It may be dark but it’s not dreary, like your backyard party at night, with fairy lights everywhere. Lunar Punk often deals more in mysticism, spirituality, magic, and the occult. Their flowers are mushrooms, their light is moonlight, their colors are the blues and purples and silvers of twilight. They have no solar, so they use bioluminescence. Individuals are more important than the communities they live in. The movie Avatar – the world of the Na’vi – exemplifies Lunarpunk. Still utopian, still upbeat ecological fantasy, but out of the bright sunlight. Andy Weir’s Artemis can fall into this category. Many Anime series can fall into these categories.

Solar Punk and Lunar Punk are often categorized together, both supporting the same type of ecologically based, optimistic utopian fantasies, a genre that is growing to match our current promises of renewable energy and inclusive societies. Many of the new teen novels have been exploring the genre. They are the generation who has grown up with recycling, solar chargers, zero-emission footprints and Bald Eagles back in the wild. For them, Solar Punk could very well be the future. Check out some of it today!

Teen Book Reviews: The Unhoneymooners and Eleanor & Park

Teens: did you know that you can earn community service credit for writing a book review and submitting it to us? Today, we’ll hear from someone who did just that. Find out more about how to earn community service hours from home at cheshirelibrary.org/teens/.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. Reviewed by Caroline O.

Meet Olive, a nerdy science loving girl who is shy and awkward. Olive has a twin, Ami, and even though they are total opposites, they still have an unbreakable bond. That is, until it is broken. Olive has the worst luck and everything that can go wrong, goes wrong. On the other hand, Ami gets everything to somehow go her way and she may be the luckiest person on Earth. Any contest that Ami has ever entered in, she has won, so it is no surprise when Ami wins a free, non-refundable honeymoon trip to Hawaii. This luck seems to last up until her wedding day when everyone that ate out of the free, buffet style meal that she won, gets food poisoning. Everyone, that is, except for Olive, who has food allergies, and Ethan, who is a germophobe and refuses to eat out of buffets.

Ami and her husband suggest that Olive and Ethan go on the trip together, since it is non-refundable and the newlyweds are too sick to go. This sounds like a great plan, besides the fact that Ethan and Olive hate each other! Not to mention that these two would have to act as if they had just gotten married. Ethan is the groom’s brother, who can come off as being cocky and arrogant. This was exactly Olive’s first impression of him when they met at a family event awhile back. With Ami being the pushy older twin that she is, Olive and Ethan reluctantly board the plane. Bickering of course. The trip is going somewhat smoothly until Ethan realizes he may not hate Olive as much as he thought.

This book is an amazing read, especially during the summertime. The author does an exceptional job at using imagery and emotional appeal to drag the reader further and further into the book. Not to mention that the book never gets old, and is never boring. The book starts and ends with pure chaos, which is unlike a lot of books that I have ever read. I personally like how the Christina Lauren duo writes their books. In their pieces, they tend to write at least an excerpt from every single character in the book, whether it is a small character or a main character.

5 stars.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Reviewed by Caroline O.

Eleanor & Park is a phenomenal book that captures the life of two characters, Eleanor and Park. Eleanor is someone who is not as comfortable in her body as most of her sixteen year old peers at school. Eleanor also has an unstable home life with an abusive step-father and a mother that has no control. Eleanor’s family is quite large, including her four little siblings, three of which are biological siblings and one step-brother. This does not seem to be an issue except for the fact that they live in a 2 bedroom apartment, meaning that all of the kids have to share a bedroom with one bath. On the nights that Richie, the step-dad, gets extra abusive and wakes up the kids, with the excessive crashing of objects getting thrown outside their bedroom, Eleanor has to sit there and comfort every one of them. To escape her reality, Eleanor loves to read, but this only makes her an outcast at school. Will she ever find somewhere safe where she can be herself?

Park lives down the street from Eleanor which means that they are on the same bus, where he notices and later meets Eleanor. Park finds that he is actually quite similar to Eleanor. Despite the differences in home life, they are both misfits in their school and begin to bond over that. Park begins to look forward to talking with Eleanor on the bus until there is a period of time when Eleanor does not come to school. This raises Park’s curiosity and he asks his parents if they have ever heard of her family since they had to have lived near each other. Both his parents look at each other and tell him how her house is not necessarily the safest place. Park immediately puts the pieces together and is determined to find her. Through this journey he learns that he may like her more than just in a friend way.

I enjoyed this book a lot because of how quickly the audience can feel as if they are there and in the same room as the characters. The book also is not a hard read, I have found that certain books can be hard to get into for the first few chapters, but this book is different. I was able to enjoy the story very early on in the book and it was upsetting to learn that there was not a sequel to go along with it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a romance novel that will take you through all of the emotions including guilt, happiness, sadness, and curiosity.

4 stars.