Book Review: River of Teeth

Book: River of Teeth

Author: Sarah Gailey

Genre: sci-fi / alternate history

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: In the early 1900s the United States Congress briefly considered importing hippos into the American South– this is the story of what might’ve happened if they followed through. Houndstooth is a hopper–basically a cowboy with a hippo–who, along with his merry band of friends and criminals, is planning an operation to take on a notorious gangster and hopefully get some revenge in the process. But with dangerous feral hippos prowling the swamps of the Mississippi, associates with old grudges and uncertain motives, and a whole lot of explosives there’s no way things can go that smoothly.

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Book Review: Annihilation

Book Review: Annihilation | rachelbrittain.comBook: Annihilation

Author: Jeff Vandermeer

Genre: sci-fi

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: A biologist, a surveyor, a psychologist, and an anthropologist set out on a mission to explore a mysterious region known as “Area X.” It may sound like the beginning of a joke, but in Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation the situation is real and all too dangerous. Faced with improbable situations and under the influence of hypnosis, the four women are aware that all is not as it seems. But as things progress and unease gives way to violence, the biologist begins to unravel the terrible secrets of Area X– or, at least, as much as any of it can be unraveled.

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Book Review: Big Water (ARC)

Book Review: Big Water | rachelbrittain.comBook: Big Water

Author: Andrea Curtis

Genre: YA / historical fiction

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Traveling the Great Lakes was a dangerous proposition through the early part of the twentieth century—especially on the Georgia Bay in Canada. Many ships and lives were lost on the uncharted and unpredictable waters. In 1882, the SS Asia, a converted river steamship, set out from the Georgia Bay in Lake Huron, overloaded and top heavy, heading straight into a storm. Equipped only with life vests and flimsy lifeboats unfit for the dangerous waters, the passengers and crew were entirely unprepared when the ship sank. One hundred and twenty three lives were lost, the sole survivors two teenagers. This fictional account of a real historical tragedy explores the circumstances that led those two teenagers onto the Asia and how they managed to survive freezing water, treacherous conditions, and several days among dying men on a lifeboat, adrift in the middle of the Georgia Bay.

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Book Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Book Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass | rachelbrittain.comBook: Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Author: Melissa Bashardoust

Genre: YA / fairy tale retelling

Rating: 4.5/5

What it’s about: In a kingdom cursed to an eternal winter, a princess and her stepmother–both touched by magic–struggle to find the belonging and love that they long for.  Lynet’s father has always treated her like the delicate bird she is named for–but Lynet prefers climbing castle walls and trying to live up to the nickname of ‘wolf cub’ given to her by her stepmother. Mina has never known love, but at least as Queen she has power and respect– until it’s taken away from her when the king gifts power over the South to his daughter, Lynet. Lynet will have to choose between disappointing her father and betraying Mina, and either choice will have far reaching consequences.

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Book Review: The Boat People (ARC)

Book Review: The Boat People | rachelbrittain.comBook: The Boat People

Author: Sharon Bala

Genre: realistic fiction

Rating: 4.5/5

What it’s about: When a boat of Tamil refugees arrives in Canada they think they’ve finally found a place of peace and safety–but fear, intolerance, and bureaucratic political systems get in the way. The five hundred odd refugees fleeing torture, death or forcible conscription in Sri Lanka find themselves imprisoned and stuck as they sit through hearing after hearing to determine if they can even qualify for refugee status.

Mahindan, a single father whose wife died back in Sri Lanka, mourns his separation from his seven-year old son who is put in the women’s prison. Priya, a second generation immigrant and law student, finds herself getting invested in the cases of the refugees even though she always wanted to go into corporate law (and is pretty sure she was only selected for this assignment because of her own Tamil heritage). Grace is an adjudicator overseeing the cases of the refugees and struggling against the fear that she might let a terrorist into the country–despite the fact that her mother keeps comparing their plight to that of Grace’s grandparents, Japanese immigrants who lost everything to the government in World War II. Their stories intertwine in heart wrenching ways as we slowly begin to see that nothing is quite as simple as it seems.

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Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down

Book: Turtles All the Way Down

Author: John Green

Genre: YA / fiction

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Aza spends most of her time thinking about the gut bacteria that makes up her microbiome and whether she might have contracted some kind of terrible infection. It’s not that she wants to think about that, it’s just that she can’t help it. Her anxiety medication and therapy help, but sometimes the thought spirals are inescapable. When the elusive billionaire father of her childhood friend goes missing–along with a sizeable reward for any information–her best friend, Daisy, convinces her they should Veronica Mars that situation. Aza reconnects with Davis who just wants to find someone who wants to be his friend for him and not his father’s money. Aza grows closer to Davis as they all search for the truth. But as her thought spirals worsen, Aza may not even be able to take care of herself, much less be in a real relationship with Davis or solve the mystery of his missing father.

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Book Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Book Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy | rachelbrittain.comBook: Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Author: Kathryn Ormbee

Genre: YA / fiction

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Tash loves two things: Tolstoy and filmmaking. Unhappy Families, the low-budget web series she’s co-creating with her best friend Jack, is the perfect culmination of those loves. When a famous vlogger mentions Unhappy Families in a video, their views suddenly go through the roof. But this newfound fame comes with a lot of stress and haters, too. Tash has to figure out how to balance being a good friend and daughter with managing a breakout web series. What would Leo do? Other than help a bunch of serfs and write a few best sellers, that is. Tash struggles to keep it all together as the filming for Unhappy Families wraps up, they get a nomination for a kind-of big deal internet award, and she tries to navigate unexpected crushes and complicated family relationships.

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Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

Book: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon

Genre: YA

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Dimple Shah wants two things this summer: to go to Insomnia Con and win the chance to work with her programming idol and for her parents to forget about her finding an Ideal Indian Husband. When her parents agree to send her to San Francisco for the summer to attend Insomnia Con she thinks they’re finally focusing on her intellectual pursuits. Rishi Patel is a bit of a romantic, and he is ecstatic to be attending Insomnia Con where he will meet the girl his parents have arranged for him to marry…Dimple Shah. The only problem is Dimple has no idea and no interest in dating, much less marriage.

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Book Review: False Hearts

Book: False Hearts

Author: Laura Lam

Genre: Sci-fi

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Tila and Taema never realized just how unusual they were until they escaped the Hearth. At sixteen, dying of heart failure, the conjoined twins raised in an anti-technology religious cult escaped to have life saving surgery. Surgery that separated them and gave them mechanical hearts. San Francisco is entirely unlike the world they knew, but it’s not without it’s own dangers. In a future where civilian murder is almost unheard of, Tila becomes the first person arrested for murder in decades. But Taema isn’t convinced she did it. With her sister in jail and awaiting trial, Taema agrees to go undercover with the Ratel–a notorious organized crime syndicate–to help clear her sister’s name. Danger, drug-altering dreamscapes, and surprising connections to the cult they so long ago escaped await her as she goes undercover. The real question is if she’ll be able to come out of it–and if she does, will she ever be the same?

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Book Review: The Beauty That Remains (ARC)

Book Review: The Beauty That Remains | rachelbrittain.comBook: The Beauty That Remains

Author: Ashley Woodfolk

Genre: realistic fiction / YA

Rating: 4.5/5

What it’s about: Autumn, Shay, and Logan are connected through music—and grief. Autumn, who lost her best friend just weeks ago, is struggling to find herself without Tavia here to guide her. Shay’s twin sister Sasha died after years of fighting Leukemia, but the debilitating panic attacks she’s trying to hide from her family and friends are threatening to undo her. Logan is drinking and lashing out, unable to cope or heal after the suicide of his ex-boyfriend Bram. He hasn’t been able to write a song since. They all used to be connected through Unraveling Lovely, the epic band put together by Logan, managed by Shay, and always cheered on by Autumn. With so many griefs and secrets separating them now, will music be enough to bring them back to themselves and maybe even back together?

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