REVIEW: Arrowood by Laura McHugh

 

arrowood

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

Read: November 20 – 24, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (Random House)

Genre: Mystery

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

A haunting novel from the author of The Weight of Blood about a young woman’s return to her childhood home—and her encounter with the memories and family secrets it holds

Arrowood is the most ornate and grand of the historical houses that line the Mississippi River in southern Iowa. But the house has a mystery it has never revealed: It’s where Arden Arrowood’s younger twin sisters vanished on her watch twenty years ago—never to be seen again. After the twins’ disappearance, Arden’s parents divorced and the Arrowoods left the big house that had been in their family for generations. And Arden’s own life has fallen apart: She can’t finish her master’s thesis, and a misguided love affair has ended badly. She has held on to the hope that her sisters are still alive, and it seems she can’t move forward until she finds them. When her father dies and she inherits Arrowood, Arden returns to her childhood home determined to discover what really happened to her sisters that traumatic summer.

Arden’s return to the town of Keokuk—and the now infamous house that bears her name—is greeted with curiosity. But she is welcomed back by her old neighbor and first love, Ben Ferris, whose family, she slowly learns, knows more about the Arrowoods’ secrets and their small, closed community than she ever realized. With the help of a young amateur investigator, Arden tracks down the man who was the prime suspect in the kidnapping. But the house and the surrounding town hold their secrets close—and the truth, when Arden finds it, is more devastating than she ever could have imagined.

Arrowood is a powerful and resonant novel that examines the ways in which our lives are shaped by memory. As with her award-winning debut novel, The Weight of Blood, Laura McHugh has written a thrilling novel in which nothing is as it seems, and in which our longing for the past can take hold of the present in insidious and haunting ways.


REVIEW

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Arrowood is sort of difficult for me to review. I liked it, but for the most part I wasn’t left with the OMG I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT feeling.

Part mystery, part ghost story, Arrowood is the story of Arden Arrowood. After the loss of her two year old twin sisters when she was just eight years old, she’s spent the last twenty years stumbling through life. I don’t want to say too much, but the disappearance of her sisters set the stage for her entire life.

What was cool about this story was that it was a ghost story, without being a ghost story. There are no actual ghosts or paranormal investigators looking for cold spots, but there are plenty of spooky happenstances that occur in the house which the reader is led to believe is the work of ghosts. That was pretty cool. The reader can decide if ghosts are at work or not.

As far as the mystery, as we get to know Arden and the cast of characters around her, everyone becomes a suspect. There were so many red herrings, any one of them could have done it. I was actually surprised by the actual ending – and it’s a doozey of an ending!

I wish I could pinpoint exactly what wasn’t working for me. It could be all of the time Arden spent reflecting on her past. I like a book to be told in the present, but a lot of this book was Arden reflecting on her childhood friendships, the loss of her sisters, her time at college, and so on. Every scene was important to the story, and I can’t think of another way to get the information across, but I think it pulled this readers attention away from the book at times.

In the end, I did enjoy this story but I don’t think it’s going to be one that stays with me long after I’ve read it.

END NOTE: I think this would be a really interesting book for a book club to discuss. In fact, I sort of wish now that I belonged to a book club so we could dissect this book as a group!


Get the Arrowood here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

I worried that the old me would vanish if there was no one left to confirm her existence.

I wished that I had been taken, too, so they wouldn’t have been alone. Instead, I was left behind and they went on without me, their lives from that moment a whispered secret that would never reach my ears.

It’s a date, I typed. Moments after clicking Sent, I had texter’s remorse. Should I have phrased it differently?

Darkness was kind, cloaking disappointing truths in mystery.

It didn’t feel right to move forward, to be happy and fall in love, to fill in the empty spaces, and so I had stood still and saved their place while the rest of the world moved on.

 

 

Friday Favorites: Vol. 8

It’s time for….. FRIDAY FAVORITES!
That time of the week (when I remember…) where I share some things that I love.
Why do I do this? So you can get to know me, and maybe discover something new.
Leave a comment so I can discover new things too!


ADULTING

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-1-30-47-pmYou know you’re an adult when you get excited for a new shower head. I’m not even kidding when I tell you I was ecstatic when I bought this new Oxygenic’s shower head, hooked it up, and turned it on. It’s amazing. The shower head we’ve had for the last few years was a free “eco” one through the power company. I love the idea of going green and I try to do my best to reduce my footprint on the earth, but when my shower has virtually zero water pressure and I can’t rinse my kids hair, and on cold winter days the spray only hits a one inch section of my body so I freeze, somethings got to give.

So, despite my husbands grumbling about spending money on a new shower head when there was “nothing wrong” with our current one, I bit the bullet and spent $30 at Menards and picked up the Oxygenics Rejuvenate Fixed shower head. I bought this for a couple of reasons, 1. It has a rather large face so I had hoped that would mean a wider spray of water; and 2. The packaging says it’s an “eco” product and should reduce water use.

This beast has 10 different settings, my favorite being a “rain shower” type setting which is AMAZING. There is like, a “super” eco setting as well, but it comes out in a trickle, which is no good for me. The other setting I sometimes switch to is the massage setting, spraying the hot water on the knots in my neck or back.

So yeah, this shower head absolutely gets the job done and is well worth the $30 I paid for it! If you’re in the market for a new shower head, I would absolutely recommend the Oxygenic’s brand based on this experience.

(It’s too soon to tell, but I’ll be looking at my next water bill to see how our water usage differs with this shower head vs the free eco one from the electric company.)

Here’s the specs on this model: http://www.oxygenics.com/products/rejuvenate-fixed-2/

They don’t sell this particular one on Amazon, but here’s a similar one that looks like it would get the job done just as well.

 


APPS

Covet Fashion is a highly addictive FREE fashion game app. It became such a time suck for me in the fall of 2015 that I had to delete it from my Kindle and my phone. Of course, I was also working my seasonal job – up to 60+ hours each week. No wonder I didn’t have time for anything!

When I started working with my sister-in-law a couple months ago, she demanded I start playing again, so I did.

I’m less obsessive this time, thank goodness. It’s a lot of fun, too. I don’t have a large wardrobe at home because I don’t have excess income to splurge on that kind of thing (I’d rather save for big things I want, and you know, pay off my house!) so it’s fun to play a game where I can imagine I have the worlds largest closet full of more clothes than I could possibly dream of.

The point of the game is to style your model (clothes, hair, makeup, and even skin tone) to complete different challenges. Some require specific items be worn (a blue beaded purse, or a particular pair of shoes by Rachel Zoe), while others leave it completely up to you to choose whatever you want. Each challenge pays either $100 or $200 just for entering, except the daily which pays $500. You also get a daily “allowance” of tickets and diamonds just for logging in. (It’s always 24 hours from the last time you grabbed your “allowance”.)

Diamonds can be purchased, or you can earn them. They’re used to buy prize items or items that are out of season.

Once your look is styled and you submit, you receive your money, and your look goes into voting. You need to vote to get tickets (aside from the ones you get from your allowance) and that helps rate the looks. If you get a 4 star rating you get the first prize. 4.5 stars gets the prize plus 25 diamonds. 5 stars gets you the former, plus another prize. And if you get the elusive 5.8 stars you receive a whopping 5,000 diamonds! I honestly didn’t really think it was possible to do, but my sis-in-law managed to get a 5.8 a couple weeks ago! (She’s already blown through them all!)

The only downside to this game is that it glitches from time to time and their customer service… well… they’re not very bright. Let’s just say, I entered a challenge and it gave me my entry money, but took away all my other money, and their customer service insisted that the game did not cheat me out of money. After 3 times back and forth they finally realized I was correct and gave me my money. So, if you start playing, keep an eye on your money!

(And shoot me a message if you start playing so we can be in-game-friends! You can borrow from your in-game-friends closets too!)

Get The Game:
Kindle
iPad
Google Play


FOOD / BEVERAGES

yogiteaI recently, out of the blue, decided I want to be a tea drinker. Coffee literally makes me sick to the stomach, so I thought tea might be better.

Turns out, spiced herbal tea is amazing! I can’t drink black or green tea (at least none of the varieties I’ve tried so far!) but the Yogi spiced teas are amazing. Throat Comfort, Bedtime, and Cinnamon Vanilla Healthy Skin are my favorites so far. They’re also the only Yogi’s I’ve tried. I need to get my hands on the India Spice, they don’t sell it at my local Target or Cub Grocery.

A few years back I bought a bunch of teacups and saucers from Goodwill for a Fairy Princess Tea Party we had for my oldest daughter and I’d boxed the tea cups away. I pulled a few out and my new obsession is stalking the Goodwill shelves for new, pretty, and unique tea cups/saucers.

My most recent purchase was a little blue/white single serve tea pot for about $2.99.

My current favorite tea cup and saucer. A Goodwill find. Google tells me it’s from the 1930’s. The bottom tells me it’s English Bone China.


 

So readers, what kind of lame “grown up” things make you happy?

What apps are you obsessed with?

Are you a tea drinker? Share your favorites in the comments!

 

REVIEW: Risuko by David Kudler

 

Last night at work I was alone folding laundry and able to finally finish this book!
Seriously you guys, the text to speech function on the Kindle is the greatest invention EVER!
Multitasking at its finest.

I was also able to do a little outlining on my novella due next year. Unfortunately, my Bluetooth keyboard wouldn’t connect to my Kindle so I couldn’t actually write. I’m hoping the keyboard just needed charging. Fingers crossed it works tonight!

Now that wedding season is calming down, there’s a little more down time at work so I actually take breaks. When things are busy, I just don’t take a break at work. At least, not one that lasts longer than it takes to eat something, and even then I’m ready to run to the front desk if someone walks in. I don’t mind though, I love my job.

And now, my review!


Risuko by David Kudler

Series: Seasons of the Sword #1

Read: October 5 – 26, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Publisher: Stillpoint Digital Press

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Can one girl win a war?

My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel.

I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there.

My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman.

All I want to do is climb.

My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel.

Risuko.

Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan — or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems.

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn’t possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?

Historical adventure fiction appropriate for young adult and middle-grade readers.


REVIEW

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this cover art. It’s amazing, right? I’ll admit, I requested this book from NetGalley all those months ago because this cover is amazing. So pretty. Plus there was a little girl called ‘Squirrel’ who is supposed to unite Japan? Sounds awesome!

Unfortunately, I found the story lacking. I couldn’t really connect to the characters on a deep enough level. For example, in the beginning, Risuko is taken from her village after being purchased by Lady Chiyome, and she digs in her heels a little at first, but it really didn’t take much for her to seemingly “get over” being taken from her mother and sister. Sure on the outside she accepts her fate, but I find it hard to believe that a little girl would not even have any internal dialogue resenting Lady Chime or missing her family. She just kind of goes through the motions as if this is all normal.

Now, that isn’t to say that all characters were difficult to understand. The exception is Kee Sun, the Korean cook working for Lady Chiyome. He was fabulous! He has his own nicknames for everyone and just a very vibrant personality.

As far as pacing and plot, it took a really long time to figure out what the plot really was. Things were happening to Risuko, but it was almost like she was a bystander. Her actions were the result of people telling her what to do. It took a long time before her own actions began to drive the plot forward. By the time it ended, I liked where things had gone, but I just didn’t get enough sense of Risuko’s growth as a character. And while I can’t think of any scenes that should have been cut, I just didn’t see most of them really driving the plot forward.

There were some really cool things in this book though. I learned a little about ancient Japan and the Takeda empire. I loved the concept of these women being trained as shrine maidens, but also spies and killers. There was some interesting information about herbs that I enjoyed reading about. (Yes, I’m a nerd.)

Also, the tag line – Can one girl win a war? – is a little misleading. Because really, not much happened in this book. I can see maybe in future books this being a true catch line, but not this one.

So, would I recommend this book?

In the end, I think this book is just written for too young an audience for me. I think it reads more middle grade than YA and tweens and younger teens will probably get more from this story than older teens and adults, like myself. For those interested in ancient Japanese culture, this may be a good intro into the topic/culture. I’d say read the sample online to decide if the book is right for you.



Get the Risuko here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES


“…Some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be
a very special kind of woman. All I want to do is climb.”

 

Kee Sun fussed with the platters, placing a bunch of watercress at the end of each, then he turned to us, gravely, and said, “If any of yeh drops year platter, I’ll skin yeh with the dullest, rustiest knife I’ve got, yeh hear?”

REVIEW: Hazel’s Promise by Emily Larkin

Hazel’s Promise by Emily Larkin

Series: The Fey Quartet #2

Read: September 1-14, 2016

Format: Print Book

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Genre: Fantasy Romance

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

A lighthearted and magical tale of adventure, true love, and disguises.

Hazel Miller gave her heart to a man who went off to earn his fortune, but he’s been gone longer than she thought he would. A lot longer.

Dressed as a boy, Hazel sets out to find her lover, but the roads of Medieval England are fraught with peril. When a ragged stranger risks his life to protect her, how can she refuse his company?

Hazel’s quest is about to get complicated—and at its end, she may discover that her true love isn’t the man she has waited ten years for.

This is Hazel’s tale.


REVIEW

I received a free copy of this book via Goodreads First Reads.

 

At only 74 pages, I had some reservations about this novella. I often find that authors can’t develop realistic characters that the reader can understand and identify with. That was not the case with Hazel’s promise.

On his way back to the isolated village in which he lives, Tam passes a young man on his way out. Upon second glance, he realizes the young man is actually a young woman in disguise. Despite longing to arrive home, he turns his cart around and follows her.

The young woman is Hazel, who has just received a wish granted by the faeries. When she was just a young girl she fell hard for a nam named Drewet. He promised to come back for her, once he’d made his fortune away from their little village in Dapple Valley. But Drewet never came back. Using her faeries wish, Hazel is able to locate him and sets off to find him. This is when she meets Tam.

Tam proclaims himself Hazel’s chaperone and accompanies her the rest of the way to Drewet. Along the way they get to know one another and their chemistry is hard to deny. As predicted, by the end of the book Hazel has given up on Drewet and realizes she’s fallen in love with Tam.

I liked the characters in this story. Tam is kind and chivalrous. He isn’t described as being exceedingly good looking, but that doesn’t matter to Hazel because his personality shines. Meanwhile Hazel is quite pretty, at least in the eyes of Tam. She’s also headstrong and determined. When she makes a promise, she keeps it. She’s loyal to a fault and a little naive.

The charming way in which this book is written, it feels like it’s aimed at a younger audience, however some of the content is definitely not. It’s by no means erotica, but there are a couple spicy scenes.

In the end, this little story left me with a smile. I would gladly read the rest of this quartet. And at only 99 cents a pop, I may just do that.



Get the Truthsong here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

“The debt you owe is much smaller than you think, Hazel Miller…” The smile became speculative. “I slew your dragons; I would be content with a kiss.”

 

“I’d rather live in a one-roomed cottage with you than a manor house with any other man.”

 

Deja Revu – October 24, 2016

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Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.
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Contemporary

Paranormal

Romance

Suspense/Thriller

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Contemporary

Romance

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Mystery

Non-Fiction

Romance

Woman’s Fiction

Friday Favorites: Vol. 7

I haven’t done a Friday Favorites in ages. I swear, I started this feature, then a month in I started working. I’ve since changed jobs (I’m a bit of a nomad when it comes to my career choices, but I really like where I am now) and as with my previous job, I’m working every Friday. And if I’m not working Friday it’s because I requested the day off for some other engagement. I actually should be sleeping right now as I type this because it’s 3:20 am and I need to be at work in just under 11 hours.

HEALTH & BEAUTY PRODUCTS

Winter is coming friends, and for those living in a frozen tundra like myself, so are chapped lips. My sis-in-law recently introduced me to the new e.l.f. Lip Exfoliator and I’m in LOVE. It’s like a lipstick, but it’s gritty, so when you smack your lips together it exfoliates and leaves your lips feeling silky smooth. I have the Cherry Tart flavor/color (because that’s what my local Target had available) and it leaves a VERY pale pink shimmer on the lips and tastes delicious. If you suffer from chapped lips, I highly recommend this product. It’s only $3.

 
TV
Have you guys checked out the new show Timeless on NBC yet? It mixes some of my favorite things – time travel, history, and mystery. A group of government agents pair up a history professor with a military hottie to travel through time chasing the bad guy who stole the other time travel machine, and stop him from changing history and destroying the world as we know it. It’s really well done and I’m excited to see how this plays out.


FOOD
As usual I’m late to the party. I used to be absolutely obsessed with Subway in college, to the point where when we had to budget our money for an assignment, I realized I was spending an average of $70 per week at Subway. Ridiculous! Anyway, with my new job, sometimes I don’t have a lunch/dinner packed and there are only a few places that deliver. I’m trying not to eat pizza ALL the time, so I tried Jimmy Johns. YUM. So much better than Subway! (And they ARE ‘freaky fast’! The delivery guys also don’t like you to tell them that…)

REVIEW: Girl on the Brink by Christina Hoag

Today I’m blogging as part of the book tour for Girl on the Brink by Christina Hoag. This is an amazing book you guys. It may be YA, but adults can enjoy it as well.

In other news, I’m writing a new story. A novella actually. It’s YA contemporary romance taking place in a small town in Montana. I’m super excited for this project. It’s projected release will be next summer.

We also had quite the adventure this past weekend. The kids and hubby discovered a litter of stray kittens in our backyard! We have a friend who works at the Humane Society so we borrowed a trap and caught 4 of the 5 kittens and brought them in. I’ve been watching for the mama cat and the last baby, but so far they’ve been MIA. I hope someone else catches them or they come back. I hate knowing they’re out there when it’s getting colder and colder out. I feel a little guilty separating the babies from their mom and sibling, but they were all girl kittens; can you imagine the number of stray cats running around the neighborhood had we not caught them and brought them in? I know they’ll be happy and well cared for in their new homes once they’re socialized and adopted.

Without further ado, the review….


Girl on the Brink by Christina Hoag

Read: Fall 2015

Format: Unedited Ebook ARC

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Sometimes the one you love isn’t the one you’re meant to be with.

The summer before senior year, Chloe starts an internship as a reporter at a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Chloe becomes smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce. But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect. But her efforts backfire, and Kieran turns violent. Chloe breaks up with him, but Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up. Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge.

 

Advance Praise

“An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.” – Kirkus Reviews 

Girl on the Brink is a must have for every high school and public library.”
– Isabelle Kane, Wisconsin high school librarian

 


REVIEW

Girl on the Brink is a must read for all teenagers. It’s both light and dark, happy and sad. Despite red flags going up right away for me with Kieran, it’s easy to see how Chloe let the attention Kieran gives her take over her life. It’s easy to see how his attentiveness turns to obsession. Turns to emotional, and eventually physical, abuse.

This book is hard to read. It’s hard to see a nice girl like Chloe, who is already going through so much at home with her dad having moved away and her mom sunk in a deep depression. It’s no wonder she clings to the one good thing in her life, the boy who says he loves her.

Abuse is a difficult topic to tackle, especially when aimed at teens. Hoag did a wonderful job creating realistic characters, setting up the romance, and putting in all the little warnings that things weren’t as good as they seemed. I truly believe this book belongs in every high school. Too many girls go through what Chloe endured and they need to know that they are not alone and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I think my favorite thing about this book is that it’s not preachy. It doesn’t read like an after school special. It’s just a good teen contemporary romance… that takes a dark turn into abuse.

 

Disclaimer: I work for the publisher of this book and I am the cover designer, however I stand by my review and ratings 100%. I would not promote a book I didn’t believe in.



Get the Girl on the Brink here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Print

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 “A blush creeps hotly over my face. He’s right. I’m not used to compliments. I try and head this one off. “I cut it every summer. It gets really hot. It’s like wearing a cape on my head.”

“Oh no, I love long hair. I’ll spank you if you cut it.”

~

I know something’s up, I just know it. I speed like a bullet down the trail, stumbling over roots, branches and stones. When I get to the sandy cove, the boat’s gone. I wade into the river and look upstream. Something flashes. The boat is rounding a distant bend.

“Kieran!” I scream. He disappears.

~

He throws up his hands. “Okay, if you really want me to, I’ll go.”

I cross to the door and twist the knob. In a flash, he grabs my shoulders and forces me back against the door. He pushes his lips against mine. I squirm, but he’s too strong. He pulls back, but leaves my arms pinned.

“If you want me to leave, I’ll leave, but it’ll be forever. You’ll never find anyone else like me. You’ll never have what we have again. This is it for us, Chloe, this is it. You don’t want to give this up. You don’t want to walk away from this. I know you don’t. You don’t really want to destroy everything we’ve built together, do you, sweetpea?”

He hits the truth. Deep down, I don’t want to destroy it. I love Kieran, the good Kieran, not the crazy Kieran.


About the Author
Christina Hoag is the author of Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016) and Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishing, September 2016). She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014). She resides in Los Angeles. For more information, see www.christinahoag.com.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook


Blog Tour Organized by:

YA Bound Book Tours

REVIEW: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

 Read: October 2 – 5, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller / Suspense

 
ABOUT THE BOOK

Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Are they labels or a warning? The answer could cost Sera everything.

Murder, justice, and revenge were so not a part of the plan when Sera set out on her senior camping trip. After all, hiking through the woods is supposed to be safe and uneventful.

Then one morning the group wakes up groggy, confused, and with words scrawled on their wrists: Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Their supplies? Destroyed. Half their group? Gone. Their chaperone? Unconscious. Worst of all, they find four dolls acting out a murder—dolls dressed just like them.

Suddenly it’s clear; they’re being hunted. And with the only positive word on her wrist, Sera falls under suspicion…


REVIEW

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

One Was Lost is my second Natalie D. Richard’s novel and will not be my last.

First – look at that cover! That screams thriller. I actually get kind of a Blair Witch vibe from it, which isn’t too far off the mark. The basic premise is a group of kids (and two teachers) lost in the woods with a killer on the loose. They’re drugged, wake to have words written on their arms, and nobody knows who to trust.

The way this book starts, we’re thrown into the story. Sera is on a “Senior Life Experience” camping trip with 4 classmates and two teachers. Early on the group gets separated, leaving Sera with Mr. Walker (a teacher), Emily (a girl with unexplained bruises), Jude (a rich boy with a set of gay dads and a chip on his shoulder), and Lucas (the boy Sera has history with, that she’s been trying to avoid for months). In the other group are Ms. Brightman (another teacher), and Madison and Hayley, who are sort of interchangeable to Sera.

Richards doesn’t info dump like a lot of authors do, spending pages at the beginning explaining backstory and characterization. Instead, we’re thrown in with these kids and slowly get to know them over the course of the novel. Immediately we know how Sera feels about each of her classmates, though we don’t really know the why’s just yet. It isn’t until the end of the book that I really understood all of the characters. By the end I’d also felt like I experienced this ordeal with them, and it was interesting to see how their experiences changed them.

The mystery in this novel is awesome. Just like the kids in the book, I had multiple suspects in mind as I read through. My theories of whodunnit fell on each of the students and teachers in turn, and even at one point went to, “this is all planned by the teachers to mess with the kids.”

I think this story possibly could have benefited from starting a touch sooner, to include the ghost stories told around the campfire that are mentioned throughout the story, but we as the reader didn’t experience. But I really don’t think the story lacked anything not including that scene. It just would have been nice to have more “on camera” time with the other group who Sera is separated from early on.

As with the previous Richards book I read, My Secret To Tell, she shines at characterization. She throws little pieces of the characters back story at the reader, giving them time to absorb before handing over another piece of the story. We know from the beginning that Sera’s mom left, but it isn’t until the end that we know why. We know Sera has a history with Lucas, but we don’t know what that history entails and who was at fault. By the end I completely understood Sera and why she acted the way she did throughout the story, and I appreciated where her character development left her by the last page.

I also give props to Richards for including a diverse cast. Sera is Lebanese. I believe Jude is African American, and Emily may be non-caucasisian as well. The way Richards writes, skin color is not a top priority. The characters are just people, three-dimensional characters. Sera may not be of European descent like me, but I could put myself in her shoes and relate to her.

Do I recommend this book? ABSOLUTELY! This is a fast paced, mystery thriller with well-defined characters. I know I’ll be getting my hands on the rest of Natalie D. Richard’s publications.



Get the Truthsong here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

 

(RE: Lucas’ height) I have no idea what you have to eat to grow like that. Corn? Eggs? Small children?

 

Whatever script we’re following out in these woods—this is my role… and I’m supposed to die out here.

 

Something snaps in the distance, and I flinch, scanning the darkness. Leaves rustle, and then I hear the scrabble of tiny claws on a trunk.

 

Nothing has ever hurt like the peroxide he pours over my hand. It hits my tender flesh like lava, flashfire painful and leaving a loud throb in its place.

 

…thinks he’s guilty because I kissed him? My desire did this. I followed my heart, and it might kill him.

 

I close my eyes and feel my heart slow even as my stomach rolls. A mourning dove coos softly. Sadly. Rain drips. My hand burns. Nothing is different, and nothing is the same either.

 

I went sixty-two days without looking at him after the first time we kissed, but that was then. And now it is very different.

 

 

 

REVIEW: Silence of the Lamps by Karen Rose Smith

I’ve been slacking in all departments lately.

Blogging, writing, my publishing job, life.

I started a new job at the beginning of September in the hospitality industry and I LOVE it. It’s a part-time job, but these past two weeks I’ve been given full time hours to compensate for just how crazy busy it’s been. No complaints though, who couldn’t use a little extra cash in their bank account, right?

Things have started to slow down a bit now, which means more time to get stuff done. Including reading. When it’s super slow at work and I’m all alone I can fold laundry and listen to my Kindle read to me. That’s how I got through the book I’m reviewing below. Hopefully that means I’ll be posting more reviews more frequently! (I do have 5 other reviews written and ready to post, plus a couple to be written.)

So that’s what’s up with me. What’s up with the rest of you? Leave a comment below, I’ll make time to reply. 🙂


Silence of the Lamps by Karen Rose Smith

Series: A Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mystery #5

Read: September 12 – October 2, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 2.5 Stars

Genre: Cozy Mystery

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Caprice’s house staging is disrupted by Drew Pierson, a caterer who opened Portable Edibles, a business in direct competition with her sister Nikki’s Catered Capers. Nikki turned down Drew as a possible partner and he seems determined to undermine and bury her. However his successful launch of a deal for his blackberry barbecue sauce must have stirred up his enemies.

When Nikki visits the house where Drew lives with his grandmother to resolve differences, she and Caprice find him dead—murdered with the base of a valuable Tiffany lamp.
Caprice discovers clues about Drew’s sly business dealings—from stealing recipes from another chef, to friends who hold grudges, to a sister who will now inherit half of her grandmother’s estate since Drew is dead. In the midst of her own romantic relationship upheaval, helping her uncle set up his pet sitting-business, assisting a friend care for a pregnant stray cat, Caprice follows the suspect trail, inadvertently putting herself in danger once more.


REVIEW

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Earlier this year I read my first Cozy Mystery – Kernel of Truth by Kristi Abbott. I loved it. It was like, murder mystery-lite. A quaint small town and a regular gal trying to solve a murder mystery. After that, I went on a binge entering to win more cozy mysteries from Goodreads, and even requesting this cozy mystery from NetGalley. However, like all books, no two are created equal, and unfortunately for me, Silence of the Lamps did not reach the bar that Kernel of Truth set.

Now, I’m jumping into this series late. This is book 5 in the Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mysteries. Right off the bat, Caprice attends a family event and the reader is bombarded with details of her large family. At first it was a little difficult to keep them all straight, but I caught on quickly enough. It’s possible that the characters were introduced gradually in book 1, so I won’t fault the author/book too much for this because as book 5 it would suck for those who have read since the beginning to have to go through the introductions all over again.

The writing in this book is fine, I can’t complain about that, but the content is where I had issues. This book is so full of mindless filler I actually had to put the book down a few times and read something else. I was just bored. If you’re not an animal lover, you’ll hate this book. Caprice is absolutely obsessed with animals, which is all fine and well, but she’s to the point where she constantly has people “babysit” her dog. Every chapter. It’s fine that she does this, but as the reader, do I really need to constantly hear about it? And don’t even get me started on her outfits. I got it after the second clothing description, Caprice has her own sense of style, she only wears vintage, that’s cool and all, but after half a dozen times I’m ready to throw my Kindle at the wall. I really don’t need a head to toe description of every pair of bell bottoms the woman owns.

Onto the murder—there were so many possible suspects that by the end, when the killer was revealed, I had already forgotten who that person was. I still can’t recall the interaction with the killer prior to the ending.

I did like the ending though. It was dangerous and suspenseful. I really feel that with a lot of the unnecessary filler cut out (especially about Caprice’s family, pets, and her damn wardrobe descriptions!!!) this book would have been stronger. I thought I was reading a mystery surrounding a home stager, but that ended up being an aside to pet side plots.

So, would I recommend this book? Probably not unless you really love animals and want to read more about them than murder.

I would consider reading the first in this series to see how it compares, but the chances of that happening are pretty slim.



Get the Silence of the Lamps here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 

Deja Revu – October 3, 2016

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Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.
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Contemporary

Fantasy

 

Historical

Mystery

Paranormal

Religious

Romance

Science Fiction

Suspense/Thriller

 

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Contemporary

Paranormal

Romance

 

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Contemporary

Dystopian

Fantasy

General Fiction

Historical

 

Horror

Non-Fiction

Paranormal

Romance

Suspense/Thriller

Woman’s Fiction

OTHER

 

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Romance