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REVIEW: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Beautiful Ones Book Cover The Beautiful Ones
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Historical Romance (with a touch of paranormal)
Thomas Dunne Books (Macmillan)
October 24, 2017
E-ARC
320
NetGalley
August 20-23, 2017

In a world of etiquette and polite masks, no one is who they seem to be.

Antonina Beaulieu is in the glittering city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, where she will attend balls and mingle among high society. Under the tutelage of the beautiful but cold Valérie Beaulieu, she hopes to find a suitable husband. However, the haphazard manifestations of Nina’s telekinetic powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

Yet dazzling telekinetic performer and outsider Hector Auvray sees Nina’s powers as a gift, and he teaches her how to hone and control them. As they spend more and more time together, Nina falls in love and believes she’s found the great romance that she’s always dreamed of, but Hector’s courtship of Nina is deceptive.

The Beautiful Ones is a sweeping fantasy of manners set in a world inspired by the Belle Époque.

Review

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

  

Oh goodness this book….

Okay, right off the bat I wasn’t crazy about his one. The blurb promised me telekinesis and I expected this big paranormal world with hidden superpowers or something. Instead, I got a Victorian romance.

Once I got over the disappointment that the telekinesis was really just used as a plot devise, (both the hero and heroine have this power), I really got involved with the story and the characters.

Let me warn you, right off the bat, that the main characters are not instantly likable.

Hector begins courting Nina just to be close to Valerie. He and Valerie, a decade before, had shared a whirlwind romance complete with a secret engagement. An engagement that she ended when she married another man—Nina’s cousin. Though he did things for the wrong reasons, it was easy to like and forgive Hector.

Nina is a so naïve at times it’s hard to root for her, but she grows so much as a character in this book.

And Valerie… well, to put it nicely, she is a selfish brat for 99.9% of this book. She has her reasons, but those reasons never justified all the wicked things she did in this reader’s opinion. She was an excellent villain.

This book is told in third person POV from all 3 of the aforementioned characters. Getting into each of their heads was really crucial to the execution of this story. Without each of their internal thoughts there’s no way a reader could feel anything except hatred, or at least annoyance, with them.

The story is also told in two parts and lasts the course of an entire year. When I reached the end of part 1 I was heartbroken. I was flipping pages like mad trying to get through part 2 to see the happy ending I wanted.

And in the end, the telekinesis played an important role in the story. It wasn’t just there to add something new and different. It actually was important to the plot.

So, should you read it? If you enjoy historical romances of epic proportions and are looking for something new and different…. and if you’re the kind of person who loves to see characters redeem themselves and get what’s coming to them, read this book. (There’s also a good old fashioned duel. No joke. It’s great!)


Quotes

(From an advanced digital review copy. Actual print copy may differ.)

 

“It’s probably best if we exit this room now. A bachelor such as myself, a young lady such as yourself— we wouldn’t want to cause a scandal.”

  

“Do you make it a habit to go to balls, then, and creep into the library to brush up on your history?”
“Do you talk to all men in this manner?” he replied, growing more curious than irritated.

 

While her mother was expecting only a suitable match, Nina was hoping for the romance of a lifetime followed by the grandest wedding imaginable.

 

The universe was unveiling new wonders every day, motorcars and the photographic camera, to name but a handful of the inventions dazzling the world. She preferred to classify herself as one of these new wonders.

  

Valérie had shattered him. The intensity of emotion he felt in those days had vanished, and in its place there lodged a tepid, distant approach to everyone.

 

She was Gaetan’s cousin, but also one of those people, the country folk who seek to ingratiate themselves with the Beautiful Ones and must be repelled.

 

Perhaps he expected her to fail in this demonstration. But she had not been called the Witch of Oldhouse for no reason.

  

You’ve come to hurt me, Hector. You’ve come to toy with us. Feel free to toy with her. But you’ll find I am not a piece you can slide across your board.”

  

He tried to imagine what he might be like if he’d never laid eyes upon her, if they’d never spoken. Whether he might be happy or equally miserable. Perhaps he was predisposed to follies, the victim of a nervous ailment.

  

Hector had spent so many years being the man who loved Valérie that he could not conceive of becoming anything else. She was a goddess at whose feet he worshipped, and to cease in his adoration of her would imply he had spent a decade following a false idol.

  

“You don’t know how it was when I was small, how they’d taunt me for it. I didn’t mean to make the flour fly through the kitchen, I didn’t mean to make the stones rain or the porcelain shatter. It happened and they’d frown or they’d laugh or they’d say, ‘There goes the Witch of Oldhouse.’”

 

Valérie had never been gentle or simple. But her passion, tucked under her perfect exterior, had echoed the passion within him. They were both creatures of tempestuous seas and stormy nights.

 

 “Why do they call it the Philosophers Club?”
“After a few drinks, all men become philosophers.”

 

 The food there was excellent and the service appalling, which was a requirement at any chic restaurant.

 

She looked at him carefully, and saw a man. Not the romantic notion of a man she’d glimpsed before, her vision colored with memories of books and plays. A man, flawed and sad, who’d hurt her once , but whom she nonetheless esteemed.

  

“Do you think he is serious?” Hector asked.
“About what, breaking your jaw?”

  

She was the princess in storybooks, the embodiment of every girlish fantasy she’d ever had.
She felt, however, as if she were drowning and kept thrashing her legs in a futile attempt to remain afloat.

 

 “What happens when you stop loving me?” he asked tersely.
That was the crux of the matter, the invisible dividing line on the floor.

 

 

“When you knocked on my door, I was half-dead. I had spent days dragging my sorry carcass around my room, convinced I would not see you again and wishing I could tear the world apart for this injustice.”

 

Nina giggled as he tried to undo the buttons of her dress. “Here?” she asked. “But the bed—”
“Books detailing the mating habits of beetles don’t explain everything, it seems.”

 

 

“You look as happy as a clam.”
“I would think clams cannot be happy, since they are mollusks who spend their days filtering water,” Hector replied.


My (writing) Life

Last week I got hit by a nasty bug, like, to the point where I went to The Urgency Room to get it checked out because I thought there was a chance I had strep. Turns out it’s just a nasty virus. I should have known better, I never have symptoms when I get strep – I just spread it. Just call me Typhoid Mary! Anyway, aside from a cough and stuffy nose I’m past the worst of it. The peak of horribleness was Thursday when I spiked a fever of 101.8 – at work! That was fun. NOT. At least I got paid to be sick though?

The good thing about being so sick and miserable those few days? I didn’t feel well enough to do any work for my publishing job, so I pretty much didn’t. That left me plenty of time to write. Yes, writing is work, but I can’t screw it up, like I could, say, formatting a book. Okay, I mean, I can screw it up, but I end up reading through my work 50 bazillion times (minor exaggeration) for errors anyway, so it didn’t matter. I ended up making great progress on Summer of Peace. I’m so excited for this series!

I’ve also had some EUREKA moments while planning out my YA contemporary romance series that’s coming next. By planning, I do I mean thinking of random details/plot points while doing other things. Usually listening to music. Current country music has been awesome for my writing.

So yeah, that’s about all that’s going on.

Has anyone else been hit by one of the nasty bugs going around?

 

REVIEW: Waters of Salt and Sin by Alisha Klapheke

Waters of Salt and Sin Book Cover Waters of Salt and Sin
Uncommon World #1
Alisha Klapheke
YA Fantasy
April 4, 2017
Kindle
386
Amazon
Flights of Fantasy
September 4 - 11, 2017

Set in a lush, high-fantasy world inspired by ancient Mediterranean cultures, Waters of Salt and Sin is perfect for Game of Thrones and Sabaa Tahir fans.

When seventeen-year-old salt witch Kinneret learns of a lost island of silver, she sets out to find it, raise her status, and finally have a chance to wed Calev, the high-caste friend she secretly loves.

But when a madman enslaves her sister, Kinneret must make a deal with the local ruler: Find the island to secure the ruler’s place in history. In return, the woman’s fighting sailors will rescue Kinneret’s sister.

Using Salt Magic to navigate cursed waters, Kinneret and Calev struggle to hide their taboo, caste-breaking feelings, knowing if the ruler witnesses the attraction, she will cancel the agreement. But when Calev makes a terrible mistake, Kinneret must choose between the life of her only remaining family member and saving the boy she loves from a traitor’s death.

My Review

 

I stumbled upon this book sort of by accident. I saw it listed for free in one of the book bargain newsletters I subscribe to. I download a lot of freebies that way and I was feeling a little guilty because they sit there unread. So, after a wave of guilt, I pulled up my massive list of books and chose this one at random.

And boy was I glad I did!

This book has it all. Action and adventure; a kick-ass heroine; a sweet love interest; and so much more! Taking place in a fantasy world where slavery is still an accepted practice, Kinneret is in the lowest caste there is. She and her sister, Avi, man a boat with a grumpy man named Oron. When her sister is kidnapped by slavers while they are on a quest for treasure that would buy their way up to a higher caste – a caste high enough to marry Calev, the boy she loves – her mission becomes more difficult than ever.

Over the years since indie publishing has become a thing I’ve had a lot of negative experiences with poorly written and unedited books being put out for public consumption. Fortunately, that was not the case with Waters of Salt and Sin. I could not tell you the difference between this and a book published by one of the big NY publishers. The authors writing is compelling and interesting. Something was always happening in the story and I had a hard time putting it down. If there had been a cliffhanger ending I would have bought book 2 right away. Fortunately for me there wasn’t, but I do have the next book in this series on my TBR for when my obligated reading list shrinks a bit.

So, should you read it? Fans of YA fantasy will gobble up this adventure. Great characters, an interesting plot and world, and pretty much non-stop action.


QUOTES

The glimmering saltwater winked at me and I gave it a lazy smile.
“Soon,” I whispered before heading back down.

 

I was a great liar, but I didn’t rejoice in it. Lying was the skill of the desperate, something I intended to stop being as soon as possible.

 

I shook, my teeth grinding, and the bells of my sash jingling. My dreams were broken, cracked at mid-mast and beyond repair.

 

Silver. Loads of it. More than I could picture in a thousand of my low-caste, spit-on, calloused dreams. It would be raw. It could be cursed. But it would be ours.

 

I was in love with my best friend.
And he couldn’t know until I had the silver to buy my way to high-caste. Only then could he consider me.

 

“What’s this about?” Calev asked. “I’m all for avoiding harvest prep—it’s exactly as appealing as a hug from Aunt Y’hudit—but usually I know what kind of adventure you’re dragging me into.”

 

I ignored his all-too-common, close-minded view on the line between religion, magic, and science. To me, they were just different words for the same thing.

 

“You don’t know what it’s like to have people push in front of you. To be refused service at the market because of bells.”
To watch the boy you love be promised to a girl only because of her caste.

 

“I was raised in a roadside brothel by a mother who fancied traveling theatre players,” Oron said to Calev, his words whipping toward us as the wind rose even higher, and we sped forward. “I speak the tongue of the wicked and witty.”

 

“The amir might not like this. You must be quiet, and still.”
I nodded. “I’ll be as inactive as your mind.”
“Wht?”
“What?” I echoed.

 

A ruthless amir grabbing for my silver.
My innocent sister twisting and screaming in the hands of a madman.
Salt Wraiths and legendary sea monsters.
I looked down at my hands, which suddenly didn’t seem as strong as they’d always been.

 

He was my luck, my heart, the blood in my veins, and somehow, some way, I would have him.

 

His first loyalty was to his people. Not to me. Not to the love sprouting between us.


My (Writing) Life

It’s the same thing I always say, it’s been too long between posts. I’ve been staying busy with a thousand things with my publishing job. I’m hoping things will slow down a little with the year coming to a close. Though we don’t aim to publish in December, there’s still plenty work going on in the background getting ready for January. But I’m still hoping the workload will slow at least a bit!

I’m officially DONE with edits on PEACE IN FLAMES! I’m going through a final proofing right now. I sent the book to my Kindle and I’ve got the device reading to me so that I can catch the little errors that my eyes may miss. I’m so excited to have her ready to go well before her release in February!

I had a glorious evening last night working on SUMMER OF PEACE. So much progress made. Unfortunately my heroine, JoJo, is mad at me today, so I’m a bit stuck. I know that sounds weird, but I swear, this character has taken on a life of her own. I always thought authors were crazy when they talked about “characters talking” to them. But alas, I’m one of the crazies now. JoJo is very loud, except today. Today I threw something at her that she’s having trouble processing.

Until next time….

REVIEW: Windwitch by Susan Dennard

Windwitch Book Cover Windwitch
The Witchlands #2
Susan Dennard
YA Fantasy
Tor Teen
January 10, 2017
Hardcover
384
Target
Flights of Fantasy
May 4-20, 2017

Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

My Review

When I finished the first book in this series, Truthwitch, I knew I had to get my hands on Windwitch ASAP. And I did. Except then I didn’t read it. For almost 6 months. And I’m kind of glad I did wait, because it means there is less time to wait for the third book in this series!

What I love about this series is that it reeled me in slowly. I wasn’t instantly in love with the story from page 1, it was a subtle building of affection, but before I knew it, I had to know what happened next. Like, I can’t even pinpoint the moment.

I also love how real all of the characters are. Vivia, who we are led to hate in Truthwitch soon became a real three-dimensional character in Windwitch and I most looked forward to her story. Same with Aeuduan. He was the ultimate villain in book 1, but I need more of him after reading book 2.

The world and magic system are very interesting, and though I was left a little confused about the different witch types at the end of Truthwitch, I really didn’t feel that this time around. As the story progressed, we’re given a clearer picture of the different witcheries in a natural non-info-dumpy sort of way. Which is perfect.

This book is so full of action, even when nothing super exciting was happening, I was completely engaged with the characters and each of their journeys. I normally prefer books that follow just one or two characters, but like with Game of Thrones, I really enjoy all of the different characters and their stories, and love watching them entwine.

This is absolutely a series I recommend to readers of fantasy who enjoy epic tales of adventure. I can’t wait to read book 3, Bloodwitch!

(Update to review: Apparently Bloodwitch won’t be the next book released! There is a prequel called Sightwitch releasing January 2018.)


QUOTES

Vivia Nihar was a Tidewitch, and a blighted powerful one at that. She could drown them all with a though, so let Serrit Linday and the rest of the High Counsil try to cross her again.

“Oh, I know!” Safi clapped her hands, delighted by her own genius. “I shall call you the Un-empressed.”
“Please,” Vaness said coldly, “stop this immediately.”
Safi absolutely did not.


A new cold—one from within—struck Merik in the chest. He was
that broken. That unrecognizable. And though he tried to tell himself she was nearsighted, she couldn’t possibly recognize his face unless he was inches from her . . . He knew the truth. He was a horror to behold. He was the Fury.

Her lips curved a bit highter.
The Hell-Bard noticed. “Don’t look so smug, Heretic. You’re the one tied to a tree.”

“You really should be dead, sir, but you’ve the blessing of Lady Baile on your side.”
“That,” Merik croaked, his throat more wasted and sore than it had been in days, “or the Hagfishes think I taste bad.”

He looked, as he always did, unimpressed. Or Un-empressed, she thought, doubting he would appreciate the joke any more than Vaness had.

But for once in her life—for one single day—she felt as if she’d made the right choice. As if she could forge on, knowing she truly had no regrets.


My (Writing) Life

Peace in Flames, my novella due for release in February, is with my editor as of last night. I heard back this morning that she’s already halfway done. Heck, by this time of the day she might be completely done! I already know she wants me to expand upon my villain’s character, to make him more three dimensional. As much as I dread the thought of more re-writes on this story, I can’t disagree. I want it to be strong. So, next week I’ll probably dive back into that one.

In the meantime I’m up to my eyeballs in formatting and book covers for my work with Melange Books. On top of that, I have about 4/5 of an 80k novel to finish reading and send back to the author before the end of September. Eep! It’s a very light proofing/line edit suggestions so I’m hoping I’ll be able to finish sooner rather than later.

In other news, we hired a new girl at my hotel job. She’s full time! That means less shifts for me. Woohooo! After my shift tonight I’m off until next Thursday. I’m going to make great use of this time off to get this proofing job done, work on those edits on Peace in Flames, and hopefully make some progress with Summer of Peace. Not to mention allllll the formatting and covers I have to complete for Melange! I can do it though. I have faith in me. I think? Heck, maybe I’ll even find the time to post a couple more book reviews! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this book was read in May. And the last few were all July or earlier. I’m woefully behind.

Anyone else drowning in work and/or reviews to post?

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Revenge of the Nerd by Curtis Armstrong

Revenge of the Nerd: Or . . . The Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would Be Booger Book Cover Revenge of the Nerd: Or . . . The Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would Be Booger
Curtis Armstrong
Biography
Thomas Dunne Books
July 11, 2017
Digital ARC
336
NetGalley

Risky Business. Revenge of the Nerds. Better Off Dead. Moonlighting. Supernatural. American Dad. New Girl. What do all of these movies and television shows have in common?

Curtis Armstrong.

A legendary comedic second banana to a litany of major stars, Curtis is forever cemented in the public imagination as Booger from Revenge of the Nerds. A classically trained actor, Curtis began his incredible 40-year career on stage but progressed rapidly to film and television. He was typecast early and it proved to be the best thing that could have happened.

But there’s more to Curtis’ story than that.

Born and bred a nerd, he spent his early years between Detroit, a city so nerdy that the word was coined there in 1951, and, improbably, Geneva, Switzerland. His adolescence and early adulthood was spent primarily between the covers of a book and indulging his nerdy obsessions. It was only when he found his true calling, as an actor and unintentional nerd icon, that he found true happiness. With whip-smart, self-effacing humor, Armstrong takes us on a most unlikely journey―one nerd’s hilarious, often touching rise to the middle. He started his life as an outcast and matured into…well, an older, slightly paunchier, hopefully wiser outcast.

In Hollywood, as in life, that counts as winning the game.

My Review

I was browsing the selection on NetGalley and thought it might be fun to see what was available in the non-fiction section, specifically memoirs. When I came across Curtis Armstrong’s memoir, titled Revenge of the Nerd, I knew I had to request it.

Now, I’ve never seen Revenge of the Nerds, or if I did I was very young and it was on cable TV and I wasn’t paying much attention. It’s a movie a little before my time. However, I recognized Mr. Armstrong as Metatron from the fabulous CW TV show Supernatural.

I haven’t read many memoirs (Um…. I think this is my 2nd ever!) but this makes me want to read more! It was so much fun reading about his offbeat early life in Switzerland and subsequent return to Detroit. It was awesome to read all the candid behind the scenes stories from the making of all of the movies and TV shows he was on. It was a little heartbreaking to hear about how he left the cast of Supernatural and how the crazed fans at the conventions didn’t like him much just because he played a villain. (I loved you as Metatron, Curtis! I’d stand in line for your autograph!)!

There were a lot of stories about actors I’ve heard of (Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, etc.) as well as many I haven’t. If this book has done nothing else for me, it has encouraged me to seek out old movies I’ve never seen before, like Risky Business and Revenge of the Nerds, just so that I can have a fuller sense of the stories I read.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! Fans of Curtis Armstrong and those who have never seen his work alike will get a kick out of his fabulous stories and (often self-deprecating) humor. A+ Curtis. Thanks for the ride!

 


Quotes

What’s a nerd? For forty years I’ve been a professional actor, practicing my craft onstage, screen and television, building a career that many young actors have told me they envy, and that is the question along with “Was that really you belching” and “Did Bruce and Cybil really hate each other?” I am most frequently asked these days. (The answers are no and yes, respectively.)

 

If that sounds like a joke, it wasn’t meant to be. Unless you thought it was funny, in which case it was.

 

Actors spend a lot of time not acting, which is why so many of us take up hobbies, like drinking.

 

The headmaster was eventually let go due to some kind of arcane contractual dispute and not as you might think for the German-death-gas incident.

 

I had, by a rough estimation, dozens of girlfriends between the end of middle school and high school graduation. The catch was, none of these young women actually knew she was my girlfriend.

 

When Metatron, the Scribe of God, a hermit armed with a shotgun and surrounded by hundreds of thousands of books, made his first appearance, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Given everything I had seen on the page, I could see this fallen angel eccentric, violent, articulate, unpredictable and hilarious as being an unexpected gift to any lucky actor, even if he only lasted three episodes, which it turned out was the intention of the show’s writers at the time.

 

Jared and Jensen brought to playing brothers Sam and Dean Winchester extended to their real life as well. I would say they are as close as brothers but I understand from people who have brothers, like my sister, that you really want to kill your brothers most of the time.

 

One of the true signs of maturity is realizing that not gracefully surrendering the things of youth actually makes us better grownups. If more people embraced their inner nerd, the better off everyone would be.

 

My eventual proposal of marriage very eventual, to hear Elaine tell it; to me it seemed a little rushed was kind of like Revenge of the Nerd itself: mixed reviews at the time, but now generally regarded as a classic.

 


My (Writing) Life

SCHOOL IS BACK IN SESSION!

This is my first school year with both of my kids out of the house ALL DAY LONG for school. I’ll admit it, I teared up a little on day one because both of my babies are growing up, they no longer spend the majority of their time with me. I quickly got over it though and relished the peace and quiet. Even Henry (my devil-spawn cat) seems happier and less inclined to attack and bite!

So, what am I doing with my time? Sitting on the couch all day eating bon-bons of course! Just kidding, I’ve been diving head first into work! I’m catching up where I’d fallen behind with my work with the pub house I work for. Now that I’m not so deep in the hole I’ve also started work on my own projects again.

Tonight I finished my last pass through on PEACE IN FLAMES before I send it off to my editor. Yay! That means I need to get my butt moving on the overhaul of SUMMER OF PEACE. The sooner I pound that novella out, the sooner I can get started on my next project. For which I’ve already made a cover.

I’m also hoping, with the kids in school, to carve out time more often to post my reviews. I swear, my backlog of reviews is growing faster than I can post them! I hate having such a long delay between posts, so I’m really going to work on this guys. I hope!

Anyone else back to school or sent kids back to school? Are you as amped for the new school year as I am?

REVIEW: Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

Watch Me Disappear Book Cover Watch Me Disappear
Janelle Brown
Mystery
Spiegel & Grau
July 11, 2017
E-ARC
368
NetGalley
July 3-10, 2017

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a beautiful, charismatic Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. No body—only a hiking boot—has ever been found. Billie’s husband and teenage daughter cope with her death the best they can: Jonathan drinks, Olive grows remote.

But then Olive starts having waking dreams—or are they hallucinations?—that her mother is still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he knew about his wife. Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, their family, and the stories we tell ourselves about the people we love.

My Review

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

When I started this book I thought I would hate it. I didn’t care for the narration style. But as I continued to read I found myself growing more and more invested in the mystery. Was Olive really psychic and seeing real visions of her mother? Did Billie fake her death? Was she kidnapped? Murdered? Did she really just fall into a ravine or something equally as tragic and awful while off hiking alone in the woods?

The theories were circling through my head the entire time I read this story. By the time I got to the epilogue, I had to pull my jaw off the ground. Janelle Brown really hit the nail on the head with this amazing ending.

The real central theme of this book is, can you really know someone? Really truly know the real them, not just the mask they wear for the people around them? As Jonathan and Olive dig into Billie’s life and her past, that question begins to really take over Jonathan’s thought process. As he attempts to write the love story he shared with his wife, before her death a year earlier. As he attempts to have her officially, legally, declared dead so he and his daughter can move on. As he begins to dig up more and more of Billie’s secrets…

I really don’t even know what to say in this review because everything I want to gush about will ruin everything for anyone who hasn’t read this book.

I haven’t read a lot of mysteries, but this is one of the better ones I have read and I’d rank Watch Me Disappear one almost as high as Gone Girl.

Should you read it? If you like book that keeps you guessing until the last page, THIS is the book for you!!!


Quotes

You don’t realize how much you’ll miss the asphyxiating intimacy of early parenthood until you can finally breathe again.

 

“Stop it, Olive. This isn’t healthy. Your mother is gone. Dead,” he snaps before he can stop himself. Immediately, he is stricken with remorse.

 

He used to feel like there was something of the sea hidden inside her; something wild and unfathomable.

 

She would soak up her mother’s stories about her own Lost Years—the decade during which Billie, a teenage runaway, had roamed around the Pacific Northwest and then travelled the world, hanging out with artists and activists and drug dealers—and would sense that she was failing her mother in some way. “Anyway, you didn’t want to do what I did,” Billie would say, abruptly cutting herself off, but somehow Olive knew she meant the exact opposite.

 

…the world is so vast and so beautiful and so forever—and then she remembers that she is supposed to be sad, too. How can she feel both of these things at once? The loveliness of being alive and the knowledge that it can never last?

 

There’s no rational explanation for his wife being alive that doesn’t point to her being some kind of monster. And he’s not ready to change the point of view of his entire life’s story.

 

And yet how can you ever really know the truth about another person? We all write our own narratives about the people we know and love, he realizes. We choose the story that is easiest to tell, the one that best fits our own vision for our lives. We define them in the way that’s most convenient for our own sense of self-aggrandizement. Glossing over anything that doesn’t fit into the neat little narrative because we don’t want the whole fiction to fall apart.

 

Only someone fearful of his own ordinariness would buy, so unquestioningly, someone else’s extraordinariness.

 

If I dig back far enough in Billie’s history, will I finally find someone who knows what was really going on inside her?

 

You believe what you think you believe, until suddenly, you realize that you don’t anymore. Or maybe you do believe, but it’s no longer convenient to do so, so you decide to forget. You decide to find other beliefs, ones that more comfortably fit the constant evolving puzzle of your life.

REVIEW: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Read: May 30-June 11, 2017

Format: eBook ARC

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Dutton

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Pages: 352

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.


BOOK TRAILER


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from Penguin First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

 

Final Girls was a good page turning thriller that had me questioning all of the characters, including our heroine, Quincy. However, I went into this book with really high expectations, having been praised by Stephen King as “the first great thriller of 2017”, and was a little disappointed in the end.

Things I loved: The plot. I loved that Quincy couldn’t remember what happened to her the night her friends were all slaughtered. I loved the very idea of The Final Girls. I loved the depth of Quincy’s character, how she coped with the aftermath of the massacre. I really enjoyed getting to see the full story of what happened to Quincy and her friends at the cabin in pieces scattered throughout the story. It was all very solid.

Things I didn’t care for: The ending. I mean, the ending itself was pretty awesome. But I expected a bigger twist. I had a theory that would have been epic, but it didn’t happen that way. The ending is good, I see how it all tied up in the end, but I recently read Gone Girl and was expecting my mind to be blown. Unfortunately, it was not.

So, do I recommend this one? Yes, because it was an enjoyable ride, even if the ending was a little more predictable than I would have preferred.



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

(From an advanced release eBook)

The closest he gets to showing affection is on my birthday, when he sends the same text: Another year you almost didn’t get. Live it.

 

I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if Lisa and I had stayed in touch. Maybe we would have eventually met in person. Maybe we could have become friends.


Maybe I could have saved her.

 

Usually he’s simply Jeff, the boyfriend who doesn’t mind cuddling. Who’s a far better cook than I and whose ass looks amazing in the suits he wears to court.

 

While I make the dough for the tarte, I keep checking my hands for signs of blood, certain I’ll find lingering crimson stains across my palms.

 

REVIEW: Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

Series: Black Dog Bay #1

Read: June 22-28, 2017

Format: Hardback

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: May 6, 2014

Genre: Chick Lit / Womens Fiction / Romance

Pages: 336

Reading Challenge(s): Beat the Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Welcome to Black Dog Bay, a tiny seaside town in Delaware known as “the best place in America to bounce back from your breakup.” Home to Better Off Bed-and-Breakfast, the Eat Your Heart Out bakery, and the Whinery bar, Black Dog Bay offers a haven for the suddenly single.

Flight attendant Summer Benson lives by two rules: Don’t stay with the same man for too long and never stay in one place. She’s about to break rule number one by considering accepting her boyfriend’s proposal—then disaster strikes and her world is shattered in an instant.

Summer heads to Black Dog Bay, where the locals welcome her. Even Hattie Huntington, the town’s oldest, richest, and meanest resident, likes her enough to give her a job. Then there’s Dutch Jansen, the rugged, stoic mayor, who’s the opposite of her type. She probably shouldn’t be kissing him. She definitely shouldn’t be falling in love.

After a lifetime of globe-trotting, Summer has finally found a home. But Hattie has old scores to settle and a hidden agenda for her newest employee. Summer finds herself faced with an impossible choice: Leave Black Dog Bay behind forever, or stay with the ones she loves and cost them everything…


REVIEW

I won a copy of this book from Goodreads with no expectation of a review.

This book is as utterly delightful as that cover. It is a laugh out loud ’till you cry, unputdownable joy of a book.

This book throws you right into the thick of the plot. To be honest, I didn’t care for the beginning. It felt rushed and Summer felt like such an over the top cariacture I didn’t think I’d like this book.

Then she arrived in Black Dog Bay. And ran over the mayors rose bushes. And blamed it on turtles and Taylor Swift. From this point on I was 100% sold on this charming rom com.

I ended up absolutely loving Summer. She has her baggage, and at times it felt like she fell for Dutch too quickly (specifically because of all that baggage!) but I can look past that. Summer is charming and brass and fearless.

I loved Dutch. He’s a great hero. He’s a sweet, no-nonsense kind of guy. I hate politicians on principal, but Beth Kendrick had me falling in love with this mayor.

The chemistry between Summer and Dutch was amazing. The little inside jokes and flirtations they had were hot, hot, HOT — especially for such a clean book!

The side characters were all so charming. I was able to quickly give them all unique voices and even imagine my dream cast for the movie playing in my head. (Kelly Bishop [aka Emily Gilmore] as either Hattie or Pauline – can’t decide which! Diane Wiest as Marla, Lennon Stella [Maddie from ‘Nashville’] as Ingrid, Leslie Mann [from ‘Knocked Up’, ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’, and ’17 Again’] as Summer—that voice of her is perfect.)

Every single chapter had me wishing I could read JUST ONE MORE, to the point where I accidentally read 50% of the book in one night. I only went to bed because my eyes refused to stay open and the words stopped making sense.

And here’s a word to the wise, don’t read this book anywhere you can’t let out a good belly laugh. Because I was holding in laughter while reading this late at night while my husband slept, and it just wasn’t the same.

I need to find out what happens next in Black Dog Bay.

If you’re in the mood for a light, comedic, romantic page turner, THIS is the book to read!



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

 

Summer had never been accused of being sensible.

 

Rustic outdoorsmen weren’t Summer’s type, but something about him… He looked like he could ravish you so right and then stride off to chop a cord of wood.

 

“I promise you, I’m coming back to fix your landscaping situation.”
“Please don’t.”

 

If Barbie hired Hello Kitty to decorate her dream house, the result would be the Winery.

 

He caught her gaze and held it, and in that moment, she saw him as everyone else in Black Dog Bay did: strong and stern and quietly authoritative. Someone who took his responsibilities seriously. Someone who was not to be trifled with.
And it only increased her desire to trifle with him.

 

“Can you talk sense into a bunch of adolescents sloshed on Alabama slammers?”
”Like a professional hostage negotiator.”

 

“Just make me look like I’m a lobotomized lady who lunches. On something other than grilled cheese.”

 

He took in the activity pages and the facial expressions and the iced tea before asking, very slowly, “What are you doing?”

“Connecting the dots,” Jenna said.

“Coloring a frog,” Hollis said.

“Making this word search my bitch,” Summer said.

Dutch glanced behind him. “Is this… am I missing something here?”

 

He made her laugh. He made her think. He made her want to stay.
Oh no.

 

REVIEW: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Read: April 12 – May 3, 2017

Format: Paperback

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Broadway Books

Release Date: May 24, 2012

Genre: Mystery / Psychological Thriller

Pages: 555

Reading Challenge(s): Beat The Backlist 2017, TBR 2017


ABOUT THE BOOK

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?


REVIEW

I don’t remember how the topic of this book came about, but my co-worker Jess and I somehow ended up talking about this book one day at work. She said she owned it, but still hadn’t read it, but loved the movie. I told her I hadn’t seen the movie OR read the book, and I really wanted to. So, she brought the book to work and loaned it to me. And I devoured it as quickly as I could. Way too many late nights were spent reading this book. But it was so worth it.

So, if you’ve been living under a rock (as I was) and don’t really know what this book is about, except that it’s absolutely mind-blowing, then I’ll just tell you this:

Nick’s wife Amy disappears. He’s the prime suspect. But did he do it? Did he?

This book is literally mind-blowing. I was constantly texting my co-worker with each new theory I had for what happened to Amy. I can’t even count the number of times I changed my mind.

And the actual ending? Yep, mind-blowing. Like… WHAT? Did that seriously happen?

This review is not going to contain spoilers so, I mean, I literally can’t say much else. I will say this though, this book was amazing. Truly amazing. And this is coming from someone who really doesn’t enjoy reading “grown up” books.

The only reason I knocked half a star off was because the beginning was a little slow and because of the ending. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the ending, but I feel like it went on a little too long. I feel like the author gave the reader too much of an ending, if that makes sense.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

My wife loved games, mostly mind games.


It was my fifth lie to the police. I was just getting started.


Just like he jettisoned his parents when they were of no use to him, he’s dropping me because I don’t fit in his new life here.


Right now,
I thought, I am a man who loves his wife and will find her. I am a man who loves his wife, and I am the good guy.

 

REVIEW: Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron

Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron

Series: The Ryogan Chronicles #1

Read: January 17 – 28, 2017

Format: E-ARC (NetGalley)

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 400

Reading Challenge(s): 2017 YA Reading Challenge, Flights of Fantasy 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this diverse, gritty survival fantasy, a girl warrior turns against her island clan to find the brother they claim died, uncovering secrets. Perfect for fans of Graceling and Snow Like Ashes.

In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.

On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.

But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen.

To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.


REVIEW

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

 

Island of Exiles fits in well with the popular YA titles of current times, but at the same time, it is unique enough to set it apart.

If you look at my reading progress comments on Goodreads you can see that up until halfway through the book I was confused and struggling, but by around 50% I was completely sucked in. This book is worth the struggle in the beginning.

What I had the most trouble with was all of the new vocabulary words in this world that Khya lives in. They have an entire caste system (mostly based on magic) that is easily confusing, plus a few other words that are substitutes for what we would say and honestly, I don’t see the point in the author changing them.

For the longest time while I liked Khya, I didn’t really care about her. I blame this on the above vocabulary issue. It took me a while to really engage. Once I really committed, I discovered I did like her. She is a strong female character and her personal growth throughout the story was wonderful. I loved where her character ended up by the end and I look forward to seeing how she continues to grow and change throughout the series.

I give the author credit for this unique desert world she’s created, as well as the Miriseh people. All very cool, especially once I let go of trying to keep track of the ranks and titles and what it all meant.

A cool thing bout this particular community is that they’re part militia-part hippie commune. Parents don’t raise their kids, they’re all put together and raised together. Blood siblings are rare, and Khya is fortunate enough to have one. Sexuality is also very open and free, everyone is allowed to love whomever they want. Khya has has multiple relationships with her peers, both male and female. In this world, that’s the norm. There are no boundaries on love.

Tessen is my favorite in this book. His undying loyalty to Khya, even when she doesn’t entirely deserve it, is wonderful. I don’t even remember how he was described in the book, but in my head he’s pretty dreamy. Definitely book boyfriend material!

 

SHOULD YOU READ IT? Readers who enjoy unique fantasy worlds that are somewhat similar to our own will probably enjoy this book. The new vocab can be a bit intense, so my advice is to let it all go and just enjoy the story being told, don’t even worry about trying to keep track of the ranks.



Island of Exiles releases February 14, 2017
Get it here!

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

Animals can be outsmarted. Enemies can be fought. Storms can only be survived.

…on Shiara, death is the one think that’s inevitable.

Heat, dirt, blood, death. Life is made of these things.

“I don’t want to talk,” I warn him. “About anything.”
“That’s fine.” His grin spreads across his face like the first glint of sunrise. “You know I can talk enough for the both of us.”

“You know me.” Tessen’s smile grows, like he knows he’s won this argument. “I’ve always been too curious for my own good.”

There’s at least an inch of space between us, but I can feel him in a way that makes my skin seem sunburned—warm and prickly to the point of painful.

I’ve never allowed myself to have this. I’ve never let myself trust anyone enough to dare let my guard down enough to have this. No one else has pushed past my walls persistently enough to earn this.

 

 

Caroline’s Best Books of 2016

I read quite a few duds in 2016, not all of them even made it to my blog. I try to focus on the good though, so I’m going to say goodbye to 2016 and ring in 2017 with a list of my favorite books from this year. Not all of these books were published in 2016, but I read them this year.

Each title links to my review of the book in a new window.

Are any of these books on your Best of 2016 list? Which would you add?

 

 

The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine

* YA FANTASY *

This retelling of Snow White and the Huntsman is full of action, romance, and magic! (Plus a few sexy dragon shifters!)

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

* YA FANTASY *

An epic adventure of magic and friendship. There’s some steamy romantic chemistry there too.
I can’t wait to get my hands on book 2, Windwitch, in a couple weeks!

Girl on the Brink by Christina Hoag

* YA CONTEMPORARY *

An emotional book about a teen girl in over her head. A realistic look at how a smart young girl can end up in an abusive relationship.

Walk The Edge by Katie McGarry

* YA CONTEMPORARY *

Romantic. Sexy. Edgy. These characters are different as night and day, but they might just find what they need in the other.

Who I Am With You by Missy Fleming

* CONTEMPORARY *

Possible triggers for those who were personally affected by the 9/11 attacks. I wasn’t there, but this book had me crying like a baby at times.

Black Blade Series by Jennifer Estep

* YA FANTASY *

This entire series is a lighthearted and fun journey to a magical town filled with monsters, magic, and danger. The sparks between Lila and Devon add just the right amount of romance.

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

* YA ROMANCE *

Be still my heart! This book gave me butterflies. So much romance and adventure. It’s not 100% fantasy, but the countries are made up, so it’s also not quite historical, though it feels that way.

Fifteen Lanes by S. J. Laidlaw

* YA CONTEMPORARY *

This was my first time reading about another culture. In this case, the slums of India. A heartbreaking and uplifting tale of the daughter of a sex worker. This one stayed with me for some time.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

* CHILDRENS *

The only children’s book on this list, this one was so good that after receiving a digital copy to read from NetGalley, I bought it for my own daughter for Christmas! The pictures are bright and beautiful, and the message is important.

Kernel of Truth by Kristi Abbott

* COZY MYSTERY *

My first cozy mystery! I devoured this book about a popcorn shop owner trying to solve the mysterious murder of her friend and shop neighbor.

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

* SCI-FI ROMANCE *

I put off reading this one for a long time, thinking it would be too sci-fi for me. I was so wrong! Filled with dynamic characters and romance, this was a must read!
Goal for 2017: Find and read book 2!

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

* NON-FICTION *

My first win from Goodreads. This book helped me learn to let go of items I don’t need. Nothing stresses me out more than a bunch of junk cluttering my life. I’m still a work in progress, but this book was a good start for me.

WAR OF THE PRINCES SERIES by A. R. Ivanovich

* YA FANTASY *

I devoured this 4 book series. Though book 1 remains my favorite, the whole series is worth reading. Mysterious magical powers. War. Secrets. Wow, what a ride!

The Martian by Andy Weir

* SCI-FI *

I went out with a bang in 2016, finishing this with only days to spare before ringing in the new year. I never thought a book about a man stranded alone on Mars could be funny. Boy was I wrong! I can’t wait to see the movie next!


BONUS

Since I didn’t start book blogging until the end of 2015, I never put together a list for that year. Below are some of my favorite reads from 2015.

The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot

* YA CONTEMPORARY MYSTERY *

The last book in the Heather Wells series, but the first that I read. Though the book revolves around Heather trying to solve a murder, this book is FUNNY! I love Heather Wells!

Should’ve Said No by Tracy March

* CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE *

I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance, but this one has a mystery theme to it, so I was completely engrossed!

Hourglass by Pauline C. Harris

* YA SCI-FI *

A completely unique spin on Peter Pan! What if Captain Hook was a 17-year old girl and illegally captaining a space ship manned by a teenage crew? And what if they found a mysterious planet with a boy named Peter?

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

* YA FANTASY *

This book was not at all what I expected it to be. It surpassed my wildest expectations and the ending left me with my jaw on the ground. I listened to the audiobook of this one and the only reason I haven’t finished the series yet is because I have not yet found the audiobooks of the remaining books! (2017 goal!)

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Firestone

* MYSERY / HUMOR *

If you’re not a gaming nerd (past or present), you may not get this book. However, for recovering World of Warcraft addicts like myself, this book was an absolute riot!
I can’t wait to see what’s next for Dahlia!