Tag Archive | ARC

REVIEW: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

Read: June 25-27, 2017

Format: ARC Ebook

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Random House, Del Rey Books

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Genre: YA / NA Fantasy

Pages: 400

Reading Challenge(s): Flights of Fantasy

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.


REVIEW

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

 

First of all, can we look at this cover? How cool is this cover! And it’s entirely appropriate for this book. Like, I can’t think of any cooler cover for this book. It perfectly sums up the story and the character Elanna.

So, as far as I can tell this is a stand alone fantasy novel. It’s billed as YA, but it’s really more upper YA into NA due to one steamy scene. I hope this becomes a series though, because I was blown away. I’m just not sure what is left of the story to tell… but I’d still read it!

This world and magic system is so cool. Basically, El lives in a country where magic is outlawed. If someone is suspected of magic, the Witch Hunters are called, and it’s a death sentence. So El doesn’t tell anyone that plants come alive around her – one touch of her finger and she can make them grow. She has big plans of going off for further training to be a botanist. Of course, the king might have other plans, like an arranged marriage.

No worries about that whole arranged marriage by the king thing though, because the king is murdered. Oh, and El is one of the prime suspects. And aside from taking her away from her parents and homeland at five years old to become a political prisoner—due to her father leading a rebellion, she actually kind of liked the guy. So begins her tale. She goes through a lot of changes of heart in this book, starting with not wanting anything to do with her parents. Not wanting to accept her magic. Wanting things to stay the same for her in King Antoine’s court.

El’s journey is a long one. Like, this book could have been broken into like, at least a trilogy, but it wasn’t, and I’m glad the author chose to keep it as one book. It meant no wait time to finish this journey!

The magic in this book is so cool. The land is literally alive and that power lives inside Elanna. There’s a lot of talk of the ancestors and ancient magics and so on. I loved it.

The romance? I don’t know if I was just in the mood for this kind of romance or what, but I immediately fell under Jahan’s charms. His personality was just so… charming! And he’s got secrets of his own. He was very easy going and had a nice sense of humor.

This review does this book no justice. Seriously, none. I can’t even describe all the feels. I can say this though, I did not want to put this book down. Most times I have my specific reading times and I stick to them. With this book? That went out the window. I read and read, and then I read some more. Until I’d devoured this entire thing in 3 days time—which is pretty quick for me for a book this long.

So, long story short: fans of YA fantasy tales with really cool and unique magic systems and a swoon worthy love interest will enjoy this story.


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QUOTES

 

It’s been fourteen years, last night. Fourteen year since King Antoine took me hostage; fourteen years since I’ve seen or heard from my parents.

 

I’m supposed to be safe here, safe to taunt myself with a magic I am not supposed to possess. A magic I still don’t understand.

 

I have no power but the king’s mercurial affection, which would vanish as soon as anyone named me a witch.

 

For a moment, I forget to be afraid. I just want to listen. I want to understand what the plants are saying.

 

“Jahan what?” I demand. “And I’ll thank you to state your intentions as well!”

A snort escapes him: He’s definitely trying not to laugh. “Jahan Korakides, at your service, demoiselle. I swear to you, my intentions are nothing but honorable.”

“Indeed?” I say. “A man takes a woman—by magic—and knocks her senseless, and she comes to on a horse in the middle of the night, and she’s supposed to assume his intentions are honorable?”

 

But I won’t use my magic to help them. It’s too dangerous, and it gives others ideas. It makes them think I might be what they want me to be.

 

“But you never came for me,” I say. “You left me there. You left me—”

“No,” she says fiercely. “I was always with you. Every day. Every moment. I am your mother, and I was with you.”

 

There’s a story in which Wildegarde makes an entire forest grow overnight; the next morning, the trees rip their roots from the ground and walk.

 

“…The Ereni had to fight their way through shifting forests and hills; they drowned in streams that appeared out of nowhere and valleys that seemed never to end. So by the time they reached Barrony, they wanted more than conquest. They were half mad. They wanted blood.”

 

The earth knew what I wanted. It did as I asked.

 

“So you trust me now?” His breath touches my face; his fingertips linger on my neck.

“Maybe,” I say with a laugh that catches in my throat.

 

REVIEW: Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

RoamHer Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

Series: The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #1

Read: May 21-June 21, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: August 30, 2016

Genre: Romantic Thriller

Pages: 407

Reading Challenge(s): Beat The Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

THE HUNT FOR A SERIAL KILLER

Evelyn Talbot knows that a psychopath can look perfectly normal. She was only sixteen when her own boyfriend Jasper imprisoned and tortured her—and left her for dead. Now an eminent psychiatrist who specializes in the criminal mind, Evelyn is the force behind Hanover House, a maximum-security facility located in a small Alaskan town. Her job puts her at odds with Sergeant Amarok, who is convinced that Hanover is a threat to his community…even as his attraction to beautiful Evelyn threatens to tear his world apart.

BEGINS WITH AN ESCAPE FROM HER PAST

Then, just as the bitter Alaskan winter cuts both town and prison off from the outside world, the mutilated body of a local woman turns up. For Amarok, this is the final proof he needs: Hanover has to go. Evelyn, though, has reason to fear that the crime is a personal message to her—the first sign that the killer who haunts her dreams has found her again. . .and that the life she has so carefully rebuilt will never be the same…


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads. I am in no obligation to review this book, let alone give it a good review.

  

Word to the wise: Don’t read two thrillers concurrently in which a teenage girl is the sole survivor of a massacre.

This was a book I won through Goodreads. (Yay!) I don’t read a lot of straight up romance, but this is a romantic thriller. And though from the very beginning I was hesitant, I wound up absolutely loving this book. I need to get my hands on the prequel and the next one in the series!

Evelyn Talbot is an interesting character. Having survived being tortured and left for dead by her psychotic high school boyfriend—after he killed all her best friends—she’s spent her life dedicated to unraveling the minds of psychopaths as a psychiatrist. Now running Hanover House, a prison in the wilderness of Alaska meant to house the most dangerous psychopaths in America, Evelyn must face her past.

In this book, one of Evelyn’s dearest friends at Hanover House is murdered, her dismembered head the only thing found. Evelyn is sure it’s Jasper, her psychotic ex-boyfriend, toying with her before finishing what he failed to do when she was sixteen. From there, the clues keep piling up.

This was a very fun, dark, and twisty ride. There were so many red herrings it was hard to know who the killer really was. And just when you think it’s going to end — BAM!! Another twist!!

The romance was really good too. Evelyn is emotionally scarred because of Jasper and has never been with a man since. The sexy and fierce state trooper, Amarok (a nickname, which means wolf), is determined to break through her shields though. She doesn’t think she’s worth the hassle, but he begs to differ. The chemistry between them is awesome. I can’t wait to see what happens next for them.

I also really loved all the quotes from real psychopaths which preceded each chapter. Those plus the story itself had me looking at every person I know with a “could they be a psychopath?” filter on.

I absolutely recommend this to readers who enjoy mysteries and thrillers. This was a real treat and won’t be my last Brenda Novak novel.


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QUOTES

 

Looking down at their entwined hands, he moved his thumb over her palm in a seductive circle. “You realize you’re giving me conflicting signals.”

 

Maybe he was as attractive as sin, but they were worlds apart in every other way.

 

Psychopaths dismissed murder as easily as most people dismissed neglecting to send a thank-you card.

 

“I haven’t seen you with anyone since I’ve been here. So. . . Who is your type?” She held her breath after she asked. She’d opened herself up, knew he had to understand she wanted to be his type ….

“Apparently I like uptight psychiatrists.”

 

“I can’t—I can’t be restrained.”

“I’m not restraining you. This is called comfort. There’s a difference.”

 

“I don’t want to fall in love with you.”

“Because of my age, Evelyn? Really?”

“No, because love is the biggest risk of all.”
 

REVIEW: The Haunted Heist by Angie Fox

The Haunted Heist by Angie Fox

Series: Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries #3

Read: June 5-7, 2017

Format: Kindle ARC

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Moose Island Books

Release Date: March 17, 2016

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Pages: 320

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

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Just because she can see the dead doesn’t mean Verity Long wants to spend her days hunting ghosts. Instead, she’s over the moon to land a marketing job at the local bank . . . until she finds her new boss dead in the vault. Even her ghost friend, Frankie, knows that’s no way to start a career.

Relieved to let the police take charge, Verity steps aside, bound and determined to keep her ghost sightings to herself. But when she learns the main suspect in the murder is a very crooked, very dead mobster, Verity knows it’s up to her to solve the case.

She teams up with her ghostly gangster buddy Frankie, as well as the irresistible and charming Ellis, as the three of them search haunted mob hideouts, hidden passageways, and historic cemeteries for the facts behind the heist of the century—and a modern-day motive for murder.

Too bad uncovering the truth could very well make Verity the next victim…


REVIEW

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

 

I’m not sure why I put off reading The Haunted Heist for so long. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for a cozy mystery? Regardless, I felt guilty staring at it in my NetGalley queue, so I bit the bullet and started reading.

This is the third in a series and I haven’t read any of the previous books. Unfortunately for me, that meant the first chapter was full if info dumping to catch me up on what I missed in books 1 and 2.

I read 99% of this book via text-to-speech (aka, listening to a semi-robotic voice read to me while I did other things, like exercise or fold laundry). Text-to-speech is great for multitasking, but I know I missed some things along the way, but it didn’t hurt the story for me.

I like the main character, Verity Long. She doesn’t want to have the ghost of an old mobster hanging around, but she’s stuck with him. (I’d have to go read the first books to find out exactly why, see the paragraph above!) The ghost, Frankie, was a blast. Seriously, his questionable morals and zero filter made the book.

This story revolves around Verity trying to get a job doing marketing work for the bank, but instead she finds herself at a crime scene. Sounds like this is something that happens to her fairly regularly.

I loved the subplot with sexy cop Ellis—and his overbearing mother who hates her. Apparently, Verity was supposed to marry Ellis’s brother, but she left him. It sounds like their Facebook relationship status should be ‘It’s Complicated’ because it is. But they’re soooon cute together!

So, basically, after a rocky start, I enjoyed this story full of southern charm and ghosts. I was never completely hooked, but as I said above, I just haven’t been in the mood for a cozy mystery, so I think that detracted from some of the enjoyment for this book.

If you’re into cozy mysteries, go pick up this series. It’s a cute, quick read, and book one is currently FREE on Amazon (and maybe other retailers?) at the time of this review posting.



Get the Book here:

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Catch up with book 1, Southern Spirits, for FREE here:

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QUOTES
(From an advanced release copy. Actual quotes may differ in final book.)

 

I felt my smile go wooden It was one thing to have a bad couple of days or even years, but to disrespect my town?

“Bless your heart,” I said, stepping past her desk, determined to end this conversation on a civil note.

 

“What do you want me to do?” Frankie huffed. “Embroider it on a pillow?”

 

“You got some natural talent behind the wheel,” Frankie said, approving from the passenger seat. “If you ever wanted a career in getaway—“

I clutched the wheel. “I don’t want to hear about it.”

“Just saying…”

 

“You mean like when I shot Crazy Louie in the leg to get your gun?” I challenged.

Frankie grinned wide. “You should have shot him in the balls.

“They chased us,” I said. “I had to dodge bullets. Ellis took us off road.”

“You’re just trying to make me jealous, aren’t you?”

 

“Who gets your house when you die? Your sister? God I, I hope not. I can’t break in another perky blonde.”

 

 

REVIEW: Beauty of the Beast by Rachel L. Demeter

Beauty of the Beast by Rachel L. Demeter

Series: Fairytale Retellings #1

Read: February 6 – April 10, 2017

Format: ARC eBook

My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: March 15, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Pages: 342

Reading Challenge(s): Fairy Tale Retellings

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST

Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.

A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE

Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…

Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.

* * *

Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

* * *

Disclaimer: This is an edgy, historical romance retelling of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

Beauty of the Beast is a slow-burn romance that features a descriptive, richly detailed, and atmospheric writing style.


REVIEW

Beauty of the Beast is a realistic historical fairy tale retelling. I’ll let you figure out which fairy tale. 😉

From the start I was lost in this epic tale. The setting (though over described for this particular readers tastes) was epic and beautiful. The heroine kind and caring. The hero, beyond damaged. And the villain? Just when you loathe him beyond imagination, the author gives you a taste of his backstory and you almost don’t hate him as much. Almost.

It was fun to read this book and compare events and scenes to the Disney version, at times they were nearly identical, but at other times they were brand new. I much preferred the brand new, because it was something… new!

I loved the backstory of Prince Adam, how he was forced to watch his family murdered, how he was burned and badly disfigured. It was at times TOO well described. Leaving me feeling a little sick. (I mean that in the best way.)

I honestly didn’t care as much for Isabelle, I’m not sure if it was her use of Mon Dieu all the time or what. But something about her kept me from fully connecting. She was well developed, so I think its just me. Isabelle and I probably just wouldn’t be good friends if she was a real person.

Raphael, the villain, is a selfish, arrogant, drunken jackass. I was absolutely repulsed by him. I couldn’t believe Isabelle would ever have agreed to marry him, no matter how dire her situation. In other words, he was a great villain.

I liked that Demeter also added in a couple of “wicked step-sisters” for Isabelle. It was a nice touch, one of those changes from the Disney version that I appreciated.

The love story built slowly. So slowly that I can’t really pinpoint the moment their relationship turned into “something more”.

I would recommend this for fans of sweeping epic historical romances. Those looking for the magic and wonder typically found in a fairy tale will be disappointed that there are no evil witches and curses. A word of warning though, this book gets very dark in a few places.

 

An ARC of this book was kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.


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QUOTES

 

“Why are you trying to prove?” she managed to choke out. Her voice sounded faint and weary; she didn’t recognize it as her own.

“That you are mine. And you belong to me.”

 

Adam was a flesh-and-blood enigma, a beautiful mystery that she ached to unravel.

 

Adam’s eyes flashed open and captured her own. In a rush of movement, he closed the space between them and seized her mouth in a blistering kiss. It burned. Claimed her soul. Whispered a thousand unspoken secrets.

 

A chill seeped into her bones—one that had nothing to do with the rain and everything to do with her blossoming feelings.

 

Rivulets of water dripped from the dark strands of his hair and tracked down his cheeks; they resembled the tears he refused to shed.

“You, Isabelle, have reminded me that goodness and beauty still exist in the world.”

 

Deliberately. Softly. She poured all her longing, all her loneliness, into the intimate movement. The kiss began as a featherlight caress, a whisper of a butterfly’s wing, that left her throbbing for more.

 

“You’re a dreadful dancer,” he murmured against her ear. Paired with the husky baritone of his voice, the insult sounded rather like an endearment.

 

Isabelle stopped dead in her tracks while a premonition eclipsed her thoughts. Her flight or fight instinct kicked into place. She was being watched… hunted.

 

Alas, should he live to see a hundred years, he’d never forget the sight of the king and queen’s severed heads on spikes… how the mob had paraded them about the courtyard, the crowd cheering and waving their tricolored freedom flags. Those memories were forever burned into his thoughts, into his very being. 

 

REVIEW: The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer

Read: December 21-28, 2016

Format: ARC Kindle Book

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Abrams / Amulet Books

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary / Magical Realism

Pages: 384

Challenges: 2017 YA

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She’s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumors spread, jeopardizing her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father’s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers’ home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn’s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets—strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin?


REVIEW

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

I acquired an ARC of this book from NetGalley and read it pretty quickly. The cover was what first attracted me to this book.  It’s just so… pretty with the blues and pinks and stars. I love the text and the imagery (which is entirely appropriate for the story) and… everything. The second thing that hooked me was the story concept, teen girl is pregnant… but she’s also the the daughter of a politician. I wanted to see how this drama unfolded. And honestly, it was not at all what I expected.

This is kind of an odd book. Not odd bad, just… hard to put my finger on how exactly to describe it.

16 year old Quinn is pregnant and has no recollection of ever having had sex. Sure, she’s messed around with her boyfriend, but nothing that could result in a baby! But there she was, pregnant.

This book follows Quinn throughout the nine months of her pregnancy while she tries to figure out when and how she ended up pregnant. She’s convinced it was rape and she has blocked any memory of the event. Until she discovers a secret about her grandmother.

I seriously can’t say much else about what happens without spoiling the story! I can say that I could not put this book down. I devoured it. I needed to know what happened next. At 76% I updated my reading progress on Goodreads with: “I still have no clue where this is going! And I’m loving it!” and my final thoughts were: “Wow! What a beautiful book.”

The only negative I have about this one aren’t really negatives about the story, just personal hatred for Quinn’s father. He just rubbed me the wrong way. I liked the rest of the family, but her dad is kind of a jerk.

So, I guess I’ll just tell you to give this book a chance and go into it with an open mind and be prepared for ambiguity.



Get the Book here:

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QUOTES

 “But I’m not lying. I don’t know how it happened! How am I supposed to figure it out if I’m telling the truth and none of you want to hear it?”

“…but I wanted to mention that my daughter had . . . an active imagination when she was younger. If she says anything that seems upsetting or unusual, please let me know . . .”

Because something was wrong, and if she could figure it out, maybe she could help.
Maybe she could save her.

If she hadn’t happened to go to the doctor, would she have been one of those girls who went all nine months without knowing? Because, clearly, there was something really wrong with her.

“…But you realize my boys would have to be superheroes? Like, wearing tiny little capes and doing impossible things.”

The words crept under her skin and stayed there, crawling around like maggots. And what other things had people said? What else did they think about her and her baby? The curiosity worked up into a frenzy inside of her. She didn’t care if the people were insane. She needed to know what they were saying.

Too many questions.
All she wanted was for someone to give her the answers.

“Seriously?” Jesse said, breaking into a jog. “You get to be friends with the ocean, and I get a pigeon?” 

 

REVIEW: Dead Letters by Caite Donlan-Leach

Dead Letters by Caite Donlan-Leach

Read: December 27, 2016 – January 10, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC / NetGalley

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Random house

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Genre: Literary Mystery

Pages: 352

Challenges: none

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this sharp and clever debut novel of suspense, a young woman—presumed dead—leaves a series of clues for her twin sister, which leads her on a scavenger-hunt-like quest to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

Ava Antipova has her reasons for running away: a failing family vineyard, a romantic betrayal, a mercurial sister, an absent father, a mother slipping into dementia. In Paris, Ava acquires a French boyfriend and a taste for much better wine, and erases her past. But two years later, she must return to upstate New York. Her twin sister, Zelda, is dead.

Even in a family of alcoholics, Zelda Antipova was the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and the girls’ increasingly unstable mother, Zelda is allegedly burned alive when she passes out in the barn with a cigarette. But Ava finds the official explanation a little too neat. A little too Zelda. Then she receives a cryptic message—from her sister. Just as Ava suspected, Zelda’s playing one of her games. In fact, she’s outdone herself, leaving a series of clues to her disappearance. Ava follows the trail laid just for her, thinking like her sister, keeping her secrets, immersing herself in Zelda’s drama. Along the way, Zelda forces Ava to confront their twisted history and the boy who broke her heart. But why? Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving? To teach her a lesson? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending?

Caite Dolan-Leach’s debut suspense takes readers on a literary scavenger hunt for clues concealed throughout the seemingly idyllic wine country, hidden in plain sight on social media, and buried at the heart of one tremendously dysfunctional, utterly unforgettable family.


REVIEW

Caution: There may be mild spoilers, but I promise, NOTHING will ruin the ending.

 

Literary fiction isn’t my GO TO genre. In fact, I tend to avoid it. For the most part I don’t like that style of writing. Going into Dead Letters I knew it was a more literary book than I gravitate toward and honestly, up until about 15-20% I seriously considered quitting. By the time I reached THE END (sobbing like a baby) I was so glad I didn’t quit this one.

As the blurb indicates, Ava’s from a family of alcoholics. They’re all pretty terrible people, making all kinds of terrible life choices. It was hard to relate to them because I’m the opposite, I just don’t see the point in alcohol so I usually abstain. It actually bothered me a lot more up until the point when Ava says out loud that she knows she has a problem. Once the cards were on the table, I could respect her more.

One of the problems I have with literary fiction is that they tend to linger on seemingly random tangents. That was very much the case with this book, as present day Ava reminisced about something that happened years ago, usually involving Zelda. And much of the time they seemed unimportant to the story, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of a flashback that didn’t pertain to the clues/ending.

The clues laid out by Zelda were very clever. I found myself wondering how she was doing it. What was going on. Just when I thought I figured it out, I got a slap in the face. My theory was 100% incorrect, and though it would have been cool, this ending was so much butter. (If anyone wants to know my theory, feel free to private message me! I don’t want to spoil the journey for other readers by posting it here!)

Seriously, I can’t express my feelings for this book without spoiling it!

I’ll sum it up this way – for 95% of the book I could have cared less what happened, I just wanted to FINISH. Then the ending happened. And suddenly I was completely and totally invested in the story. Days later and I’m still thinking about it. The book shot from like, a 2.5-3 star book to a 3.75/4 star book.

So should you read the book?

If you’re into literary books – YES.

If you’re not so much into literary but you like a book with a mind lowing ending that leaves you thinking – YES.

 

 I received an advanced release copy of this book from Goodreads First to Read and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Random House and the Author.



Get the Book here:

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QUOTES

I’m an idiot and accidentally deleted all of my quotes from my phone! Yikes!

 

REVIEW: Amp’d by Ken Pisani

Amp’d by Ken Pisani

Read: February 2 – 19, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: May 10, 2016

Genre: Humor

Pages: 288

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

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

“Complete with painfully wry observations and delightfully caustic wit, this novel is a gritty exploration of what it’s like to feel incomplete in the world. All five fingers up for this bitterly satisfying tale.” Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Aaron is not a man on a hero’s journey. In the question of fight or flight, he’ll choose flight every time. So when a car accident leaves him suddenly asymmetrical, his left arm amputated, looking on the bright side just isn’t something he’s equipped to do.

Forced to return to his boyhood home to recuperate, Aaron is confronted with an aging father (a former Olympic biathlete turned hoarder), a mother whose chosen to live in a yurt with a fireman twelve years her junior, and a well-meaning sister whose insufferable husband proves love isn’t just blind, but also painfully stupid.

As Aaron tries to make the world around him disappear in a haze of Vicodin and medical marijuana, the only true joy in his life comes from daily ninety-second radio spots of fun science facts: the speed of falling raindrops, batteries made out of starfish, and sexual responses triggered by ringtones – all told in the lush, disembodied voice of commentator Sunny Lee, with whom he falls helplessly, ridiculously, in love. Aaron’s obsession with Sunny only hastens his downward spiral, like pouring accelerant on a fire. Pressured to do something – anything – to move his life forward, he takes the only job he can get. As a “fish counter” at the nearby dam, he concludes that an act of violent sacrifice to liberate the river might be his best, final option.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads.

 

Some of the books I win from Goodreads get relegated to the DNF pile so quickly they don’t even get reviews. This is not one of those books.

Amp’d by Ken Pisani is a real treat. Take one 40 year old man, recently sans-one arm, force him to move home to live with his dad (who may have a mild hoarding problem) and his pet alligator (who lives in the bathtub) and you’ve got a recipe for hilarity.

I’ll admit, the beginning of this book felt a little too literary for me, but I chuckled a few times so I kept with it. Soon enough I’d completely fallen in love with this story. I had no clue where the plot was going until the very end, but I was eager to read more about what was going to happen to Aaron next. Everything was so over the top and cartoonish it was hard not to love it. There’s a lot of drug humor, and I’m so not a drug humor kind of person, but these characters are just so charming. Besides, it was just medical Marijuana.

Honestly, this is the kind of book I have a hard time reviewing. A lot of things happen. Most of it was funny. Maybe not fall over crying with tears funny, but consistently garnering chuckles funny. I mean, Aaron befriends a little boy with cancer, who he refers to as Cancer Boy in the narrative. He gets a job counting fish. Yes. Counting fish. I refuse to expand upon this, you need to read the book to find out more. He has a friggen alligator living in his house!

That’s not to say the book doesn’t have any heart. There is quite a bit of emotion at the end. I didn’t cry, but the story literally came full circle and left me with a solid sense of closure that I feared I wouldn’t get from a book like this.

I’m glad I read this book. And I know this review is pretty abysmal, but I highly encourage those who enjoy humorous tales to read this as well. Amp’d is a hidden gem.



Get the Book here:

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QUOTES

 

If this were a book you’d know that the guy you meet on page 1, shattered and mutilated and staring into the abyss, would by the end of the story transcend his terrible circumstances to become a better man. But this isn’t a book, this is just me talking… and I’m not the guy who beats the odds and overcomes adversity; I’m the guy who wakes up in the hospital to find out his arm has been amputated and says, Fuck me.

 

“There’s an alligator in your bathtub.”
“I thought you knew.”
“If I did, I’d forgotten.”

 

“This is why I worry about you, honey. When things are bad, you pour accelerant on them.”

 

That’s how Dad finds us on his return, both picking our noses in his kitchen, his bottle of Fleischmann’s a guilty accomplice.
“Right,” he finally says. “There never was anything to do in this town.”

 

“What are you doing now?”
“Learning Chinese.”
“See? I just learned a sentence: Kway-UR yin-UH chee. Happy baby eat. Or it could be Eat happy baby. Yes, that’s better! The next time I see a happy Chinese baby, I can tell his parents to eat him.”

 

Her glare wilts, no match for my status as object of pity, an awesome power I should probably use for good, not evil, but know I’m going to milk like dairy farmer.

 

“If there was a future in bullshit, Aaron,” she says, “you’d be unstoppable.”

 

“I don’t remember what you wanted to be when you grew up—”
“Pretty sure it was a guy with two arms.”

 

As any hockey player could tell you, it’s harder to score after repeated blows to the head, rendering future offspring unlikely.

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:

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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: 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:

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~ 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:

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