God, I loved this book! Most definitely, The Sinner by Amanda Stevens is the strongest book in her Graveyard Queen series yet. If you don't have this God, I loved this book! Most definitely, The Sinner by Amanda Stevens is the strongest book in her Graveyard Queen series yet. If you don't have this on your pre-ordered list yet, what are you waiting for?
The Sinner picks up approximately a year after where The Visitor leaves off: Amelia is tending her wounded heart and has decided to temporarily leave Charleston to try to move on, by taking a lengthy and complicated cemetery restoration job about an hour away. Her gifts are continuing to develop, despite that she doesn't know how to use them; she just wants to be normal, after all.
The Sinner introduces many new and intriguing characters to the series. There is the mysterious Lucien Kendrick, a detective on the local police force in Ascension, South Carolina, who fits Amelia's tall, dark, & dangerous stereotype, with the hint of a French accent to add to his sexy, other worldly charm. Officer Tom Malloy, a native to Ascension, who perhaps has seen and heard more than his fair share of the unusual over the years; Annalee Nash, a woman who has a haunting and tragic past tied up in the town of Ascension.
Stevens also re-introduces us to an old frenemy, Darius Goodwine. Nothing good can come from having Darius involved, yet he seems to encourage and push Amelia to the brink of using her gifts, with the plea demand that she save his daughter, Rhapsody, niece to Devlin's dead wife, Mariama, and in exchange, he will help her find her great-grandmother's missing key. A hard offer to turn down for her.
I wasn't sure who to suspect in this novel; at the top of my list were Kendrick, Malloy, Annalee, and Dr. Rupert Shaw. In fact, I've been suspicious of Shaw since the beginning; his ties to the Order of the Coffin and Claw, as well as being deeply entrenched in the occult have always made me suspect he is sort of undercover. Each time Amelia visits with him and gives away a little more of herself, my heart pounds and I cringe.
The Sinner was extra-creepy, if that is even possible. Amelia stumbles upon a caged grave outside Seven Gates Cemetery, with a freshly dead arm trying to claw it's way out of the dirt. She's seeing things, hearing things, and feeling as if she's being summoned places. Is she a sort of reaper? I'm not sure yet, because she's still finding her gifts and her story isn't over. Stevens paints Ascension with southern charm, peppered with tragedy, darkness, and a sinister undertone that you feel as the reader.
Amelia's story isn't over yet and I can't wait to find out what happens next!
*Advanced reading copy courtesy of Harlequin MIRA via Netgalley.
This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post. ...more
The text is richly descriptive. Rutkoski pulls no punches with the conditions of the slave camp and the depths from which Kestral must be saved Pros:
The text is richly descriptive. Rutkoski pulls no punches with the conditions of the slave camp and the depths from which Kestral must be saved.
I really enjoyed Kestral's indecisiveness when it came to her father. He was a terrible father, but I think his fear and grief paralyzed any love he might have shown her over the years.
The Winner's Kiss is very much a book of redemption and over-coming PTSD. I liked that Rutkoski didn't sacrifice the slow process of overcoming PTSD in favor of keeping the story more fast-paced. In reality, sufferers of PTSD are a slow recovery and as a reader, it felt authentic for me to be frustrated with Kestral and internally shouting at her to get over it already. Because those emotions and reactions happen in real life, too.
And more Arin
Roshar is probably my favorite secondary character. He was saucy and playful, but he had a fine edge that would cut you badly if you got on his wrong side. I actually would love side stories with him as the main character. Marie, can we please have that?!
Most of all, I enjoyed that we are shown that looks and circumstances can be deceiving. People are not always what they seem and maybe we should walk miles in their shoes before we aim to get revenge.
It was, at times, very slow. But that mostly has to do with the PTSD and while it was slow in parts, Rutkoski did use that time for good character building.
I would like to have seen more from Verex and Risha; I don't think Rutkoski took enough advantage of them in this final book.
I really had to reach for things I didn't love. Overall, The Winner's Kiss will satisfy fans of the story because it delivers a realistic ending to a war-ridden world and romance, and really, I can never get enough of Kestral and Arin! This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post. ...more
The story is manipulative. It's the kind of mystery that makes your heart race as you try to discern any clues Hawkins may have left on the pages as to whodunit. I spent the entire book desperate for some kind of idea of who the killer was. And while I had my suspicions (that were right on the money, thankyouverymuch!), I think Hawkins did a great job at making me second-guess myself all the way to the end.
All of the characters are simply awful. Truly, there was not one character I actually liked, but I "didn't like" them in the best possible way. No pun intended, but listening to how they went through their situations was like watching a train wreck happen. You knew it was coming and you just couldn't look away. I liked that I disliked them because it gave the story a little bit of schadenfreude for me.
I'm not going to spend a lot of time renumerating on this story since Jessica already did a fantastic review of it. But suffice to say I loved this audio. It was the kind of gripping mystery with awesome narration that I can easily become addicted to. I will definitely be looking for more from this author! Narrator 4-1-1 Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher each narrated from a different character's point of view, and they were perfectly cast. Their voices fit the personalities so well and I enjoyed listening to them. I will definitely be looking for more of their performances. This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post. ...more
I liked Truly, Madly, Famously by Rebecca Serle even more than its predecessor, Famous In Love. And I neveWarning: Major spoiler from the first book.
I liked Truly, Madly, Famously by Rebecca Serle even more than its predecessor, Famous In Love. And I never like second books more!
This is the age of celebrity, whether it's 15 minutes of fame, or fans clamoring for glimpses of your daily life and every move. Paige Townsen belongs to the second group, having rocketed to stardom in her first movie, Locked, a movie about August, Ed, and Noah whose plane crashes on a small island, thus throwing together the two love interests that shouldn't be. (view spoiler)[In this case, life imitates art, and our real-life August (Paige) has chosen her Ed (Rainer) and is internally struggling with her strong emotions for Noah (Jordan). (hide spoiler)]
Still with me? LOL.
What I liked about Paige's transition into Truly, Madly, Famously was that her celebrity didn't go to her head. She wasn't all "I have all this money now and I'm famous" and actually abhorred the idea that her privacy was a thing of the past. She truly was in it for the love of the craft, and not because she wanted to be the center of attention. Her struggles with fame and the paparazzi felt honest and actually, she reminded me very much of another actress from a popular series of movies who was always said to have needed to smile more, and who also jealously guarded her personal life. It didn't end well for that particular celebrity, but in Paige's case, she grows a lot from the photos and tabloid stories, and she truly does learn the value of her real friends.
Rainer was just an okay character for me. I didn't feel like we got much of a chance to really love him or connect with him, despite the revelations made about his father. Was I sympathetic? Yes, of course. Did I care if he never really graced the pages of Truly, Madly, Famously again? Nope. I also felt that the revelation of why he and Paige began dating was kind of forced and unnecessary.
Jordan, on the other hand, was fairly fascinating to me, despite that nothing all that big is revealed about him, except for his own struggles with his celebrity and fame. His relationship with Paige was real and I got the feeling that he needed someone that could ground him. I just liked him and he was hunky, so leave me alone, 'kay?!
In Truly, Madly, Famously we get to meet new characters, some whom are celebrities in their own right. My favorite was Alexis. I had suspicions about her from the beginning, and I was right, but it was fun seeing how it all came to light. She's a strong personality, and initially, I was wary of trusting her because of how she enters the story, but Serle writes her so well, that you as the reader can't help but fall in love with her. Can we puh-lease get a spin-off about her?! She's so fun and honest!
Speaking of Alex, the whole situation involving her (that I won't spoil) really sheds a light on how Hollywood can actually be. None of it is all that surprising, but the lengths to which agents will go to secure top stories in tabloids is kind of outrageous, as is the manipulation by the stars themselves to get mentions, either positively or negatively.
There's a kind of bohemian vibe in Truly, Madly, Famously. Stars switch homes on a whim, everyone's got the keys to your beach house and off days are spent lounging on beaches. There is an air of casualness among all the fakery, as if some celebrities just can't be bothered with manners or social norms. In Hollywood, plastic is as real as the skin it replaces.
There are a lot of themes in Truly, Madly, Famously. Love, friendship, betrayal, trust. Paige has to navigate all of these while she decides if she should listen to what her heart wants. Who can and should she trust? Family? Friends? I enjoyed finding out in this rather addicting tale.
This love-triangle has a great ending, and I think (or hope) most readers will be thrilled with where it ends.This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Asking For It by Louise O'Neill is an amazing story, and I don't think this book gets the attention it sorely deserves. And I will do my best to reviAsking For It by Louise O'Neill is an amazing story, and I don't think this book gets the attention it sorely deserves. And I will do my best to review it adequately, but please forgive typos, because I am doped up on Nyquil.
Trigger warning: Rape and bullying.
Emma is, by all accounts, a normal teenager in Ireland. She parties, she has a few close friends, she's into boys. She's also confident and a little egotistical. But all of that changes when videos and photos of her male classmates running train on her appears on Facebook. To cap it all off, she remembers none of it. "Rape culture" is a polarizing topic. I, myself, have certainly been on the fence as I see both sides duke it out in online articles and on friends' feeds. And let me be clear: when I say I'm on the fence, I'm certainly not victim-blaming or thinking boys have a right to do that to girls when the girls are incapable of saying no. I'm on the fence in regards to decisions that lead there. Or...I was.
For the first 100 pages or so, I was bored. The story moved very slowly as it established her character. And, frankly I hated Emma. I thought she was bitchy and self-centered...and yes, a part of me thought she might have been asking for it. But something strange happened, and somewhere in the middle of Asking For It, I began to feel sorry for her. And then I got mad for her. And suddenly, I was no longer on the fence. I was solidly on #TeamEmma.
"They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest."
O'Neill writes a very captivating story. Here is this girl who makes poor decisions that lead her to being essentially gang-raped - by boys she was "friends" with. The author wants you to hate her and question her, and she explains why Emma is such a frustrating character. That's the whole point of the book: even the worst of people don't deserve this to happen to them. It begs the question: Why are we teaching our girls to avoid rape, instead of teaching our boys that a lack of "no" does not mean yes? Why are we not teaching them to respect women?
Emma's spiral down into the pits of depression was vivid and authentic. She considered her ways out. She watched her family fall apart - and blamed herself. She wasn't just a victim of rape; she was also a victim of society. I've said it so many times: sexual and domestic violence victims are victims twice: first by the perpetrator of the crime and then again by society who looks for reasons why this thing might have happened to her. Was it because her skirt was too short? Was it because he knew she wasn't wearing panties? Was it because she dared to get drunk and flirt with them? Answer: None of these things is an acceptable answer to violate someone. Just because someone is perceived as morally indecent doesn't give someone else the right to violate them.
"That's what it feels like now, like a cancer is spreading, and I can't do anything to stop it. I don't have any control over it."
Asking For It also shows the vilification of sexual assault victims through social media. Emma's friends turn on her with taunts on Facebook, disparaging comments and words like slut, whore, bitch. As such, Emma struggles with her own guilt for what she thinks is her place in this whole mess. If only she hadn't done this or that, she'd be okay and they wouldn't have done that to her. The if, then scenarios that play out in her mind made me sad and angry that anyone ever has to feel that way.
The relationships in Asking For It are all complex and very well-rounded. Emma struggles with her parents before and after the rape, particularly with her mother, whose main goal in life is good perception of her family. She spent her time before telling Emma how beautiful she is and fussed about family appearances. This makes the tragedy all the more hurtful, because who exactly is rooting for Emma?
"I want to eat them. I want to make myself fat on their innocence."
There is a peculiar sort of loss of innocence in Emma's story. Was she an innocent girl? Of course not. She made bad decisions, she took unnecessary risks. But she was still a child, convinced she was invincible, because she had never learned she wasn't.
I think a lot of readers will struggle with the ending of this story. But I loved it. Sometimes endings are wrapped up in a bright red bow, but I am glad that O'Neill leaves this ending messy and ugly. As a reader, yes, I was frustrated by it, but it was also authentic and truthful. And with subject matter such as this, we really can't ask for anything more, can we?
This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post....more
The last book I five-starred that I read (not including audios) was Little Peach by Peggy Kern...seven months ago. Those who know me know that I don'The last book I five-starred that I read (not including audios) was Little Peach by Peggy Kern...seven months ago. Those who know me know that I don't dole out 5 stars all willy nilly. I have become quite stingy with the five-star rating. But The Girl from Everywhere by debut author Heidi Heilig wins all five hard-earned stars from me without question. Folks, put this one on your pre-order list because you will not regret anything other than not having gotten to read it sooner! I SOLEMNLY SWEAR ON ALL MY BOOKS THIS TO BE TRUE, AMEN!
*heavy excited breathing*
Now where in the hell do I begin? Ah yes, world-building. Heilig has crafted a world beyond imagination. From 2016 NYC to 19th century Hawaii, to the myths and legends of Chinese lore, we get to travel the world as a passenger on The Temptation alongside Nix, Slate, Kash and the rest of The Temptation crew. Heilig is generous with her descriptions: Hawaii is lush and tropical, and it's easy to get lost in the dirt roads of the market and shops, as well as the not-so-beaten paths through the mountains. You can hear the waterfalls and see yourself standing next to magical ponds.
Likewise, NYC is bustling and noisy, with its skyscrapers and ships in port. I'm not sure I need to describe NYC to anyone, because even if you haven't been, you know.
But the majority of The Girl from Everywhere takes place in Honolulu, and so Heilig focuses much of her descriptive prowess on that place and time. Having lived there myself, I found the cultural and visual representations to be so accurate, it was like being back there again (but you know, in the 21st century), although it was difficult to picture Waikiki without its trademark hotels and restaurants lining the beach.
The plot for The Girl from Everywhere was unique and exciting. Beginning with a purchase and theft in a 1700's Indian marketplace, we speed off with Nix and Kashmir for the ship, and ultimately, their next port of call. Slate, the captain of The Temptation and Nix's father, is on a long, 16-year quest to get back to Nix's mother, so he can save her life. His dedication to rescuing his love does not come without a price, and that price happens to be his relationship with his daughter, who is tired of chasing what she thinks is a lost cause. But Nix has never loved anyone before, so how can she understand how it feels to have something, and then have it stripped away from you before you are ready?
The Girl from Everywhere is like a big, beautiful scavenger hunt, where Nix's mother is the prize as they search for the items that will lead them back to the year of her death. To do that, they rely on hand-drawn maps and legends, folklore and myths, that help them sail from place and time to place and time. Heilig weilds her words expertly, so that the gray fog that envelops the space surrounds the reader as well.
Now, I did spend about 3/4's of the book confused as hell. The plot is fairly complex, especially for a YA novel, so my head spun at times, but in the last quarter of the book, it all comes together in a way that just makes your mind explode, much in the way JKR does with the Harry Potter series. I was like, oooooooooh! And then I think I clapped in glee. The characters really round out this novel. Generally, a book can get away with a weaker plot if it has strong characters; likewise, a strong plot will usually carry weak characters. But in The Girl from Everywhere, the plot and the characters are delightful and strong. Nix is a forward leading lady, uncompromising in her morals and wise beyond her years. Kashmir is charming and cunning, but not without his soft spots for the people he cares about. Blake is noble and loyal, almost to a fault and it's impossible to dislike him because he's all smiles and positivity. Slate, for all his flaws, is just a man trying to make it back to the woman he loves. His dedication to her drives the message home "anything for love." Auntie Joss was mysterious and wise, and I had so many suspicions about her. She was easy to like, and easy to be suspicious of, which I just loved. The relationships are complex. Nix and her father; Nix and Kashmir; Kashmir and Slate; Nix and Blake, Nix and Auntie Joss....all of these relationships are well-crafted and believable. But I especially loved the relationship development between Nix and her father. I got the feeling that she always was second-best to him, like in his quest to return to his love, he lost sight of what he had gained from that tragedy. I think the author sends a very clear message to be thankful for what you have, and not necessarily dwell on what you desire.
Oh gosh and Nix's relationship with Joss was ever so lovely and fine-tuned. I had lots of suspicions about Joss, and I was right about some of them, which made me feel oh so good, like I was solving a complicated puzzle (because I was lol).
There's a budding romance in the story, but I won't spoil it for you. Let's just say that it developed at a nice, natural and credible pace so there was no insta-love or anything like that. There were hints at a love-triangle, but it never bothered me, because that, too, felt natural. It's a cross-genre novel. It's got everything: time-travel, romance, a little bit of steampunkishness, historical references, mythology. It has it all and then some! And nothing conflicts with the other. It all just works together to be this flawless fantastical contemporary historical novel with some legends intertwined, and also kissing.
I think The Girl from Everywhere can be read as a standalone because it wraps up nicely, but as I understand it, it's part of a duo-logy at the very least, so I'm interested in seeing where The Temptation takes us next. This is an excellent story. I don't think it can really get any better than this. My review cannot do it justice, but please just do yourself a favor and pre-order it right now!This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post.
Sometimes growing together means growing separately and that can't be any more true than in the meat of Where She Went by Gayle Forman.
Three years haSometimes growing together means growing separately and that can't be any more true than in the meat of Where She Went by Gayle Forman.
Three years have passed since the day Adam played the music that brought Mia back from the brink of giving up. Things are much different now: Mia is on track to be a world-renowned cellist; Adam is living the high-profile life of music super-stardom. And they haven't spoken since Mia's departure from Oregon several years before.
I'd like to take a minute to talk about such a devastating loss as Mia has survived. She lost her entire family in a car crash that tried to claim her, too. In If I Stay, she ghosts through the halls of the hospital, outside of her own body, experiencing the pain and devastation her friends and grandparents are suffering. But really, that Mia is no different than this Mia; instead of ghosting the halls of that hospital, she has instead ghosted out of her old life while she tries to find the meaning behind what happened and who she is now. Or at least that's my interpretation of her circumstances since Where She Went is told from Adam's perspective.
Yes, Mia suffered a tragic event that might continue to haunt her for years. But what about Adam? The one thing that is never addressed in If I Stay (because of the timing) is Adam's loss. Mia lost her family, but to Adam, they were also family, and I found it very telling that he also became a ghost in his own life, while the specters of the past continued to haunt him.
That's the thing you never expect about grieving, what a competition it is.
In some ways, I enjoyed Where She Went even more than If I Stay. Narrated by Adam, whom some readers might find too emo and angsty, I felt it the perfect follow-up and conclusion to the first novel. I really liked Adam in both books. He and Mia are messy and flawed, but that kind of makes them perfect, because the story feels real. Here we have two protagonists who absolutely love each other and are perfect together, and we realize tragedy can strike anyone and no one is going to be immune to it. Reading Adam's heartbreak over Mia's parents - and with a lot of heartwrench - his particular devastation over Teddy. Adam's quote about grieving (above) puts all my feelings about his feelings into perspective. He's angry. He made a promise to her when she was comatose that he would let her go if it meant he knew she was alive. And he did. But it made him angry, because he was heart-broken, too, and how dare she not recognize his own loss? And it made me realize that he broke his promise; he never wanted her to leave him and so he made a promise he had never intended to keep.
Where She Went is told in the span of one day, where Adam encounters Mia again after those years of separation. But there time together feels like a lifetime to me (and I'm sure to them) as they navigate the choppy waters of their reunion and dredge pent-up angers from their pasts. How could she leave him? How could he have begged her to stay? These walls between them demand to be pounded on until they are broken down.
Where She Went is, to this reader, flawless. It has its ups and its downs, and the only bad thing I can say about it is that I'm mad I didn't read it sooner.This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post....more
WARNING: Spoilers from first three books. It is impossible not to spoil them while discussing The Heir.
I did not expect to like The Heir by Kiera CasWARNING: Spoilers from first three books. It is impossible not to spoil them while discussing The Heir.
I did not expect to like The Heir by Kiera Cass. Maybe it's because when I read the synopsis, I was disappointed in America and Maxon, who had not righted the Illea culture and biases.
But that is actually the charm and meat of the entire story, or - at least part of it. Now, instead of tackling an outdated caste system, the Schreaves are dealing with the fallout of having successfully removed these castes from society. Should we expect people to fall in line immediately after having lived entire generations under one way of life? Just because we put doors in walls doesn't mean people will willingly walk through them.
The Heir reminds me of the current turmoil surrounding racism in the United States. We desegregated nearly 50 years ago, and yet there are cops on trial for the mistreatment of our Black community in this country. Even though we dissolved the means with which we may express prejudice legally, we have not removed all of the hate and prejudices. The Heir showed that prejudice is a learned thing that is passed down through each generation from the one before. We just have to hope that farther removed the generations, the better with which the newest will be able to embrace humanity.
Despite feeling that I should probably detest Eadlyn for being spoiled and abrasive, I actually really liked her. She was flawed from the beginning, and she wasn't ashamed of that, even though it wasn't something she was exactly proud of. Eadlyn kept her walls up and wouldn't let anyone in, because that is what she thought was expected of her. In fact, while it's obvious that she doesn't exactly love the idea of one day being the ruler of her country, she has begrudingly accepted it as a fact she cannot change. Her struggle to open up the parts of herself that she keeps closed off was nice to see, because it, too, was imperfect.
Her relationship with her twin brother, Ahren, was typical. They are close, since they shared a womb, but she resents him a little bit. While she's mired in the responsibility of being the heir, he's able to make his own decisions about his life, including who he will one day marry. Jealousy abounds.
It's interesting to see how Cass has flipped the Selection on its head, Bachelorette-style. How differently do men act in this competition between each other from women? As much as society is beginning to embrace shifts from gender norms, biology will still dictate some of our baser thoughts, feelings and actions. The group of men in the Selection was much different than the group of women in the prior books.
Each man brings something different to the table for Eadlyn. Some are confident and sexy, and not afraid to show it; others are quieter, happy and eager to please the princess. Her relationship with each of them was a pretty fascinating thing, especially given her desire to be in control of her own destiny.
Where Maxon was an only child growing up in the palace, he and America have had a whole basketball team of children. Eadlyn is the only girl and I found it very compelling how having all brothers transcends to how she interacts with the men of the Selection. Also of note: she only had one female "friend" in the palace to play with growing up, and wasn't her biggest fan. She's a tomboy at heart.
I was not a huge fan of the ending, but it didn't exactly break it for me, either. I just felt like Cass wanted to wrap it up to get us to the next book. But will I read the next one? You betcha!This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post....more
While not a bad book, because it was certainly entertaining, Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson was utterly predictable. I knew how it was going to eWhile not a bad book, because it was certainly entertaining, Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson was utterly predictable. I knew how it was going to end probably before the author did. So let's talk about what made it tick - and what didn't.
Verity Newton as the main character was boring. Seriously, Swendson couldn't have chosen a more tedious character to narrate this novel, despite being a half-breed that can potentially cause conflict down the road. And while she wasn't unlikeable per se, she lacked that badass quality that every main character should have. She was, for the most part, meek and unsure of herself, almost until the very end.
Lord Henry was delightful and enigmatic, with his bespectacled eyes and his nose shoved in books. But his secret is given up early on in the novel and I would have liked to have seen it drawn out more for the reader. He is much more than an entomologist, and I wanted to know even more about him than we got.
Alec, one of the Mechanics, I never found trustworthy or worth Verity's schoolgirl crush. He came off as conceited and as if he disregarded all of Verity's feelings about their situation and how she might have been used by the rebels.
Likewise, Lizzie struck me as a little two-faced, despite knowing she did have benevolent intentions. She simply justified her actions a little too much for me to like her.
I actually liked Flora and the children, despite Flora's vanity. Shallow waters run deep, and all that. I'm looking forward to seeing where her character goes in the second book, and if she is also involved unbeknownst to the rest of the rebels, Henry and Verity. The kids were genuine and inquisitive.
I sense a love triangle brewing. Although I usually don't feel one way or another regarding them, they still need to be organic. I have a feeling there will be romantic conflict in the second book and I'm not really looking forward to that. I hate when an author creates one where it's obvious that the main character should be with one character and not the other.
The plot was interesting: this is an alternate reality where the American colonists did not successfully overthrow the British control, and Red Coats still patrol NYC while the colony is under the thumb of the monarchy. It begins quickly, with a robbery on Verity's train by masked bandits, which leads her straight into the hands of conflict, but she handles herself well. I'm kind of excited to see where Swendson takes it next.
Overall, not a terrible book, but it could be made better with improved characterization and less obvious plotlines.This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post....more
Excellent follow-up to Burying Water! I really enjoyed listening to this one.
Becoming Rain by K.A. Tucker is a companion novel to Burying Water.Excellent follow-up to Burying Water! I really enjoyed listening to this one.
Becoming Rain by K.A. Tucker is a companion novel to Burying Water. You don't need to read these in order...but I highly suggest you do, because Becoming Rain not only spoils some of Burying Water, but also heavily references that backstory to push the plot along.
I really loved Clara (aka "Rain") as a main character. Where Alex was beaten and meek in Burying Water, Clara is strong, opinionated and a go-get-em kind of gal. She has a job and she's going to damn well do it. Her sense of ethics is strong, and she constantly wrestled with herself her own mistakes, even as she made them. In fact, I really liked we had a female lead who had a very specific direction in her life and was quite unwilling to waver from it, despite any feelings she may have had for Luke.
Luke was a strong male lead. He's the good guy trapped in a bad situation, and easily wooed by flashy things and cash. He wants to live the good life, but he feels a little uncomfortable with how that happens. I always got the sense that he didn't quite know everything about Rust's businesses, but was happier not knowing. As they say, ignorance is bliss.
The plot was quick and the romance heady. Supporting characters were intriguing, especially the little gem Clara drops at the end about her summations on another female in the story who may not be what anyone originally thought. I would LOVE to see Tucker write more about that character (name being withheld so as not to spoil). The ending was very in keeping with both their personalities. Loved it.
Overall, solid romance, good suspense and I want to listen to more.
Narrator 4-1-1 If I recall, Elizabeth Louise is not my favorite narrator. Not because she's terrible at story-telling, but because her voice is too sweet and I think she struggles to deliver different tones. Josh Goodman is great, although I don't feel like he differentiates the male voices very much. He did a good accent. I'd listen to them again as they carry the story along fairly well.
This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post....more
I wish I could say that I liked Map To the Stars, but it fell so flat for me that I tripped over it on the sidewalk. Terrible analogy but accurate alI wish I could say that I liked Map To the Stars, but it fell so flat for me that I tripped over it on the sidewalk. Terrible analogy but accurate all the same.
Lemme just give you a list of all the reasons this book didn't work for me:
Insta-love done poorly. When Annie and Graham aka the Movie Star first meet, he assumes she's a fangirl that's managed to weasel her way into his hotel room before he gets there. Their later interactions suggest that they just have so much spark they fired off at each other the first time they met. You know that story: boy and girl dislike each other and lash out, only to later realize how much they lurv each other and that's why they lashed out. Besides the whole "I like you so I'm going to treat you like crap" trope that I am SO TIRED OF, it's just overplayed and in this case, completely unbelievable.
Mom and Annie left Georgia for #reasons (that were stupid). I began to suspect, not too far into the novel, why Annie and her mother just uprooted and left their home and I told myself if I was right, I was going to be really effing mad. And I was right. But since the big reveal isn't until the last 10% of the book or so, I felt like I may as well finish it out so I could at least get another completed book in my Goodreads challenge. Yep, that's right. I finished it for the numbers. I didn't finish it because I liked it or anything crazy like that. Anyway, I digress. The reason was stupid and lacked any sort of believability at all. No mother is going to uproot her kid during senior year of high school because of such a minor thing. You know what would have been more believable? If mom left to take this job and Annie stayed with Dad. That actually makes sense to me, but that wouldn't have worked for an author who was looking for a plot device to get her prince and pauper together. Eye roll.
Annie and Graham were soooooooooooooo melodramatic. One minute they hated each other and the next they were kissy-kissy, and then again hated each other. Graham tells her he can't be seen with her, and then takes her out. She tells him she's tired of his crap, and then smoochies with him. Yeah, I guess that's actually typical of some teenage emotion, but when paired with the rest of the story, it just was blah.
The ending was too neat. All this drama and everything ends just perfectly (sorry not sorry for that spoiler). I like when not every single thing is easy for characters. Yes, even in HEAs.
I actually did enjoy all the backstage scenes, because, whether or not that was real, they lent a bid of credibility to Graham's lifestyle and story. And there were some really funny quotes in there - if Map To the Stars did anything well, it was funny at times.
"I'm a producer. You ever try to talk a neurotic actor off an emotional clif? They're nearly as bad as writers. I'm basically one hissy fit short of earning Dr. Phil status at this point in the game."
So, look, Map To the Stars wasn't a terribly awful book. Some readers who are looking for a teen romance with some Hollywood thrown in for fun might actually like this. It's made for hot summer days on a beach, but it's also a book you wouldn't be upset if it got sand in the spine or wet from splashes...or drowned in the ocean altogether. I am highly critical of contemporary romances, teen or not, so just take my opinion with a grain of salt... and a side of margarita.This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post....more
Jess already reviewed this book and highlights what worked and didn't. So my review will be short and sweet, despite having a somewhat different opinJess already reviewed this book and highlights what worked and didn't. So my review will be short and sweet, despite having a somewhat different opinion of the story.
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica focuses on the disappearance of Mia Dennett, a teacher in one of the poorer districts of Chicagoland. When she goes missing, only her coworker/friend notices right away, not her family. What follows is a series of events that are told from her mother's, the detective's and her kidnapper's point of views. I usually find alternating points of view jarring, but each character's voice was unique enough that I had no trouble following the story.
I found all the characters equally despicable and fascinating. Where her father James is an uncaring ass, he wasn't always that way; her mother, the quintessential trophy wife, finds some strength to take her through this life she has created for herself; and Colin Thatcher, the abducter, who has more redeemable qualities than perhaps he is given credit for.
Where some people on Goodreads have labeled The Good Girl as a book exhibiting Stockholm Syndrome, I don't agree. What transpires between Mia and Colin is, to me, a greater understanding of each other and the forces that drive each of them.
Admittedly, I was only ready to give The Good Girl three stars but the ending was a sucker punch I didn't see coming. For me, it was a complete and utter mindfuck and I am still ruminating over just how deceptive some of the characters actually were in order to drive the plot of this story. I thought the ending was supremely well done and ties everything together with so much sense and surprise. Like, I shouldn't have been surprised, but I totally was. Definitely a recommended read.This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post....more
Gosh, what wasn't to love about this book?! Dumplin' by Julie Murphy is sweet, funny and, at times, very serious with its subject matter. I think allGosh, what wasn't to love about this book?! Dumplin' by Julie Murphy is sweet, funny and, at times, very serious with its subject matter. I think all teenage girls should read this book. No, scratch that: I think all women should read this book.
Dolly Parton fanatic? Check.
Grieving a loved one? Check.
FAT? Check. Willowdean Dickson is the unapologetic fat girl in a story where sometimes you never really knew you were lost until you need to find yourself. Dumplin' deals with real world issues for girls who don't quite conform to what society deems "beautiful" but you know what? She doesn't really give a fuck about all that. She likes her Dolly Parton obsession (coincidentally shared with smoking hot BFF Ellen), she doesn't care what you think of her in a swimsuit and she doesn't give two hot shits about boys.
Until she does.
Reading Will meet and feel flutters for the hot jock Bo, while slinging fries and taking burger orders, is a sort of callback to our own youths when we felt those flutters for the first time. Where one would expect you to feel confident and sexy (because who doesn't love when the person they like likes them back?), you actually begin to experience that self-doubt that can be so detrimental to your self esteem. So where Will starts out strong and in charge, she devolves into a quivering mess of emotions, including a lack of conviction of her own self-worth.
To change all that, she decides she is going to join the local beauty pageant, which is - interestingly enough - run by her mother, a former winner who places great value on being "pretty". Willowdean's entire existence has been peppered by her mother's desire to make her skinny and beautiful, complete with casually turning on TV programs like The Biggest Loser and reminding her she needs to shed some pounds. There relationship was imperfect, striking and complex.
Dumplin' is such a great story. Its themes explore how fat people are treated in our society and challenges the social moors of what is acceptable criteria to enter a beauty pageant. And it shows that true beauty comes from within.This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post.