Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Look-Alike

The Look-Alike The Look-Alike by Erica Spindler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Other Girl and Justice for Sara comes a thrilling psychological drama about a woman who believes she escaped a brutal murder years ago—but does anyone else believe her?

Sienna Scott grew up in the dark shadow of her mother’s paranoid delusions. Now, she's returned home to confront her past and the unsolved murder that altered the course of her life.

In her mother’s shuttered house, an old fear that has haunted Sienna for years rears its ugly head —that it was she who had been the killer’s target that night. And now, with it, a new fear—that the killer not only intended to remedy his past mistake—he’s already begun. But are these fears any different from the ones that torment her mother?

As the walls close in, the line between truth and lie, reality and delusion disintegrate. Has Sienna’s worst nightmare come true? Or will she unmask a killer and finally prove she may be her mother’s look-alike, but she’s not her clone?

First Sentence:

Sienna Scott nearly tripped over the body

Set in Tranquility Bluffs, Wisconsin, college student Sienna Scott stumbles across a murdered girl on campus while walking home late from a study group. The initial investigation never produces the murderer. Strangely enough, Sienna was wearing the same coat on the same night as the girl who was murdered on campus, ten years prior. Coincidence? This is the start of a downward spiral which ultimately leads to Sienna finishing her studies in London. Sienna resembles her mother, who has a serious and debilitating mental illness and Sienna has always felt that people were waiting for her to inherit more than just her mother’s good looks. In fact, for a long time, Sienna was waiting, too.

Ten years later, Sienna returns to Tranquility Bluffs just as the chief of police is reopening the investigation of the murdered girl, Madison. There are several suspects, all of which I was certain were guilty at some point in the book but I have to say that I was pretty surprised when the murderer was revealed.

Sienna is a perfect protagonist for this psychological thriller, she is at times fragile, filled with self-doubt, and fighting against her experiences with growing up with a mentally ill mother but she also shows courage and intelligence in the face of adversity.

The plot is well thought out, traverses seamlessly between the past and the present, and progresses at a quick pace. This is the first book I’ve read by Erica Spindler; I’ll definitely be picking up more of her books.

A big thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Thin Ice by Paige Shelton

Thin Ice Thin Ice by Paige Shelton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First in a new series set in Alaska from beloved cozy author Paige Shelton, Thin Ice will chill your bones.

Beth Rivers is on the run – she’s doing the only thing she could think of to keep herself safe. Known to the world as thriller author Elizabeth Fairchild, she had become the subject of a fanatic’s obsession. After being held in a van for three days by her kidnapper, Levi Brooks, Beth managed to escape, and until he is captured, she's got to get away. Cold and remote, Alaska seems tailormade for her to hideout.

Beth’s new home in Alaska is sparsely populated with people who all seem to be running or hiding from something, and though she accidentally booked a room at a halfway house, she feels safer than she’s felt since Levi took her. That is, until she’s told about a local death that’s a suspected murder. Could the death of Linda Rafferty have anything to do with her horror at the hands of Levi Brooks?

As Beth navigates her way through the wilds of her new home, her memories of her time in the van are coming back, replaying the terror and the fear—and threatening to keep her from healing, from reclaiming her old life again. Can she get back to normal, will she ever truly feel safe, and can she help solve the local mystery, if only so she doesn’t have to think about her own?

Thin Ice by Paige Shelton is a strong start to a new series, Alaska Wild Mysteries and has every element I look for in a good mystery book.

Beth Rivers is well-known author, Elizabeth Fairchild, who is now running for her life after a deranged fan kidnapped her and was never found. Levi Brooks held Beth captive for three days until she manages to fling herself from her captors moving van, causing a serious head injury. Levi is still at large and Beth decides to leave the hospital for the wilds of Alaska, in hopes that he won’t be able to find her there. Arriving by tiny plane in Benedict, Alaska, Beth starts to have flashbacks and memories of her capture; the trauma and details that she couldn’t quite recall before her abduction are now starting to come back to her. She’s barely holding on by a string and she’s all alone in a strange and remote town, with nothing but a few changes of clothes and her beloved antique Olympia typewriter. Beth soon finds out that the Benedict House, the grand-ish hotel she thought she was staying at is, in fact, a half-way house for non-violent, yet felonious women. When a murder occurs just before her arrival, Beth loses her short-lived sense of safety, wondering if her troubles may have followed her to Benedict.

I loved reading about the Alaskan setting of Thin Ice; from the town moose, Gladys, to the absolute remoteness and harshness of the area. The main characters had so much depth and personality; I look forward to seeing them again in her next book. Beth is a wonderful protagonist; she is smart, witty, and courageous, even though she doesn’t think so.

The plot moves quickly, had some great twists but it does leave a bit of a cliff-hanger. I’m actually ok with this because this is a series I’m going to read until the end and I feel like the cliff-hanger is one of necessity. Until the next book in the series!

A big thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Minotaur Books for allowing me to read and review this title.

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Monday, October 21, 2019

What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 384 pages
Expected publication: February 4th 2020
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN: 1492667277

The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker's girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal's office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions. Why did she go to the principal and not the polcie? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it's true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true?

Some girls want to rally for his expulsion—and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.

First sentence:

It’s hard not to want to defend him.

What Kind of Girl examines many of the problems that teenagers face today with the focal point on dating violence. The book centers on the aftermath that occurs when a teen girl, Maya, accuses her very popular and well-liked boyfriend, Mike, of physically abusing her.

The story is told in three parts, mostly narrated by Maya and her best friend, Juniper aka Junie. There are some parts that are narrated by others i.e. The Best Friend of Mike and it was especially hard to understand exactly what was going on and who was talking for the first third of the book. This was distracting and confusing for me and interrupted the forward movement of the book. I kept going back to re-read the previous chapter to try and figure out who exactly was who.

I think the author did an excellent job shining a light on dating violence and the lines that are drawn when accusations are made. The emotions that Maya goes through, self-doubt, guilt, struggling with feelings that maybe she deserved it, etc.… I think these are all things that victims often feel. Ms. Sheinmel does a great job illuminating these areas throughout the book along with the attention she brings to the matters of bulimia, drug abuse, anxiety, and self-harm.

It’s a worthy read that sheds light on What Kind of Girl stays with a boy that hits her, why she stayed, and what her friends, family and peers think about it

A big thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for allowing me to read and review this title.

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Friday, October 18, 2019


Hardcover: 416 pages
Published:October 8th 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
ISBN: 1250145449

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.
                         THE GRACE YEAR by KIM LIGGETT

First Sentence(s):

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

The Grace Year by Kim Ligget is a book I’ve been seeing around social media for a while and it really piqued my curiosity. To begin with, the cover is absolutely gorgeous and as I read the book, I really appreciated the symbolic meaning of it. I’m also a fan of The Handmaid’s Tale and Vox, two books that rely heavily on the demoralizing of women and the fear that men have of the ‘weaker sex’. So, for me, reading The Grace Year was a no-brainer. I’m not going to summarize the book; this has been done and it’s hard not to incorporate spoilers. I think it’s better left for the reader to discover some things on their own.

As with any fantastic book, there are antagonistic characters and sympathetic characters; Ms. Liggett incorporates the conflict between them in a way that makes the story flow seamlessly. The dialogue is poetic and emotive, no word without meaning or great thought. Tierney is a wonderful protagonist and I loved her; she is flawed in a deeply beautiful way and so different from the other grace year girls. She doesn’t quite fit in Garner County but is clever enough to know she has to try because the alternatives are quite ugly. 

The story is told in seasons and I found this to be clever and suited the story perfectly. I don’t see this as a purely feminist book but more a tale of the oppressed and of discord but also one of sisterhood and unity. I think this is a book that many will go into thinking they know the outcome – or potential outcome - but will be surprised at the spirit and essence of the story.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Moral Compass by Danielle Steel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: January 7, 2020

At an elite private school in Massachusetts, a wide circle of lives will be forever changed by a devastating series of events in Danielle Steel’s riveting new novel.

Saint Ambrose Prep is a place where the wealthy send their children for the best possible education, with teachers and administrators from the Ivy League, and graduates who become future lawyers, politicians, filmmakers, and CEOs. Traditionally a boys-only school, Saint Ambrose has just enrolled one hundred and forty female students for the first time. Even though most of the kids on the campus have all the privilege in the world, some are struggling, wounded by their parents’ bitter divorces, dealing with insecurity and loneliness. In such a heightened environment, even the smallest spark can become a raging fire.

One day after the school’s annual Halloween event, a student lies in the hospital, her system poisoned by dangerous levels of alcohol. Everyone in this sheltered community—parents, teachers, students, police, and the media—are left trying to figure out what actually happened. Only the handful of students who were there when she was attacked truly know the answers and they have vowed to keep one another’s secrets. As details from the evening emerge, powerful families are forced to hire attorneys and less powerful families watch helplessly. Parents’ marriages are jeopardized, and students’ futures are impacted. No one at Saint Ambrose can escape the fallout of a life-altering event.

In this compelling novel, Danielle Steel illuminates the dark side of one drunken night, with its tragic consequences, from every possible point of view. As the drama unfolds, the characters will reach a crossroads where they must choose between truth and lies, between what is easy and what is right, and find the moral compass they will need for the rest of their lives.

Moral Compass by Danielle Steel

First Sentence:

It was the day after Labor Day, one of those perfect, golden September mornings in Massachusetts, as the students of Saint Ambrose Preparatory School began to arrive.

Saint Ambrose Prep is the place where the wealthy and elite send their children for a top-notch education. Traditionally an all-boys school, they’ve recently admitted in females which is a point of contention among much of the faculty. When one of the female students is sexually assaulted while inebriated, it becomes a social and legal issue that will divide friends and family before the truth is revealed.

Ms. Steel delves into a topic that has been all to common place in the media as of late. A topic that leaves many people divided and often leaves the victim in a place of blame and the very subject itself one of moral ambiguity. While I felt that what the character went through in relationship to an actual demoralizing and traumatic sexual assault was a bit diminished, I do understand that for the purpose of this book and its readers, it was necessary to minimize the details. With that being said, the characters were interesting and well-developed and the story flowed well.

Moral Compass is a chronicle for the times and brings awareness to the issue of underage drinking and sexual assault and will hopefully help eliminate the stigma and traumatic impact of sexual violence and assault regardless of whether the victim was drinking or not.

A big thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine for allowing me to read and review this title.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019


Kindle Edition
Pages: 260 pages
Publisher: Bookouture
Expected publication: November 5th 2019 

Nine years ago her daughter was taken. And now she’s back.

Two-and-a-half-year-old Holly is playing happily in a pink plastic playhouse, while her mother Rachel sips coffee and chats with a friend nearby. It should be an ordinary day for all of them. But, in the blink of an eye, it turns into every family’s worst nightmare.

Holly is taken by a stranger and never found.

Nine years later, Rachel is living a quiet life in Dorset. She’s tried to keep things together since the traumatic day when she lost her eldest daughter. She has a new family, a loving partner and her secrets are locked away in her painful past.

Until one afternoon when Rachel meets a new school parent Kate and her teenage daughter Bella. Rachel’s world is instantly turned upside down – she’s seen Bella before. She’d recognise that face anywhere – it’s her missing child.

And she will stop at nothing to get her back…

The Other Daughter by Shalini Boland

First Gripping Paragraph:

She’s inside a nightmare. She’s inside hell. And nothing will ever be the same again.

This is exactly why I obsessively read everything by this author. She captures my interest right from the start and keeps it until the very end. I read this book in a little over 4 hours which is a record for me but it’s a dreary rainy Sunday and it set the mood perfectly for this psychological thriller.

Rachel experiences the worst nightmare a mother can face; her 2 and half year-old daughter Holly is taken right from under her nose while Rachel is chatting with a friend. There’s no mystery on who exactly takes her because Ms. Boland clues us in right from the start that it’s Catriona. It’s what happens to Holly after that’s the real mystery.
Going from Then to Now, we find Rachel 7 years later with a new family and attempting to overcome the loss of Holly. Rachel meets Kate, a new parent in the area who has a daughter, Bella, that Rachel is sure is her Holly. Rachel will stop at nothing to get her daughter back despite who she hurts and how insanely she behaves.
The Other Daughter is written in chapters of Now and Then with Rachel narrating Now and Catriona narrating Then; this brought a unique view because it gives a little perspective on each character’s frame of mind at the time and somewhat rationales certain actions. Somewhat. This is truly a psychological thriller in the truest sense and there is a turning of the plot that seriously caught me by surprise. Shocked would be a better descriptive. Yes, shocked is how I’m feeling right now and I love when a book has the ability to do this!

The characters are intense and deeply flawed, I know I say this a lot but a flawed character, especially a deeply flawed one, is my favorite because the imperfect are so much more interesting to read. The plot, as I’ve said, is twisty and intriguing and made this book difficult to put down.

I think this is a must read for any fan of psychological thrillers, Shalini Boland, or, literally for anyone who enjoys a riveting book!

A big thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Shalini Boland for letting me read and review this title.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Monsters of Music
Author:Rebecca F. Kenney
Ebook: 237 pages
Expected publication: October 30th 2019
Publisher: Kindle Direct Publishing
ISBN: 1693557754
A darkly romantic gender-swapped modern retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, with a scarred Muse girl, a rock-star boy, and a singing competition. For fans of The Wicked Deep (Ernshaw), Wintersong (S. Jae-Jones), American Idol, or The Voice.

Mel must share her creative magic or be driven mad by it. But finding her first protégé isn't as easy for her as it is for most Lianhan Sídhe (muses of Celtic myth). Though the women of her race are naturally beautiful, she carries horrifying scars across one side of her face, inflicted by her mother's obsessive boyfriend. And Mel isn't only interested in pouring her creative energy into a man; she wants to use her musical genius herself, too. But the laws of the Lianhan Sídhe, and her own savage appearance, stand in the way of her ever singing onstage.

To relieve the painful pressure of her magic, Mel latches onto Kiyoji, a boy with a beautiful voice, and coaches him through a televised singing competition. But neither of them are prepared for the power of their connection, or for the new kind of magic that happens when the two of them sing together.

The Monsters of Music by Rebecca Kenney is a modern retelling of The Phantom of the Opera only in this version, The Phantom (Erik) is Mel, a muse of the Lianhan Sidhe who needs to share her magic or she’ll become insane and in Christine’s role is Kiyoji – Kiyo for short - and like Christine, he is hugely talented. Mel is no slouch in musical talent but because the right side of her face is badly scarred, she shuns any attention, not to mention, it’s strictly forbidden by the Lianhan Sidhe. So, Mel must pour her magical energy into securing Kiyo as her protégé’. What ensues is a romantic and mythical tale that is rich in detail and character.

This is such a cleverly written book; each chapter is labeled with phenomenal songs and the characters are well-developed, and dynamic. Mel isn’t always likable which made me like her more. A flawed protagonist is the most interesting to read. Kiyo is a surprise and their relationship is a gem that I enjoyed watching develop. As a fan of all things Fae, I loved the exploration into the Lianhan Sidhe and the combining of Celtic mythology with a classic. Although there are similarities to The Phantom of the Opera, Ms. Kenney made this one her own and for any fan, this will be an entertaining and fun re-telling of the classic.

A big thank you to Rebecca Kenney for sending me a copy of this title for an honest review!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Strangers at the Gate Strangers at the Gate by Catriona McPherson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hardcover:368 pages
Expected publication: October 22nd 2019
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN1250070015 (ISBN13: 9781250070012)

When Finn and Paddy decide to move from their home in the city to the small town of Simmerton, it feels like everything has finally fallen into place. Paddy's been made partner at the law firm in town, and Finn has found full-time work as the deacon. Paddy's new boss has even offered them the use of a gate house on his property. Finn feels like this must be a fairy tale. Paddy thinks they've won the lottery. Either way, they agree: it's perfect.

But only days after moving into the gate house, Finn begins to have doubts. She keeps hearing strange sounds, and the thicket of trees make her feel claustrophobic rather than safe. When she and Paddy discover the bloody bodies of Paddy's boss and his wife, the fairytale has officially ended. A strange email—supposedly sent from the dead man—makes it clear: this was murder.

Paddy and Finn's dream of a new life quickly turns into a nightmare as the plot thickens and the tension grows. With strange neighbors and a haunting setting, Catriona McPherson once again weaves a page-turning tale of suspense.

Strangers at the Gate is the first book I’ve read by Catriona McPherson and it won’t be the last. It’s twisty and atmospheric, dark and suspenseful! I thought I had it all figured out until I figured out that I didn’t. I love a book that has the ability to keep me speculating until the very end.

When Paddy comes home to tell Finn of a wonderful opportunity in the quaint little town of Simmerton, Finn has doubts. First off, everything seems to fall into place a little too seamlessly. Paddy is offered a partnership in a law firm and Finn lands a full-time job as a Deacon in the parish. Not only do they both get the job of their dreams, they’re also offered the opportunity to live in a cute little gatehouse on the grounds of Widdershins (Ominous name, no?) owned by their benefactors – rent free. To add to this, they are able to rent their flat in Edinburgh and gain a little pocket change, too. As Finn remarks, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is … Those words come back to haunt Finn as the story progresses.

When a murder/suicide occurs within a short time of their moving to Simmerton, the story takes a mysterious and disturbing turn. Their employers and benefactors, Lovett Dudgeon and his wife, Tuft, invite Finn and Paddy to dinner, it’s a short walk from their gatehouse up to the main house and Finn doesn’t want to go. Despite herself, Finn actually really likes Tuft and enjoys the evening. On their walk home Finn realizes she’s left her purse; she and Paddy return to the Dudgeon's home only to find them dead in what appears to be a murder/suicide. The couple don’t call the police because Finn and Paddy both have secrets of their own and as Amy Tan once said: “That was how dishonesty and betrayal started, not in big lies but in small secrets.” And so, begins this suspenseful story.

Finn is an absolutely wonderful narrator, often shocking the reader (that would be me) out of their belief on how a deacon should behave. She is a breath of fresh air in this dark tale of murder, suspense, and treachery. I loved her and I hope that we hear more about her in another book – even though this is classified as a stand alone novel. The plot is fantastic and the characters all but leap off the pages they’re so realistic and well depicted. This is a must read for any fan of the genre.

A big thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books, and Catriona McPherson for the pleasure of reading and reviewing this title.

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Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Shrike & the ShadowsThe Shrike & the Shadows by Chantal Gadoury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Kindle Edition, 365 pages
The Parliament House Press
Expected publication: March 3rd 2020
Men have gone missing before.

The village of Krume is plagued by a haunted wood and a hungry witch. It’s been that way for as long as Hans and Greta can remember, though they have never seen the witch themselves; no one has.

When men start to disappear once again in the cover of night - their bloody hearts turning up on doorsteps - the village falls into frenzied madness.

Hans and Greta, two outcast orphans, find themselves facing accusations of witchcraft and are met with an ultimatum: burn at the stake, or leave the village forever.

With nowhere else to go, they abandon their only home.

As they venture into the strange forest, their path is fraught with horrific creatures, wild and vivid hallucinations, and a mysterious man tied to the witch's past.

The Shrike is watching, just beyond the deep darkness of the woods.

The Shrike & The Shadows – The Witch of Krume Book 1 by Chantal Gadoury and A.M. Wright is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel only the names (and places) have been changed to protect the innocent … okay, just kidding about that last part! It’s actually about Greta and Hans, the village of Krume, the haunted woods that surround it, and the Shrike (the witch) that preys on the not so innocent men of the village.

To start, this is not your classic fairytale that you’d read to children! For one, The Shrike is a witch that preys on men by using their lust against them. She lures them in to the woods by appearing as a beautiful woman and then things end badly for them, heart ripped out of the chest kind of badly. Did I mention there’s sex in this book? Ok, well yeah, there is, so like I said, not your classic fairytale. The villagers of Krume are a superstitious lot and at the bidding and lies of a few nefarious villagers – I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the pervert douche Father Emory here - are certain that the siblings are practicing black magic. Hans and Greta have a choice: Stay and burn for the crime of witchcraft or be banished from the village. Hans (who I’ve nicknamed the Horndog in my own mind) and Greta (the patient) choose banishment so in to the forest they go and what a forest it is! Here they encounter a series of misfortunate events and some unfortunate creatures. I’d like to mention that The Shrike is an absolute terror. I’m just going to leave it at that.

For me, this is where the story really takes off. The authors did such a wonderful job in the telling of this tale! It had tremendous atmosphere, was easy to envision, and the characters were well-developed and flawed – just the way I like them! It was an absolute delight to read and I’m really looking forward to the next in the series.

A big thank you to NetGalley, The Parliament House, and Xpresso Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Side note: I’ve been sick with some funky chest cold so I read this last night and didn’t go to bed until 5:30 am until I finished it and I don’t regret it a bit!

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Friday, October 11, 2019

This meme is hosted by Billy @Coffee Addicted Writer

This weeks question: Name one book that gets you in the mood for Halloween.

I am a fan of the creepy read and love a good old fashioned horror novel from one of my favorite authors; King, Koontz, McCammon, Lovecraft, Poe, Rice .... 

Swan Song is one of my favorites that I read once a year and I never tire of it! 

The Weaver (Weaver Trilogy, #1)The Weaver by Heather Kindt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Most writers choose the endings to their stories . . . most writers are not Weavers.
Laney Holden is a freshman at Madison College whose life goes from normal to paranormal in a matter of seconds. When the antagonist in the book she’s writing shoves her down the stairs at the subway station, she learns she is a Weaver. Weavers bridge the narrow gap between fantasy and reality, bringing their words to life.
Laney soon meets William whom she also suspects is a character from her book—one she’s had a mad crush on since her pen hit the paper. But he’s in danger as her antagonist reveals a whole different ending planned for Laney’s book that involves killing William. Laney must use her writing to save the people closest to her by weaving the most difficult words she will ever write.
THE WEAVER is the first installment of The Weaver trilogy. It is an NA paranormal romance set in a small town on the north shore of Boston. It will leave you wanting more.

I want to talk about the cover first! I love a pretty cover but a meaningful cover? GASP! My heart be still!

On to the story! The Weaver by Heather Kindt started out with a bang! It had danger and excitement, then it slowed down, only to pick up in the last third of the book. I really loved the premise of this book, written characters coming to life would be a dream – or a nightmare, depending on the character. Laney is a want-to-be writer starting her freshman year at college, she’s been writing a historical fiction book in which one of the characters, Jonas – a big bad – comes to life and pushes her down a stairway at the subway with the intent to kill her. Which brings me to some things that bothered me. Laney recognizes Jonas right away as a character from her book but she lacks the surprise or fear that I was expecting of someone who has a character actually came to life and try kill her. There was no sense of urgency to investigate why or how this happened, just a ‘sweep it under the rug’ kind of attitude. Then there is the introduction of William, another character from her book. Annoyingly thick (at the time) Laney has absolutely no idea its ‘her’ William - of the same name and identical likeness, mind you. And I would have like to have seen a little more back history and time invested in the Golden Recluse group which brings me to this: the group actually sought Laney out to assist her, because they’re worried. They even forge dance tickets to Manor Hill to keep an eye on her but when Laney asks for their help finding the translator/gate-keeper, one of them says “We’ll help after I pour me some of that killer punch.” Wait, what?

And then there’s Jason, sigh … Jason, her first love interest in the book at first seems genuine but quickly turns into a douche. Now, I do have a bit of a bone to pick here! Laney and Jason are referred to (quite often) as best friends but I have to disagree. They did have a childhood friendship and their moms are besties but he ignored her all throughout high school and they only began talking when they got randomly thrown together at a Freshman scavenger hunt. Not really someone I’d consider a best friend so I think the whole bestie thing was a tad over-played. And I do feel bad for saying that!
These are a few things that I didn’t like about the book but there are things I did like! As I said earlier, the premise is great and I do feel like the story flowed along despite any misgivings I had with Laney and Jason. Sorry I called you thick, Laney! I do feel like this first book is setting up the foundation for the rest of the series and that’s ok, it was a worthy read and I have no regrets reading it. It kept me entertained, there was a definite surprise with a few of the characters at the end, and William is a hottie dreamboat that I really liked!

I feel like the first third of the book was exploring Laney’s personality and her relationship with Jason, the second third her relationship with William and finally, the last third of the book really picks up and things start to happen. This is more where the action and some of the answers I was expecting about Laney’s ability come into play. I’m giving this book 3 stars because I think it has a lot of potential and I’ll be reading the next in the series. I think it’ll explore Laney stepping in to her story and confrontations with The Wanderer

A big thank you to NetGalley, The Parliament House, and Xpresso Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Remaking The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ella Louise has lived in the woods surrounding Pilot’s Creek, Virginia, for nearly a decade. Publicly, she and her daughter Jessica are shunned by their upper-crust family and the Pilot’s Creek residents. Privately, desperate townspeople visit her apothecary for a cure to what ails them—until Ella Louise is blamed for the death of a prominent customer. Accused of witchcraft, both mother and daughter are burned at the stake in the middle of the night. Ella Louise’s burial site is never found, but the little girl has the most famous grave in the South: a steel-reinforced coffin surrounded by a fence of interconnected white crosses.

Their story will take the shape of an urban legend as it’s told around a campfire by a man forever marked by his boyhood encounters with Jessica. Decades later, a boy at that campfire will cast Amber Pendleton as Jessica in a ’70s horror movie inspired by the Witch Girl of Pilot’s Creek. Amber’s experiences on that set and its meta-remake in the ’90s will ripple through pop culture, ruining her life and career after she becomes the target of a witch hunt. Amber’s best chance to break the cycle of horror comes when a true-crime investigator tracks her down to interview her for his popular podcast. But will this final act of storytelling redeem her—or will it bring the story full circle, ready to be told once again? And again. And again

The Remaking is told in 4 chapters, a chronological story that follows an urban legend about a woman, Ella Louise, and her daughter, Jessica, in the small town of Pilots Creek, Virginia. It starts with a man at a campfire, who requires a bottle of booze as his payment for a story about the tale of the two witches. He tells his tale in a reminiscent way - talking about the mother and daughter and how they were not only sought out for their cures but also outcast from society and eventually, burned as witches when a cure goes wrong and takes a life. And thus, an urban legend is born. Next, there is a horror film in which a young Amber Pendleton plays Jessica, only to experience a life time of trouble during and after the film; years later, a horror film remake, in which Amber plays the mother, Ella Louise and ultimately, a pod cast in which the host tries to debunk the ever-growing legend of the two witches, with Amber but is it really? - giving her experiences throughout it all.

A good book that I enjoyed and a worthy read.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Deep The Deep by Alma Katsu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (March 10, 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525537902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525537908
This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner's illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers - including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher - are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic's sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not - could not - have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .
Brilliantly combining fact and fiction, the historical and the horrific, The Deep reveals a chilling truth in an unputdownable narrative full of unnerving moments and with a growing, inexorable sense of foreboding.

The Deep by Alma Katsu is a wonderfully written and haunting ghost story that is deeply rooted in history.

The story involves both the Titanic and her sister ship, the Britannic which was operating as a hospital ship during WW I. The main character, Annie Hebbley is present on both ships, surviving the disastrous sinking of the Titanic only to find herself as a nurse tending to wounded soldiers on the Britannic years later. When she comes across Mark, a former survivor of the Titanic and now an unconscious soldier, odd things start to happen. There is a delightfully Gothic feel to this novel which I loved and the plot, although complex, is easy to follow with appealing characters that are well-developed. The history behind the two ships is explored and, to the best of my limited knowledge, is accurate and interesting but it’s the supernatural tale that Ms. Katsu weaves around the facts that really kept my interest.

The Deep is sure to delight any fan of the genre!

A big thank you to Edelweiss and G.P. Putnam's Sons for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of WitcheryHex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery by Christopher Golden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brand-new stories of witches and witchcraft written by popular female fantasy authors, including Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine and Sherrilyn Kenyon writing in their own bestselling universes!

These are tales of witches, wickedness, evil and cunning. Stories of disruption and subversion by today's women you should fear. Including Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine and Sherrilyn Kenyon writing in their own bestselling universes.

These witches might be monstrous, or they might be heroes, depending on their own definitions. Even the kind hostess with the candy cottage thought of herself as the hero of her own story. After all, a woman's gotta eat...
Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery is a collection of stories from a diverse group of amazing female writers! Every story in this anthology brought something powerful and meaningful despite the nature of the tale, good or evil. Some writers explored the sisterhood of women and the empowerment of defying the leaders that are threatened by them. Some brought a terrifying view of witches embodying the traditional view that all witches are evil and in league with the devil. In contrast, others brought the beauty and magic of being in tune with nature and using the elements around them to shape the outcome of things that are unjust. Some brought back favorite characters from series that are well-known and beloved.

Regardless of the story or it’s content, one thing is certain and that is that each story in this book is a worthwhile read by a group of exceptionally gifted writers.

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Monday, October 7, 2019

A Cosmology of MonstersA Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Pantheon (September 17, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 152474767X
ISBN-13: 978-1524747671

Noah Turner sees monsters.

His father saw them--and built a shrine to them with The Wandering Dark, an immersive horror experience that the whole family operates.

His practical mother has caught glimpses of terrors but refuses to believe--too focused on keeping the family from falling apart.

And his eldest sister, the dramatic and vulnerable Sydney, won't admit to seeing anything but the beckoning glow of the spotlight . . . until it swallows her up.

Noah Turner sees monsters. But, unlike his family, Noah chooses to let them in . . .

A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill was actually a pleasure to read! I wasn't sure what to expect and based on the cover, which I must admit, I don't love, I thought it would be a bit childish or a bit on the silly side but I was way wrong. Again proving, don’t always judge a book by it’s cover!

The Turner family, primarily Noah Turner and his sister Eunice, are the primary focus in this horror yet oddly - family saga - with a coming of age theme, how’s that for confusing? Strangely, it really works and it kept my attention throughout the whole book along with keeping me up until 2:30 am to finish it! One of the better horror books I’ve read in a while!

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Saturday, October 5, 2019

River of Lies River of Lies by R.M. Greenaway
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Dundurn (March 14, 2020)
  • Publication Date: March 14, 2020
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07T82F3CZ
In rain-drenched Vancouver, detectives Dion and Leith chase connections between a tragic drowning, a violent assault, and an apparent suicide.

February is the month of romance, but in North Vancouver it’s also become the month of murder. While the North Shore RCMP slog through the rain in the search for whoever left a young woman to die in the Riverside Secondary School parking lot — their first clue a Valentine’s Day card — a toddler mysteriously vanishes from a Riverside Drive home in the midst of a dinner party.

With Constable JD Temple's full attention on the parking lot murder, Constables Dave Leith and Cal Dion work the kidnap … until a tenuous connection is made between the two cases, along with the thinnest ray of hope that the child could be alive and well in the hands of a childless couple.

But when more tragedy rains down on the North Shore, lies must be unveiled before the ugly truth can emerge.

Full disclosure: I did NOT know this was a series prior to reading but because the author was detailed in the referencing of prior story arcs and characters, I was able to pick up enough that it didn’t affect my enjoyment of River of Lies.

River of Lies by RM Greenaway is the fifth book in the B.C. Blues Crime Series. It’s set in Vancouver and follows constables of the North Shore RCMP, Dion, JD, and Leith. JD is assigned the case of a woman murdered in the school parking lot while Dion and Leith work together to investigate a missing child from a troubled and fractured home. What follows is a series of tragedies and tension among the constables. What more can you ask for in a crime thriller?

The characters are well-developed and the story is complex and quickly paced with well-executed twists.

I think this is a great book for any fan of the genre and highly recommend it.

A big thanks to NetGalley and Dundurn for allowing me to read and review this book!

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Friday, October 4, 2019


Snowball by Gregory Bastianelli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Fiction Without Frontiers
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: FLAME TREE PRESS; New edition (January 30, 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1787583481
  • ISBN-13: 978-1787583481
A group of motorists become stranded on a lonely stretch of highway during a Christmas Eve blizzard and fight for survival against an unnatural force in the storm. The gathered survivors realize a tenuous connection among them means it may not be a coincidence that they all ended up on this highway. An attempt to seek help leads a few of the travelers to a house in the woods where a twisted toymaker with a mystical snow globe is hell bent on playing deadly games with a group of people just trying to get home for the holidays. FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

Creepy and atmospheric, Snowball by Gregory Bastianelli is definitely eerie and has a great premise. Set in New Hampshire, it’s Christmas Eve during a brutal snow storm and travelers are stranded on a highway. They have gathered together in the RV of a strange older couple for shelter and company. There’s seemingly no connection between them but as the evening progresses and the stranded tell their most awful winter-time stories correlations come to light.

Snowball has every element needed to make for a great horror read: it has great characters with traumatic pasts, sets a sinister mood, and of course, there’s some really scary monsters.
It’s fast paced and kept my interest. A must read for fans of the horror genre. I’ll be reading more from Mr. Bastianelli in the future.

A big thank you to NetGalley & Flame Tree Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Arrangement The Arrangement by Robyn Harding
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates, and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favours are optional.

Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. She begins drinking heavily and stalking him: watching him at work, spying on his wife, even befriending his daughter, who is not much younger than she is. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.

When I first started The Arrangement by Robyn Harding, I was hit hardest by all the cliches that seemed to be happening one after another. Poor student from a small town, down on her luck, loses her job, roommates are overly critical and bitchy, etc ... then I realized, this is likely the story of many 'Sugar Babies'.

While the main character, Natalie isn't very likable, she is young and she is flawed and does redeem herself - in my eyes at least - towards the end of the book. It's hard for me to connect with a MC that I don't really like but it's also good to read a book that has characters that are as imperfect at the rest of us.

Ms. Harding sheds a lot of light on the ugliness this type of 'arrangement' can have and after reading the author's note in the back, found that she did actual interviews with women on a Sugar Baby site giving her a unique insight into what really goes on.

While it's a good suspense/murder mystery, it also explores family dynamics and unhealthy relationships. Did I mention there's a few surprise twists?

I'll be reading more of Robyn Harding in the future.

A big thank you to Goodreads for the giveaway that allowed me to read this book!

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Close to YouClose to You by Kerry Wilkinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: Bookouture (October 17, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 183888162X
ISBN-13: 978-1838881627
I pinch the screen to zoom until I’m staring at the face of a ghost. A man with very short hair, staring directly at the camera with piercing brown eyes.

He is as he was when I last saw him: wrinkles around the corners of the eyes and a knowing smirk. That’s the expression I see when I can’t sleep.

My body tenses. It can’t be him. It’s not my ex-husband. It’s not David.

I know that better than anyone because he didn’t walk out on me.

He didn’t disappear two years ago and he’s not a missing person.

I know that for a fact because I’m the one who killed him.

A brilliantly twisty thriller which will have fans of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl absolutely gripped.

Kerry Wilkinson is quickly making his way to the top of my favorite author list! Close to You is fast-moving and twisty, just the way I like a good suspenseful thriller!

Morgan, a fitness instructor, is at an awards dinner when her friend Jane snaps a photo. On closer inspection, Morgan is sure she sees David, her missing ex-husband who she knows is dead because she’s the one who killed him. This synopsis is the premise for the book and it’s an attention getter that did not disappoint!

The story is told alternating between the past and present, exploring Morgan’s relationship with David and her current beau, Andy. Jane, her child hood best friend is a strong secondary character. As usual for Mr. Wilkinson, the characters are edgy, well-developed, and flawed. Morgan was not a likable gal yet I got a sense that I knew her and could connect with her. This, to me, is a sign of a really well written character.

Close to You is a thrilling delight for any fan of the genre. Highly recommend this!

A big thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the opportunity to read and review this book!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and Bookish.
This weeks list is: Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait To Get
This is a tough one for me since the majority of sequels I've been waiting for have all been released in the last 3 months. But ... there are still a few!
End of Days by Susan Ee -May 12, 2015
Oblivion (Nevermore #3) by Kelly Creagh-July 2015


Dead Of Winter by Kresley Cole-January 8, 2015

AND, Those with no covers yet! 

  1. Swear (My Blood Approves #5) by Amanda Hocking - No date as of yet!
  2. Requiem (Books of Faerie #3) by Maggie Stiefvater - Again, no date!
  3. Refuge (Relentless #2) by Karen Lynch - December 9, 2014
  4. The Replaced (The Taking #2) by Kimberly Derting - April 28, 2015
  5. Persuasion (The Heirs Of Watson Island #2) by Martina Boone - October 28, 2015
And that's all I have for now!

What sequels are you anticipating?