Review: Blood Will Out by Jo Treggiari

Publication Date: June 5, 2018

2-stars (translation: I did not like it).  I DNFed this book a while back. For those of you who don’t know, DNF stands for ‘did not finish’. Initially, I wasn’t going to write a review on it as it hurts me to have to give such a low rating to a book. I know authors work really hard to put these books out and it is so hard to write and so hard to take criticism for what you write. This being said, I have changed my mind as I feel it is important to review all books you read, whether good or bad, if you are a consumer reviewer. This one should serve more as a PSA to other readers who will be as shocked by this as I was. Trigger Warnings: Animal Abuse, Torture, Mutilation & Killing.

The reason I stopped reading this one is that the pointless torture of animals is not something that I can read. I tried to muscle through by skimming over those sections but then I was missing entire portions of the book. Pretty much all of the ‘psycho’ character’s chapters (as this book is told from two POVs – the victim and the perpetrator). Some books have this type of ‘situation’ once maybe twice in a book and it can easily be skimmed over as it is just one or two paragraphs. This didn’t seem to be the case here.

This book sounded interesting in the synopsis and I understand what the author was trying to show; that this person is a psycho- or sociopath who began his lust for blood with experimentation in torturing and killing small animals and then escalated to where he is now, but I just personally felt it was too much. Wayyyy to much. I always have a difficult time getting through a scene or two in a book that involves an animal being killed but this was above and beyond what I personally chose to partake in.  I know, I know, it is a work of fiction but there are so many GREAT books out there to read, I simply cannot finish one that is so far against the grain for me.

I appreciate that I was given the opportunity to read this book early and wish I could have made it through. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance and I wish this author the best of luck with this story!

Review: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

Publication Date: July 18, 2017

5-suspensful stars!!! 

B.A. Paris does it again – the Queen of Manipulation! This book is her second novel and after loving her debut, Behind Closed Doors, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one. Her writing has a smooth and easy style that is really fun to read. I find her books to be quick and oh so very satisfying! I have loved the endings of both of these books, as well as all the twists and turns that get you there. I literally have felt like I was taking the journey along with her protagonists and at times it can be quite frustrating (but in a really good way).

In this one, our MC Cass, had me yelling at her for the majority of the novel. I was the same way with Grace in Behind Closed Doors. You become so tied up in their lives, thoughts and actions that you feel like they are your friends. Friends that need to be shook to make come to grips with their reality! I very much enjoyed the incorporation of text messages into this storyline as well – it helped aid along as all the puzzle pieces were falling into place. I would recommend this to any reader who enjoys a quick psychological thriller and I will definitely be picking up her new book, Bring Me Back, once it is released in June.

Happy Reading!

Review: Rise of Fire by Sophie Jordan

Publication Date: February 7, 2017

My final rating for Rise of Fire is between a 3- and a 3.5.-stars which means I did like it. This book picks up immediately following the conclusion of Book 1, Reign of Shadows, which left off on quite a cliffhanger indeed! Although I did like it, I did not enjoy it as much as I did the first book. I think some of that had to do with the plot of this story and a bit of it had to do with me picking up on more flaws in the execution of writing a blind main character.

If you are onto this book, most likely you are already aware that our main female character, Luna, has been blind since birth. In Reign of Shadows, they are outside a lot of time, where due to a total eclipse of the sun that has shrouded the earth for the last 17-years they are in perpetual darkness. In this story, they are mainly inside a castle. It is a castle that she has never ever been to before yet she navigates it like she has echolocation capabilities or something. With the first book it was a little easier to forgive some of that because all the characters were pretty much struggling through the dark. Anyway, that aside, I still enjoyed the relationship between our two main characters – their romance was sweet and built up quite a bit in this one. Luna is still a great character in my mind who has had quite an unusual life up to this point.

Another reason I may not have enjoyed this one quite as much was the fact that the action was mainly held within a castle; it was pretty stationary. I had fun with the traveling aspect of the first book. I love a good quest or a road-trip in a book, so that plot was definitely something I enjoy more anyway; however, I understand that that is totally a personal preference and really has nothing to do with this specific book. Overall, I am pleased with this one, loved the ending and am very happy that I have completed this duology. It was dark and pretty fun and I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a darker retelling!

Review: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Publication Date: April 10, 2018

4-stars!! (a really good book)

Ace of Shades, by Amanda Foody, is the first book in her new series, The Shadow Game. I enjoyed reading this and being introduced to the city of New Reynes, a self-proclaimed city of sin; picture a magical, more dangerous version of Las Vegas. This story follows the point of view of two main characters, Enne Salta and Levi Glaisyer. Enne arrives in the city searching for her adoptive mother, Lourdes, with just Levi’s name as a clue. They quickly meet and the fun begins.

Enne upon her arrival is innocent, having been raised far from the city in a sheltered existence, she quickly feels in over her head. Despite her initial hesitation and the culture shock of being in the city, she finds New Reynes brings her to life; she views herself as really being ‘seen’ for the first time. I love Enne’s story arc from sweet little girl to certifiable badass.

Levi, quite Enne’s opposite is a street kid, a con-man, a card dealer and a Lord of one of the local street gangs; not unsurprisingly he has a heart of gold however and certainly a sweet spot for Enne. They work together to try to solve the mystery or who Lourdes actually is and where she has gone. There is an enjoyable cast of side characters in this that really helps the story along.

I did have two minor problems with the book, one was the made up curse words, I found to be a little silly and unnecessary. They were slightly distracting actually because it was so silly. The second problem was the magic system – I don’t feel it is every really explained; there are a lot of concepts that are given names but no explanation or definition. There was a lot of ambiguity with it. I read a lot of fantasy and do not expect to be spoon fed concepts but it shouldn’t be a mystery either as to how a world is functioning. I was at the very end of the book, in one of the final scenes, still not understanding what was happening with the magic. This issue is actually laced throughout the book which can make sections of it confusing. Perhaps in the second book some of these issues will be cleared up?

I am excited to move forward with the series and would definitely read the next book once it becomes available. I thought the ending was perfect and will definitely leave readers wanting more!

Overall, I feel this is a pretty solid start to a series that a lot of people will enjoy due to the action and sweet romance. Thank you so much to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for providing me with the opportunity to read this book early and provide my opinions. I am excited to see what other readers think about this one once it is released.

Review: A List of Cages by Robin Roe

Publication Date: January 10, 2017

5-fabulous stars!! It is finally time for me to struggle through writing a review for this book. I just don’t know how to adequately express the way I feel about this one. It was quite honestly one of, if not the most, moving story I have ever read in my life. It was just so amazingly well done and I feel like it should be required reading for young people.

The story follows the point of view of two characters, Julian and Adam. Julian, the younger of the two, lost his parents to an accident when he was just a child and due to lack of immediate family is forced into ‘the system’. Adam’s Mother, a social worker, takes Julian in as a foster and thus, the boys essentially become brothers for a time. Once a distant relation (by marriage) of Julian’s comes forward and claims him, Adam and Julian have no further contact until Julian enters high school. This is where our story picks up.

These characters are so well drawn. Julian, so sweet, innocent and trapped in his loss. Adam, fun, popular and extremely caring. I love the relationship of the two boys and how it evolves over the course of the book. I tabbed a lot of sections, passages, sentences during the course of reading this as there are a lot of very important ideas in here. I feel like Robin Roe’s real life experiences working with ‘at-risk’ teens really helped add to the reality of this novel. This will be a hard one to forget. It was heartbreaking. I was shattered after reading it but also filled with love and hope. I ended up feeling a strong connection to these boys, just such good eggs, the both of them.

This book teaches a message of kindness and empathy. Being kind is free – we should all try it – you never know what someone else is going through; what someone’s reality is. I will be recommending this book to everyone in the world from this day forward but definitely do not expect a light fluffy read here. There are definitely moments of humor, Adam’s character in particular is very funny, but this book deals with very serious issues of abuse, both mental and physical, death, grief, loss, self worth and self preservation. Absolutely brilliant! 

Review: Wizard and Glass by Stephen King

Publication Date: November 4, 1997

5 of the most magical stars in the universe!!! Wizard and Glass. Wow, what do I even say about this book? This book is immense, epic and a beautifully told story of love and loss. If you are reading this, you most likely already know that Wizard and Glass is the 4th installment in Stephen King’s epic fantasy series, The Dark Tower. I have been reading this series back-to-back since last Fall and I was most concerned about this one.  At 700 pages it is not a small feat and I had heard that it was very different from the other books in the series.  It certainly was that but in a way that enhanced the storytelling of the series. It is mind-boggling to me that this entire world is the creation of one man’s brain!

In this book we hear an incredible tale of the early life of Roland of Gilead, our main protagonist throughout this series. We learn all about his life shortly after becoming a Gunslinger around age 14 or 15 (I can’t recall exactly what age he is stated to be at this point). He has been sent from home to travel to the Barony of Mejis with two of his closest companions and fellow future Gunslingers, Alain and Cuthbert, in order to keep him safe from the sinister Marten Broadcloak. The boys settle in Hambry under the guise of being ‘counters’ for the Affiliation; there they encounter a ruthless and shady cast of characters such as the Big Coffin Hunters, Mayor Thorin and my favorite witch, Rhea of Coos.

The main storyline involves Roland meeting his true love, Susan Delgado, and their budding and blossoming relationship. The intricacy within this story, within this world, is absolutely stunning. King is the master of character development and this story is no different. While reading this book I truly felt like I could see everything playing out before me like a movie. This book is completely different than the other books in the series, yes, but what a tale. I am absolutely in love with it. Spellbinding from beginning to end, in my opinion, and I feel more attached to Roland now than ever before. Excited to move on with my journey to the Tower!  In fact, I have already begun the 5th book of the series, The Wolves of Calla.

Review: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Publication Date: July 14, 2016

3-Stars:  I will get this out of the way up front – I listened to the Audio version of this book. The narrator…let’s just say, her style wasn’t my favorite as far as narration goes. This being said, I’m not sure how much that ended up affecting my ultimate rating for the book but I wanted to be sure to point it out.

I went into this book completely blind, I had heard a little buzz about it through social media, but really had no idea what it was about. I was completely surprised by the fact that the action kicked off so quickly. There were quite a few twists and turns, places where I thought I had it figured out, moments of revelation, etc., but overall it was pretty bland for me. It was a good book but I really had no feelings for it after it was over. It was a thing that happened, it kept me occupied, told me a little tale and then…that’s it. I did not enjoy any of the characters at all – I actually believe one of my mid-book status update comments was, ‘every character in this book is an asshole’ – so yeah. Bottom line, it was good, it didn’t blow me away but it was good. Average.

In other, much more exciting news, I pre-ordered my copy of Stephen King’s newest novel, The Outsider, which will be released on May 22nd!!!  Raise the flag, I am so excited to add a new, gorgeous King hardback to my bookshelves.  Check out the cover below – very creepy and cool!

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Publication Date: May 13, 2014

Star Rating: 3.5-stars!

We Were Liars is a book that is going to be hard for me to review. I actually finished it a couple of weeks ago and have been trying to come up with something of substance to write about it. I think part of the difficulty for me lays in the fact that there was a disturbing situation in this book that really, really, really made me uncomfortable – basically bringing one of my worst nightmares out of my mind and onto the page; because of this, I felt like my mind kind of turned off to this book after that. I was enjoying it a lot but that one aspect of the story was really very hard for me to move past.

The bulk of the action takes place mostly on a private island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I live on Nantucket, so literally, this story hit very close to home for me. A large number of the population of my community consists of summer families very similar to the one in this story. I felt like I knew these people, like I had heard many of the gossips and complaints and recriminations that flow throughout the family drama. The book itself, is actually hard to classify in my opinion. Is it a Thriller, is it a YA Contemporary? It really had aspects of both but I am going to call it a YA Contemporary. There was one really big plot twist that I definitely did not see coming even though I thought I had it all figured out. However, even with this taken into account it isn’t really ‘thrillery’ enough to earn that classification in my opinion.

I listened to the audiobook and one of the main reasons that I did was because Ariadne Meyers was the narrator. She also voiced Lydia in The Serpent King and I absolutely adore her work. She is so fabulous. She definitely did not disappoint with this one. In fact, the end was bloody brilliant. Overall, I enjoyed this book quite a bit but I definitely feel like it is a book that is only impactful your first time through.

Review: The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu

Publication Date: February 13, 2018

Star Rating: 2-lackluster stars

Phew. Well, I made it through. I am glad this was so short, otherwise I would have had to DNF it and I absolutely detest having to do that. I really struggled with this one. It was so all over the place for me, just not my style at all. It was nothing like what I expected and I’m not sure what exactly the author was trying to get across. I thought, going in, that I did but my thoughts of a modern, girl version of Lord of Flies was completely off base.

The writing itself was smart but lackluster, ultimately leaving me so that I just did not care one hoot about any of the characters. I would have preferred a more linear narrative, possibly with vignettes of how that shared experience affected the girls later lives, to this disjointed, completely chaotic story. I know many readers will enjoy this, however, it just was not the book for me.  Disappointing.

Review: Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

Publication Date: April 5, 2018

5-stars!!!! – A tour de force of brutality & ambition!!!

I was so excited when I discovered that the Hogarth Shakespeare series was adding Macbeth to its line up. It is my favorite of all the Shakespeare tragedies and I was looking forward to seeing how Nesbo would give it a modern twist. I have never read any of his books before but had heard very good things. He certainly did not disappoint – this soared above even my highest expectations.

The action takes place in a drug and crime-ridden city in the 1970s. Drug dealers and local crime lords hold as much power and sway over the people as do the police and politicians. The whole atmosphere is dark and visceral; you can smell and feel the dankness and despair. You are instantly dropped into this world and admittedly, at first, I was a bit confused as you are right in the action and all the players are already there. However, it didn’t take long (about 15% on an e-reader) before the tale truly starts to take shape and for me, I was so engrossed, I couldn’t put it down.

The characters are true to their roots as Shakespeare created them and I felt that the main premise of the action was extremely well planned and executed. The modern versions of the plot points were richly imagined and expertly woven into the final narrative. Macbeth, so strong and weak at the same time, so influenced by his Lady, easily steered, brutal yet kind, haunted and driven. Ughhh, it was soooo good! No one in this town was safe once Macbeth and Lady were set on their ultimate drive to power – aspirations and political intrigue, love for one another, plagued by their pasts – their relationship was just so spot on, there is no better way for me to describe it.

Slytherin book recommendation all day long – I absolutely adored this book! Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review. I cannot wait for this one to hit the streets -everyone needs a dose of this! Shakespeare himself would be proud!