Review: Flawed (Flawed #1) by Cecelia Ahern

Flawed (Flawed, #1)Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book #3 for my Sci-Fi September!!!!

 

Celestine North is a high school girl living a Perfect life with her Perfect family.

In a society that values Perfection in mind, body and spirit, this is of the utmost importance. Because of this, maintaining Perfection is a primary focus of the citizens living within this dystopian society.

Collectively they punish those who they deem as lacking. Such individuals are branded as Flawed and never treated the same within society again, virtually designating them as the lowliest individuals that Perfects are afraid to even associate with.

When Celestine’s neighbor and piano teacher, a woman she feels she knows well, is punished as being Flawed, she is shocked, never having experienced a Flawed person so close to home.

She is also shocked to see the lack of empathy on the faces of her other neighbors as the Flawed woman is forcibly dragged from her home, away from the embraces of her crying children.

This incident causes Celestine to begin questioning everything. With new doubts in her mind, she tries to get back to life as usual but it very difficult. One day on a bus, she commits an act that ultimately gets her branded as Flawed. Her crime, compassion.

She is imprisoned, literally branded on her body and made to wear and arm patch with a big capital F on it, so all of society will know of her disgrace. Think futuristic The Scarlet Letter.

Her rights are stripped and life as she knows it, is over. Her long-time boyfriend, Art Crevan, whose father is the Judge that sentenced her, has disappeared. She is secluded and alone. Even her little brother is afraid of her.

In the midst of her situation, she hears rumblings of a possible underground movement out to overthrow the ruling party. They are pushing for a more equal society, ridding it of the old Perfect or Flawed mentality. The rebels have grabbed onto Celestine’s story and are using her as a sort of figurehead for their movement.

This was truly a delightful surprise. I really enjoyed this! It was like a CW show, and I mean that in the best way, easy and addicting. The pace was fast and information revealed to you just when you needed it to be. I could have used a teeny bit more of world-building but I am hoping more will be revealed in the next book.

I think if you are looking for a futuristic YA Dystopian that is quick and well written, you should definitely check this one out. Good solid drama, intriguing premise and it leaves off in a great spot for the continuation of the story. I definitely plan to pick up the sequel soon!

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BLOG TOUR: New Release, The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox

The Widow of Pale HarborThe Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**


A town gripped by fear.
A woman accused of witchcraft.
Who can save Pale Harbor from itself?


Welcome to Pale Harbor, Maine, 1846, where a young widow, Sophronia Carver, haunts the halls of her mansion by the sea. Her home, Castle Carver, goes unvisited by the locals as they believe Sophronia to be a witch suspected of killing her husband, magazine magnate, Nathaniel Carver.

Shunned and mistreated by those in town, Sophronia shuts herself off from the rest of society. Having inherited her husband’s magazine upon his death, she spends her days reading submissions, drinking tea and taking short walks on the cliffs of her property.

Sophronia’s only company, her loyal domestic staff made up of one lady’s maid, a serving girl and a groundskeeper. Her maid, Helen, is more than just a maid however, she is a trusted companion who takes her task of caring for Sophronia quite seriously.

When a new transcendentalist minister, Gabriel Stone, a widower himself, arrives in the sleepy town, he takes an interest in the case of the secluded woman. After visiting with her, he finds her to be quite charming and quickly becomes smitten.

Soon dark events push the two of them further together and things really begin to take off. Someone is out to get Sophronia, leaving cryptic messages and dead things for her to find.

The clues all relate to different poems and stories by Edgar Allen Poe. When the cryptic messages turn to murder and Sophronia is a suspect, she and Gabriel team up to investigate the crimes on their own.

With equal parts Mystery and Romance, this Historical Fiction novel is steeped in the gothic atmosphere that I love. Set on the rocky coast of Maine, this is a perfect book to pick up during this most wonderful season of the year, AUTUMN.

I really enjoyed Sophronia as a character. She was not dealt an easy hand but took all that was thrown at her with a grace that truly set her apart from those around her. She was sweet and caring and although misunderstood and mistreated by the townsfolk, she never became jaded or vengeful.

Gabriel, as well, was a great. Although a bit mysterious, and perhaps not exactly what he was purporting to be, he was strong and caring. I loved watching him and Sophronia learn to confide in each other and trust one another. They both really needed someone on their side and as a duo, they paired quite nicely.

As the pace is picking up, we also have an old friend of Gabriel’s arrive for a visit, Tom. He was fantastic. He brought a flirty good humor to the story that was much needed at that point as the action was getting dark. Gabriel and Tom had such a strong friendship, it was great to see that on page between two grown men. Very well done indeed.

I also appreciated the complex relationship between Sophronia and Helen. I don’t want to get into this too much as it could be a bit of a spoiler but let’s just say that, in truth, it was not the most healthy of relationship. Dedicated, to be sure, but also quite codependent. Helen was great to read. She is surrounded in mystery and quite creepy. She definitely adds a lot to the story!

Overall, I adored this book. While it did start out a little slow, once it picked up the pace was incredible. I always appreciate a slow burn and this one would certainly fall into that category. I would have enjoyed a bit more atmosphere, particularly surrounding Castle Carver itself, but that is definitely a personal taste issue and no reflection on the actual story.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Graydon House Books, for providing me with an early copy of this book to read and review. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint.

In my opinion, Hester Fox is an absolute blessing and this book helped cement her status as an auto-buy author for me. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!!!

This lovely gothic tale releases tomorrow, Tuesday, September 17, 2019. Don’t miss out, be sure to pick up a copy to add to your Spooktober TBR. You won’t regret it!

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Review: Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown

Red Rising (Red Rising, #1)Red Rising by Pierce Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is an absolute blessing!!!

I am so thankful that I finally made the choice to pick this one up for my Sci-Fi September. I have heard so much about this series, so many raving reviews, so much love, so much hype…

…but, would it work for me? I am late to the party. Maybe the thrill is gone?

Fortunately, I adored this. The beginning, I’ll admit, I was on the fence but once Darrow meets the Sons of Ares, I was paying attention. It drew me in and never let go from there on out!

This brought back some nostalgia for my OG, The Hunger Games, and I’m cool with that. The best part of a great dystopian are those moments when you think, ‘Oh shit. This could happen someday’.

For me personally, one of the most important aspects of a dystopian story is the world-building. It has to be vast and detailed yet easy to pick up.

I felt the caste system, with designations based on colors, was really well done. Although I couldn’t list for you the role of each of the colors, I do feel I have an understanding of the functioning of the world as a whole.

Picking up this book, I really did not know too much about the plot. I was so pleased that it ended up having two of my favorite tropes ever.

The first being a training and competition element. The fact that this competition happened to involve political and military strategy was the absolute icing on the cake.

The second is a chosen one from the lowest rung of society setting out to overthrow a decadent and corrupt ruling class. I just dig that trope and Darrow is very likable protagonist. In fact, this entire book has plenty of people to cheer for and to hate because we all know, a good villain is VERY important!

I have already picked up the next book in the series, Golden Son, and it just keeps getting better and better. I cannot wait to continue on. This is definitely binge GOLD.

To all of you who have recommended this to me over the years, thank you! You are a genius and a true friend!

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Review: The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney

The Perfect WifeThe Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

CAUTION: This review may contain minor spoilers.

When Abbie Cullen mysteriously disappears, her husband, Tim Scott, creator and owner of Scott Robotics, does what any Titan of Tech would do. He creates a sentient robot to replace her. Well, maybe replace her isn’t the correct term, find her?

It is clear from the start that you are in for a unique experience when you open this book. The writing is strong but quirky and it took me a while to get used to it due to the different perspectives.

In particular, you get Abbie’s present timeline perspective told in 2nd person. This seemed a bizarre choice at first but I did get used to it as the narrative progressed. You also get Abbie’s past perspective in the days leading up to her disappearance, as well as an unknown narrator who is an employee at Scott Robotics.

Abbie, as we meet her, is a very likable character. There is a lot of mystery surrounding her. How she came to be and who knows what about her disappearance and apparent regeneration?

A lot of the emotional turmoil of this book comes with Abbie adjusting to her every day life. Reintroducing herself to the world. They have an autistic child, Danny, and his schooling and daily care were discussed in some detail.

As a Sci-Fi fan, I felt this was a very pertinent and cutting edge Techno-Thiller. If you are someone who is interested in the advancement of technology, in particular, the future of AI, you should definitely pick this up.

Part psychological thriller, part cautionary tale, I thought Delaney kept this believable enough to really cause the reader to think about the use of robotics in the home and whether we think that is a good thing of a bad thing.

It also explored topics like data ownership and consent that I think are equally important. Basically, the cobot (companion robot) who knows herself as Abbie, was made by uploading a compilation of the real Abbie’s data, such as social media posts and text messages.

Thus, through these ‘memories’, the cobot is able to develop the characteristics and personality of the original creator. It is a bit more complicated than that but you get the gist. It’s very Stepford Wives.

If it wasn’t for the last three or four chapters, this would have been a solid 4-star read for me. Sadly, I was a little disheartened with the run-up to the conclusion. There were some sharp turns that I would have preferred to go a different way.

Of course this is entirely subjective but I do have to be honest about the fact that it ultimately did affect my overall enjoyment of the story. With this being said, I still do recommend this one!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I truly appreciate the opportunity and did have a lot of fun with my first, but certainly not my last, J.P. Delaney book!

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September Reading Plans

Coming out of a very successful ‘ARC August’-themed reading month, I have decided to select a different theme for each month for the next year of reading!

My goal for each month is to read 10 books that fit within that theme. I generally read between 12 and 18 books a month, so that seems to be an attainable goal. The reason I am giving myself some wiggle room is because I will always have ARCs, readalongs, readathons, etc., that won’t quite fit in with the assigned theme. 

My theme for this month is:

SCI-FI SEPTEMBER!!!!

Guys, I am so pumped for this. Sci-Fi is arguably my favorite genre and I haven’t been reading enough of it lately. I buy a ton of Sci-Fi books but then never seem to get around to them.

Within this I will be including a whole host of Sci-Fi subgenres, such as: apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic, anything involving alien life, time travel, multi-dimension or multi-universe, steampunk, techno-thriller, military, biohazard or anything related to pandemics, zombie, climate fiction, space colonization, space opera and dystopian. 

I think I can definitely meet my goal of 10-books within this wide range of fascinating Sci-Fi subgenres. I have my eye on quite a few on my shelves that have been sitting around for WAY TOO LONG!

I have already started and am currently reading 3 Sci-Fi books: 

  • The Perfect Wife (ARC) by J.P. Delaney. This is an Adult Techno-Thriller with a sentient robot being created essentially to replace a man’s missing wife. I am really enjoying it and actually only have 10% left so may be finishing it tonight!
  • Contagion by Erin Bowman is a YA Sci-Fi Thriller. I am listening to the audiobook for this one and also really enjoying it. It is quite intense. This follows a crew of people sent on a search and rescue mission into deep space when a mining crew puts out an S.O.S. What they find upon their arrival is nothing like what they would have imagined. Let’s just say, this one is quite aptly titled!
  • Hyperion by Dan Simmons is a Hugo-Award winning, complex Adult Sci-Fi novel, written in 1989, that is structured much like Chaucer’s, Canterbury Tales. I am participating in a month-long readalong of this book with some book buddies over on Bookstagram. I just started it this morning and thus far, am confused, but I am sure I will ultimately enjoy the experience.

So, that’s it for now. I just wanted to write this quick update and let y’all know what I was up to. If you have any Sci-Fi recommendations, please feel free to leave them in the comments below or contact me through any of my social media links!

Until next time,

Cheers & Happy Reading!

 

ARC August Wrap-Up

Good day, bookworms! I am finally settling in after traveling over this past holiday weekend. I am happy to report that I had a very successful ARC August and ended up completing 17-books total for the month. 14 of these books were ARCs (Advanced Readers Copies) provided to me by the various publishers in exchange for honest reviews.

As always, I appreciate these copies being sent to me and try to keep as up-to-date as I can with my review copies. Truth be told, however, I frequently fail miserably.

In fact, that is sort of the whole point behind ‘ARC August’. It is a time when individuals within the book community focus as much energy as they can on their ARCs. Playing catch-up or reading ahead for books they know they need to get too. Previously, the most ARC copies I have ever read in a month was 7, so I was actually able to double that best. Going into the month, my goal was 10, so I even went above that.

Without further ado, let’s get into the list of books that I completed this August, as well as my star rating. If the book is an ARC received from a publisher, there will be an asterisk (*) beside the title. This is in completion order:

  1. You’d Be Mine* by Erin Hahn (YA Contemporary), 4-stars
  2. The Escape Room* by Megan Goldin (Adult Thriller), 5-stars
  3. The Chain* by Adrian McKinty (Adult Thriller), 4-stars
  4. Finder* by Suzanne Palmer (Adult Sci-Fi), 4-stars
  5. The Wedding Party* by Jasmine Guillory (Adult Romance), 4-stars
  6. Priest of Lies (War for the Rose Throne)* by Peter McLean (Grimdark Fantasy), 4.5-stars
  7. Nyxia Uprising (Nyxia Triad #3)* by Scott Reintgen (YA Sci-Fi), 5-stars
  8. Dark Shores* by Danielle L. Jensen (YA Fantasy), 4-stars
  9. The Last Hope (The Raging Ones #2)* by Krista & Becca Ritchie (YA Sci-Fi), 4.5-stars
  10. We Were Killers Once (Brigid Quinn #4)* by Becky Masterman (Adult Mystery), 3.5-stars
  11. Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (YA Fantasy), 3.5-stars
  12. Ration* by Cody Luff (Adult Dystopian), 4-stars
  13. Song of Susannah (Dark Tower #6) by Stephen King (Epic Fantasy), 5-stars
  14. House of Salt & Sorrows* by Erin A. Craig (YA Horror/Fantasy), 5-stars
  15. The Perfect Girlfriend* by Karen Hamilton (Adult Thriller), 2-stars
  16. The Perfect Son* by Lauren North (Adult Thriller), 3-stars
  17. Pasta Mortem (Supper Club Mystery #7) by Ellery Adams (Cozy Mystery), 3.5-stars

Obviously, my least favorite read of the month was The Perfect Girlfriend. As far as a favorite, I would have to go with House of Salt & Sorrows. I was surprised and impressed with it. I expected an average YA Fantasy Retelling but it got so much darker than I anticipated; I loved it! Highly recommend to readers who enjoy a seaside atmosphere with all the gothic feels. I can’t wait to see what Craig writes next!

How did you August reading go? Did you participate in ARC August? What was your least or favorite read of the month? I want to know! Leave a comment below or contact me through any of my social media links.

Until we meet again, my friends,

Cheers & Happy Reading!

Review: The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

The Lady RogueThe Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Darkly glorious!!!

A bit Stalking Jack the Ripper, mixed with A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, I loved this fast-paced, historical romp with every fiber of my being.

Theo and Huck make a great team and following them on their mystery-filled, rescue mission through the rustic Carpathian Mountains was hella entertaining!

Theodora’s father is a treasure hunter, hired by a mysterious aristocrat to track down the legendary war ring of Vlad the Impaler. Along with his assistant, Huck Gallagher, also Theo’s former beau, he begins his search discovering new clues and following-up on leads.

Poor Theo gets left behind in a hotel, as she usually does, and is more than frustrated with that turn of events. She wants adventure too and is very good at solving puzzles. She just cannot understand why her father wouldn’t want to utilize her talents.

When Huck arrives back at the hotel, without her father, he has no clue as to where he went but he does have his cryptic travel journal. Theo’s mind is put to the test as she tries to decode his writings and figure out where he could be. Did he go willingly or was foul play involved?

I loved so much about this. The mystery, the intrigue, the dark historical connections, the partnership between Theo and Huck, the setting, it was all very up my alley.

I have never read a Jenn Bennett book before but I know this is a new genre for her. I thought she did a fantastic job. Although some of the paranormal things were a little wonky, I was having so much fun with the story, I didn’t even care.

Further, I am not sure if this is slated to be a standalone or a series, but I really, really hope this is not the last we see of this courageous duo!!!

The characters mention at the end of this book a location they may be traveling to next…I’m looking at you, Scotland…and I really NEED that to happen.

Who do I contact about that? Let’s do this, Bennett! I know you have it in you!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon Pulse, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity but extra love when I discover a new favorite!

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Stephen King Reread #4 of 2019: The Dark Half, Review

The Dark HalfThe Dark Half by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


George Stark. Not a very nice guy.

Stephen King Reread #4 for the year and it was just as brilliant as I remembered. Equal parts warped, dark and brutal, this story is a must read for any King fan.

I won’t get into the connections between this and King’s own life and experience with Richard Bachman. Let’s hope this twisted tale of a pseudonym gone rogue is 100% a work of fiction.

I mean, a man gets beaten to death with his own prosthetic arm! That’s rough and that doesn’t even begin to brush the surface of this super violent narrative.

The story begins when our protagonist, Thad Beaumont, is just a kid suffering from debilitating headaches and auditory hallucinations. During surgical exploration of his brain, it is discovered that Thad absorbed a twin in utero and parts of that twin suddenly began growing again causing the symptoms he was experiencing!

With that strange occurrence out of the way, Thad goes on to live a normal life. He becomes a college professor and writer, gets married, has twins, creates a pseudonym, George Stark, to write under that he subsequently kills off after being outed…

You know, the usual.

There’s one problem with this life plan, however, George Stark doesn’t want to be dead. He wants to continue his successful pulp fiction writing and he needs Thad on board in order to do so.

When people involved with Thad’s career begin being brutally murdered, Thad is the prime suspect. Even though he has a solid alibi, there is physical evidence linking him to the crimes, like fingerprints!

Thad is innocent and sets out to prove it, as well as stop the person responsible. Along with everyone’s favorite Sheriff, Alan Pangborn, the pieces of the puzzle start to come together with startling results.

The sparrows are flying again…

If you are looking for a viscious, creepy read to pick up this Autumn, look no further. This King Classic has some of the best body horror ever written and will leave you with a sense of dreadful anticipation the entire way through!!!

Highly recommend!

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Review: Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King, #2)Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Daughter of the Siren Queen accompanied me on my holiday travels this past weekend and I finished it up yesterday. While I won’t be adding it to my all-time favorites list, it was definitely an entertaining weekend read.

Picking up where the first installment left off, we find Alosa back on her ship with the best crew in the business. Her old enemies are now her captives and she feels successful having gathered the pieces of the map leading to the treasure of the Isla de Canta

She plans to work alongside her father to recover the spoils, however, all of this is changed when a giant secret is revealed. Alosa is devastated to learn her father has been lying to her for her entire life. She feels betrayed and oh, so very angry.

With this new knowledge of her father’s true nature in mind, she decides to set out on her own to claim the booty for herself and her crew.

Her skills as a Captain are put to the test but no one can deny, Alosa is fierce. Struggling to gain control of her Siren powers, she grows closer and closer to Riden when she realizes that something about him makes that easier. I did enjoy their relationship and reading about the Siren’s and their nature.

This was action-packed but I did find my mind wandering from time to time. I am not sure if that is because of the circumstances under which I read it (on vacation) or whether it was because I just wasn’t engaging fully with the narrative. I think for me personally, it read a little young.

Definitely a solid story however, so if you enjoy a good pirate tale, go ahead and pick up this duology and give her a go. We could all use a little more swashbuckling in our lives!

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Review: The Perfect Son by Lauren North

The Perfect SonThe Perfect Son by Lauren North
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Upon waking in the hospital, Tess Clarke, has one thought on her mind: she must find her son! Something happened on the day of his birthday party. She can’t recall exactly what but it ended with her being stabbed and Jamie being gone.

The format was interesting. We have excerpts of interviews between Tess and her doctor, interviews with two individuals tied to the incident, and the bulk of the story told through flashbacks of the days leading up to the big event.

We discover that Tess had been struggling the past few months with extreme grief. Her husband had recently passed in a terrible accident and she was having a very difficult time with every day life. You come to understand fairly quickly that Tess is an unreliable narrator at best.

A grief counselor, hired by her family, arrives at her cottage one day and begins to aid Tess with her healing. The two quickly form a close bond and before you know it, Shelly, seems more of a friend that a professional service provider.

Tess also has her brother-in-law, Ian, sniffing about, seemingly obsessed with his brother’s estate. He claims that her husband owed him a bunch of money but Tess can find no evidence of that in their finances.

She begins to suspect him of some suspicious activities going on at the house that are really scaring her. What is he after really?

While I did enjoy the format and the pacing was nice and steady, I was completely bummed that I knew the twist to this 35% in. It definitely had an affect on my opinion of this story. The writing was good, just really predictable for me.

It hurts my heart as I was looking forward to this so much!

^^^Literally me upon completion: drinking my whiskey, sadly let down by the whole experience.

This being said, while the overall plot and reveal didn’t work for me, I did see a lot of promise in North’s writing and I would absolutely pick up future works by her. I look forward to it actually!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity!

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