Review: Butterly Suicide by Mary Ann Loesch

Publication Date July 11, 2017

I couldn’t decide between a 3.5 or a 4-star rating for this book so decided to round up to 4 for Goodreads rating purposes.
Butterfly Suicide is a fairly heavy YA contemporary dealing with topical issues such as violence at school, bullying, marital discord, adultery and sibling abuse. The story takes place in a rural town in Texas and follows the perspective of two characters in the aftermath of a school shooting. The first is Stephen, the brother of the shooter.
The second is Monica, the sister of one of the victims, the shooters ex-girlfriend. The story picks up a few months after the actual shooting and deals mostly with how the family members of such tragic events deal with the consequences of those events – picking the pieces of their lives up and trying to put them back together. Stephen and Monica develop a relationship and obviously there are a lot of problems that arise due to that.
There were some issues with the plot, some details I didn’t find that believable and that they were put in more for convenience to move the story along. It was fairly well written though – especially the character of Stephen – I felt the chapters from his perspective were particularly strong. Monica fell a little flat for me – she didn’t have the depth of character that Stephen had in my opinion.
Overall, it was a compelling read and the ideas behind the story are important to explore – although not perfect, a very solid piece of YA fiction. I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Publication date: February 7, 2017

Stunning – 5-stars – I loved this book.

For pretty much the entire book I was thinking I would be giving this one a 4-stars (which is a great rating, it means, I really liked a book) but then I reached the last portion of the story and it stripped my breath from me. So enchanting, so beautiful, so heartbreaking. I will admit that the first 50 to 70 pages of the book, I really wasn’t sure what to think; if I liked it, didn’t like it, what was going on, how the heck do I pronounce these names…but eventually, with a little patience, it started to weave together the most intricate, spellbinding story of forbidden love I have ever read. Perhaps it makes sense to view it as a musical composition, timid at first as the story begins to unfold, solid and constant through the middle then a crescendo as we rush towards our ultimate conclusion.

I do not read a lot of books with a strong romance element, and this story is definitely all about the romance, but this one touched me deeply. I was surprised by how quickly it turned steamy actually and believe I even blushed once or twice! The love between Elisabeth and her Goblin King is somehow fractious, violent and childish all at the same time. Their connection is so tangible, I felt it in my heart; the ups and downs of their lustful and rough coming together. The musical elements of the story were beautiful – they bring it alive – if this were to be turned into a movie, I believe it would have an absolutely revolutionary soundtrack! Overall, I felt drawn into the story, slowly but surely and once I was in, I was in, entire. I cannot wait to read the next book of the series which is titled Shadowsong and was released on February 6, 2018. I actually received a free copy of Shadowsong from the publisher in exchange for an honest review – so, time to get start!

Happy reading bookworms!

Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Publication Date: July 11, 2017

4-stars out of 5
Wow, okay, this was a really fun read. A Book of the Month Club pick for July 2017, I am actually sad I waited this long to get to it (damn you, never-ending tbr list!). I am giving this four stars instead of five because I usually only give five stars to books that I would read again and I don’t think I would reread this one. The story for this is definitely one where it is most impactful the first time through.
The structure and storyline reminded me of a B-rate Horror flick and I do not mean that as an insult. I am a person who has sought out the best B-rate horror films my whole life- I love them. I feel this book would translate well into a movie actually. It starts much like many of those movies start, a group of super attractive college kids head off campus for a weekend celebration in the woods at a creepy little cabin…well, you can imagine the rest. Picture Cabin Fever, directed by the insanely talented Eli Roth, but witnessed through flashbacks. So fun, right?!
The beginning of the book was a little slow for me but about half way through the chapters started to get shorter and the flashbacks more frequent as you begin to piece together what the hell is actually going on. You think you know what is happening, you think it is predictable, but then that all gets flipped on its head and the ending was absolutely fabulous. Overall, I think this was very well done and I definitely want to read the book Riley Sager is set to release later this year, Last Time I Lied – if it is anything as good as this, I know it will be a wild ride!

Review: As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

Publication Date: February 6, 2018

As Bright as Heaven truly impressed me as a work of historical fiction. I loved the format of the book, following three sisters and their mother in the early 1920s, the chapters cycle through each woman’s perspective. Due to this, the book also felt very pertinent as a piece of women’s literature. All of the ladies involved in this book were dealing with issues involving what society expected of them based on their gender – one very interesting aspect of this, is that they were all at different stages in their lives so you really got a feel for issues that arise during all points of a woman’s life.

I was moved by this book – I found it to be an excellent examination of not just women’s lives and issues but also mortality and choices. The book focuses a lot on the choices we make, how they influence the path, or stories, of our lives. Additionally, there was a strong focus on how our choices can also have great repercussions for the lives of those around us. There were some deep and moving passages in this book; passages that gave me pause to reflect on the words and how they hold true even in my life.

I loved the setting of the book and the time – the Spanish flu is not an event I have really heard much about and I love history and reading non-fiction books. This story really brings to light how devastating this flu was around the world and I am definitely interested in learning more history about this event.

I would recommend this book to any of the women in my life but I also think men could really enjoy this beautifully told story – I wouldn’t want to leave them out! Well done to Ms. Meissner! Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to review. I appreciate the opportunity to experience this gorgeous story and share my thoughts on it.

Review: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Publication Date: January 16, 2018

Bold, topical and completely riveting! Red Clocks took hold of me from the very beginning and never let up. It is honestly like nothing I have ever read before and is hard to describe, really. I received Red Clocks after making it my January 2018 Book of the Month Club selection. Hot on the heals of the recent success of The Handmaid’s Tale being adapted into a television series, readers every where have been prepared for a surge of feminist literature. This book is one of the most buzzed about new releases of that genre. I had to check it out and cannot express how happy I am that I did!

The novel follows 4 women (plus a historical 5th) who are all connected to each other through community and womanhood; these characters all grapple with difficult choices based on their sex/sexuality. I went into this book thinking that it was set in some sort of futuristic, dystopian world but it isn’t; it is very much a present day story but set up and delving into the possibilities of how very different our society could be if just one or two laws pertaining to female reproductive choices were changed. It was very raw, very real and not shy at all about challenging, often controversial, topics. I can definitely see a subset of folks who will not enjoy this book at all (although I haven’t seen any of those reviews yet).

If this is the quality of product we receive in a debut novel from Ms. Zumas, I cannot wait to see what else she has in store for us. She shows such courage in bringing this story to us. I am definitely a fan of her work and will be reading any other books she may publish in the future. Bravo!

Review: The Stowaway by Laurie Gwen Shapiro

Publication Date: January 16, 2018

‘Wherever you’re from, there’s always somewhere more exciting.’

Excellent – a rollicking, fun ride to the edge of the earth and back!  The story of Billy Gawronski is one that I had never heard before but I feel like now, it will be one that I never forget. A true tale of perseverance and adventure. Young Billy dreamed of traveling to far off places and saw his dreams become a reality when the infamous Admiral Byrd planned an excursion from NYC, where Billy lived with his immigrant parents, to the last unknown frontier of Antarctica. Billy was willing to do anything to be a part of this expedition – including stowing away – which is exactly what he did.

This book takes us on a journey to the far reaches of the earth filling in history, geography and science along the way. This is actually a fairly quick read for a nonfiction book – not as dense as many tend to be. Because of this fact, I would think this would be a great book for YA-readers, as well as adults. The Author’s Note at the end sealed the 5-star review from me. If you read this book – make sure you read all the way through. I would like to thank the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with the opportunity to read and share my thoughts on this amazing story!  If you love true tales of adventure I would highly recommend picking this one up!

Review: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

The Serpent King is a YA-contemporary novel that takes place in rural Tennessee and is told from the perspective of three main characters: Dill, Lydia and Travis. Our main characters are seniors in high school and the story mostly follows their daily struggles of breaking out of the molds that parents, and others, have set for them, as well as finding out who they are and who they want to become.

This story is incredibly moving and deals with some heavy topics but all told from an overwhelmingly sensitive voice. I was blown away by the quality and style of Jeff Zentner’s writing – this book made me feel so much – it awoke my soul and brought forth every emotion you could possibly imagine. Not only did I laugh out loud but I also cried, real tears, just flowing forth like my heart were breaking – now that is good writing!

I would recommend this story to anyone. I am not a big contemporary reader so was really surprised by how much this book sucked me in. Finally, it is important to note that I listened to the audiobook of this which had three different narrators for the three main characters – it was a fantastically seamless production!

The Rules of Magic & Practical Magic

Happy day bookworms!  I hope everyone is having a productive Tuesday!  This past Friday, I finished up reading, The Rules of Magic by the infinitely talented, Alice Hoffman. As with many books that I fall completely in love with, it takes me a while before I am able to sit down and put my thoughts of a book down in words.  This book is no exception to that!

I borrowed The Rules of Magic from a friend – after I lent her my copy of Practical Magic she went right out and bought and read Rules.  I knew from her raving about it that it was equal in stature to PM. The Rules of Magic, the prequel book to Hoffman’s super successful, Practical Magic, leads readers through a coming of age tale starring everyone’s favorite Aunts: Jet & Franny Owens. Unbeknownst to me, they also have a brother, Vincent, who is equally vibrant and naughty.

Starting very early, this lyrical book weaves together so many different aspects of the Owens history and lives that pieces of Practical Magic start to fit a little better into place. Hoffman’s style is flowing and beautiful, you cannot help but be swept up into the story. I cried, I laughed and I left a bit of me behind as I closed the final page but I also took something with me: hope & love – that’s what a story should do to us. I would give this book all the stars if I could – it certainly deserves it!

If you are curious about Practical Magic as well, I finished it last October and wrote the following thoughts upon completion: I absolutely adored this- read it in a weekend. The writing is beautiful. It is quite different from the movie version but stands really strong in its own right. I did picture Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in my head though the whole time I was reading it- which really made it come alive. If you haven’t read this, you should!

Have any of you read these books? or any of Alice Hoffman’s writing? I would definitely like to read more of her books – if they are anywhere near as captivating as these two, I know I will love them!

Review: The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty

Expected Publication: March 13, 2018

“It’s like my mother’s death made this huge noise a long time ago. And this murder is the echo of it”

(3.5-stars rounded up to 4) The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty is an adult thriller following female protagonist, Harper McClain, who is a crime reporter in the city of Savannah. As female leads go, I really liked Harper; I found her to be smart and believable. Although haunted by a past trauma where she stumbled across the crime scene of her murdered mother, we learn how Harper’s whole life was shaped by that one event; how she used it to fuel her passions for writing and reporting. For me, the book didn’t really pick up until about 30% into the story. The introductory phase of the characters, the city and Harper’s early life seemed just a little too drawn out for my taste before ever getting into the main point of our story – the murder and subsequent investigation of a woman by the name of Marie Whitney. Once Harper started looking into Ms. Whitney’s death, and coming to the conclusion that there was more to the story than her police friends were letting on, the action really started to pick up. Overall, I enjoyed this story and would definitely be interested in reading the next book in the series!

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur for providing me with an early copy of this book – I am excited for the release date to see what other readers think of it!


Review: Ugly As Sin by James Newman

Ohhhh, this book! Lovingly classified as ‘White Trash Noir’ this story shook feelings from me I didn’t know I could experience whilst reading! The story follows our protagonist, Nick ‘The Widowmaker’ Bullman, after he hits rock bottom.

Firstly, you may ask, what is white trash noir? That is a solid question and one I am not fully sure I can answer correctly. To me, ‘White Trash Noir’ is more of a feeling than a thing; if you read it, you will know it. I would describe it as gritty and tragic but oddly full of hope and humor as well. It feels real.

The story of Nick Bullman is beautifully moving – I felt such sympathy for him – he’s pretty much a good guy who had his outward ‘humanity’ stripped away from him due to an event completely outside of his control. Because of this horrific event his entire life is turned upside down and when we meet him, he is at the bottom of it all. I feel at its core this is a story of love, redemption and reconciliation. The writing style is fluid and compelling; it kept me glued to the pages. Ultimately, what I took from this book is if you can salvage anything from the ashes of your past mistakes, do it. Our relationships we form in life are what truly matter. They are what make life worth living. Well done, Mr. Newman, all the stars to you!