Review: Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

Publication Date: May 8, 2018

5-stars!! 

I finished ‘Our Kind of Cruelty’ last night right before bed so figured I would take the night to consider what I had read before formulating my review. Here I am, the next morning, still trying to wrap my head around this book. Firstly, what a unique way of telling this story. Unique and impactful. Mike Hayes, our MC, and narrator of this story is unhinged and you get a front row seat to obsession. Verity, the object of focus, is a young lady you struggle throughout the book to understand; at least I did. Mike and V were involved in a long-term relationship which began while they were in college and eventually ended. This story follows that break-up and relives pieces of it through the mind of Mike.

How much of his thoughts are reality and how much are fantasy. The author did a phenomenal job of keeping you guessing. Is Mike as crazy as he seems? Is he creating a fantasy or she is feeding into his behaviors somehow. I absolutely loved the format of this book and how the author never let Mike slip from character. You are full force in this ‘love story’ from start to finish gaining insight into his infatuation with this young lady.

The culmination of the tale takes place in a courtroom where we see side characters, as well as both Verity and Mike, be questioned by attorneys regarding the exact nature and events of their relationship. I will admit even I was questioning Verity and her honesty at that point – which to me is humorous – an extension of how women can be blamed or treated with suspicion when it comes to a man’s behaviors in regards to her. Questioning the victim, blaming the victim, shaming the victim – these are all prevalent occurrences in our society – and I myself was guilty of it. I didn’t trust V, the whole way, even though I was witness to Mike’s mental fixation with her. I questioned what she was doing to fuel that fire. I continually questioned her choices: why didn’t she tell someone, her husband, the police? Why did she continue to correspond with him?

This was an incredibly intricate, mind-shaking story that gave me chills on the regular. I applaud the author for this effort – it is a truly distinct book for the thriller genre. I would highly recommend it. I hope my thoughts on this make some sort of sense – I am still boggled by this one. Thank you so much to Farrar, Straus & Giroux for providing me with the opportunity to read this book early and to provide my opinion. I cannot wait to see what other readers take from this one! What was the last book you read that really got under your skin? I want to know!  Leave a comment below!

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!

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: 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 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: Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Expected Publication: January 23, 2018

Oh my goodness did I love this book! I just finished my e-ARC this morning and am so excited about the fact that I have already completed one book this year that is an early contender for ‘my favorite book of 2018’! Reign follows the story of a strong, independent female protagonist named Odessa who is a master necromancer in the kingdom of Karthia.

This books starts out quickly and in my opinion really never lets up. I read it so fast, racing to the conclusion – throughout the course of the story my pulse was raised many times, my heart crushed and my spirits soared over a full range of emotions. The magic system is very cool – I loved the necromancers, healers, beast masters, royals, etc. – and the world creation was vivid and believable. The characters were very likable (I have a few different faves) and the Shades (the monsters of our tale) scary enough to keep you glued to the pages. I would recommend this book all day long to anyone who loves YA fantasy and look forward to seeing what new horizons will await us in Book 2!!! A big thank you to the publisher, Razorbill, for giving me the opportunity to read this book early!

Has anyone else finished any fabulous new books this year? I have a strong feeling 2018 will be a great year in all things book!

Happy reading friends  : )

*Please note, I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Status Update: Reign of the Fallen

Expected Publication Date: January 23, 2018

I started reading my e-ARC copy of Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh on Sunday….I am already 40% through it and that is while reading 6 other books and working full time!  I am loving this one – I want to be reading it all the time, I cannot put it down! Firstly, a big thank you to the publisher, Razorbill (Penguin Group – Penguin Young Readers Group) for providing me with an early copy. This could be up there in the running as one of my top books of 2018!

Reign of the Fallen is a YA Fantasy book with a female protagonist who is a master necromancer in her city. I am totally engrossed in the magic system of this book – I love the necromancers, the healers, the royalty, the shades, the deadlands…..I could go on and on. The characters are very likable – I have had my pulse raised, my heart crushed, my spirits soaring in anticipation….do yourself a favor, if you like YA, get yourself a copy of this book.  I know I will be buying a hard copy once it is released….I mean, look at the cover and with a story this intriguing, I will definitely want to read it again!

Happy Reading Lovies!

Review: Wonderblood by Julia Whicker

Expected Publication Date: April 2018

Firstly, hello bookworld! I have been very absent lately on what I believed to be a 1-week Christmas vacation that has since turned into a 2-week Christmas vacation.  Yes, you read right!  Unexpected 2-week vacation. Due to inclement weather I have been unable to get back home – part of the joy of living on an island!

Okay, back to the topic – Wonderblood by Julia Whicker! I finished Wonderblood late last night and needed to sleep on it before I could formulate my thoughts into a coherent review. Firstly, this is a debut novel for Julia Whicker and although this book did not blow me away, I would certainly be interested in other books (unrelated to this one) that she may write in the future. I enjoyed her writing style a lot which was not just agreeable but at times absolutely lyrical.

At the beginning of the book, literally the first 10 to 15-pages, there was some content that almost made me give it up. It did not grab me at all and in fact certain elements of it turned me off. It is an adult sci-fi novel that is set in a very gritty, very harsh post-apocalyptic wasteland. There are triggers for abuse, child rape, sibling incest and/or sibling molestation; I could see this causing a lot of people to turn away very quickly from this book. If you can get by that, it does get a lot better and I am glad that I stuck with it.

The middle is where I feel the story is at its strongest, with political intrigue and an interesting “religious” system. The story does take place in a future United States, which has had its population decimated by a mad cow-like disease – this story picks up in the aftermath of that although we never learn too much about the chain of events prior to the current action. Quite generally, it reminded me of Mad Max meets The Road.

One of my biggest disappointments for this book was the lack of character development. I came away just feeling blah about all of the characters – there were none that I related too or even felt that I knew enough about to care for in any way. If this were a start to a series (I am not sure if it is slated as a stand-alone or a series), I would not pick up the second book, really because I just do not care what happens to any of these characters. Additionally, I didn’t feel like the atmosphere was strong enough to make up for the lack of character development.

Mainly, I gave this three stars due to the writing style of the author and the unique ideas included in the world she was creating – for example, I loved that the characters worshiped NASA space shuttles and had Cape Canaveral as their holiest of sites – but the execution overall fell a little flat for me. Please note, I was given a copy of this book from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to read it, comment on it and am excited to hear what other readers think of this story!

Review: The Darkling Bride by Laura Andersen

Expected Publication Date: March 2018

*I received an ARC-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars – I had so much fun reading this book! Originally, I went into it thinking, historical fiction, but quickly discovered it is really so much more than that. The book does weave a bit of historical fiction into what is actually more of a modern day murder mystery. The main storyline takes place in Deeprath Castle, a very old (and possibly haunted) castle in the County Wicklow, Ireland, which has been in the Gallagher family for generations. Our protagonist, Carragh, is an archivist hired on to inventory the extensive historical library prior to the castle’s potential sale. There she finds not just books but mystery, suspense, gothic settings, a potential love match, long guarded family secrets and an unsolved murder that sees its investigation rekindled.

Throughout the book the chapters shift between present time, the late 1880s and the 1990s. In addition to Carragh, we meet a full cast of Gallaghers, as well as some outside players. I loved this aspect of the book and enjoyed watching the multiple generations of storylines eventually tie together. Many of the characters were extremely likable and I wouldn’t mind reading more about them in the future- particularly Aidan and Carragh- I know their stories can’t end here!

There is so much to love about this book and I am hoping that many, many readers get to enjoy it as much as I did – a big thank you to Ballantine Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book!