Photographer, book reviewer, mama, cat-lover in Seattle. Originally from England. I'm usually busy taking cat photos at a cat rescue or reading books...
I put my reviews up on Goodreads, Amazon, and Edelweiss+. I have MS so I'm tired a lot but it's a good excuse to have a lie-down and read! My Litsy handle is kamoorephoto
This was so good that it was one of those books I just could not put down. Being thrown into a dystopian nightmare that doesn’t seem so far-fetched is thoroughly unnerving because it’s feels entirely too familiar. We’ve read and seen a lot of imagined dystopias lately where women are quite brutally subjugated, but reading ‘VOX’ felt more subtle and thus a little more frightening.
‘VOX’ centers around Dr. Jean McClellan, a former doctor and professor who studied aphasia (loss of speech), and her family, and we quickly see how the new Government ‘rules’, and the ‘Pure’ Movement have affected her family. ‘Bracelets’ have been placed on all females’ wrists, and they track words spoken each day; the word counter allows them only 100 words in 24 hours and beyond that, they’ll receive electric shocks. Jean’s daughter has got to the point to where she barely speaks at all. Women can’t work anymore, use birth control, read, write, spend their own money; men have the ultimate say in everything. There are also stiff punishments for extramarital and premarital sex, even exiling and humiliating teenagers on public TV.
Jean is eventually called up by the very Government that has put all of this in place, for her help and expertise. The President’s brother suddenly has lost his ability to talk after an accident and they need her help, as one of the top experts in the country on aphasia. Her rather meek and quiet husband, who works for the Government, encourages her to do it, and she’s motivated by the deal of having her daughter’s word counter removed.
Does this all seem too convenient? Maybe. There are a few plot points that work out a little too easily. But it’s compulsive reading. As well as being one of those books that doesn’t feel so far away from being our truth, it’s hard not feel like this could happen to your family.
That makes it successful.
And the fact that we are drawn in by all the hints of other great dystopian novels written by Margaret Atwood, Naomi Alderman (just recently), or even George Orwell, so be it. There are some great action scenes in here, grand questions about how we should be living our lives, a huge argument that is playing now with the ‘Pure Movement’ concept (getting back to basics, and the religious right), and that is really why feel like Dalcher has hit the nail on the head with this. Great read!
*Thank you Penguin for my First Read! Having an early digital copy has not affected my ability to give an honest review.
One of the most hyped books of 2018, with not one, but two versions of early review copies sent out to reviewers and booksellers months in advance, some with a special promo box, 'Furyborn' has been primed for its release for (I'm hazarding a guess) about 8 months now. Every blogger and reviewer I know has wanted to get their hands on a copy of this book to read and review (and likely have the 'one with the artwork on the cover' in their permanent collection) because it is THE book on everyone's blog, and the 'must-read fantasy series of 2018', according to blurb on the back of the book. The publicity campaign has done a rip-roaringly good job to get everyone on board. So does it live up to the hype? Those are high stakes these days when YA fantasy is the genre to reel everyone in.
The premise is grand: two young women, one thousand years apart from each other, hold the immense power that will either save their world or doom it. Each one is either the queen of light and salvation, or the queen of blood and destruction, according to prophecy: which one is the Sun Queen, and who is the Blood Queen?
Rielle Dardenne must endure seven trials to test her magic, which she has been hiding since was a child, and prove herself to be in control of her elemental powers, or she will be executed. Then, some thousand years later, Eliana Ferracora is the counterpart to would-be Queen Rielle. She is a bounty hunter and assassin, known as the ‘Dread of Orline’, and she goes on a mission to find her mother who has been taken along with countless other women, in the violent empire of Ventera. Eliana has had to join a rebel captain, the ‘Wolf’, to get to the heart of the disappearances. And while Rielle knew of her powers for many years, Eliana is just coming to terms with her magic, the power that her body has to heal itself. These two storylines and timelines alternate back and forth throughout the novel, between Rielle and Eliana, and don’t seem to relate to each other; the only thing binding them together throughout is talk of the Sun and Blood Queen .
So I’ll be honest: it was really hard for me to connect to ‘Furyborn’, and I dipped in and out of the book for a while and read several complete other books at the same time, which is unusual for me. It’s only at about halfway through the book that I became more invested in the story and the characters (and then only somewhat), and then I reserved my time solely to this book. For a long book (512 pages), having to read half of it to get invested, is close to reading a whole shorter-length YA novel, so that’s a lot of reading to try and see what all the fuss is about. It’s not to say there wasn’t any action happening on those pages; it just felt like it wasn’t going anywhere. I couldn’t even put my finger on why I felt like the action wasn't ‘happening’, but I rarely ever skim through words on a page but sometimes I wanted to because the same stuff seemed to keep repeating itself.
I was also getting tired of the back and forth between the two storylines; maybe if the reader got to sit with one of the characters longer, a better connection could be felt. I personally felt like you never are given a true feeling for the actual relationships in this book because you can never stay with them long enough to connect with them.
Both lead characters lack the real spunk or inner beauty that I feel they needed to shine through as deserved heroines, so maybe that was what held me back from truly loving their stories. I didn’t feel like either of them were pulling me through to the finish line.
Despite the world-building and the pretty fascinating underbelly of this novel built on dark angels and visions, which are pretty good openings for some amazing subplots, as well as the thrilling opening to the book ‘An End, and a Beginning’, I don’t feel like ‘Furyborn’ delivered for me.
Legrand is a dynamic author and her lyrical writing skills make much of what you read look like poetry. But I don’t like feeling as though a book is 100 pages longer than it needs to be, just so a book is an ‘epic fantasy novel’. I also wanted more time (but not with extra pages) to get to know these characters so I could connect to them. I hate feeling like I’m writing all of this and it will be an unpopular opinion, but I think this could have been so much better, because this was a ‘big one’, but I’ll be reaching, not for the sequel of this, but for Legrand’s ‘Sawkill Girls’ next.
I usually have a ‘thing’ about books with images of people on the cover (is that strange?), so when I first saw ‘Grace and Fury’ with the striking, and beautiful, photo of the two girls, who are the two main characters in the book - Serina (Grace) and Nomi (Fury) - I was a bit flummoxed. I’d heard good things, PLUS the caveat is that we only see half of their faces. I could continue!
‘Grace and Fury’ also turned out to not be your usual ‘princess’ tale, even though YA fantasy is inundated with them, and that was my worry going in. Quite quickly, the story of Serina and Nomi was turned upside down. Serina and Nomi live in a world where women basically have no rights, and they have few choices as to what they are going to do with their lives. Serina has spent her short life being groomed to become a ‘Grace’, basically a submissive concubine for the Heir to the throne. Nomi, her sister, smarter and more rebellious, is Serina’s handmaiden, and makes the mistake one day of being caught ‘reading’ while they’re at the royal palace, but Serina takes the fall for this, and is exiled to Mount Ruin as punishment, and Nomi remains as one of the chosen Graces; they’re both suddenly severely out of their element.
What Serina finds though, is that the women on Mount Ruin are used for, is basically entertainment for the guards there, fighting to their deaths like gladiators. And Nomi is trapped inside a life she didn’t want, inside the palace, where although she may not have to fight for her food, instead she’s ‘competing’ for a place at the side of the Heir, something she never wanted in the first place. She is in an environment where there are few people around her, and deception by those close to her feels likely in every conversation she has. They are both life sentences that they see no immediate way out of.
Both sisters try and hatch plans to escape and get to each other, and they don’t know who to trust, and what’s fascinating about this novel is seeing their individual growth and self-discovery, particularly Serina’s, as they are locked inside their individual new inescapable (and very lonely) hells. The world that is created by author Tracy Banghart is particularly brutal and some of the scenes that are written on the island of Mount Ruin are especially bloody and violent; the fighting that occurs between the women is at-once survivalist but forced by the guards, and the descriptions of it are very detailed. This book certainly isn’t your usual ‘princess in the palace fairytale’.
We are left with a grand cliffhanger and I’m fascinated to know what happens next, especially since the ‘supporting’ characters played a big part in creating a lot of intrigue and interesting storylines. ‘Grace and Fury’ surprised me and gave me a new ferocious, if not bloody, wake-up call to the princess fairytale; these two sisters are saying a big fat ‘NO’ to the patriarchy in this one and I hope it has as strong a voice in the sequel.
I'm host on a blog tour for another book, this time it has already had its release date back on Feb 26th of this year, and while this is not the usual sort of book for me to read or review, I accepted it on a whim. Thank you to Rock Star Book Tours for including me on this blog tour. Make sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of the book after you have read my post and review!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, TROY DURANT
Troy Dukart is the author of the Venerate Saga (The Venerate Order, The Venerate Redemption, sequels to follow). Troy grew up outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota: Twin Cities. Troy is recognized by Toastmasters International as an Advanced Communicator Bronze and Advanced Leader Bronze. He's lived in Japan as well as California. He loves to travel. Make sure to stop by his website and sign-up for the newsletter to stay in the know!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Title: THE VENERATE ORDER
Author: Troy Dukart
Pub. Date: February 26, 2018
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Strafe Rocknus has suffered hard losses in his life, but now things are looking up for the college graduate.
He has a sizzling girlfriend, good friends and a bright career ahead of him. But one day, Strafe awakes in a mysterious cavern, discovers an ancient artifact, and unwittingly ignites a war that spans two worlds: his own, and one he never knew existed.
With the abyss of the unknown before him, Strafe enters the swirling darkness. Desperate, he must navigate a new and hostile world on the brink of catastrophe, and learn the truth of who he is, while facing a darkness with the power to destroy everything Strafe has ever cared about.
Soon, he will discover that his greatest strength comes from those he fights for.
The craziest thing about reviewing a book you know nothing about beforehand is all you are going on is a book cover, the blurb on the back, and you’ve heard absolutely no talk about it. Since I decided to review ‘The Venerate Order’ I went into it just a bit like that: just seeing some bright colorful artwork for a cover, and going from there. It turns out that the insides are very colorful too.
From the very beginning, the reader is plunged into the (pretty) near future of 2088 ‘New Santa Barbara’, a part of California that has been broken off from the mainland, due to a large seismic crack. This probably isn’t that far-fetched (every time I read something like this, it seems totally plausible). The main character Strafe has recently graduated with his pilot’s license, and is a budding engineer, and is keen on entering the city contest that seeks to find a way to bridge the gap between the city and the other cities around them, across the canyons created by the seismic shifts.
This is where Strafe, with the help of his pal Gain, and his girlfriend Yessa, come to catapult our main character across the divide, and essentially into a whole new world and role for himself. When he discovers an ancient artifact in a cave, Strafe couldn’t possibly realize that this would mean the beginning of an adventure where a secret organization would be on his tail, his girlfriend would be kidnapped, or that he would find himself on another planet.
Going along with the story in this book meant leaving absolutely all my disbelief at the ‘door’/portal. I immediately (and quite obviously) felt in love with Strafe’s large wolf/spirit animal called Brutus, who I found out is named after a dog that author Troy Durant had for 14 years. And right away Strafe is forced into fighting in a bloody battle.
All the characters and the story in general are colorful and fantastical, not just the giant talking dog. The main characters are all Guardians, Protectors of the World, representing the Power of Love, Joy, Elation, Passion, Pride, (it made me think just a little bit of something like Power Rangers, with their different colors) including my favorite Brutus. Strafe is an absolutely likable antagonist, ready for a challenge, and loyal to his friends, but there are some deeper levels to the writing of the book.
Durant shows from his writing how much he has been influenced by his own reading and learning; he has been been influenced heavily by various cultures from around the world (Asian, Middle Eastern, European), and also has said that he researched extensively about Samurai and ninja histories for the character of Zon and weaponry. There is also an obvious appreciation for ancient history and myth, and that was one of my favorite things about reading this.
What strikes me too about VO is how visual it is, and so when I think on it, and maybe this is because it’s high fantasy, the cover art, or my production background, I can’t help but see this as some kind of animated film. The fight scenes are particularly vivid and descriptive. I also happen to know that Troy is a ‘Final Fantasy’ gaming fan so I can see how that inspiration led him here! Beyond this book there are several more installments in the ‘Venerate Order’ saga; this one ends with a ‘continued in part 2’, so the wild adventures of Strafe, Taleri, and everyone else don’t stop here!
It’s a really wild ride!
And here's the GIVEAWAY!!
3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE VENERATE ORDER, US Only.
You can enter through *THIS LINK*!!! GOOD LUCK!
There are some more blogs on the book tour; the full schedule can be found at this link here: VENERATE ORDER BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE - more reviews, interviews, and more!
You can also check out what other book tours are coming up and find lots of other book reviews on the Rock Star Book Tour site!!
Thanks for stopping by again, and checking out one of my reviews! Happy reading!
Before I fully launch into my review (which I've saved up for release day), I have to first say how totally excited I am that this book is going to finally going out into the world. I got to be on the ‘Street Team’, one of the 'Relay Riders', for 'Onyx and Ivory', which meant I helped get the word out for it on social media. BUT that does not play into my review of the book.
Happily though, I fell in love with Mindee Arnett's book. I've not read her other books but I have a feeling she is putting something different out here and pouring something of herself into this one. O&I is an epic fantasy that started off (I believe) as a germ of an idea for Mindee some 6 years ago now, and it became a novel that opens up a world of dark monsters, forbidden magic, and brings us characters that feel complex and vibrant.
The main character of the novel is Kate, otherwise known as ‘Traitor Kate’, named as such for her father’s actions, for trying to assassinate the high king of Rime many years ago. Her father had been master of horse to the king, but he was executed for his crime, one that Kate can’t believe he would have knowingly committed.
Now she hides the gift of wilder magic that allows her to touch the minds of animals that makes her so in tune with horses as her father was, but wilder magic is forbidden and punishable by death. Because of her father’s treachery, she has been relegated to being a Relay rider for Farhold, the imperial courier service, but there are these nasty monsters out there called ‘nightdrakes’ (deadly flightless dragons), that make her job intensely dangerous, and soon these drakes are attacking in the daylight, massacring whole caravans of people.
Now, beyond this basic plot of Kate and her forbidden magic, and the drakes, as a reader you are quickly immersed in a world where there is a lot going on. This is a book that is not fast-paced but it is totally absorbing: when I took my time to read it, I felt like I was settling in to fully entrench myself in the world of several sub-plots that weave together and a number of fascinating characters. They are key to enjoying this book.
To name some, there’s Corwin (Kate’s first love, and heir to the throne), Signe (her spunky best friend), Edwin (Corwin’s nasty brother and competition for the crown), and Bonner (long-time friend who knows her magical secret). Kate reunites with her first love Corwin, after saving him from an attack by drakes, and she and her counterparts must embark on a full-on quest to not only understand who tried to kill the king, but also who is controlling the daydrakes. Corwin must also prove he is more worthy to be the heir to the throne than his brother. Something that I particularly think that is important for a novel of this length, is that the characters felt fully realized and fleshed-out, so much so that I could imagine them all throughout the book like companions. While there seem to be a number of subplots going on in the book, Arnett proves she is a skilled writer because I never felt lost. When one part of the story wasn’t being written about, it was fine to just leave it for a while, and continue with another part, and then go back to the other one. I don’t want to say too much about the plot lines of the book because it is jam-packed, but somehow Mindee has threaded them all together, and they’ve culminated in an ending that begs for another epic book. As long as O&I is, I didn’t want the journey and the book to end!
There is so much great imagery and vivid world-building woven into the book, such as the different types of magic, the descriptions of clothing, and landscape; on Mindee Arnett’s Website, there is some beautiful artwork and images to represent the Land of Rime, maps that show political regions, all the magic descriptions, and way back to her original conceptual beginnings for the book; it’s all there if you want to see it in detail.
I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a fantasy they can really dig into, not rush through; there’s action, complex subplots, strong friendships, magic AND monsters(!), depictions of females as positive, independent characters, and there’s also the questioning of judgement of others/hypocrisy with respect to the laws regarding use of magic. There may seem to be, at first glance, the usual tropes of ‘fighting for the throne’, and ‘childhood friend likes girl now she’s grown up’, but I didn’t feel like the book was covering old ground, particularly as I got further and further into it.
‘Onyx and Ivory’ really is an amazing book, and it’s already on my ‘best-of’ list for 2018. I definitely want to be there for the Relay Ride for Book 2!
I love a good mystery and especially ones that are set in England (where I am from), written by British authors, and somehow they keep making their way to me for review; pretty convenient actually. I say keep them coming honestly. I'm a pretty good litmus test for whether the Brit lingo is going to work well here (plus it always wins bonus points from me).
So Bring Me Back, with its beautiful bright yellow cover, along with some standout pink font, is the the third novel from B.A. Paris, and judging from her past successes, this will catch the eye of many mystery fans for many reasons beyond the cover.
It has a very simple premise really: a couple is away on holiday, skiing in Megeve, France, and then are driving back home through France to England. They make a stop for the toilets (at a rest area) at night, and that’s when Layla goes missing, and Finn goes looking for her, and reports her as missing…she is never seen or heard from again, and in some minds, presumed dead. Finn is cleared as a suspect, but it seems that could be from some of the embellishments he told the French police.
The novel is written from Finn's perspective, at least at the beginning; we are given accounts of Before Layla, and Now/After Layla. He is now, at least in theory, years away from what happened at that rest stop, and is about to marry Layla's sister Ellen, but it seems that he is still obsessed with Layla's disappearance, as well as it being obvious he's not wholly in love with Ellen. Finn isn't the most endearing character, since he is not entirely trustworthy and too neurotic to be that type of protagonist. But as the reader, we realize he doesn’t know the full truth about what happened that night at the rest stop.
Suddenly, these tiny (Matryoska) nesting Russian dolls start appearing in Finn's life, popping up in the strangest of places, at the bar of the local pub, on the wall outside their house; these are a sign of something that Ellen and Layla shared as children, and when Finn starts getting cryptic emails from someone, it's all too much. He has too many theories. Is Layla alive?
After about halfway through the book the tone and pace change, and while I felt a few dragging parts (Finn's neurotic brain!), the mystery unfolds evenly, with a great big thunderbolt at the end. My heart really left this book feeling so very sad, for so many reasons; there was a horrific crime of of the past, a number of mistakes of recent past, and then sad stories of the present. Even if you guess towards the end what is happening, I urge that fully read through to the end because that’s where it all comes together in all its sweet sorrow.
Some of the mystery tropes may be familiar (I can't name for spoilers) but this was an engaging, if heart-wrenching at the end, read.
*Note: I received a wonderful surprise early copy of this from St. Martin’s Press. Thank you! This does not affect my views or opinions.
I read this as one of the picks for the Litsy (Team YA) Postal Book Club I am in, and am glad it was chosen, even though I often do not choose historical fiction much these days to read. Especially when I expect it to bring me to tears (or remind me how little I know about how the Soviets and Stalin played their dastardly part in WWII).
Given that this book is several years old now, has won countless awards, and it seems as though everyone else who reads YA has already read it, I barely need to say much about the premise.
Young Lina is deported by the Soviets from Lithuania, along with her brother and mother, but her father gets separated from them to elsewhere in Eastern Europe. The book tells of their long long train ride bringing them to outer Siberia and the horrific trials that her family and other deportees go through. They are emblematic of a past that has been covered up and forgotten among war stories, probably due to so many other horrors (particularly due to Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust).
What Sepetys has written here though, is very relatable account, that I think many younger readers will be drawn to, and have been already; Lina develops a relationship with a teenage boy while deported, has the regular range of emotions you would expect from a teenager, and her love for her family, especially her missing Papa, is fierce.
And while I did not expect the full horrific descriptions I might see in an adult novel on this matter (for example, deaths, burials, etc.), there is enough here to make the reader feel angry, revolted, and incredibly heartbroken at many things that went on.
Since this novel is based on actual people and events (and Sepetys mentions the research and journeys she went on at the end), it is especially thought-provoking and meaningful. There were so very many people affected by the first and second world wars, particularly across Europe, I can hardly imagine how many individual stories like this exist. At least go and read one of them and remember what happened.
This is a psychological thriller that is hard to put to down, and despite the unassuming title, this novel goes from being a story about a seemingly innocuous meeting with a prospective client for estate agent Gemma to a full-blown harassment and sexual assault case. Gemma is the breadwinner of her family, with her husband being at home with their three-year old son, and while she is trying hard to deal with the mounting stress of running a company, she’s constantly dealing with the anxiety of an incident in her past. Suddenly she is very much alone in a world where she is being harassed by private messages and letters, and she is finding herself lying and wondering who she is becoming.
It’s so hard to review this without revealing a major amount about the plot but this had me quickly turning the pages because author Mary Torjussen has crafted the perfect thriller whereby she has weaved a story from the character’s past into one in the present day, and while I was reading I felt Gemma’s anxiety - and fear - all the way through. It really was compulsive reading.
I will also personally disclose that the initiating incident that Gemma experiences, the one that she feels she must run from, and the one that is the cause of so much tragedy (revealed in part 2), is something that I personally went through myself. I only wish this sort of thing didn’t actually have to be something that becomes the basis of both adult and YA fiction, but (yes, this is my trigger warning), sexual assault happens, and will continue to be a part of fictional and non-fictional works. As women start to fight back by talking about it, as now it is very much a topic of our time (there’s a line in the book acknowledging that once upon a time, it wasn’t talked about so easily), it has become different when we read about it too.
This is actually the second book released this year that I have read with this similar sexual assault issue.
The book is thoroughly engaging to read and I liked the ‘two parts’ that it was separated into, with the massive twist. I don’t know what I’d change it to, but for some reason I have an issue with the title, although I understand the concept of how we look back at what we ‘used to be’, feeling like we have changed so much, or looking at what we were back then, but I want something else to grab people by. This book is so good and too clever for people to miss.
Well, this was a surprise. The whole book was a surprise just like the secrets and lies held within, all the way until the end.
I’m now (finally) done with Dark Matter, my latest read for my #ScreamsByMail #HorrorPostalBookClub on Litsy. When I was actually reading it, it sped by, but I took a MASSIVE break in the middle of it because of animal death (yes, I know it’s par for the course in the Arctic circle but I couldn’t deal with it at the time). It reads as a journal, so it’s fast reading, but honestly being stuck on a polar ice cap in the dark sounds like a horror story to me anyway! I can’t think of anything more lonely or terrifying...
I was distracted for a good part of the book by the dogs’ well-being (the main character Jack luckily had huskies for company), as well as how animals are spoken about. This sort of thing trips me up in novels quite a bit (see above). It pulled me out of the actual story, and away from the ‘ghost story’.
Since we are writing in a journal (funnily enough) for the postal book club, and mailing that around too, I won’t write too much here. I will say though, that the writing by Michelle Paver is remarkable and fits very well with the time period and the character she writes for. I was very struck by this. She also obviously did extensive research into the area she writes about (although Gruhuken is fictional), and this is key to the effectiveness of the atmosphere of the novel. It will also ensure that you never, ever find me going near these parts. And it reminded me how much I hate the snow!
I'm host on a blog tour for another great new book, and this time it's for one you may recognize the title for, but not the cover; it had a bold cover change recently, and it's just in time for release day. I love suspenseful novels like this one so I was all in. Make sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of the book after you have read my review!
Thanks again to my bookish pals at The Fantastic Flying Book Club for including me on the tour!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, KIM SAVAGE
KIM SAVAGE is the author of three critically acclaimed young adult novels, After the Woods, Beautiful Broken Girls (named by Kirkus as one of the 10 Best YA of 2017), and now In Her Skin (releasing April 17, 2018), all with Farrar, Straus, Giroux/Macmillan. Her novels have been published in Spain, Brazil, and Turkey, and have been optioned for TV. Kim presents at conferences and book festivals nationwide; has been featured on NPR, Herald Radio, and on local cable stations; and she reads from her novels at bookstores across the country. A former reporter with a Master degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, Kim's stories are based in and around Boston. She lives with her family near Boston, not far from the real Middlesex Fells Reservation of After the Woods. Kim and her husband have three children, each of whom beg to appear in her books. They shouldn't.
ABOUT THE BOOK
In Her Skin
by Kim Savage
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
A dark, suspenseful young adult novel about crime, identity, and two girls with everything to lose.
Fifteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain takes on her biggest heist yet—impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasn’t been easy, and she hopes to cash in on a little safety, some security. She finds her opportunity with the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family tied to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine.
When Jo takes on Vivi’s identity and stages the girl’s miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. When hidden crimes come to the surface and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold on to an illusion of safety or escape the danger around her before it’s too late. In Her Skin is Kim Savage at her most suspenseful yet.
Wow. That will be the first word that comes out of my mouth (and therefore, my fingers) in response to how this book made me feel.
In the same way that this book left me feeling like the wind had been knocked out of me a few times, it also left me feeling so desperately sad. I'll get back to that..
Jo Chastain, a young homeless teen, who basically wants a family of her own, assumes the identity of a missing girl (who would now be a teenager), in order to live in a wealthy household. Ignoring how hard I think it would be to actually assume the identity of a missing person and start living a new life, it takes a lot of tenacity and desire to want to rid yourself of your past and get yourself into a new situation, and risk being found out.
The home that Jo comes to live in is one where she now not only has the 'parents' she never had, along with the wealth, she also has the daughter of the Lovecrafts, Temple, who becomes like a sister and best friend to her.
As Jo (now Vivi) becomes lost inside this new identity of hers, and becomes attached to Temple, she has to remind herself of her truth because she starts to realize things are not quite as 'peachy' in the Lovecraft household as she once thought, and there's definitely an ominous tone. It takes a long while for the suspense to build and it's a slow burn that creeps up on you; the book is broken up into three different parts (of which, the first is the bulk of the book), and at the end of the first part the biggest twist comes.
Suspense in a book like this spells danger for a character like Jo, and the book is turned on its heels and at the same time it made me gasp (it's blatantly obvious I can't give you spoilers), this was very cleverly written.
What I felt is so sad about all this, is that we have one young girl wanting a family so badly she is willing to go to these lengths, and within the inner workings of this novel, there's another very sad tale going on for Temple too. This intimate friendship of these two girls starts to look very dysfunctional and you can't help but feel something's not going to end well unless...well, something.
Ultimately though, Kim Savage has written a very engrossing novel about a case of stolen identity, yet it's so much more than that; I read this book from beginning to end with hardly putting it down, and I now know I need more of her writing!
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!
Get your chance to win ONE COPY of 'IN HER SKIN' by entering through the link below! (US Only)
Starts: 4/10 Ends: 4/24
CLICK HERE for a Rafflecopter giveaway
FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR!
You can find the full blog tour schedule at this link: IN HER SKIN BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE
And after you have added the book to your Booklikes shelf, and your Goodreads TBR, this is where you can order and BUY YOUR BOOK!!
Goodreads: Add to GOODREADS
Amazon: Buy on AMAZON
Barnes & Noble: Order at B&N.com
Book Depository: Order at BOOK DEPOSITORY
Kobo: Buy for your KOBO
IndieBound: Buy at INDIEBOUND
iBooks: Buy on iTUNES
Good luck with the giveaway, and happy reading (as always)!!! ~ K
You know that nightmare where you're buried alive, in a coffin, the dirt just being piled on top, and you try and claw your way out, the air just gradually disappearing? Or how about the one where you're stuck in a coma, but you're still aware of everything around you, and everyone around you just carries on as if you're already dead, although you're screaming inside that you're still alive but you can't move and do a thing? This is that book.
Carol Evers has an illness where she falls into death-like comas, something she has kept secret, save for just a special few, and her malicious husband, Dwight Evers has had enough of her having the limelight (because she’s a wonderful person) and passes her off for really being dead this final time. And so begins a gruesome tale set in the Old West that is ripe with myth, and is basically a story of long-lost love, crossed with a tale of planned murder. In 'Unbury Carol', Josh Malerman craftily brings nightmares of being trapped in a waking coma, and being possibly buried alive, onto the page, because Carol Evers lives that horror at just one heartbeat a minute.
But a couple of outlaws ride along the Trail to try and make it back to Harrows to face off against each other and they are the infamous James Moxie, who left Carol once before, and a horrific character called Smoke, who thinks nothing of pouring oil down people's throats and lighting a match. This is the man who Dwight has sent for, to stop Moxie from waking and saving our Western Sleeping Beauty. Moxie, however, is known along the Trail for the 'Trick' and has his own magic, but is haunted by haven't left Carol all those years ago, and has lived with years of regret.
All this time Carol waits on a stone slab in the cellar, she isn't asleep or even dead inside; she knows and sees what her cruel husband is doing and while Moxie rides the trail, she's desperately trying to move even an eyelid, just an inch. She's not done.
This tale takes a while to get into; the language seems otherworldly, and will immediately strike you as a book that you can't just skim though. The writing won't allow you to, as the prose is too filled with poetic language, the sort that would have been been heard well over a century ago. But it’s not just that; Malerman has written with a pace that builds tension and makes you wonder if Moxie will get to Carol in time, and suits the time period wherein everything was slower. I enjoyed how the chapters are descriptive of what’s happening within them, and not numbered, as though they had their own little story to tell within the whole. The characters are all so brilliantly crafted and written as well; especially Smoke, the villain, such a gruesome and horrific figure to imagine.
By just tapping into a common nightmare and fear of being buried alive, and being ‘awake’ in a coma with no way to communicate or move, Malerman has tapped into something so primal and frightening, and to put it into a landscape that is so unique is genius. Along with a tale of spousal murder (well, planned), and long-lost love in the Old Wild West, this is a something to behold in terms of horror literary fiction.
And a MASSIVE thank you to the MAN himself, Josh Malerman, for signing my ARC of ‘Unbury Carol’ and my copy of ‘Bird Box’ at the Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle in March, and having a chat with me. You made my day! I DID enjoy my time on the Trail!
*I received free books from Penguin Random House in exchange for this review. Thank you!
Again, I'm super stoked for another chance to tell you about a brilliant book right before its release.... Many thanks again to the The Fantastic Flying Book Club for including me on the blog tour! This novel is a YA fantasy with undertones of mystery, a ‘treasure hunt’ of sorts, and holds themes of friendship, family, and the quest for truth. It’s set against a backdrop of an island community where sea serpents swim in the waters, but seafare is a staple on the plate, and a royal family lost family members to a tragedy many years ago with no answers...until perhaps today.
MAKIIA LUCIER, Author of Isle of Blood & Stone
Makiia is the author of historical fiction and historical fantasy for young adults. She grew up on the Pacific Island of Guam (not too far from the equator), and has degrees in journalism and library science from the University of Oregon and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Her debut novel, A Death-Struck Year, was called a "powerful and disturbing reading experience" by Publishers Weekly. It was a finalist for Germany's top book prize for children, the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, as well as Japan's Sakura Medal, and was named an ABC Best Books for Children Selection by the American Booksellers Association.
Her second novel, Isle of Blood and Stone, has a release date of 4/10/18.
You can find her and all her links at makiialucier.com
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Get your chance to win ONE COPY of 'ISLE OF BLOOD & STONE' by entering through the link below! (US Only)
Starts: 4/4 Ends: 4/19
CLICK HERE for a Rafflecopter giveaway
FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR!
You can find the full blog tour schedule at this link: FULL 'ISLE OF BLOOD & STONE' BLOG TOUR
And after you have added the book to your Booklikes shelf, and your Goodreads TBR, this is where you can order and BUY YOUR BOOK!!
Goodreads: Add to GOODREADS
Amazon: Buy on AMAZON
Barnes & Noble: Order at B&N.com
Book Depository: Buy at BOOK DEPOSITORY
Kobo: Get it for your KOBO
IndieBound: Buy it at INDIEBOUND
iBooks: Buy the book on iTUNES
So did you enter the GIVEAWAY? Enter RIGHT BELOW by clicking on the Rafflecopter link! And HAPPY READING!!
This is one of the most talked about and most anticipated YA novels of the year (and it is only April); maybe it’s the hot red cover, or the invitation to "Take a card and stake your soul."
Even if you usually shy away from books because of the hype around them, don't miss this one.
The book begins with
"To be frank, reader, you'd be better off not visiting the city at all,"
in reference to the city of New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin (move over, Las Vegas), the city that ‘Ace’ is set in, and naturally, like most things we are warned against doing, we are more drawn in. Allow yourself into the world that author Amanda Foody has created, one where our lead character, Enne Salta has gone on a desparate mission to find her mother Lourdes, who she hasn't seen or heard from in months. Her one lead is a street lord, Levi Glaisyer, who is indebted to a con man, and lives under the clutches of a ruthless and frightening Mafia Donna called Vianca.
Enne quickly finds herself shedding her finishing school veneer, and becomes entrenched in the ways of New Reynes, which is filled with illicit casinos, three rival gangs, and more shady characters than a Godfather movie (almost).
Now onto the guts of my review (and there really were a lot of guts spilled in this book; it’s pretty violent, though no sexual violence, in case you're wondering about triggers).
I’d say Enne is an unlikely heroine for this book, and at the beginning I had some serious reservations as to whether I would find her believable and whether she would come into her own. She ends up very determined, and she grew on me. With so many books being written about strong female characters these days, I think it IS hard to make them stand out and to make their idiosyncrasies believable. Enne here though has a past that she basically finds out gradually was a lie, and she slowly sheds pieces of herself and gets stronger because she not only has to, but because she discovers a new self and it’s liberating. I loved this part of her story.
The other main character is Levi, who basically gets roped into Enne’s search for her mother, with the promise of enough ‘volts’ to make a payment in a bad investment scheme with a rival, should he help her. I really enjoyed Levi’s bad boy character, perpetually doing the wrong thing, confused over his motives, falling for the girl (and guys), and trying to maintain a street lord persona, even though he seemed to be incredibly young to be thrown into that role (mind you, in ALL of these books, these teens seem to take on these TITAN roles, seemingly beyond their years).
There were countless minor characters, and should this be a movie, colorful supporting roles, that fleshed out this vivid imaginary world. Also, if it were a movie, it would be a set decorator and costume designer’s dream!
Foody writes so much detail and imagery into this book, that at times, it’s a little hard to keep up, but I was engaged and thoroughly enjoyed this all the way through. I would definitely say this is for the upper range of teen years and upwards, as far as teen readers; it’s not light fare. I can’t compare to the previous book but I read at the back of this one, that THIS is the one that Foody threw all her dreams into to write, and I believe it. I’m absolutely looking forward to the follow-up. I know there’s even more of this great story coming.
I tried to get an early copy of ‘White Rabbit’ months ago, and if I’d been able to I would have been able to tell everyone to go and preorder this book! I thoroughly enjoyed this twisty mystery from Caleb Roehrig, and read the whole thing this last weekend, devouring his sophomore novel about Rufus Holt, and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad night, and a cast of colorful teenage characters.
Seventeen year old, gay Rufus is the main character and he's just now coming to terms with the breakup of his relationship with Sebastian, when they end up having to spend the night as super sleuths; Rufus receives a call from his sister April asking for help, which starts the ball rolling. They drive out to a cottage in the middle of nowhere where she’s been at a now-abandoned party, to find her covered in blood and next to her dead boyfriend Fox Whitney. Rufus doesn't believe April could have committed any crime (nor does his stepmom Isabel, who pays him to find out who did), and he and Sebastian spend the night uncovering clues, and discovering their peers’ unsavory behavior (isn't it always that way?).
We find out about the relationship between Rufus and Sebastian, and their shared past, through memories, and the romantic storyline between the two of them is very subtle and so well-written; Roehrig’s language and written dialogue is so natural, this arc fits within the mystery so perfectly. And when it comes to the actual mystery itself, it’s without holes. Follow along with the details and clues because you want to understand the boys’ thinking, and then when it all blows open at the end, hopefully other readers will be as surprised as I was.
I’m honestly looking forward to seeing what comes next for Caleb, because this was so cleverly written, and is such compulsive reading, and I can see him writing both for teens and adults. There’s also wit and smarts about him that I feel can shine through even further (check out his Twitter feed), and I bet there’s an even more complex or even funny read coming next.
PS. And next time, I REALLY would love that early copy so I can review it and can tell everyone to go order their book!
First of all, I'm thrilled to be part of this blog tour for 'The Window' - my first book blog tour! So thank you to The Fantastic Flying Book Club for including me. This book, the debut novel for Amelia Brunskill, had been on my TBR list for a while so when I saw the sign-up for the tour, I jumped at the chance. I'm big on mysteries, and well, I immediately had cover-love. I can't deny it. Just look at that stark black cover with the simple window design. Amazing. So is the book...
Before my own review, a bit about the author, Amelia, as well as the book synopsis.
AMELIA BRUNSKILL, author of THE WINDOW
Amelia Brunskill was born in Melbourne, Australia, but she grew up mostly in Washington state (yay!) where she picked a lot of blackberries, read a lot of books, and failed to properly appreciate the epic beauty of the mountains and the Pacific ocean.
She earned her bachelors degrees in psychology and art from the University of Washington and her master in information studies from the University of Texas at Austin. She now lives in Chicago, where she eats as much Thai food as possible and works as a librarian. The Window is her debut novel.
Her website (and links) can be found HERE. And now onto the book!
'The Window' by Amelia Brunskill
Anna is everything her identical twin is not. Outgoing and athletic, she is the opposite of quiet introvert Jess. The same on the outside, yet so completely different inside–it’s hard to believe the girls are sisters, let alone twins. But they are. And they tell each other everything.
Or so Jess thought.
After Anna falls to her death while sneaking out her bedroom window, Jess’s life begins to unravel. Everyone says it was an accident, but to Jess, that doesn’t add up. Where was Anna going? Who was she meeting? And how long had Anna been lying to her?
Jess is compelled to learn everything she can about the sister she thought she knew. At first it’s a way to stay busy and find closure . . . but Jess soon discovers that her twin kept a lot of secrets. And as she digs deeper, she learns that the answers she’s looking for may be truths that no one wants her to uncover.
Because Anna wasn’t the only one with secrets.
It doesn't take long for Jess, and for the reader, to find out that Anna has fallen to her death, upon starting the book. There's no big lead-in and there's no 'big moment' when Jess feels that her twin has passed away, and that's what bothers her so much. I do like when a book gets right into the story right away... Then it really starts to dawn on Jess just how distant she has been from her twin, and how little she has known about her for so long. There is so little about her death, falling from her bedroom window, that makes sense, and it starts Jess on a long trail to find out what really happened, despite the insistence from those around her, that it's just her grief preventing her from accepting that Anna is gone.
The novel is written from Jess's perspective, and interspersed with writings by Anna, which gradually reveal a lot about the now-deceased twin, and also reveals a pair of twin sisters who are incredibly different from each other. Jess is socially awkward, while Anna is revealed to be friendly and to have a lot going on at school.
But the deeper Jess digs to uncover what has happened, the more she finds out that makes her think that they weren't just different, Anna was doing some things that their parents would never have approved of, and had people talking. Through Jess's amateur sleuthing though, she starts to gather some new friends and activities, but she won't stop searching for clues until she has closure.
All the way through the book, I felt as insistent as Jess on finding out why things weren't adding up; even as many novels I feel like I've read where there's a death, and someone has to go and follow the breadcrumbs, at the risk of looking obsessive or crazy, to try and piece together what the truth is, this had me compelled all the way through. I also found the way that Amelia writes to be very natural, and in contrast to some YA contemporary novels, the way in which the teen characters speak to each other, it doesn't seem stilted or fake.
And as much as I tried to piece the mystery together myself, I was wrong, and I couldn't do it, so all I could do, was follow along as the story steered me and meant me to, and find out what happened just as Jess did. And that's exactly why this book works.
As a young adult mystery, or simply as mystery wherein a death of a loved one must be solved, this book is an easy and satisfying read; there's nothing complex about it, but it left me feeling quite sad; I'm sure the loss of a twin is heart-wrenching. I have no idea how a twin might feel about how this book works, but I do know a lot about grief and about how it makes you search for answers. I'd also love to see what Amelia writes next. Her style of writing is a pleasure to read, and I do hope many of you get to read this one!
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY! Get your chance to win a COPY of 'THE WINDOW' by entering through the link below!
GIVEAWAY Prize: 3 copies of THE WINDOW by Amelia Brunskill (US Only)
Starts: 3/27 Ends: 4/12
CLICK here for a Rafflecopter giveaway
FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR!
You can find the full blog tour schedule at this link: Full THE WINDOW Blog Tour Schedule Link
And after you have added the book to your Booklikes shelf, and your Goodreads TBR, this is where you can order and BUY YOUR BOOK!!
Goodreads: Add to your GOODREADS list
Amazon: Buy on AMAZON
Barnes & Noble: Buy at B&N.com
Book Depository: Order at The BOOK DEPOSITORY
Kobo: Buy it for your KOBO
IndieBound: Buy at INDIEBOUND
iBooks:Buy on iTUNES
And don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY!!!
*Direct Link TO WIN COPIES OF THE WINDOW: a Rafflecopter giveaway
GOOD LUCK, and HAPPY READING!!