Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book Review

August 10, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 ★★★★★

Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book ReviewTill Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by William Morrow on February 28, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
In New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout’s gripping new novel, a young woman comes home to reclaim her life—even as a murderer plots to end it. . .

It’s been ten years since Sasha Keaton left her West Virginia hometown . . . since she escaped the twisted serial killer known as the Groom. Returning to help run her family inn means being whole again, except for one missing piece. The piece that falls into place when Sasha’s threatened—and FBI agent Cole Landis vows to protect her the way he couldn’t a decade ago.

First one woman disappears; then another, and all the while, disturbing calling cards are left for the sole survivor of the Groom’s reign of terror. Cole’s never forgiven himself for not being there when Sasha was taken, but he intends to make up for it now . . . because under the quirky sexiness Cole first fell for is a steely strength that only makes him love Sasha more.

But someone is watching. Waiting. And Sasha’s first mistake could be her last.

I really, really love romantic suspense and was looking for a great one to read on my cruise a few months ago. Problem is, I’m pretty picky. I don’t like romantic suspense that’s super gory, erotic, or paranormal. I don’t feel like I’m asking for too much here, but apparently romantic suspense isn’t romantic enough if the love interest isn’t a werewolf trying not to eat the beautiful lady. Anyway… I LOVED Till Death. It’s my new favorite romantic suspense, and I’ve been scouring the Internet to try and find other titles like it. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. It’s super scary and creepy and ominous without being over the top and unrealistic. I’ve been reading a lot of mysteries this summer, and they’ve been pretty disappointing as a whole just because they totally would not happen in real life. This would!

2. The characters are so well developed, and I loved them all. Sasha is so strong and well adjusted after suffering at the hands of the Groom. She was the only one of his victims to escape, so obviously she’s resourceful, thinks well under pressure, and is driven to do what needs to be done. I really loved reading about her past and how she recovered and moved on from it. I also liked her best friend Miranda and her mom a lot. And Cole… the sexy FBI agent… I love this man.

3. The story has so many layers and characters that are intertwined. And it’s such a complex plot! I could not read fast enough.

4. I loved the setting. The inn is super cute on the surface, but it just feels unsafe and creepy underneath. The perfect setting for a mystery.

5. I had no idea who the Groom was until we were told. I was completely taken aback by who the culprit was. And that’s all I will say because I don’t want to spoil it.

All in all, this is the book that I will use to judge all other romantic suspense. And honestly, I haven’t found anything that has even come close yet. All those 1-star reviews I’ve been posting recently? Yeah, those were my attempts. I hope Jennifer Armentrout writes more books like this one! She’s got a knack for the genre!

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The Witness by Nora Roberts | Book Review

August 7, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 3

The Witness by Nora Roberts | Book ReviewThe Witness by Nora Roberts
Published by Penguin on April 17, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 492
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
1 Stars
Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security  systems—and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail’s reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something—and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

With a quirky, unforgettable heroine and a pulse-pounding plotline, Nora Roberts presents a riveting new read that cements her place as today’s most reliably entertaining thriller
author—and will leave people hungering for more.

All I can really say about this book is, “Well… crap.” I love romantic suspense, and I’ve been really hunting for good titles all summer. I found a list of the best romantic suspense books, and this one was rated pretty highly and voted on by like 78 people. It’s got a 4.18 star rating average on Goodreads, with over 49,000 ratings, so I thought I was golden! But guys. This is not romantic suspense! It was hardly romantic, and it was not at all suspenseful. It was a huge disappointment. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Things start out very interesting, and I was definitely intrigued. The book begins with Elizabeth rebelling against her mother and making huge changes to her life. She cuts her hair, gets a new wardrobe, decides to change her educational and career path, and uses her own homemade fake ID to get into a very exclusive nightclub owned by some very dangerous men. These men set their sights on Liz and her friend, lure them back to an isolated home on the water, and all Hell breaks loose. Liz barely survives, gets put into witness protection, and all Hell breaks loose again. This girl has some pretty terrible luck.

2. Then… we shoot to 12 years later. And I realize rather quickly that I do not like Liz, now Abigail, at ALL. She’s very smart and independent, which is great. But she has no personality. She has isolated herself ever since the events of her youth, and she does not know how to socialize. She has no sense of humor, no emotions, no feelings. She’s very analytical and scientific about things that are neither. And of course I can understand this, given everything she has been through, but she just was not an interesting character to read about at all. I could not connect with her in any sort of way.

3. Brooks is a horrible main character/love interest. Of all the people to un-isolate yourself for and try to connect with, Abigail chose HIM!? Is she just trying to make her life suck more? He pursued and bugged her so much, pushing himself into her life when she so clearly had no interest in having him there. It bothered me so much that he refused to take no for an answer. And then when she wouldn’t let him in, he went and started researching her to try and figure out what she was hiding. Because there just HAD to be a reason for her to not want him around other than he fact that he sucks, right? Because what woman wouldn’t want him?

Brooks is also incredibly condescending and chauvinistic. For example, there is one moment when he pulls Abigail to her feet and demands respect. Then, he tells her she’s insulting him for being concerned that he might not love her if he knew the truth about her past. This woman does not know how to love, she has never been loved or loved anyone in her life and he was SO rude in the face of her legitimate concerns. When she said she was sorry, he said, “Good. You should be.” Then he “yanked” her in for a kiss. In what universe is this romantic? He also has a super dirty mouth and treats Abigail with such clear disrespect. She is his possession. I mean, for goodness SAKES. How many times did I read him refer to Abigail out loud as “my lady”, “my woman”, “my girl”. Grrr!

4. Insta-love. On steroids. You’ve got this awful, pushy man pursuing an extreme recluse who has like a million guns within her reach at all times and a dog that sounds about as big and fierce as a direwolf, yet… she has almost no issue with inviting him in to her place for food and wine and sex. Like… what is happening?? All Abigail’s credibility of being smart and protective of herself went right out the window when she became putty in his hands after a couple days of being talked into not pushing him away. I really felt like Brooks saw Abigail as a challenge to be conquered. A Game to be won. And instead of trying to win the game herself, she just threw in the towel because he’s a big strong man who says nice things to her. UGH.

5. It was SO BORING. By 50%, nothing had happened. There were just so many needless details, many of which were repeated over and over again. Something happens to Brooks at work, we read all about it, and then we read all about it again when he goes home and tells Abigail. We read every. Grueling. Detail again. This book is way too long. For this reason. Just tell the story and get it over with.

6. The writing was annoyingly choppy. It was filled with sentences much like: “Abigail went to the computer, checked her email.” Or “Brooks got in his car, turned it on.” Like, where are the nice, flowing sentences? I almost quit after the first few pages when I saw how often this was happening, but then it got better. And then it got worse. So the author isn’t even being consistent here!

7. The entire story was just so thin. Abigail had been keeping tabs on the bad guys during the last 12 years and anonymously feeding info about them to the FBI to try and take down their crime ring. Finally, she decides she needs to not be anonymous anymore and then everything seamlessly works out. There’s no crazy climax, no suspenseful moment at the end. Just court appearances. Can you hear my eyes rolling? I’m so annoyed I hung in there in the hopes of getting a great moment and it was just easy. I mean, I dealt with pages and pages of hearing the same mindless info about what it’s like to be a police captain. I got to read about everything that happened to Brooks when it happened and then again when he told Abigail about it. But I couldn’t get a satisfying ending as a reward for hanging in there?

So, I guess I’ve got a pretty unpopular opinion here, but I just don’t see any redeeming qualities about this book. The plot was thin, the story was implausible, the characters were awful, and the writing was crappy. Why didn’t I DNF? I’m wondering the same thing. And honestly, I have no idea. It probably had something to do with the fact that it’s NORA ROBERTS and I was giving her too much credit.

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First Annual Magic, Myth & Mischief Event | Participation Invitation

August 2, 2017 Blog Event 2

 

Hi everyone! I’m pretty excited to announce this exciting collaborative event with the lovely Bonnie from A Backwards Story! If you’ll remember, Bonnie and I hosted A Week of Beauty and the Beast together this past March. We bonded over the OTSP Secret sister Project last year, and then we bonded over our love of fairy tales and retellings, too!

Magic, Myth, & Mischief is happening during the entire month of September this year, and it’s going to be so much fun! The entire month will center around fairy tales and mythological retellings, but we’ll also spotlight retellings of favorite classic novels and books featuring lore about mythical beasts such as mermaids, dragons, and fae!

The best part? We want YOU to be a part of the fun! Would you like to write a guest post about any aspect of this topic? Would you like to write a book review for us to host for you? Are you an author with a book that fits the event’s parameters and want to talk about it? We want you! Feel free to email us your ideas (Jana – JanaSparkles {at} yahoo {dot} com or Bonnie – abackwardsstory {at} gmail {dot} com). Or fill out the handy form below (it keeps us organized) by August 30th and we will get you on the schedule!

 

 

Even if you can’t participate, we’d love your help spreading the word! I made a banner and a button for the event that you’re free to use on social media or on your own websites. You can also help by tweeting or Facebooking links to this post and future event posts. We’d truly appreciate the publicity, plus you’ll get extra entries in our giveaway if you share now and throughout the entire month! :)

Official event hashtag: #magicmythmischief

We’d like to thank DeviantArt artists colgreyissandaraanotherwanderer, and Edil for the designs that helped make this event button and banner possible!

That Artsy Reader Girl
That Artsy Reader Girl

Please help us make this event the best it can be!
We can’t wait to share the fun with you all month long this September!

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Love Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee | Mini Book Review

July 28, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 0 ½

Love Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee | Mini Book ReviewLove Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee
Published by Atria Books on August 16, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
0.5 Stars
If you loved Luckiest Girl Alive and The Girl on the Train, you’ll devour this stunning debut novel about an intense best friendship between two college girls which leads to the abrupt disappearance—and presumed death—of one and the survival of the other, who reveals the twists and turns of their relationship seven years later.

Glo never thought she’d become best friends with a girl like Cyn. Blonde, blue-eyed, and stunningly gorgeous, Cyn is the kind of girl other girls love to hate. Yet Cyn is the only person who embraces Glo when she transfers to their tiny liberal arts college in Florida, looking for a second chance to get things right after falling apart at her first-choice school. With her dark sense of humor and bad-girl ways, Cyn is captivating to a nice girl like Glo, and soon they’re inseparable.

Until they both fall for the same guy.

It’s Cyn who suggests they share Raj. Half the time he’ll be Cyn’s boyfriend, the other half he’ll be Glo’s. And for a while, everything goes smoothly. Until Glo realizes that she doesn’t know Cyn or Raj half as well as she thinks. Until Glo and Cyn’s friendship implodes while they’re studying abroad in Costa Rica. Until Cyn disappears one night, setting off a media firestorm and leaving Glo in the dark for seven long years.

Until Cyn resurfaces.

Another book that claims to be just like The Girl On the Train that so totally is NOT. This. Was. Awful. And seriously, it could have been so good! Girl goes missing in Costa Rica after being chased into the ocean by ominous men while studying abroad? And then BAM, resurfaces later? I was seriously intrigued. But this book was so unbelievably terrible that it got its slime all over me in the process.

I HATE these two girls, Cyn and Glo. They are awful awful people. I hated reading about their history and how they became friends. I hated their toxic, creepy friendship. They spent so much time doing drugs, getting drunk and high, sleeping around… one of them was a prostitute. And then they decided to SHARE a boyfriend. How gross and demented is that?? I mean, clearly he enjoyed it but seriously? I’ll never like a friend enough to let her share my boyfriend with me. It was a very weird threesome, with him using one for physical closeness and the other for emotional closeness. Until then he’s sleeping with them both and connecting with them both and they get mad at each other for connecting with him in the wrong ways. I don’t know exactly what they were expecting. Really, these two were extreme cliches to me. There are all kinds of people out there, but I think these two were specifically designed to come off as a combination of all the worst kinds.

When Cyn resurfaces things got even worse. I can’t even begin to explain how implausible this story felt to me. Everything was just so convoluted that it felt convenient, not to mention clunky and unbelievable. If I liked the two girls I might have somewhat enjoyed the story before Cyn’s return, but her return was the last nail in the coffin for me. I wish I had not finished this book. Or opened it, for that matter.

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The Debut Dish: Kerry Winfrey, Lauren Karcz, & Katy Upperman (+ Giveaways)

July 23, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 6

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue of The Debut Dish features Kerry Winfrey (Love and Other Alien Experiences), Lauren Karcz (The Gallery of Unfinished Girls), and Katy Upperman (Kissing Max Holden).


Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey
July 11, 2017 from Feiwel & Friends
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

I’m never going outside again.

Mallory hasn’t left the house in sixty-seven days–since the day her dad left. She attends her classes via webcam, rarely leaves her room (much to her brother’s chagrin), and spends most of her time watching The X-Files or chatting with the always obnoxious BeamMeUp on New Mexico’s premier alien message board.

But when she’s shockingly nominated for homecoming queen, her life takes a surprising turn. She slowly begins to open up to the world outside. And maybe if she can get her popular jock neighbor Brad Kirkpatrick to be her homecoming date, her classmates will stop calling her a freak.

In this heartwarming and humorous debut, Mallory discovers first love and the true meaning of home–just by taking one small step outside her house.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Anxiety, aliens, homecoming, and kissing.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Probably the scene where some of the characters go to an amusement park after hours. Not to spoil anything, but it involves all the stuff I like to write about: romantic tension, subtext-laden conversations, and someone barfing.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I wish it happened somewhere glamorous or exciting, but I was just at my desk in my home office. Maybe I should make up a better story.

What’s your favorite junk food?
I could eat a truly obscene amount of chocolate chip cookies. Like, imagine how many you think a person could eat, and then double that, and then it’s probably more.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
My Louis Tomlinson/One Direction key chain. 1D may be on hiatus, but his benevolent presence watches over me always.


The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz
July 25, 2017 from HarperTEEN
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn’t been able to paint anything worthwhile since her award-winning piece Food Poisoning #1 last year.

Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is lying comatose in faraway Puerto Rico after suffering a stroke. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings.

Despite Mercedes’s creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the Red Mangrove Estate.

At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she never has before. She can share her deepest secrets and feel safe. But Mercedes can’t take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. As her life continues to crumble around her, the Estate offers more solace than she could hope for. But Mercedes can’t live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Girls, court, art, and danger.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
It’s a kissing scene. It’s the midpoint of the book. Those middle scenes are always my favorite to write, actually. The midpoint is usually either a false victory or a false defeat for the main character. For my main character, Mercedes, she’s got herself a false victory, which she finds out just one scene later. Alas.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at my day job. I saw an e-mail from my agent that HarperTeen had officially made an offer on my book… and then I immediately had to go to a meeting with my boss. I remember I was shaking practically the whole meeting, amazed that my manuscript was going to have readers outside my agent and my critique group!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Dark chocolate covered pretzels. Trader Joe’s brand would be my preference.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
It’s a notebook with a picture of a white cat on the front. The white cat isn’t the weird part — it’s that I’ve had this notebook since I was about 8 years old. I found it in a drawer a couple months ago and saw that it was still about half blank, so I started using it for to-do lists and critique notes. But it’s also got relics from Little Me in it: my 4th grade best friend’s phone number, drawings of characters I used to write about, star ratings of every movie I saw when I was about 11 (The Sound of Music and North by Northwest each got four stars). Such an interesting time capsule.

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Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman
August 1, 2017 from Swoon Reads
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea…

After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn’t himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn’t know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn’t let him kiss her. But she can’t resist, and when they’re caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it’ll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.

With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Girl kisses boy; trouble ensues.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My book is called KISSING MAX HOLDEN for a reason — there’s a lot of kissing! But not all kisses are created equally. Jilly’s first kiss with Max isn’t exactly romantic, and it creates a lot of problems for the two of them. But later, there’s this mistletoe kiss that totally makes up for that messy first smooch. I love this particular scene because it’s swoony and also sort of funny, and it’s one of the few scenes that’s remained almost entirely unchanged through years of rewrites and revisions.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I had just climbed into my car after a full day of substitute teaching. I checked my email before pulling out of the parking lot, and found a letter from Swoon Reads, asking if we could schedule a phone call to chat about them possibly publishing my manuscript. Needless to say, I was THRILLED!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Any sort of sweet, carb-heavy baked good. I make an especially tasty chocolate chip cookie, but I love brownies and carrot cake and croissants with chocolate drizzle and jelly beans, too.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Probably my collection of makeup brushes. My desk is multipurpose — I write at it, and it doubles as a vanity.

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While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft | Book Review

July 19, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 4 ½

While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft | Book ReviewWhile You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft
Published by Bookouture on November 16, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 326
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
0.5 Stars
You wake up to find the man beside you is dead.
He is not your husband. This is not your bed.
What do you do?


Tara Logan lives a quiet life with her husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer.

But her peace is shattered when she wakes in her neighbor Lee’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them.

And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee, Tara stays silent, fearing the truth will rip her family apart.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara soon realises that someone in her life knows what really happened to Lee. She must get to the truth before they do.

Tara made a mistake … but will one night cost her everything?

A gripping, shocking psychological thriller, with a twist that will take you by surprise.

Will engross fans of Gone Girl, Behind Closed Doors, and The Girl on the Train.

I love mysteries and thrillers, especially when lack of memory is involved, so I was really excited about the synopsis of this book. But seriously. When a book actually tells you on the back cover that it is a gripping, shocking story with a twist that will take you by surprise… and then compares itself to some of the most well-known and well-loved thrillers (Gone Girl and Girl On the Train), then it better be ready to deliver something phenomenal. I went into this holding this book to the standards that it told me to, and I was severely disappointed in what I read.

I absolutely hate this author’s writing style. It doesn’t flow at all. The storytelling felt very choppy and followed the formula of: this happened, then this happened, then this character thought this thing, then here’s a whammy (I hope you’re shocked and surprised). It was just bad. There was no atmosphere of suspense or wondering. I felt like I was reading a list instead of a book, and I had a very hard time forcing myself to read a book that claims it is unputdownable.

So many things happened that were just too convenient and too outlandish. The author wanted x, y, and z to happen and as long as they happened she didn’t care how she got it done. I could not believe some of the things Tara did, I could not believe the multiple stalkings and crimes that happened to multiple members of the family, and I could not believe the interactions between some of the characters. The police officer/detective guy was an absolute idiot, and is not at all what law enforcement officials should be like. Actually, I hated all the characters. The insane daughter was super annoying, Tara was a poor excuse for a mother, and the husband was absolutely worthless and made some horrible decisions (everyone did, really). I did like Tara’s son who should move away from that dysfunctional family as soon as possible.

These so-called “twists” were just irritating. I was never surprised or impressed or flipping the pages as fast as I could to see how they turned out. I rolled my eyes every time. Apparently a twist can only happen if the main character has an ominous feeling first, which is just not how life works and took away whatever suspense might have been left in this drab and empty plot.

All in all, this book is an extreme waste of time and the more I reflect on my reading experience the madder I get about it. It’s not gripping, it’s not suspenseful, it’s not mind-blowing, and it does not keep you guessing. If you’re looking for a good psychological thriller I can recommend others that you would enjoy much more.

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Shark Island by Chris Jameson | Mini Book Review

July 14, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 ½

Shark Island by Chris Jameson | Mini Book ReviewShark Island by Chris Jameson
Published by St Martin's Paperbacks on June 27, 2017
Genres: Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
0.5 Stars
A shark attack survivor believes she has already lived through her worst nightmare. She's dead wrong. . .

Naomi Cardiff is not one to give up without a fight and now, after learning about a series of shark attacks in Cape Cod, she s joined a team of scientists to put a stop to the terror. The plan: to lure the sharks to a remote island far from the populated coastline. Meanwhile, a fierce Nor Easter is underway. . .

In the midst of the storm, an alarming number of Great Whites have come to slaughter the seals in a vicious feeding frenzy. When sharks ram and breach the hull, Naomi and her team must jump ship and swim desperately through a sea of circling fins and gaping jaws to the tiny island. But as the swells from the storm begin to swallow their rocky refuge, how will they manage to make it out alive?

I don’t know what it is about shark stories, but I gobble them up. I love the movies Jaws and The Shallows, and I love Shark Week… Sharks are just my thing. Unfortunately, it takes a lot to not make a shark story come off as outlandish and stupid. And this is how Shark Island turned out for me. I allow a LOT with books like these, but I just could not with this one.

The entire store was very unbelievable. The entire premise was to lure the sharks away from Cape Cod by broadcasting a signal that turned the seals into robots who could no longer think and act on their own, regardless of the danger they were in. This signal also turned the sharks into vicious killing machines with a revenge complex. It just seems far too outlandish. I was bored for the first half until the characters actually become stranded, and then I spent the second half rolling my eyes. I didn’t like any of the characters, and found their backstories very boring and drawn out. There was an INSANE amount of profanity and gory, bloody shark attacks. Sharks were flying out of the water and snapping bodies in half with one bite, sending all kinds of carnage and refuse into the water. There was so much blood that people were feeling the water temperature rise. It was just too much gore, too much profanity, too unbelievable, and too over the top dramatic and theatrical for me. I’m willing to suspend disbelief, but this was gratuitously silly and I’m irritated I made myself finish it. lol

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Stars Above by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

July 11, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 1 ★★★★★

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer | Book ReviewStars Above by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4.5
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Winter
Published by Feiwel and Friends on February 2, 2016
Genres: Dystopia, Retelling, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 369
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
The enchantment continues....

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.
--
The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess.
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century...

I’ve never been a huge fan of the novellas that accompany full length novels. I rarely, rarely read them unless I love the world and the characters so much that I absolutely cannot let a story of theirs go unread. This was the case for Stars Above. I love The Lunar Chronicles so much that I wanted to know everything about everyone in them. The more info, the better! I knew about all the novellas as they were released, and I even got some of them on Kindle. I was never full motivated to read them, though, until I found out they were all being released together in a hardback bundle. It was then that I knew things were getting serious. I was also super heartbroken that the series was ending, so having another set of stories to anticipate helped me recover after finishing Winter, which I loved so much. Some of these stories really shine, whereas others were just ok for me.

My favorite story was Something Old, Something New, which is the epilogue to Winter. There’s a wedding of one of my favorite couples from the series, and oh the feels. I loved it. I also liked seeing Cinder and Kai’s first meeting in The Mechanic. And I love Thorne so much, so obviously I loved seeing a teenaged Thorne dream of his future in Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky. Oh, and I loved The Keeper! I loved learning about Cinder’s and Scarlet’s beginnings and Michelle’s part in all this. Several of the stories were quite sad, including Glitches and The Queen’s Army. They always say that heroes gain heroism by channeling their heartbreaking pasts, and that is clearly evident through these stories.

Really, I just loved the small snapshots into the pasts and side stories of the characters I’ve grown to love so much. This entire book, but mostly the epilogue, was a really special way to say goodbye to my favorite crew in the sky. I finished the series in January of last year, and read this book last summer, but I still can’t stop thinking about and missing these crazies and their shenanigans and intense love for one another. I think I need to re-read the entire series soon. I need to go back to the happy place that is the universe of the Lunar Chronicles.

How do you feel about companion novellas in series like this one?
If you’ve read these ones, which was your favorite?

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The Debut Dish: Jennifer Honeybourn, Matthew Landis, Laura Silverman, Jennifer Fenn & Emily Bain Murphy (+ Giveaways)

July 9, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 6

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue of The Debut Dish features Jennifer Honeybourn (Wesley James Ruined My Life), Matthew Landis (League of American Traitors), Laura Silverman (Girl Out of Water), Jennifer Fenn (Flight Risk), and Emily Bain Murphy (The Disappearances).


Welsey James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn
July 18, 2017 from Swoon Reads
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Sixteen-year-old Quinn Hardwick’s having a rough summer. Her beloved grandmother has been put into a home, her dad’s gambling addiction has flared back up and now her worst enemy is back in town: Wesley James, former childhood friend—until he ruined her life, that is.

So when Wesley is hired to work with her at Tudor Tymes, a medieval England themed restaurant, the last thing Quinn’s going to do is forgive and forget. She’s determined to remove him from her life and even the score all at once—by getting him fired.

But getting rid of Wesley isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. When Quinn finds herself falling for him, she has to decide what she wants more: to get even, or to just get over it.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Light, funny, love-hate, romance.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
One of my favorite scenes is near the beginning of the book, when Quinn realizes the hot guy who was just hired at Tudor Tymes, the medieval England style restaurant she works, is in fact her nemesis from elementary school, Wesley James.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
It was spring break and I was at home when I received the email from Swoon Reads. One of the best moments of my life. Still pinching myself!

What’s your favorite junk food?
I’m going to have to go with chocolate. Any kind, any time.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A lamp shaped like an owl.

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League of American Traitors by Matthew Landis
August 8, 2017 from Sky Pony Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

National Treasure meets Hamilton in a breathless history-based thriller from an outstanding new voice.

Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. . . .

When seventeen year-old Jasper is approached at the funeral of his deadbeat father by a man claiming to be an associate of his deceased parents, he’s thrust into a world of secrets tied to America’s history—and he’s right at the heart of it.

First, Jasper finds out he is the sole surviving descendant of Benedict Arnold, the most notorious traitor in American history. Then he learns that his father’s death was no accident. Jasper is at the center of a war that has been going on for centuries, in which the descendants of the heroes and traitors of the American Revolution still duel to the death for the sake of their honor.

His only hope to escape his dangerous fate on his eighteenth birthday? Take up the research his father was pursuing at the time of his death, to clear Arnold’s name.

Whisked off to a boarding school populated by other descendants of notorious American traitors, it’s a race to discover the truth. But if Jasper doesn’t find a way to uncover the evidence his father was hunting for, he may end up paying for the sins of his forefathers with his own life.

Like a mash-up of National Treasure and Hamilton, Matthew Landis’s debut spins the what-ifs of American history into a heart-pounding thriller steeped in conspiracy, clue hunting, and danger.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Traitor offspring seeks ancestral redemption.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Near the climax, there’s this moment when Jasper, my main character, realizes just exactly what it means to finish this quest–to really see it through: namely, taking a life. It’s the individual’s life he’s taking as well that makes this all the more morally complex, but since that’s a spoiler, I’ll let you find out…

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
At my kitchen counter, incessantly refreshing Gmail. I was nearing the end of the submission period and just waiting on about 3 presses to rejection us before we pulled together a plan for round two. Phew.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Fritos.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A framed picture of the Rock.

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Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman
May 2, 2017 from Sourcebooks Fire
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Surfer girl in landlocked Nebraska.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Ooh! Too many! I’ll pick an early one – the nighttime beach bonfire scene with Anise and her friends!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I can’t remember exactly where I was, but I remember my agent calling me, and I was so confused because we always use email not the phone. It was completely surreal and such an amazing, happy moment! I seriously couldn’t believe it!

What’s your favorite junk food?
French fries FOR SURE. I could eat french fries every day of my life to be honest.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Probably a volume of the Talmud (a collection of Jewish writings) I use to raise up my laptop so it’s at eye level haha!


Flight Risk by Jennifer Fenn
July 18, 2017 from Roaring Brook Press
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A debut novel inspired by true events, about a teenage boy who has stolen―and crashed―not one, but three airplanes. And each time he’s walked away unscathed.

Who is Robert Jackson Kelly? Is he a juvenile delinquent? A criminal mastermind? A folk hero? One thing is clear: Robert always defies what people think of him. And now, the kid who failed at school, relationships, and almost everything in life, is determined to successfully steal and land a plane.

Told as an investigation into Robert’s psyche, the narrative includes multiple points of view as well as documentary elements like emails, official records, and interviews with people who knew Robert. Ultimately, Flight Risk is a thrilling story about one teenager who is determined to find a moment of transcendence after everyone else has written him off as lost.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Teenage airplane thief!

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
In “Flight Risk,” Robert Jackson Kelly is an eighteen year old boy who has stolen and then survived crashing several commuter planes. He ends up a notorious celebrity on the run from the law. At one point, Robert is inside a plane, on the runway, trying to escape police who have guns drawn. He hesitates, though, because he doesn’t want to hit a goose with a broken wing that’s been abandoned by its flock. I think that scene is a tense one, and also reveals a lot about Robert’s character.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my home office/attic and I screamed so loudly I startled myself.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Jelly beans. I also love a good Frappuccino.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A “Wizard of Oz” coloring book and a plush pig puppet.


The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
July 4, 2017 from HMH Books for Young Readers
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Magical historical mystery and Shakespeare.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s a certain kissing scene after a slow-burning build to a romance and I love how the scene turned out, and the realization that leads to it happening. The very last scene of the book is one of my favorites, too.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was driving home from New York City to Connecticut and my agent called! I had to pull off at a little rest area. I sat there for a little bit, grinning. Then I sat there for awhile longer and called my husband and my parents. I’m sure all the truck drivers enjoyed my happy car dancing on the rest of the way home.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Strawberry, banana, and Nutella crepes. Or warm chocolate chip cookies.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A pair of Crooked Kingdom dice, a Lightning McQueen car that my son just made out of beads, and a little bottle of Rescue Remedy in case of emergencies because public speaking makes me feel the teensiest bit panicky. ;D

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The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry | Mini Book Review

July 6, 2017 Book Review, Young Adult 0 ★★

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry | Mini Book ReviewThe Girl I Used to Be by April Henry
Published by Christy Ottaviano Books on May 3, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 240
Format: Audiobook
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
2 Stars
When Olivia's mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia's father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there's a killer still at large. It's up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

Ok… I think I’ve officially given up on April Henry. This is my third book from her and I haven’t liked any of them. I’m honestly surprised that I’ve given her books this many chances, although they are usually very short and very fast reads, so maybe I keep trying because her books are easy to get through if I’m behind on my Goodreads goal. Wow. That sounds harsh. And don’t get me wrong, I think young teens might really enjoy them. I just think they read a little younger than most YA mysteries I’ve read and loved over the years (like Dangerous Girls, for example).

I feel like there was not much thought put into this story. Things seemed very flat, and the characters all very shell-like… the kind of stock characters that get thrown into stories to fill roles but not connect with you or make you feel anything. The story itself was not suspenseful or exciting, and the anticlimactic ending left me wondering why I even bothered wasting my time. Everything that did happen felt very convenient, as though there was a checklist of things that needed to happen for the book to end when it was time to end. Many things felt unbelievable to me as well. A 17 year old doesn’t just move herself into a new town and start interrogating all these strangers about the intimate details of the lives of her murdered parents without raising some suspicion. Why did these people even talk to her at all, much less tell her the things that they did? I don’t understand. Everything ended so quickly, but nothing was really explained. Rather than tying up loose ends and explaining why things happened, the author cut those loose ends off bluntly and chose to not explain anything at all. It could have been better. Maybe not much better, but almost anything would have been better than what I got.

So… Goodbye, April Henry. I had such high hopes for finding a YA author that writes a ton of mysteries because I LOVE THEM, but unfortunately I’ll have to keep looking for an author that puts a little more thought into their stories. I did like the appeal of Henry’s short mysteries because sometimes I just want a quick escape, but I’d rather read a longer novel that is more complex, more thought out, less convenient, and more exciting.

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