July 2018 Mini-Reviews, Part 1

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Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Contemporary/Romance/Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: Boston Public Library
Release Date: June 13th, 2017
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This book deserves so much praise, but I really don’t think I could do it justice. Instead, I’ll post links to the reviews that made me pick up this book in the first place.

Check out reviews by:
meltotheany
destiny @ howling libraries
Rachel (rachandbooks)


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Title: Dark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller
Publisher: Crown
Source: Boston Public Library
Release Date: July 26th, 2016
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

“Nothing exists. All is a dream. God—man—the world—the sun, the moon, the wilderness of stars—a dream, all a dream; they have no existence. Nothing exists save empty space—and you…. And you are not you—you have no body, no blood, no bones, you are but a thought.” 

This book was twisty and turny and weird and crazy, but the craziest thing is probably that this is a science fiction novel and I loved it. I usually steer clear of sci-fi at all costs, but this book sounded so good that it’s actually been on my radar for awhile. I finally grabbed it from the library, and I’m so glad that I did.

“I’ve always known, on a purely intellectual level, that our separateness and isolation are an illusion. We’re all made of the same thing—the blown-out pieces of matter formed in the fires of dead stars.”

In Dark Matter, the main character, Jason, must navigate through an infinite amount of worlds to return back to his family and the life that was stolen from him. Some of these worlds are nearly identical to our own, while others couldn’t be more different or (pun intended) out-of-this-world.

Ultimately, this is a story about the meaning of happiness and the path not taken. It is about looking at the choices we have made and how they have brought us to where we are. Do we regret the choices we have made? Would we be happier if we had chosen a different course? At the end of the day, these choices make up who we are as humans.

“I can’t help thinking that we’re more than the sum total of our choices, that all the paths we might have taken factor somehow into the math of our identity.” 

My favorite part of the book was the world-hopping scenes. I loved all the dark and disturbing places that Jason and Amanda encountered while trying to find their way home. I chose to give this four stars instead of five because I thought the ending was a little too easy, but I found the entire book incredibly fast-paced and enjoyable.


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Title: Practice Makes Perfect
Author: Julie James
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Source: Boston Public Library
Release Date: March 3rd, 2009
Rating: ðŸŒŸðŸŒŸ

Seeing all the five-star reviews from people I usually agree with, I really thought I was going to love this. Especially because I was in the mood for a romance novel, and this book has been compared to The Hating Game, one of my favorite romance books ever. Unfortunately, I just didn’t like this. There was very little romance and a lot of arguing and miscommunication. I didn’t think it was funny at all, just very over the top silly. I usually love romantic build-up, but it took so long for the two leads to finally get together. When they did, it wasn’t a satisfying pay-off.


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Title: Bird Box
Author: Josh Malerman
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Ecco
Source: Boston Public Library
Release Date: May 13th, 2014
Rating: ðŸŒŸðŸŒŸðŸŒŸðŸŒŸ

So, here’s the thing. I’m a horror movie buff. I love Halloween and all things scary.

And this book terrified me.

In the world of Bird Box, there are creatures that humans and animals cannot look upon without going mad. A group of survivors, including the pregnant Malorie, have blocked the windows and locked the doors, surviving on their dwindling food supply and their blindfolded walks outside for water and provisions. They lose hope of survival with each passing day, relying on the optimism and leadership of a man named Tom. All of these events unfolded in the past, while in the present (four years later), Malorie must escape down the river with her two children to an unknown safe haven. A few different timelines are intertwined, connecting the past and present while keeping you guessing as the events unfold.

I’ve never thought a book could be genuinely scary, but apparently I was wrong. This book is loaded with atmosphere, tension, and paranoia. The characters are blindfolded, so you are just as in the dark (literally) as they are. We are given the sounds and smells of the characters’ surroundings. We feel the same fear, paranoia, mistrust and confusion that they do.

Is it gray? Have the trees gone mad? The flowers, the reeds, the sky? Is the entire world insane? Does it battle itself? Does the Earth refute it’s own oceans? The wind has picked up. Has it seen something? Is it mad, too?

I recommend reading this book, but I don’t recommend reading it before bed.


 

Wrap-Up, June 2018

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My goal was to read ten books this month, but I only ended up reading six. Close enough, right? I have a few trips planning for July, but I may be able to squeeze in some quality beach reading while I’m away! We’ll see.

Anyway, here’s my wrap-up for the month of June:


Books I’ve Read and Reviewed

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Reviews:

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Circe by Madeline Miller
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Legendary by Stephanie Garber
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware


Other Books I’ve Read:

37903770Something about Neil Gaiman’s writing just makes his books so compelling. His style is unique, and some might even say jarring, but it works. I didn’t want to put this book down… in fact, I didn’t. I read this entire book in just a few hours.

Norse Mythology reads like an anthology. Each chapter is a different short story, but they are all connected and build off each other until we reach Ragnarok. You don’t need to be familiar with nordic myths to understand this book. The extent of my own background was what I’ve seen of Thor and Loki in the Marvel movies… which, it turns out, is pretty accurate personality-wise. You have Thor, the arrogant, cocky, somewhat dim-witted powerhouse. There’s Loki, the conniving, mischievous troublemaker. There’s Odin, the wise all-father. These, I was familiar with. But in Norse Mythology, I was also introduced to several new worlds and gods that I had never before heard of.

If you are in the mood for an interesting, captivating, and informative read on mythology, look no further than this book.


Currently Reading:

32620332Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.


What I (Might) Read Next:

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There’s more than one way to stoke the flames of revenge…

Charlotte Rowe spent the first seven years of her life in the hands of the only parents she knew—a pair of serial killers who murdered her mother and tried to shape Charlotte in their own twisted image. If only the nightmare had ended when she was rescued. Instead, her real father exploited her tabloid-ready story for fame and profit—until Charlotte finally broke free from her ghoulish past and fled. Just when she thinks she has buried her personal hell forever, Charlotte is swept into a frightening new ordeal. Secretly dosed with an experimental drug, she’s endowed with a shocking new power—but pursued by a treacherous corporation desperate to control her.

Except from now on, if anybody is going to control Charlotte, it’s going to be Charlotte herself. She’s determined to use the extraordinary ability she now possesses to fight the kind of evil that shattered her life—by drawing a serial killer out from the shadows to face the righteous fury of a victim turned avenger.

WWW Wednesday: June 6th, 2018

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words, which asks you to answer the following questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

This is a unique romance with a autistic female protagonist and mixed-race male escort love interest. I’m having a hard time putting this one down, so I’ll probably have it finished by the end of the day.

Review to come!

 


Recently Read


Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
Legendary by Stephanie Garber


What I (May) Read Next

31179006[1]Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

 

36626748[1]Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

 

29456569[1]On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.

Mystery & Thriller Week

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It’s Mystery & Thriller Week on Goodreads, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to talk about some books that I have read and plan on reading!

Recently Reviewed:

Reviews:

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Currently Reading:

I received an ARC of Our House by Louise Candlish from NetGalley.

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When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern co-parenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram’s not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.

To Be Read:

  1. Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

    This is (one of) my Book of the Month picks for the month of April, along with Circe by Madeline Miller. The synopsis sounds so creepy and weird… I can’t wait to read it!

  2. Keep Her Safe by K.A. Tucker

    My first K.A. Tucker book was Ten Tiny Breaths, which is one of my favorite books. I’ve read several other spin-off books in this series, but I haven’t touched one of her books in awhile. I’m especially excited to read a thriller book from her, since many of her books are romance.

  3. Bird Box by Josh Malerman

    I’ve had Bird Box on my TBR for over two years. I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet, but something about this book has kept it near the top of my list. It sounds right up my alley. Also, apparently it’s getting made into a movie?! Starring Sandra Bullock?! So now I have no choice but to read it as soon as possible.

Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

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Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.


Title: The Girl in the Tower
Author: Katherine Arden
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey
Source: Hardcover
Release Date: December 5th, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

Am I breathing?!

After reading The Bear and the Nightingale, I absolutely needed to get my hands on this beauty. If it’s possible, I think I enjoyed it even more. While the first was a slow-build story taking place over sixteen years, this book takes place almost immediately after the events of The Bear and the Nightingale, and the action doesn’t stop.

This one was a little different, but it still had that atmospheric winter-read quality that had me feeling the cold air on my skin, tasting the food, and feeling the heartbreak. Instead of the isolated Northern Russia location, this book takes place primarily in Moscow. There was a stronger focus on the relationship between Vasya and Morozko (whom I adore). There was also a greater sense of adventure and more seemed to be at stake in this story.

Katherine Arden’s characterization is absolutely brilliant. Some characters that disappeared in the middle of the first book return, and it’s interesting to see how they’re grown, just as Vasya has. I loved seeing the bond between siblings. Also, what’s not to love about talking horses?!

I don’t think I can wait almost a full year for the next book, and I have a feeling that it will completely shatter me.

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Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind–she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed–this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.


Title: The Bear and the Nightingale
Author: Katherine Arden
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey
Source: Paperback
Release Date: January 10th, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

This book captivated me from the first page.

I’ve always been a sucker for fairy tales, and the Bear and the Nightingale is a beautiful, magical mix of Russian fairy tales set in a fantasy version of medieval Russia. It tells the story of a young girl named Vasya, the daughter of a Northern lord, who is too feisty and wild to fit the standard of young women at the time. The entire book spans the first sixteen years of her life, while she comes of age and comes to terms with her special ability to see the mythical creatures that protect her father’s lands.

This book is lovely and atmospheric; a perfect winter read for curling up in a heated blanket while the temperature drops outside.

The characters themselves were fascinating, from the spirited Vasya to the cruel (and sometimes kind) frost-demon, Morozko. The tense is third-person omnipresent, which is a unique way of being exposed to multiple thoughts and perspectives. Each character had their own voice and was intriguing in their own way.

The prose is beautiful and whimsical without being too purple, and it sweeps you along from beginning to end. I found myself unable to put this book down, and I can’t wait to read more from this author.

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