On the seventh day of #blogmas …The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

28016509I feel as though I haven’t fully formed an opinion on The Girl Before yet. Its definitely one of those mystery/thrillers that keeps you uneasy and reeling even after the book is finished. Its not to the most extreme that I’ve read, though, but its definitely still on my mind. I think that’s something that makes a book a good read. If it sticks with you, and if you keep thinking about if when you’re through, its a good one.

Here’s another thing I liked: the combination of opposing timelines and POV’s. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work in the beginning. Typically I am wary of this writing style but it really worked. Learning about Jane in the present, who is struggling with the loss of her stillborn daughter, and Emma in the past, who just broke up with her long time boyfriend. Both women sign a lease to the same ultra-modern, high-tech house with over 200 rules for tenants. The home was designed and is owned by the obsessive-compulsive Edward. Boyfriend/ex-boyfriend Simon is active in both timelines as well, and with all of these characters, of course we have to determine who tells truths and who weaves deceit.

There were many twists and turns in the book, but I really wouldn’t call it highly suspenseful. While I liked the characters and wanted to know what happened, it didn’t seem to move all that quickly. This is the perfect book for a movie, I have to say, and I can’t wait to see what they do with it since the rights have already been bought!

Book soundtrack: “Say You Love Me” by Jessie Ware

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On the fourth day of blogmas …The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle

34058936Goblins, fae, and gold – oh my! Plus, new adult contemporary. So if you like these genres like I do, you’re in for an awesome read. I really, really enjoyed The Goblins of Bellwater. Like, 4.5/5 stars enjoyed it. From the very beginning I was swept up in the story and because the writing is so easy to read, and all of the characters are interesting, and its told from alternating POV’s, I was engaged throughout the entire book. Also, please take just one second to look at that cover!!!! *drool*

The story goes like this: Kit’s family is cursed. For generations now, one member of their family must bring the goblins of the forest a tribute of gold each month or else the goblins will attack a member or members of the local town. Kit is the current liason. Now, he’s a good guy and he hates stealing from people to give to the goblins but he hates having people attacked more. Lately Kit has been coming up a little short. The goblins aren’t always honest and well-behaved either. Enter: the Darwen sisters.

clarisse-meyer-184329Livy Darwen is a local environmental scientist and Skye is a barista. They both love the forests and have grown up believing in “teeny tinies” living in the woods. Well, to shorten the synopsis, there is a goblin curse on one of the sisters. The curse must be broken. Kit’s cousin, Grady, who is a chef, steps in to help. Relationships blossom. The curse gets worse before it gets better. There is adventure, there is an alliance with local fae (the good guys), there’s a battle, there’s minor drama, there’s an ending. Ta-daaa!!

So put this one on your Christmas lists, folks! I really liked this one! It started off maybe a little slow but everything else was just perfect for me. The perfect mix of a bit of paranormal, twenty-something adults, romance, adventure/action, and not mind-numbingly difficult to read.

Book soundtrack: “Vanilla Pines” by Tow’rs

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

For several months now, I’ve been seeking a good YA mystery/thriller. As I read more of them, it just seems that contemporary YA authors just fall into cliches and I dislike them and drive me farther and farther away. Not this one, though. My hope has been renewed! Thank you, Karen McManus! And this is a debut novel! Bravo!!

23472238_10100116527721319_209185853208846123_nAll righty, so as indicated by the above, that alone is a recommendation from me. One of Us Is Lying basically begins with murder in detention (dun dun DUN!!). The four survivors alternate narration as they navigate the media storm of their classmate’s death. The ‘victim’ was the school gossip mill via his own app, but also–as we find out–very interested in online chats about other school shootings and acts of violence. We learn about the four survivors’ secrets as they become closer to each other and how they ultimately unravel the truth and the lies behind what the bigger plan really was for detention that day.

Here is my brief opinion of the cliches I mentioned earlier that I usually see in YA horror and/or thriller and/or mystery: way too much high school drama i.e. the he said/she said heartbreak gossip OMG LOL ETC. BS. I can’t handle all of that. Or at least too much of that. I understand that I am reading the YA genre so I expect some of it. Fine. <u>One of Us Is Lying</u> has some, but does it with grace and gets the heck past it. There are way bigger issues to worry about. Like a MURDER. Lawyers to be hired. Press and media. Parents. Still trying to keep life in line and get into college. This was realistic to me. Yes, there were still petty high schoolers being jerks, but these kids (“the murder club,” they were taunted by the other kids in school) just banded together and got through it together and the story moved on. I loved that about this book. THANK YOU!!! Miracle!

Other big perks: I guessed at the killer, but I didn’t KNOW. Plus, I was too engrossed with the characters to really care about the story line. Sorry but, I hardly even cared about the story line. I cared about the characters’ lives and what would happen to them, LOL. There were maybe a couple draggy parts (not much though) and I marked it down to 4 rather than 5. The book wasn’t perfect. However, the end redeemed it. I loved the ending. We get our happy ending. Loved that. I can’t deny it….I absolutely LOVED it because (without spoiling anything)….yeah….dude is my GUY!!!! That’s my trope right there! ❤

So if you have not yet, check this book out. +19 weeks at the top of the NYT bestseller list and a 4.06 rating on Goodreads…this book is killin’ it (no pun intended).

Book soundtrack: “Bad to the Bone” by ZZ top

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Bride of Glass by Candace Robinson

**This book was provided for me from the author in exchange for an honest review – Thanks so much, Candace!!**

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Book 1 – Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault

In case anyone is reading this and doesn’t know, The Bride of Glass is the sequel to Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault. Yes, you must read book #1 first AND I recommend reading both books back to back, or at least fairly close to each other because the stories are very closely related and if you wait and forget details, not much time is spent rehashing the plot in book 2. So either read them together (I, personally wouldn’t have minded having them just being one long horror book, myself, though the cover art is vivid and gorgeous!) or take good notes for when you come back to book 2 later on. Just some friendly advice!

 

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Book 2 – The Bride of Glass

Ok, moving on. If you read my review for the first book, my favorite part was experiencing the characters’ travels through the different fairy tale displays in the Glass Museum. I felt the first book lacked very much character depth, however. Enter: book two and voila! I get my wish, but the roles are switched. Much more characterization and some back story, which was great, but much less (and still the same as before, and much less) display movement. We finally see real relationships form or mend; we see flashbacks from before our heroes (and antiheroes) are in the Glass Museum.

As for the ending, I almost felt a little unsettled by it. I think I was meant to? In some ways the events of the Glass Vault served as an apocalypse, wiping out part of the population. All of the main characters basically have to start their lives over again, (hopefully) in peace.

*Conclusions* I will say that these books are certainly unique, creative, engaging, and colorful, considering that they are dark horror/fantasy. They walk a fine line between YA and adult and contain some violence/gore and suggestive sex. That being said, I am not opposed or afraid of these themes or genres AND its October so this book was completely welcome and appropriate for me at this point in time and it was a great read. Thanks again to the author, Candace Robinson for providing me with a copy! I’m looking forward to reading more from her(you) in the future!

Book soundtrack: “Alive” by Escape the Fate

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Grave Errors by Carol J. Perry

33871472I love my cozy reads. From the cover I was hoping this would be a Halloween book but in stead, I got a post-Halloween dia de los Muertes book, which was okay too. The book is set in Salem, Mass. and centers around Lee Barrett and her TV production class, which is working on a project to extend the Halloween season. One of Lee’s pupils, Dorothy, wants to learn about investigative reporting by looking into her sister’s suspicious death and asks Lee to help. Lee pulls out all the stops and together with her boyfriend, aunt, cat, and best friend, they discover a link to another case and of course, ultimately crack the case.

I think I have been reading a few too many short cozies on Amazon prime lately because all of a sudden, this 364 page cozy seemed dragged out and long. The plot barely unfolded until about a quarter of the way in and by a third of the way I had things figured out. That said though, I did enjoy the book. There are plenty of twists and turns, kooky characters encountered along the way, Salem cemetery tours, suspicious suspects, death threats, and so much more.

Allow me to throw out that Grave Errors is the fifth book in the Witch City Mystery series and I have read none of the books before this. With that being said, I didn’t feel like I was missing any pieces or like I needed to go back or anything like that. There was a romance that had been established and family background dynamics which obviously had been talked about but I felt that there was just enough information to fill me in and keep the story moving. Oh, and there is a touch of paranormal-ness in the book but really not much. This is NOT really a witch-y book so don’t expect a ton of witchcraft or anything. Just a heads up. 🙂

Book soundtrack: “Mercy” by Shawn Mendes

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

13578987This book has been on my TBR since it first released I’m pretty sure. I remember seeing the description and thinking “Wow, that sounds really neat!” I remember buying it as a Kindle daily deal at some point quite a while ago and just never got around to reading it until now. There has been so much hype lately around Leigh Bardugo, I just couldn’t put it off anymore and I’m glad for that because I really enjoyed the book.

So just in case you are one of the people left in the world who still has not read Shadow and Bone, the book is centered around our orphaned heroine Alina. She is a map maker in the king’s First Army along with her best friend, Mal, who is a soldier in the army as well. The author does a pretty good job with the world building, as the world is meant to more-or-less parallel/alternate Russia. However, in the middle of it all is The Fold, a dark epicenter filled with winged beasts called the Volcra, that will show mercy on no one. When the Army travels through The Fold, Alina must save Mal’s life and unknowingly calls upon a light within herself that turns out to be a rare Grisha power. The Darkling, and many others, take notice of this gift and whisk Alina away to the Little Palace. Here she settles into what should be a life of comfort, but in stead is hard training and (spoiler) meetings with the Darkling, who is filled with secrets.

36315977That’s about all I can say plot-wise without going into bigger spoilers. Regarding my character impressions thus far, I will say that I am not 100% impressed with Alina but I am not disappointed. Orphan-to-Princess/Powers isn’t my favorite trope so that might be part of it. I definitely don’t dislike her though, I’ll say that. She’s just not my Katniss (my favorite heroine ever). Mal–the best friend–is pretty ok as well. Thus far he is pretty stubborn and he was a little “I didn’t notice you before but I see you now” and to me he loses points for that. The winner of the book, however, is the Darkling. I love dark characters with secrets. I’m sorry, guys. Other examples: Jean Claude in the Anita Blake books. The Darkling has the good one-liners, the moves….oh man, I’m sorry, but if we’re making him the villain, he’s my favorite villain because….yeah. Just, yeah. Its all up in the air as to what direction the series is going to go at this point and I am definitely reading on!

Book Soundtrack: “Over” by Portishead

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Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

25062038Little & Lion is the story of two siblings who go by the nicknames Little and Lion. Little, aka Suzette, comes home for the summer from boarding school after experimenting with her female roommate and is still questioning her own sexuality. Meanwhile her stepbrother Lion, aka Lionel, has been struggling with severe bipolar disorder. As Suzette settles in at home, she finds herself falling for the same girl as Lionel, and Lionel’s bipolar spirals out of control. Suzette has to confront all that she has said and not said to help her brother before it is too late.

In my opinion, Lionel was a fantastic character who, in his illness, was fantastically portrayed. I was not a fan of how Suzette handled it, but honestly, it was probably a realistic reaction to how a sibling or close friend might react to those confessions. Suzette was constantly monitoring and overreacting to Lion’s confessions and it drove me crazy. I hated the back and forth between his issues and her issues. It was all just too much for me. I wish the book had just been about either his troubles with bipolar and summer drama or her struggles with sexuality and summer drama. Having the book be about both just crammed so much drama and emotion into one little book.

All of that being said though, it was still a pretty decent story. I still liked all of the diversity and appreciated Brandy Colbert’s writing. If you’re into diverse books and/or can relate to either of these scenarios, then you’ll probably enjoy this book so give it a shot!

Book soundtrack: American Jesus by Bad Religion

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Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

27426044Nyxia is the first in a trilogy about a boy named Emmett who is leaving Earth as one of ten recruits under the Babel Corporation. Each of the recruits is competing for a lifelong prize of money and care for themselves and their families. En route to the planet Eden, Emmett fights for his life and learn to manipulate a curious substance called Nyxia. As the days go on, however, more and more secrets about Babel Corp., about Nyxia, and about the other people on the ship are discovered and deciding how to deal with these secrets is becoming more difficult every day.

I was both excited and wary to read this one. I saw that Nyxia was a mix between Ender’s Game (Sci-Fi) and the Hunger Games (Dystopian/Fantasy). I loved both of those books, and I really enjoy dystopian/fantasy genres but sci-fi can go either way in my opinion. Well, in Nyxia’s case, the sci-fi aspect was actually one of the more interesting parts of the book. I thought the concept of Nyxia was interesting, the training programs and technologies were cool, and I liked the ship and the scoreboard.

What I didn’t like as much about the book was the absolute obsession with the scorekeeping and friends vs enemies. This was all reminiscent of The Hunger Games, as it was a tournament of ten young people against each other for a “prize,” but it was much more annoying (in my opinion) in terms of certain repetitions. It made the pacing feel so slow and cyclical.

I have high hopes, however, that the next two books in the series will get better. I think that the ideas and concepts will flesh out more because they have a lot of merit. I really like the idea of a corporation with a lot of secrets; a planet with natives whom we haven’t really met yet; future relationships (good or bad) between the recruits. So I definitey think there is potential in the series and I can’t wait for the next installment!

Book soundtrack: Bangarang by Skrillex

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Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower

Hey everyone! So fall is upon us here in the Midwest and with the changing seasons, I tend to change genres a bit because I’m a mood reader. Hot, sunny weather means I want to read positive, love-vibes. Its contemporary romance weather to me typically. Cooler, autumn weather typically means cozy mysteries, thrillers, sci-fi, etc. Winter for me is fantasy, fantasy, fantasy. And spring? Paranormal. I don’t know why I feel this way about these genres and the seasons….that’s just how it is! All that being said, here’s my first cozy of the season! Its an ARC from Netgalley that just released on 8/29/17!

33290628Assaulted Caramel was a pretty good cozy mystery about Bailey King, who has taken a break from her job as assistant chocolatier at a world famous New York chocolate shop to take care of her ailing Amish grandfather. Her quick trip turns into a long haul when a dead body turns up in her grandparents’ own small chocolate shop and Bailey becomes the prime suspect.

So this book was actually very well written for a cozy, in my opinion. It was the first in series and it had just the right amount of balance between main character mystery, grandparent ailment problems, New York promotion drama, best friend fun, potential man romance for later down the road, small town sheriff conflict, etc. All of the cliches you expect in your mystery lite and just the right amount. I didn’t find the characters annoying….and the one character had a pet potbelly pig! Cute!! 🙂 I loved it! Overall, it wasn’t a groundbreaking read, but I wasn’t bored, I wasn’t really in LOVE with it, but I did like it!

How do you choose what genre and/or book to read next?

Book soundtrack: Mercury & Lightning by John Mark McMillan

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Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Hi everyone! So I know I have been MIA for a little while. My apologies. I started a new full-time job! My very first full-time job, actually!! It has been a very exciting ride! So far I am absolutely loving it and I count myself so lucky to be working in my field and in a job where I like the people as well as what I am doing. So far I am still in training but hey, things are going so well. 🙂 Anyway, as you can see from my post title, I have a review today. Here goes:

32905343If you have heard of Meddling Kids, you know that we are expecting the Mystery Machine and its cohorts. Scooby Doo and Shaggy too, right? Well, more or less. We know the characters are knock-offs and its set in the 90’s and things have to be a little different but still…nostalgia, man!! It has to be good!! Plus, that COVER!!! RIGHT?!?!

Hmmm. Not for me. I did not connect with ANY of the characters. And I was bored. I was bored 97% of the time. I should have put it down and not finished but I kept going because it was an ARC and I felt obligated and come on, that COVER! And yeah, so sue me, I did want to see how it ended. (There was a little bit of a loose end, now that I really think about it….but I’ll let that be…maybe there’ll be a sequel).

Here is one perk to the book: If you are needing to build your vocabulary, for example, taking your SAT’s soon?, read this book. There are so many ridiculously advanced words in this book (myriaphonic!)….why? No idea. So the writing is….good? But big, flashy words don’t make writing good. Cantero goes from big words and descriptive narrative to scriptive writing.

Andy: Yes, I think so.
Peter: I’m a ghost and you can’t see me. I’m only in crazy-Nate’s head.
Nate: I’m not crazy.
Kerri: But I’m not a lesbian!
Andy: Not yet. And yes Nate, that’s why you broke out of an insane asylum ten minutes ago.

Meanwhile, Tim cuddled with his penguin and the gang continued towards the Zoinks River….yeah, that’s right. So, that’s the jist. Maybe (hopefully) you will enjoy it far more than I did. I will not deny that it had its fun, female ass-kicking moments. It also had its moments as an okay mystery novel. However, don’t get your hopes up as a Scooby Doo knock off, in MY opinion. Just go watch the reruns.

Book Soundtrack: “Love Train” by The O’Jays

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