Tag Archives: fiction

Enigma (Schrodinger’s Consortium, Book 2)

Enigma Book Cover Enigma
Schrodinger's Consortium, Book 2
Tonya Kuper
Juvenile Fiction
Entangled: Teen
July 4, 2017
304

What's worse than having half of your secret race wanting to kill you? Having both sides want to control you. Feeling something for Reid Wentworth is not part of the plan. Josie Harper doesn't have time to think about hot boys when she has to help unite the Resistance against the Consortium. To say her life has changed since discovering she's an Oculus would be the understatement of the century. The Consortium is out to enslave humanity—yeah, they aren't fooling around—and as an Oculus, she's one of the few people capable of altering reality and thwarting them. In the largest Resistance hub in North America, Josie learns she doesn't only have the strongest abilities to Push and Retract reality, she has gifts no other Oculus has. When they get word that the Consortium is flying in a world-renowned tech researcher to their headquarters who may have the knowledge to enslave humans, Josie and Reid assemble a team to intercept the researcher and to bust out Reid's best friend, Santos, who was taken hostage until they get Josie. But the Board won't let them leave. The lines have blurred. The only person Josie can trust is Reid.

 

Review:

After a long wait, it was nice to see what happened to Josie and Reid from “Anomaly.”

Unfortunately, I feel a little let down by the resolution.  We got to meet secondary characters that were important but not very developed, and the ending seemed very rushed.  To be honest, it was confusing to me.  In spite of this, I did enjoy it, but not as much as I hoped.  There seems to be an opening in the ending for possible further adventures, and I think that opening holds promise for more character development and an easier to follow plot.

If you read and liked “Anomaly,” be sure to pick up “Enigma!”

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

Trusting You & Other Lies

Trusting You and Other Lies Book Cover Trusting You and Other Lies
Nicole Williams
Young Adult Fiction
Crown Books For Young Readers
June 20, 2017
304

USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Nicole Williams delivers a seductive summer romance worth swooning over. Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Stephanie Perkins. Phoenix can't imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years--do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better? On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum--the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he's impossible to figure out--and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he's promising Phoenix a summer she'll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie? "What elevates this novel...is the witty and realistic dialogue and excellent character development." -SLJ

 

Review:

“Trusting You & Other Lies” is a nice summer romance that has some teeth.

It’s refreshing to see a sibling relationship that is loving and a family that is struggling in a realistic way.  The teenage emotions rang true and brought back quite a bit of nostalgia, along with a lot of “glad I’m past that phase of my life” thoughts.  Last but not least, there was no instalove.  That is always a bonus in YA romances.

I recommend “Trusting You & Other Lies” for anyone looking for an emotional read about young relationships, both with family and romantic interests.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations

Secrets of Skin and Stone

Secrets of Skin and Stone Book Cover Secrets of Skin and Stone
Wendy Laine
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
May 17, 2017
Paperback
290

Something is wrong in Hidden Creek. The sleepy Alabama town is more haunted than any place fiend hunter Grisham Caso has ever seen. Unearthed graves, curse bags, and spilled blood all point to an evil that could destroy his gargoyle birthright. The town isn’t safe for anyone, and everyone says fiery Piper Devon knows why.

Piper wants to leave Hidden Creek behind. She’s had enough of secrets—they hide in the shadows of her room and tell her terrible things are coming. Too-charming city boy Grisham might be her only chance to save herself.

To survive, Piper and Grisham have to shed their secrets and depend only on each other. But what lurks in Hidden Creek still might take everything away from them, including each other.

 

Review:

“Secrets of Skin and Stone” was the perfect palate cleanser and fun read after a series of lackluster novels that almost sent me into a reading slump.  I would describe it as a young adult “Southern Ghost Hunters.”

It’s a fun supernatural romance with witty dialogue and a plot that flows quickly. There are some scary parts, but they are evened out by the humor.  It’s also original.  I know they exist in literature, but a gargoyle shapeshifter has never come across my reading material before.  One caveat:  There is an animal death at the very beginning.  If you can plow through that you’ll be ok.  It isn’t gratuitous and pretty much fuels the rest of the plot.

I recommend “Secrets of Skin and Stone” for anyone looking for a fun supernatural read.  I also really hope the author plans a sequel.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Animal Death

The Witchfinder’s Sister

The Witchfinder's Sister Book Cover The Witchfinder's Sister
Beth Underdown
Fiction
Ballantine Books
2017
336

Essex, England, 1645. With a heavy heart, Alice Hopkins returns to the small town she grew up in. Widowed, with child, and without prospects, she is forced to find refuge at the house of her younger brother, Matthew. In the five years she has been gone, the boy she knew has become a man of influence and wealth—but more has changed than merely his fortunes. Alice fears that even as the cruel burns of a childhood accident still mark his face, something terrible has scarred Matthew’s soul.

There is a new darkness in the town, too—frightened whispers are stirring in the streets, and Alice’s blood runs cold with dread when she discovers that Matthew is a ruthless hunter of suspected witches. Torn between devotion to her brother and horror at what he’s become, Alice is desperate to intervene—and deathly afraid of the consequences. But as Matthew’s reign of terror spreads, Alice must choose between her safety and her soul.

Alone and surrounded by suspicious eyes, Alice seeks out the fuel firing her brother’s brutal mission—and is drawn into the Hopkins family’s past. There she finds secrets nested within secrets: and at their heart, the poisonous truth. Only by putting her own life and liberty in peril can she defeat this darkest of evils—before more innocent women are forced to the gallows.

Inspired by the real-life story of notorious “Witchfinder General” Matthew Hopkins, Beth Underdown’s thrilling debut novel blends spellbinding history with echoes of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for a truly haunting reading experience.

 

Review:

3 1/2 Stars Rounded Down

Having had an interest in witch trials for as long as I can remember, I was thrilled to get my hands on a copy of “The Witchfinder’s Sister.”  Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations.

Parts of the book were interesting, as well as horrifying, and the characters were intriguing.  The problem is the other parts were just so slow and dull that it cancelled out the good parts in my mind.

If “The Witchfinder’s Sister” sounds like something you may like, then by all means give it a try.  It may be that the problem with the story was me.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

The Suffering Tree

The Suffering Tree Book Cover The Suffering Tree
Elle Cosimano
Young Adult Fiction
Disney-Hyperion
June 13, 2017
368

"It's dark magic brings him back." Tori Burns and her family left D.C. for claustrophobic Chaptico, Maryland, after suddenly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. That inheritance puts her at odds with the entire town, especially Jesse Slaughter and his family-it's their generations-old land the Burns have "stolen." As the suspicious looks and muttered accusations of her neighbors build, so does the pressure inside her, and Tori returns to the pattern of self-harm that landed her in a hospital back in D.C. It all comes to a head one night when, to Tori's shock, she witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grave under the gnarled oak in her new backyard. Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it's clear to Tori that he hates the Slaughters for what they did to him centuries ago. Wary yet drawn to him by a shared sense of loss, she gives him shelter. But in the wake of his arrival comes a string of troubling events-including the disappearance of Jesse Slaughter's cousin-that seem to point back to Nathaniel. As Tori digs for the truth-and slowly begins to fall for Nathaniel-she uncovers something much darker in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree. In order to break the curse that binds Nathaniel there and discover the true nature of her inheritance, Tori must unravel the Slaughter family's oldest and most guarded secrets. But the Slaughters want to keep them buried at any cost.

 

Review:

I am giving “The Suffering Tree” three stars for the sole reason that it had some promise.  2 1/2 would be my preference and 2 seems too low, so I rounded up.

As I said above, there was some promise in the plot and characters.  They were actually developed fairly well and the concept was unique.  The problem is, none of it was capitalized on.  It felt plodding with brief moments of hope, only to have them almost immediately dashed.  And I would be remiss if I neglected to mention this:  There is self-harm (cutting) and it is very graphic.  If this is a trigger for you then avoid this book at all costs.

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend “The Suffering Tree.”

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Graphic Self-Harm

Grendel’s Guide to Love and War

Grendel's Guide to Love and War Book Cover Grendel's Guide to Love and War
A. E. Kaplan
Young Adult Fiction
Knopf Books for Young Readers
April 18, 2017
320

The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Revenge of the Nerds in this tale of a teen misfit who seeks to take down the bro next door, but ends up falling for his enemy's sister and uncovering difficult truths about his family in the process. Tom Grendel lives a quiet life--writing in his notebooks, mowing lawns for his elderly neighbors, and pining for Willow, a girl next door who rejects the "manic-pixie-dream" label. But when Willow's brother, Rex (the bro-iest bro ever to don a jockstrap), starts throwing wild parties, the idyllic senior citizens' community where they live is transformed into a war zone. Tom is rightfully pissed--his dad is an Iraq vet, and the noise from the parties triggers his PTSD--so he comes up with a plan to end the parties for good. But of course, it's not that simple. One retaliation leads to another, and things quickly escalate out of control, driving Tom and Willow apart, even as the parties continue unabated. Add to that an angsty existential crisis born of selectively reading his sister's Philosophy 101 coursework, a botched break-in at an artisanal pig farm, and ten years of unresolved baggage stemming from his mother's death . . . and the question isn't so much whether Tom Grendel will win the day and get the girl, but whether he'll survive intact. "Deep and uproarious all at once . . . A clever spin on a weighty classic." --Kirkus, starred review

 

Review:

I’m not sure how to describe “Grendel’s Guide to Love and War.”  It isn’t as deep as it could be, considering Tom Grendel has a very difficult life, including a father suffering from severe PTSD.  Yet it does evoke quite a few emotions by just skimming the surface of the issues he’s dealing with.  It is also hilarious. Laugh out loud hilarious.  If you’re looking for a fast read with a bit of an emotional roller coaster, give it a try.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

All the Forever Things

All the Forever Things Book Cover All the Forever Things
Jolene Perry
Young Adult Fiction
Albert Whitman and Company
April 1, 2017
288

From growing up in the funeral home her family runs, Gabriella knows that death is a part of life and nothing is forever. Yet Bree, her best friend, has been a constant; it’s always been the two of them together against the world. But when Bree starts dating a guy—the worst guy— from that ultra-popular world, suddenly she doesn’t have time for Gabe anymore. Now the only one at school who wants to spend time with “Graveyard Gabe” is Hartman, the new guy, but Gabe, not wanting to lose her mind over a boyfriend the way Bree has, holds back. It takes a very strange prom night (with the family hearse instead of a limo) for Gabe to truly fall for Hartman. But when she leaves the after-prom party with him, she’s not there for Bree—or for the deadly accident that happens that night. Bree survives, but will she and Gabe ever be able to rebuild their friendship?

 

Review:

“All the Forever Things” is a unique book that deals with deep issues in a sensitive and entertaining way.

I think every young adult or adult who is/was an outcast will be able to relate to “Graveyard Gabe,” even if your family does not own a funeral home. The story is bittersweet and touches on friendship, embracing who we are, first loves, forgiveness, and death.  Somehow this is all put together in a way that hurts at times but is funny and entertaining at others.

I recommend “All the Forever Things” for upper middle graders through adults who are looking for a good young adult novel that is different from the norm.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Disturbing Imagery

Always

Always Book Cover Always
Sarah Jio
Fiction
Ballantine Books
February 7, 2017
288

A gripping novel about the kind of love that never lets go, and the heart's capacity to remember, from the New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter and The Violetes of March Enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fianc�, Ryan, at one of Seattle's chicest restaurants, Kailey Crain can't believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a journalist and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As she and Ryan leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister. When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense--everything connected and felt right. But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what--and whom--she wants. Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she's willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love. Advance praise for Always "A heartwarming story of personal growth and the power of nostalgia . . . Fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Emily Giffin should enjoy this warm and compassionate novel."--Booklist Praise for Sarah Jio Goodnight June "Sarah Jio's delightful and uplifting novel is guaranteed to melt even the toughest cynic and deserves a top rating of five stars (plus the moon)."--Historical Novels Review "A tribute to family and forgiveness."--Booklist Morning Glory "Jio explores the degree to which time and distance give comfort to those who have experienced loss [with] a depth of feeling in her writing."--Publishers Weekly "Jio has become one of the most-read women in America."--Woman's World Blackberry Winter "Compelling . . . an intoxicating blend of mystery, history, and romance."--Real Simple "Ingenious . . . imaginative."--The Seattle Times

 

Review:

“Always” is a sweet romance of love lost and found.  I enjoyed the story but found it lacked the depth of Sarah Jio’s previous books.  It’s still very much worth the read if you’re a fan.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

Garden of Thorns

GARDEN OF THORNS Book Cover GARDEN OF THORNS
Amber Mitchell
Young Adult Fiction
Entangled Publishing
February 27, 2017
370

After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden--a burlesque troupe of slave girls--sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn't one of the emperor's men--not anymore. He's the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it. Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose's attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her ashis hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal--if he helps her rescue the other girls, she'll tell him all the Garden's secrets. Except the one secret she's kept for seven years that she'll to take to her grave if she must.

 

Review:

I loved “Garden of Thorns.”  It features a heroine who kicks butt and an intense political uprising.

The premise has two characters and stories that come together for mutual benefit.  Rose was kidnapped as a young child to serve in a burlesque troop made up of underaged slaves.  Rayce is leading an uprising against a tyrant.  There is romance, but it is sweet and simmering, and not at all graphic.  The main plot is focused on the action. Those with weak stomachs beware, the violence is brutal and graphic.

I recommend “Garden of Thorns” for anyone looking for a young adult novel with a strong heroine and a quick-paced plot.  I hope there’s a sequel!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Graphic Violence, Child Abuse

 

Maid of the King’s Court

Maid of the King's Court Book Cover Maid of the King's Court
Lucy Worsley
Young Adult Fiction
Candlewick Press
March 14, 2017
368

In the vibrant, volatile court of Henry VIII, can even the most willful young woman direct her own fate and follow her heart in a world ruled by powerful men?

Clever, headstrong Elizabeth Rose Camperdowne knows her duty. As the sole heiress to an old but impoverished noble family, Eliza must marry a man of wealth and title — it’s the only fate for a girl of her standing. But when a surprising turn of events lands her in the royal court as a maid of honor to Anne of Cleves, Eliza is drawn into the dizzying, dangerous orbit of Henry the Eighth and struggles to distinguish friend from foe. Is her glamorous flirt of a cousin, Katherine Howard, an ally in this deceptive place, or is she Eliza’s worst enemy? And then there’s Ned Barsby, the king’s handsome page, who is entirely unsuitable for Eliza but impossible to ignore. British historian Lucy Worsley provides a vivid, romantic glimpse of the treachery, tragedy, and thrills of life in the Tudor court.

 

Review:

“Maid of the King’s Court” is an excellent historical fiction novel about life in the court of King Henry VIII.

While the story of Elizabeth is fictionalized, most of the facts of life at the time are as historically accurate as possible, owing to the fact that the author (Lucy Worsley) is a British historian who actually works at the castle featured in the book.  I have always enjoyed reading about life in Tudor England, and this novel did not disappoint.  It’s also surprisingly clean considering it’s about life with King Henry VIII.  It does have talk about sexual situations but none involving the main character.

I highly recommend “Maid of the King’s Court” to those who like historical fiction with a dash of romance.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence