Thursday, April 28, 2016


Book: Vicious
Series: Vicious #1
Author: VE Schwab

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?-Goodreads

Review: I think my favorite thing about Goodreads is learning about new authors and series-this was my second VE Shwab book this year and once again-I LOVED it. Vicious follows college roommates Victor and Eli who embark on near death experiments to try to acquire supernatural powers. The ramifications of their actions results in a series of events neither of them could have predicted. 

This book reminded me of the 90s movie Flatliners mixed with Marvel super powers. Let me be clear-there are no good guys here, this is a book of villains. I usually need at least one character to 'route for' but in this case, I loved how evil everyone was. Fabulous read, cant' wait for the next in the series!

Grade: 5/5

Drop Dead Sexy

Book: Drop Dead Sexy
Author: Katie Ashley

For Olivia Sullivan, love is more a four letter curse word than a sentiment. Growing up as the daughter of a small town mortician, guys didn’t warm to the fact there were dead people in her house. At thirty, taking over the family business and becoming the town Coroner helped to cement her undateable status. Of course her past sex history didn’t help matters either.

Attempt number one with her first love ended barely before it got started with a horrific latex allergy hospitalization. Attempt number two had him coming and then going with an undiagnosed heart condition. For the past three years, Olivia has closed up shop for fear of what might happen next in the bedroom.

After being forced to go single to her mother’s lingerie shower, Olivia stumbles into an out of town bar with one intention: find an able bodied stud to go home with to end her losing sex streak. Enter Holden Caulfield Mains aka Catcher, who earned his nickname not just from the book he was named for, but for the fact he was sure to catch the attention any woman who came within a five mile radius. Waking up after a night of the most mind blowing sex she could have ever imagined, a horrified Olivia runs away thinking she’s left Catcher behind.

When Olivia’s small town is wracked by its first murder, she never could have imagined her one night stand would reappear in the form of the GBI’s lead investigator. To her mortification, Catcher isn’t ready to let go of their sizzling chemistry, and he doesn’t understand the meaning of no. As things start to heat up between them, the body count starts to rise, and they’re led on a wild goose chase from back woods mountain Nudist Colonies to altercations with the Dixie Mafia. Can Olivia and Catcher survive to solve the murder while also not succumbing to their explosive passion? -Goodreads

Review: This didn't work for me on any level-the mystery wasn't interesting, the main characters had no chemistry and the sex scenes were just awkward. 

Grade: 1/5

A Darker Shade of Magic

Book: A Darker Shade of Magic
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Author: V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.-Goodreads

Review: This was a creative, unique and delicious read. I enjoyed every character, loved the world comprised of different London's (Grey-the London we know, Red-a magical London that is prosperous and White-a dangerous and magical place) and didn't want to put it down. Can't wait for the next book in the series!

Grade: 5/5

The Soldier's Wife

Book: The Soldier's Wife
Author: Margaret Leroy

As World War II draws closer and closer to Guernsey, Vivienne de la Mare knows that there will be sacrifices to be made. Not just for herself, but for her two young daughters and for her mother-in-law, for whom she cares while her husband is away fighting. What she does not expect is that she will fall in love with one of the enigmatic German soldiers who take up residence in the house next door to her home. As their relationship intensifies, so do the pressures on Vivienne. Food and resources grow scant, and the restrictions placed upon the residents of the island grow with each passing week. Though Vivienne knows the perils of her love affair with Gunther, she believes that she can keep their relationship and her family safe. But when she becomes aware of the full brutality of the Occupation, she must decide if she is willing to risk her personal happiness for the life of a stranger.-Goodreads

Review: 'The Soldier's Wife' was one of my most anticipated reads this year. While it was beautifully written, I felt the 'story' was lacking. Vivienne's husband is away at war and she decides to stay on the small island of Guernsey with her daughters. German soldiers move in next door and Vivienne embarks on an affair with one of them. I was expecting an intense, forbidden reality they had a conversation (maybe two) and next thing you know they are in bed-in her house. It was just so unlikely this would have been kept secret for any length of time. The ending wasn't a shocking at all and I find it surprising she would have stayed on the island or been accepted by any of the residents. She didn't have much of a spine throughout the book although she did finally come around toward the end. 

Grade: 2/5

Ashes in the Wind

Book: Ashes in the Wind
Author: Kathleen E Woodiwiss

Disguised as a boy, lovely Alaina MacGaren flees the Yankee troops ravaging her Virginia plantation. When the young orphan is accosted by a group of soldiers, Yankee surgeon Cole Latimer rescues the "lad" -- never guessing that love for the rebel beauty will set duty against desire, ultimately testing his loyalties, his  trust and his honor.-Goodreads

Review: This started off okay but the middle part of the book really dragged. I went from tolerating Alaina to outright hating the way she treated Cole. The latter part of the book was pretty good. 

Overall, not my favorite historical romance but it was an okay read. 

Grade: 2/5

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Book: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Author: Cheryl Strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.-Goodreads

Review: This is a tough book to review. Cheryl Strayed was a hot mess-she had an abusive father, married too young, could not cope with her mother's cancer diagnosis and death, and dealt with her grief by cheating on her husband, getting involved with heroin (she literally decided to do it for the first time with a guy she barely knew) and then decided to go hiking 1k+ plus miles by herself with basically zero backpacking experience (I'm not an experienced hiker but I know you are supposed to at least practice walking with your pack so you get used to the weight). She didn't have boots that fit, was really, really, really lucky that almost every stranger she encountered wanted to offer her help and assistance. Oh, and she's really lucky she wasn't assaulted or seriously injured. She didn't seem that introspective on her hiking journey either. I cannot even count the number of times I thought "wow, she's stupid." However...

I loved her writing style and found the book engaging from start to finish. I found myself wanting to know more-specifically about her childhood and how someone who lived in a house in the woods with no plumbing became a high school cheerleader and prom queen. I also don't understand how she and her mother attended college at the same times nor how she funded the hiking. I also appreciate that she wrote this book several years after her hiking experience (unlike Eat, Pray, Love which I found very contrived from start to finish) which made the experience more authentic. 

Grade: 3/5

Notes From a Small Island

Book: Notes From a Small Island
Author: Bill Bryson

After nearly two decades spent on British soil, Bill Bryson - bestselling author of The Mother Tongue and Made in America-decided to return to the United States. ("I had recently read," Bryson writes, "that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another,so it was clear that my people needed me.") But before departing, he set out on a grand farewell tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home.

Veering from the ludicrous to the endearing and back again,Notes from a Small Island is a delightfully irreverent jaunt around the unparalleled floating nation that has produced zebra crossings, Shakespeare, Twiggie Winkie's Farm, and places with names like Farleigh Wallop and Titsey. The result is an uproarious social commentary that conveys the true glory of Britain, from the satiric pen of an unapologetic Anglophile.-Goodreads

Review: I enjoyed Bryson's 'The Lost Continent' and and 'In a Sunburned Country' but this didn't work for me. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I traveled extensively throughout England, but I found this extremely boring. It failed to hold my interest on almost every level. 

Grade: 2/5

Find Her

Book: Find Her
Series: Detective DD Warren #8
Author: Lisa Gardner

Flora Dane is a victim.

Seven years ago, carefree college student Flora was kidnapped while on spring break. For 472 days, Flora learned just how much one person can endure.

Flora Dane is a survivor.

Miraculously alive after her ordeal, Flora has spent the past five years reacquainting herself with the rhythms of normal life, working with her FBI victim advocate, Samuel Keynes. She has a mother who’s never stopped loving her, a brother who is scared of the person she’s become, and a bedroom wall covered with photos of other girls who’ve never made it home.

Flora Dane is reckless.

. . . or is she? When Boston detective D. D. Warren is called to the scene of a crime—a dead man and the bound, naked woman who killed him—she learns that Flora has tangled with three other suspects since her return to society. Is Flora a victim or a vigilante? And with her firsthand knowledge of criminal behavior, could she hold the key to rescuing a missing college student whose abduction has rocked Boston? When Flora herself disappears, D.D. realizes a far more sinister predator is out there. One who’s determined that this time, Flora Dane will never escape. And now it is all up to D. D. Warren to find her.-Goodreads

Review: Lisa Gardner does it again-another thrilling, suspenseful and disturbing book. Flora Dane was kidnapped on spring break and held captive for 472 days. She lived in a coffin and was taken out to be raped and physically abused. While difficult to read, Gardner does a great job exploring the emotions of victims of sexual predators. When Flora is found at another crime scene several years later, Detective DD Warren is on the case. Is Flora a victim, or something more? The book started a tad slow but once I got into the story, I couldn't put it down. 

Grade: 5/5

Because She Loves Me

Book: Because She Loves Me
Author: Mark Edwards

When Andrew Sumner meets beautiful, edgy Charlie, he is certain his run of bad luck has finally come to an end.

But as the two of them embark on an intense affair, Andrew wonders if his grasp on reality is slipping. Items go missing in his apartment. Somebody appears to be following him. And as misfortune and tragedy strike his friends and loved ones, Andrew is forced to confront the frightening truth...

Is Charlie really the girl of his dreams – or the woman of his nightmares?-Goodreads

Review: Boy meets girl. Girl displays clear signs of craziness but boy overlooks everything because the sex is good. Boy continues to wallow in stupidity as things get crazier and crazier. Reader (me) finds book fun....until the ending that came out of left field. What was that? I definitely didn't see that coming and I didn't like how it wrapped up. 

Grade: 3/5