Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Conjuring of Light

Book: A Conjuring of Light
Series: Shades of Magic #3
Author: VE Schwab

The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

Kell - once assumed to be the last surviving Antari - begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

Lila Bard, once a commonplace - but never common - thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.-Goodreads

Review: A Conjuring of Light was a very good conclusion to a wonderful series. The biggest surprise was Holland. I really didn't care for him in the previous books and he was redeemed here. I loved how his storyline wrapped up. Throughout the series, Rhy definitely grew the most as a character and Alucard remained my absolute favorite of the entire series. Love him! I will say that there were several narrators here (like the king and queen) which seemed completely useless. I also wish we learned about Kell's parents (I understand he came to terms with who he was and didn't' care...but I cared!). 

Overall-very good book and great series. 

Grade: 4/5

A Gathering of Shadows

Book: A Gathering of Shadows
Series: Shades of Magic #2
Author: VE Schwab

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games-an extravagent international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries-a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again-and so to keep magic's balance, another London must fall.-Goodreads

Review: I loved the first book in this series and I admit I was a little worried this would be a disappointment. I shouldn't have doubted the amazingness knows as VE Schwab. This book was fantastic. In Red London, Kell and Rhy are struggling with their new connection and Kell has been put on a short leash by the King and Queen. Unsurprising, he is not happy. Meanwhile, we find out Delilah Bard is working on a ship for Alucard, who may or may not be a pirate.   

Everyone is reunited in Red London eventually, where an Olympic type competition for magicians is happening. The competition didn't end like I was expecting, so that was good.. Two characters really shined in this book for me were Lila and Alucard. Lila is definitely not everyone's cup of tea (and thankfully there are different narrators because a book of all Lila would be a little much). She's obnoxious and she doesn't listen to anyone. But she's also a very strong female character who I was routing for. And I LOVED Alucard. He's mysterious and I love his friendship with Lila.

Overall-fab read. 

Grade: 4.5/5

Saturday, April 22, 2017

One Fell Sweep

Book: One Fell Sweep
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #3
Author: Ilona Andrews

Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that!!-Goodreads

Review: One Fell Sweep concludes the Innkeeper Chronicles and while I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the previous installments, it was still a really good read. Dina enlists Arland's help rescuing her sister, Maud and her young niece. I absolutely loved Arland and Maud and seeing their relationship develop. Arland is so funny and his uncle questioning Dina about her sister's history was very great. I loved Dina and Sean (especially the meet the parents scene). The primary conflict in the book is when Dina agrees to help a guest save his civilization and she is targeted by assassins. I found her guests pretty much devoid of personality and I wasn't as invested in that story line.

Overall, really good read and fabulous series. 

Now, Ilona-can Arland get his own series?? :)  

Grade: 4/5

Sweep In Peace

Book: Sweep In Peace
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #2
Author: Ilona Andrews

Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina's door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn...and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it's all in the day's work for an Innkeeper…-Goodreads

Review: Fans of the Edge series will see a few familiar names in this book. George, Jack, Gaston and Sophie all make an appearance. Sweep in Peace starts a few months after the previous book ended. Sean is on some unknown intergalactic adventure and Dina cannot stop thinking about their kiss. One evening, an Arbiter shows up (it's George!) asking Dina if she is willing to host a peace summit for between 3 warring groups. It's dangerous, people will probably die..but Dina needs the money so she agrees. 

Like most books by this writing duo, I loved it! I loved Dina's dry humor, Calendia never disappoints and Arland..oh Arland, you are too funny. Dina also hires a chef in this book and he was funny as well. Overall, great world building, great story and lots of chuckles. 

Grade: 5/5

Crooked Kingdom

Book: Crooked Kingdom
Series: Six of Crows #2
Author: Leigh Bardugo

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

After pulling off a seemingly impossible heist in the notorious Ice Court, criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker feels unstoppable. But life is about to take a dangerous turn - and with friends who are among the deadliest outcasts in Ketterdam city, Kaz is going to need more than luck to survive in this unforgiving underworld.-Goodreads

Review“Crows remember human faces. They remember the people who feed them, who are kind to them. And the people who wrong them too. They don’t forget. They tell each other who to look after and who to watch out for.” .

I anxiously anticipated this book and while it started slow, it packed a great punch at the end. I'll avoid spoilers but I was shocked to find myself crying (!!) at the end. Nina continues to be my favorite character of this series and I pretty much loved how all the story lines wrapped up. Bardugo really created an amazing world with her Grisha series and I love her writing. 

Fab read!

Grade: 5/5


Book: The BFG
Author: Roald Dahl

Captured by a giant! The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It's lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, the Fleshlumpeater, the Bonecruncher, or any of the other giants-rather than the BFG-she would have soon become breakfast.

When Sophie hears that they are flush-bunking off in England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!-Goodreads

Review: I did a buddy read with my 3rd grade daughter and she loved this book. I wish I could say the same but I found it grating on almost every level. The BFG's language was annoying, the BFG himself was creepy and the book was boring. Not my favorite children's book. 

Grade: 2/5

The Shadow Queen

Book: The Shadow Queen
Series: Ravenspire #1
Author: C.J. Redwine

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.-Goodreads

Review: Amazingly, out of all the books I've read, I think this is the first Snow White themed book. Or at least the first one I've read in years. There is nothing new here, but I liked the world building, Lorelai and Kol. Lorelai is essentially a magical snow white, while Kol is a shape shifting dragon/huntsman. They team up against her step-mother, the evil queen who is very powerful. This would be a good beach read and I will definitely read the next in the series. 

Grade: 3/5

The Goal

Book: The Goal
Series: Off Campus #4
Author: Elle Kennedy

She’s good at achieving her goals…

College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated...

Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.-Goodreads

Review: 'The Goal' is the last book in the off-campus series and I must say, this is one of my favorite romance series ever. Book 2 was okay but 1,3 and 4 were all really, really good. Sabrina James is a type A overachiever. She has a tough home life, is not well off financially and works hard so she can go to Harvard Law. Things get complicated when a one-night stand with hockey player John Tucker results in an unexpected pregnancy. 

I loved Sabrina and Tucker and how their relationship evolved. Great series and great read!

Grade: 5/5

Fool Me Once

Book: Fool Me Once
Author: Harlan Coben

Former special ops pilot Maya, home from the war, sees an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work: her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe—who had been brutally murdered two weeks earlier. The provocative question at the heart of the mystery: Can you believe everything you see with your own eyes, even when you desperately want to? To find the answer, Maya must finally come to terms with deep secrets and deceit in her own past before she can face the unbelievable truth about her husband—and herself.-Goodreads

Review: This was my first Harlan Coben book and it won't be my last. Maya's wealthy husband has been brutally murdered. She's still grieving when she sees an image of her husband playing with their 2-year old daughter on the nanny cam. Is Joe really dead, did he somehow fake his death or is his wealthy family screwing with her? Maya starts investigating, while the police are investigating her. 

While Maya was a very difficult character to warm-up to and I didn't care for the ending, this was overall, a fun, fast paced thriller. Super fun!

Grade: 4/5


Book: Feversong
Series: Fever #9
Author: Karen Marie Moning

Black holes loom menacingly over Dublin, threatening to destroy the Earth. Yet the greatest danger is the one MacKayla Lane has unleashed from within: the Sinsar Dubh—a sentient book of unthinkable evil—has possessed her body and will stop at nothing in its insatiable quest for power.

The fate of Man and Fae rests on destroying the book and recovering the long-lost Song of Making, the sole magic that can repair the fragile fabric of the Earth. But to achieve these aims, sidhe-seers, the Nine, Seelie, and Unseelie must form unlikely alliances and make heart-wrenching choices. For Barrons and Jada, this means finding the Seelie Queen who alone can wield the mysterious song, negotiating with a lethal Unseelie prince hell-bent on ruling the Fae courts, and figuring out how to destroy the Sinsar Dubh while keeping Mac alive.

This time, there’s no gain without sacrifice, no pursuit without risk, no victory without irrevocable loss. In the battle for Mac’s soul, every decision exacts a tremendous price.-Goodreads

Review: When someone asks me what my favorite tv show is, I always answer "Dexter, seasons 1-4." I have to clarify the seasons because the show really went downhill 5-8. The Fever series is the book version of Dexter for me. I LOVED books 1-5. I literally devoured them and was obsessed with Mac and Barrons (in fact, we just got a foster dog and I named him Jericho Barrons). I recommend this series to almost everyone I know. But the last few books have lost the magic. I get excited for their release and start reading...then, I feel like I'm forcing myself to push through to the end. I don't want to feel this way people! 

Okay, let's get to Feversong. This is the last book in the series. There was not a lot of dialogue in this book, we are inside characters heads a lot. This was good at times and bad at times. I did enjoy that we finally find out why she is so insecure. But it was a tad boring. 

Now, what frustrated me. There were a lot of subplots introduced in previous books that weren't addressed. At all. For example, there is no resolution or really any detail regarding Christian, Dageus, Kat or Sean. The attempt to humanize Cruce was frustrating (he raped Mac...ARG). Shazam..just no. I did not care about that entire subplot. I'm not sure why there was a POV from the Seelie Queen. It's clear another book of some sort is coming (there has to be, so much was left hanging). 

Overall, frustrating read. No doubt I will read anything KMM publishes but I hope she finds the magic of the first books in this series. 

Grade: 2/5

My Husband's Wife

Book: My Husband's Wife
Author: Jane Corry

Til death us do part.

When young lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start. To leave the secrets of the past behind. But then she takes on her first murder case and meets Joe. A convicted murderer whom Lily is strangely drawn to. Whom she will soon be willing to risk anything for.

But Lily is not the only one with secrets. Her next-door neighbor Carla may be only nine, but she has already learned that secrets are powerful things. That they can get her whatever she wants.

When Lily finds Carla on her doorstep sixteen years later, a chain of events is set in play that can end only one way.

An eye for an eye. A wife for a wife.-Goodreads

Review: I selected this for our book club last month and we all enjoyed it (well, those of us who actually read it, haha). This was a fast, soapy read complete with childhood secrets, infidelity, manipulators at every turn and murder. Basically, this is a Lifetime movie waiting to happen and it was a fun, fast read. I will definitely be reading more from this author. 

Grade: 4/5 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Truly Madly Guilty

Book: Truly Madly Guilty
Author: Leanne Moriarty

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.-Goodreads

Review: I love Moriarty's narrative style and the readability of her books.In this installment, something terrible has happened at a bbq and we follow several narratives of characters leading up to and after the big event. I didn't love any of the characters and I build up the 'event' in my head so much that when we finally find out what happened...I was underwhelmed. 

Overall, I liked this but it wasn't my favorite. 

Grade: 3/5

Into the Storm

Book: Into the Storm
Author: asdf

She is a woman on the run. Pain, loneliness and terror are what she is leaving. Where she is headed doesn’t matter as long as it’s away from the hell her life has become.

Joshua Bennett is trapped in a prison of his own making by the memories of his past. Traumatized and isolated, he is a reclusive writer, living a quiet, lonely life, his only companion his dog, Bear. It is what he knows, what he has accepted to be his life.

One dark night, one huge storm, and one ice patch brings them together. He finds himself with an unexpected houseguest with no memory. She wakes up a stranger to herself and the man watching her. Even more mysterious is the lack of any sort of identification with her or in her car. She is an enigma to both of them.

Trapped by the storm and isolated from the outside world, they slowly open up, learning to trust and love, until the world once again shows up, threatening the fragile peace of their newly discovered world, and tearing them apart.

There are many twists and turns as they struggle to find each other, overcoming both the mental and physical elements that keep them apart.

A story about overcoming our fears, finding love and learning to live again.-Goodreads

Review: The premise of this book is good-a woman gets into a car accident fleeing her abusive husband, has amnesia from the crash and is taken in by a reclusive writer with agoraphobia. Rabbit (as Joshua annoyingly nicknames her) has no memory of her life, no identification and bruises all over her body. This book lost me when the main characters got into a hot tub together after barely knowing each other a minute, complete with Rabbit massaging Joshua's bag legs. Their relationship literally went from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, it was so unbelievable. The dialogue was extremely cheesy, there was no suspense and it was predictable. 

Overall-not my cup of tea.

Grade: 1/5

Wuthering Heights

Book: Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine's father. After Mr Earnshaw's death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine's brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.-Goodreads

Review: Describing Catherine and Heathcliff's relationship as a 'wild, passionate and almost demonic love' is quite a stretch. I read this in high school and found it okay. I reread this for book club a few months ago and my opinion didn't change much. Essentially, Catherine loves her foster-brother Heathcliff but he's 'below her station.' She marries someone else, Heathcliff betters himself and then marries Catherine's sister-in-law. Everyone's kids marry each other. Everyone is pretty much unhappy and bitter. It's a gothic soap opera and has some interesting story lines, but I just find the writing style very boring. 

Overall-it's a classic. Everyone should read it at least once.  

Grade: 3/5

Shadow Self

Book: Shadow Self
Author: Paula Marais

No mother is perfect...Thea Middleton is behind bars for an unthinkable crime. As she, her husband Clay and eldest daughter Sanusha try to repair their shattered lives, their individual accounts form the pieces of a tragic puzzle that will haunt them forever.-Goodreads

Review: Thea Middleton commits one of the worse crimes imaginable. We follow Thea as she struggles with mental illness, her husband Clay in his quest to 'fix' Thea and her daughter Sanusha as she grows up with an unstable mother. 

Due to the subject matter of this book, this is not an easy read. We know what's coming and it's horrific on every level. Marais does a great job portraying Thea as both aggressor and victim, so much so that I equal parts hated and felt sorry for her. Clay went from being a delusional 'I can fix her if I love her enough' guy to someone I was practically shouting at through the pages, "Clay, can't you see she is unwell?!". But my favorite character and one I really loved and consistently felt sorry for was Sanusha. Sanusha is a brilliant child who knows something is not quite right with her mother. 

Overall, a challenging, sad but very powerful read. I couldn't stop thinking about it once I finished. If you have suffered from post-partum depression, you may want to avoid this one. 

Grade: 5/5

Hidden Bodies

Book: Hidden Bodies
Series: You #2
Author: Caroline Kepnes

Joe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies. In the past ten years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, the city of second chances, determined to put his past behind him.

In Hollywood, Joe blends in effortlessly with the other young upstarts. He eats guac, works in a bookstore, and flirts with a journalist neighbor. But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: true love. And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. He doesn’t want to hurt his new girlfriend—he wants to be with her forever. But if she ever finds out what he’s done, he may not have a choice...-Goodreads

Review: When things "don't work out" with Beck, Joe quickly falls in love with off-the-grid Amy, an employee at the book store. But when Amy steals from him and takes off for California, Joe is quick to follow so he can track her down and make her pay. Amy proves difficult to find and Joe's life takes some turns he didn't anticipate coming. 

This was deliciously dark and funny. Once again, an author that has me routing and chuckling along with a serial killer and his inner thoughts is quite talented. I love Joe (and his rationalizations) and can't wait to see what the next installment will be. 

Grade: 5/5