Sunday, February 26, 2017

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Behind Her EyesBehind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: January 31, 2017

OMG! The ending of this book just blew me away! Wow! What a book. I need a minute...

I went into Behind Her Eyes without knowing much about it at all which, I think, is always the best approach especially with this genre of suspense. I've been seeing this book all over GRs and BookTube lately and I was immediately drawn to the fact that it had an unreliable narrator which has always appealed to me. I was not disappointed. This book was captivating from the very beginning and I remained completely enthralled until the very last page. The writing was excellent and the storyline was absolutely brilliant. It's one of those stories where you know something is off, something is not quite right but you can't quite put your finger on it. Then when you think you've figured it out - BAM! Plot twist! After you swallow that unexpected change of events and begin digesting what you assume is the conclusion-plot twist again!

I don't want to say much about the actual storyline because the less you know the better, in my opinion. But there are two narrators, Louise and Adele. In the beginning of the book we're introduced to Louise who meets a man named David at a bar and they hit it off, talk for hours, laugh together and share a passionate kiss until David relents admitting he is in fact married. When Louise shows up at work on Monday she is then horrified to learn that David is actually her knew boss...awkward! To make things even more complicated, through a series of events Louise ends up befriending Adele, David's beautiful and lonely wife who asks Louise not to tell David about their friendship. Louise is reluctant to give up either relationship as they are both very important and meaningful to her in very different ways but of equal measure. The plot thickens as bits of the past are revealed exposing a very unhappy marriage that hides dark and dangerous secrets and it doesn't take long before Louise realizes she is in way over her head and unsure of who she can trust.

I really want to give this book a 5 star rating because I really loved it but I'm inclined to go with 4.5, or even 4.75 stars, only because I did have a slight issue with how far fetched the storyline became. Although, I do understand where the author was going with it and her execution was brilliant and in doing so she provides an unexpected explanation of events that I never would have seen coming or been able to predict. Keeping that in mind I still would have liked for it to have been a little bit more realistic. But that is the only complaint I have of this book and it's a very minor one and certainly not a game changer by any means.

Behind Her Eyes has a very conclusive and satisfying ending but it also set the stage for the possibility of a sequel (fingers crossed) and I would love to see this saga continue so I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for that in the future. This is my first experience reading anything by Sarah Pinborough but definitely will NOT be my last, and this was a far cry from her debut in fact she has a fairly extensive collection of published work that I'm very much looking forward to diving into after how much I thoroughly enjoyed Behind Her Eyes. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fast paced, suspenseful novel with an unreliable narrator and plenty of plot twists that will keep you guessing until the very end.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Alive (The Generations Trilogy #1) by Scott Sigler

Alive (The Generations Trilogy, #1)Alive by Scott Sigler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: June 14, 2015

Alive is one of those books that is difficult to review because it's better to go into this without knowing anything and most of this books appeal is the fact that the reader doesn't know what is going on, where the characters are or how they got there, and throughout the book you receive little pieces to the puzzle but it's not until the very end that the puzzle comes together and the big picture is revealed. The author, Scott Sigler, even adds a little note to the reader at the very end respectfully asking that, in this day and age of GRs, Amazon reviews, twitter, BookTube, blogging and numerous other platforms where reviews are posted, that readers be courteous and considerate enough to not include spoilers that will take away from the reading experience of others who have not yet had the chance to read this book and want to. I don't think that is an unreasonable request at all and it should really go without saying as a common courtesy in the book lovers community, as there is nothing more frustrating than having a book ruined because someone else spoils it, but unfortunately it happens. I always try to be as discreet as possible when writing my reviews but I thought it was a nice note for Sigler to include and I hope that others will heed his suggestion.

I know this is a series that has been out for a while, in fact the third book just came out and I received the arc for that one which is what prompted me to read book one in the trilogy. Overall, I had a difficult time staying focused on reading this book and getting into it but I think I've just been in a bit of a reading slump lately and I don't believe the book is at fault for my lack of interest and enthusiasm. It was very well written and intriguing but I found that the last quarter of the book was far superior to the first three, although, I guess that is because everything fell into place and was explained during the last section of the book so if you are someone who enjoys suspenseful reads that keep you guessing, and leave you hanging, until the end then this is definitely the book for you.

To give a brief description without giving anything away...the book begins when a girl wakes up to find she is locked in the dark in what appears to be a casket and finds a snake trying to bite at her neck. She breaks out into a room full of caskets, several contain other teenagers trying to break out as well so she helps them do so. None of the children know who they are, where they came from or how they ended up locked in coffins. However, they all share one thing in common and that is that they all believe it is their 12th birthday even though they appear to be several years older. They must figure out how to survive and how to escape their predicament without destroying each other in the process and the story definitely has somewhat of a "Lord of the Flies" vibe to it in parts. But they soon realize that they have bigger obstacles than each other that they will have to face and overcome if they want to survive to see the future and uncover the truth behind their past.

This was a very intriguing read and I think if I'd been in less of a rut I would have enjoyed it a lot more. It was very well paced and Sigler did a great job keeping his readers needing to know what happens next and on the edge of their seats. I'm looking forward to reading the second book in The Generations trilogy, Alight, as this book ended in a way that makes me wish I had the second book in hand right now. These books aren't super long and relatively quick reads and are excellent contenders to marathon if that's something you are into. I give this book a 3.75 rating but again, I think it would have been higher if I wasn't in such a slump right now so I would definitely encourage others who enjoy this type of book, dark and mysterious, to give it a try for themselves.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Go the F*** to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

Go the Fuck to SleepGo the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: June 14, 2011

This is just a quick little review of a fun book that I've been hearing about off and on for quite a while on Goodreads. It's been out for a few years but I just got the chance to check it out and wanted to share with all of you.

This book was hilarious. I think this is probably one of the most honest bedtime stories ever written and I'm sure most every parent can relate to the narrator, at least at one time or another. I saw this reviewed on someone else's GRs post and they were kind enough to include the link to the YouTube version of Samuel L. Jackson reading this delightful little gem so I'm going to do the same. In case the title isn't a clear enough giveaway this definitely isn't intended to be read to actual children unless you want them going to daycare sounding like trashy little pirates...although, I suppose itty bitty babies who can't yet talk wouldn't know the difference. This would make a great baby shower gag gift for any first time parent, or seasoned vet, with a good sense of humor.

Here's a link to Samuel L. Jackson reading this on YouTube:

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Gemina (Illuminae Files, Book 2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: October 18, 2016

I've been meaning to write a full review for this book for a few days and want to get it done now while it's still semi fresh in my mind...

I liked this book. I liked it quite a lot. I didn't love it, though, and I didn't enjoy Gemina quite as much as Illuminae but it was still a very interesting and creative story that I definitely don't regret reading and highly recommend.

This is what I would classify a sci-fi/contemporary with a lot of action and definitely in the YA genre as the swear words were all bleeped out in a way that I found both unrealistic and annoying but that's a very minor issue to have in the grand scheme of things. It follows two new characters who were not in Illuminae, Hanna and Nik, who are on the space station Heimdall, however, Ezra and Kady are mentioned about half way through and do play a fairly significant role in this story. There are several other cameos from the Illuminae cast throughout Gemina (including AIDEN!) but primarily this book has a whole new set of characters. For the most part I found that Hanna and Nik were basically carbon copies of Kady and Ezra with new names and different backstories, although Hanna wasn't as tech savvy as Kady so that's where Nik's techie cousin, Ella, comes into play. There are a lot of similarities in the plot during the first half of Gemina and that turned me off a bit. I was really worried I was simply reading another version of Illuminae and only the names and a few minor details had changed... BUT the second half of the books was absolutely authentic, unexpected and completely redeeming. I don't want to spend much time summarizing the plot in this review because I think it's better to go into this one blind but it's safe to assume that if you've read and enjoyed Illuminae then you'll enjoy this as well and you'll already have a solid grasp on what to expect.

This book was a bit difficult to follow and keep up with for me because there was so much going on, a ton of new characters to keep up with, multiple subplots, an illegal drug manufacturing operation, aggressive alien creatures, attacking drone ships, new scientific theories/discoveries, BeiTech assassins, betrayals and budding romances.... and all together just a lot of moving parts. For the first three quarters of the book there was one major conflict and when that was resolved the last quarter of the book involved an entirely new conflict that had to be delt with. I found the way the storyline was set up and the transition between conflicts a bit choppy but that might just be me being over critical. You know how sometimes you read a book and you really like it but then when you're writing your review it's full of negativity? I'm really not trying to make this like that.

I really did enjoy this book. I love the way it's created with mixed media format, ironically, because initially I was reluctant to read these books, despite rave reviews, because of the unique format, but the execution is practically flawless and the creative minds that created these books (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff) are so impressive and talented. As with Illuminae I listened to Gemina on Audible and I highly recommend that format to anyone else with an interest in these books. It really takes these books to a higher level, the narration is excellent and the sound effects and extras that reading alone doesn't include really brought this story to life, in my opinion. I also loved the way the authors were able to deceive the reader on more than one occasion and there were a couple plot twists that I didn't suspect and that always impresses me and makes a book more enjoyable.

Let's take a minute to talk about Nik Malikov! He was definitely my favorite and no surprise because I've always been drawn to the bad boys, like a moth to a flame, and Nik was the epitome of a bad boy! He was a tatted up, drug dealing, certified hustler with a very checkered past, a convicted felon, fresh outta prison, smoking cigarettes, born into a crime family on the wong side of the tracks, original gangsta! Oh be still my heart! My teenage self would have fallen hard for Mr. Malikov (or his real life equivalent) but luckily, with the wisdom of age and experience my 33 year old self has learned that it's a lot more fun to read and fantasize about the Nik's of the world (or of outer space as the case may be) than it is to actually exist with them irl. But Nik was a bad ass with a soft side, enhancing his appeal and my appreciation for his character. Needless to say, I really enjoyed reading about him.

Overall, I give this between a 3.75 and 4 stars out of 5 which is a very good rating, as far as I'm concerned. I definitely recommend this duo but if there's one thing I cannot stress enough to anyone considering these books, especially anyone who is deterred by the mixed media format, it would be to try the audio version! As far as I know Illuminae and Gemina are a duology but the ending, although there was definitely a solid, satisfying conclusion, definitely paved the way for a trilogy and I'd be really shocked if there wasn't a third installment in the Illuminae series (fingers crossed). I'm curious to know if anyone has knowledge of that possibility?

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison (memoir)

The KissThe Kiss by Kathryn Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: June 1, 1998

I have always been drawn to memoirs in which the subject matter is taboo, shockingly bazaar and unacceptable to even the most liberal minded of today's society. Anything that can stimulate my morbid curiosities, in a non-fiction format, fascinates me. So when I heard of The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison, after reading the review of another GRs member, the appeal was instant and I immediately went to my library, signed it out, and devoured it in (close to) one sitting. It had that additional element of tragedy, centered around incest, but also weaved into this story were topics of emotional abuse, codependency, depression, eating disorders and family relationships- both dysfunctional and loving, all packaged into 200 pages of beautifully written, poetic prose. I was not disappointed.

This is a true story in which the author, Kathryn Harrison, reunites with her father when she is twenty years old and their relationship crosses a line into a physical affair that evolves into an obsession, all consuming and even, at times, life threatening. As much as this story is about the forbidden relationship between father and daughter, it's just as much about the relationship between Kathryn Harrison and her mother and how the latter, quite possibly, set the stage for the former, if one were to really analyze cause and effect.

Growing up, Harrison lived primarily with her grandparents, the upper-middle-class parents of her mother, although, her mother played a very significant, albeit unreliable, role in her life and upbringing. Her father was banished when Harrison was just a baby, deemed unworthy as a provider on the meager salary of a preacher, seldom spoken of and cut out of all family photographs. To a young girl, craving attention, parental love and approval, he became almost like a mythical creature - sought after yet unreachable, enhancing the appeal and romanticizing the existence of without the disappointments and faults of reality.

When Harrison is 20, an adult and finally able to initiate, or at the least consent to, a relationship with the stranger who is her father she is, at first, infactuated by his undivided attention and interest in her after years of longing for nothing else. If only that were the extent of it. But the relationship quickly escalates from platonic to out of control and her father will no relent until he posses, and controls, all of her and allows no room for her to love, or be loved by, anyone else.

I was both surprised and impressed by how honest this story was and I have a lot of admiration for Kathryn Harrison to lay out her most intimate and shameful moments for everyone to see. This is a very personal account of her story and her vulnerability and bravery is endearing and impressive. The powerful strength of the subject matter of this book is equally matched by the talented writing that truly did the story the justice it deserves. I thought the ending was perfectly executed, extremely satisfying, and in perfect pace with the rest of the book.

This isn't a book for the faint of heart and for readers who have a personal history with sexual abuse, incest or otherwise, it might be upsetting and disturbing, or it could be inspirational and empowering depending on the individual and their comfort level with subjects addressed. It could possibly be a trigger for those who struggle with eating disorders as they are briefly mentioned, multiple times, during this memoir. For anyone else I absolutely recommend it. I'm giving it between 4-4.5 out of 5 stars and the only reason this isn't a full 5 star rating is because I did find some parts to be a bit vague and I would have appreciated a little more detail but given the personal, sensitive nature of this book I do respect that the author shares or omits whatever she chooses and aside from that I have no complaints and I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend this book.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

CommonwealthCommonwealth by Ann Patchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: September 13, 2016

Hands down I give this lovely gem of a read 5 stars without hesitation! This book was so satisfying from cover to cover. Literary fiction used to be my jam (if you will) and recently I've veered off into YA/fantasy but after reading Commonwealth I really want to steer my preferences back toward my old trusted default. Although, bad ass teenage assassins or dystopian society's in which everyone has magical powers or fairytales retold for grown ups are very entertaining and enjoyable, there's not a lot of real substance or relatable material in that type of genre, I don't see reflections of myself or those around me, in the everyday situations and struggles of the human condition, as I saw in this book. The character development in this book was 5 stars on its own! To be able to follow a character from a young child, through college, careers, marriage & children of their own, all the way up to their 60's and everything in between, really makes you feel like you know them personally, especially when portrayed in Patchett's beautiful writing style.

In the description it reads that this book follows five generations of families, but for the most part the focus is primarily on two. It begins with two married couples, who divorce and remarry, and their two sets of young children, blending their families and sharing custody between California and Virginia. The story follows the parents all the way up to old age and their children to middle age and illustrates the changes that occur, for both the individual and the family dynamic, as time goes by. This is a book about relationships in good times and bad, how families come together and endure dispite loss and grief and guilt, or how they fall apart because of it. It's about cause and effect and how one small decision can alter not only the life of one person but of everyone else that one person is connected to, their children and relatives. I often caught myself reflecting on my own life, choices and family, and how entirely different it could have been and could be as the result of one "small" decision.

I loved this book. I thought it was extremely personal and insightful and I'm very curious to know if it's at all based on the life of the author, Ann Patchett, and her own family and, honestly, I'd be surprised if it wasn't because the story is so honest and so convincing. It's interesting, captivating and beautifully written in a way that is so simplistically profound because it's simply telling the story of a family's life as they grow up and grow old but in a way that I was able to connect with personally as if I were reading about my own sister or mother or father and she did it in a way that wasn't heavy or depressing while still managing layers of depth.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys well written novels by talented storytellers. I borrowed this from my local library where all that was available was the audio version on CD which I enjoyed whenever I was driving, or riding, in my vehicle no my very critical, non-reading, boyfriend also enjoyed it very much which speaks volumes in itself! The narrator did a great job bringing the characters to life in a soothing, relaxed tone, so I can definitely recommend that format to anyone who enjoys audio books (or whose library is currently out of the print version).

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Heart of Betrayal (Book 2, The Remnant Chronicles) by Mary E. Pearson

The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles, #2)The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: July 7, 2015

I'll be honest, this book was a bit of a struggle for me but in all fairness I've been in a bit of a reading slump and I feel like I might be a bit burnt out on the YA fantasy genre so I don't know if the book is entirely too blame for my lack of interest or if the issue is a personal one.

**This review may contain spoilers for those who haven't read book one in this series, The Kiss of Deception, as I might reference significant events that took place in, or after, that book throughout this review. It does NOT, however, contain any spoilers for The Heart of Betrayal.

This is the second book in The Remnant Chronicles where we continue to follow our female protagonist, "Lia", a princess who, in book one, ran away from an arranged marriage to a prince she'd never met and was tracked down by both an assassin with orders to kill her as well as the prince she left at the alter. In book two, The Heart of Betrayal, the Assassin defies his orders and instead brings Lia to his faraway kingdom of Venda, where she is at the mercy of the Komizar, the ruthless leader with his own secrets and agendas. The prince is also held captive in Venda although his true identity is unknown by his captors and he holds onto hope that four of his best men will come to the rescue, although this seems impossible and unrealistic given the magnitude of the opposition and the difficult task of leaving Venda, which is only possible by way of a single bridge which is always drawn and takes at least twenty men to lower. Lia must try to stay alive, remain on the good side of the Komizar and juggle her feelings for both the assassin and the prince, all while trying to devise and execute an escape.

I finished the first book in this series, The Kiss of Deception, very quickly and although I didn't fall head-over-heels in love with that one, I obviously enjoyed it enough to pick up book two in The Remnant Chronicles, The Heart of Betrayal. My expectations weren't super high to begin with for this book and as it progressed my interest level continued to decline, in some parts more than others, and at times this book seemed to drag on endlessly, I found the plot to be extremely predictable, making some parts seem very slow and insignificant as I just wanted the storyline to get on it with it already. That's not to say other parts weren't interesting and engaging because this book wasn't all bad and I do like some of the characters and feel invested enough in their lives and their future to most likely continue with this saga and read The Beauty of Darkness, the third and, I believe, final book in the series. While this wasn't my favorite book, by a long shot, it wasn't awful either and I did think it was very well written with strong character development and a kick ass female protagonist, however, it was lacking in the way the story was paced and the tempo was rather dull, imo. I would rate this between 3 and 3.5 out of 5 stars but again, it may be one of those books that, had I read it at a different time when I felt more inclined to do so, the rating might have been higher and the criticism decreased, perhaps.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Book Giveaway! 'Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in NYC...' by Michael D. Blutrich

Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City, Was Extorted out of Millions by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in FBI History


Win a Hardcover Copy of...

Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City, Was Extorted out of Millions by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in FBI History by Michael D. Blutrich

"A fascinating, funny, and, at times, frightening tale of strippers, money, and the mob by one of the FBI's most unlikely informants ever!"
- Anderson Cooper

Just leave a comment below, include your name and email and I will randomly choose one lucky winner on February 25th which is my birthday and I want to celebrate it with you guys by giving one of you the opportunity to win this great book. I have teamed up with the publisher to host this giveaway of a true story that reads like fiction. Leave your comments and contact information below and good luck!

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

A Court of Thorns and Roses
by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Publication Date: May 5, 2015


What a book! I mean, like, holy shit did I enjoy this read! I was a little skeptical because there's soooo much hype surrounding this series and anything written by Sarah J. Maas these days so that can usually set the expectations a little to high and the outcome usually comes with disappointment. Not in this case. I read Throne of Glass, the first book in the other series by Sarah J. Maas and I liked it a lot and plan on reading the rest of the series very soon as I've heard it keeps getting better as the books progress...but I LOVE A Court of Thorns and Roses!

As I'm sure most of you have heard this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast which is one of my all time favorite Disney movies from childhood and I'm beyond excited that next month (March 2017) they are coming out with a real life adaptation with Emma Watson playing Belle! So I don't know if it was the nostalgia that made this book so appealing and enjoyable, or Sarah J. Maas is just a genius at her craft, or maybe it's a combination of both but this is definitely NOT the G rated Disney version, it was definitely written for grown ups because there is quite a bit of sexual content and some violence, which I can appreciate.

In this version we have Feyre (Belle) who kills a wolf when hunting to feed her family, unaware the wolf was a Fae which violated an ancient treaty between Faeries and humans. In exchange for the life of the wolf she is forced to go live with Tamlin (Beast) who is a High Fae lord whose court the wolf was from. With the alternative being instant death Feyre reluctantly agrees and as you can imagine, as time passes the relationship between Feyre and Tamlin begins to grow and evolve but there is a lot more to the treaty than Feyre was initially told.

This book has romance and magic and conflict and curses and it's absolutely enchanting and highly addictive. I had originally expected that because I knew the story of Beauty and the Beast that it would take away from this book but that wasn't the case at all because it is such a loose retelling with so many new and unexpected elements, characters, and outcomes. If anything I enjoyed this book even more because of my prior knowledge and I especially enjoyed seeing the new version of the characters...Mrs. Pots was a housemaid called Alis, Lumiere was a one-eyed Fae named Lucien, and of course there was a version of Gaston...but I don't want to give to much away in a spoiler free review.

I will say that Maas did this story justice which is no easy take when the bar was set so high by the original, but this is one of the few exceptions where a book, in my opinion, not only lives up to but actually surpasses all the hype surrounding it. I've heard that the second book in this series, A Court of Mist and Fury, is even better so I can't wait to read it for myself and I know the third book, A Court of Wings and Ruin, is coming out this spring and highly anticipated. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fairy tale retellings, fantasy, ya, or just a well written page turner that is so hard to put down. I usually find fantasy novels to be a lot of work to read but this one was a breeze and I loved that although it's classified young adult, the adult element is still there whereas a lot of YA seems to be more juvenile than young adult, in my opinion.

This was an easy five star rating for me and I don't know why I waited so long to pick it up but I will definitely be reading more by Sarah J. Maas in the very near future and highly recommend that anyone who hasn't read her books to do the same. And if you've read Throne of Glass and liked it, chances are you will LOVE A Court of Thorns and Roses.

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Giveaway! Owlcrate, Amazon, Audible

Giveaway for Amazon, Audible and Owlcrate: 

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent for $1

Burial RitesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent

I found this hardcover book at my local Dollar Tree for $1.00 today!

Review to come soon but for anyone with a Dollar Tree near them, be sure to check out the book selection because you never know what gem you might score for a buck!

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