This review contains SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens
Also posted on Goodreads.
I'd been debating about whether to read this book for months now and I finally decided to give it a shot......... It was devastating. This book bothered me on a whole other level. I wanted to cry. I sniffled back tears I was so enraged at Kiara and Kellan and sad for Denny. The whole time he was being cuckolded by Kiara and she was too blind and dumb to see it. This is a novel that you know is going to end horribly for all characters involved and I hated how the author tried to make it a fairly happy ending for all involved. It's not possible.
Kiara's been with Denny for two years, she follows him to Washington to finish school because she loves him. They end up living with his friend Kellan who's a singer. Denny's internship sends him out of town for two months. Kiara freaks out, gets super clingy, but lets him go. Her friendship with Kellan escalates until Denny calls and tells her he's been offered a full-time job in another state and he accepted. She effectively breaks up with him and sleeps with Kellan. Denny returns to her the next day, quitting the job and internship for her, and she never tells him what she did. Then her and Kellan have sex again when Kellan decides to leave to let her and Denny be happy. She won't let him go.
The whole book is her playing both sides, albeit she doesn't do it to be a bitch, she's scared and weak. Incredibly weak. The most trying part is when Denny finds out, his character is turned into a monster, beating the shit out of Kellan and then accidentally hurting Kiara, sending her to the hospital, he almost killed her. But then, Denny and Kiara stay friends. All is forgiven. Denny and Kellan stay friends and after all this there's more back and forth between Kellan and Kiara until they finally get together.
Another issue I have, is Kiara's jealousy. In the end, even when she's with Kellan, she's jealous of other women, having these 'what if' moments, like what if he got hit on and she wasn't there, would he cheat. Like....you cheated on Denny, with your current boyfriend...seriously? And before, her jealousy over Kellan was ridiculous. She was sleeping with her boyfriend and was jealous of Kellan and took it out on Denny.
There are times when she recognizes she's wrong...but my God it is awful. Kellan's patience with her is too much. In the end, Denny says she sees him as her security blanket and I have to say that's the best way I can describe the whole book. Her love with Denny was great and then he's gone, he goes a few days without calling her and she losses her shit. If she would have come clean immediately, we broke up, I had sex with your friend, things could have been different. But no, and there's no reason for her to be so needy or insecure.
One of the most emotional and best written scenes is when she's with Kellan and remembering her life with Denny. There's this ultimate back and forth in her, who she should be with, past or future. It's intense and incredibly emotional....I said emotional, right????
It's well written, a good plot, there are nice points, but it hurt my heart, poor Denny loved her and she hurt so many people with her inability to be honest.
Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell
++++++This review contains spoilers++++++
Also posted on Goodreads
This is a one off for me. It was a book I had been given last year and was on my reading list but I just never felt in the mood to sit down and read until today. Overall, it’s a solid read. Creepy, especially those damn little dolls, ominous, with an unsolved murder at the center.
The main character, Sophie, is playing the Oujia board with her best friend, Jay. She asks to speak to her cousin who died years ago. Through the Oujia board, which is a phone app btw, they’re playing in a restaurant, the dead cousin, Rebecca, passes on a rather mysterious message, including that Jay, will die that night. The lights go out, Sophie thinks she sees a little girl, a waitress gets burned, and by the next morning Jay is in fact dead.
At this point there’s no real connection to her friend, so his death brings no real emotional charge to the reader. But it leads her character to be more determined. She’s never known how her cousin died. She’s supposed to go visit them while her parents vacation. As a main character she’s not terrible. Sophie will state in the story that she should have put the pieces together sooner, etc. So it helps make up for her lack of seeing what can feel obvious at times.
Her Uncle, who is her mother’s step-brother, and her cousins Cameron, Piper, and Lilias all live in a former schoolhouse on top of a cliff. Cameron, the boy, was a musical prodigy whose hand was damaged in a fire. Lilias, is an odd child who is phobic of everything, and wasn’t born when Rebecca died.
As the story progresses we learn the Aunt is in a mental health facility, having a breakdown after Rebecca’s death. Rebecca, supposedly set the fire that injured Cameron’s hand, pulled wings off butterflies, killed the family cat, all because the Frozen Charlotte dolls told her to.
The dolls. Little chipped up porcelain dolls, naked, based on a song about a young woman who died on the way to a ball for not dressing warmly. The dolls start whispering, moving. We learn about the former school. The teacher fell down the stairs, a child was blinded, one jumped out a window, one was poisoned. The dolls want out of their locked glass room.
Jay pops up throughout as a voice in her head, if he were he’d say blah blah blah type of thing. But I got angry because at one point Sophie wants to leave and Rebecca has Lilias pass on a message that Jay says hi. Like, what a bitchy thing to do. Anytime she feels a disconnect or is ready to go, pop in Jay.
The story pits Cameron against Piper. At first I was pro-Piper, being the only sane person in the house but then you realize she’s a lying psychopath and why would you trust her. Which leads me to my biggest issue with the book. Cameron and Lilias know Piper is psychotic. The dolls have made her insane. She wears a necklace of doll hands for goodness sake. But, if she’s crazy and you think she murdered your sister, you know she’s the one who started the fire that ruined your hand and she’s the one that killed the cat, get away from her!!!!!!!!!!!!! Because she is a psycho. Towards the end, Rebecca shows Sophie how she really died and Piper watched and laughed and had no mercy. It’s great writing but it’s messed up.
All in all it leads to a showdown. Piper burns the house down, the dolls burning, they take Piper with them. And all is well. Cameron is going to go to school by Piper and they’re going to “hang” it’s adorable. But, some dolls got away. Sophie tried to get rid of them, threw a bunch over the cliff, but they wash ashore to a little girl and they want to be her best friend.
I recommend it. It’s a quick read, a good read, but for me this is a type of book that’s a one-time read.
This is a throwback to my first love, the old-fashioned murder mystery. My first foray into this genre was Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. I remember borrowing my sister's copy at a young age and being enraptured by the novel. This was swiftly followed by my falling deeply in love with all things Christie. I have every Poirot, every Marple, and almost every novel Christie has written. Which brings me to this. I've been desperately trying to find another author who captures my attention, rivets my mind the way Christie has. Every time I re-read And Then There Were None, I still get goose bumps.
So, I'd began my harrowing search for another Queen(or King) of mystery when I came across this jewel. I feel absolutely ashamed I never knew the great A.A. Milne who influenced my childhood in such amazing ways with Winnie the Pooh, also penned this delicious murder mystery.
There are multiple viewpoints. The first part initially being from the servants and there's a nice upstairs/downstairs effect, getting the viewpoints of the haves and have nots. Mark Ablett, the owner of the Red house, lives with his cousin Mr. Cayley. They're having a group of people visiting. The morning of the incident, Mark announces at the table his disreputable brother is coming to visit. Everyone leaves to golf, leaving the house empty with only, Mark, Cayley, the servants, and the arrival of Robert, Mark's brother.
Robert ends up dead, Mark gone. Enter Mr. Gillingham. The star of the novel. Our amateur sleuth. Friend of one of the guests out golfing he becomes the Holmes, his friend, the Watson. It's a wonderful novel that is reminiscent of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd in some ways.
There are some surprises and twists and it's a fun read. The characters get physically involved and emotionally invested. There are secret passages and well...ghosts!
First off, I want to thank those that have been reading my blog and/or commenting on it. Thank you. Second, someone asked me recently how I felt about the books I read and review and whether or not I would recommend them. The short and long of it is, yes! Read, read, read! How do you know you won't like it? Give it a try. Every book I read I full heartedly feel you should give a shot. You may have a completely different opinion. Books are made to enjoy. They give us hope, laughter, sadness, despair, a full spectrum of human emotions. There are very few books I would ever say, never read. But I will never review them. This is just me giving a honest opinion about what I'm reading. My goal is to be completely open in my observations and critiques. Reading is a personal thing that we turn into a social event. It brings people together. We're a community of readers. So, read on.
Mind Games/Double Cross/Head Rush
This was a tough call. I love books. I love reading, writing, editing, anything related to books, including critiquing. It's been awhile since I've posted a review so I had to peruse my list of books to find something more on key with everything else I've reviewed on here. I tend to jump around between YA/NA and straight up adult novels. Romance, Fantasy, SciFi, Contemporary. But in thinking about what I've read recently this stuck out for me because Carolyn Crane the author served up some unique characters with a fresh plot. There will be spoilers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm reviewing a trilogy people.
Ever hear of a "psychological hit squad" or want to be part of one? Who doesn't? Justine Jones is neurotic to the extreme. She is a severe hypochondriac with a unique gift...she can project that onto someone else. She meets a man, Packard, mysteriously tied to a restaurant he never seems to leave, who teaches her how to project her fear onto someone else. She joins a team of disillusionists, who specialize in anger, gambling, self-esteem, and destruction, to recalibrate the bad guys. Along the way she meets Otto, a local hero, with plenty of secrets of his own.
The chemistry between Packard and Justine is amazing. Otto grosses me out as the other love interest. He wears a beret and it never quite clicked for me how she could be so easily manipulated by him in the beginning. Right from the start we know both these men are dark, darker than we can imagine. The plot flow through the first and second books are great. The buildup between Justine and Packard was thrilling. The dialog between them was always fresh and easy. The build up of the characters main and secondary are wonderful, especially the always dark Simon and the wonderful Shelby. But then...the third book.
Head Rush...Pissed me off. Okay the end of Double Cross and all of Head Rush angered me. But Shelby is finally happy. She's got her bff Justine and her beau and what happens....her love gets murdered. Her world is eternally sad and she's so awesome! Then Justine forgets about her romantic interlude with Packard because Otto has her memory erased. It wasn't even that, it was that she so easily believed that Packard was a monster. Grr. The main character goes from great to awful for me. And in the end I care more about the secondary characters, Shelby and Simon then I do Justine.
All of that being said, if you enjoy urban fantasy or want to try something a little different this is a great jumping off point. Maybe the ending will satisfy you, but for me I'm left wanting. Side note, there are inbetween books that cover some of the secondary characters but they don't have the same feel as the first two books of this series.
Author Sarah Rees Brennan
Going into this book I was excited yet apprehensive. I was worried this book would be heavy on the romance and light on the mystery and fantasy. But, I have to say this book went above and beyond my expectations and surprised me. The romance is very light, if barely there and the paranormal elements will take you completely by surprise. When choosing a book I try not to read deeply into reviews so they don’t spoil anything for me, so I won’t say what the mysterious Lynburn family are.
Kami is never alone, truly. She’s always heard a voice in her head, Jared. They are closer than any two people can be, only they think the other is imaginary. But when the Lynburn family move back to the English sleepy Sorry-in-the-Vale town after being gone for decades Kami finds that Jared is Jared Lynburn and he is very real and very scary. With the arrival of the Lynburn’s there’s screaming in the woods, murdered animals, and a murdered classmate, not to mention, someone is out to kill her.
Kami is a determined girl reporter who creates a school newspaper, beautifully titled, The Nosy Parker. She starts it with her best friend Angela, lazy and beautiful, always on the lookout for a nap, against her will. One of Kami’s first stories is about the return of the mysterious Lynburns whom everyone in the town refuses to talk about. The newspaper team is soon rounded out by Ash Lynburn, photographer, whom she uses to pump for info about his family, and Holly who tips her off to a murdered animal near the woods. Then she meets her imaginary friend.
When Kami meets Jared, I lost it. It was hysterical and awkward. Kami is a great lead character, she’s funny, determined, strong, and she doesn’t get bogged down by rules. Jared is a little bit of a delinquent who intimidates her. When they find each other, they’re terrified. They can’t even touch, it’s too surreal and they both have a hard time coping. There’s a beautiful contrast between the Jared in her head and the Jared in real life. The mystery of the book closely centers on the Lynburns and Kami. All the characters are well rounded with plenty of faults.
Everyone has secrets in this book. It’s got the Gothic feel but it’s also hilarious. So even when it’s dark, it’s still light. There’s also no coupling happening in this book, just lots of maybes, including maybe some LGBTQ action happening. The ending was infuriating because you come to care so deeply for the characters but alas, I’ll have to read the sequel and hope it rights everything for the characters.
The Westing Game
Author Ellen Raskin
Now, normally I stick to reviewing YA/NA but I just re-read this recently and even though it's mainly a middle grade book, I feel everyone should read it at least once.
The first time I read this book I was eight or nine years old. It's stuck with me over the years for both it's simplicity and brilliance. Every time I start to feel a little dead inside I read this book to remind myself I'm human: I can laugh and cry. There's something profound about children's books that enables both children and adults to safely discuss life's darker sides. One of Raskin's best qualities is her ability to make it comfortable to discuss life and death in a fun and ingenious way. More so in Figgs and Phantoms, but to some extent in The Westing Game as well. If you're a fan of John Irving's endings, you'll love Ellen Raskin, where she details out what becomes of all the characters.
I've read The Westing Game more times than I can count, but whether I read it at eight, eighteen, or twenty eight, the same holds true. I laugh, I cry. I'm happy, I'm sad. It's a fun murder mystery. A clever whodunit!
Sixteen people come together to hear the reading of the will of Sam Westing. In his will, Sam declares he was murdered and he knows who did it, partners up the sixteen people into eight groups and gives each group a set of clues. Whoever can solve the murder gets the whole fortune, but beware, not everyone is what they seem. There's a thief, a bomber, a mistake, and any number of liars in disguise.
++++++++++++++also posted on goodreads and facebook++++++++++++
Fall From Grace (Mad World 1)
Author Christine Zolendz
For me this is a four out of five. It's got great characters, depth, plot, growth, etc. The only thing that stopped me from LOVING it was that the main character, Grace, is blind. Blinded by prejudice she doesn't see what everyone else around her sees until it's too late. So there's a few twists, none of which will take you by surprise.
The book starts with Grace's brother dying and her going home to her roommate and best friend. She goes out with her best friend, Lea, and Lea's new boyfriend, where she meets Shane, front man for the band Mad World. Now what I love is that the cast of characters is pretty big. All the bandmates are friends, Lea's boyfriend, and a few others. They're all great. The dialogue is witty and fast paced.
Shane is a man-whore, but Grace is it for him and she's the only one who doesn't see it. He is a bit of an ass but he's still incredibly sweet, sexy, and perfect for her. The sexual tension is ridiculous. There is no sex, but damn, there are some scenes that are sexier and hotter than any sex scene I've read.
This book reads like a contemporary romance for most of the book, about halfway through you start to see the fantasy aspects. There's not much actual discussion in the beginning, just hints and a few barbs. For anyone who reads this, this is a romance first, the fantasy elements are secondary.
Previously posted on Goodreads and Facebook
4 out of 5 stars
The Foxglove Killings by Tara Kelly
I love good prose! Even if a book is a little flat, if it's got good prose, I'm sold. And this book did that for me. It starts off with our narrator, Nova, and her best friend Alex stumbling across a dead deer. Well, mutilated to be more accurate, with a foxglove stuffed in it's mouth. Nova, Alex, and their enemies, Matt and Jenika are the prime suspects. Lower class, working at her grandfather's diner, Nova is forced to deal with the cakes-rich kids that vacation there during the summer, one of whom she used to date. When one of the cakes goes missing only to turn up dead, Alex is accused. Nova learns things about him she never knew and when he vanishes, she's left with her worst enemy, Jenika, to prove his innocence. But can they find the murderer before they strike again?
Overall, this book was well worth the read. The relationships are complex, relatable, and honest. The writing is wonderful. There are some nice twists, one plot point was obvious but easily forgiven.
Previously posted on Goodreads and Facebook
This is a 3 out 5 star book for me
So...Asylum. Well, not the best book. It started off strong for me and then slowly went downhill the rest of the way. This is a book that had a lot of directions it could take and, even though it didn't take the most obvious path, the ending fell a little flat, and was still pretty obvious. I will say there was maybe one nice twist in there though.
Dan is a bit of a geek and goes off to spend the summer at a college prep program in New Hampshire. Normal housing has been closed so the students have to stay at a different dorm, one that used to be a psychiatric hospital. The first person he meets is his weird roommate who tells him about the creepy basement loaded with creepy pictures of the old hospital. Then he makes two friends and they stupidly go exploring the basement, repeatedly. Is the dorm haunted by a serial killer from the past, why does Dan feel so close to the old warden of the place, and why does no one talk about the old hospital?
His friends, Abby and Jordan, are awful. Jordan serves no purpose in this story, just one minute detail at the end gives him reason to be there but he's not necessary. Abby and Dan's romance is forced and serves nothing in the plot, just wasted space. The creepiest part of the book is the pictures, but even then it falls flat for me.
Now, I'll still read the sequels, it wasn't a complete dud but it just didn't make sense to me. Abby is linked to the hospital and so is Dan, even Dan's roommate is linked, but then there's Jordan. I don't get it. And also, Jordan is a terrible friend....just saying.