A Head Full of Ghosts

⇒My October Spooky Reads book #4 is A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay. What do you do when you’re literally living with your deepest fear?⇐

by Paul Tremblay
SmellRating3.5
(3.81 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published June 2, 2015, by William Morrow

Genre: Fiction / Horror / Thriller

Format: Paperback

Pages: 284

#AHeadFullofGhosts

A Head Full of Ghosts…being literally and figuratively haunted by outside forces, is almost as horrible as what actually happened. Almost.

October Spooky Reads month continues, and I’m getting exasperated! I AM NOT BEING SCARED! Ok, ok, so maybe my book picks are at fault because I chose to read primarily from physical books that were already on my shelves instead of lining up some truly, awesomely frightening books from the library. BUT!…. some of these have held the promise of “scary” without quite delivering.

A Head Full of Ghosts for example. I mean, come on! It’s right there in the title! Ghosts. In a Head. Gotta be horrifying, right? Meh, only marginally so.

…there are all these ghosts filling my head and I’m just trying to get them out…

Here is Goodreads’ synopsis:

The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show, and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface—and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

Are you good at keeping secrets, Merry?

The story is told from 8-year-old Merry’s perspective, so we get the innocence and gullibility of youth combined with her faith that her big sister and best friend would only always protect her. With a sister like Marjorie though, that’s blind faith indeed.

Marjorie is fourteen. And we all know how heinous some teenagers can be. Sure, blame it on imbalanced hormones and the awkward state of trying to “find oneself”, but Marjorie had some help with her misplaced aggression and angst: a psychotic break.

Here we tread on thin ice – do we pity her because mental health issues are gravely serious and people suffering from them should be treated not only with medicine but with respect and dignity? Or do we make Marjorie the monster because, hey, she’s “crazy” and this is a fictional book? You decide because I couldn’t.

I mean, this chick was definitely certifiable, but it seemed that her family was too in many ways. They definitely didn’t help her situation. So many different turns could have been taken that weren’t. It feels more like they were all in on it together, so their story really ended in the only way it could have.

What if you expelled the person’s real spirit and only the demon’s spirit was there to take its place?

Gripes: (in my whiny voice) I wanted it to be scarier! I wanted a real horror book. I read psych thrillers a lot, and that is what this book felt like to me. Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad book – and there are some genuinely creepy moments. However, I found myself looking for more of those moments instead of being interested in the rest of the story.

Were these the most irresponsible parents on the planet? I’m thinking yes. Right now, I’m sitting here trying to dredge up one redeeming value about either of them… I got nothing.

And was that supposed to be a twist at the end? Hmmm… no spoilers, but I think what was supposed to pass as astounding information in the final two chapters just felt like a given. Still interesting, but predictable.

… I’m wicked smart, because I have to fill my head with something other than the ghosts.

A Head Full of Ghosts left me wanting more horror, but it was still a creepy book that had me questioning on several occasions whether or not there was really more to Marjorie’s mental health issues than what we’d rationally surmise. Could there have possibly been ghosts? In her head? Extremely willful and manipulative ghosts?  And how does that line up with the scientific definition of what psychosis is understood to be?

In the 1800s, Marjorie would have probably been burned at the stake instead of given her own reality show (19th-century folk didn’t play around with demons or witches), but that age is long gone; the spectacle is now more important than the cure. It’s sad. And that’s how this book makes me feel. Sad, instead of pleasantly scared and jittery like I wanted to be.

But that’s not quite right either. Maybe I really feel horrified, but in a completely different way than I intended.


About the Author

Image result for paul tremblayPAUL TREMBLAY

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Paul G. Tremblay is an American author and editor of contemporary horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction. He is also a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards.

(Bio from Google)


 

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The Water Cure

by Sophie Mackintosh

SmellRating4

(3.9 stars – Goodreads rating)

To Be Re-Published January 8, 2019, by Doubleday

Genre: Fiction / Dystopian Science-Fiction

Format: Kindle Edition

Page Count: 256

#TheWaterCure  #NetGalley

The Water CureEven if it is a failed utopia, at least we tried.

Grace, Lia, and Sky live with their parents in a house beside a sandy beach. That sounds like the beginning of a wonderful story, doesn’t it? Who would have thought that such a benign beginning could result in such a tangled web of disappearances, deceit, and danger?

King believes he has rescued his family by secluding them in a home by the bay. He and their mother taught them to protect themselves from the toxicity of the world by performing rituals and ceremonies of cleansing. The three girls had to prove themselves strong, loyal, and loving – to their parents, to each other, to themselves. But not to men.

There were men who naturally caused great harm. It is built into them. You had warned us. You are one, though you would never admit it.

Men weren’t present in their lives. Only King. This was for their protection because men were the cause of all the harm and poison in the world. Being hidden away from them was the only way to survive.

But when King disappears during a routine supply run and is presumed dead, and Mother also does not return from her trip beyond the sea border, the sisters are stuck on their beach with three castaways. Men. And this changes everything.

… loss is a thing that build around you… what feels like safety is often just absence of current harm, and those two things are not the same.

Told through the POVs of the sisters, Sophie Mackintosh’s debut novel, The Water Cure is a palpably tense look through a dystopian window at a family’s search for a unique utopia, and what they end up finding instead.

This is The First Book of Calamity Leek meets The Handmaid’s Tale meets My Absolute Darling in all of each of their weird wackiness and horrifyingly resolute honesty about what makes society (and separation) so imperfect.

This is a stunning debut novel with writing that behaves like watercolors, painting each new page with dynamic emotion: angst, elation, peace, dread. It was unusual, confusing, and eerie in all the best ways. And I could easily see this playing out on the big screen, although it would take a master director to get it entirely right.

Many thanks to NetGalley, Doubleday, and the author for the opportunity to read and review a copy of this book.


About the Author

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SOPHIE MACKINTOSH won the 2016 White Review Short Story Prize and the 2016 Virago/Stylist Short Story competition and has been published in Granta magazine and Tank magazine, among others. The Water Cure is her first novel.

(Bio courtesy of Google)


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Select Few

by Marit Weisenberg

SmellRating3

(3.95 stars – Goodreads rating)

To-Be Published October 9, 2018, by Charlesbridge Teen

Genre: Fiction / Fantasy/ Sci-Fi

Format: Kindle Edition

Page Count: 368 (Hardcover)

#SelectFew  #NetGalley

Select Few (Select, #2)I couldn’t shake the feeling of something pulling me down from this sunny world into a dark place waiting just beneath.

Select Few, Marit Wiesenberg’s 2nd book in the Select series, begins with Julia Jaynes essentially hiding from the world. She’s avoiding the FBI, avoiding the paparazzi, avoiding nosy neighbors, and – most of all – avoiding being discovered by her dangerous and powerful father, Novak. She’s also desperately trying to keep her boyfriend, John, and his newly discovered powers off of Novak’s radar. Julia’s doing a lot of hiding and all the while hoping to someday be able to live a normal life.

One of Julia’s problems is that she doesn’t have a clear idea of what “normal” looks like for her. Does it mean college and a future with John, or does it mean constantly running and staying undercover with Angus in order to keep John safe? These are the decisions that Julia waffles through keeping her conflicted throughout most of the story.

John’s point of view added depth to the narrative and helped cement the romantic undercurrent between Julia and John despite their intense conflicts and separation throughout the book.

Although the resolution was fast-paced, the action of the main story was very slow. It seemed like most of the excitement came while reading the characters’ flashbacks to activities performed in the first book. And for a fantasy/sci-fi story, I expected a tad more fantasy and sci-fi.

Many thanks to NetGalley, Charlesbridge Teen, and the author for the opportunity to read and review an advance copy of this book.


About the Author

Marit WiesenbergWebsite

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Marit Weisenberg has a master’s degree from UCLA in Cinema and Media Studies and worked as a film and television executive for a number of years in Los Angeles. She currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two daughters. SELECT is Marit’s debut novel for young adult readers.

(Bio courtesy of Teenreads.com)


 

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

by Gail Honeyman
Rating: 
(4.35 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published May 9, 2017, by Viking – Pamela Dorman Books

Genre: Fiction / Contemporary Adult

Format: Hardcover

Page Count: 327 pages


Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely FineI do exist, don’t I? It often feels as if I’m not here, that I’m a figment of my own imagination.

In horror movies, there is that one part (that may happen over and over again) where the mood changes. The scene gets darker, the music is more ominous. Maybe even all the action is just a touch slower. As viewers, we know that this is the moment when something is about to happen. The bad guy is coming.

That’s what it was like for me while I was reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Because, of course, she isn’t. And there are bad, bad things lurking around her that definitely deserve a dark setting and ominous music.

But on the surface, Eleanor is making her awkward way through the world: sticking to her routine, correcting everyone’s grammar, and drinking copious amounts of vodka. It’s the normal life of an introvert for her – and, after all, who’s to say what “normal” is anyway?

If I’m ever unsure as to the correct course of action, I’ll think, ‘What would a ferret do?’ or, ‘How would a salamander respond to this situation?’ Invariably, I find the right answer.

I actually saw some of myself in Eleanor. While I’m (thankfully) nowhere near as awkward in public as she is, we do share some of the same introverted tendencies:  being committed to a routine that varies very little from day to day (or at least from week to week), and often having limited contact with other people for long stretches of time. Even in this modern age of technology and all the world’s advancements, there is still a lot of alone-ness going around.

Honeyman sets up Eleanor at times to be a pitiable character, highlighting her loneliness and her painfully cumbersome social interactions. But at other times, we see her as a complicated success story. No, really. She’s a survivor that really shouldn’t even be as well off as she is. And so you can forgive all of her idiosyncrasies because there’s so much depth to her as a person.

…I’d probably want to pluck out my own eyes, to stop looking, to stop seeing all the time. The things I’ve seen cannot be unseen. The things I’ve done cannot be undone.

So now, back to my horror movie analogy – you know by now that I’m not the spoiler type, so I’ll just say that Eleanor is an introvert and part of the story is her learning to function differently in society. She’s figuring it out basically alone. How to shop for clothes, how to get her hair styled, how to interact at a party, how to dance! But Eleanor has a boogyman, and sometimes the darkness creeps in. In the midst of several distinct triumphs, there are setbacks that threaten to destroy all the progress she’s made. Her secrets overwhelm her and are too scary to face.

But no one had ever shown me the right way to live a life, and although I’d tried my best over the years, I simply didn’t know how to make things better. I could not solve the puzzle of me.

Gail Honeyman writes a captivating contemporary tale about an unusual woman who is battling some tough demons. It is subtly suspenseful and Eleanor is entirely frustrating while simultaneously being entirely loveable. Reading this book was like watching a baby deer take its first wobbly steps into a wild world – awkward and fantastic.


About the Author

Gail HoneymanGoodreads

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Gail Honeyman wrote her debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, while working a full-time job, and it was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress. She has also been awarded the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2014, was longlisted for BBC Radio 4’s Opening Lines, and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. She lives in Glasgow.

(Bio courtesy of Goodreads)

A Court of Frost and Starlight

by Sarah J Maas
SmellRating4
(4.23 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published May 1, 2018, by Bloomsbury YA

Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / YA

Format: Hardcover

Page Count: 229 pages

**Warning – Mild spoilers follow**

To the stars who listen…A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

I know this is basically a book review, but this novella also taught me a lot about my own reading weaknesses. I present to you:

EASY WAYS THAT AUTHORS CAN DISTRACT ME WHILE I’M READING…

1- Start writing about renovations. My mind immediately jumps into HGTV mode. So while Rhysand and Feyre are concerned with rebuilding Velaris after the Hybern attack, I’m thinking, “Hmmm, I wish they would talk some more about the renovations – Are there competent builders in Velaris, Are they using a specific color theme, Ooh is there shiplap???

2- Add a character like Amren with such quirky qualities that she seems to dominate every scene she appears in. This book had that in spades. Amren’s adjustment to being fully High Fae now was grossly hilarious and disturbing. I love thinking of scary, dangerous Amren as this book’s comic relief.

And 3- Include a scene where three hot, Illyrian males are naked in a sauna. No explanation needed.

I snorted. ‘So the three of them are just in there. Naked. Sweating.’ Mother above.

Despite my mental distractions while reading, A Court of Frost and Starlight is a much-anticipated little novella that whets our appetites while we wait for the next installment of Night Court magic coming from the SJM camp in 2019.

But… not a lot happens.

Am I disappointed in that? Nope. Why? Because we get some picture-perfect scenes with Rhysand and Feyre, some classic boy-behavior from Rhys, Cassian, and Az that makes us remember that they are friends first and warriors second, and some truly LOL scenes with Amren who is still – hilariously – learning to not be an alien.

Amren: I should have selected a male form. At least you  can whip it out and go wherever you like without having to worry about spilling on —

This is an important character-building installment where we see more of our favorite – and not-so-favorite (i.e. Tamlin) – characters as they are normally, without the added pressures of war or catastrophic kidnappings and torture. We learn more about Mor, who I personally can’t wait to see act out her revenge on the entire Court of Nightmares and rulers of the Autumn Court as well. And now it seems that Rhysand isn’t planning on holding her back whenever she decides to do exactly that.

Honestly, I was a little underwhelmed by the paltry Winter Solstice celebrations of the Night Court. We didn’t get to experience how Velaris rings in the changing of the seasons. After the descriptions of such a spirited celebration in the Spring Court during Calanmai the year before, hanging pine boughs, eating a big meal and exchanging presents feels… uninspired. Surely the Night Court could have come up with more creative traditions than those. For example:

  • Magical ice sculpture competitions in the city. The Velaris citizen that creates the best one wins dinner with the High Lord and High Lady.
  • Ice skating on the frozen Sidra river. The banks could be lined with faerie lights. And after the sun goes down, the males of the village could race on it by starlight.
  • There could be a huge Winter Solstice Ball. That would be a much better reason for Feyre, Mor, and Elain to wear the fancy gowns they love so much. And then Amren could have a perfect excuse to wear some of her exquisite jewelry – as if she needs a reason!

While those suggestions still pale in comparison to the feverish excitement and long-standing tradition of the Calanmai celebration, they’re still better than a meal and drinking until passing out, which is all our beloved characters seemed to do. Dull.

Still, while I was disappointed by the Solstice, Nesta’s continued personal exile, and Lucien’s put-upon behavior, I was satisfied that Elain seems to be coming out of her shell, Feyre finally has a hobby, and Rhysand remains utterly perfect.

Plus, there’s more than one mystery in store: Mor encounters something dark and shadowy skulking in the woods. Who/what could it be? Bryaxis, maybe? What was in the small box that Varian gave to Amren? What are Keir and Eris plotting during their not-so-casual meetings in the Hewn City? Could they possibly join up with the butt-hurt Illyrians and begin a civil war right there in the Night Court? And why is Lucien so convinced that Rhys and Feyre will need Tamlin as an ally in the not-so-distant future?

And please, please, please, SJM, please bring back Emerie the Illyrian shop owner! I can’t wait to see how she could eventually fit into the cozy little family in the Court of Dreams. I have my own ideas about how that could happen 😉

4 stars for this little novella which was a sip of cold water on a hot day. And yes, it left me thirsty for more.


About the Author

Sarah J. MaasWebsite

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Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

(Bio courtesy of Goodreads)


 

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A Court of Wings and Ruin

by Sarah J Maas
Rating: 
(4.53 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published May 2, 2017, by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / YA

Format: Hardcover

Page Count: 705

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)If he was the sweet, terrifying darkness, I was the glittering light that only his shadows could make clear.

If you’re not familiar with this fantasy series already, quick sum-up: Feyre was kidnapped from the human world and forced to live among the faeries in Prythian. These aren’t Tinkerbell fairies, no. These are otherworldly creatures with varied characteristics and deadly powers.
Feyre suffers a lot (that’s a bit of an understatement), there are a few love triangles, she meets some nice faeries, and then she meets some not-so-nice faeries.  And in an extreme effort not to spoil the series for you, I’ll just say that several relationships become more than a little strained in Prythian, and Feyre has a lot to do with it!

This series was not one that I initially set out to read. As you’ve read from me before, fantasy isn’t my usual go-to genre (although I have read more of it recently than in times past). YA also isn’t my usual go-to genre, so I can honestly say that I got influenced to read this series based on fan enthusiasm alone. And, overall, I haven’t been disappointed. I gave high marks to both Book 1: A Court of Thorns and Roses, and Book 2: A Court of Mist and Fury. However, sadly, my fan-love couldn’t push me to give this particular book in the series higher than 3 stars.

It was war.

I don’t really enjoy reading about war, and this book is filled with it – rumors of war, preparations for war, strategies of war, outright war, individual battles,  casualties of war, and the aftermath of war. Is there gonna be a fight? Are we gonna have to fight? Who is gonna fight with us? Who’s gonna fight against us? Are we gonna win? On and on and on. Because of that, there were some chapters that I found tedious and repetitive.

Remember that you are a wolf. And you cannot be caged.

Here is where I make a confession: In movies where there is a battle scene, I often fast-forward until it’s over. Yes, I know, I know. It’s sacrilege. But I get it. Two sides disagree, they battle, it’s gory, there are some heroes, there are some cowards, one side wins, everyone loses some people. Done. See? I don’t have to see all the guts to get the point.

Only, with a book, I can’t fast-forward. I can’t skip pages. I can’t leave it unread. I know some people are able to do that and be okay with it, but – even with a bad book – I force myself to suffer through it all. So I did. Every battle, every slash of every sword, every clang of ash arrows against every strong shield, and every heart-wrenching injury to characters I’ve come to know and care about over about 1,750 pages now.

So, battle lines are drawn in Prythian and, if I’m being honest, the motive isn’t really clear. Apparently, the residents of neighboring island Hybern (with King Hybern as their lead – yes, confusing) don’t want to be confined to their lands anymore and they want to be able to take humans as slaves again. Yet, when they begin the war, they invade the human territories and just kill everyone. Uh, question? And then their interests are torn because they also want revenge against Feyre for surviving being Under the Mountain and ruining Amarantha’s plans (Book 1). So Hybern is fighting on several fronts, battling several individual Courts, AND the humans, and none of it seems very advantageous or sane.

But it’s war.

But I can say that in 705 pages, LOTS of stuff happens in this book. New allegiances are formed – on both the good side and the bad. Many new characters are introduced, some of whom I have been eager to meet since Book 1. And, of course, Sarah J. Maas does not skimp on the detailed faerie love scenes. Intense. Everyone’s beautiful/handsome, everyone is deadly, and everyone, EVERYONE, has an ego.

Several strings that I thought were going to be tied up were still left dangling in the wind and one of them, in particular, became a little more frayed as it just hangs there (What’s going to happen with Azriel and Mor in light of everything now?) Ugh, so frustrating.

You’ve read my gripes about war and about the dangling threads, but don’t let that make you think that this is a bad book. Sure, it was slower than the others, but still packed with the action and risky adventures that this series is known for. I enjoyed it, just not as much as the others. AND, I’m still looking forward to the novella A Court of Frost and Starlight (Book 3.1) that gets release May 1st, another short novella (Book 3.2), and Books 4, 5, and 6 after that!

Get it here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-million | IndieBound | iBookstore | Kobo | Waterstones | Amazon UK | Book Depository


About the Author

Sarah J. MaasWebsite

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Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

(Bio courtesy of Goodreads)


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A Court of Mist and Fury

by Sarah J Maas
Rating: 
(4.71 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published May 3, 2016, by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / YA

Format: Paperback

Page Count: 626


A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)It had been a year since I had stalked through that labyrinth of snow and ice and killed a faerie with hate in my heart.

When I was growing up (in the 80s), little extravagances were luxuries. And one such extravagance was Neapolitan ice cream. Three flavors in one! No longer were you stuck with a choice of just chocolate or vanilla or strawberry (blech!) alone – you could have a combination of two or (gasp!) all three!!! One of the world’s greatest inventions: Neapolitan ice cream.

What in the world does Neapolitan ice cream have to do with A Court of Mist and Fury? It’s immediately where my goofy mind went as Feyre began to discover all of her many (and varied) High Fae powers. Because she was knit back together and resurrected Under the Mountain by power from all seven High Lords, she has a bit of each of their extensive abilities – command over water, air/wind, fire, the night/darkness, the day/light, the ability to shapeshift, and the ability to heal (among others). So, she not only became High Fae, she became Neapolitan High Fae!

You forgot that strength, and that you can burn and become darkness, and grow claws. You forgot. You stopped fighting.

OK, in all seriousness – and in the interest of somehow saving this crazy review – I really liked this sequel.

I wonder if – after the success of ACOTAR, Sarah J Maas sat down with George R R Martin and said, “George, how many pages can I stuff into one book before readers start to question my sanity (and their own)?” I have a pretty good idea that George would have topped her out around the 975 mark, which makes the 626-page A Court of Mist and Fury seem altogether manageable.

I had let them make me weak. Bent to it like some wild horse broken to the bit.

Quick summary: Feyre has survived the horrors of Amarantha and Under the Mountain and is living with Tamlin in the Spring Court. But she’s bored. She has things to do, parties to attend, her wedding to plan, but we know Feyre – she wants excitement and adventure! And that’s exactly what Tamlin wants to protect her from. Tamlin knows she’s had enough adventure and doesn’t want her forced to face any more danger. After all, she’s already being called Feyre the Cursebreaker by the people who are in awe of her. So he has to keep her safe for their sake and her own. Feyre’s still having nightmares about being a captive and let’s not forget that there is still the bargain struck with Rhysand to spend a week with him in the dreaded Night Court each month. A bargain that Feyre resents and Tamlin will do anything to break. Anything.

The issue isn’t whether he loved you, it’s how much. Too much. Love can be a poison.

Now, I’m not going to go into any more of the plot because, well… spoilers. But really, it gets juicy! We meet new heroes and new scarily powerful fae-folk. Feyre makes new friends and has to deal with old ones again (in new ways). And just when you thought that Amarantha was the dirtiest and most evil of all of Prythian’s enemies, here now enters Lord Hybern – the evil from which Amarantha’s evil was spawned. (ugh, he makes me want to spit just thinking about him).

I know, I know, this review is a bit all over the place, but for good reason. I’ve just only moments ago finished reading this book and my emotions are going all Willy Wonka right now! I’m satisfied that I finally read this monstrous tome and that it was good! I’m excited to get the next book maybe as soon as tomorrow in the mail. I’m anxious about how this story ended and the tenuous state of my beloved characters. And I’m angry that I ran out of words to read about them until the next book gets to me!

He thinks he’ll be remembered as the villain in the story. But I forgot to tell him that the villain is usually the person who locks up the maiden and throws away the key. He was the one who let me out.

YA fantasy fans will appreciate the careful world-building descriptions and back-stories. Love-starved (sex-starved?) adults will relish the intimate scenes (boom chick wow-wow! No, seriously, she doesn’t hold back in this one). And readers who love good books will recognize Sarah J Maas’s careful attention to detail and respect for the genre.

I’m typically not a bandwagon reader. I don’t immediately read the most popular, the most critically acclaimed, or the most tweeted-about titles just because 100 bookstagrammers are highlighting them in their shelfies. That’s probably apparent simply by the fact that it has taken me so long to even become interested in this series. You can also probably blame that on my infinitely long TBR list too. But when I finally do discover gems hidden in that ever-growing pile (which is rarer than you’d think), I like to give them my version of virtual all-hail, hands-raised, dirty-kneed genuflection – or rather, a great review.

Get it here: AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBoundBooks-a-millioniBookstoreKoboAudible, and Book Depository


About the Author

Sarah J. MaasWebsite

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Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

(Bio courtesy of Goodreads)


 

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Bring Me Back

by B.A. Paris
Rating: 
(3.91 stars – Goodreads rating)

To Be Published June 19, 2018, by St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Thriller

Format: Kindle Edition

Page Count: 384

bring me backI knew she would never have wandered off, not at night, not when it was pitch-black because, as I said, she hated the dark.

Finn doesn’t know what happened to Layla, his girlfriend, that fateful night during their vacation to France. But he knows more than he told the police. Layla disappeared without a trace and Finn narrowly avoided being charged with foul play.

Twelve years later, Finn has done his best to move on – finding new love with, of all people, Layla’s sister Ellen. They’re engaged to be married and looking forward to a new chapter in life. Then a Russian nesting doll shows up in their front yard, Finn gets an email from a stranger, and everything begins to spiral out of control.

I wasn’t going to be able to come out of the darkness and into the light. I was going to have to spend the rest of my life in subterfuge, hiding my true self away from the world.

I recommend this book to lovers of mystery, suspense, and psychological thrillers – especially those that appreciate a twisty ending. Suspense lovers will appreciate it as every character comes under Finn’s suspicion as he attempts to keep his carefully constructed life intact.

He’ll think he’s luring me, but it will be me doing the luring.

Bring Me Back was an enjoyable read that I sped through in one sitting. It captures the attention and leads you by the nose to an unexpected (though not entirely plausible) ending.

**Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and the author for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of this book.


About the Author

B. A. ParisTwitter

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B.A. PARIS grew up in England but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher and has five daughters. Behind Closed Doors is her first novel.

 

(Bio courtesy of Macmillan)


 

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How to Walk Away

by Katherine Center
Rating: 
( 4.38 stars – Goodreads rating)

To Be Published May 15, 2018, by St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Fiction

Format: Kindle Edition

Page Count: 320


walkDid I want to be a person who let minuscule statistical risks undermine any sense of bravery? Was this a challenge I couldn’t rise to? Was I going to let fear make me small?

How to Walk Away is an engaging story that inspires us all to make the best out of life – even when our situations are at their worst.

Margaret Jacobsen is young, newly engaged to the love of her life, and is, quite literally, flying on top of the world. In a matter of seconds, all that changes and her life cartwheels out of control. What follows is her story of survival, reconciliation, and renewal that can teach us all a thing or three about what it really means to be strong, accepting, and generous.

My future slid past my finger as I fumbled for it — and missed.

This is a story about purpose, family, and inner strength that will pull you in and motivate you to do something good afterward. The romance is subtle and endearing, and the characters are very nearly made flesh and bone.

I would recommend this book to those of us who don’t regularly read nonfiction, but who appreciate a good motivational novel that reads like a memoir.

Katherine Center writes in a way that makes our sullen, broken main character appear strong and unbeatable in the face of giant obstacles. I laughed, I cheered, but I also cried, felt anger and pity. A good book will take you on a roller coaster of emotions, and I felt all of those hills and valleys while I read.

**Many thanks to NetGalley, St.Martin’s Press, and the author for the opportunity to read and review this book.**

About the Author

Katherine CenterWebsite

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Katherine Center wrote her first novel in the sixth grade (fan fiction about Duran Duran) and got hooked. From then on, she was doomed to want to be a writer—obsessively working on poems, essays, and stories, as well as memorizing lyrics, keeping countless journals, and reading constantly… Katherine is always looking for reasons to be hopeful, and opportunities to laugh, and ways of getting inspired—both in real life and in fiction. She believes that the only compass you can follow as a writer is to write the story you, yourself, long to read.

(Bio adapted from http://www.katherinecenter.com)


 

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A Court of Thorns and Roses

by Sarah J. Maas
Rating: 
( 4.28 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published May 5, 2015, by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Genre: Fiction / YA Fantasy / Romance

Format: Trade Paperback

Page Count: 448

thorns and rosesAll I had wanted — all I had dared want, was a life that was quiet, easy. Nothing more than that. Nothing extraordinary. But now… now…

Feyre Archeron is the sole provider for her household. Her father is crippled and her sisters are lazy and still clinging to ideals from their former lives as wealthy members of their society. But things have changed. Enough so that Feyre finds herself hunting in the woods in holey boots to bring home enough meat to keep her family alive. That’s when it happens. A dangerous predator. A well-aimed arrow. And now Feyre’s life has been irrevocably changed.

There are those who seek me a lifetime but never we meet, And those I kiss but who trample me beneath ungrateful feet.

ACOTAR – as it is commonly called – is a young adult (YA) fantasy book that, at first, was completely off of my radar. Primarily because YA isn’t my usual genre of choice, and also because (outside of A Game of Thrones) I haven’t read a whole lot of fantasy. Movies, yes. Books, no.

But despite that, I ran into a trade paperback version of this book in my local Goodwill store and decided to give it a try. I don’t regret that decision one bit.

At times I seem to favor the clever and the fair, But I bless all those who are brave enough to dare.

What initially pulled me in is that the book doesn’t immediately start off with people with pointy ears and tails. It begins as more-or-less a survival story. Feyre and her family have fallen on hard times and it’s up to her to not only protect them but to feed them and clothe them as well. She’s a young woman (late teens), so taking care of three other (mostly capable, but lazy) adults is a formidable task. But she does it. And she does it well.

I love a book with a strong female lead. I’m not the world’s best feminist by any means, but strong female characters make me feel like I could survive if I got dropped on a deserted island. Maybe.

Feyre is fierce and formidable. Even though she’s “only human” she is relentlessly brave.
However, even though Feyre is cunning and strong, as the story progresses and she enters the world of the faeries, we see that she sometimes makes unwise decisions. I always appreciate when an author is confident enough to make strong MCs fallible.
It’s her ability to survive those errors in judgment – sometimes not without help – that make the story compelling.

At times I seem to favor the clever and the fair, But I bless all those who are brave enough to dare.

Sarah J. Maas has dropped us into a world filled with beautiful flora, handsome men, and deadly enemies. And I loved it all.

A skilled writer, SJM’s buildup is slow and steady. Nothing is rushed, and that gives us time to get to know the characters, their motivations, and the complex world in which they exist. She writes so that we are constantly able to the see the world she has built as it surrounds us in the story. We’re never plopped into scenery that we have no basis of reference for.

Details are key in fantasy, and ACOTAR melds them perfectly into the story without it ever feeling like drudgery to read them.

By large, my ministrations are soft-handed and sweet, But scorned, I become a difficult beast to defeat.

You may have noticed that I’m not talking about the plot much. I know. That’s on purpose. The plot unfolded in a way that made me glad that I hadn’t previously read a lot of reviews and spoilers for it even though this book isn’t exactly new. I think readers who aren’t sure about exploring this world should definitely do it, but shouldn’t be spoiled on the nuances of it that ultimately pull you in.

For though each of my strikes lands a powerful blow, When I kill, I do it slow… 

I would recommend this book quickly and easily to lovers of YA fiction who love a good complicated romance along with their fantasy. I am not a young adult (anymore), but I still enjoyed the story, the skilled writing, the characters, and the promise of future adventure that will also appeal to series-lovers like myself.

I would also recommend it to those who appreciate a good bad-a$$ villain!

Get it here: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Half Price Books


About the Author

Sarah J. MaasWebsite

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Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

(Bio courtesy of Goodreads)


 

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