Monday, September 25, 2017

September's Fantasy Book Club Book

Our book for book club this month was The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson. This is a book that I've been wanting to read for a long time, so I was really happy that it got chosen.

The Emperor's SoulThe Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy



Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead.

The Emperor's Soul is set in the the same world as Elantris, but has no other relation to that book. I have to say, this novella really impressed me. Sanderson's magic systems are always wonderfully imaginative and this one was no exception. There is so much brilliance packed into this little story. I absolutely love reading Sanderson's novellas. Because there isn't room for a lot of filler, they do not get as wordy as his full length novels and I like that.

“No person was one single emotion; no person had only one desire. They had many, and usually those desires conflicted with one another like two rosebushes fighting for the same patch of ground.”


Shai's undertaking of forging the emperor's soul provided a wonderfully layered story that was thought provoking. All the many facets of a personality and what makes a person a unique individual; the way Shai is so perceptive of those around her; and in the end her true work of art were things that I loved about this book. This is one of the best books I've read this year. Sanderson created a true masterpiece.

“He found himself weeping.

Not for the future or for the emperor. These were the tears of a man who saw before himself a masterpiece. True art was more than beauty; it was more than technique. It was not just imitation.

It was boldness, it was contrast, it was subtlety.”



And we soul stamped the refreshments :)



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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Battlemage (The Summoner, #3)The Battlemage by Taran Matharu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy



The Battlemage was a good ending to the Summoner series. There were a couple of things that were left open ended that could be revisited if the author ever decides to continue the series, but everything was pretty much wrapped up nicely. What I like most about this series are the demons. I love the giant turtle demon that they encountered and I loved what we found out about Ignatius. Overall this is a good series with all the books being equally likeable. This is a YA fantasy series that I would recommend to any teen interested in reading fantasy. It's fun and not too dark.



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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

An Inconvenient Beauty (Hawthorne House, #4)An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult, Christian
Genre: Historical Romance


 
An Inconvenient Beauty is part of the Hawthorn House series of clean romance books. This is the second book in the series that I've read, but I didn't read them in order. It worked out ok though as each book stands on its own. I didn't like this one as much as A Noble Masquerade. It wasn't bad, but there were a few things that I found mildly irritating.

I felt there was too much emphasis on Isabella's beauty. I know it played a big part in the whole plot, but it got old and I wasn't really sure if I liked that it played a big part in the plot. On one hand I feel like the book made superficial beauty too important, but then at times it seemed to be trying to say that beauty wasn't so important. I'm not altogether sure what it was saying to be honest.

Griffith's height and size was also mentioned way too many times. Alright already, we get that he is really tall, has long legs, and is a big guy. We don't need to be reminded constantly. The book also employed the often used romance novel trope of keeping things from the person you love. Just tell him what's going on already! Then there is the whole special license thing. One couple in the book decides against it because he doesn't want to compromise her reputation by getting one, but then at the end of the book the other couple gets one. So does it compromise a lady's reputation or not? It just seemed very contradictory.

Those complaints aside, this was a sweet romance and I liked Griffith a lot. Any woman would be lucky to have a guy like him. I also really liked Isabella's cousin Frederica. I kind of wish the book had been about her instead. I also enjoyed getting a peek at what was going on in the lives of Miranda and Ryland from the other book. I'll probably continue on with the series at some point. I like reading these when I'm in the mood for something light.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book.



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Monday, September 11, 2017

The Iron Jackal (Tales of the Ketty Jay, #3)The Iron Jackal by Chris Wooding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy



Things are finally looking good for Captain Frey and his crew. The Ketty Jay has been fixed up good as new. They've got their first taste of fortune and fame. And, just for once, nobody is trying to kill them.

I enjoyed reading The Iron Jackal, the third installment of the Tales of the Ketty Jay series. This book was probably my favorite of the series so far. I enjoyed the humor. It kept me laughing which is always a plus. The air chase in the beginning, the train robbery, the part with the bomb, and the race were probably my favorite parts of the book. Oh and the cat and the toast.

As for the characters: Pinn grew on me a lot in this book with his antics. Frey was still Frey. He's definitely a love/hate type of character. His obsession with Trinica could get very old, but I kind of ship them. I'm probably as foolish as he is. We finally find out all about Silo's past, and Jez continues to battle the daemon inside her. Jez is still probably my favorite character in the series and I've enjoyed her exploration of her abilities. Malvery gets to shine a bit here, and Harkins does as well, even if it's in Pinn's name. Crake and Samandra Bree meet up again, something I was looking forward to as I ship them as well. There is also a new crew member, Ashua. It remains to be seen how she will impact things overall, but I think she is a good addition.

There was more digging into the characters and the world in this book and I liked that. The world building was interesting with the strange hybrid type creatures they encounter later in the book, and I like the combination of fantasy with the guns, vehicles and electricity, etc. There's one more book to go in the series and I'm looking forward to reading it.





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Monday, September 4, 2017

Fairchild (Fairchild, #1)Fairchild by Jaima Fixsen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Historical Romance



Good English families all have a house in the country with a deer park, a trout stream, and an army of gardeners. They should have a son and if it can be managed, he should be handsome. Cleverness isn’t important. Daughters in limited quantities are fine so long as they are pretty. Bastards are inconvenient and best ignored. It's not a big problem, unless you are one. Unfortunately, Sophy is.

Fairchild was yet another really good, clean historical romance that I got for free from Amazon. The characters where very well drawn and I couldn't help but love Sophy. I did feel like Sophy and Tom's feelings for each other happened kind of sudden, but the secret meetings and glances at each other were quite fun. I just wish we had gotten a little more of those in detail. The book was mostly focused on Sophy, but I felt the author did a great job of introducing us to Tom and fleshing his character out despite the limited amount of time we spend with him in the book.

This was such a sweet romance novel. There is a companion novel, Incognita, about Alistair, one of the other character's from this book that I immediately wanted to read and I ended up enjoying it almost just as much. I'll post my review for that one in the near future.



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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Ready Player One 80s Book Club Party





For our book club night this week we decided it would be fun to dress 80s since the book was Ready Player One. From Top Gun to Madonna to Mullets to 80s preppy to Ghost Busters to striped tube socks, the 80s were well represented. We all had a great time!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Elissa Blue (The Winged #1)Elissa Blue by T.K. Perry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: New Adult, Young Adult, Christian
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Dystopia



Reading Elissa Blue is like watching The Bachelor, only everyone has wings. Initially I thought this was going to be a book about fairies, but it ended up being about human-butterfly hybrids. It's hard to classify this book. It has a bit of a fantasy feel with some dystopian elements that are not all that fleshed out, but it also is a romance with a definite Christian aspect to it as well. The age of the characters make it fit into the new adult age group, but it's completely clean and reads like a young adult novel. The overall theme of the book is, be wise about who you choose to marry and spend your life with.

What I liked about this book the most was that it somehow kept me glued to it despite the fact that I thought the whole human-butterfly hybrid thing was pretty silly, and the main character drove me crazy at times with her wishy-washy indecisiveness. She went back and forth between three guys so many times.

Now about the guys. I think I met and dated a guy exactly like each of them in college. There is the one that you like and is really nice, but are not attracted enough to. The one who is very attentive and takes care of you and is fun to be around. The one who is attractive but rough around the edges, has a good heart, but maybe isn't all that smart. The one that you know is bad for you, but the attraction is strong. I'm not going to spoil who is who here, or which one Elissa ends up with, but I was happy with who she chose.

Things that I thought could have been improved upon were:
-The story was a little long.
-Too much going around and around in circles with the guys and her feelings about them.
-The days felt super long. Two days felt like two weeks to me.
-Too insta-love like for me. A couple of days isn't enough time to get to know a person.
-The dystopian aspect of the book was underdeveloped.

Things I liked were:
-The funny last names based on types of butterflies. Mr. Sootywing and Mr. Hairstreak, :) :).
I actually looked up these butterflies to see what they looked like.
-The fact that the book kept me glued to it.
-Mit and Holis :)
-The choice she makes about who she will marry.
- The overall theme of the book.

Thanks to the author for giving me a copy of this book for review.





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Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Waking LandThe Waking Land by Callie Bates

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy



It's been fourteen years, since King Antoine took Elanna hostage. Fourteen years since her father's rebellion failed. Fourteen years spent being raised by the man who condemned her people to misery. A man she's come to love as a father.

The Waking Land was a mixed bag for me. I wanted to like the main character Elanna, but there were too many times that I just wanted to slap her silly. I get that she was probably going through Stockholm Syndrome and confusion because she genuinely thought the king cared about her as a daughter, but she also came across as willfully stupid at times. She also had the annoying habit of contradicting herself over and over. She's not going to do this, but she does it. She doesn't ever do that, but then she does. She changed her mind about things way too easily at times, and then at other times was stubborn to the point of stupidity.

I liked the love interest quite a lot, but would have liked if the romance and the relationship between the two of them had been explored more. It came off a little too much like insta-love for me. Also, the whole "wedding the land" thing was just weird and there wasn't enough explanation as to what exactly happened and how it worked. And the love scene makes this book too mature for younger readers in my opinion.

There were some things about this book that I did really like. I liked the way the magic worked with Elanna drawing on the land and nature for assistance. I also thought the way the land would fold and then they would be in another location was really cool. I liked that it showed how conflicted Elanna was about who she was, her origins, and where her loyalties were; even though I don't feel like it was executed all that well. This looks to be a stand-alone, which is ok with me. I'm not sure I would want to continue on with it if it was a series.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Random House for giving me a copy of this book for review.



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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Gone Missing (Kate Burkholder, #4)Gone Missing by Linda Castillo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery


 
A missing child is a nightmare to all parents, and never more so than in the Amish community, where family ties run deep. When the search for the presumed runaway turns up a dead body, the case quickly becomes a murder investigation. And chief of Police Kate Burkholder knows that in order to solve this case she will have to call upon everything she has to give not only as a cop, but as a woman whose own Amish roots run deep.

After reading the last book in this series I almost gave up on it. Kate was just too hard for me to like in that book, but I'm glad I gave it another chance. This time around Kate seems to have made some changes. She has stopped the drinking and she seemed a lot more focused on keeping her life straight. I also liked Tomasetti a lot more in this book as well. Things get more serious between the two of them in this book and I like the direction their relationship is heading.

The negatives for me this time around are not plot related, but rather the amount of repetition in the writing. We are told the same things too many times. We only need to be told about what rumpringa is once, and Kate reflects on the fact that she used to be Amish over an over as well. We don't need to be beaten over the head with these details, especially not at this point in the series where we have already read this over and over in previous books.

The mystery this time around was one of the best of the series. It kept me guessing about a few things almost up until the end. And that ending! I like it a lot if it means this will be a plot thread that is revisited in other books. But I'm not sure I would like it to just be left that way. Unlike the last book, this book has definitely left me wanting to continue on to the next book. I was tempted to start right away, but I have other books that have to be read before the end of the month so it will have to wait a little while.

I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for a review. This review is also posted at Writings of a Reader



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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Poisoned House: A Ghost StoryThe Poisoned House: A Ghost Story by Michael  Ford

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre:  Mystery, Paranormal


The Poisoned House is set in Victorian London where 15 year old scullery maid Abigail Tamper has lost her mother to cholera. She works in the home of the aging widower Lord Greave who is becoming more and more distant and seems to be losing his sanity. His sister-in-law, Mrs. Cotton is the head house keeper and has pretty much taken over the household, acting as if it belongs to her, while being incredibly mean and nasty to Abigail. Lord Greave's son Samuel is off fighting in the Crimean War at the beginning of the story, but returns home injured. Strange things begin happening in the house that eventually convince Abi that there is a ghost. I won't go into any more detail than that, because I don't want to spoil anything.

If you are looking for something to really scare you then this book is not for you. While there were a couple of rather creepy scenes, mostly this book is very mild. I will admit I was a bit disappointed that this book wasn't creepier, but at the same time I really liked the writing and the characters. The mystery of who the ghost is, why the ghost is haunting the house, and who did what isn't very hard to figure out either, but the book just kept me reading anyway.



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Friday, August 18, 2017

The Inquisition (Summoner, #2)The Inquisition by Taran Matharu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy



With loyal friends Othello and Sylva by his side, Fletcher must battle his way to the heart of Orcdom and save Hominum from destruction…or die trying.

The Inquisition was a good follow up to The Novice. The book starts out a year after the last one left off with a trial soon following. Once we get through the trial and all that, Fletcher and his friends are sent on a mission deep into orc territory along with others who are not so friendly. They are divided up into four different teams. The teams get divided up pretty predictably, with each given a guide to lead them through the jungle. During the quest, to make things even more dangerous, there is a someone who keeps trying to kill Fletcher, obviously trying to frame the Dwarfs. There are a few revelations in this book that are not all that surprising. I predicted most of them, but maybe younger readers will not.

This as a simplified fantasy, that's definitely written for YA readers, but still quite enjoyable. The characters are pretty black and white and plot-wise, the story follows a traditional route with nothing really new added. I did like the addition of the gremlins. The idea of the goblins coming from a cross between gremlins and orcs was new to me. I loved poor Blue and wish we could have seen even more of him and his group. Once again my favorite aspect of the book are the demon pets that the mages have. Who doesn't love a Gryphon or an Alicorn or one of the many others?

Just like the last book, this one ends with a cliffhanger-like ending. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next.



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Thursday, August 17, 2017

SunshineSunshine by Robin McKinley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy



There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it's unwise to walk. But there hadn't been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind.

Until they found her...


I really liked this vampire novel. This is a rare adult novel written by Robin McKinley, and it was also the first book I read by her. The book is pretty clean except for one almost sex scene that uses a couple of very coarse words that I could have done without. The other love scenes are more fade to black.

One of the things I really liked about this book and found to be a welcome difference from other vampire books is that this vampire is not a beautiful creature. At one point in the book he turns himself human looking for a little while and he is rather ugly as a human. How refreshing that he isn't mesmerizingly beautiful.

I only wish there had been a sequel. This could have been the start of a pretty awesome urban fantasy series, with Sunshine teaming up with the vampire. Constantine from time to time to help him out with problems of the supernatural variety. Unfortunately Robin McKinley has said that she has no interest in writing one. It is fine as a stand-alone novel though.



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Monday, August 14, 2017

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy



So I've been reading this book, or supposed to be for three weeks now and I still have not finished it, and I have zero desire to get back to reading it. Let me tell you why...

The plot is not all that compelling to me. It's Willy Wonka in a virtual reality loving, dystopian future. That really doesn't appeal to me. I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion because just about every one of my friends seemed to absolutely love this book, but sorry, I just don't.

If you are in love with 80s pop culture then you might love this book. I was a teen in the 80s, it was ok, but nothing to worship. And this kid clearly worships at the altar of 80s pop culture. For me it started to feel like the author was just name dropping 80s thing after 80s thing to prove that the main character here was really into the 80s. The list went on and on and on. It got old. How in the world has he had time to play every one of those games, watch every one of those TV shows and movies, etc.? It would take a person years. More years than this kid has been alive.

The virtual reality world in the book was interesting, but not enough for me to want to keep reading. So I'm dumping this book for now. I don't really foresee a time that I will actually want to pick it up and finish it, but who knows, maybe something crazy will happen and I will one day. Honestly though, I just don't think it's for me.



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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Dead To Me (Detective Kate Matthews, #1)Dead To Me by Stephen Edger

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery, Thriller



How do you catch a killer who knows your every move?

Dead To Me is the first book in a new detective series. This is the first time I've read a book by this author and I thought it was just ok. The good thing about it is that I was completely wrong about who I thought was behind the murders. The bad thing about it is that I felt like it sort of came out of left field.

For me a well-plotted mystery points clues at multiple people, while still leaving you surprised at the end, but feeling like you should have seen that coming. I didn't feel that way when I read this. I felt like there were really no clues pointing to the culprit here. The reasoning behind why he did some of the things he did were not explained either. Why the creepy cyber stalking? Sending her the messages the instant she signed up on the dating website was way too coincidental. And the thing with Kate's mother didn't seem to have any reason behind it either, other than to cause her distress.

I didn't find any of the characters all that likable, not even Kate, and she did some really stupid things. She was also a lousy deadbeat mom. I was happy in the end that Kate realized she needed to be a mother to her daughter. She redeemed herself somewhat after that. As for the other characters, all of the detectives kept getting into pissing contests with each other and the cases they were solving seemed more about their personal egos than about finding justice for the victims. I hope this isn't the way most real detectives behave.

Although I liked that the book kept me guessing, I just didn't care for the overall plot of the story and the killer's behavior felt a little all over the place. For those reasons I think I will pass on reading the rest of this series. Thanks NetGalley and Bookouture for sending me a copy of this book for review.



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Tuesday, August 8, 2017



 The Black Lung Captain (Tales of the Ketty Jay, #2)The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk


 
Deep in the heart of the Kurg rainforest lies a long-forgotten wreck. On board, behind a magically protected door, an elusive treasure awaits. Good thing Darian Frey, captain of the airship Ketty Jay, has the daemonist Crake on board. Crake is their best chance of getting that door open—if they can sober him up.

In this installment of Tales of the Ketty Jay, Darian Frey is back to his old tricks. He's robbing an orphanage in the beginning of this book, and that didn't endear him to me much. By the end of the last book Frey had learned a few things and for a little while I thought he had forgotten every one of them, but he ended up proving me wrong. Yet again Chris Wooding surprises me with the character growth of not only the main character, but all of them. Even the cat, Slag gets a tiny part of a chapter in his point of view. I still dislike Pinn to a great extent, but even he ended up better by the end of this book. Crake and Jez in particular have great story arcs where they face their demons and come to grips with themselves. Crake's efforts to restore Bess is an especially emotional one. Speaking of Bess, whenever I read about her I can't help but think of Fullmetal Alchemist.

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That's how I picture Bess.

Not only is the whole crew of the Ketty Jay present here, but Frey's former love and nemesis, Trinica Dracken is back, as well as the Century Knights. I liked the story arc with Trinica and also would love to read more of the Century Knights in the next books. We also learn a lot of interesting things about the Mane and The Awakeners. In general there is a much deeper level of emotion involved with the characters this time around, which is something that was missing in the first book. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series.



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Monday, August 7, 2017

Lethal Bayou Beauty (Miss Fortune Mystery #2)Lethal Bayou Beauty by Jana Deleon

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery, Comedy



No one in Sinful liked Pansy Arceneaux, but who hated her enough to kill her?

Lethal Bayou Beauty is the sequel to Louisiana Longshot. This time around Pansy Arceneaux, ex-beauty queen and aspiring actress returns to her hometown, Sinful Louisiana to help with the beauty pageant portion of the Summer Festival. No one likes Pansy, who has been through almost every guy in town, even the married ones, so when she ends up dead no one is surprised.

While Lethal Bayou Beauty was amusing at times, I didn't like it quite as much as Louisiana Longshot, which did actually make me laugh out loud once. Mostly I feel like this series relies too much on dumb humor derived from unbelievable situations. There are too many bumbling mistakes made by the main character and she is completely unprepared to pose as an ex-beauty queen/librarian. What kind of spy would fail to do her homework to make the role convincing? Also who in the world doesn't know who Lady Gaga is? You'd have to be living under a rock to have never heard of her. Fortune would also have to at least know of some TV shows. Maybe Fortune had her head buried in the sand when she was playing assassin in the Middle East. This series has completely failed to convince me that Fortune is a CIA agent or a real person at all for that matter.

Despite my complaints I like other things about this series enough to give it another chance, like the Louisiana charm and Ida Belle and Gertie, the outrageous ladies of the Geritol mafia, so I'm still keeping this series on my to-read list for now.



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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England #1)A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult, Christian
Genre: Historical Romance



A Name Unknown is a Christian historical romance set in the Edwardian period on the cusp of WWI. The main character is a thief who accepts a job from a mysterious man who calls himself Mr. V. The job involves getting hired on by a man with German ancestry and finding information that will prove he is a traitor to England. I enjoyed reading about the time period a lot and I liked the characters of Rosemary and Peter. The slow buildup of the friendship and then romance that developed between them was one of the best things about the book. The Christian aspect of the book was well done as well and was nicely woven into the story. The only thing I felt was missing was actually being able to read the letters that Rosemary and Peter wrote to each other every day. I really would have liked if they had been included in the book. I think it would have given us as readers more insite into their developing friendship.

This is the first of a series and I am interested in continuing on. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Bethany House for giving me a copy of this book for review.



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Monday, July 24, 2017

Age of Swords (The Legends of the First Empire, #2)Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy



Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhune make it all but impossible to unite against a common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess makes the Fhrey indistinguishable from gods?

The answer lies across the sea in a faraway land populated by a reclusive and dour race who feels nothing but disdain for both Fhrey and mankind.


In Age of Myth the story revolved around Raithe the god killer but in Age of Swords the men, although still present, take a bit of a back seat. But I'm sure they will be back more fully in future books. It's Persephone's turn to shine here, along with most of the women in the book. I love that Persephone is the one that sets out to solve the problem of how to win a war against the Fhrey. This time around we meet the Dherg when Persephone, Moya, Brin, Roan, and Arian travel to their homeland, and they find out the Dherg are a tricky bunch; pretty despicable actually. That was the point where I felt like the book got really good. There were so many brilliant ideas and solutions in this book that Persephone, Roan, Brin, and Moya come up with. Once again Michael J. Sullivan does a lovely job of portraying the women in the story. They are always so believable as well. Except for the bit of magic that is used they are not doing superhuman things. They are doing things that any real woman could do, and that makes them so very relatable.

There were several passages in this book that I loved, some of which I found quite amusing. One of my favorite chapters in the book was the one that included the exchanges between Padera and Gifford when he is on the mend from the attack on him. Not only did these make me chuckle, but they are also a good example of how the characters really jump off the page in this book. I love the way they are described. I also love that the many supporting characters still very much contribute to the story. There are a lot of them, but most of them were given a good amount of attention. I love these characters so much! My heart is really aching for a choice one of the characters had to make, and for one of the losses.

Not only do we revisit the Rhune and discover the Dherg in this book, but we also get chapters from the Fhrey as well, namely Mawyndule. I have to say that I did not love him, but I'm hoping that he is starting to mature after what took place among the Fhrey. I'm very curious to find out what he will end up doing. Other things that I'm very impatient to find out about are, how things end up between Persephone and Raithe and this whole thing with Nyphron that's thrown in there, and how things will end up with the healing that Suri is trying to do at the end of the book.

This book has adventure, heartache, self discovery, and loss. All things that make a story great and I can't wait to read Age of War!

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for giving me an advance copy of this book.



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Sunday, July 23, 2017

July Book Club -The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred the Vampire Accountant

We've been making themed refreshments for our book club get-togethers. That was my husband's brilliant idea and it has turned out to be one of the high-lights of our meetings every month. And this month, since it was a vampire book, I knew we would have to include blood. But what to do other than a red colored drinks? After thinking on it for a while I started wondering if I could actually get drink pouches that looked like blood bags. You know, so we could drink from blood bags the same way Fred the vampire does in the book. And lo and behold, look what I found on Amazon...


We ended up filling them with a mixed berry drink and we sipped on them while we talked about the book. We had so much fun this month and I'm looking forward to next month when we all read Ready Player One. We already know we are going for an 80s theme, but no idea what the refreshments will be yet. Anyway, here is my review of the book:



The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire AccountantThe Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew  Hayes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Comedy


Some people are born boring. Some live boring. Some even die boring. Fred managed to do all three, and when he woke up as a vampire, he did so as a boring one.

This was our book club pick for July. I enjoyed it quite a bit and found Fred the vampire to be quite clever and lovable, even if he was somewhat boring as an individual. In the beginning Fred goes to his high school reunion and runs into an old friend who ends up spicing his life up a bit. The book is divided into different stories about Fred. He ends up collecting a new friend in each new story, until he has his own little group of friends, who all happen to be supernatural beings like him. Besides the high school reunion story there are also stories about a LARP, a trip to Vegas, and a couple of kidnappings.

This book was funny, but not as funny as I was expecting it to be. For me, the best part was the jousting duel in Vegas. Just picturing that makes me laugh, but I don't want to spoil anything so I'm not going to give away any of the details. It turns out there are more books about Fred but I think I'm fine with calling this a stand-alone. It was a fun diversion, but not something that I really want to invest a lot of time in. If you are looking for something light to read between heavier, more complicated books, than this would fit the bill perfectly.



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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Steampunk, fantasy



Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners--and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality...But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped.

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.


Reading Gail Carriger is always a delightful experience. Her characters are charmingly quirky and just plain fun. I love the funny and absurd names she gives her characters too. There is Mrs Barnaclegoose, Frowbritcher the butler, and Lord Dingleproops to name a few. Not only are the characters funny and quirky but her descriptions can be too. This paragraph is a good example:

"He was very pale and boasted an unassuming mustache, which was perched atop his upper lip cautiously, as though it were slightly embarrassed to be there and would like to slide away and become a sideburn or something more fashionable."

Overall Etiquette & Espionage is a very fun, lighthearted read that is set in the same alternate Victorian steampunk world as the Parasol Protectorate series. Time-wise this one is set before The Parasol Protectorate and we get to meet Genevieve Lefoux as a 9 year old and Sidheag Macon as a 14 year old. The setting works well in a YA novel, although this novel did feel somewhat more like a middle grade novel at times.

While I find certain aspects of Carriger's writing delightful, there is something that doesn't pull me in as much as I would like and I never really feel compelled to move onto the next book. Sadly that is again the case here. I'm not sure if I will ever read further into this series, but this book was fun and it did make me laugh which is always a plus.



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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jackaby (Jackaby, #1)Jackaby by William Ritter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult

Genre: Paranormal, Mystery


 
Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--

The moment I saw that this was being marketed as Sherlock meets Doctor Who I knew I had to read it. I also knew those were huge shoes to fill so my expectations were rather low. I must say that I really liked Jackaby. It has a nice quirky charm to it.

The character Jackaby is very much like Sherlock and The Doctor rolled into one. He has the Doctor's eccentricity combined with Sherlock's blunt rudeness. Like Sherlock he is a private investigator, but like The Doctor he deals with the strange and unexplained. The strange and unexplained consists of several paranormal creatures.

I do feel inclined to add that there is no time travel. The comparisons to The Doctor are strictly personality based. This was a fun read that had a few laugh out loud moments. It was easy to figure out who the bad guy was, but mostly I was not disappointed in this book. I look forward to reading more in the series.



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Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Novice (Summoner, #1)The Novice by Taran Matharu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy



When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

I've been looking forward to reading The Novice for a while and it mostly lived up to my expectations. I loved getting to know Fletcher, Sylva, and Othello. Fletcher ends up being pretty brilliant in this book. I loved the ideas he came up with for the tournament. This is a pretty standard mage school type book with tension between the students of different races (humans, elves, and dwarves) as well as between the upper and lower classes, with some of the nobles being predictably snooty and mean. However, I was pleased that the book didn't always follow the predictable path. There were a few times I thought the story was going to be predictable and it wasn't.

The thing I liked best about this book were the pet demons that the mages had. From cute little mites that could spy on people to powerful griffons and golems, they were all interesting. I also enjoyed reading the guide about them at the end of the book. The ending was a bit frustrating and it left me really wanting to know what happens next, so I'll definitely be reading more.



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Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Caged GravesThe Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction 


 
17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery...Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out . . . or to keep the women in...

The Caged Graves really grabbed me from the very beginning. It was not as creepy as the description made it sound, but that was ok with me. There was a mystery to figure out and while I figured most of it out pretty early on I still enjoyed reading this. The book is meticulously researched. The time period felt authentic and the characters felt well developed. There is a love triangle in this book, but I actually liked it. It was well done and didn't feel just thrown in for no good reason. It was actually an important part in the development of the main character. In the beginning liked things about both love interests, but the one she ends up choosing in the end was definitely the best choice. I won't spoil it by saying why though.

The mystery surrounding the graves is what drew me to this, and the fact that there really are caged graves near the town in this book. No one knows why the real graves have cages around them. I liked the fact that the author actually used the names on the real headstones in the book and created a history and a reason for the cages.



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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Stitching SnowStitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Sci-fi, Space Opera



Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.


Stitching Snow is a sci-fi space retelling of Snow White. What I really liked about it was that Snow or Essie as she calls herself, is a smart capable girl. She didn't just get that way by accident either. She had to be or she wouldn't have survived. I also liked that the romance didn't take over the story or Essie's brain for that matter. She didn't let her feelings for Dane interfere with what had to be done, and he didn't either. They were both willing to sacrifice what needed to be sacrificed to do what needed to be done. I liked the support they gave each other, it was just really sweet.

I enjoyed the way the different elements of the Snow White story were added to this version. I thought the drones in the place of dwarfs were a great idea and really would have liked to have seen more of them. The apple shaped pendant was another nice touch. The hunter who takes her off to kill her at the queen's orders was there as well, but in the form of a guard. There was no mirror, but the queen's jealousy was given a different reason in this story, a more disturbing reason than just vanity. I was a little surprised that was included in a YA book, not that I think it shouldn't have been it's just not a subject that is included very often in YA. I felt like the author handled the subject well and that it fit into the story and wasn't just added for pure shock value.

One of this book's shortcomings I think is a lack of world building. The tech side of the sci-fi was well covered, I just felt like the space side could have been more detailed. I would have liked more description of the different planets and all of their surroundings so I could feel like I was in space. This did remind me a lot of The Lunar Chronicles but Marissa Meyer did something completely different with her retelling of Snow White. This is also a stand-alone. There is a companion novel coming out this year, but no sequel. I like that.



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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

SkyfarerSkyfarer by Joseph Brassey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Catergory: Adult
Genre: Fantasy



I really enjoyed this book! The mages in this story open portals for their Skyships to pass through, allowing them to travel from place to place more quickly. Aimee is an apprentice portalmage whose first portal casting goes awry, and she and the crew of her ship end up somewhere other than where they were supposed to be. They end up right in the middle of a war. While there Aimee and the rest of the crew learn about a mythical relic called the Axiom Diamond that has the power to show its bearer any truth they desire. They set out to find it before the ruthless Lord Azrael and the infamous Knights of the Eternal Order find it and use it to their advantage.

Skyfarer ended up being just about everything I was hoping it would be. It was a fast, fun read and I loved the characters. Aimee and Azrael were my favorites. There are some plot threads that were left hanging and I'm hoping there will be a sequel. I would really love to read more about this world.

Thanks to NetGalley and Angry Robot for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for a review.



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Monday, July 10, 2017

Lady Fiasco (Regency Trilogy, #1)Lady Fiasco by Kathleen Baldwin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Historical Romance


 
Can a lady with a reputation for disaster, stumble into love?

Lady Fiasco is the first in a series of companion books. I did not read these in order. I read book 2, Mistaken Kiss first. Book 3, Cut From the Same Cloth second, and this book I read third. Out of the three this one was the one I liked the least. The series features Aunt Honore in all three books. In each book she "helps" along the romantic relationship of one of her nieces or nephews. I felt like she was a little inconsistent throughout the books. In this book she is pretty outrageous and some of the things she did would have been pretty shocking for the time period. In book two she just seems like a meddlesome busybody and was not featured nearly as much, and in book three she schemes but is not nearly as outrageous as she was in book one and I liked her the most in that one.

This is a humorous regency romance, but for the most part the humor fell flat in this one. I thought Mistaken Kiss was the most humorous of the three and that one is my favorite. A couple of things that annoyed me about this book were the foot stamping the main character does several times, and the aunt and love interest keeping something from the main character that they could have let her in on. As far as the foot stamping goes, I didn't notice it so much in the other two books, although I think it happened once or twice. I have a hard time picturing a grown woman stamping her foot like a little girl when shes upset. It's a childish and unattractive thing for a grown woman to do. I don't know if there will be more books in the series, but for the most part I've enjoyed the ones I've read. They have been a fun diversion and I would be willing to read more.



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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay, #1)Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk



Retribution Falls is a steampunk fantasy that has loads of action. The air ships were interesting and I especially liked the air battles. The second half was better than the first half, but I pretty much liked it from the beginning. The characters were all interesting but Frey, the captain, had to grow on me.

Sky piracy is a bit out of Darian Frey’s league. Fate has not been kind to the captain of the airship Ketty Jay—or his motley crew. They are all running from something.

I wouldn't say fate had anything to do with it. More like personal choices. Frey does have extremely bad luck, mostly brought on by his own choices. I wasn't sure what to think of him at first, then I pretty much hated him for a while, and finally I ended up kind of liking him. Why the big change in the way I felt about him? Character growth. There was a lot of character growth and in the end Frey was not the same man that he was at the beginning of this book. I really like when books have flawed characters that actually grow.

Crake is a daemonist in hiding, traveling with an armored golem and burdened by guilt. Jez is the new navigator, desperate to keep her secret from the rest of the crew. Malvery is a disgraced doctor, drinking himself to death.

That's most of the ship's crew and I must say that I liked the crew a lot better than Frey in the beginning. I think my favorite character in the book was probably Jez. She also was the only one who wasn't in her predicament because of some choice she made. Crake and his golem, Bess were also very interesting. My least favorite crew member was probably Pinn. He's a real dimwit and clearly he's not playing with a full deck. This I suppose could be funny at times, but I didn't find much to like about him, except for when he was in the cockpit of his little airship entertaining us during the air battles.

When an opportunity arises to steal a chest of gems from a vulnerable airship, Frey can’t pass it up. It’s an easy take—and the payoff will finally make him a rich man.

The crew takes on this mission that sounds really simple and is supposed to make them rich. Of course the mission goes south. I've never read a book like this where it didn't. Could you imagine if everything went as planned and the characters all ended up filthy rich almost from the beginning? How much fun would that be and what story would there be left to tell? I would actually like to see someone try to pull that off in a book. I'm not sure what the rest of the story would be about, but hey, it would be different. So of course things don't go as planned, and in the most horrible way, and Frey and the crew of the Ketty Jay are left trying to figure out what is going on while on the run.

Most of what happens in the book is pretty predictable, but still entertaining, It does remind me a lot of Firefly, which many people have compared it to. I didn't have high expectations going into this so I feel like it checked off all the boxes of what I wanted it to be. A fun, rather light steampunk fantasy. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.



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Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Splendor FallsThe Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery, Southern Gothic



Can love last beyond the grave?

3.5 stars I like the cover of this book and even though I'm not exactly sure why it's called The Splendor Falls, I like the title too. Both the title and the cover just sort of beckoned me to read it, promising a lot of good gothic mystery.

The book is about Sylvie, a girl who lives in Manhattan, and who is recuperating from a tragic and freak accident which has left her unable to continue with her ballet career, a career that meant everything to her. Sylvie has also been struggling with the loss of her dad, and to make matters worse her mother has now remarried and this has driven a wedge between Sylvie and her mother. Her mother decides that what Sylvie needs is to visit a distant relative in Alabama who happens to be restoring an old family home there. Strange things begin to happen and Sylvie begins to think she's seeing things that aren't there.

I must say that I had a hard time keeping my head in this book for about the first 100 pages. In my opinion it took way too long to get to the meat of the story. I think the book is just too long in general, and it didn't need to be over 500 pages long. When we finally get to the old southern mansion where the story takes place, instead of pulling us into the mansion and its surroundings and enthralling us with it, the author makes the mistake of focusing in too much on Silvie's pet dog Gigi for a good portion of the book. I felt like this distracted from the mystery and the feel of the surroundings.

I can't really say at what point I became engrossed in the story, it was well into the book, but there was a point where Gigi seemed to fade into the background and the story finally took off. The atmosphere of the book changed and suddenly I couldn't put it down. From that point on the book deserves 4 stars. I would say it probably deserved 2 stars before that.

There were two guys in this book that Silvie meets and finds attractive for different reasons. Rhys and Shawn. I liked that even though she was interested in them and they in her it didn't take over the story. The romance was very light and Silvie wasn't all consumed by thoughts of the two guys, so it didn't feel like I was reading a love triangle or anything. I thought Silvie and of course Gigi, were both very well drawn characters. Its just a shame that the rest of the supporting characters couldn't have been more fleshed out. More attention to Rhys and less to Gigi would have improved the book. I liked Rhys and I just wanted more of him.

Overall I ended up liking this book quite a bit. I thought it ended well although there was one thing I thought might be revealed that ended up not being the case.

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Dark Horse (Class 5, #1)Dark Horse by Michelle Diener

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Sci-fi, Space Opera



Some secrets carry the weight of the world.

Captain Dav Jallan doesn't know why he and his crew have stumbled across an almost legendary Class 5 battleship, but he's not going to complain. The only problem is, all its crew are dead, all except for one strange, new alien being.

She calls herself Rose. She seems small and harmless, but less and less about her story is adding up, and Dav has a bad feeling his crew, and maybe even the four planets, are in jeopardy. The Class 5's owners, the Tecran, look set to start a war to get it back and Dav suspects Rose isn't the only alien being who survived what happened on the Class 5. And whatever else is out there is playing its own games.

In this race for the truth, he's going to have to go against his leaders and trust the dark horse.



Dark horse is a light space opera read. I've enjoyed several of Michelle Diener's other books and was excited to see that she ventured into space opera territory. For the most part the main character Rose was very likable. She was smart and resourceful. I would have liked to have seen more PTSD as a result of her captivity and torture, which I might add was not discussed in any detail in this book. There were a few scenes where she became upset over things that had happened, but those seemed to be conveniently placed so that the potential love interest could get close to her and comfort her, which is fine to a point. The scene at the pool felt especially awkward and seemed a bit strange for two people who hardly knew each other. It was a little bit too insta-love for me. I would have liked to have seen them come together differently, but I did enjoy their romance and liked that it wasn't overdone.

There was still plenty of story that didn't involve the romance part. I loved Sazo and his relationship with Rose and I kept wondering if he could really be trusted for a good portion of the book. I really would like to read more about the other class 5s and also find out more about the other alien species that were mentioned in the book. A bit more action in future books would be nice a well. I'm looking forward to eventually reading the two companion books.


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Monday, July 3, 2017

One for SorrowOne for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Paranormal


 
Against the ominous backdrop of the influenza epidemic of 1918, Annie, a new girl at school, is claimed as best friend by Elsie, a classmate who is a tattletale, a liar, and a thief. Soon Annie makes other friends and finds herself joining them in teasing and tormenting Elsie.

2.5 stars. I've read a few of Mary Downing Hahn's books and liked them quite a bit. I don't read a lot of middle grade, but her books are usually fun, creepy reads. This one I did not like as much as the others I've read. Despite there being a ghost, this was not a creepy book, and that disappointed me. Most of this book was not pleasant to read. There is a lot of bullying done among school girls and although I wanted to feel badly for the girl that was being bullied, and I did at times, it was hard to because she was just as mean as the bullies. For most of the book none of the girls were really likable because of all of the meanness, but in the end the girls all do change. But it does take a vengeful ghost to get them to that point.

The thing I found most interesting about this book was that it was inspired by a story from the author's mothers own experience of living during the Spanish influenza and surviving it. The part in the book when the girls go to the different homes to pay their respects to and view the dead, mainly so they can get free cake, candy, and punch was something her mother and her mother's friends actually did, and they really did end up at a house that belonged to one of their classmates that they had no idea had died until they saw her in the coffin.

If you like reading books about mean girls or vengeful ghosts you might like this book, but for me it was just ok.

Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group for giving me a copy of this book.



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Friday, June 30, 2017

Our Little SecretOur Little Secret by Darren O'Sullivan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller 



A deserted train station: A man waits. A woman watches.

In the middle of the night Sarah is waiting for the train when she notices a man standing on the platform. A man who thought he would be alone at this hour. Alone so he could step under the train and end his life without any witnesses. Because he doesn't want any witnesses, Chris tries to get rid of Sarah by offering her money so she can go buy herself a cup of coffee to warm herself up while she waits for her train. She mistakes his offer as an act of kindness and instead of leaving feels drawn to him. She soon realizes that something is not right and stays until finally Chris leaves the train station. After Sarah stops Chris from committing suicide she becomes obsessed with finding out who he is and why he wanted to kill himself.

But there are some secrets that are meant to stay buried…

Our Little Secret was a quick read that was pretty engrossing even though the plot was obvious to me almost from the beginning. In fact it was so obvious that I wondered if it was supposed to be a mystery who the killer was. The book is broken mostly into two points of view, Sarah's and Chris's, with the occasional point of view from Chris's friend Steve thrown in. There are also journal entries from Chris's murdered wife. The mystery is all about who killed Chris's wife and why. As I already said though, I figured it out very early on so there was very little mystery for me in this book. Mostly just how exactly it all happened. The why was pretty easy to predict, almost as easy as who had done it.

I thought Sarah made some incredibly stupid choices at times and that really annoyed me. Sarah was not the best judge of character, especially when it came to men and her younger sister and her fiancé pretty much took on a rather parental type role to try and save her from her stupidity. This irked me a little, but I could also understand why they did this. I did not always feel like Sarah's actions were plausible. Who meets some random person and then becomes that obsessed with them? I guess the whole suicide thing played a big part in it, but still, Sarah just seemed like a glutton for punishment. From the ex-boyfriend who she kept going back to in the past, even though he treated her badly. To the way she kept going back to Chris, even when he made it clear he didn't want her there. I really can't say that I cared whether she lived or died at the end of the book, but I won't spoil that here.

Despite not really connecting with Sarah and the lack of mystery I still enjoyed this enough to give it three stars. This is one of those books that does not end happily for everyone, but the end was fitting.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher HQ Digital for giving me a copy of this book.


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