The Similars

the-similarsThe Similars a fascinating story about clones that reminded me of Your One & Only gets a 3.5 for a promising start.

Emma returns to Darkwood Academy still aching from the death of her best friend Ollie. While everyone else is excited for the new students, Emma doesn’t care. So what if clones are coming the school? They won’t replace Ollie. But everything changes when Emma meet’s Ollie’s clone. While her life is in a spin, she must deal with the attack of her roommate and the idea that the clones may just not be here out of the goodness of the administration’s heart.

I loved most of this book. I was enthralled by the characters and how the story was a parallel of our lives today. I loved the mystery and twists. In fact, I only called one of the two twists! This excites me because I love a good twist.

The only issue I had was the last 50 pages. The story seemed to get bigger than it needed to be and too easy. In fact, the day after I finished the book, my brain wanted to go back and finish the book. This wasn’t because I hadn’t, but because the ending wasn’t really an ending. It tied up nothing. While I have no problem with cliff hangers and unaware questions to propel to the next novel, I was left lacking any closure or clear idea of what was really going on.

I will read the sequel as I really want to know what happens next. I hope Rebecca Hanover strengthens her ending as she progresses as a writer.

 

Publication Date: January 1, 2019

 

I received an ARC for review; all opinions are my own.

 

The Gilded Wolves

I absolutely loved The Gilded Wolves. Roshani Chokshi builds a beautiful world of magic and high society.

It is Paris 1889, on the verge of the World’s Fair. While normal people are looking forward to seeing “exotic” forms of humans, the true event is happening within The Order. The Order controls the magical Babel stones, the pieces of stone left from where God knocked down the Tower of Bable. Each piece still exudes his power. Severin has been stripped of his house but knows there is a way to earn his place back. When the patriarch of the House of Nyx comes to him with a request, he knows that he has a chance to reclaim his honor. What Severin doesn’t know is that something bigger is brewing, bigger than him and his group of friends.

Severin’s diverse of group of friends adds realism and brings together a variety of cultures into the world. Laila hails from the east and uses her mystique as an entertainer. Zofia shows characteristics of being autistic; she uses her unique talents to become a prominent part of the team’s plan. Hypnos and Severin are both bastards of mixed blood. None of these characters are negated to stereotypes and it is truly beautiful.

The world Chokshi has created is just as beautiful. Each location is described in lavish, sensuous detail. Sumptuous clothing gives characters amour or weapons depending on their situation. Tristan’s power with flowers is lush and makes me wish I had his creations. Ththe gilded wolves by roshani chokshiis is a full world where every part is included in the overall beauty of the whole.

The story is exciting and enchanting. Characters use magic called forging for a variety of talents from stone animal protectors that come to life to mystical mirror door ways. Mundane is mixed with exceptional to create a perfect blend of timing.  I was always on my toes wanting to know what happens next.

The Gilded Wolves is a gorgeous fantasy of magic wrapped in Paris of yesterday. Exciting and captivating, I cheered the character on and become invested in their lives. I truly look forward to the next book in the series.

Publication Date: January 15, 2019

I received an ARC for review; all opinions are my own.

Hunting Annabelle

Hunting Annabelle is gripping, suspenseful and wonderfully twisty. I finished this in one night!
Sean has been out of the psychiatric prison for three years. He has been trying to learn to deal with schizophrenia and keep to himself. He has isolated himself from relationships heard-wendy-hunting-annabellein fear that he will kill someone again. He spends his days at a local amusement park in Texas drawing people he sees filling his day with his art and burying the monster that lives in his mental illness. Then he meets Annabelle and things change. Even though he knows not to get involved with her, he can’t help it as he truly does want a human connection. When he witnesses her abduction, he must deal with his own demons as well as the local police and he tries desperately to find her.
I love books about killer’s and their psychology and this novel runs the gambit. I cheered Sean on every step of the way.  Wendy Heard captures his mental journey enduring him to you. You want to forgive him for his past sins and wish a happy ending for him.
In many books I can see most twists coming but not in this one and I give Wendy Heard kudos for not going the obvious and stereotypical path with this. The end is emotional and keeps you thinking for hours after reading the book. There is so much great material to ponder and think about.
I loved Hunting Annabelle; I couldn’t go to bed until I had finished Sean’s journey.

Publication Date Dec. 25

I received an ARC through NetGalley; All opinions are my own.

An Anonymous Girl

 

An Anonymous Girl is a decent addition to the shock drama genre of today.

39863515Jess is barely making it in New York working with an online make-up service company. When she hears about a study that takes a short period of time and makes money, she decides to sneak in. There she is presented with ethical questions and asked to bare her soul on a variety of topics. What Jess doesn’t realize as this will lead her into a world of obsession, lies, and murder.

The biggest problem is that this is a shallow comparison to Greer Hendrix and Sarah Pekkanen’s first work The Wife Between Us. That novel was well written and you felt for each narrator and their place in their life struggle. The twist was amazing and you thought about the book a whole different way prompting you to reread the novel.

An Anonymous Girl is the not like that. While it has twists and turns, none of them is Earth shattering. The reader has been waiting for those missing puzzle pieces and then everything easily clicks with little fanfare. While this not a usually an issue (this keeps the book going and enticing), I was expecting something like the first book only to be disappointed.

There are true criticisms of the book. The second narrator is unlikable and in writing a matter of fact and boring way.  I assume this was meant to show she was a character of details, but I didn’t care to read a chapter that she picked out a nightgown. I was tired of her lack of emotional content seeing that she was a person who made that her business. These passages were taciturn with 10 dollar words to make her sound intelligent (uncharacteristically she repeated her words a lot; if I read “engendered” again I was going to scream.). I realize it wasn’t really supposed to like the character but these passages didn’t make me want to read more; it was Jess’ view and story that kept me going.

I was also alarmed about the ongoing craziness. At one point, I wanted to put down the book because really? You are pushing too much. From a girl that becomes obsessed with her psychiatrist to a cheating husband to sister deaths to hidden cameras, I had a hard time suspending reality.

An Anonymous Girl sets up an intriguing premise but never really flesh out its ideas on ethics. I enjoyed the epilogue which the only time the story truly surprised me. But overall this is a typical thriller is a genre where everyone is looking to be surprised and want things to be over the top.

 

Publication Date: January 8

I received an ARC for review; all opinions are my own.

Bluff

Bluff is more than just fashion and luncheons; the novels look at the greed, betrayal and murderous tendencies of the social elite.

One day, Maude walks into the Four Seasons, is shown to a party by an unsuspecting

bluff-jane-stanton-hitchcock

maître d’, pulls out a gun, shoots at the party, and then walks out. The novel follows the twisty, complicated fallout. Was Maude aiming at the accountant who she says stole her mother’s money and she hit the wrong person? Why would she commit a crime in front of everyone? Is Maude really crazy? But this is more than just Maude’s story; involved in the aftermath is the widow of the man slayed as well as his mistress. Who is bluffing and who really holds the cards?

This book was really fun! The story builds with excitement and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Each twist just gets you more interested in the mystery. You keep reading because you want to know what’s really going on.

Sadly, the author delivers the twist without any fanfare. Any poker player knows you have to put on a show to play the game and they would be disappointed with the author’s delivery. The twist itself is magnificent but it’s presented without much emotional impact; it’s just stated as a fact. Also, the ending seems rushed but at the point, the story has been told and the author is just tying up loose ends.

Overall, I did enjoy reading the book and look forward to reading other works by Jane Stanton Hitchcock.

 

Publication Date: February 19

I received an ARC from the publisher for review; all opinions are my own.