Lost You

Lost You gets a 3.5 Stars for a fast-paced story that enjoyable but predictable.
Libby is vacationing when her son disappears after entering the elevator without her. In her anguish to find him, she realizes her horrible secret has come back to haunt her. A 42927039tale of terror, surrogacy and violence unveil itself through this tale of Libby’s life.
The abduction is just the framework to lure you in. The majority of the story is about Libby’s surrogacy. The book jumps between three perspectives, each character adding another layer to the story.
Unfortunately, these characters are all unlikeable. Haylen Beck adds complexity to the characters but doesn’t make me care; they are just that unlikable. I did almost feel for one character but the author made a choice that instantly took that away.
The book is enjoyable because the events move quickly building anticipation. You see what is going to happen and try to tell the characters to “stop!” But, never the less, they each make one bad decision after another. It is Beck’s ability to keep the story moving that makes this story interesting. You must know whether your predictions are correct or not.
An easy read, Lost You is a good read for people who like shock drama.

Publication Date: August 6
I received an ARC through the publisher; all opinions are my own.

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Keeping Lucy

Keeping Lucy is a beautiful tale full of heartbreak and love.

Ginny gives birth to a daughter with Down’s Syndrome but since it is 1969 and those with disabilities are treated less than human. Ginny is unaware that her daughter is sent 41150385away to school until it is too late. Her husband and his powerful lawyer father brush it all aside saying it is what is best or everyone. Two years later, a series of articles exposes what is going on at the school: horrible conditions, suicides, and uncared for children. Ginny is compelled to go to the hospital and sees her daughter for the first time. Even though her husband disagrees, she takes Lucy for the weekend. What she found horrifies her and she knows she cannot take Lucy back to the school. Ginny finds herself at war with her husband and his family while trying to take care of her precious daughter.

T. Greenwood brings the same humanity to these characters that she did with Rust & Stardust. Ginny’s reactions to what was done to her child were mine; I felt her heartbreak and determination and cheered her own.
Others charters moved me as well. Ginny’s friend Marsha was amazing, and I was so glad Ginny had Marsha in her life. These characters were so real to me. Especially little Lucy who couldn’t walk because she was neglected in that “school.”
Because of this, the ending brought tears to my eyes. This journey had gutted me. Greenwood never held back giving the book heart and real emotion. The topic would have been too sugary without any depth in any other writer’s hands.

I will recommend this anyone who loves a good tale but isn’t afraid to see the ugly side of the world and feel despair. I know there will be those who this is too much for and there will be people who understand the struggle from experience. To them, I let them decide on their own.

Publication Date: August 6

 

Bonus Review

Engaging and griping, Rust and Stardust is the fictionalized story of Sally Horner, the inspiration for the infamous Lolita.

Sally Horner is caught trying to steal a cheap composition notebook in New Jersey in 1948. The “FBI agent” tells her she must go with him to face trail over her crime. So begins the years long capture of an eleven year old girl by a 50-sometyhing pervert. While the novel is the fictionalized version of these events, the majority of the story’s rust-stardust-book-covercomponents are factual.

I finished this book in two days because the book was engaging and the chapters short enough to spur the reader to want to know what happens next. The story follows the point of view of a variety of characters including Sally, her mother, and those she meets along the way.

As both a novel lover and a true crime buff, I loved Rust & Stardust; I was entranced on page 1.

Publication Date: August 7, 2018

I received ARCs from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

Ragnarok Unwound

I loved this book! It pulled me in from the beginning and wouldn’t let me go!
Ives meets her destiny in a bar (I’m not talking true love!). As the Fate Cipher, Ives has tried to brush off her power and ignore it; she doesn’t need or want the responsibility. 41146916But when Ragnorak (and the end of the world as we know it) becomes imminent, she has no choice. Accepting her blood given gift, Ives sees the whole world in a different way and makes friends she would never have imagined.
The book has dashes of Christopher Moore and a sprinkle of Rick Riodiran while being completely unique, fun, and enchanting. Kristin Jacques gives a spin on the traditional Norse lore while weaving in other religions and pantheons that all work together. She pulls off a twist that respects the traditions of the past while creating her own spin.
I really love how there was no romance. Ives has too much going on learning her history and taking ahold of her future without adding a romantic over layer. When the world is ending, there isn’t time for a forced coupling and that aspect often pulls down action movies and other adventure stories.
The characters are charming (Hel is the best), the writing funny and action exciting. I would love to read more tales of the Fate cipher.
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

What’s Next

In What’s Next: Your Dream Job, God’s Call and A Life That Sets you Free, Daniel Ryan Day walks you through figuring on what steps you should take in your life to heed God’s call. While the goal is to help you find what the next step in your career, it’s not really a book about careers or a dream job; instead the book focuses on the idea of God’s calling.
This approach makes sense in the fact that Day is trying to dispel the idea that God’s calling exclusively refers to your occupation. He walks you through a variety of biblical figures whose calling aren’t considering jobs as well as looks into the New Testament ideas of what we are called to be. We are called by God to be a specific kind of person, not just a laborer.
42046635._SX318_But fear not; the final chapter gives you ideas to help you figure out what you want to do next occupation-wise. The author provides readers with ideas of how to apply Biblical concepts of calling to find your dream job.
The book is well written and Ryan has a voice that is straightforward to the average reader. He doesn’t get too bogged down in scholarly material or wording letting the book flow from one pint to the next. The fact that he makes these ideas accessible to a broader audience is the best part of the book and shows that the author understands his audience.
For me, I had decided a long time ago my calling was’ necessarily my job. Personally, this book wasn’t helpful for me, and I wasn’t as invested as some might be. But I do believe it can be helpful for others. If you still think that your calling only refers to your occupation, then this is a book you need. God is calling you for so much more than a paycheck.
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

Is There Still Sex in the City?

Is There Still Sex in the City is the story of one writer’s midlife crisis.
Candace Bushnell finds herself in middle age, divorced and worried about money. 42360872.jpgThings truly come apart when her dog dies and she moves out to Village. Bushnell chronicles the experience of Tinder “dating”, having younger boyfriends and the suicide of one her close friends.
This is one of the saddest books I have read in a long time. Bushnell refuses to accept she is in a middle life crisis and gives it a cute name and acronym. This is sad in and of itself. She refuses to truly accept her life. And then writes this book in order to make money from it.
It was hard to identify with her and her friends. Unlike her previous essays, there is no fantasy of being in the thrilling world of New York. I rolled my eyes when she complained living in the Upper East Side (if you can’t afford it don’t live there. Damn.). I despised her desperateness at thinking she would get something real from Tinder. And don’t get me started on her “not mom but acting like mom” chapter.
Maybe this something people her ages (late fifties/early sixties) would enjoy. But I don’t see many of normal people being able to empathize with a life that is still better than their because of economic status. Plus, many of the topics have been covered before in more entertaining and engaging ways (specifically The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode about the older woman/younger guy dynamic).
In her book, she mentioned she wrote several novels no one would publish. After reading this one, which has been chosen for publication, I have to wonder how bad those are.

Publication Date: August 6
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

 

Those People

42041520Those People looks at the idea of how far you will go to be rid of horrible neighbors.
Welcome to Lowland Way, the perfect home for the upper middle class. Everything here is idyllic and makes for the perfect place to live. This resident’s world is turned upside down when a lower class family member inherits the house on the corner. The homeowner has no respect for his neighbors selling cars from his front yard; playing loud music keeping the home next door’s baby wake; being generally rude when spoken to. When disaster strikes, everyone in the neighborhood is a suspect. Who is cruel enough to actually harm their neighbor?
The chapters include the testimony of the characters then looks back from the dangerous event that happens on their street. This unique set up gives your insight in both what the characters though when the even occurred while giving the reader the background to understand their statement to their police. The characters are not exceptionally long moving the story along at a great pace, keeping the reader guessing and getting them invested in the cast of characters.
Those People works well thought out its first twist. But Louise Candlish overreaches including a second twist instead of dealing with the plot she had created. This second twist ended up having no pay off for the overall plot and just seemed a little too extra. I wasn’t satisfied with the ending as it seemed that no one really put anything on the line.
Those People keeps you on your toes and engaged with the character though the ending isn’t overly satisfying.

Publication Date: June 11
I received an ARC for review; all opinions are my own.

 

The Summer We Lost Her

 

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The Summer We Lost Her promises emotional investment but instead delivers unlikeable characters without any depth.
Matt and Elise Sorenson head to the Adirondacks to sell Matt’s family home. This will be their first chance for quality time in quite a while. Elise is competing in dressage with her eyes on Rio Olympics. Matt is a lawyer who mainly raises their daughter while Elise is off training and competing. The two week getting the cabin ready will be a chance to get away from it all and focus on family. Elise decides, without Matt, that their daughter will attend day camp while they work on the house causing tension as the balance of power shifts when she returns from her latest competition. Their idyllic summer comes crashing down when Gracie doesn’t come home from camp and the Sorensons must deal with every parent’s worst nightmare.
The book struggles. The plot doesn’t actually happen until about halfway through. You spend the majority of the time getting to know the highly unlikable Elise and her husband. As the story goes on, Matt isn’t perfect either but you mostly feel sympathy for him and Gracie. For example, Elise rags her daughter about sucking her thumb but never pauses to understand the under lying psychological cause of the behavior (to be fair the author ignores this as well). I honestly didn’t care about her Olympic aspirations and wanted her to fail.
The publisher suggests this book to fans of Jodie Picoult; I don’t agree. The story is never really deep. The inclusion of the characters past doesn’t add much to the overall story. Tish Cohen writes Matt’s experiences with his grandfather and Elise’s love for Dressage without really getting to the bottom of the desire of the characters. Cohen presents Elise as poor with a troubled youth but Elise has natural talent and a coach who gives her everything she needs so I could not empathize with her at all. Matt’s past built up to what would be the twist (it’s not a twist really, just a surprise) but it wasn’t shocking especially from Matt’s recollections of the past. The author fails to truly delve into the idea that Elise wants her daughter to be perfect to erase her own mistakes. There was every opportunity in to delve deep into the characters but the author only ever scratches their depths. There is no true heart there like in Picoult’s novels. The end is too tidy and unemotional just like the rest of the book.
The Summer We Lost Her has the bones to be a great story, but the author stops herself from truly diving into these characters and her situations. The best 100 pages are when the daughter is gone because that story is exciting and there is emotional tension, but whenever Gracie is with her parents, everything falls flat.

Publication Date: June 4

 

Stoker’s Wilde

Stoker’s Wilde is a fun look into the friendship/rivalry of Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde.
Stoker is living a normal life when his friends drag him into a killing perpetrated by a stoker's wildewerewolf. Bram cannot believe until he sees it himself. Once the event is over, Bram is believes but is also relieved that all the drama is over. But when he moves to London and marries the fiancé of a homosexual acquaintance (Wilde), Bram finds that there is evil all around. But worst of all? He must put up with Wilde to defeat the evil chasing him.
Stoker’s Wilde is similar to last year’s Dracul. It tells the story that inspired Dracula and sheds light on Stoker’s early life. Both books are very in style and tone. Though it’s written in correspondence, Stoker’s Wilde is lighter reading with more modern language and less wordy. Stoker’s Wilde also focuses on a wider range of Stoker’s life and acquaintances. Though I didn’t like the story as much as Dracul, I found it an easier read.
The best part of the novel is the reference to other vampire pop culture. The book incorporates other vampire lore and gives it a base to stand on. My favorite was the reference to the morticians Wolfram and Hart. I didn’t like that it didn’t look into actual lore and why it existed. For example, there was no reference to why stake through the heart killed vampires. This was actually done by people when they dug up bodies that looked bloody. This wasn’t to kill them but to pin them to the ground and keep them from rising. This is why the legend exists.
Overall, Stoker’s Wilde was a fun read and encouraged me to read up more about Stoker’s time at the theater.
Publication Date: May 9, 2019

Bonus Review: Dracul

Dracul is written in the same style as the original title but adds some light to how Bram Stoker was inspired for Dracula.
Bram Stoker was a sickly youth. But everything changed when Nana Ellen arrives. At draculdeath’s door, Bram is cured by Nana Ellen and inspires a search into the woman herself and how she healed him. With his sister and brother, Bram travels a strange path that leads him to Dracul and the world of vampires.
The prose style matches that of the original Stoker title. This means there is superfluous wording and a tendency to over-describe each moment and place. This makes the exposition difficult to get into. Once the action starts happening, it easier to follow along as the tension rises perfectly.
I enjoyed the novel’s slant: explaining where Bram’s ideas came from. According to additional information included in the book, some things were based on Stoker’s notes as well as research into his own lives. In fact, it seems many characters are based on real people outside the family.
Overall, this is a wonderful tale that fits into the Dracula lore beautifully. I enjoyed the actual story here than in the spiritual counterpart Stoker’s Wilde. While that one was an easier read, its story was overly whimsical and not very deep.

Publication Date: October 2, 2018

I received free copies of these books for review. All opinions are my own.

The Night Window

The Night Window satisfyingly concludes Jane Hawk’s story. While the lead up is not overly exciting, the ending is well done.
Jane has been fighting against the Arcadians, a techno-terrorist group who had her husband killed. On the run, she is trying to prove the depth of the conspiracy that has overtaken the United States and, eventually, the world. Finally, she has what she needs to bring them down; the data regarding who is an Arcadian and who is on the Hamlet (kill) List.night window
The Night Window is a huge improvement over the last two books in the series. Jane is moving forward and actually getting somewhere. This material isn’t filler; it’s actually part of the story. That being said, Koontz does create an adjacent story that becomes the stereotypical man-hunting-man quest that just drags down the pacing. The beginning of this sub-story started off wonderfully; it was an imaginative and fun way to recap what had happened in the last four books. But then it dragged out into a story that didn’t have any impact on the overall arc of the novel.
The ending is perfect. The conclusion makes sense and is the only way the situation could have been countered. While there is plenty of blood and violence, the solution is cerebral and very satisfying using the Arcadian’s tech against them.
I wish the cast of characters has been better integrated. There are characters I really liked that only got a one sentence write-off in this book. Unlike Odd Thomas, this series makes no sense as to why it suddenly dumps characters that were helping her. This is unfortunate; I was rather invested in them.
The Night Window ends Jane’s saga and ends it well. It was about time as the third and fourth entries in the entries were meandering and underwhelming. While I enjoyed the first two novels and was investing in Jane, Dean Koontz overreached and drew out her story for too long.
Publication Date: May 14
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

The East End

Publisher Summary

THE EAST END opens with Corey Halpern, a Hamptons local from a broken home who breaks into mansions at night for kicks. He likes the rush and admittedly, the escapism. One night just before Memorial Day weekend, he breaks into the wrong home at the wrong time: the Sheffield estate where he and his mother work. Under the cover of darkness, their boss Leo Sheffield — billionaire CEO, patriarch, and owner of the vast lakeside manor — arrives unexpectedly with his lover, Henry. After a shocking poolside accident leaves Henry dead, everything depends on Leo burying the truth. But unfortunately for him, Corey saw what happened and there are other eyes in the shadows.9780778308393_RHC_PRD

Hordes of family and guests are coming to the estate the next morning, including Leo’s surly wife, all expecting a lavish vacation weekend of poolside drinks, evening parties, and fireworks filling the sky. No one can know there’s a dead man in the woods, and there is no one Leo can turn to. With his very life on the line, everything will come down to a split-second decision. For all of the main players—Leo, Gina, and Corey alike—time is ticking down, and the world they’ve known is set to explode.

Told through multiple points of view, THE EAST END highlights the socio-economic divide in the Hamptons, but also how the basic human need for connection and trust can transcend class differences. Secrecy, obsession, and desperation dictate each character’s path. In a race against time, each critical moment holds life in the balance as Corey, Gina, and Leo approach a common breaking point. THE EAST END is a propulsive read, rich with character and atmosphere, and marks the emergence of a talented new voice in fiction.

 

Reader Review

The East End is neither well described nor summarized in its official blurb. This book isn’t really a thriller but a thoughtful look into the lives of both the rich and the poor in the Hamptons. How does one handle a closeted life if you are rich and must put on a good show? How does one handle the stress of teenage life without money and a good support system? How does one handle having children when you are stuck between a rock and a hard place? These are questions Jason Allen tries to answer in The East End.
Corey is poor and lives with his alcoholic mom and, until recently, her abusive ex. In an effort to control something in his miserable life, Corey sneaks into homes for a thrill. One night Corey sneaks into the wrong home. He finds himself overseeing an overdose of drugs that will not only tie him to his mom’s rich employer but one of the daughter’s friends as well. How each of the three deals with the death will dictate how their futures will turn out..
The novel spends a lot of time inside the character’s head. Allen spends a considerable amount of time going through their thought processes and reliving their history. There are bursts of action but because it’s so cerebral, it isn’t a typical thriller. I enjoyed seeing how this event was a coming of age story for Corey and that is where it is so powerful—not because of the suspense.
That being said, I really didn’t care much for Corey otherwise, and I didn’t like any of the other characters. The author seemed to be trying to get across that no one is perfect but the characters didn’t have enough good characteristics to balance. Corey’s mom tries to evolve but never does. Her chapters seem to just stretch the story out. I wasn’t invested in Angelina. While I felt for her family situation, her history soured her for me.
Where Corey’s chapters are the best thematically, it is the first few chapters of Leo‘sperspective that is the best mechanically. Allen does well with the erratic vibe of the character as he snorts and gulps his way to oblivion.
Overall, The East End doesn’t live up to the HR hype. It’s not a typical thriller and fails at trying to be one. When you look at what it is, a cerebral look into the variety of lives in the Hamptons, you’ll enjoy it more and truly understand the story the author is telling.

Publication Date: May 7

I received a book for review from the publisher all opinions are my own.e