Bloodlust & Bonnets

Bloodlust & Bonnets is the child of Emily McGovern best known for her web comic My Life as a Background Slytherin. McGovern blends Lord Byron, vampires and a brave female hero to create a hilarious and chaotic tale.
In the early 19th century, Lucy rejects her life as a debutante and finds herself catching the eye of Lady Travesty and her cult of vampires. Lucy partners with Lord Byron and a mysterious hunter to track Travesty and put an end the cult. During their journey they cross paths with psychic eagles, talking castles and high society balls.
Bloodlust & Bonnets shares the same charm from McGovern’s comic. The art is simple but effective and helps keep the gory bits from being too gory. In facts, it just makes the blood funny especially when paired with the character’s reactions.40680980
I loved the chaos that ensured when this rag tag bunch comes upon adventure. This isn’t a fantasy novel where the characters are at least somewhat prepared. This is a Christopher Moore style tale where no one can keep anything straight and the most ridiculous things happen. It is refreshing and funny.
Amidst the drunken livery and death, there is also heart. Themes from the area still resonate today. Who am I? How do I handle the ideals society pushes upon me? Why can’t I just stay in my bed and read? (I’m with Byron on this).
The graphic novel meanders in the middle, throwing in chaos just to throw in more chaos but because the characters are lovable and the voice enchanting, Bloodlust & Bonnets is a must for anyone looking for a fun getaway from the real world.

Publication Date: September 17
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

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Mother Knows Best

Mother Knows Best looks at the emotional side of huge ethical questions involving embryotic changes.
Claire has a rare mitochondrial disease that manifests in different ways. She herself can live a normal like but her son Colton died at age 8 due to complications of the defect. MKB-cover-678x1024Devastated, Claire and her husband want to have another child, but Claire can’t stand the idea that they may be like her first child. Claire and her husband to agree to IVF, but what he doesn’t know is that Claire has a secret plan. They will be seeing a doctor whose specialty is illegal embryonic DNC modifications. But Claire is willing to try anything especially when she hears he can take away the mitochondrial issue.
Mother Knows Best is thrilling putting family drama front and center while blending in cutting edge science. The book never leans too heavily on the science, and the author describes everything in a way that the average reader can understand. Family drives the story, not the science.
The writing keeps you on your toes and the characters are relatable. Though I figured out all the twists but one, each one was written in a way that it wasn’t a cop out and was a perfect fit for the story and characters Kira Peikoff weaves characters to care about. I was engaged in the characters and what would become of the family they had created. With the exception of just one character, I agree with the choices they made even if I wouldn’t have myself I don’t know where I stand ethically on the idea of DNA modification, I was emotionally on Claire’s side. I never once wanted Claire’s family to fail no matter what the practical side of my brain said.
Mother Knows Best is thrilling and though provoking. What would you do for a healthy child?

Publication Date: September 10
I received an ARC through the publisher; all opinions are my own.

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.

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.

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.

A Spark of Light

Are you looking for a great book for your women’s book cub? Look no farther than A Spark of Light. Beautifully written, Jodi Picoult focuses on characters than just the idea of abortion which makes everyone on every side.
When a shooter goes to the only abortion clinic in Mississippi, everyone there from the doctor, to the patients, to the protestors are affected. How did they get here? What is going on in their lives? How do they reconcile their stance with their moral beliefs?a-spark-of-light
Picoult writes reverse chronological order. In another author’s hands, this would prove a challenger in keeping the material fresh. But Picoult manages to add new information as she goes back in time staving off any boredom and keeping the reader engaged. There are even two twists. While I saw one coming, the other took me by surprise and will change my perception when I read it again. (I have read reviews where people have claimed that this twist was unbelievable, but I live in the Deep South and can tell you this happens more than you can ever imagine.) That being said, I was left without closure for so many characters and wish there had been more about what happens to these characters after the events.
While Picoult makes her stance on her abortion heard, she treats every character with respect showing readers each side. The book focuses on the characters’ lives instead of just an ideological or political issue. Each person could be your neighbor, your family or your friend.
Touching and beautifully written, A Spark of Light is Picoult at her best.

King of Fools

The Shadow Game #2

In the sequel to Ace of Shades, Amanda Foody ramps the violence and danger for the story’s protagonists.
In New Reynes, City of Sin, Levi and Enne have gotten away from the Shadow Game with their lives intact. But their infamous actions will both hinder their new lives while at the same time driving their status in the North Side gangs. With the senator dead, Levi works with an estranged member of the donna who holds his life in her hanKing-of-Foolsds. If Levi can ensure this family member wins, then Levi will win his freedom in return. Enne finds herself building her own gang of women from the ground up and must combine both who she was with where she is now and show everyone who she can be.
While this is not as good as its original, I enjoyed reading the story of Enne’s growth. I loved to see her take her past and fit into her present to make a better future. Instead of foolishly trying to reinvent herself, she molds aspects of her life into one whole. I was a little disappointed that she wasn’t a bit stronger where Levi is concerned but their romance is a driving force of the story.
Levi’s was less enthralling this time around. He second guessed himself at every moment and seemed to put away his humanity. But his lack of balance was filled out by the addition of Jac’s perspective. It was great getting to know him and see his own story.
Overall, the political game and gang wars was less compelling than the Shadow Game but Foody seems to be steering the finale back to the game and enthralling all those encapsuled in the gang war.

 

Publication Date: April 30

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

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe

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I loved The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe. Even though it’s about gold mining by boat, this is a story about the human race’s future and not their past.
Poe and Call are out on the deck during the evening while there mining ship travels down river. Call is Poe’s best friend and soul mate but his life is cut short when he is killed by raiders, savages that left their civilized town to strike out on their own. Poe channels her revenge into building armor and weapons or the boat; she will find a way to kill every last raider. Usually, Poe stays behind on these voyages but her captain has something different in mind on the next outing: they will collect the gold and she will go with the ship to insure that it comes to no harm. Poe finds herself conflictingly on the water once again. Will she be able to make it up to Call? What kind of leader will she be? And who is spying on her?
Alley Condie always takes you deep into her world and immerses you in the story. By blending past events and give them a future glaze, Condie has created a new world that isn’t just a mimic of other dystopian fiction. Placing them in a river environment gave our characters new challenges instead of rehashing old clichés.
I loved the character of Poe. Poe is not your typical captain of this genre. She is not arrogant or uppity. While she fights to be a strong captain, she has doubts. She second guesses herself and others. It is this inner dialogue that makes you like Poe. There is more than just revenge here; she also wants to be a good captain to her crew.
My only criticism is the ending. It is the same one from Matched and Atlantis: you never see them put their world back together. These stories are how they get away from the danger and the damage. But never do we get to see the world these characters create.
Overall, I loved the book and would encourage everyone to read it.

Publication: March 26

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