Category Archives: Books

Whatcha Reading? September 2016

September was… not the greatest. I hit the wall pretty hard, but I’d gotten off to a great start.

20821288

I’m not one for Lovecraftian horror. Things from space and things from the deep dark sea generally don’t do it for me, but Cherie Priest’s “lowbrow” pitch of Lizzie Borden battling Cthulhu with an ax was pretty damn compelling.

The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.

But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness.

This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.

The best part is the Cherie took notes and records from Dr. Owen Seabury, the real physician for Abigail Borden, and she didn’t really need to do much other than add fish people. Truth is stranger than fiction. I really enjoyed Maplecroft and I look forward to reading Chapelwood.

28588390

I got an ARC of this one to review, and I loved it. I’ve never read any of the original Sherlock Holmes books, but I was so excited to see this on the grab list.

With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society.  But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.

I’m working up my review for Criminal Element, but this was one of the best books I’ve read all year. I’m excited to continue with this series.

And really, those were the only two books I’ve read. I’m starting October with another ARC, one I like less well but fits into the theme of “women in pretty dresses with their backs turned.”

510hpcv3fel-_sy344_bo1204203200_

On a quest to distract her lifelong friend Jeremy from his recent heartbreak, Lady Emily organizes a holiday in Greece. As a lover of all things Greek, she quickly finds herself occupied with tours of ancient ruins, lively debates with Margaret, a devoted Latinist, and slightly more scandalous endeavors with her dashing husband, Colin Hargreaves. But the pleasantries are brought to an abrupt halt when a man long believed dead greets the party at their island villa. Lord Philip Ashton, Colin’s childhood best friend and Emily’s first husband, has returned. But can Philip really be who he claims, even if he has the scars and stories to prove it? Where has he been for all this time? And will his undying love for Emily drive him to claim what’s his?

Intrigue mounts as Philip reveals that he has been plagued for the past few years by an illegal antiques trader who believes he is in possession of a piece of Achilles’ helmet, a priceless relic that was stolen from him moments after he unearthed it on an archaeological dig. Emily must employ all of her cunning and expertise to thwart thieves who threaten not only her own safety, but that of those precious artifacts she holds so dear. A trail of overheard conversations, murderous assailants, and dead bodies leads her on a chase to uncover more than one buried truth.

The voice is pretty good, but damn, the manpain and whining are extreme. I think she’s telling the wrong story, but that’s a conclusion for next month.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Reviews

Whatcha Reading? June/July 2016

Well, I sure fell off on these, didn’t I? June was an exceptionally trying month, reading-wise.

I started with Alison Goodman’s The Dark Days Club, which my friends had all told me was excellent.

They were not wrong. It was great.

25489504._UY400_SS400_

I don’t often read Regency-era novels, but this one is true to period, also mentions Lord Byron (whom I love), and presents a unique “superhuman” circumstance in giving super strength and the power to stop monsters to a titled society lady. Helen’s reluctance to accept her gift warring with thoughts of “Lord Carlston’s lips” was a fairly compelling story line. Goodman balances the era’s perception of women with opened-minded characters who encourage Helen to embrace her strengths. I really enjoyed this one, and I’m looking forward to book two!

Unfortunately, June took a deep nose-dive when I received an ARC of Arsenic with Austen for review. I believe in reading outside your comfort zone; though I’m not a big fan of the cosy genre, I thought this one had potential, and I was sort of hoping the title was an allusion to the debate on whether or not Austen died as a result of an overdose of arsenic. You know medicines in those days weren’t exactly… helpful.

9781250065476

This book began decently and quickly dissolved into a massive train wreck. Set in 2013, Emily, a professor at Reed College in Portland, receives word that her great aunt has died. Okay. She’s left an inheritance. Okay. It turns out to her aunt’s estate, $6 million dollars, and half the town of Stony Beach. Okay.

Except the lawyer mailed the death notice to the college and if she “hadn’t checked her box, she might have gotten it next fall!” No. That’s not how that works. Emily has a peculiar habit of verbally speaking to her late husband’s ghost, like, in actual questions she’s mentally answering for him. Oh, and my favorite: the unrequited teenage romance she dare not think of, but mentions every five minutes. The writing is poor, coupled with what I assume were supposed to be “humorous” quips regarding how Emily’s aunt drilled proper grammar and diction into her from a young age. The author also makes a point to call out Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, not as retelling of Austen she didn’t care for, but for being a work she can’t fathom being published by a serious house, let alone how the indie and self pub works make it into proper bookstores.

Here’s a tip: maybe don’t insult indie and self pub people. The road is different for everyone. Don’t knock someone because they didn’t take the same path you did. Did I like P+P+Z? No, I don’t begrudge it being in Barnes and Noble. There’s no reason to kick someone else, especially when your work is also flawed.

Aside from the eye-roll worthy dialogue, there’s no actual plot. Whole chapters pass by in which Emily is actually taking a survey of the townspeople asking how they feel about increasing the tourist trade; of course, the mayor and a seedy vampire-esque realtor are totally trying to get Emily to sell, to the point where they may have murdered her aunt.

Yeah, no. The author needed to do more research on how dead bodies work and how to investigate a crime.

No one dies from “acute gastroenteritis.” If your housekeeper breaks her neck falling down the basement stairs twelve hours before you return, you won’t smell blood and rotting flesh. In fact, you won’t smell blood unless someone bleeds out, which breaking your neck does not cause.

Most importantly, real police don’t watch episode of tv shows wherein the guy you suspect murdered your aunt played a murderer to “see how he did.” What? And for some reason, Emily doesn’t know what Netflix is. Okay. My mother is also 51, and SHE knows what Netflix is.

It’s also not a murder “mystery” if all of your “suspects” turn out to be involved in the murder.

The unfortunate consequence of this book was that my well ran dry. I struggled to come up with something decent to say, ended up profiling the book, and scrabbled around trying to replenish myself. Bad books are draining.

I picked up Leanna Renee Hieber’s Strangely Beautiful as my reward for completing that daunting task.

image

Leanna is a dear friend of mine, and this book is actually a re-release of her first two novels, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker. I’ve long been a fan of Leanna’s work, having come aboard with Darker Still. Hot guys trapped in portraits and needing rescuing by daydreaming heroines? Yes, please!

Strangely Beautiful was an interesting read, like the X-Men, but with ghosts. I really like the Guard, especially Elijah. It wasn’t so much the story that got me as seeing the progression in Leanna’s writing. It’s clearly her voice, her signature level of detail (especially regarding dresses!), and her flow, but it’s a rare opportunity to get to go back and see where she started, and since I was having difficulty regaining my own voice, it was a tremendous comfort and help. Plus, the image of Hades/Death unhinging his jaw and vomiting pomegrante is both horrific and delightful.

Following that, I got the chance to read Leanna’s next Eterna Files book, Eterna and Omega, before its August 9th release!

9781466829268

Leanna gets the best covers. I read this book in three days and it only took me that long because I had to attend The Day Job. I even brought it with me to the gym. I wrote a review for Eterna and Omega for Criminal Element, so when that’s up, I’ll cross post it here.

If it wasn’t painfully obvious, I loved this book and I love this series. It needed more Lavinia, but that’s a personal issue and not one having to do with the book. The great thing about being a book reviewer is getting to read things before they come out. The bad thing about being a book reviewer is than having to wait until NEXT August for book three, which Leanna is still writing. Oh well.

So that’s it! Giant post, three good books, one book I deeply regret. On the slate for August is an ARC of Whispers Beyond the Veil, and my poor attempts to shuffle through my TBR.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Reviews

Whatcha Reading? April 2016

I surprised myself by still managing to read three books this month despite traveling. Philadelphia was absolutely amazing, and as I predicted last month, I stepped into the Mütter Museum and immediately teared up.

DR. MÜTTER’S MARVELS by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

51ymxNCFYSL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

This book is amazing. I picked it up on a whim a year or so ago without really knowing what it was about. I expected a sort of biographical read about medicine and history, but what I got was an immersive exploration about not only Dr. Mütter’s life, but the lives of many of the professors and doctors at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.

And yes, at the end, when Mütter meets his untimely death (hey, it’s not a spoiler considering he’s long dead at this point), I sobbed. It’s all so unfair.

Stepping into what he essentially bullied the College of Physicians of Philadelphia to construct to house his collection was an astonishing moment. Though it’s not the original building, the fact that I was looking at specimens and wax casts that have survived two hundred years was breathtaking. Yes, I assume some find them gross and disturbing, but I wanted nothing more than to sit and sketch all the skulls and figures and instruments.

If you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit of a medical history fanatic. An enthusiast.

Wicked Ever After by Delilah S. Dawson

51dWof989HL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

While on the plane, I began (and finished) the final book in Delilah S. Dawson’s Blud series. Wicked Ever After catches back up with Trish and Criminy, and includes a tale of love, loss, betrayal, learning to let go, and of course, really hot blood-drinking vampire magicians.

It’s a bit bittersweet. I met Delilah just before Wicked as They Come launched (in fact, I was the fire dancer at her launch party). Seeing the series come full-circle has been a neat experience. This one is eBook only, and I miss not having one for my shelf, but I did enjoy the ride.

The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig

51E8S+UfVCL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Have I mentioned how much I love the Miriam Black series?

Another great, fast-paced read. I’m attempting to get more action-oriented books in my head in the hopes it’ll help me write action. I’m more of an atmosphere gal, so the fact that my WIP has three fight scenes in five chapters is throwing me a bit.

But a challenge is good, right?

Miriam kicks ass and takes names. I love the back and forth, past and present storytelling aspect of this book. I love how everything ties together. I did have a moment of confusion because it’s been a while since I’ve read Blackbirds, but I caught up quickly enough. Good stuff, this one. Unfortunately, I have no idea when The Thunderbird is coming out, which I believe is the last book.

 

I’m starting May with Delilah S. Dawson’s Strike (the sequel to Hit) and an absolute determination to carve through my TBR before buying more books. Which, of course, is exactly what I did in Philly. But I only bought one.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books

Pride+Prejudice+Zombies: A Review

Jane Austen and I have always had a tumultuous relationship. I’ve never liked Pride and Prejudice (not the first time I read it, not the second). Actually, I prefer Sense and Sensibility, but in general, my feelings about Jane Austen’s work reflect her feelings about the Bronte sisters’ work: she didn’t dig it.

I wasn’t too keen on the idea of throwing zombies into the mix either, but what can you do? I didn’t read that version, either, but I did take my little sister to see the movie over Valentine’s Day Weekend. If there’s one thing I can get behind, it’s celebrating a holiday I don’t care about with a movie about killing the undead.

Pride+Prejudice+Zombies was as hilariously horrible as I expected it to be. Men and women are sent to China (for the poor) or Japan (for the elite) to learn to the art of fighting and combat. The costumes were lovely, the scenery perfect. Point: at least Jane, Lizzie, and the other girls wore respectable (if not entirely historically accurate) clothing. There was a shade too much decolletage, but what did I expect? At least they stuck to full-length dresses and not skimpy “battle attire.”Plus, the knife holsters were an excellent addition.

The storyline was not what I expected. It’s vaguely like Austen’s novel, and Lizzie still gets to be the snarky delight she is, but they didn’t really develop the other characters. I’m not sure if they were relying on viewers having read the original zombie-free version. There was also a glaring lack of transition. The narrative bounced back and forth like a loose brain. The casting was hit-and-miss: Matt Smith was an excellent and thoroughly annoying Mr. Collins, Lily James was a great Lizzie Bennett. I wanted Lady Catherine (Lena Headey) to be a villain, but she was not. I had been convinced she had a legion of zombies set to keep Lizzie and Darcy apart.

Jack Huston was the BEST Wickham I’ve seen. Well, the best version of Wickham.

And I know this is going to be shallow, but I felt that Darcy could have been… more handsome. Bingely was super pretty. Darcy… meh. Maybe it was the styling. I liked him way more as the crow-man in Maleficent.

I do feel like they gave us an homage to the BBC version, starring Collin Firth, as this Darcy also has a dramatic swan-dive into a pond, from which he rises in a dripping puffy shirt. I might have cackled in the middle of the theater. Okay, I did.

Darcy confessing his “inappropriate” and “horrifying” feelings for Elizabeth was definitely improved matching verbal sparring with a literal knife fight. It was probably my favorite moment in the whole thing.

The highlight of the film was how well they maintained Lizzie’s character. I might not like Pride and Prejudice, but I’ve always appreciated Elizabeth’s steadfastness and confidence in herself. The addition of zombies only allowed her to be stronger. Counterbalancing Darcy’s earlier… demand that Lizzie marry him, at the end, he asks not for her to be his wife, but if she’d allow him to be her husband.

Alright, maybe that was my favorite part of the movie.

I’m a bit upset I paid so much to see it in theaters, but my sister enjoyed it, so it was worth the cost. If you missed it on the big screen, well, you didn’t miss much. I’d wait to rent it. A dollar feels like a more reasonable price.

What did you think? More over, what do you think Jane Austen would think

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews, Uncategorized

Whatcha Reading? February 2016

I’m sure I’ll think of a better name for these posts at some point, but I thought it would be interesting to talk a bit about the books I’ve read each month. I know people are always looking for things to read (I know I am), and while reviews are great and incredibly important to authors, I’d be here forever if I did an in-depth review on everything. Instead, here’s a brief tour of February’s books!

Finding Center by Katherine Locke

514WyR7GlfL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_

I’ve never really been one for romance, but I absolutely adore Katherine Locke’s District Ballet Company series. I read Turning Pointe and Finding Center when they first released, and though I’d pre-ordered Finding Center, I didn’t get around to reading it until now. Sometimes I forget I have an eReader and even more books to go through.

The romance is flavoring on top of book devoted to portraying mental illness, therapy, and recovery in a positive light. It’s an incredibly accurate depiction, and the writing is gorgeous.

Zed and ballet are my two greatest loves

It took all of Aly’s strength to get them back after a tragic accident ripped them from her six years ago. A long road to recovery led to her return, dancing full-time for the District Ballet Company and carrying Zed’s child. But Aly is slipping. Each day becomes a fight to keep her career from crumbling under the weight of younger talent, the scrutiny of the public eye and the limitations of her ever-changing body. A fight she fears she’s losing.

I’m scared Aly is broken to her core

Zed recognizes the signs, but he doesn’t know how to fix her. The accident left him with his own demons, and while he wants nothing more than to take care of the woman he loves, it’s getting harder the farther downward she spirals. When Aly’s life is threatened and Zed’s injuries prevent him from saving her, he’s never felt so useless, so afraid he’s not capable of being the man Aly and their child needs.

With new life comes new hope. And with their fractured lives already hanging by a thread, Aly and Zed must discover if they have what it takes—both together and apart—to rebuild and carry on.

The prequel novella, Turning Pointe, is free if you want to check it out, which you do.

Second Line and Chasing Ghosts by Kira Butler

These two short stories are part of Kira’s Short Fictions and Curiosities series. I enjoy serialized fiction, and there’s a new story posted every month, for FREE.

Chasing Ghosts was essentially a dash through a time-capsual manor, where everything was left in media res. Second Line was a beautiful ghost story set against Katrina-ravenged New Orleans. I enjoyed both very much, and I can’t wait to read what’s up next.

The Damsel and the Daggerman by Delilah S. Dawson

17258798

Remember when I said I sometimes forget I have an eReader? It’s always a nice surprise to find a Blud book I haven’t read.

Bad boy knife-thrower Marco Taresque is the hottest and most dangerous performer in the caravan. He keeps to himself until a pesky female journalist arrives, anxious to interview him about his checkered past—his last assistant disappeared under mysterious and bloody circumstances, earning him the nickname “The Deadly Daggerman.”

Unsinkable journalist and adventurer Jacinda Harville doesn’t take no for an answer, and she’s determined to wear down Marco no matter how threatening—or incredibly desirable—he might appear. He agrees to an interview—but only if she’ll let him strap her to a spinning table and throw knives at her body. How can she say no? And how can she resist him when he leans close for a kiss that strikes her more sharply than any blade? It’s the first time she’s let a man get the better of her, and she’s determined it will be the last…

Like all of Delilah’s Blud books, Damsel doesn’t disappoint. There’s a nice subversion of tropes, more caravan adventures, and some infuriating and sexy banter. Bonus: you don’t have to read any of the novellas in order.

Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

91sZo16sffL.jpg

This one I wasn’t sure about. Weird West, much like romance, isn’t exactly in my wheelhouse. When I found I was on the Diversity in Weird West panel, I pulled Wake from my shelf so I wouldn’t feel like a total poser. Touted as Lonesome Dove meets Buffy, I was sure what to expect.

Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She’s a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don’t call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood, and he turns into black sand.

And just like that, Nettie can see.

But her newfound ability is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn’t understand what’s under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding — at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead to her true kin… if the monsters along the way don’t kill her first.

I should have expected an insanely intense ride. Nettie, a biracial, genderqueer bronc wrangler turned monster hunter, has an incredibly strong voice, and the pacing is phenominal. I can’t remember the last time I finished a book so quickly. Just go read it, okay? The sequel, Horde of Crows, comes out later this year, and I can’t wait.

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude (ARC)

9780544640412_p0_v2_s192x300

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen that I was commissioned to design eight character cards for this book. Though I spoke with Sarah about design, inspiration, and the personalities of her characters, I wasn’t going to get the chance to read it until May.

Until an ARC fell into my outstreched claws.

Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night. 

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

The May Queen Murders, much like Wake of Vultures, blew me away. The setting echoes M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, with plenty of twists and surprises along the way. I’m kinda of mad at myself for failing to puzzle out the mystery. Okay, I’m really mad at myself. It was great read, full of suspense and superstition, and it was so refreshing to see a Mexican-American main character. There’s plenty of diversity, and of course, my favorite–murder.

It’s available for pre-order, so get on it.

Follow @SarahEJude on Twitter to check out the character cards, and stay tuned to find out how you can get a set of your own.

And that’s it! That’s everything I’ve read in February. I think. This month is starting off with Cecilia Dominic’s The Mountain’s Shadow, and hopefully many more.

What did you read this month?

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Reviews

Review: THE AWESOME by Eva Darrows

On the block today is THE AWESOME by Eva Darrows. Holy shit, did this book live up to my expectations. First off, can we talk about the cover please? 81DoelSgaMLI want an 11.5×17 poster of it on my wall right fucking now. It’s totally throwback B-movie magnificence, I love the acid green/hot pink combo, and I found it fit the vibe of the book.

Seventeen-year-old Maggie Cunningham is tough, smart, and sassy. She’s also not like other girls her age, but then, who would be when the family business is monster hunting? Combat boots, ratty hooded sweatshirts, and hair worn short so nothing with claws can get a grip, Maggie’s concerns in life slant more toward survival than fashion or boys. Which presents a problem when Maggie’s mother informs Maggie that she can’t get her journeyman’s license for hunting until she loses her virginity.

Something about virgin blood turning vampires into pointy rage monsters. Blood and gore and insides being on the outside and all that.

Maggie’s battled ghosts and goblins and her fair share of house brownies, but finding herself a boy – fitting in with her peers – proves a much more daunting task than any monster hunt. Did you know normal girls don’t stuff their bras with holy water balloons? Nor do they carry wooden stakes in their waistbands. And they care about things like “matching” and “footwear.” Of course, they also can’t clean a gun blindfolded, shoot a crossbow, or exorcise ghosts from a house. Which means they’re lame and Maggie’s not. Because Maggie’s awesome. The Awesome, in fact. Just ask her. She’d be more than happy to tell you.

After she finds herself a date.

Let me tell you something about Maggie, okay? Maggie Cunningham is the foul-mouthed little sister to Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black with a dash of Joss Whedon. I loved this girl. I love that the most terrifying, difficult, skin-crawling task she has to face is being a seventeen year old girl. As a former seventeen year old girl, I can tell you that it is, in fact, awful. I am with Maggie 100%. But you know what? Maggie is spitfire. She battles ghosts and zombies; she can totally take on being a teenaged girl.

That being said, Maggie has so much dimension. Yeah, she’s a badass and she knows it, but she’s squishier on the inside that she’d like to admit. She’s deeply devoted to her mom, she’s a good friend (which probably surprises her), and yeah, she gets scared and upset. But Maggie knows her own power and is sure as shit not afraid to use it.

The story itself is a wild romp. I couldn’t put it down. I love the world-building in that monsters are a known thing. No hiding behind lame excuses; monster hunting is a real job and that’s awesome. I hate the “hiding in the shadows” cliché. You so did not get lacerations that deep “falling off your bike.” The other characters–Janice, Jeff, Lauren, and Ian–are so well developed. And the monsters themselves are killer. I love Darrows’s vampires. The second she mentioned piranha teeth, I squealed because that’s how I’ve always envisioned them.

I have to admit I warred with myself over the whole “virginity” thing. I guess I get it, but at the same time my brain went on a “virginity is a myth. You’re sexually experienced or you’re not. No one’s summoning unicorns around here” rant. It might have made more sense if she’d done the Ginger Snaps period route and told Maggie to shove a tampon in it, but it is what it is. Honestly, though, I think what made it better in my mind is Maggie’s undaunted forwardness. She’s not in it for love and romance, she needs to drop her V-card like a hot potato to level up in her career.

I highly recommend this book. There are some great twists and turns, an abundance of sass and swearing, and it’s probably the most fun I’ve had reading in a while. I sorta wish there was a second one, but I’m selfish.

THE AWESOME is out May 26th, 2015. You can preorder from Amazon by clicking this link.

If you want other spooky scary stuff, check out MARY: THE SUMMONING by Darrows’s alter-ego, Hillary Monahan.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Reviews

Giveaway Winner and Review of DANGEROUS GIRLS by Abigail Haas

First order of business! The winner of the hardcover copy of SERVANTS OF THE STORM is Heather!

WinnerThank you all for entering, tweeting, sharing and most of all, reading. Not bad for my first giveaway.

So. DANGEROUS GIRLS. This was a book I picked up at DragonCon on whim, along with a few others.

411B21Tad+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Looking at the cover, I doubt it’s one I would have picked up for myself if not for the recommendation of a friend. A recommendation I apparently hallucinated. I swear on my bookcase this person told me she’d devoured this book, but we know by now my brain isn’t always the most reliable.

It’s been a week since I finished it. I let it sit, exercised my book hangover cures, read something else (that also broke my heart because of course it did) and I think I’ve overcome my deep emotions.

On the surface, DANGEROUS GIRLS is about a group of friends who travel to Aruba on vacation, and one of them ends up murdered. The narrative centers around two best friends: Elise, the one who dies, and Anna, the one they suspect killed her.

This book messed me up, you guys. It’s a total mindfuck.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the structure. It’s a non-linear narrative, shifting from the 911 call after finding the body to the investigation, evidence, and Anna’s time spent in jail to how Anna and Elise met and formed the group involved in this crime. It felt like a realistic portrayal of high school friendship. The two girls have a very intense relationship. Their bond runs deep, which makes it so hard to believe that Anna is even a suspect.

Especially when there’s a jilted lover with no alibi and a spurned native known for break-ins on the list of people Elise pissed off.

The writing is captivating. Haas obviously put a lot of work into establishing the legal world of a non-US trial. I loved the little unknown asides between characters (because there were no names mentioned/no tags, so it could have been anyone speaking), and how I felt that whirlwind friendship between the girls. I felt Anna’s heartache at the loss of her best friend and sister. I wasn’t sure how to handle Elise’s death until the end, but the ride to finding out the truth was a fun one.

It kept me up at night. I couldn’t stop thinking about. I had to get to the end, even though I knew what ending the book would lead to (the hangover.)

From what I’ve seen of other reviews, this is a book people either LOVED or HATED. I get that. For me, I think I read it at a time where I so strongly identified with Anna, the mindfuck of the whole thing slapped me across the face. I had my theories, which were ultimately proven incorrect, but that’s part of the fun of whodunits. I like the guesswork.

The ending destroyed me. I’ve never sobbed and pined over a book as hard as I did this one. The last book that really hurt me was IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS by Cat Winters.

I couldn’t even look at the cover without going all achy.

That being said, now that I’ve had time to wind down, I have a LOT of questions about the truth of this book. I just don’t know how it happened the way it did. The evidence doesn’t add up, and maybe that’s the point, but it still leaves an odd taste in my mouth. I still very much enjoyed this book, but it’s off the mark. I can see the why, just not the how. At the time, it didn’t matter, but now it’s an itch I can’t scratch.

Perhaps the narration hindered the killer’s reveal, but I just… don’t see it. And where the hell was the freaking necklace that whole time?

Give it a shot. I still think it’s a worthy book. Maybe you’ll see more evidence than I did. I’m off to heal from my recent bout of heartbreak, thanks to Susan Dennard and the conclusion of her A DARKNESS STRANGE AND DEADLY series. I’m not sure if I’ll write up a review of them or not, so if it’s something you’d like to see, leave a comment below.

Keep creeping, darlings.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Reviews

Book Hangover and How to Cure It in 4 Easy Steps*

I finished DANGEROUS GIRLS by Abigail Haas the other night and have basically been a puddle of incoherent screaming and tears since. Seriously, ask anyone I’ve texted in the last 48 hours and they can verify the authenticity of that statement. I picked up a copy at DragonCon back in August on the (apparently hallucinated) recommendation of a good friend with excellent taste. It’s been sitting on my shelf, waiting, staring at me with its pastel cover and pretty promises.

411B21Tad+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

I can’t even look at the cover without getting all weak in the knees and achy in the chest.

Guys, I have not been this hardcore book hungover in YEARS. Even just thinking about it makes me ache and pine and want to cry. I am blown away by its brilliance. It’s kept me up at night. Expect a full review Sunday when I’ve (hopefully) calmed the hell down.

Which got me thinking of ways to distract myself and discover a cure for the chronic condition we all, inevitably, suffer.

Symptoms include, but are not limited to: angst, depression, uncontrollable weeping, rage, despondency, feelings of inadequacy, inability to think or form coherent sentences, inability to focus, tremors, fever, feeling that nothing will be okay ever again/be as earth-shatteringly perfect, and in rare cases, death (regarding your ability to seek out other books.)

After speaking with a licensed counselor (ie, me, doing everything I can to overcome this feeling), I’ve compiled a handy list of Guaranteed Cure-Alls for your reading-related ailments!**

Cure No 1: Emotional Exploration, Release, and Acceptance

This book has been in your life from 5-72 hours, and yet it has rocked you to the very core of your being. Acknowledging these feelings is healthy. If you feel the urge to weep, weep. You can sob quietly in the corner, rage like a hurricane in your vehicle (preferably when not in motion), or just sprawl out on your bed or the floor and stare at the empty ceiling, matching the oblivion you feel in your chest.

Your feelings for these fictional characters are legitimate. You have every right to feel the way you do. Embrace it. Come to terms with your emotional distress. Release these feelings as normal.

Cure No 2: Re-Read the Book

You’ve forged a bond with these characters. Re-reading may offer clarity, a chance to re-experience the magic, to revisit those turns of phrase and killer one-liners that haunt your waking hours and keep you from sleep.

Note: Re-reading may also cause an increase of symptoms. Please consult Twitter, friends, family, or your local librarian for book recommendations outside your chosen title.

Cure No. 3: Replacement Therapy

Hinging on the adverse affects of Cure No. 2, you may need to seek outside support in the form of an old classic, a beloved childhood favorite, or a completely new book.

This advice is for reading material only and should not be applied to drug use, drinking, or burying your pain by spending too much money at Sephora.

Replacement Therapy may include: binge-watching movies and/or television shows, dancing dramatically around your home, and spending too much money at Sephora.

Cure No. 4: Indoctrination

Turn your den of sorrow and frustration into a party by forcing your friends to join in your pain. Buy them a copy of the book whether there is a calendar mandated gift-giving occasion or not (because your copy is too precious to loan, of course.)

If you can bear it, loan your copy to only the most trusted of bibliophiles. You can rest assure your pages will not be dog-eared or folded.

Some distance might do you good.

Once your chosen companions been properly and similarly consumed, exalt in your mutual anguish. Friends are the best support system, after all.

*Level of ease in executing any of these cures is entirely reliant on the patient and his/her willpower. These are not medically supported cures and can therefore offer no promise of aid in recovery.

**Honestly, if you know anything about medical history, “cure alls” religiously cure nothing.

So far I’ve browbeaten four friends into reading it just so I can have someone to wail with. You just don’t understand my feelings.

But you will.

The one thing I want more than anything is to invite Abigail over for tea so we can be friends because she just seems like my kind of people. That might be creepy given the context of her book, but I let it stand.

I’m off to suppress my emotional trauma by binge-watching Buffy and attempting edits on last year’s NaNoWriMo book.

Don’t forget, there’s still time to enter the giveaway for a copy of SERVANTS OF THE STORM by Delilah S. Dawson!

2 Comments

Filed under Books, Humor, Writing

Review and Giveaway: Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson

I guess book review Sundays are a thing now.

I’ve had Delilah’s YA debut, Servants of the Storm, waiting on my bookshelf since its release in August. I have this weird quirk where I can’t read something until I’m ready. I think I’m half afraid I’ll ruin the magic too soon and I hate waiting to sink my teeth in more of Delilah’s gorgeous worldbuiling.

15728764

Servants of the Storm takes place in Savannah, GA, which I have been to exactly once, in the fifth grade. I had little memory of what Savannah looked like, but Delilah does such a masterful job describing the city, you feel like you’re there. Which, given the sudden cold spell and the snow this week, I was more than grateful for the suggested heatwave.

I love the tilty girl on the cover. Just… yes. Dead and tilty.

You guys also know I love an unreliable narrator, and Dovey is everything I’ve wanted in a kickass heroine. She’s pretty fearless for a crazy girl, and her determination to save her best friend Carly propels her through a world twisted and manipulated by demons. Delilah infuses the whole narrative with creepy things in the dark, from people with fox ears and sharp teeth to devil dogs to haunted amusement parks. The questions is always “Is Dovey seeing reality?” or “Is this Dovey’s delusion?”

As a fan of her Blud series, I was pleased to find the same strong voice in a different tone. The relationships in this book felt real, and under duress, I may admit to crushing a bit on Isaac. I caught a definite Sleep No More vibe from Charnel House and I adored the little injections of humor. There’s a lot of mythology soaked into the origin of this story and I found it compelling. Once I started reading, it was difficult to stop. I wouldn’t call it fast-paced, but it was I had to take bites out of, always hungry for more

The ending left the story open-ended, with room for futher developement, but it provided a solid conclusion if Servants acts as a stand-alone. It reminded me of the “Normal Again” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I didn’t mind the love triangle, and I thought everyone seem pretty realistically teenaged. Maybe it’s because I have a demonically-possessed fifteen-year-old sister.

The paperback releases in April, stuffed with goodies like a “Which demon are you?” quiz, playlists, and a portrait of our main antagonist, Kitty. I really enjoy this cover, too.

ServantsoftheStormPB

 

Want to take a trip to demon-infested Savannah? Well, tis the season of giving, and I’m giving away a hardcover copy of Servants of the Storm:

 

Well, there WAS a rafflecopter thing here but it seems to be having issues, so, just comment below with what sort of demon you’d be!

1979528_723075674397128_72461195517811989_n

I’ll pick a winner next week (Dec. 7). I’m a Coyote Earthquake. Sounds like a mixed drink. 🙂

12 Comments

Filed under Books, Reviews

Review: MARY: THE SUMMONING by Hillary Monahan

Since I finished the rewrite on my manuscript last week, I’ve been devouring books like a woman starving. So far, one of my absolute favorites is Hillary Monahan’s Mary: The Summoning. Can we just talk about the cover for a hot minute here?

17661402

Creepy mirror face, wax dripping like blood (Or actual blood). I love it. But wait, there’s more! I can’t stand to read books with the jacket on (because I’ll mess them up and weep forever). Having a blank hardcover is fun, but Mary goes a bit deeper.

mary-alt-cover-1

Oh yeah, she’s printed on the hardcover too. I really love that they did this. Two great covers and it’s like a mini jump-scare before you even GET to the story. Props to you, art department.

The story itself is a new take on a very old legend. We all know that if you go into the dark bathroom and say “Bloody Mary” three times in the mirror, Mary appears to scratch your eyes out/haunt you/steal your soul, etc. Monahan takes it one step further:

There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.

Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them–Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna–must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.

A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: “Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY.” A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.

Once is not enough, though–at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary’s wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary–and Jess–before it’s too late?

I’m a sucker for research and ritual. The fact that Jess tweaks their circle each time to summon Mary for different results is awesome. Let me tell you, Monahan pulls no punches. From the second Mary escapes that mirror, it is non-stop full-throttle scary. And Mary has rules, which is absolutely killer. All shiny surfaces are Mary’s domain. I’ve never been dared to summon Bloody Mary and now I never, ever, will. EVER. Let me tell you guys, I have never been more keenly aware of how many reflective surfaces are in my home.

There are 49 in my bedroom alone. Damn gallery walls.

If research and ritual weren’t enough, Monahan also uses history. Well, urban legend history. Her Mary is Mary Worth, one of the popular origins for the legend. Many claim she was a witch, and Monahan truly brings her to life through letters written from Mary to her sister, Constance. The way she ties it all together is perfection. The flaw I found is that book ended. However, I know she’s busy drafting Mary 2, so I can wait.

I finished the book in two days and it only took me that long because I had to go to work. It’s well-written, beautifully crafted, and pretty scary. It’s got that old school ghost story vibe I loved so much in Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box.

If you guys love a solid and creeptastic horror story, I’d check out Mary: The Summoning as fast as your little feet can get you to a bookstore, library, or eReader.

Don’t read it at night.

Stay away from the mirrors.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Reviews