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Friday, March 23, 2018

#CJSReads REVIEW: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James @berkleypub @simone_stjames

The Broken Girls
by Simone St. James

Thanks so much to Berkley Pub for these copies.
A historical fiction mystery with a touch of supernatural.  

Publisher:  Berkley Pub
Publishing:  March 20, 2018
336 pages
Genres:  Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal

Goodreads Synopsis:

Vermont, 1950. There's a place for the girls whom no one wants--the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It's called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it's located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming--until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she's tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister's death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister's boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can't shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past--and a voice that won't be silenced. . . .

My Review:

This story spans two different timelines:  1950 and 2014.  Fiona, in 2014, is a journalist and wondering why Idlewild Hall is being restored and wants to write a story.  Little does she know the information that will be unburied.  These not only shed light on what happened back in 1950, but also what happened to her sister, who died years ago.  In 1950, we get the story of roommates Katie, Roberta, CeCe and Sonia.  At Idlewild, a school for wayward girls, seemingly haunted by Mary Hand.

I was not expecting the supernatural part of this story. (Probably a reason for me to reread synopses before I start a book!)  It brought a hauntingly chilling vibe that I really enjoyed.  It is not overdone and blends in perfectly that while I did get the chills in certain parts, it did not overwhelm the mystery part of the book.  Outstandingly done by the author. 

I was engaged from the very start of the book and found Fiona's tenacity  compelling.  I love a woman that doesn't back down and she certainly does NOT.  Following both timelines wasn't confusing... and I always find it interesting to see how different worlds are from one decade to another.  It's not that it's surprising, as we all have read these types of things, but adding in Mary Hand and Sonia's further background added a special touch to the storyline. 

Keep an eye out for more from Simone St. James.  I had already heard great things about this author and am happy to have entered into her world with this one first.  Looks like I'll be adding even more to my overflowing TBR pile.... never a bad thing.. right? 😉


Jess's Review:

Before starting this, I had seen some positive reviews, so I was excited to start! THE BROKEN GIRLS was my introduction to Simone St. James, and it won't be my last. In this thriller meets supernatural fiction we focus on Idlewild Hall and the secrets its been keeping for decades.

St. James brings us back and forth between 1950 and 2014, what do they have in common? Idlewild Hall. This was originally a home that troubled girls were sent when no one wanted them any longer. In the small Vermont town, there had always been rumors that the building was haunted. One day one of the girls disappears, never to be heard from again.

Fast forward to Vermont in 2014 - Fiona is a journalist and she is still haunted by the death of her sister. Twenty years ago, her body was found near the abandoned Idlewild Hall, and her boyfriend was convicted. When news of the restoration of the building reaches Fiona, she decides to do an investigative story on the history, and the secrets she finds are ones that were meant to stay buried.

The story had an overall eerie and dark tone to it, the supernatural element gave this mystery thriller an edge that others don't typically have. I think that St. James did a fantastic job blending these genres together and I really enjoyed it! You'd think that the two timelines and different stories would get confusing and muddled together, but the author does a great job keeping the timelines separate.

Overall, I'll definitely be picking up more from St. James. If you want a great female lead, like the alternate timelines with a similar focal point (Idlewild Hall), and a touch of supernatural to your mystery, then this is the book for you!

I give this one 4/5 stars!

Sam's Review:

I know what you are thinking.  “Seriously…Another book with “girl” in the title?!” But fear not!  The Broken Girls, the recently released novel by Simone St. James, stood out for me!   From the beautifully blended narratives to the small details, St. James creates a novel that is hard to put down.  In fact, I found myself reading this one late into the night.

The novel opens with the introduction of Fiona, a reporter with a haunted past.  After the death of her sister, things have never been the same and even though the man responsible has been put in prison, Fiona (and her family) have never really been able to move past it.  So, when she finds out there are plans to restore the building (an old school for girls) where her sister’s body was found, Fiona cannot help but dig around.  And, in doing so, she quickly finds out that the past never really stays buried. 

Told in alternating time periods and alternating perspectives, I loved the way St. James choose to tell this story.   I loved the moments that flashed back to the girl’s school in the 40s and how each member of their group of friends had an individual chapter to voice.   I found each character likeable and I was interested in each of their stories and was truly concerned about their plights.  I also found that Fiona, in the present story line, was a well-developed character. 

I think that St. James did a brilliant job incorporating a bit of historical fiction; it didn’t feel distracting.  I felt like it really added another layer to the story.

One thing I didn’t care for with The Broken Girls was the paranormal storyline.  The ghost at the school felt like it really didn’t belong and was sort of a side-plot.  I felt like it wasn’t needed. 

Overall, I was a huge fan of  The Broken Girls and I think that fans of Fiona Barton or Fiona Davis will enjoy this one.   4/5 stars!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

REVIEW: Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell @atriabooks @lisajewelluk #CJSReads

Then She Was Gone
by Lisa Jewell

🎕 AVAILABLE 4/24/18 🎕

Thank you SO much to Atria Books for these copies in return for our honest opinions.  The #CJSReads trio is extremely excited to tell you our thoughts on this AMAZING psychological thriller - you are in for a TREAT!

Publisher:  Atria Books
Publishing: April 24, 2018
Pages: 368
Genres:  Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Crime

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ten years after her teenage daughter disappears, a woman crosses paths with a charming single father whose young child feels eerily familiar, in this evocative, suspenseful drama from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell—perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Liane Moriarty.

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

My Review:

Emotional, dark, moderately paced, mysterious and slightly predictable. 

As a huge fan of Lisa Jewell, I was delighted to get a copy of this book in advance. Like cartwheels and Snoopy dance delighted! I certainly wasn't disappointed and she is a go-to auto-buy author for me!

All the way through the first half of the book it was pretty glaringly obvious what was going to come. I did think there were some plausibility issues scientifically speaking that may have been a little out there but really, in psychological thrillers, you kinda have to take those with a grain of salt. As things began to be revealed, although not quite as shocking as I prefer, I was so fully invested that I just felt along with Laurel and Poppy. FEELINGS, y'all! The ending is beautifully emotional and really tugged at my heart strings (yes, you guys, I do have a heart - weird, I know!). 

Now, because of the above and the comparisons to Lisa's extremely popular book, I Found You, I'm going to expect to see lower ratings for this book from some reviewers. But NOT FROM ME! I actually think I'm in the minority in putting this book above I Found You. 

The story is told mainly through Laurel's POV as we see the past and present over the loss of Ellie and how it not only created ripples in her marriage and her relationships with her other children, but within herself and the ability to feel at all anymore. We do get a smattering of other POVs here and there but this didn't not distract or become confusing in any way. To be honest, my favorite prospective to read was Noelle's - I just love disturbing minds.. I CAN'T HELP IT! And I'm absolutely in love with Poppy and her precociousness. The last half of the book is what completely sucked me in. I was on the fence until I reached this last half and then I couldn't put it down. COULD NOT!

If you're looking for a punch you in the throat kind of thriller with surprising twists everywhere, this isn't the read for you. However, if you enjoy psychological thrillers with an emotional feel and a touch of domestic darkness, you'll be happy with this read. While predictable, the way it all came together did surprise me in its own beautiful way.


Jessica's Review:

Last year I was introduced to the writing and great storytelling of Lisa Jewell with I FOUND YOU. I absolutely loved that one, so when I saw she had another release coming I knew I had to snag a copy! Considering the almost 400 page length, this one read very fast and the second half completely sucks you in. 

I would classify this as more women's fiction or contemporary fiction and a little less on the thriller side, but that doesn't take away from the novel. So that would be worth knowing before starting - if you're looking for a crazy thriller like I FOUND YOU, then you may end up disappointed in the end. The characters were so real, the emotions were raw, and the story came together so well at the end. 

Laurel Mack has the perfect teenage daughter. A smart girl, had a loving boyfriend, and close with her other siblings. At only 15 years old, Ellie disappears. Ten years later, Laurel is still trying to move on and piece her life back together. With a missing daughter, a divorce, and no new clues, she feels that it will be impossible to lead a normal life. Then one day, she meets a charming and handsome man, Floyd. When she meets his daughters, the youngest one, Poppy, stops her in her tracks. She has a striking resemblance to Ellie. 

More questions pop up and Laurel is brought the emotional ringer trying to find out more about Floyd and why Poppy reminds her so much of her missing daughter. This one definitely had a more predictable ending, but that didn't take away from the reading experience. I can see Lisa Jewell fans being split on this one, especially if they are wanting something more along the lines of I FOUND YOU. 
I give this one 4/5 stars!

Sam's Review:

I really love a novel that is a nice blend of suspense and women’s fiction.  I find them to be such a nice breath of fresh in air in a genre saturated with serial killer and psychological thrillers (mind you, I enjoy those as well!). 

After reading the synopsis of Then She Was Gone, the newest publication by Lisa Jewell, I knew this would fit that bill for me.  Having read several of Jewell's other novels, I was excited to dive into this one.  Just as entertaining as her others, I flew through my reading but, truthfully, I didn't find it to be as suspenseful as some of the other novels I have read by Jewell.  I actually found it to be quite predictable but still incredibly entertaining.

Let me break it down a bit further.

So, the novel follows Laurel Mack, who is still reeling after the disappearance of her daughter, Ellie, 10 years prior.  She has never been able to fully move on and this has ultimately affected most of her relationships.   This begins to change when she meets Floyd and she finally starts to feel like herself again.  However, Floyd’s nine-year-old daughter unsettles Laurel when she realizes she shows a startling resemblance to Ellie.   All those memories of Ellie comes flooding back pushing Laurel to find out once and for all what happened to her daughter. 

I loved the writing style of Jewell, as I always do! Something about her writing is so easy to digest.  It is sort of like chatting to a good friend.  I really like that I can start one of her novels and them just sort of settle in and enjoy the ride.

However, like I said above, I found this novel lacking suspense.  To me, it read more like women’s fiction or contemporary family drama.  I enjoyed it.  I wanted to know what happened.  I just feel like it was a bit misleading in this genre.   Also, I felt like it was very predictable.  I was able to guess what have happened very early on in the novel but was still interested to see whether or not I was correct.

Overall, I really like this novel as an easy read and will continue to read more Lisa Jewell.  If you are looking for an on the edge of your seat style suspense, this will be lacking but I would highly recommend if you are looking for a well-rounded and developed story.

3.5/5 stars.

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: The Fighter by Michael Farris Smith @annecater @michael_f_smith @noexitpress

The Fighter
by Michael Farris Smith

Publisher:  No Exit Press
Publishing:  March 29, 2018
Kindle Edition
224 pages
Stand alone
Genres:  Literary Fiction, Adult Fiction

Jack Boucher, a former bare-knuckle fighter, has nothing more to give.  In a single twisted night, he is derailed.  Hijacked by a sleazy gambler out to settle a score, Jack loses the money that will clear his debt with the queen of Delta vice, Big Momma Sweet.  

As Jack's foster mother slowly dies, her mind eroded by dementia, so Jack finds his mind is failing too.  Years of bare-knuckle fighting have taken their toll and recurrent concussion leaves him relying on painkillers and a notebook of names, separating friend from foe, to keep himself alive.  Yet a savior comes in the form of Annette, a tattooed carnival worker and free spirit, who guides him towards some sort of salvation.  But the road to redemption is filled with danger and Jack is forced to step into the fighting pit one last time, with the stakes no less than life or death.

About Michael Farris Smith:

Michael Farris Smith is a native Mississippian who has spent time living abroad in France and Switzerland.  He is the recipient of the 2014 Mississippi Author Award and has been awarded the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Arts Fellowship, the Transatlantic Review Award for Fiction, and the Alabama Arts Council Fellowship Award for Literature.  His short fiction has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his essays have appeared with The New York Times, Catfish Alley, Deep South Magazine, and more.  He lives in Columbus, Mississippi, with his wife and two daughters.

My Review:

My goodness guys and gals!  This book is GOLD!  Drawing me in right from the beginning.  You feel, FEEL for Jack.  This is a fantastic character driven story that will make you want to reach out and hug all the characters:  Jack, who uses his fists to make an impact on the world.  Annette, the tattooed gorgeousness of Annette from the carnival.  Maryann, the only person who Jack thinks loves him and who he may be letting down... who he HAS let down.

This is really not what I expected.  A way more emotional read that tells the story of a fighter out of his prime, in trouble and using the only thing he knows to try and get out.... his fists.  I definitely felt that with just over 200 pages, Smith really packs a punch with his words (no pun intended 😉).  It's a bit heavy so some readers may be thrown off by the seriousness and gray type of read.  But for me, this gray was peppered with sparkles of light. 

We all need a Maryann.  We all need to treat the children better.  And we all need to read this book.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

REVIEW: The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian @doubledaybooks @chrisbohjalian #allthebookreviews

The Flight Attendant
by Chris Bohjalian

Thanks so much to Doubleday Books for these copies.  
Jessica and I thoroughly enjoyed this read! Continue below to see our full thoughts.
Put this on your TBR - available NOW!

Publisher:  Doubleday Books
Published:  March 13, 2018
368 Pages
Genres:  Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She's a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, already counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police--she's a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home--Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it's too late to come clean-or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did?

My Review:

Who has ever gotten stupid drunk, made some bad decisions and occasionally needed to be reminded of exactly what you did the night before.  **raises hand**  Now, who has gotten blind drunk and then woken up next to the person they slept with the night before and said person has their throat cut open and you question whether you actually could have done this?  **puts hand down**  What decision do you make at this time?  Well, Cassie decides to leave him there, wipe off all the glasses, put the do not disturb sign on the door and proceeds back to her hotel where she has to catch the next leg of her flight on her way home.  And that's just the beginning!!

I absolutely loved this read.  It read fast for me and I was completely involved in what exactly happened in that hotel room.  I can see people not liking Cassie and wanting to throttle her.  I absolutely felt that way at times, but that just shows how much of an alcoholic she is and addictions make you do some crazy ass things... even if you're under suspicion for murder.  I certainly understand the compulsion to do something that you know you shouldn't be doing... feeding into that desire.  Mine's mostly with books and food but you know... **wink**

I've always thought it would be cool to be a flight attendant.  The stories of what they endure were hilarious and whether these are actual things that have happened on flights or not, WOW - I can only imagine what they have to go through at times.  All of this was highly entertaining.

Now, in a work of fiction, I'm always willing to suspend belief as long as it adheres to the plot line. While I loved this SO MUCH for 90%, the ending just had me scratching my head a bit.  The whole situation with Enrico was so unbelievable BUT exciting (and quite frankly, I have a soft spot for Italians so......).  I winced a bit at this final scene as it felt a bit rushed and just not quite a fit for where I was thinking the story would go.  Then the epilogue... damn, a LOT happened in a year!  

Look, this was such a great piece of work.  Absolutely well written and I was GLUED to the pages.  GLUED.  Just that last 10% got a little bit shark jumpy and didn't quite fit in with Cassie's character. I do still highly recommend this read and look forward to what Bohjalian brings next!


Jessica's Review:

So I've heard nothing but amazing things about Chris Bohjalian's books, so I was very excited to start this one. THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT was an incredibly fast and addictive read. I couldn't put it down and this is a profession that isn't featured in a lot of thrillers or crime fiction novels. 

Cassandra Bowden, known as Cassie, is a flight attendant and a binge drinker. Thankfully with her job she is able to travel and find adventure wherever she is taken. After a night of drinking, Cassie wakes up in Dubai. She's in a hotel room and begins to get up for the day - she notices the man in bed next to her is still sleeping. Then she looks closer and she notices blood, and lots of it. Not wanting to get the police involved in a foreign country, Cassie continues about her day and decides to lie. She goes through her day lying. When she is met at the gate in New York by FBI Agents, she continues to lie. Could she have killed him? What really happened back in Dubai?

So with that, I'll stop giving anything away in regards to plot (this doesn't elaborate anymore than the synopsis does). It blows my mind how much detail went into this story. Chris Bohjalian knows how to weave a complex story without losing the reader. He pulls us along with Cassie as she goes from Dubai, to Paris, and back home to New York. She feels so real - like someone you may know. Cassie is very flawed, loyal to her friends, and frustrating at times. 

Overall, if you want an addictive thriller with a complex and weaving story, then you NEED to get THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT. I did not see that ending coming and I thought it was fantastic. Getting a glimpse into this profession was refreshing and almost claustrophobic. The perfect element to a thriller. Time to go get all his other books. 

I give this one 5/5 stars!

Monday, March 19, 2018

#CJSReads REVIEW: Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh @berkleypub #prhpartner

Let Me Lie
by Clare Mackintosh

Thanks so much to Berkley for these copy in return for our honest opinions.

Publisher:  Berkley Books
Published:  March 13, 2018
400 pages
Genres: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the newest psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of I Let You Go and I See You, Clare Mackintosh brings us a gripping story about how those who love us never really leave us...

Two years ago, Tom and Caroline Johnson committed suicide, one seemingly unable to live without the other. Their adult daughter, Anna, is struggling to come to terms with her parents' deaths, unable to comprehend why they chose to end their lives. Now with a young baby herself, she feels her mother's presence keenly and is determined to find out what really happened to her parents. But as Anna digs up the past, someone is trying to stop her. She soon learns that nothing is as it seemed.

My Review:

I've only read I See You from Mackintosh, with I Let You Go high on my TBR list.  I've noticed that both of these reads have received mixed reviews.  While I absolutely LOVED I See You, some did not.  Unfortunately, this one just didn't QUITE get there for me.  Let me explain why.

First, the story has an extremely slow start.  Sometimes I don't mind this but I was already 33% through the book and it still didn't seem to be getting anywhere and what was being built up was strikingly obvious so I was not surprised in any way shape or form once I got to Part Two.  Honestly, at this point, I would normally DNF a book.  However, this is Mackintosh, and while I may have only read one of her other books at this juncture of my reading 'career', I know she's capable of pulling you right in and making you second guess yourself. 

Secondly, I didn't quite get that psychological thriller FEEL that I did with I See You.  I can absolutely appreciate that instead of regurgitating the same thing with each book that she went in a different direction.  Oh how I DO appreciate THAT very much.  I think I was just expecting something ... more.  Maybe my expectations are what let me down.  Maybe I've read such an abundance of these kind of books that it takes a LOT to grasp my interest these days.  🤷

Finally, let me just say that this isn't a bad book by any means.  If you're looking for more of that family drama/secrets type of book rather than that OOMPH your typical psychological thriller gives you, then I think you will thoroughly enjoy this book.  The last 25% of the book helped to spur this along for me and became more of what I expected from Mackintosh and this read in particular.

Will I read more of Mackintosh?  YOU BET YOUR SWEET ASS I WILL.  She's a fantastic writer and really, you can't expect EVERY book by the same author to work for you.  It's just not probable.  


Sam's Review:

Clare Mackintosh is one of those “blow my mind” authors.  One of the queens of the psychological thriller genre, I found myself completely gripped with her previous novels from the fast paced plots to the “real word” situations, I loved her full of suspense writing style and dynamically developed characters. 

Unfortunately, for me, Let Me Lie, the newest publication by Clare Mackintosh left much to be desired.

For starters, this one was a sloooooooooow burn.  I found myself unable to read more than a few chapters at a time without feeling the need to put this one down.  It just didn’t have the same “grip” as some of the previous work I have read by Mackintosh.   I like to think I have a pretty solid attention span but this one tested me!

I did appreciate the final twist in the end and was intrigued by the last 15% or so of the novel, but, truthfully, I was expecting more!

I know that I shouldn’t compare one work to another but I cannot help it!  I feel like fans of Mackintosh will be a little disappointed by this one but, if you are a new reader to her work, you may be more entertained!

I, of course, will continue to read more from this author but this particular book was a miss.

2/5 stars.

Jessica's Review:

Who else is a Clare Mackintosh fan? I loved I SEE YOU when it released last year and I couldn't wait to see what she came up with next. LET ME LIE is on the lighter side when it comes to a suspense novel with a slower build to it. So if you're going into it expecting a crazy thriller, then you may come out disappointed. 

Tom and Caroline Johnson committed suicide just two years ago. They couldn't live without the other, so they went together. Anna, their daughter, is trying to come to terms with their deaths, but she has so many questions. Why did they take their lives? She begins to investigate into their suicides more, but there's someone that wants the past to remain buried. 

"The police say it was suicide. Anna says it was murder. They're both wrong."  

There's absolutely no denying that Clare Mackintosh knows how to write a story. The way she develops the characters and weaves the events always amazes me. So for the writing alone this was a great read. If you're in the market for a slower burn read then this will be perfect for you! I can see this being one that Mackintosh fans will be divided on, but that's what keeps this community so fun!

That last portion of the book will sink it's teeth into you and you won't want to stop reading! 

I give this 3.5/5 stars!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

REVIEW: What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine @harperbooks @finejuli

What Should Be Wild
by Julia Fine

Thanks so much to Harper Books for this unique and gorgeous read.

Publisher:  Harper Books
Publishing:  May 8, 2018
368 Pages
Genres:  Magical Realism, Supernatural, Fantasy

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this darkly funny, striking debut, a highly unusual young woman must venture into the woods at the edge of her home to remove a curse that has plagued the women in her family for millennia—an utterly original novel with all the mesmerizing power of The Tiger’s Wife, The Snow Child, and Swamplandia!

Cursed. Maisie Cothay has never known the feel of human flesh: born with the power to kill or resurrect at her slightest touch, she has spent her childhood sequestered in her family’s manor at the edge of a mysterious forest. Maisie’s father, an anthropologist who sees her as more experiment than daughter, has warned Maisie not to venture into the wood. Locals talk of men disappearing within, emerging with addled minds and strange stories. What he does not tell Maisie is that for over a millennium her female ancestors have also vanished into the wood, never to emerge—for she is descended from a long line of cursed women.

But one day Maisie’s father disappears, and Maisie must venture beyond the walls of her carefully constructed life to find him. Away from her home and the wood for the very first time, she encounters a strange world filled with wonder and deception. Yet the farther she strays, the more the wood calls her home. For only there can Maisie finally reckon with her power and come to understand the wildest parts of herself.

My Review:

What a delicious and dark fairy tale/magical realism/fantasy - I'm unsure how to actually categorize this one!  Very unique and probably won't be for every reader because of how different it is.  The main storyline is Maisie, her unique ability to bring things to life or to kill them with her very touch, and her quest to find her father, Peter, when he disappears - seemingly to go looking for her.

And then we get my favorite parts - the darker side.  Where the women in the forest, who span decades and lifetimes, are waiting.  Waiting for the girl with the special power, whose spirit has been dampened all these years.  I absolutely LOVED the background stories of each of them.  Honestly, I had no idea what was going on half of the time... and yet I was utterly fascinated with where the book was going.

I try very hard not to read reviews of books I plan to read and review .. yet there were a couple of unavoidable ones going around about the feminist point of the book.  Um, I must be a horrible woman as I didn't really catch that "theme" in this read.  Or maybe it's not something I was looking for.  Instead, I took this read as almost lore, the past lives of Maisie, how she came to have this power and the decisions she has to make along the way. 

I was slightly let down by the ending.  Don't get me wrong, I loved the final part where we get to learn exactly how Maisie came to have these powers.  However, I think I expected there to be more of an epic conclusion of some kind.  Kind of like that firecracker you light up and then it just kind of fizzles out... has a little pop but no colorful bursts.  

If you like magical realism, "feminist" fairytales (or just darker fairy tales in general), and a unique read about a forest who steals women, then you should definitely give this book a read.  I absolutely love the unique way it was written and the over all darker side of Maisie's history.  


Friday, March 16, 2018

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Lies That Bind by Diana Rodriguez Wallach @entangledteen @dianarwallach #partner

Lies That Bind
by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

I'm today's BLOG TOUR stop for LIES THAT BIND!  You can see my review for the first in this series, PROOF OF LIES, HERE.  Continue below for more about the book, the author, a GIVEAWAY, my review and an EXCERPT!

Publisher:  Entangled Teen
Published:  March 6, 2018
Kindle Edition
322 pages
Series:  Anastasia Phoenix #2
Genre:  YA, thriller

What do you do when you learn your entire childhood was a lie? 

Reeling from the truths uncovered while searching for her sister in Italy, Anastasia Phoenix is ready to call it quits with spies. The only way to stop being a pawn in their game is to remove herself from the board. But before she can leave her parents’ crimes behind her, tragedy strikes. No one is safe, not while Department D still exists.

Now, with help from her friends, Anastasia embarks on a dangerous plan to bring down an entire criminal empire. From a fire-filled festival in England to a lavish wedding in Rio de Janeiro, Anastasia is determined to confront the enemies who want to destroy her family. But even Marcus, the handsome bad boy who’s been there for her at every step, is connected to the deadly spy network. And the more she learns about Department D, the more she realizes the true danger might be coming from someone closer than she expects…

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My Review:

Anastasia is back.  She desperately wants to get out of the "spy business" but THEY JUST WON'T LET HER.  With her crew and a couple of additions, we get another action packed, teen spy novel that's highly entertaining.

Look, I'm just a fan of YA and when you add in a spy story, I'm just a happy camper.  You don't need to read book one to read this one, but I suggest you do to see how the characters grow (a bit).  That being said, this was basically a regurgitation of the first book.  And I mean that in both a good and not so good way.  The interactions and angsty parts were so similar to the first book that it became a bit cumbersome.  Been there.  Done that.  While the first book delved more on rescuing Anastasia's sister, Keira, this one feeds along the same parallel story line of what Department D is, more conspiracy, more shocking revelations and confirmations of what book one was bringing forth.

What does it for me in this series is the fun action.  This book, we get a more international feel as she traverses us through different scenarios in different countries.  As a military brat, I understand the moving around all the time, being in different cultures and feeling a kinship with fellow brats.  Same with these Dresden kids (as was noted in book one... nice!).  I was happy to see more humor in this book as that was something I noted was lacking in book one. The champagne bottle scene!  I've seen this actually happen so I found that extremely humorous.

If you like YA action thrillers with a side of spies, hold the onions... then you'll love this series. 


About Diana Rodriguez Wallach:

Diana Rodriguez Wallach is the author of the Anastasia Phoenix Series, three young adult spy thrillers (Entangled Publishing, 2017, ’18, ‘19). The first book in the trilogy, Proof of Lies, was named by Paste Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Best Young Adult Books for March 2017.” Bustle also listed her as one of the “Top Nine Latinx Authors to Read for Women’s History Month 2017.” Additionally, she is the author of three award-winning young adult novels: Amor and Summer Secrets, Amigas and School Scandals, and Adios to All The Drama (Kensington Books); as well as a YA short-story collection entitled Mirror, Mirror (Buzz Books, 2013).
She is an advisory board member for the Philly Spells Writing Center, a school-based Workshop Instructor for Mighty Writers in Philadelphia, and has been a Writing Instructor for Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth since 2015. She holds a B.S. in Journalism from Boston University, and currently lives in Philadelphia.

Excerpt from Lies that Bind:

“Mom and Dad are either dead or they abandoned us. I’m not sure which is worse,” I said bluntly. “But if they are alive, we don’t know how many people, how many lunatics, think we’re walking maps to their doorsteps. They’ll use us, and they’ll hurt us. Again.”
“Then we’ll stop looking for them.” Keira shrugged like it was easy. “Why do we need to go anywhere to do that?”
“Because everyone on that terrace is somehow connected to Department D, Marcus and Antonio especially!” I stared at the gray sky, aggravated. Did she think I wanted to do this? I was about to walk away from a guy I cared about because of our parents, because of things that they did. They committed crimes, they had an affair, and they put us in danger. All we could do now was survive. “As long as we’re linked to them, we’re not safe. Especially if Mom and Dad are alive. We have to go off the grid.”