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Friday, December 14, 2018

REVIEW: Watching You by Lisa Jewell @atriabooks @atriamysterybus @lisajewelluk

Watching You
by Lisa Jewell

Thanks so much to Atria Books and NetGalley for this free review copy!
I'm a HUGE fan of Jewell and this book just solidifies my love for her writing even more. 


Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: December 26, 2018
Kindle Edition
336 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Suspense


Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.


As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…

My Review:



If you've been reading my reviews or following me for any length of time, you already know I have a big love for Jewell.  Once again I found myself falling down the Jewell hole and into this riveting story of bullying, assumptions, secrets, attractions and how things behind closed doors are different from the public front.

Some might think that this is a slower burn of a suspense novel and while I can see that, it doesn't take away from the addictiveness in the read.  Most of the time I was completely and utterly baffled as to why this Fitzwilliam was SUCH an attraction to seemingly everyone around him.  The instance I read about the flash of torso skin that was seen and it being compared to freshly baked bread, that was it - WHAT?! Haha - but we are all attracted to different things for various reasons and who the hell am I to judge?  Clearly he had this magnetism to him that attracted those around him and kudos to him!

Jewell does such a great job in bringing all these different little nuances to the story - the background of each of the characters, their families, how they all intertwine and interact.  A character I grew to love is Freddie.  At first, I was a bit put off on the whole thing but I knew.. just KNEW.. there was something going on there and when it was brought to light, I felt this wash of understanding and just ended up adoring him.  I absolutely appreciate how Jewell worked this into the story line. I also think it was genius putting in a letter towards the end of the novel that really gives the reader an understanding of a particular character.

What did I love about this book? Well, really guys and gals, what DIDN'T I love about this book? Some things were slightly predictable but over all I was getting surprised little by little, which is always nice when reading a thriller.

Add this to your Christmas wish list - it comes out the day after and is a great way to end the year.  Take a trip to Melville and tell Joey I said hi.

★★★★★

Thursday, December 13, 2018

REVIEW: Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

Sabrina 
by Nick Drnaso

The second pick for my December book club read! It's been a LONG time since I've read a graphic novel but this one sure did sound interesting!


Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Publish Date: May 22, 2018
Hardcover
204 Pages
Sequential - follow up to Beverly
Genre: Graphic Novel


Video games, conspiracy theories, breakdown, murder: Everything’s gonna be all right—until it isn’t...


How many hours of sleep did you get last night? Rate your overall mood from 1 to 5, 1 being poor. Rate your stress level from 1 to 5, 5 being severe. Are you experiencing depression or thoughts of suicide? Is there anything in your personal life that is affecting your duty?

When Sabrina disappears, an airman in the U.S. Air Force is drawn into a web of suppositions, wild theories, and outright lies. He reports to work every night in a bare, sterile fortress that serves as no protection from a situation that threatens the sanity of Teddy, his childhood friend and the boyfriend of the missing woman. Sabrina’s grieving sister, Sandra, struggles to fill her days as she waits in purgatory. After a videotape surfaces, we see devastation shown through a cinematic lens, as true tragedy is distorted when fringe thinkers and conspiracy theorists begin to interpret events to fit their own narratives.

My Review:


I haven't read a graphic novel in AGES and this one was a pick for my December book club.  The premise is quite interesting and unfortunately a bit socially relevant.  However there were a multitude of things that kept me from enjoying this to the fullest.  The type was extremely small in certain places and difficult to read at times - maybe not difficult exactly but I needed a magnifying glass so as to not stress my eyes (disclaimer: I didn't have a magnifying glass so instead squinted at times or placed my face very close to the pages).  The faces bore no sign of any type of emotion. None - check that, there was a brief moment in a couple panels towards the end....  I don't remember this being common in graphic novels. 🤷 Some characters were virtually indistinguishable from the others so I found it ironic when one "conspiracy theory" wondered if one person was another acting as the one!

I never felt the story actually got anywhere.  Instead it was just a plundering of inane conversations and how unforeseen deaths, killings for the sake of being remembered, victims and their families being victimized and harassment from the public in this tech savvy world where everyone has something to say behind their screen.  But then what? Is there a "to be continued" portion? I know this is a follow up to Beverly but um... I just don't think this worked for me.

As the only graphic novel up for the Manbooker prize, clearly it's a great piece of work for someone. I am just clearly not the right audience. I'm trying to find something that I did like about it and the only thing I could think of was that it was as short as it was and that it was a quick read. 


REVIEW: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai @duttonbooks @elanmastai

All Our Wrong Todays
by Elan Mastai

Thanks so much to Dutton Books for this copy!
I was very excited when my bookclub chose this as a read for December.


Publisher: Dutton Books
Publish Date: February 20, 2018
Paperback
400 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Science Fiction

It's 2016, and in Tom Barren's world, technology has solved all of humanity's problems--there's no war, no poverty, no under-ripe avocadoes. Unfortunately, Tom isn't happy. He's lost the girl of his dreams. And what do you do when you're heartbroken and have a time machine? Something stupid.

Finding himself stranded in a terrible alternate reality--which we immediately recognize as our 2016--Tom is desperate to fix his mistake and go home. Right up until the moment he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and the woman who may just be the love of his life.

Now Tom faces an impossible choice. Go back to his perfect but loveless life. Or stay in our messy reality with a soulmate by his side. His search for the answer takes him across continents and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future--our future--is supposed to be.

My Review:


Feels a bit like reading a history book about the future but through a first person perspective. Make sense?

I appreciate the couple of sum up chapters in between the "big moves" because while my scientific love is being satiated by the story, there's a LOT to digest.  Personally, if you can make it to the first summation, then good job... now it's going to get really interesting.  If you didn't make it that far... well, I can understand why but really it's a great set up for what happens next.

It gets really interesting right around page 130ish and that's where I started to get really involved with the story.  At times it can get a bit confusing but wow... to be completely honest, I wasn't sure I was going to like the book at the beginning but once it got rolling, well, I was completely invested.  This satisfies my scientific brain, my love for the thought that we could be different parallel lives and the cute, innate love story that was basically the basis of the entire story line.

I've briefly seen some comparison to Crouch's Dark Matter with this novel... however, I found the only thing similar would be the potential continual timelines that parallel each other and the back and forth of what could be or could not be as a result of everything thrown in together.  At times it could be a bit too technical but over all, I enjoyed the narrative as a fictional memoir.

★★★★

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

SPOTLIGHT: The Keeper by T.F. Allen


The Keeper
by T. F. Allen


Spotlighting this thriller available on January 10, 2019!
See if this kidnap thriller is something you should put on your TBR (I think it is!)


When a famous artist is kidnapped, the only one who can save him has a body no one can see, and a voice few can hear.

Angel, spirit, or ghost—the Keeper doesn’t know exactly what he is. But he knows he needs to protect Michael Delacroix, a famous artist who is kidnapped and locked in a windowless room deep beneath a Napa Valley vineyard.

Desperate to save the only person who knows he exists, the Keeper uses his abilities to convince two strong-willed women to search for Michael: a reporter who thinks her visions are signs from the Universe, and a nun who swears she hears the voice of God.

Together they close in on the kidnapper—a psychotic killer who also hears a voice inside his head, pushing him toward murder. But once the Keeper learns the tragic reason he feels so connected to Michael, is it too late to save him?




T. F. Allen writes suspense thrillers injected with an element of the supernatural. His short stories have appeared in Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine, Thought Magazine, and Chiron Review. He was also a finalist for the Claymore Award. He lives in Spring, Texas, with his wife and three sons.


Finalist for the Claymore Award

Praise for T. F. Allen

“T. F. Allen’s work blends the best of a thriller with supernatural elements that mime the work of Joe Hart.”
Robert Dugoni - #1 Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon Bestselling Author

“T. F. Allen offers an exceptional, unique, and wonderfully fresh voice to the thriller genre. From page one, I was hooked!”
Heather Graham – New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

“Fast paced action and energetic prose combine to make this debut a devour-in-one-sitting read fans of Marcus Sakey and Blake Crouch are sure to enjoy.”
Karen Dionne – Internationally Bestselling Author of The Marsh King’s Daughter

REVIEW: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton @authorsjbolton @minotaurbooks #allthebookreviews

The Craftsman
by Sharon Bolton

Bolton keeps giving us the creepy!  See what Jessica and I thought about this dark and fascinating story below.


Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publish Date: October 16, 2018
Hardcover
418 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense


Florence Lovelady's career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Grassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago in a small village in Lancashire. Like something out of a nightmare, the victims were buried alive. Florence was able to solve the mystery and get a confession out of Larry before more children were murdered., and he spent the rest of his life in prison.


But now, decades later, he's dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves. Is someone copying the original murders? Or did she get it wrong all those years ago? When her own son goes missing under similar circumstances, the case not only gets reopened... it gets personal.

In master of suspense Sharon Bolton's latest thriller, readers will find a page-turner to confirm their deepest fears and the only protagonist who can face them. 


My Review:




Bad ass female protagonist, check! Creepy, witchy feels, check! Kids being buried alive, check check!

This is my second Sharon Bolton and so far I've loved both books I've read by her!  She manages to bring the creep factor up with subjects of witchcraft and being buried alive. Oh good lord, I couldn't even imagine - my ass is getting cremated and hopefully I won't be alive when that happens!

Florence is a trying her best to do her job as well as she can, but being the only female in a man's profession and also the newbie to the team, well.. things aren't really looking good for her.  How do you explain that you lived in the house with the person convicted of these crimes and never even suspected?

We are told within the first chapter who the killer is.  I never mind this as it's the story of how we get to this point that makes it exciting in my reads.  Making her past and the story of how it all came out the creamy, bloody filling between the present day environment was genius and I really enjoyed the not going back and forth but getting a more full feel and staying within a certain timeline.

Good lord these kids.  I feel bad for the ones that disappeared and went through what they did - boy did Bolton gave us a detailed account of one of them that sent shivers through my spine.  But these other kids - what is it with small towns?!?!  

A well crafted novel bringing us the small town creepy fill laden with witchcraft and secrets.  

★★★★

Jessica's Review:



Just in time for Halloween, we get a story of witchcraft, serial murder that involved burring children alive, and now a copycat killer. Last year I read DEAD WOMAN WALKING and loved it, so I was anxious to see what Bolton had in store for us this time. Holy crap, this one was incredible! The perfect amount of eerie, creepy, and completely engrossing. Despite this being a larger book for the thriller genre, I flew through this in two sittings.

The book begins with a funeral. Convicted serial killer Larry Glassbrook, who spent 30 years in prison for his crimes, is being laid to rest. To say the community hasn’t forgotten the horrors he committed would be an understatement. Florence Lovelady, who was responsible for convicting and locking up Glassbrook, returns to the small town. History soon begins to repeat itself when children go missing. Is this simply the work of a copycat killer? Or did Lovelady lock up the wrong man 30 years ago?

This went back and forth between 1999 and 1969. I love this approach to these types of thrillers. We get gaps filled in as we go and Bolton does a fantastic job showing us the parallels between the investigations. There is no doubt that Bolton knows how to weave an intricate, yet easy to follow, thriller. The characters were well-developed and she set the scene perfectly without rushing it or drawing it out. The pacing is fast and consistent throughout the book and I enjoyed the witchcraft element. It wasn’t overwhelming and it wasn’t overdone, just enough to add to the atmosphere of the story.

Overall, I would have to agree with many other readers out there, this is one of my top reads for the year so far! If you’re a fan of Bolton already, then what are you waiting for? If you’re looking for the perfect fall thriller, then this should be at the top of your TBR.

5/5 stars

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

REVIEW: My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren @gallerybooks @christinalauren

My Favorite Half-Night Stand
by Christina Lauren

Thanks so much to Gallery for this free book! An adorable and relatable rom-com you'll want to pick up immediately.


Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: December 4, 2018
Paperback
384 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Romance, Contemporary


Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship...but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

My Review:


This book is adorable, sparkly, delightful and giggly all rolled into one.  As a girl who has always been one of the guys... I related a lot with Millie.  I legitimately want to be in this group of friends!  The wit, love, loyalty and all around fun they have is heartwarming.

Listen, clearly we know how this book is going to end.  There's no doubt about it.  I've never had romance bloom from a friendship but it seems logical that the best ones come from these.  You should be able to be you fully with the one that you love.. and the one you love should also be your best friend!  I do know what it's like to be the only girl is a group of guy friends and it's easy, fun and completely different than what you get with a group of girls.

The dynamic in this group is a pure thing to witness.  Each one brings their own unique personalities to the group and there are some seriously hilarious scenes. Told in various formats such as group chats and direct messages, this is a perfect one to pick up when you need something light that gives you that nice cozy, warm feeling inside.

Christina Lauren is a definite go to for contemporary romance.  I will be looking for more buy this duo as I enjoyed this and Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating immensely.

★★★★

SPOTLIGHT: Brother John: A Monk, a Pilgrim, and the Purpose of Life by August Turak @annasacca @augustturak

Brother John:
A Monk, a Pilgrim, and the Purpose of Life 
by August Turak
Glenn Harrington (Illustrator)

Step into this Non-Fiction and recipient of the prestigious Templeton Prize illustrated book.
Continue below to learn more about the book, the author and watch promotional videos.


Publisher: Clovercroft Publishing
Publish Date: Octboer 21, 2018
Hardcover
48 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Christian, Non-Fiction

Recipient of the prestigious Templeton Prize, Brother John is the true story of a meaningful encounter between a man going through a mid-life crisis, and an umbrella-wielding Trappist monk. This magical encounter on Christmas Eve eventually leads the author, and us all, to the redemptive power of an authentically purposeful life. Uplifting, deeply moving, and set in the magnificent Trappist monastery of Mepkin Abbey, Brother John is dramatically brought to life by over twenty full color paintings by Glenn Harrington, a multiple award-winning artist. Brother John's inspirational message takes place at Christmastime, and its inspirational message and rich illustrations are sure to bring the reader back again and again throughout the year.


About the Author:


August Turak is the author of Brother John: A Monk, a Pilgrim, and the Purpose of Life (Clovercroft Publishing), recipient of the prestigious Templeton PrizeTurak is an award-winning author, speaker, consultant and contributor for Forbes and the BBC. He is also the founder of the spiritual and educational nonprofit the Self Knowledge Symposium Foundation (SKSF). August retired as a successful entrepreneur and corporate executive. He attributes much of his success to living and working alongside the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey since 1996. As a frequent monastic guest, he learned firsthand from the monks as they grew an incredibly successful portfolio of businesses. His book, Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks, was published in 2013 by Columbia Business School Publishing. When he is not praying and working alongside the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey, he works with his nonprofit and lives on a seventy-five-acre farm near Raleigh, North Carolina. 

For more information, please visit https://augustturak.com and follow him on Twitter.





SPOTLIGHT: Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway @torteen @hathawayjojo

Dark of the West
by Joanna Hathaway

First in a series, this new series brings a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.
Continue below to get the synopsis and read an excerpt from the book.


Publisher: Tor Teen
Publish Date: February 5, 2019
Hardocver
480 Pages
Series: Glass Alliance #1
Genres: YA, Fantasy

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

Excerpt:

A tremor of anticipation wakes me before dawn. The eastern mountains have only just begun to glow, bringing with it the Safire arrival, and I sit in my bay window, silent, sketching the familiar view with lazy strokes of charcoal against blank paper. I feel mostly calm. Ready. But my stomach still feels like a knot, and I sing to myself in Resyan, distracting my nerves best I can.

“I am a mountain,” I whisper, “a song you remember.”

Invariably, my sketch changes to Liberty. The leafy branches become his mane and his eyes have hawks in them, wings spread. The poor stallion is still trapped in his stall, injured leg wrapped and splinted, and subtle despair tinges the groom’s reports. They’re leaving the decision up to Reni, the very worst idea. Reni won’t even speak of it. He pretends it never happened, refusing to visit the stables, and now the General is coming and everyone will forget suffering Liberty altogether.

I shade hard enough my pencil splinters.

Yesterday evening, Heathwyn lectured me on the protocol of this visit, rattling off the things to remember while a maid carefully manicured my nails, another one softening my hands with lavender-scented oil.

“All discussion with our visitors will be conducted in Landori, and you’re always to be pleasant and welcoming, no matter the attitude your brother adopts. And you be sure to offer the General the greatest respect. No commentary on Karkev or Thurn or anything contentious. Divert the conversation with a smile if you must, because your smile will be your greatest credit to this visit.”
I made sure to smile extra wide at that, and she clucked her tongue.

“Please, Aurelia, remember you will be watched every moment and your words and actions will reflect entirely on your mother. Reflect well, is that understood?”

She doesn’t know how well I understand that, how the weight of this visit feels like an entire secret world on my shoulders, one that no one else sees, and I promise to smile, smile, smile. Now, the morning sun shines fully and I strain my ears to listen for the sound of aeroplanes in the sky.

A slight impatience pricks inside.

Heathwyn arrives with warm bread and marmalade in hand, a nervous set to her lips, and I pick at the breakfast while she and another maidservant fuss with me—braiding my hair and pinning flowers, dabbing red on my lips and buttoning me into a sea-blue gown with ivory pearls—but in the end, it turns out well.

“The Safire won’t know where to look first,” Heathwyn says, studying me in the mirror, pleased. “You or your mother.”

“I’m sure it will be Violet’s breasts,” I reply with a grin.

Heathwyn clucks her tongue yet again, but Heathwyn hasn’t seen Violet’s chosen gown for today. I have, and so has Reni, and it certainly leaves only the most critical things to the imagination.

“Aurelia, such comments won’t—”

Her rebuttal is cut off by a growl that rattles the very window panes. It’s a fierce sound, echoing harshly off the mountains, passing close overhead. I rush for the window and press my face to the glass, trying to peer up, and Heathwyn tells me to stop because I’ll rub the pink off my cheeks. But there they are! Two Safire fighter planes circling low, flashing brilliant silver in the morning sun. They’re all sharp angles and grey metal compared to the smooth curves of our green Etanian planes, their ferocious noise carrying, surrounding us, seeming to grow with each moment like there are at least ten more hidden out of sight. One loops higher, playful in the morning sky. Black swords wink from the underside of the wings as he spins. Easy and graceful, like a falcon, before diving low again and rejoining his friend. Together, they arc towards the western airfield.

“Stars,” Reni says, appearing suddenly behind me. I step back, giving him space to look as well.
 “They’re moving at quite a speed, aren’t they?” He cranes his neck as they disappear from sight.

“Have you ever seen anything like it?” I ask.

“I have. It was at a circus, and everyone was dressed in ridiculous colours and acting like fools.”

I swipe at his arm. “I hope those aren’t your opening remarks to the General.” I notice, then, that nestled against his elegant green coat is a ceremonial pistol. “And I hope you’re planning to take that off.”

“It’s custom,” Reni replies. “Father wore his to every diplomatic function.”

“But we’re insisting the Safire remove theirs. It doesn’t look right if we refuse to do the same!”

Reni shrugs. “Dogs are muzzled, not royalty.”

On that vain note, he marches back for the hall, waving for me, and I say a quick, fervent prayer to my father that Reni doesn’t begin a whole war in one day.

Outside, the west entrance of the palace is bright with sun, its honey-coloured walls almost a glare. Etanian and Safire flags dance in the thick mountain wind, displayed in hopeful unity, and courtiers wait along the wide stone steps with chiffon skirts blowing, music sparkling amid the excitement. All eyes are on the long runway before us.

Reni and I stand on either side of Mother as she waits quietly, regally, at the top of the open-air steps in a maroon gown trimmed with gold, her chin raised and my father’s crown glimmering on her black hair. It’s a rare occasion for her to wear it. But today it gleams, luminous as her, a glorious reminder to the kingdom that there is nothing to fear and she rules in splendour. But there’s still a tiny tremor nearly hidden. She fingers the lace detailing of her skirt, and I wish I could squeeze her hand in reassurance.

On the tarmac, the two Safire fighters have landed, silver pipes along their nose trailing exhaust. The wind smells strongly of petrol and smoke. In the distant sky, a larger aeroplane appears, wide-winged and imposing. We watch it lower, hitting the runway with a high-pitched screech. It’s very large, propellers on either side, and the wings rattle as it brakes, swaying side to side slightly. There’s a fox-and-crossed-swords crest painted on the flank, and everyone lining the steps ceases their chatter, tilting their heads, whispering now as if their words might already be heard by the General himself.
One of the Safire pilots leaps down from his now idle fighter. His red hair is a blaze in the sun. The second pilot walks over, and they light up their cigarettes without even a glance at the royal court waiting nearby. Etanian ground crew attempt to speak to them, but they ignore it, striding for the large plane, trailing smoke like their fighters.

Mother flicks her hand. The royal guards on the tarmac come to attention.

Safire uniforms emerge from the General’s plane as the metallic creature hisses in the sun, steel and aluminum pieces settling. They march down the stairs, appearing confident, but none of them look quite like General Dakar—at least, not as far as I know. I’ve only ever seen a few distant photographs in the newspapers. It’s not until the two Safire pilots stamp out their cigarettes and straighten that I think we must be nearly to him. A man with dark skin appears at the top of the stairs. His uniform’s richly medaled, his head swiveling round to take in the runway and palace.

“Admiral Malek,” I hear one lord say knowingly to a nearby friend.

Then the Admiral is down the stairs and another tall, grey-clad shape looms in the door of the plane.
The General, at last.

He pauses there for a long, weighted moment, surveying the world before him. His gaze moves from the line of royal guards to the stone steps and then on up to Mother beneath the arched facade. He smiles.

Descending the stairs, he greets Lord Marcin and Lord Jerig with handshakes. They both put on a good show, thank the stars, then Admiral Malek and the General walk across the tarmac together, the General offering those he passes a formal, yet affable, nod.

When they stride up the palace steps, he’s still wearing his polite smile, and Mother returns it. It’s her polished one that radiates certainty. The General drops into a short bow before us. The rest of his Safire party, following behind, does the same.

“Your Majesty,” he says. “At last we’ve arrived. We’re honoured to be your guests.”

Mother dips her chin in respect. “You’re most welcome in Etania, General. The honour is ours.”

Monday, December 10, 2018

REVIEW: Nocturnal Blood by Villimey Mist

Nocturnal Blood 
by Villimey Mist

Huge thank you to fellow Bookstagrammer for this amazing copy of her debut novel!
Vampires, blood and a journey - loved it.. see my full thoughts below.


Publish Date: December 16, 2018
Kindle Edition
248 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Horror


Anchorage, Alaska. A place where people don't care if someone goes missing. A place where Leia Walker tries her hardest to hide from the world, wanting a normal life without anxiety and OCD.

But Leia's bubble pops when an old friend is back in town and twists Leia’s reality . A bloody event proves what Leia is scared to learn—Sophie Gardner, her old high school friend and saviour from the bullies, is a vampire.

Forced to run away with Sophie, Leia's life takes a terrifying turn when vampires and hunters come after them.

The only thing preventing them from losing themselves is their friendship..

But will it be enough to escape the inevitable blood bath?

My Review:


I always get nervous reading a fellow Bookstagrammer's book - especially a debut novel at that. But how do you turn down a book about vampires? I mean, you just don't. A girl just trying to survive bullying in high school and life with her anxiety and OCD... enter someone who finally sticks up for her... a friend, the first person outside of her family that she trusts.... then that person disappears only to arrive back into her life with a bloody (literally) bang!

At first I wasn't entirely sure where this book was going to go.  They're off and things keep happening left and right but where is the story actually going to head? Then it all comes together and I've gotta say, I was INVOLVED. Leia grew on me like mold on bread.... or something better... like moss on a stone... whatever, you know what I'm trying to say.

Listen y'all.  This isn't just a vampire book, this is a story of getting over your fears, trust, a bond between two people and the lengths you'll go to help someone... and the journey along the way.  The build of Leia and Sophie's relationship was fantastic to see grow page by page and I really loved some of the secondary characters as well.  Though I'll tell you what, anytime a hotel seems like the deal is too good to be true, your bet your ass I'm fleeing to the next establishment! 

I don't know if it's that the writing got better as the book continued, if I was just getting more involved with the characters or if it was the wine I was drinking in honor of the blood being spilt amongst the pages... but I found myself thoroughly involved into the second half.

A solid, thundering bloody good debut novel.  (seven claps 😉)

★★★★


Saturday, December 8, 2018

REVIEW: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite @doubledaybooks @OyinBraithwaite

My Sister, the Serial Killer

by


Thanks so much to Stacey for sending me this amazing read!


Publisher: Doubleday Books
Publish Date: November 20, 2018
Hardcover
226 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Psychological Thriller


Satire meets slasher in this short, darkly funny hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends.

"Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer."

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola's third boyfriend in a row is dead. Korede's practicality is the sisters' saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her "missing" boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

A kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where Korede works, is the bright spot in her life. She dreams of the day when he will realize they're perfect for each other. But one day Ayoola shows up to the hospital uninvited and he takes notice. When he asks Korede for Ayoola's phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and what she will do about it.


Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite has written a deliciously deadly debut that's as fun as it is frightening.

My Review:


The book community is fantastic.  One of the many reasons is that your book friends will send you a book (thank you, Stacey) and then another will buddy read it with you (thank you, Robin)!  This was the fastest buddy read ever!

This book is packed full of goodness at just over 200 pages.  I don't have any siblings but those that I consider family have my fullest loyalty - I could only imagine what I would do for an actual blood related sibling knowing how far I'd go for the others I consider family. 

Here's the thing - this book reads fast - it's easily a one sit read even for those who normally don't read that voraciously.  Two sisters.  One killer.  One clean up.  Lots of craziness.  And that ending.  Look, I had to go back and reread it because I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything. Thank goodness for discussions!  I'll just give you the same advice I received... don't overthink it. 

I highly recommend this book.  Pick it up and don't plan to put it down until you're finished. 

★★★★★