Book #76: Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann

Kendall loves her life in small town Cryer’s Cross, Montana, but she also longs for something more. She knows the chances of going to school in New York are small, but she’s not the type to give up easily. Even though it will mean leaving Nico, the world’s sweetest boyfriend, behind. 

But when Cryer’s Cross is rocked by unspeakable tragedy, Kendall shoves her dreams aside and focuses on just one goal: help find her missing friends. Even if it means spending time with the one boy she shouldn’t get close to… the one boy who makes her question everything she feels for Nico. 

Determined to help and to stay true to the boy she’s always loved, Kendall keeps up the search—and stumbles upon some frightening local history. She knows she can’t stop digging, but Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried….

I found Cryer’s Cross during one of my many trips to a used bookstore (I have credit in many stores, by the way) and was intrigued by the blurb in the back and the other cover. The other cover was an old school desk with carvings on it. I have this cover on here because it was the paperback of the book and I wanted to conserve my credit.

The cover of the two teens lying on the ground is nothing special and makes the book more about romance than the paranormal plot device. Though there are scenes with Kendall and Jacian where they are on the ground, I don’t think this was a good cover. Granted, the romance element is a big one and this cover would make sense for romance readers.

Anyway, this book is one of those one day/one sitting reads. It took me about maybe two or three actual reading hours. It is written in third person present tense.  I find this tense to be difficult to read and write in fiction. It separates the reader from the story in a way. Though this could be good in a horror like story, it isn’t in a romance.

I wasn’t just surprised about the chosen tense. I also found it interesting that Kendall has a mental health issue. She has anxiety and OCD. Her OCD gave her a characterization that I was excited to see. However, because of the short nature of the book, I feel that Kendall’s OCD was, not cheapened, but wasn’t shown the best. It made the OCD seem like a fad or something to give the M.C. more depth.

That said, the characters didn’t really have much depth. I didn’t care so much about the missing teens or the romance between Jacian and Kendall. The ghost story element was interesting and did have a creepy vibe I appreciated, but that was it.

It is a good read in between books or when you are recovering a book hangover. Will I read more of McMann’s work? Maybe.

BOOK BLITZ!! Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats by Carla Rehse

Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats
Carla Rehse
Publication date: July 24th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Seventeen-year-old Gracie Mason is homecoming queen, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, and a member of the student council. She’s also a budding burglar. While attempting her inaugural break-in, Gracie blacks out and wakes up far away from the scene. It turns out she accidentally intruded on a male witch’s “circle of power,” and now she’s bonded to him for life. To break the bond, Gracie must delve deeper into a society of witches that involves a secret club, a shadowy council, and all sorts of magical mischief.

Gracie quickly learns that dissolving the bond with Asher, admittedly a very handsome and charming witch, is more complicated than she initially thought. And right when it seems things can’t get any worse, witches start turning up dead. It’s clear that Gracie is out of her depth as her quest to sever the bond magically turns into a murder investigation.

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EXCERPT:

New Hobbies

Daddy told me years ago that to succeed in life I need a strong plan, the right tools, and the gumption to follow through. His words of wisdom helped me get elected homecoming queen, become co-captain of the cheerleading squad, and voted on the student council. Now I plan to use them to help me pull off my first burglary.

My plan is solid. I’ve also never backed down from a challenge, not even last year when Brittany Thomas became overly friendly with the entire football team in a sad attempt to deprive me of my crown. People say I started the rumor about the rash of STD cases spreading through the boys’ locker room faster than a brush fire. I didn’t, of course. Why start gossip when the squad of doctors from the local Health Department did it for me?

I take a deep breath as I enter the Trinity Building. At almost four o’clock on a Friday before a three-day weekend, the place is deader than a PTA meeting. It helps that today is the hottest July first on record for Central Texas and the air conditioning in this building is dismally subpar. The Trinity Corporation may claim to have the most upscale rental space in town, but one look at the gold leopard granite floor paired with peach-painted walls shows that’s a downright fib.

The only guard on duty leans back in his chair and sucks down a Sonic Route 44 Coke like his life depends on it. I wave as I pass the security desk, wearing a megawatt smile and fully confident in the strength of my lavender-scented Lavanila deodorant—vegan, of course. Deputy Dawg gives me his usual perv stare before returning to the comic book balanced on his knee.

Centex Therapy, LPC occupies most of the first floor office space. A small bell tinkles when I open the frosted glass door. What decorum the overall building lacks, the waiting room has in spades. Brown leather chairs sit on a bamboo rug and pastel paintings from local artists brighten the walls. A tall grandfather clock in the corner softly chimes four times. This late on a Friday means the room is empty of other patients. Perfect.

Jane, the receptionist, fans herself with a copy of Country Living. “Cutting it awfully close, Gracie. Go on in.”

Dr. McDozzle gives me a pained smile as I enter the room.

“Good afternoon, Miss Mason. Have a seat.” For a head shrinker, he’s incredibly formal. And a non-Texan, who hates football and sweet tea. I haven’t learned much more about him in the last month, but that’s enough to get him tarred and feathered if word got out.

The leather recliner squeaks when I sit down. “Thanks for seeing me on a Friday, Doc.” I twirl a strand of newly highlighted platinum hair around my finger. It goes wonderful with my bubblegum pink manicure. “Mr. Anderson, Daddy’s new lawyer, is now insisting I have two sessions a month with you. Of course, Mama’s lawyer says once a month is just fine, seeing how I’m such a well-adjusted high school senior and all. Almost a senior, I guess, since school’s not started.”

Dr. McDozzle straightens his glasses. “Yes, well, your parents do seem to have quite the barrage of attorneys involved in their divorce. Have you worked on the homework I gave you during our last session?”

This is such a waste of time. My parents have spent the last five years embroiled in a divorce dirtier than a greased pig-wrestling contest. Both sides of the family have more money than sense, much to the delight of every lawyer in the tri-county area. Not that I want my parents to get back together. Anytime they’re within spitting distance of each other, the tension between them gives me a migraine. Besides, if they hadn’t split up, I never would’ve met Ben.

Ben’s the son of Daddy’s ex-girlfriend. Until four months ago, they all lived together in Daddy’s condo. Ben is a sophomore at the local college and is truly hot, in a geeky, stud muffin, save-the-world, kinda way. Crushing on my almost stepbrother might seem a bit sketchy, but it’s legal—I Googled it twice.

Which means it’s time to start step one in my Get Ben Plan.

I toss my hair over my shoulder before pulling out a pink glitter notebook from my Eiffel Tower-shaped mini-purse.

“You wanted me to write down my feelings about my parents’ shared custody thing. Honestly, I don’t understand why the lawyers are so panty twisted about me spending a week with Mama and the next with Daddy. It means I get double the wardrobe. Hello? What girl would say no to that? It’s way better than Heather’s situation. I told you about her last time, I think. The girl with the hideous frizzed-out curls but drives a cute BMW Z4 roadster? Anyway, her parents are insane.” I continue a steady stream of babble until Dr. McDozzle’s eyes glaze over.

There’s no clocks in the room, but Dr. McDozzle keeps checking his watch. I’m sure the poor man created a nice therapy plan for me, but I’ve completely derailed it. Mama always says a girl has many tools to choose from in her arsenal—perfectly curled hair, well-placed boobs, and endless chatter are my faves. Besides, Daddy’s been paying therapists a fortune for years to show the divorce court how concerned he is about me. Dr. McDozzle’s earning his car payment today.

Author Bio:

Although not a native Texan, Carla prides herself on having mastered the correct usage of “y’all” and “bless your heart.”

Carla is owned by a persnickety kitty, who rules the computer keyboard and only allows Carla to write when demands for cat treats are met.

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Book #75: New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson

Worlds collide in debut author Jennifer Wilson’s graphic dystopian series where Divergent meets Mad Max. 

Since witnessing her parents’ murders at the age of eleven, Phoenix’s only purpose in life has been to uphold her mother’s dying words – to be strong and survive. But surviving outside of The Walls – outside of The Sanctuary – is more like a drawn-out death sentence. A cruel and ruthless city, Tartarus is run by the Tribes whose motto is simple, “Join or die.” 

Refusing to join and determined to live, Phoenix fights to survive in this savage world. But who can she trust, when no one can be trusted? Not even herself…

The first of a trilogy, New World Rising is an epic tale of survival, instinct, trauma, and the extraordinary power of human connection.

“Savage and raw, Jennifer Wilson pulls no punches in this blood tingling dystopian.” Kimberly Derting, award-winning author of The Pledge Trilogy.

New World Rising was the second book in June’s OwlCrate box and the second the book club I’m a part of decided to read. Like The Sandcastle Empire, New World Rising is a young adult dystopian fiction. However, for me, this book was more enjoyable than the other one.

We first meet our main character as she is trying to find a new safehouse. In the first chapter we learn what had happened to her parents, what kind of city she lives in, and what lies beyond. We don’t know why her parents chose this place to take their daughter, and neither does she. We don’t even learn her name until later in the book, but it doesn’t feel like we need the name right away.

Jennifer Wilson’s writing is filled with action and is quick. It is entertaining and I was in the world as I read. I actually felt something for the characters in the book. I wanted something to happen to the world. I wasn’t bored in any way.

From the club, I learned there were a few issues. Such as the fun Phoenix has and the need for more commas, but this didn’t pull me away from the world. I honestly didn’t recognize it until someone mentioned it. Did it change my opinion about the book? Not at all.

The world is dark, has many twists, and I found myself wondering what the next book had in store. It is definitely a trilogy I plan on continuing. Just not sure if I want it in eBook or hard copy.

BOOK TOUR: Breaking Roman by Alexis James

They call me Romeo.

I love romancing women, and I’m good at it. 

Too bad it is all a ruse.

Roman, the youngest of the three Moran brothers, is the only one who has ever believed in true love. Too bad his one special person barely acknowledges his existence.

Sabrina Morris spends her days running the HR Department of The Moran Group, and her nights corralling her teenage daughter. She doesn’t have time for love. She’s heard the stories, but Roman is not at all what she expects him to be. His gentle nature catches her completely off-guard. She doesn’t expect to be attracted to him, and she certainly doesn’t expect him to be equally drawn to her. But can she see past his Romeo façade and allow the warm, loving man into her life? 

I received Breaking Roman by Alexis James from Xpresso Book Tours. This is an honest review. I was not compensated for anything.

Breaking Roman is a contemporary romance told in the first person between the two leads: Roman Moran and Sabrina Morris. Roman is a twenty-nine year old, hardworking man who works in the family business. For years he has been curbing his romantic side with serial monogamy. Sabrina is the head of HR and a single mother. She works for her child and sets aside a life for her teen daughter.

At first, I was pulled into the story fairly easily. Roman’s crush on Sabrina was adorable and left me wanting to see him succeed. I didn’t care for his “Romeo” nickname. Not because he was known for being with many woman, but because you don’t really see that i the works. You only hear about him taking girls to see family and their reaction. I would have liked it more if we saw the before Roman while he was still crushing on Sabrina.

However, Roman is a very likable character. He is warm, attentive, and has a good head on his shoulders. It’s also great to see a strong male character in a parental role despite not being the parent. Fatherhood suits him and I didn’t feel him using the daughter to get closer to Sabrina.

I did not, unfortunately, care for Sabrina. She is a maternal character who devotes everything to her daughter. This wasn’t what bothered me about her. Sabrina seemed to play games. It made her be more like the twenty-something than Roman. That isn’t to say that some of her reactions didn’t make sense.

If I were in her shoes, I would also be hesitant. I would probably try not to start a relationship, but once that relationship was in full bloom, I wouldn’t have done what she did. What she did is a big part to the main conflict. It isn’t what I would have done, but it did add tension to the story in itself.

The writing style was decent enough. I could get into the book and reading it wasn’t any trouble. However, it did begin to bore me around the halfway mark.  I was finding myself ignoring a good part of the book and only centering on the dialogue. What was good was that you don’t have to read the other two to get what goes on in this book.

Would I read more of James? Yes. I think that this book probably wasn’t her best. I would like to see the other books in this series.

In a five star rating: 3 stars

 

Author Bio:

Alexis James lives on the beautiful Central California coast. When she’s not spending time with her hubby of almost 30 years or her amazing kids, you can find her tapping away on the computer. She loves reading, spending time with family, reading, camping, reading….and writing too! She enjoys a good date night, an inexpensive glass of wine, and any story that can make her smile and/or cry.

Alexis’s first novel, “Losing Faith”, was released in September 2014. Her second novel, “Loving Emma”, is a standalone, though it does feature some characters from “Losing Faith”.

She invites you to visit her author pages on Facebook and Goodreads, and her website: alexisjamesauthor.com. You can also follow her on Twitter (@alexisjames27) or you can email her at: alexisjamesauthor@gmail.com.

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Book #73: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

I joined a group event on Facebook and Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle is being read this whole month. It took me a while to start this book, but once I did actually have the time to listen to the audiobook, I was hooked.

This book has magic and teen angst. There isn’t a teen who doesn’t have something serious going on. What you think you understand in the beginning is just the surface soil to a more in depth characterization. Each character is an iceberg floating in the ocean in search for an elusive mystical being.

The one thing I really loved was the Southern literature flow. I love Southern Lit. It has a magical quality to the cadence that is both down to earth and almost lyrical. The narrator shows the Southern roots of the book with his different accents for the characters. Another thing I loved is that when a certain character is the focus, he takes on that person’s voice. It really brought me into the world.

The characters aren’t soft. They are angsty, angry, and I think only two may have a more dreamlike manner to them (though one is more morbid than the other). The books center on Blue, an easy to temper female lead, Gansey, a rich dreamer with a mask, Adam, Scholarship kid with pride and poor family life, Ronan, an angry kid with very little smooth surfaces, and Noah, a quiet person who is both endearing and odd. It’s almost as if Steifvater used a writing engine to figure out the character quirks.

I instantly jumped into the second book once I finished this one. And, I have the third waiting (I’m only a few hours away from being done with number 2). This is definitely a book series I’m gushing about all the time.

Book #72: The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson

When all hope is gone, how do you survive? 

Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.

Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.

Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves—but the solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected. 

This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.

The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson is a sci-fi dystopian book from June’s OwlCrate box.  Some have called this book a mix between Lost and The Maze Runner series. To be honest, that may be true.

While reading, I kept thinking of Kevin Costner’s Waterworld. Not because everyone is on boats looking for the last piece of land. Eden and three other girls are complete strangers on their way to escape from a prison camp in an island. It’s a friggin’ concentration camp on an island. Now, the Waterworld thought comes in because there is a large amount of flooding that has destroyed and changed the world.

Most of the world is now ocean and islands.

Now, that might sound interesting and adding the almost Third Reich bad guys, called the Wolfpack, the book sounds pretty cool. Unfortunately, it didn’t really grab me. It was one of those books that wasn’t for me. That isn’t to say that it isn’t a well written book.

It is. Olson writes well, I liked the basis of her characters. It was just the world was pulling me away from the story and the characters. I felt disjointed and I didn’t care one way or another. It just wasn’t for me.

I do plan on giving my copy to my brother though. This is the kind of stuff he will like and I think he will be a bigger fan of the book than I am.

Book #71: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

This book took me three tries to read  it. The first time, I wasn’t impressed with the narrator on the audio. The second, this time for a FB book club (OwlCrate Book Club), I actually made a solid effort, but the story was taking too long to get into. The third, and final time, was another audio attempt.

I finished it in the third try.

I wanted to finish this book because all of my book club pals were reading the other books and I wanted to be a part of their experience. Fandom is a real form of peer pressure, only it’s almost free to be a fan.

To be honest, it was the last third of the book that got me. If you can get through two-thirds of world building and boring romance building, then the last third will get you. Or, at least, it did for me. I actually liked the last third and was rooting for Feyre all through it. I even found my favorite character, which isn’t Feyre.

This book is a romance first and foremost. It has an in depth world and it is rich in magic. The writing can feel a bit boring, but I’m more of an action girl. Give me guts and glory any day.

However, in all of this, I’m actually looking forward to continuing the world. Now that I understand Maas’ style, I’m more inclined to read her other books. I’m going to continue her work, but I’m not a Maasassin just yet. Though, I do love what the fandom calls themselves. Badass name, guys.

COVER REVEAL: Hickville Redemption by Mary Karlik

Hickville Redemption
Mary Karlik
Publication date: July 17th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

A 30 year old mystery…

A 15 year old sleuth.

Freshman Mackenzie Quinn wants nothing to do with the mysterious death of Cassidy Jones. But when her crush, Braden McGuire, declares he’s determined to uncover the truth, she is drawn into the cold case. The problem is her dad is the number one suspect. Things look pretty hopeless until her best friend, Travis Barns, loans her the secret diary of Cassidy Jones. His only stipulation is that she not share it with anybody else. But when her jealous boyfriend finds and exposes the diary, secrets come to life that could ruin MacKenzie’s whole family.

Can she find a way to clear her father’s name and atone for her own mistakes before it’s too late?

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Author Bio:

Following a career as a nursing instructor, award-winning author, Mary Karlik earned an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania. A native Texan, Mary loves horses, dogs, cats, country music, and small town diners. Although life has taken her elsewhere, her heart remains in the Lone Star state.

Mary served as the VP of programs for the Young Adult Romance Authors of America (YARWA) from 2015 – 2016. She currently serves as the President of the YARWA.

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Book #70: Pork Pie Hat by Peter Straub

When a graduate student with a passion for jazz arrived in New York to discover that a legendary saxophonist he had assumed long dead is not only still alive but playing in an East Village club, he spends night after night in awe-struck attendance.

And when the legend grants him an interview on Halloween, he jumps at the opportunity. What unfolds is an endless night filled with an extraordinary story told by a dying master: a story centered upon the Halloween night of his eleventh year, a white woman screaming in a shanty town, a killer and an unidentified man fleeing with a strange bundle in his arms. 

I received Pork Pie Hat by Peter Straub from a Nocturnal Readers box. It is a short story about a man interviewing a Jazz musician and that musician’s hidden traumatic secret.

I honestly didn’t care for this novella. I haven’t read anything from Straub, but this novella wasn’t a good representation for me. The writing is very well done. The story is a quick one and the writing has a fluid quality that seems to illustrate how Hat performs with his saxophone.

Now, beside that, I didn’t feel any emotion towards Hat. This is a thinking book more than a feeling book. I prefer a mixture of the two, a balance if you will. I want to feel the dread and excitement. However, I found myself only thinking what exactly happened. What did I just read? What did Hat witness?

So, yeah, this book was not for me.

 

Book #69: The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards

It was the happiest day of her life. Little did she know it was also the last.

When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realises she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.

A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorising his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.

But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.

Happiness…and death.

The Lucky Ones is the terrifying new thriller from the #1 bestselling author of Follow You Home.

I received The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards from a Goodreads Giveaway. I have not been compensated for this review.

Mark Edwards is a hit and miss author for me. There was one book I read from him that I absolutely loved and there was another that was okay. This one didn’t grab me.

The story is broken down in different point of views and narration styles. About two thirds are in first person, one narrator being the serial killer and the other one of his future victims. The last third is in third person and follows the detective, Imogen, as she tries to stop the killer.

The victims are people who have lived a terrible life. Their lives begin to get better, almost as if their luck has changed. Once they are at the peak of their happiness, the killer kills them.

To be honest, I couldn’t get into the characters and the narration style put me off. I was unable to get into the story. This isn’t going to put me off of future Edwards reads, but I didn’t care for this one.