2016 Book #64 – Beauty and the Highland Beast by Lecia Cornwall

51hpEWZrKiLTitle: Beauty and the Highland Beast
Author: Lecia Cornwall
Date finished: 6/26/16
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Swerve
Publication Date: June 21, 2016
Pages in book: 273
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Highland Fairy Tales series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Powerful and dangerous highlander Dair Sinclair was once the favored son of his clan, The Sinclairs of Carraig Brigh. With Dair at the helm, Sinclair ships circled the globe bringing home incredible fortune. Until one deadly mission when Dair is captured, tortured and is unable to save his young cousin. He returns home breaking under the weight of his guilt and becomes known as the Madman of Carraig Brigh.
When a pagan healer predicts that only a virgin bride can heal his son’s body and mind, Dair’s father sets off to find the perfect wife for his son. At the castle of the fearsome McLeods, he meets lovely and kind Fia MacLeod.
Although Dair does his best to frighten Fia, she sees the man underneath the damage and uses her charm and special gifts to heal his mind and heart. Will Dair let Fia love him or is he cursed with madness forever?

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also, this book will count towards my “PopSugar 2016 Checklist” reading challenge, marking off the “a book based on a fairy tale” since this book is based around the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. This book tells the story of Dair Sinclair and Fia MacLeod. Dair’s father is desperate to save him from the madness that has consumed him since watching his cousin’s brutal murder. When an old midwife prophesizes that a virgin will save Dair, his father goes off in search of one. He finds one, but crippled and scarred Fia is not what anyone expects that Dair needs. As Dair and Fia spend more time together though, Dair does in fact feel himself pulling back from the brink of insanity and instead spending more and more time thinking about this girl his father brought home that he wants nothing to do with.
Overall I really liked this book. I thought the author did a really good job of inciting that mass hysteria mentality within the Sinclair clan. I was definitely scared for Fia’s life at a number of points in the story. This story definitely kept me on my toes, the plot line was fast paced and I was interested throughout the book. The story line was appropriately romantic and also thrilling. What happened to Dair’s cousin was definitely awful and tragic though and I definitely felt sadness throughout the story over the tragic events that led to the story’s beginning. I think this was a really good book though and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, When A Laird Finds A Lass.

The bottom line: I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read and was well-paced and interesting throughout. It was scary and thrilling and romantic, pretty much everything you could want from a Highlanders novel. I would definitely recommend.

Link to author website

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2016 Book #63 – I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

51VLYVoj5+L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Title: I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Author: Iain Reid
Date finished: 6/21/16
Genre: Fiction, suspense, horror
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Pages in book: 224
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always.
Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.”
And here’s what I’m thinking: I don’t want to be here.
In this smart, suspenseful, and intense literary thriller, debut novelist Iain Reid explores the depths of the human psyche, questioning consciousness, free will, the value of relationships, fear, and the limitations of solitude. Reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s early work, Michel Faber’s cult classic Under the Skin, and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an edgy, haunting debut. Tense, gripping, and atmospheric, this novel pulls you in from the very first page…and never lets you go.

My rating:  2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also, this book will count towards my Book Riot 2016 Read Harder reading challenge, marking off the “read a horror book” box since I think this book was pretty horror-ific. I spent a lot of time thinking to myself “don’t go into that abandoned (blank)!” which I feel like is how people normally react during regular horror movies. This book is interesting because we are not formally introduced to our narrator for the first few chapters, I think we learn more about who the narrator is at the end but I don’t know if I quite understand what happened at the end. Anyway, the book starts out with a girl going home with her boyfriend Jake to meet his parents. They have some conversations about philosophy and psychology on the way there, and we as the reader learn about the beginning of their relationship and that the girl is getting mysterious phone calls from her own phone number with cryptic voice mails. The girlfriend is also thinking about ending things with Jake. So once they get to Jake’s parents’ house, Jake starts acting really weird and his parents are especially odd. The tension starts to really build here and the reader starts to become concerned for this poor girl who will be caught unawares and who knows what will happen.
Overall I did enjoy this book somewhat up until the ending. The last chapter was confusing for me to say the least. I didn’t really understand what happened. I think it was just a “my brain didn’t follow what happened there” sort of thing though since other people who left reviews for the book on Amazon seemed to understand what transpired at the end. There was also just a lot of dialogue, which I’m sure was necessary for this particular story line but wasn’t something I normally enjoy in a book. So overall this one wasn’t a hit for me but there were things I liked about it. The author did a great job of building tension and really making the reader feel almost frightened. I kept looking over my shoulder and I was afraid to turn the lights off! Even though this book wasn’t one of my favorites, I would still recommend trying it. It is a short and fairly quick read and hopefully you’ll understand the ending better than me!

The bottom line: This was a confusing book for me, I still don’t really understand how the book ended. I think its worth a try, maybe someone can figure out what happened and explain it to me.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #62 – The Girl Who Came Back by Susan Lewis

51QOBycgsIL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Girl Who Came Back
Author: Susan Lewis
Date finished: 6/13/16
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Pages in book: 400
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

When Jules Bright hears a knock on the door, the last person she expects to find is a detective bringing her the news she’s feared for the last three years.
Amelia Quentin is being released from prison.
Jules’s life now is very different from the one she knew before Amelia shattered it completely. Knowing the girl is coming back, Jules must decide what to do. Friends and family gather around, fearing for Jules’s safety. They know that justice was never served; each of them wants to make the Quentin girl pay.
The question is: What will Jules do?
And which of them—she or Amelia—has the most to fear?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Jules Bright. When we are first introduced to her there are many subtle hints to the reader that she is still recovering from a traumatic event, though we don’t find out for quite a while into the book what actually happened. This was one of the things that frustrated me as I thought it was a little too far into the story but at the same time this is a good tactic to increase the reader’s tension. After we’re first introduced to Jules, the book alternated between the present day and Jules’ memories of her past that led up to the present point. I have to be honest in that these transitions between memories and present day were not always 100% clear to me and I didn’t always know how much time had passed since the last memory, so it was hard to coordinate a timeline in my head. It was confusing at first but it did seem to get better/easier as the book went on. So anyways, the book is (for the most part) about Jules Bright and her husband, Kian, and their family. Other characters are mentioned early in the book, before the reader is even properly introduced to them, and this also added to the confusion I felt at first. I pieced it together eventually though.
Overall I liked this book ok. It was hard for me to get into the story, I felt like the beginning confused me enough that I almost wanted to give up. But once I got into the meat of the story it was much easier to get through. There is a murder in the book (I won’t tell you who because that would ruin a great plot point) and while it didn’t make me dislike the book, the description of the murder is pretty grisly. Definitely not for the faint of heart! Other than those things I already mentioned, I thought the book was quite good. Once I was about midway through the book, I didn’t want to put it down. And the author was able to evoke a lot of emotion from me, especially anger at Amelia. The ending was left a little bit open in my consideration but I like to think that justice was served. I would recommend this one for summer reading.

The bottom line: This was an ok book for me. It had some points with great amounts of tension but overall this one just wasn’t my favorite. I would still recommend it for summer reading with the warning that it has a grisly murder and is a tad confusing at first.

Link to author website

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2016 Book #61 – The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

61kbMRxYPpL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Girls in the Garden
Author: Lisa Jewell
Date finished: 6/11/16
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?
On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?
Dark secrets, a devastating mystery, and the games both children and adults play all swirl together in this gripping novel, packed with utterly believable characters and page-turning suspense. Fans of Liane Moriarty and Jojo Moyes will be captivated by The Girls in the Garden, the next unforgettable novel by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of a number of families living in a complex in Central London, with the complex surrounding a three acre communal park. No one has their own “back yard” all residents share one very large and well groomed garden for a back yard. Clare has just moved into a small apartment with her two daughters, Grace and Pip (whose real name is Lola). Clare is trying to hide from a recent traumatic situation with her husband, the girls’ father. She finds comfort at first in the friendship that comes with sharing the communal back yard. Her girls seem to be adapting well, especially Grace who is spending a lot of time with another set of sisters who live across the way. Once Grace is found unconscious and bloody though, Clare learns about what her daughter has really been doing when she’s not at home and that the other girls are not exactly as innocent as they seem.
Overall I really liked this book. The story line was interesting and I thought the author did a great job with how she made the story flow. The story begins with Pip finding her sister after Grace had been attacked. Then the story back tracks to the six months leading up to the attack and then continues past the attack to what happened after Grace was found. The story was also told from Pip’s point of view as well as Clare’s and Adele’s (the other set of sisters’ mother) with two more points of view added in the last few chapters. The ending didn’t turn out quite as I expected but I really liked the plot and it was a fairly quick, fast-paced read. The author really did a great job with creating tension in the story, the drama and tension was coming off the book in waves and we kept finding out more scandalous tidbits the more the characters delved into the mystery. I think this will be a great read for this summer, I would definitely recommend trying this one!

The bottom line: I found this book very interesting and at the same time slightly disturbing. Not disturbing in a bad way, more in a suspenseful way. The author creates a real world for the reader inside the communal garden and the separate points of view added a lot of different pieces to the story line. I would definitely recommend this one!

Link to author website

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2016 Book #60 – The Wedding Sisters by Jamie Brenner

41iS50dWuUL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Wedding Sisters
Author: Jamie Brenner
Date finished: 6/9/16
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Pages in book: 317
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Meryl Becker is living a mother’s dream. The oldest of her three beautiful daughters, Meg, is engaged to a wonderful man from one of the country’s most prominent families. Of course, Meryl wants to give Meg the perfect wedding. Who wouldn’t? But when her two younger daughters, Amy and Jo, also become engaged to celebrated bachelors, Meryl has to admit that three weddings is more than she and her husband, Hugh, can realistically afford.
The solution? A triple wedding! At first, it’s a tough sell to the girls, and juggling three sets of future in-laws is a logistical nightmare. But when Hugh loses his teaching job, and Meryl’s aging mother suddenly moves in with them, a triple wedding is the only way to get all three sisters down the aisle. When the grand plan becomes public, the onslaught of media attention adds to Meryl’s mounting pressure. Suddenly, appearances are everything – and she will do whatever it takes to keep the wedding on track as money gets tight, her mother starts acting nutty, and her own thirty year marriage starts to unravel.
In the weeks leading up to the nuptials, secrets are revealed, passions ignite, and surprising revelations show Meryl and her daughters the true meaning of love, marriage and family. Jamie Brenner’s The Wedding Sisters invites readers to the most unpredictable wedding of the year.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Meryl Becker, along with her husband and their three daughters: Meg, Amy, and Jo. Hugh has always had a keen interest in Louisa May Alcott, and had even written a book chronicling the life of the author’s mother, which was published when he first met Meryl. Meg Amy, and Jo are all grown up now, and through an interesting series of events all three sisters find themselves engaged within a couple months of each other. And when Hugh loses his job, Meryl realizes the only way they could possibly afford to marry off all three daughters within a year is to have all three weddings at the same time. And thus the idea of a triple wedding was born. And due to the fact that all three daughters are marrying what can only be described as “well-off” men, once the media gets wind of the triple wedding the press circus begins. As the wedding looms closer though, each sister starts to see cracks in their relationships that weren’t there before.
Overall I really  enjoyed this book so much. It was tension and drama filled, it was fast-paced and I just didn’t want to put it down. I thought the book really did a great job of examining multiple types of relationships: mother and daughter, husband and wife, sister and (other) sister, and also friendship and new love. It was interesting to hear the sisters three very different stories. And the ending was heart warming and inspiring. There was a lot going on in this book between all the characters’ separate dramas but the author combined the stories flawlessly and I thought the story line flowed very well. I would highly recommend this book, this is one of summer’s must reads!

The bottom line: I immensely enjoyed this book. It was tension and drama filled and kept me interested through the whole story. I also liked the view this book gave on a number of different relationship categories. Very interesting and exciting read, I think this is a great summer read! I would definitely recommend.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #59 – The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass

61x4fmYyKmL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Cresswell Plot
Author: Eliza Wass
Date finished: 6/5/16
Genre: Young adult
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Pages in book: 272
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The woods were insane in the dark, terrifying and magical at the same time. But best of all were the stars, which trumpeted their light into the misty dark.
Castella Cresswell and her five siblings-Hannan, Casper, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem- know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.
Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.
Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also, this book will count towards my Book Riot 2016 Read Harder reading challenge, marking off the “read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)” since this book features a family involved in a cult-ish doomsday religion. Castella Cresswell is one of the six children in the Cresswell family. Everyone in town gives the family a wide berth since they are so odd. The patriarch of the Cresswell family has started his own weird religion that is extremely strict and foretells that their family is the only pure one left and therefore they will be the only ones to get into heaven. The more the reader learns about the family though, the more we learn that the patriarch is really just a crazy abusive dad with a short temper. Cass is a junior in high school who makes a new friend in her drama class, and when she starts learning more about who she is as a person and that she wants to have more of what is a normal life, she begins to stand up to her father. Unfortunately, circumstances are not great for the Cresswell family since the mother and father both don’t work, and the father counts on God to provide for the family. When things become bleak, the father decides that it is time for the family to take their rightful place in God’s kingdom, and yes that is as sinister as it sounds.
Overall I thought this was a good idea for a book and I liked the book. I thought that the story line could have been organized a tad bit better and the characters could have been a little better developed but the book itself was dark and thrilling and also a little sad. There was a wealth of emotions in the writing and as a reader I was looking to empathize more with the main character but I couldn’t connect with her enough to feel a lot of emotions towards her. I still think it was an interesting idea for a book though and I would recommend reading it. Although I would add a warning that if you get scared or freaked out easily this may not be something to add to your to read list.

The bottom line: I liked the idea behind this book but I thought it could have been developed a little better. It was a good story but I had trouble connecting with some of the characters. I would still definitely recommend it with a forewarning that it is a little horror-ish.

Link to author website

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2016 Book #58 – Frayed by Kara Terzis

51zDAx+FX2L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Frayed
Author: Kara Terzis
Date finished: 6/2/16
Genre: Young adult
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Dear Kesley,
My therapist tells me I should write you a letter. Like flushing all my thoughts and feelings out of my system and onto paper. I tell her it’s a stupid idea.
But here I am, writing a letter to a dead girl. Where do I start? Where did our story begin? From the moment you were born…or died?
I’ll start with the moment I found out the truth about you. Your lies and my pain. Because it always begins and ends with you.
And that end began when Rafe Lawrence came back to town…
Ava Hale will do anything to find her sister’s killer…although she’ll wish she hadn’t. Because the harder Ava looks, the more secrets she uncovers about Kesley, and the more she begins to think that the girl she called sister was a liar. A sneak. A stranger.
And Kesley’s murderer could be much closer than she thought…
A debut novel from Wattpad award-winner Kara Terzis, Frayed is a psychological whodunit that will keep you guessing!

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also, this book will count towards my Book Riot 2016 Read Harder reading challenge, marking off the “read a book with a main character that has a mental illness.” I’m not going to say who because you should read it to find out but one of the main characters in this book is suffering from a mental illness. This book tells the story of Ava Hale, beginning about a month after her sister dies while she tries to figure out who murdered Kelsey. The police have no leads and as Ava starts to delve a little deeper into Kelsey’s life before her death, she discovers that she didn’t know her sister as well as she thought. Kelsey managed to hide a lot of things from her little sister Ava, including the fact that she tried to buy a gun to protect herself. But what exactly was Kelsey scared of? And why didn’t she think she could tell Ava about whatever was scaring her?
Overall I really liked this book. It was intriguing and kept me hooked right up until the end. I honestly didn’t see the ending coming, it was one of those great shocker endings. The ending was a little sad for me because I just felt so bad for Ava. The reader learns a lot about Ava through the book and it seemed like at every turn there was someone else betraying Ava’s trust. It was very sad. Other than that though I liked the book a lot! I don’t want to give too much away with the review so I would tell everyone to go read it for yourselves and find out!

The bottom line: I really liked this book, it was definitely a heart-pounding thriller and it kept me guessing right up until the very end. I just felt so bad for Ava, it seemed like there wasn’t anyone who cared about her enough to have her back and it saddened me a little. Other than that, this was a great thriller and I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page