2018 Book #50 – Perfectly Undone by Jamie Raintree

510TX2YTB7L._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Perfectly Undone
Author: Jamie Raintree
Date finished: 6/21/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Pages in book: 278
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher 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:

Yes is such a little word…

Dr. Dylan Michels has worked hard for a perfect life, so when her longtime boyfriend, Cooper, gets down on one knee, it should be the most perfect moment of all. Then why does she say no?

For too many years, Dylan’s been living for her sister, who never got the chance to grow up. But her attempt to be the perfect daughter, perfect partner and perfect doctor hasn’t been enough to silence the haunting guilt Dylan feels over her sister’s death—and the role no one knows she played in it.

Now Dylan must face her past if she and Cooper stand a chance at a future together. But when Cooper makes a startling confession of his own, can Dylan find the courage to define her own happiness before her life becomes perfectly undone?

Set among the breezy days of a sultry Portland summer, Perfectly Undone is a deeply moving novel of family secrets, forgiveness and finding yourself in the most surprising of places.

Sometimes you have to lose your way to find yourself

My rating:  2.75 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. To be honest I’m not 100% sure where I had won it from. It kind of just showed up in my mail last year, but I’m never one to turn away a free book!

The main character in this story, Dylan, was a pretty flawed character. This is something that I struggle with in various novels, while it is reality that a main character will have flaws its hard for me to connect with a character who has deep flaws that hurt those around them. Dylan was unending-ly selfish and self-centered, wrapped up in her own pain to the point that she self-destroys her relationship with her mother, boyfriend and various others. And while the ending was fairly hopeful, overall the story is just such  sad, depressing, painful journey for Dylan and those around her that it was hard to get through. I was in a funk the whole time I was reading it. While that means that the author did a great hob of being able to influence my emotions from the text, it just wasn’t an emotion that I necessarily wanted at the time. While this wasn’t my favorite book, I thought it was well written and I think it would be a book that many would enjoy, I would still recommend it.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #45 – The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando

51-IuvSNclLTitle: The Opposite of Here
Author: Tara Altebrando
Date finished: 6/2/18
Genre: Young adult, suspense
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: June 5 2018
Pages in book: 256
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:

There’s no hiding on a cruise ship-not even from yourself. 
Natalie’s parents are taking her and her three best friends on a cruise for her seventeenth birthday. A sail-a-bration, they call it. But it’s only been a few short months since Natalie’s boyfriend died in a tragic accident, and she wants to be anywhere but here.
Then she meets a guy on the first night and sparks fly. After a moonlit conversation on a secluded deck of the ship, Natalie pops down to her cabin to get her swimsuit so they can go for a dip. But when she returns, he’s gone. Something he said makes her think he might have . . . jumped? No, he couldn’t have.
But why do her friends think she’s crazy for wanting to make sure he’s okay? Also, why do they seem to be hiding something from her? And how can she find him when she doesn’t even know his name? Most importantly, why is the captain on the intercom announcing the urgent need for a headcount?
With her signature thrilling storytelling, the author of The Leaving and The Possible explores our vulnerability to the power of suggestion-and the lies we tell others and ourselves-in a twisting, Hitchcock-inspired mystery with high stakes and dark secrets.

My rating:  2.75 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.

The plot for this book on the cover description sounded pretty interesting, so although I didn’t know much about the author I decided to give this one a try. It was a little too teen angst-y for my tastes personally but if that kind of thing doesn’t bother you then this would be a pretty good book for you. The plot line is pretty good and takes some interesting twists and turns. The twist at the end of the book is probably the best one and kind of wrapped up all the plot and the characters into one little circle. And while I liked it, the story overall was still just so very sad. And I felt awful for Natalie, I felt like she was just like a doormat and everyone kind of walked all over her. One of her friends betrayed her pretty badly and the girl barely even apologizes but Natalie’s still fine with it. So anyways, overall I kind of liked the story but I think it would be a better fit for an actual young adult.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #15 – A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch

51txp+4sRrLTitle: The Devil in Scotland
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Date finished: 2/13/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #3 in the No Oridinary Hero 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:

The dawning of desire
1806, Scotland. Wild, reckless Callum MacCreath is in no hurry to become someone’s husband. But when his responsible, steady older brother Ian announces his engagement to their childhood friend Rebecca, Callum makes a startling discovery: he wants the lovely young lass for himself. But it’s too late, and when Ian banishes him for his duplicity, Callum is only too happy to leave Scotland forever.

…is delicious and dangerous 
1816: Marrying Ian was the practical, logical thing for Becca to do. But once Callum sailed away to America, she missed his rakish charm and lust for life. Now Becca is a widow when a much-changed Callum returns to his Scottish homeland. Will he remember their spirited, fiery connection or does he blame her for his brother’s unexpected death? This time neither of them can deny their scorching attraction. But will their hearts be burned in the blazing heat of scandal?

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.

A second chance with first love

Rebecca loved Callum in her youth, but as Callum was a wild and reckless young man, Rebecca decided that for her future she would be better off married to Callum’s staid and steady brother Ian. Flash forward ten years though, Ian has died and Callum returns from America to figure out what the hell happened to his brother. Rebecca’s character is exactly what I look for in a heroine. Though she was a bit naive in the beginning, it is evident throughout the story that she is intelligent and has such amazing strength as a female character. Callum also is exactly what I look for in my heroes – while he was intent on protecting Rebecca he always treated her like a partner without being the usual overbearing male “I know best and we’re going to do it my way” alpha male. Callum and Rebecca were such a great pair in this novel and it was really wonderful to read. And I loved that the villain from the last three books, including this one, finally got what was coming to him. The plot was ok and was even exciting in parts but this one really was about the love story for me. It was very romantic and I thought the author did a great job of infusing the emotions into the writing.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #75 – Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews

41eDiHG-MLLTitle: Bad Girl Gone
Author: Temple Mathews
Date finished: 9/1/17
Genre: Fiction, young adult
Publisher: A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Pages in book: 265
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:

Sixteen year-old Echo Stone awakens in a cold sweat in a dark room, having no idea where she is or how she got there. But she soon finds out she’s in Middle House, an orphanage filled with mysteriously troubled kids.

There’s just one problem: she’s not an orphan. Her parents are very much alive.

She explains this to everyone, but no one will listen. After befriending a sympathetic (and handsome) boy, Echo is able to escape Middle House and rush home, only to discover it sealed off by crime scene tape and covered in the evidence of a terrible and violent crime. As Echo grapples with this world-shattering information, she spots her parents driving by and rushes to flag them down. Standing in the middle of street, waving her arms to get their attention, her parents’ car drives right through her.

She was right. Her parents are alive—but she’s not.

She’s a ghost, just like all the other denizens of Middle House. Desperate to somehow get her life back and reconnect with her still-alive boyfriend, Echo embarks on a quest to solve her own murder. As the list of suspects grows, the quest evolves into a journey of self-discovery in which she learns she wasn’t quite the girl she thought she was. In a twist of fate, she’s presented with one last chance to reclaim her life and must make a decision which will either haunt her or bless her forever.­­­­

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. This book tells the story of Echo (Eileen) who wakes up in Middle House, unsure of how she got there. Middle House is an orphanage and Echo is very sure her parents are still alive. Unfortunately when she leaves to prove that, she instead discovers that she was (**SPOILER**) murdered, and Middle House is more of a halfway house where kid ghosts live until they can find and take revenge on their killers/ Echo misses her boyfriend Andy but from the stories we hear from when she was alive, Echo was a pretty shitty person. And now Echo has Cole at Middle House, another dead-o like her. Unfortunately Echo can’t decide between them so she strings both of them along for the next few days, generally making them both miserable. And all the while her new friends are helping her discover who it was that murdered her.
Overall I didn’t particularly care for this book. The premise behind it was just a little too far-fetched for me – the thought that a kid would get to Heaven (the After) only after haunting/killing someone (even if it was their murderer) seems not right to me. Also, Echo as a person/character really was just not at all likable. The plot was not my favorite and I hated how devoted Andy and Cole were considering what a shitty person Echo was. And everything really was just so sad, Echo’s parents lost their only child. And there were many pieces of the plot that just didn’t feel like they really fir to me – the stuff with Mrs. Tourney and thinking Echo is someone else wasn’t necessary in the plot at all and felt superfluous. Overall wasn’t my favorite book but there were some creative thought to it.

The bottom line: Eh this book was ok, it wasn’t my kind of story and it was super sad. If you like ghost-y stories though I would give this one a try, it was kind of interesting.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #53 – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

51-EYAYN0oLTitle: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Date finished: 6/26/17
Genre: Fiction, fantasty
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Pages in book: 512
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: I bought this on vacation a couple summers ago!

Blurb from the cover:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (June). This was actually my pick, I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile and I always hear so many great things about it! I’m glad that I picked it for discussion, it was a really interesting book with some great characters and an engaging plot line. I think my main issue was that there was a lot going on in my family life the last couple weeks and so I kept having to pick it up and put it down and I couldn’t concentrate well on the story, so I found it hard to get through. I think it was more of a personal issue though and less of an issue with the book itself. I still really liked the story though. The author did an amazing job of really transporting the reader into the story. I would definitely recommend!

The bottom line: This book was pretty good. I liked a lot about the book but it was also pretty long and some parts were a tad dry for me. I would definitely recommend it though. There was great imagery and descriptive language and a good plot line.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #49 – The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb

41RTFNre+VLTitle: The End of Temperance Dare
Author: Wendy Webb
Date finished: 6/4/17
Genre: Thriller, horror
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Pages in book: 336
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 Eleanor Harper becomes the director of a renowned artists’ retreat, she knows nothing of Cliffside Manor’s dark past as a tuberculosis sanatorium, a “waiting room for death.” After years of covering murder and violence as a crime reporter, Eleanor hopes that being around artists and writers in this new job will be a peaceful retreat for her as much as for them.
But from her first fog-filled moments on the manor’s grounds, Eleanor is seized by a sense of impending doom and realizes there’s more to the institution than its reputation of being a haven for creativity. After the arrival of the new fellows―including the intriguing, handsome photographer Richard Banks―she begins to suspect that her predecessor chose the group with a dangerous purpose in mind. As the chilling mysteries of Cliffside Manor unravel and the eerie sins of the past are exposed, Eleanor must fight to save the fellows—and herself—from sinister forces.

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 Eleanor Harper, a journalist who has recently fallen on hard times. Overcome at many points of the day with an overwhelming fear (of what she’s not sure), her career as a crime reporter has come to a screeching halt when she’s fired. And then Eleanor (Norrie) sees an advertisement for a replacement director of Cliffside Manor, an artistic retreat. Norrie has thought of Cliffside many times over the years, having first been there to report on the death of Chester Dare and his daughter, Chamomile, after their car accident twenty years ago. She can hardly believe her luck when she is hired as the director, but when weird things start happening, Norrie starts to wonder if maybe she and the new guests of Cliffside are in danger.
Overall I really liked this book a lot! It was so creepy, the whole book I had goosebumps and I couldn’t wait to find out what the heck was going on. I had an inkling on some of the plot twists at the end but a couple of them I didn’t see coming at all, the plot was really great. The mystery took a while to figure out but every piece ended up making sense in the end. I thought this was a really well written thriller and I would recommend reading it!

The bottom line: This was a great book! I loved how creepy it was and the plot was fast paced and scary. I would definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #37 – The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

515qNGaUTcLTitle: The Bear and the Nightingale
Author: Katherine Arden
Date finished: 4/24/17
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, magical realism
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Book #1 of trilogy
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:

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

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 Vasilisa Vladimirovich, a girl born with the second sight, whose mother dies right after childbirth. Her father, Pyotr, loved her mother, Marina, fiercely and was devastated when she died. And it made him angry that Marina knew this child would most likely kill her and she chose to have it anyways. Vasya is a sweet and generous child though, and it is almost impossible not to love her. As she grows she learns the ways of her land and learns from the different magical creatures that haunt the stables and the house. As she grows older though she is in danger from a shadow in the forest, and as the old ways are forgotten for fear of God, the whole village is in danger of the Bear devil in the forest.
Overall I really liked this book a lot. The Russian terms made the story a little harder to get into at first but once I was engaged with the story line I didn’t want to put it down. It was a beautifully woven fairy tale with just enough of the fantastical to make it feel perfectly magical. Vasya was fierce and brave, I loved her character. The plot line was thrilling and filled with danger and excitement. I’m excited to see where the story will take us in the next installment of the trilogy.

The bottom line: I loved this book. While it took a little time to get into the story, it turned out to be an utterly captivating story and I can’t wait to read more.

Link to author website

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