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

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

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

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

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

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

2017 Book #35 – The Young Widower’s Handbook by Tom McAllister

51kxyLgkYMLTitle: The Young Widower’s Handbook
Author: Tom McAllister
Date finished: 4/19/17
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Pages in book: 282
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: LibraryThing NOTE: I received this book for free from LibraryThing 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:

For Hunter Cady, meeting Kaitlyn is the greatest thing that has ever happened to him. Whereas he had spent most of his days accomplishing very little, now his life has a purpose. Smart, funny, and one of a kind, Kait is somehow charmed by Hunter’s awkwardness and droll humor, and her love gives him reason to want to be a better man.
And then, suddenly, Kait is gone, her death as unexpected as the happiness she had brought to Hunter. Numb with grief, he stumbles forward in the only way he knows how: by running away. He heads due west from his Philadelphia home, taking Kait’s ashes with him.
Kait and Hunter had always meant to travel. Now, with no real plan in mind, Hunter is swept into the adventures of fellow travelers on the road, among them a renegade Renaissance Faire worker; a boisterous yet sympathetic troop of bachelorettes; a Midwest couple and Elvis, their pet parrot; and an older man on an endless cross-country journey in search of a wife who walked out on him many years before. Along the way readers get glimpses of Hunter and Kait’s lovely, flawed, and very real marriage, and the strength Hunter draws from it, even when contemplating a future without it. And each encounter, in its own peculiar way, teaches him what it means to be a husband and what it takes to be a man.
Written in the spirit of Jonathan Tropper and Matthew Quick, with poignant insight and wry humor, The Young Widower’s Handbook is a testament to the enduring power of love.

My rating:  3.25 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 Hunter Cody, whose wife dies suddenly and tragically at a very young age (I can’t remember exact age but it was 25-ish I think). Hunter has always been an oddball and an anti-social person, and Kait is the only one he felt has ever understood him and loved him for who he really is. He loves her immensely, and while their marriage has the same ups and downs of a normal marriage, they are truly happy together. When Kait dies suddenly, Hunter is grief stricken and lost. He decides to travel from Philidelphia to California with Kait’s ashes, trying to give Kait the vacation they had always talked about but never taken. Along the way he discovers some things he never knew about himself and he starts to learn how he will manage to continue to live after Kait.
Overall I didn’t end up being a huge fan of this book. I wanted to like this book SO BADLY!! It started out with such promise, and I have so many quotes (listed below) from the book that really spoke to me and that I really loved. The story line was just too repetitive for me and I just could not connect to Hunter’s character. At first I found the prose enchanting but in the end it was just too selfish/whiny/repetitive. I really wanted to love this book but I just couldn’t. I would still reommend it, I thought it had some really great commentary for married couples.

The bottom line: I wanted to like this book so much but it got to be too repetitive and whiny for me.

Favorite Quotes:
“Romance is temporary, predicated on countless variables working synchronously to create something memorable that vaguely recalls a scene from a familiar movie… Love, it’s this other thing, a thing that manifests itself in the most unremarkable moments.”

“It’s the arguments that breathed life into the relationship. It’s in the arguments that you ultimately felt the love.”

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #13 – Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage

410vmxoeeqlTitle: Beautiful Broken Girls
Author: Kim Savage
Date finished: 2/25/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: February 21, 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:

Remember the places you touched me.
Mira and Francesca Cillo were beautiful, overprotected by their father, and, frankly, odd. To the neighborhood boys they seemed untouchable. But one boy, Ben, touched seven parts of Mira: her palm, hair, chest, cheek, lips, throat, and heart. After the sisters drown themselves in the quarry lake, a post-mortem letter from Mira arrives in Ben’s mailbox. The letter sends Ben on a quest to find notes in the places where they touched. Note by note, Ben discovers the mystical secret at the heart of Mira and Francesca’s strange world, and he discovers that some things are better left untouched.

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. This book tells the story of Ben Lattanzi, who gets a letter from his neighbor Mira a week after she dies. Ben was in love with Mira but she and her sister Francesca had died in what seemed very much to be a suicide (they had rocks in their pockets) at the quarry. Mira tells Ben to go find her notes to him in the 7 places that they had touched each other, to learn her story now after her death. And so Ben travels to the different places in town where they had touched, but each note he finds only confuses him more and more. Will he ever find out why Mira killed herself?
Overall this was not my favorite book. The story itself had a lot of potential and I especially liked the way the book was set up. Each chapter told Ben’s story of remembering where he and Mira had touched and him finding a new note and trying to figure out what the note means. Then the second part of each chapter is Mira telling her piece of the story from her life over the last year. I liked that format, it was just that for me the story had so many holes and so many extra parts that didn’t have anything to do with the story line. I didn’t feel like there was a lot of flow to the story line, it felt choppy and to be honest it was just overwhelmingly sad. And it felt like there was just a whole lot of extra crazy in the book and the characters. It wasn’t my favorite read lately, it wasn’t a bad story just didn’t appeal to me.

The bottom line: While this book didn’t work for me personally, I can see how it would appeal to other readers. Suspense novels are really popular right now and there is just enough mystery, crazy, and sexy in this book to make it worth the read. So I would recommend trying it, just be warned you may end up a little frustrated.

Link to author website

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

2016 Book #116 – Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick

51qlhx3infl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: Til Death Do Us Part
Author: Amanda Quick
Date finished: 12/8/16
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Pages in book: 342
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE:I received this book for free from BookBrowse 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:

Calista Langley operates an exclusive “introduction” agency in Victorian London, catering to respectable ladies and gentlemen who find themselves alone in the world. But now, a dangerously obsessed individual has begun sending her trinkets and gifts suitable only for those in deepest mourning—a black mirror, a funeral wreath, a ring set with black jet stone. Each is engraved with her initials.
Desperate for help and fearing that the police will be of no assistance, Calista turns to Trent Hastings, a reclusive author of popular crime novels. Believing that Calista may be taking advantage of his lonely sister, who has become one of her clients, Trent doesn’t trust her. Scarred by his past, he’s learned to keep his emotions at bay, even as an instant attraction threatens his resolve.
But as Trent and Calista comb through files of rejected clients in hopes of identifying her tormentor, it becomes clear that the danger may be coming from Calista’s own secret past—and that only her death will satisfy the stalker…

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. I received this book from Book Browse in a giveaway a few months back and I finally got some time to read it. This book tells the story of Calista Langley and Trent Hastings. Calista runs an “introduction agency” out of her house, creating a safe environment for people of the gentry to meet new people and learn about new things at the same time. It’s kind of like a modern day singles mixer. And this is how Calista ends up meeting Trent, who comes in to try and prevent his sister from being scammed by a fortune hunter at home of Calista’s singles events. Trent is a well known local author. His Clive Stone detective series has been immensely popular. And when someone begins focusing on Calista in a very deadly way, Trent must pull on all his research and do everything in his power to help protect her.
Overall I liked this book. I enjoy Jayne Ann Krentz books and all her other pen names. This book was fairly predictable for an Amanda Quick novel, it follows a pretty similar story line: independent woman comes under some kind of threat and a stoic and seemingly tamed beastly man comes along to save her. It’s a good story line formula and this book was no exception. The plot was interesting and set at a good pace so the reader doesn’t get bored at any points. Calista is fierce and independent, exactly as I’d expect. The cast of characters were all endearing and the villain was not someone I would have expected, which made it quite a good suspense. Overall I enjoyed this book and I would say if you’ve liked other Quick novels to give this one a read.

The bottom line: I liked this book, it had an interesting story line and was a good read. It was pretty standard plot line for this author, I would recommend if you’d read and enjoyed other Amanda Quick novels.

Link to author website

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