Take My Money! Sunday

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

Expected publication: March 23, 2021 by Minotaur Books

Goodreads

Synopsis: Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

But there will be no turning back.

Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:

They are not alone.

They’re looking for the truth…
But what if it finds them first?

Why I’m Excited: This sounds so creepy! It reminds me of Silent Hill with regard to the plot. I saw this pop up on my radar and it piqued my interest immediately.

The Factory Witches of Lowell by C.S. Malerich

Expected publication: November 10, 2020 by Tor

Goodreads

Synopsis: Faced with abominable working conditions, unsympathetic owners, and hard-hearted managers, the mill girls of Lowell have had enough. They’re going on strike, and they have a secret weapon on their side: a little witchcraft to ensure that no one leaves the picket line.

For the young women of Lowell, Massachusetts, freedom means fair wages for fair work, decent room and board, and a chance to escape the cotton mills before lint stops up their lungs. When the Boston owners decide to raise the workers’ rent, the girls go on strike. Their ringleader is Judith Whittier, a newcomer to Lowell but not to class warfare. Judith has already seen one strike fold and she doesn’t intend to see it again. Fortunately Hannah, her best friend in the boardinghouse—and maybe first love?—has a gift for the dying art of witchcraft.

Why I’m Excited: This sounds like such a great combination, I cannot wait to read it. Women fighting for their right to a fair workplace and strike organizers desperate enough to use a little magical force to make that happen. It sounds like a combination of plots that will ensure a really fun ride.

Reading Progress Updates

I have a lot of in progress reading going on, so thought I would put out some of my thoughts.

Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor

Goodreads

Progress: Page 46 of 310

Synopsis: 1878- The Lyceum Theatre, London. Three extraordinary people begin their life together, a life that will be full of drama, transformation, passionate and painful devotion to art and to one another. Henry Irving, the Chief, is the volcanic leading man and impresario; Ellen Terry is the most lauded and desired actress of her generation, outspoken and generous of heart; and ever following along behind them in the shadows is the unremarkable theatre manager, Bram Stoker. Fresh from life in Dublin as a clerk, Bram may seem the least colourful of the trio but he is wrestling with dark demons in a new city, in a new marriage, and with his own literary aspirations. As he walks the London streets at night, streets haunted by the Ripper and the gossip which swirls around his friend Oscar Wilde, he finds new inspiration. But the Chief is determined that nothing will get in the way of his manager?s devotion to the Lyceum and to himself. And both men are enchanted by the beauty and boldness of the elusive Ellen. This exceptional novel explores the complexities of love that stands dangerously outside social convention, the restlessness of creativity, and the experiences that led to Dracula, the most iconic supernatural tale of all time.

Thoughts so far: It took me awhile to get on board with this story. I didn’t really enjoy the writing style and had a hard time figuring out what I was being told. But once I got past that I am quite enjoying the look at a young Bram Stoker.

Pride’s Children: Purgatory by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

Goodreads

Progress: Page 52 of 490

Synopsis: WHAT YOU DO WITH AN OBSESSION COUNTS

“I, KARENNA ELIZABETH Ashe, being of sound mind, do… But that’s it, isn’t it? Being here proves I am not of sound mind…

So begins Book 1 of the Pride’s Children trilogy: Kary immediately regrets the misplaced sense of noblesse oblige which compels her to appear, live on national television—at exorbitant personal cost.

What she cannot anticipate is an entanglement with Hollywood that may destroy her carefully-constructed solitudinarian life.

A contemporary mainstream love story, in the epic tradition of Jane Eyre, and Dorothy L. Sayers’ four-novel bond between Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, Pride’s Children starts with a very public chance encounter, and will eventually stretch over three separate continents.

Thoughts so far: This was another one that the writing style took me a little while to jump into to and I was a bit concerned that maybe the story just wasn’t for me. It didn’t take long though for me to catch up and really start to enjoy myself. I adore Andrew. He is quirky, funny, smarmy and just so much fun.

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Goodreads

Progress: Page 78 of 340 pages

Synopsis: Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

The can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

Thoughts so far: This story seems strange to me so far. A double suicide, an abandoned baby, missing house residents and then suddenly it all comes together for an inheritance at the house where it all went down. It’s been okay so far, but nothing is blowing my socks off yet.

Review: The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

Published: December 30, 2019 by Graydon House

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: Imagine that your husband has two other wives. You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, and because of this unconventional arrangement, you can see your husband only one day a week. But you love him so much you don’t care. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself.

But one day, while you’re doing laundry, you find a scrap of paper in his pocket—an appointment reminder for a woman named Hannah, and you just know it’s another of the wives.

You thought you were fine with your arrangement, but you can’t help yourself: you track her down, and, under false pretenses, you strike up a friendship. Hannah has no idea who you really are. Then, Hannah starts showing up to your coffee dates with telltale bruises, and you realize she’s being abused by her husband. Who, of course, is also your husband. But you’ve never known him to be violent, ever.

Who exactly is your husband, and how far would you go to find the truth? Would you risk your own life?

And who is his mysterious third wife? 

Review: I really loved this book at first. I thought it was stupid that the “Thursday” wife’s name was actually Thursday but after a short laugh at the idiocy of it I moved on and had a good time. The plot was engaging. I enjoyed unraveling the mystery.

Thursday was an alright character. A bit naive and jealous but she told us a very concise and interesting story. I liked hearing about her marriage as she scrapped together details of the other wives. Seth was rather useless though. Since we’re seeing him through either the rose-colored glasses on Thursday in the beginning or the “OMG he’s evil!” glasses of later in the book. As a result I never got a good read on who his character actually was supposed to be. He could have been a cardboard cutout with “Husband” written on it and it would have made no difference.

WARNING: Spoiler alert for the ending!!

What brought me down on this book was the ending. Again. Once again we ended up with an unreliable narrator. Thursday is crazy and making it all up. Well, she is crazy but they were also setting her up. It was very convoluted. To be frank, I am sick and tired of endings that go “Ha, see, they are mentally ill and not telling you the truth dear reader, or are they…” It’s cheap, it’s boring and I am really weary of reading it. It cheapens mental illness and it’s become nothing more than a thriller trope.

Just once, can I get a thriller where the character actually uncovers the truth about what’s going on? Couldn’t we have actually had two other wives? The ultimate twist still would have worked! Pointless. Annoying.

New Releases Wednesday

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

Published: August 4, 2020 (ebook and audiobook)

Goodreads

Synopsis: When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, an adoring husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous, wealthy, and cherished by those who knew her—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, and maybe even themselves.

A gripping, immersive novel about impossible expectations and secrets that fester and become lethal, Imperfect Women unfolds through the perspectives of three fascinating women. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the reader must untangle to answer the question Who killed Nancy?

Imperfect Women explores guilt and retribution, love and betrayal, and the compromises we make that alter our lives irrevocably. With the wickedly sharp insights and finely tuned suspense that has drawn comparisons to Patricia Highsmith and Paula Hawkins, Araminta Hall returns with another page-turning, thought-provoking tour de force.

My Thoughts: This sounds like a wonderful story about a group of women who are entwined in a story of the past and grief. What happens when the friend you thought you knew turns out to be much more mysterious?

Bronte’s Mistress by Finola Austin

Published: August 4, 2020 by Atria Books

Goodreads

Synopsis: Yorkshire, 1843: Lydia Robinson—mistress of Thorp Green Hall—has lost her precious young daughter and her mother within the same year. She returns to her bleak home, grief-stricken and unmoored. With her teenage daughters rebelling, her testy mother-in-law scrutinizing her every move, and her marriage grown cold, Lydia is restless and yearning for something more.

All of that changes with the arrival of her son’s tutor, Branwell Brontë, brother of her daughters’ governess, Miss Anne Brontë and those other writerly sisters, Charlotte and Emily. Branwell has his own demons to contend with—including living up to the ideals of his intelligent family—but his presence is a breath of fresh air for Lydia. Handsome, passionate, and uninhibited by social conventions, he’s also twenty-five to her forty-three. A love of poetry, music, and theatre bring mistress and tutor together, and Branwell’s colorful tales of his sisters’ elaborate play-acting and made-up worlds form the backdrop for seduction.

But Lydia’s new taste of passion comes with consequences. As Branwell’s inner turmoil rises to the surface, his behavior grows erratic and dangerous, and whispers of their passionate relationship spout from her servants’ lips, reaching all three protective Brontë sisters. Soon, it falls on Lydia to save not just her reputation, but her way of life, before those clever girls reveal all her secrets in their novels. Unfortunately, she might be too late.

Meticulously researched and deliciously told, Brontë’s Mistress is a captivating reimagining of the scandalous affair that has divided Brontë enthusiasts for generations and an illuminating portrait of a courageous, sharp-witted woman who fights to emerge with her dignity intact.

My Thoughts: I really adore historical fiction. This sounds romantic and scandalous all at the same time. I would love to see the Bronte sisters handle a family scandal.

Review: Stranger Planet by Nathan W. Pyle

Stranger Planet by Nathan W. Pyle

Published: June 16, 2020 by Morrow Gift

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: In this eagerly awaited sequel, Nathan takes us back to his charming and instantly recognizable planet colored in bright pinks, blues, greens, and purples, providing more escapades, jokes, and p h r a s e s.

Nathan mixes his most popular Instagram comics with more than thirty original works created exclusively for this second volume to explore four major topics: traditions, nature, emotions, and knowledge. He inducts new and longtime fans into a strangely familiar world and its culture, from “cohesion” (marriage) to “mild poison” (alcohol) to the full lyrics to “The Small Eight-Legged Creature” (sung to the tune of The Itsy-Bitsy Spider).

Review: I have been following Nathan Pyle on Facebook for a little over a year now. I have found him to be uproariously funny. So when I saw this book was coming out, I knew I needed to pick it up.

It did not disappoint. It was funny and insightful. I found myself taking pictures of the funnier bits and sending them to my family or friends to get a good laugh too. If you need to lighten the mood these days, this is the book to do it.

Review: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Published: July 17, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis:

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

Review: This is one of those books that as soon as you read the synopsis, you know exactly what book this is. You will have an evil child that is trying to kill her mother. You will have a useless father who lets it go on. And it will end in a violent mess. You know it, I know it and we read to see how depraved it can get.

WARNING: Potential mild spoilers. Nothing directly plot related, but some character descriptions might give you some hints.

This book was a mixture of both good and bad. That narrative was quite engaging. I found that the pages seemed to fly through my fingers and I was very entertained by the story. But, I didn’t actually like anyone in this book and only felt sympathy for Hanna. Suzette was annoying and frankly, I never got the sense that she actually loved Hanna at all. This was confirmed for me at the end, she loved the idea of having a child but when her child ended up troubled then she disconnected entirely. Alex was the most useless excuse for a spouse or father that I’ve ever seen. Not only did he completely cater to his child’s every whim but he blatantly refused to believe from ANYONE that his child was exhibiting troubling behavior. Not his wife, not the school, not the therapist. If my husband blatantly refused to believe me when I commented on our child’s behavior while he was gone, I wouldn’t stick around for long.

I felt really bad for Hanna in the end. Her troubles weren’t her fault. They weren’t even anything she was aware of for the most part. And since she’d spent her entire life being pampered and told how perfect she is then no wonder she indulged her violent whims. I also don’t understand how her parents weren’t more troubled by the fact that she refused to speak at 7 years old? They determined long before then that it wasn’t a medical problem, which leaves a psychological one. Why was this child not seeing a child therapist to deal with the reasons she was choosing not to speak? Why were her parents content to just let her behavior spiral out of control without intervention? It was really frustrating and broke my heart for Hanna.

The ending was not quite the blood bath I had been expecting based on how the novel was proceeding. I also felt like it wasn’t much of a resolution. We leave the characters almost exactly where we started with them. It felt a little bit pointless. I liked the plot and enjoyed myself all the way through but only to be left without any concrete resolution. But maybe that was the point. That this situation is not fixable and eventually there’s the likelihood that the whole cycle will repeat itself. I would definitely read more by this author, even though I wasn’t crazy about this book. I do like the way she writes.

Take My Money! Sunday

Silent Night by Nell Pattison

Expected publication: November 12, 2020 by Avon

Goodreads

Synopsis: What happened while they were sleeping?

A school for the deaf takes an overnight trip to the snowy woods. Five teenagers go to sleep, but only four wake up. Leon is missing, and a teacher’s body is found in the forest…

Sign language interpreter Paige Northwood is brought in to help with interrogations. Everyone at the school has a motive for murder – but they all have an alibi.  

As Paige becomes increasingly involved, she suspects there’s something sinister going on. With the clock ticking to find Leon, only one thing is certain: the killer is among them, and ready to strike again…

Why I’m Excited: Some of you may remember how much I LOVED Nell Pattison’s first book The Silent House. I was so excited to see that this one was coming up because I found her first one super creepy and amazing. I squealed when I saw the synopsis for this one, because it sounds fantastic!! And, I managed to score an ARC!! I am going to be happy dancing from now until I read it.

That one book is all I can managed for you today, because I am just too excited about it!! I promise to curate at least two books next week.

Audiobook Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Published: July 7, 2020 by Flatiron Books

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Review: ***Disclaimer I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for a free review. Thank you NetGalley and MacMillion Young Listeners!***

The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover. It’s very eye catching and striking. Now that I have listened to the audiobook, I can say with certainty that it is the most perfectly descriptive book cover I have ever seen. The serpent twining around a rose is a perfect representation of this plot.

I found the audiobook narrator to be delightful for this book. There are a lot of words and names that are Persian in origin and quite difficult to pronounce, but she did perfectly. Her tone and characterization for Soraya was exactly the way I imagined in my head.

This plot was an interesting mix and was also where it lost a star for me. It started off with a huge bang. Within the first 20% Soraya’s entire world explodes in violent drama. Then the plot really slows down and frankly I didn’t know what the point was for awhile. It started to get a little boring. Then the ending picks back up and the pace races all the way to the end. I loved the story but I felt the middle could have been shorter and the book would have been better off for it.

And in one last fangirl moment, Soraya’s romance was so romantic. I mean, what more could a girl ask for than someone who promises to bring your enemy to you on their knees. Swoon.

Overall I really loved this book and the audiobook does it perfect justice. I highly recommend it.

Audiobook Review: Broken People by Sam Lansky

Broken People by Sam Lansky

Published: June 9, 2020 by Hanover Square Press

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: A groundbreaking, incandescent debut novel about coming to grips with the past and ourselves, for fans of Sally Rooney, Hanya Yanagihara and Garth Greenwell

“He fixes everything that’s wrong with you in three days.”

This is what hooks Sam when he first overhears it at a fancy dinner party in the Hollywood hills: the story of a globe-trotting shaman who claims to perform “open-soul surgery” on emotionally damaged people. For neurotic, depressed Sam, new to Los Angeles after his life in New York imploded, the possibility of total transformation is utterly tantalizing. He’s desperate for something to believe in, and the shaman—who promises ancient rituals, plant medicine and encounters with the divine—seems convincing, enough for Sam to sign up for a weekend under his care.

But are the great spirits the shaman says he’s summoning real at all? Or are the ghosts in Sam’s memory more powerful than any magic?

At turns tender and acid, funny and wise, Broken People is a journey into the nature of truth and fiction—a story of discovering hope amid cynicism, intimacy within chaos and peace in our own skin.

Review: I gave up on this book about halfway through. It was just boring. It wasn’t so awful that I felt I needed to give it one star, and the writing was somewhat competent, but it was really pointless. Another point that hindered this book is that it read like a poorly disguised memoir and the audiobook was voiced by the author. It was monotone and came across as whiny.

The first 20% of this audiobook was about the main character, Sam, whining to his friends. And his friends whining back at him. Seriously, we spent (what felt like) hours hearing his friends drone on and on about their pointless lives. Brand name clothes they bought, disappointing lovers they had, drugs they did recently, bad parties they attended, and on and on. At one point I forgot to put it on pause and walked away for 20 minutes and when I returned had no idea that I’d missed anything because we were STILL WHINING when I got back.

I thought things would pick up once we got to the shaman. That was mildly more interesting until Sam has a conversation with his friend about whether it’s a moral problem to see a white shaman who was using rituals inspired by indigenous people. And his friend replies (not an exact quote but close), “Well yeah, probably, but capitalist worshippers are screwing over everyone anyway so whatever.”

It was just so asinine. Nothing actually happens. Then I realized what happened when I read a few other reviews. Sam wrote a memoir, by all accounts a profound one. He approaches his editor (this is real life Sam, not character Sam) and says he wants to write a memoir. His editor replies, “Sam, buddy, memoir sequels are not really a thing. So that’s a no.” So Sam went home and wrote this memoir and then called it fiction.

In the end this was nothing more than a young white male whining about the endless privileges he enjoys. It was boring. I didn’t want to read an entire book about Sam’s self loathing and woes about being a prep school graduate who would consider a dusty condo in the middle of Manhattan to be slumming.

Review: The Good Stranger by Dete Meserve

The Good Stranger by Dete Meserve

Published: May 19, 2020 by Lake Union Publishing

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: From the bestselling author of Good Sam—now a Netflix feature film—comes another Kate Bradley story about the nature of generosity and finding unexpected connections with strangers.

TV reporter Kate Bradley arrives in Manhattan ready to take on a challenging new position as a national news correspondent. When a massive power outage plunges New York City into darkness, the disaster she expected to cover takes an unexpected turn. Someone is leaving thousands of mysterious gifts throughout the city, and the only clue to the giver’s identity is the occasional note from “A Stranger.”

Together with handsome TV series host Scott Jameson, Kate must make sense of these random generous acts, which quickly escalate in scale and capture the attention of viewers across the country. In early-morning stakeouts and late-night surveillance, they crisscross the city hunting down leads, but the elusive Stranger is always one step ahead.

Menacing letters and videos addressed to Kate threaten to derail the investigation, but she’s determined to uncover the identity of the benefactor. The closer Kate gets to the truth, the more clearly she sees that even the smallest act of generosity can bring about powerful change. And it just may take her own selfless act of kindness to solve the feel-good mystery of the year.

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing!***

I am not sure just what I expected when I got this book to read. Obviously I had heard of the book Good Sam, but I have not read it. Readig the synopsis for both books they seem pretty similar to be honest. In the end I liked this one fine, but it didn’t blow me away.

I had a bit of a problem with just how naive Kate was throughout the book. Granted, she had just moved to New York City and it can take some adjusting to become accustomed to the flavor of a new city. But she had been a crime reporter for years in Los Angeles, surely that should have jaded her a little bit with regard to human nature right? Instead, she is surprised when people in the street largely ignore her. Seemed constantly surprised that the news station seemed more interested with stories on crimes and politics than on people doing nice things for each other. And she steadfastly refused to believe that all the good deeds had some kind of ulterior motive. It didn’t seem very realistic to me, it’s not like she was a sheltered small town girl or something here. Her father is a senator, she was raised around the absolute bottom of the filth pit with regard to humanity, and she used to live in Hollywood…the neighbor of politicians in the bottom of the filth pit. It was kind of annoying.

At a certain point I also felt like the story got repetitive. Good things happen, Kate and Scott try to find a lead to the source of it, they fail, they argue about why the station shouldn’t kill the story, and repeat. I also felt like the vaguely threatening messages Kate kept getting of “Stop looking for these people!” was not needed. It ended up leading her to the people that the individual was trying to warn her to stay away from in the first place. Talk about a fail.

The story was sweet and nice. The romance was sweet and nice. And at the end of the day it was a feel good story and not much more. I’m okay with that.