Review: Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

36388243__SY475_Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

Published on June 5th, 2018 by Ballantine

Buy this book at: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Synopsis: If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

Rating: 3 star

Review: I know I rated this book as a three star, but I am conflicted and feel like it’s more of a 3.5 stars. It certainly isn’t a four star book, but it was a bit better than the “okay” that a three star rating implies.

This book was fun. It was a good ride and an interesting story told by a flawed narrator. I love a good flawed narrator. I struggled a lot with this book for about a hundred pages though. The first chapter was irritating to me. It was told in the 1st person and after the fact. Basically the first chapter was “Here’s how things ended up, now I’ll tell you how I got there.” I don’t like this for several reasons.

First, it tells me at minimum one individual who lives to see the end of the book to a certainty. By using a first person narration then I know the narrator is going to see the end of the book. I really don’t like that. It means that for the remainder of the book I can’t become concerned when that character is in danger. It’ll be fine, they have to narrate the rest of the story. This is supposed to be a thriller book about a couple that ends up in a potentially deadly chain of events, but I know that your narrator will be just fine so it lacks an edge to the story.

Second, if I already know how the story ends then why should I care overly much about the journey? Unless the journey is really something amazing, it doesn’t matter too much right?

So those two factors made it hard to me to get invested in the book early on. I didn’t really care about the characters, because I knew how it ended up. And I didn’t really care about the story because I knew how it ended. But then somewhere about a hundred pages in I found myself swept up in the adventure. The next thing you know I’ve read 140 pages in one sitting. It got really fun. The narrator was much more interesting in the back half and the adventure was great.

There were several layers of story that seemed unconnected in the first half that all wove together in the back half. I didn’t know which part interconnected and which didn’t. Some things I guessed, partly because of the first chapter. Other things I didn’t guess.

Overall, this book was a lot of fun and a great use of my weekend but it had some flaws.

Review: Follow Me by Kathleen Barber

49525302Follow Me by Kathleen Barber

Published on February 25th, 2020 by Gallery Books

Buy this book at: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Synopsis: Everyone wants new followers…until they follow you home.

Audrey Miller has an enviable new job at the Smithsonian, a body by reformer Pilates, an apartment door with a broken lock, and hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers to bear witness to it all. Having just moved to Washington, DC, Audrey busies herself impressing her new boss, interacting with her online fan base, and staving off a creepy upstairs neighbor with the help of the only two people she knows in town: an ex-boyfriend she can’t stay away from and a sorority sister with a high-powered job and a mysterious past.

But Audrey’s faulty door may be the least of her security concerns. Unbeknownst to her, her move has brought her within striking distance of someone who’s obsessively followed her social media presence for years—from her first WordPress blog to her most recent Instagram Story. No longer content to simply follow her carefully curated life from a distance, he consults the dark web for advice on how to make Audrey his and his alone. In his quest to win her heart, nothing is off-limits—and nothing is private.

Kathleen Barber’s electrifying new thriller will have you scrambling to cover your webcam and digital footprints.

Rating: 3 star

Review: ***I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Netgalley and Gallery Books!***

Up until the last 30 pages or so, I would have rated this book as a solid four star. I struggled really hard to decide if I could keep it at a four star but I just can’t. That ending was bad. Really bad. The kind of bad that gets worse the longer I think about it. Almost Stephen King, giant spider bad. Okay, I’m being facetious now, it wasn’t giant spider bad.

This was a very compelling book. It starts with an introduction on how the author stumbled onto Reddit threads about installing remote access onto someone’s computer so that you can cyber stalk them without them knowing about it. That’s super creepy. And so this gave the author an idea and away we go. The complexities and problems presented by social media are interesting fodder for the fiction world. It’s unknown enough that you can really delve into the dark part of the human psyche and prey on the terror that lurks there. But it’s commonplace enough that millions of people seem to be okay with sharing every moment of their existence to an online audience that feels like a group of friends, but is in reality a bunch of strangers. It’s an interesting dilemma and this book told it well.

I did not particularly like Audrey, it is my one big complaint apart from the ending. She wasn’t very likeable. She is narcissistic, naive, self absorbed and more than a little bit stupid. The entire book is about her almost never doing her actual job and occasionally posting on Instagram. But most of the time she complains to her friends about her endless list of woes and vehemently denies that she has a stalker problem. She doesn’t come around to the idea that someone is stalking her until she literally catches someone peeping in her window. And even then she dismisses it rather quickly as just a creep, doesn’t bother to call the police, and goes about her day. She was a moron and I hoped (a little bit) that her stalker might end up killing her because she was too stupid to continue living. She proved this to me in the ending, which I will get to in a minute.

The stalker’s narrative is okay. It’s creepy at times but mostly just really pathetic. This guy comes across as so socially awkward that he might vomit on a woman’s shoes if she spoke to him. Once things started ramping up, however, I enjoyed his narrative quite a bit.

Cat, Audrey’s best friend, is quite possibly the most interesting character. She seems like an intelligent woman who doesn’t easily dismiss that Audrey might have a stalker and urges her to protect herself. None of her suggestions are listened to, but she tried. She is horrified when Audrey begins dating a childhood acquaintance of hers, Max, who knows a secret about Cat that she desperately doesn’t want Audrey to know. I got the sense throughout the book that Cat was in love with Audrey. Although that was never confirmed, I still think there’s some validity to the theory. Why else would you put up with someone so woefully stupid and self absorbed? And not just put up with her but idolize her too.

Now we come to the ending. So I am going to make this plain. This is a huge SPOILER. A giant SPOILER. If you do not wish to be SPOILED!!!! then please read no further.

***

***

***

Seriously, really big SPOILER ahead, last warning to jump ship!

***

***

***

So, the ending. They teased me a bit with who the stalker was, but I figured that Max HAD to be a red herring. The author was hitting me over the head with him being a suspect way too hard. And it just simply makes no sense. The idea that he ramped up the stalking to scare Audrey into coming to live with him for protection makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that you then continue to escalate the stalking behavior until she is frightened of you. WTF? You wanted her to be with you, check. You wanted her to live with you, check. You wanted her to be afraid enough to turn to you, check. And then you continue? Why?

Then we have a whole scenario where Audrey gets hurt in a confrontation with Max and Cat comes into the room and believes Audrey is dead. She has a conversation with Max about how he can’t help her and needs to leave, he says that at least he isn’t like Cat. And we get a whole long story about how Cat tried to kill someone at summer camp, and he’ll tell everyone about it if she doesn’t help Audrey. That part wasn’t surprising, the author had been leading us to that for most of the book. But then Cat decides that she needs to kill Max to prevent this. In the process she discovers that Audrey is still alive, and then proceeds to think “Oh no, did she hear us talking about camp? Well, I guess I better kill her.”

Wait, hold on, what? None of this makes sense. All of a sudden two rational people are acting like psychotic killers? Where on earth did any of this come from? And isn’t it a bit too coincidental that the person stalking Audrey for eight years just so happens to know her college best friend, and just so happens to know said best friend’s deep dark secret? Nope. There were so many better options available and this one was terribly executed.

Then we get to my favorite part. Audrey recovers and we flash forward to her moving into a new apartment and having a conversation with the old college boyfriend, Nick. Cat is apparently in prison, rightfully so. Max isn’t in prison, just a restraining order. Despite the fact that he was stalking you for eight years, broke into your friend’s house, got into an angry confrontation with you in which you proceeded to almost die. I don’t know that sounds like an arrest-able offense to me. And here is where Audrey proved to me that she is, in fact, too stupid to live. Behold this exchange with Nick:

“Be fair,” I said softly, “Max isn’t a psychopath. He’s…well, he’s not wired right, that’s for sure, but he’s not a psychopath. It’s not like he was going to hurt me.”

“You don’t know that. Just because he didn’t hurt you doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have.”

“He never would have hurt me.” I said with certainty, “He’s not violent. And he loved me too much.” (Page 284 of the ebook version)

Well, isn’t that just so romantic!! He loves her so much that he almost got you killed. But he’s not violent. Isn’t that so sweet! This is worse than all the romanticizing of domestic violence that was prevalent in Young Adult fiction for a while. He literally stalked you for eight years. He took thousands of pictures of you without your knowledge. He broke into your apartment and watched you sleep (Hey Edward! We see you!). He watched you in your apartment for weeks at a time. He intentionally terrified you so that you would move in with him. He demanded that you continue being with him and terrified you so much that you tried to run out of the house and fell down a flight of stairs. But no, you’re right Audrey, he loves you too much to be violent. She’s one of those people who writes love letters to Charlie Manson because “well he never killed anyone”.

So that’s it. A great book, with so much potential to be amazing and the ending completely ruined it for me.

Review: Blood of the Fae by Tom Mohan

41813744Blood of the Fae by Tom Mohan

Published: November 15, 2018 by BHC Press/Open Window

Buy this book at: Amazon| B&N

Synopsis: Liza McCarthy has never known the love she so desperately craves. The illegitimate child of a broken marriage, the identity of her father and her heritage are a well-kept secret. When she receives a call from a mysterious woman claiming her life is in danger, she manages to flee just before two men break into her home.

She soon finds herself in the tiny midwestern town of Halden’s Mill. There she is taken in by the Finns, a mysterious family who claim to guard the entrance to the fabled land of the faerie.

Liza is slowly drawn into a world of monsters, dark magic and a host of peculiar townsfolk. Now she must rethink everything she’s ever known and seek her destiny before two worlds collide with a force that could mean the end of the human race.

Rating: 3 star

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley!***

This book is proving to be a difficult one to review and decide on an appropriate rating. I finished it over 24 hours ago and am still trying to put my thoughts together. On the whole, it was an alright story. There was absolutely nothing revolutionary about it, but it’s a solid story.

Let’s start with Liza. I did not really like her as a character. I found her to be annoying for the most part. She starts off fine, a bit histrionic but who wouldn’t be freaked out by the things she is discovering about the world? After awhile she seemed far stupider than I felt she should be. The pieces were there but she just refused to put them together and instead continued with her internal narrative that “there’s no way that any of this involves me”. Literally everyone in the book is telling you that it does. Hell, your dreams are telling you that it does! The strange happenings are telling you that it does! EVERYTHING IS SCREAMING AT YOU THAT YOU ARE INVOLVED!! So while there was nothing actually wrong with the character, she grew to be infuriating. And then when we got to the end of the book, it turned out she was pretty useless and unnecessary to the plot. More on that in a minute.

The characterization of the fae was fabulous. I enjoyed seeing a more horrifying aspect of the land of fae instead of the pretty, sparkling faeries that are so common in literature. I can’t say that the book was overly scary, but the horror aspects of it were very well written and interesting.

I can’t say that I can conjure up too much emotion about the other characters since I did not feel that I got to know them at all. They were a flat and lacked qualities that would have made them more relatable and realistic characters. They were fine, but one dimensional. They also seemed to be a bit stupid at times, similar to Liza’s stupid. They acknowledge that everything happening is telling them that the old rules don’t apply. But then they run around screaming, “Oh My God! Why are the old rules not working!?”  Well, duh, you just said why just a few pages ago.

A lot of this book was difficult to read. I found myself reading the same page a few times in order to understand what was going on. I am not entirely sure what made it difficult but I had a very hard time.

On to my last point for this: The ending. Warning!!!! Spoilers:

So, the whole point of the book is that Liza is a fae princess and has to choose between two princes. One prince wants the fae to rule the world and exterminate humans. One prince wants the fae to live in a dimension completely separate from humans and allow the peaceful existence of both. In the end, Liza will choose her prince and that will decide the fate of the world. But then we get to the end and she doesn’t choose! She chooses to stab herself instead in order to not have to make a choice. And somehow this meant that her choice was for peaceful co-existence of humans and fae? I have no idea where that ending came from but I didn’t like it. Making a choice by not making a choice and then somehow that means that everything is fine. So dumb and kind of made me feel the book was pointless in the end.

At the end of the day this book was decently written with passable characters and the fae are good enough to make this book a decent read.

Review: Red Cells by Jeffrey Thomas

red cellsRed Cells by Jeffrey Thomas

Published March 18th, 2014 by DarkFuse

Buy this story at: Amazon

 

Synopsis:

Private detective and mutant shapeshifter Jeremy Stake (hero of the novels Deadstock and Blue War) has fallen on hard times in the far-future city of Punktown. When he is offered an opportunity to masquerade as another man to do his prison sentence for him, Stake agrees, but this is a new type of penitentiary—existing in its own pocket universe.

In this isolated prison, a series of gruesome murders have occurred, and the inmates soon force Stake to investigate. Can Stake catch a killer that might not even be human, without becoming just another victim?

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this story from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you DarkFuse!

A story that is under 100 pages has no excuse to be boring, this one was boring. But it was also not badly written. In fact, I think if the story was given more time and space to develop then it could have been really good. As a short story, however, it felt rushed and hectic.

The character of Stake was an interesting one. He is a mutant who can assume the physical form of another human. He is normally a private investigator but things are tough and he agrees to do a stint in prison for someone else. Naturally chaos follows and gives him a mystery to solve. I liked him as a character, though he was a tiny bit stereotypical for a private investigator type. However, because the story was so short I felt like I didn’t really learn much about him. Since he is the main character in two novels this is not to be expected, but it would have been a nice addition.

The story was also a good one. A prison that is located in pocket universe and something is killing the prisoners. That is very interesting. But unfortunately, the story was told to me almost exclusively instead of showing me. That was annoying. Don’t tell me! For heaven’s sake do a little bit of creative writing and show me.

It was also pretty predictable. As soon as they described the killer to me, I thought….well of course it’s that X thing/person that they told us about. And it was. This could have been done a lot better. I have no doubt that the author can write better than this, I can see the talent there. But this story did not showcase that talent at all.

Review: Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

of monsters and madnessOf Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Expected Publication: September 9th, 2014 by EgmontUSA

Pre-Order this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books a Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author.

Summoned to her father’s home in 1820’s Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father’s assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they’re letting on.

 

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you EgmontUSA!

 

This book left me feeling very lukewarm. And a bit confused. But let me explain….

When I first read the synopsis of this book, I was intrigued. I am a Poe fan, but I wouldn’t call myself a purist. I was promised a “historical retelling of Gothic horror.” I got a lot of gothic, not a lot of horror. And not exactly a retelling of Poe, unless you count random snippets from his works and a story about how he was inspired. I quickly discovered just what kind of retelling we were dealing with…and frankly it would be obvious to anyone with a brain.

The setting of this novel was exactly what I expected. A dark, dank, gothic Philadelphia complete with thunderstorms to set this mood. I loved this way more than I should have. I was all set for a horrific tale of Edgar Allen Poe! That was not exactly what I ended up with.

Annabel was not a bad character, she was just boring. She was infinitely nice and sweet. But that was about all of the substance that she had. She should have been amazing. She had an interest in medicine, she has scars that she is not entirely clear what they are from, she is living in a new country far from home. How did she end up so unbearably dull?

Apart from that, not much happened. And I do mean that literally. There is a serial killer, and we quickly learn who that is. There are murders but there’s really only one or two “graphic” scenes and they really weren’t that good. I got much bigger heebiejeebies from scenes in Unwind or The Madman’s Daughter. This just paled in comparison.

Now for my biggest issue with this book, the ending. Actually I don’t even think I can call it an ending. It was just starting to get exciting! We were approaching the pinnacle of the plot! The climax of the story! And then I was at the last page….I don’t even understand it. What happened to the second half of the story? After the climax there is supposed to be a resolution! I was denied a resolution! Why was I denied a resolution!?

On a side note, kimonos don’t come from Thailand, two seconds on Google told me that. Also  Annabel kept describing her kimono in ways that made me think of a shawl that wrapped around her shoulders, so I am not even sure it was a kimono.

Overall I enjoyed the story, though it was a little dull. And I was set to give it four stars, but then the ending happened and I just can’t forgive that. Still enjoyable but the ending left me feeling cold.

Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

allegiant Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Published October 22nd, 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books

Buy this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books a Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

SPOILER WARNING!!

I am not entirely sure what to think about this book. I didn’t dislike it but I didn’t think it was great either, it was……decent. That’s the best description I’ve come up with for how I feel about this book.

I was rather dismayed at the dual narration for a few reasons. First because both Tris and Tobias’ voices were nearly indistinguishable. A few times I found myself going back to the beginning of a chapter to figure out who was talking because I honestly couldn’t remember. That annoyed me because I’ve never thought their voices were so similar before, it seems like the author stopped trying to make them different. Second, because I knew what the dual narration meant for the larger story. Tris was the main narrator and replacing part of her story could only mean that she didn’t see the end of the story.

Most of the plot points were done fairly decently. But I didn’t really like the whole idea of striving for genetically pure people. i got sooooo many shades of the civil rights movement there. And it just seemed kind of dumb, an entire society that is supposedly so much more advanced than ours coming to the erroneous decision that our genetics create our personality and actions. Um, I took high school biology (at a public school!) and I know better than that, but these super scientists of the future who can create serums to wipe your memories or make your fears a reality couldn’t figure that one out? I didn’t buy that and it annoyed me.

I really did feel like we saw a lot of character development in this book, and I loved that part. I felt like both the plot and the characters completely stalled in Insurgent so I was pleased to see them get back on track.

The world building was alright, but still lacking a bit for my tastes. I felt like the world outside the city was much too similar to the world inside the city, so what was the point of any of it?

The bad guy was about par for the course. Not as great as Jeanine or Evelyn but a worthy adversary. Although I felt like the larger enemy was the world at large, which is too big of a target for a single book.

The biggest point that I questioned in this book was the ending. Making the choice between two bad options and I am not sure they picked the right one. Who made them the decision makers? Why did they get to choose who to save and who to sacrifice? That didn’t make it right. There were so many other options for how to fix things and none of them were even considered. I don’t really understand why that decision was made either.

I was not thrilled with this conclusion to the series, but it was okay. I enjoyed it, I shed a few tears, and I didn’t feel like I wasted my time. At the end of the day that is a pretty good way to say goodbye to this series. If it was my story I would have done it differently, but it’s not so I must just say that it satisfied me.

 

Defy by Sara B Larson

defy Defy by Sara B. Larson

Published January 7th, 2014 by Scholastic Press

Buy this book at: Books a Million / Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Scholastic!

Where oh where did this story go wrong? It had everything that a good story should. Wars being waged, girls being kickass soldiers, sorcerers, loyalty, honor, revenge, and betrayal! And it started off so well, I just don’t understand what happened in the middle.

So let’s start at the beginning. I liked Alexa, she was interesting and brave. I liked everything I saw from her. Okay fine, so she tended to blush and quaver when an attractive male was around. But since that would most likely just make her fellow soldiers think she was gay…well, no big deal in the end I guess. But she was smart and brave and loyal to a fault. The story was also very interesting in the beginning to. The prince was clearly up to something but I had no idea what. I had suspicions but I wasn’t sure exactly where it would go.

Now let’s skip to the end. I also really liked the end….mostly.The part where Alexa has to convince the king to allow her near him during the battle, it was a good bit. And then the actual battle was excellently written and I enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t even mind the ending too much, though it fell short after the excellence of the battle scene.

Here is where I hated this book, the entire middle. Alexa was supposed to be this big kick ass fighter and she was…at times. And then as soon as the prince gave her the side eye she got all wussy and pathetic! In that moment she became every pathetic, cliched YA heroine ever. She cried, she quavered, she had a heart that flip flopped around in her chest. I was flummoxed! What happened to the Alexa from the beginning of the book? Where on earth did she go?! She didn’t return until the very end and even then she started slipping back into it a little bit. Her character became an utter disaster.

My other big problem and the biggest reason behind just 3 stars was the constant use of rape as a plot measure. They have breeding houses, aka rape houses, and yes that’s exactly like it sounds. Apparently girls captured in war are repeatedly raped so breed new soldiers. Okay, here the huge logic fail here. The war has only been going on for just longer than 17 years…so maybe 20 years. How exactly are these babies helping the army? You could only have had maybe one generation, how the hell does that even work?! And then the king has a son conceived in rape, and that one served no purpose either. I will not accept author’s using rape just as a device to say “hey look, he’s a bad guy!”. It’s lazy and it’s disgusting.

I was disappointed because this book had so much potential. Some of it was realized and some was not.

 

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

mrs poe Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

Expected publication October 1st, 2013 by Gallery Books

Pre-order this book at: Books A Million / Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.

It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.

She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.

As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late…

Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

This book was an interesting read for me but not entirely what I expected. I expected to find a forbidden love story complicated by a manipulative and conniving wife. What I got was a whole lot of social repartee of the wealthy and elite of early 1900’s New York with a kind of love story and suspicions about the wife that weren’t very well proven with facts. That disappointed me but the story was still ultimately entertaining.

Frances was the main character, despite the title suggesting that Mrs. Poe plays the main role. I felt a lot of sympathy for Frances. Her husband has left her and their children destitute to philander his way across the country, forcing her to try and sell her poetry and live with a family friend. Her first connection to Edgar Poe is round about, she is told that her flowery love poems are not in style since Mr. Poe’s Raven poem but that if she manages to write something more “shivery” to come back and they’ll buy it. After that she begins something of an obsession to be his better until she meets him at a social gathering and….well, I’m not sure exactly when or why she fell in love with him but she does at some point.

Here’s my main problem with the love story in this, it is almost non-existent until the very end of the book. There were a few flirtations here and there and suddenly they’re proclaiming how much they love each other and can’t live without one another. It was strange and I didn’t completely buy into it.

I also didn’t buy into the fact that Mrs. Poe was as manipulative and conniving as Frances would have had me believe. Again, for most of the book NOTHING shady happened at all. As far as I could see Mrs. Poe was only rightly betrayed and jealous that she was so ill and some other woman is making a move on her husband. I have a feeling I’d be a little cold and pissed off too! I just couldn’t ascribe these negative intentions to her no matter how hard I tried.

The ending was interesting and not what I expected but ultimately was something of a let down too. I was hoping that either there would be dire consequences for their actions or their lives would somehow be better for having had their elicit romance. But there were no consequences at all and still their lives sucked about the same as they had before. I tried really hard to love this book because I liked the main character and it was well written and put together. But by the end I was apathetic about it, which disappointed me.

The Farm by Emily McKay

the farmThe Farm by Emily McKay

Published December 4th, 2012 by Berkley Trade

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Books A Million / Amazon / B&N

Synopsis:

Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race…

Rating: 3 star

Review:

I’m not so sure what happened with this book. The premise is great, the characters are great, I’d heard such great things, but it just didn’t do much for me. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was my mood. I honestly don’t know. By the end of this book I didn’t feel passionately about it in either a good or bad way. Let’s talk about the things I can actually say I did or didn’t like.

Lily was a good character. There have been far too many shrinking violet women in YA books lately. I appreciated that Lily was fairly kick ass and willing to do whatever it took to protect Mel, her autistic sister. I also really loved the brief glimpses we get from Mel’s POV. On the negative side, it was precisely Mel’s POV chapters that allowed me to easily guess one of the “big reveals”. So in the end it was a double edged sword. Conner got on my nerves in the beginning but slowly he grew on me.  By the end I had a teensy crush on him, he’s adorable!

I really liked that we had two different kinds of vampires. On the one hand you have the Ticks, which were everything that vampires have been missing for a long time. They are monsters and I loved them. Then you have the more refined vampires that have retained their humanity…a little. Still monsters and still awesome.

I even really liked the plot, although at times it seemed a bit simplistic to me. The plan was this, escape the farm, run to Canada, hope that Canada is any safer than the U.S.  Hmm, doesn’t sound very brilliant to me. I didn’t mind it as long as what happened on the way to that plan was good and most of it was. But here’s where it fell off the rails for me, the “big reveals.” Big reveal one was not even a reveal since I had suspected as much for most of the book. Big reveal two actually surprised me but I am not sure what it actually has to do with anything about the larger plot. The second big reveal seemed to shoot the larger plot in the foot honestly.

Right now I am unsure if I’ll read the next book. I am leaning toward yes I will read it to see if the plot can recover from the nuke the author threw in it at the end of this one.

Parasite by Mira Grant

parasite Parasite by Mira Grant

Expected publication October 29th, 2013 by Orbit

Preorder this book at: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository / Books A Million

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author and Orbit!

 

Synopsis:

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system – even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives…and will do anything to get them.

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

I am not sure where this book went wrong for me but I went into it with high expectations. I am a fan of Mira Grant, I find her to be a very good writer and I have enjoyed what I’ve read from her in the past. And I started off enjoying this too, but somewhere along the line it just lost its appeal and I ended up bored.

The idea behind this book is a good one although I have to admit I was skeptical about the idea that science had engineered tapeworms to treat our medical ills. These things can secrete medication, adjust metabolism, mend some injuries, and a whole host of other things. But I have a hard time believing that just in a decade from now 99% of society will be totally cool with intentionally ingesting a parasite. I didn’t really buy that but then I had to remind myself that there are people out there who buy tapeworms off the internet to lose weight so maybe it’s more possible than this wouldn’t be as hard of a sell as I believe.

The main character was interesting but she got a bit old after awhile. I liked Sal ultimately. She was in a horrible accident that left her clinically brain dead and on life support. Her family was about to end life support when she woke up against all medical odds. The company that manufactures these tapeworms suspect that her “implant” played a role in her recovery and so offer to pay all her expenses in exchange for studying how that is possible.  Unfortunately this is when I began to suspect that I knew what was going on, I looked at the synopsis and looked at Sal and thought “I hope I’m wrong about this!”

The story moved a bit slower than I would have liked but the information was interesting so I didn’t get bored. We met some new characters that I liked and I enjoyed the people we met at first. I hated Sal’s family. They were bossy, secretive and pains in the ass. More than once I found myself cringing when they said something to Sal and I thought, how could you SAY that to your daughter! I didn’t like the people at SymboGen because they were just all creepy and narcissistic. The secretive people that are determined to give Sal answers weren’t much better since they were clearly using her for their own means. By the end the only characters I liked were Sal, her boyfriend, and Tansy.

The big reveals were equally great and disappointing. The first big reveal floored me. I didn’t see it coming a mile away and I felt as betrayed as Sal did. But I recovered quickly since technically we didn’t know the character all that terribly well. But the second big reveal was awful. Remember that moment in the very beginning when I thought “I hope I’m wrong”? Yeah, I wasn’t wrong. It shouldn’t be that blatantly obvious.

At the end of the day I enjoyed it but the ending took away from my enjoyment a little bit. I am interested enough in the second book that I will definitely read it but once again I suspect I know what the plot is going to be and I pray, please let me be wrong!