Audiobook Review: These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin

These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin

Published: September 8, 2020 by RB Media

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

Rating:

Synopsis: Anyone can ask the Red Court for a favor…but every request comes at a cost. And once the deed is done, you’re forever in their debt.

Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members–the most elite female students in the school–deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities a secret known only to their ruthless leader: the Queen of Hearts.

Sixteen-year-old Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Two years ago, they caused the accident that left her older sister paralyzed. Now, Ember is determined to hold them accountable…by taking the Red Court down from the inside.

But crossing enemy lines will mean crossing moral boundaries, too–ones Ember may never be able to come back from. She always knew taking on the Red Court would come at a price, but will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and RB Media!***

I have to confess that I am a sucker for a book about a dark secret society that has a pretty cover. That is exactly the reason why I asked for this audiobook. I was intrigued by the synopsis of a girl who wants to take down the secret mean girls society from the inside. That’s a compelling story! Unfortunately it just wasn’t that good.

Ember started out as an interesting narrator but she lost her shine very quickly. She is supposed to be enacting this giant plot for revenge on behalf of her sister! But most of the time she is worrying and comiserating on the steps she has to take to get there. Surely you thought about these things when you were hatching this plan? No? Why not?

The plot was very cliqued with people asking the Red Court to make them homecoming queen, breaking up a couple, or embarrass someone for stealing a boyfriend. But the logistics are never really fleshed out. What if multiple people are asking to be made homecoming queen? Which one do you choose to help over the others? It’s all about trading in favors and this secret society is largely an unspoken about open secret. None of those things are talked about, which made the story seem trite.

I can’t tell you how this ended, to be entirely honest, because I tuned out. I was so bored with the story that it just became white noise. And then suddenly it was over and I didn’t even hear how it ended.

Review: The Swap by Robyn Harding

The Swap by Robyn Harding

Published: June 23, 2020 by Gallery

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Rating:

Synopsis: Low Morrison is not your average teen. You could blame her hippie parents or her looming height or her dreary, isolated hometown on an island in the Pacific Northwest. But whatever the reason, Low just doesn’t fit in—and neither does Freya, an ethereal beauty and once-famous social media influencer who now owns the local pottery studio.

After signing up for a class, Low quickly falls under Freya’s spell. And Freya, buoyed by Low’s adoration, is compelled to share her darkest secrets and deepest desires. Finally, both feel a sense of belonging…that is, until Jamie walks through the studio door. Desperate for a baby, she and her husband have moved to the island hoping that the healthy environment will result in a pregnancy. Freya and Jamie become fast friends, as do their husbands, leaving Low alone once again.

Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, one night of debauchery that they would put behind them, but instead, it upends their lives. And provides Low the perfect opportunity to unleash her growing resentment.

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

This was the first book I have read by Robyn Harding but it will not be the last. This book was such a deliciously dark guilty pleasure. If you need to have a likeable character in your books then this one might not be the one for you. A LOT of people really hated everyone. I kind of liked Low but I think it was because I empathized with her from my own experiences at that age.

Low is a girl who is searching for something to call her own. She has a polyamorous family, both of her parents have other partners on a regular basis and occasionally on a short term basis. She doesn’t have many friends in school because the other kids look down on her because of her weird family and because she is rather strange herself. She goes by Low because her hippy dippy parents named her Swallow (after the bird) because….well they are idiots. They prove how idiotic they are over and over again. Low finds herself attracted to Freya and she struggles to try and figure out why. Is it a friend thing? A romantic thing? A sex thing? She isn’t sure and wants desperately to just have a friend that is all hers so she can figure that out. I empathized with that coming of age struggle. As a result, she got a lot of leeway from me for some of the terrible thing she did. Yes, she did those things. Yes they were wrong. But she is a dumb kid that got taken advantage of and betrayed by the adults around her.

Freya was just delightfully devious. I could never really get a read on her. Was she evil? Or just rather self absorbed and selfish? It was hard to tell and her character made me feel constantly off balance. She utilizes both Jamie and Low as weapons against each other, ruthlessly pitting them against each other in a competition for her affection.

Jamie took me by surprise. Her character was largely boring. Then suddenly when her friendship with Freya was threatened she exploded into action and it was wonderful! Her husband though was as boring as watching paint dry.

The twists and turns kept me wondering what was going to happen the entire book. But looking back none of the things that happened come out of nowhere. They were the logical journey of the story but I didn’t see it. I could not put this book down. It was delicious.

New Releases Wednesday

A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers

Published: August 18, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: A young woman in Belle Epoque France is cursed to relive a doomed love affair through many lifetimes, as both troubled muse and frustrated artist.

In 1895, sixteen-year-old Juliet LaCompte has a passionate, doomed romance with the married Parisian painter Auguste Marchant. When her mother — a witch — botches a curse on Marchant, she unwittingly binds Juliet to the artist through time, damning her to re-live her affair and die tragically young lifetime after lifetime as the star-crossed lovers reincarnate through history.

Luke Varner, the worldly demon tasked with maintaining this badly crafted curse, has been helplessly in love with his charge, in all her reincarnations, since 19th century France. He’s in love with Nora, a silver screen starlet in 1930s Hollywood. He’s in love with Sandra, a struggling musician in 1970s Los Angeles. And he’s in love with Helen, a magazine exec in present-day DC who has the power to “suggest” others do her bidding.

In this life, Helen starts to recall the curse and her tragic previous lives. But this time, she might have the power to break the cycle…

My Thoughts: So this one is kind of a cheat. It was officially published in February, but it didn’t hit my radar until today when I saw the paperback is being published next week. But I loved it so much I am cheating. This idea sounds intriguing, the cover makes my heart pitter patter. I love the idea of this book!

Fire in the Blood by Perry O’Brien

Published: August 11, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: When Coop—a U.S. Army paratrooper serving in Afghanistan—is called urgently to his Captain’s office, he fears he’s headed for a court martial. Coop has been keeping a terrible secret from his fellow soldiers, and worries he’s been discovered. Instead, his life is devastated in a different way: his wife, Kay, has been killed in a hit-and-run.

Given a brief leave to fly back to New York and attend to Kay’s affairs, Coop is increasingly disturbed by the suspicious circumstances of his wife’s death. He decides to go AWOL, using his military training to uncover the real story behind Kay’s fatal accident. As he circles in on the truth, Coop must distinguish ally from enemy among a cast of players in the Bronx underworld: Albanian heroin smugglers, shady cops, corrupt rehab doctors, and his wife’s family, a powerful clan of financial elites. Navigating this new battlefield, he’ll have to find justice for Kay while also seeking his own redemption.

My Thoughts: This book sounds absolutely heartbreaking. It’s a situation that no deployed soldier probably gives much thought because they are in a warfare mindset, but sometimes accidents happen. I am interested to learn what Coop’s secrets are and if they are connected to the tragic death of his wife.

Audiobook Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Published: May 13, 2014 by Ecco

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

Rating:

Synopsis: Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page. 

Review: WARNING: The best way I can review this book is with a good/bad/ugly comparison, which will almost certainly include major spoilers for this book. Consider yourself warned.

Good: I really love the way Josh Malerman writes. He is very adept at creating suspense. Some parts of this book made me feel like I would crawl out of my skin with the anxiety of the moment. He is a very good writer.

I loved Malorie. She is a strong, kick ass woman. She starts off the book pregnant, scared, and with no idea of how she is going to cope in this new world. But she does. Not perfectly. Sometimes not even competently. But she moves forward all the same, trying to protect herself and her children.

I really loved the uniqueness of this world. I can honestly say that I have never read a book that portrayed the apocalypse this way. An unknown…something, that has a devastating effect on humanity. No one knows why. No one knows how to stop it. No one even knows what it is. It’s a terrifying concept, and I loved it.

Bad: The audiobook narrator was a really bad fit. Every time she did Malorie’s part the narrator made her sound timid and scared. There were undoubtedly moments when that was appropriate. But like I mentioned, Malorie is a tough, kick ass woman. When she stands up in her boat and says “Get away from me!” it is not a trembling, quavering plea. It is a command to GET THE F*** AWAY! In fact, it says it in the text for that line, it is a command, it is angry. So that was really annoying throughout the audiobook.

I didn’t like the villain. It felt really cheap and out of place. I still can’t quite remember why everyone thought he was such a horrible guy originally. The whole plot felt like the author thought he needed a villain apart from the “creatures” so he scrambled to add in this side plot. It wasn’t necessary. It detracted from the overall plot.

Ugly: There were a few things that bugged me the entire way through the book.

Why didn’t Malorie name the children? It was so incredibly weird that she just calls them Boy and Girl. And then says at the end that names are a luxury for safer times. Okay…..that literally makes no sense. Every human calls other humans by a name or nickname to identify them. Even if she called them a cutsie nickname it would have made sense but Boy and Girl? Wtf! It made it impossible for me to relate to them as characters at all.

There were some serious physics problems with how Olympia died. She dies shortly after giving birth to a child. First off, I won’t get into the logic problems of two pregnant women going into labor at exactly the same moment. Or the logic of a whole group of adults leaving the two laboring women all alone in the attic to go argue. But Olympia jumps out a window after giving birth and they mention in graphic detail the umbilical cord getting caught on the window sill and her body being suspended by it. Um, this was very obviously written by a man who has no idea how childbirth works. The purpose of the umbilical cord is to be detach itself from the uterus after birth and then come out. Even if it remains attached if pressure is put on it then it will tear away. There is just no possible way that scene is happening. It was completely bizarre. I had no idea what the point of that scene was except for a gross factor but it was weird.

The “creatures” were also really inconsistent. Most of the time they don’t even seem to be interacting with humans at all. They are simply present and it drives the humans insane. Then, later on, they seem to be physically stalking the humans but only enough to scare them. Then all of a sudden out of nowhere, a creature is trying to forcibly remove someone’s blindfold. This particular scenario never happens again. So, which is it? Are they simply inadvertently having this effect or malevolent? Because they display both traits.

So, in the end I enjoyed the story but it was also pretty deeply flawed. I am interested enough to read the next book and see what happens next.

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 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.

New Releases Wednesday

Dare to Speak by Suzanne Nossel

Published: July 28th, 2020 by Harper Collins

Goodreads

Synopsis: A vital, necessary playbook for navigating and defending free speech today by the CEO of PEN America, Dare To Speak provides a pathway for promoting free expression while also cultivating a more inclusive public culture.

Online trolls and fascist chat groups. Controversies over campus lectures. Cancel culture versus censorship. The daily hazards and debates surrounding free speech dominate headlines and fuel social media storms. In an era where one tweet can launch–or end–your career, and where free speech is often invoked as a principle but rarely understood, learning to maneuver the fast-changing, treacherous landscape of public discourse has never been more urgent.

In Dare To Speak, Suzanne Nossel, a leading voice in support of free expression, delivers a vital, necessary guide to maintaining democratic debate that is open, free-wheeling but at the same time respectful of the rich diversity of backgrounds and opinions in a changing country. Centered on practical principles, Nossel’s primer equips readers with the tools needed to speak one’s mind in today’s diverse, digitized, and highly-divided society without resorting to curbs on free expression.

At a time when free speech is often pitted against other progressive axioms–namely diversity and equality–Dare To Speak presents a clear-eyed argument that the drive to create a more inclusive society need not, and must not, compromise robust protections for free speech. Nossel provides concrete guidance on how to reconcile these two sets of core values within universities, on social media, and in daily life. She advises readers how to:

Use language conscientiously without self-censoring ideas;Defend the right to express unpopular views; And protest without silencing speech.Nossel warns against the increasingly fashionable embrace of expanded government and corporate controls over speech, warning that such strictures can reinforce the marginalization of lesser-heard voices. She argues that creating an open market of ideas demands aggressive steps to remedy exclusion and ensure equal participation.

Replete with insightful arguments, colorful examples, and salient advice, Dare To Speak brings much-needed clarity and guidance to this pressing–and often misunderstood–debate.

My Thoughts: Anyone who knows me in person knows that I am an absolute Libertarian on almost everything, including speech. I am an absolutist when it comes to free speech. In my neighborhood I am that weirdo person advocating for why hate speech should be allowed, why I should be able to have a grenade launcher, legalizing all drugs, and legalizing prostitution too. Yep, that’s me. So I am interested in this “guidebook” to free speech.

The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

Published: July 28, 2020 by St Martin’s Press

Goodreads

Synopsis: Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.

Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.

When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”

Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?

As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her. 

My Thoughts: I know what you’re thinking. “Stefani, it’s another of those lackluster domestic thrillers with a great cover, how many of those have to disappoint before you don’t pick it up!?” I know. Really I do. And you’re right. But I am addicted. I cannot say no.

Review: Catherine House by Elizabeth Thomas

Catherine House by Elizabeth Thomas

Published: May 12, 2020 by Custom House

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

Rating:

Synopsis: A seductive, gothic-infused tale of literary suspense — the debut of a spectacular new voice — about a dangerously curious young undergraduate whose rebelliousness leads her to discover a shocking secret involving an exclusive circle of students . . . and the dark truth beneath her school’s promise of prestige.

You are in the house and the house is in the woods.
You are in the house and the house is in you . . .

Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises its graduates a future of sublime power and prestige, and that they can become anything or anyone they desire.

Among this year’s incoming class is Ines, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, pills, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. The school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves and their place within the formidable black iron gates of Catherine.

For Ines, Catherine is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had, and her serious, timid roommate, Baby, soon becomes an unlikely friend. Yet the House’s strange protocols make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when Baby’s obsessive desire for acceptance ends in tragedy, Ines begins to suspect that the school—in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence—might be hiding a dangerous agenda that is connected to a secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.

Combining the haunting sophistication and dusky, atmospheric style of Sarah Waters with the unsettling isolation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Catherine House is a devious, deliciously steamy, and suspenseful page-turner with shocking twists and sharp edges that is sure to leave readers breathless.

Review: This is another book that I was so torn about that I had no idea how to rate or review it. I found that I really loved the story but I can certainly see its flaws. I have seen five star reviews and one star reviews and frankly I agree with the points of both of them, so that means that I feel a three star rating is probably the most accurate.

Ines was a good narrator for this book, to an extent. Her rebellious nature made her a good conduit to see through some of the mystery shrouding the school. But it also meant that she was erratic as a narrator. Occasionally she would be trying to pry open mysteries and then the rest of the time she was getting blackout drunk and having random sex with people she couldn’t remember in the morning.

I found the school, and the mystery surrounding it, very interesting as well. The staff of the school. The students. And the journey of those students from their first year to their third year. That was all fantastic and drew me into the story.

The ending was okay. I saw it coming a mile off but it was well written and so I didn’t mind too much. But it wasn’t great either. What sold me on it was the last few lines of the book. It threw me for a loop with the possibilities that would never be realized. Had everything gone according to plan? Was the gig up? What was going to happen when that door opened? I’ll never know! That expectation sold me on the ending entirely.

At the end I was left with a book that I thoroughly enjoyed but I recognize all the reasons I should not have liked it. It’s a conundrum. I just can’t deny that I enjoyed it immensely.

Take My Money! Sunday

After a few weeks break, we are back! I had to search a bit through the covers I’ve seen recently for this one. Being sick took me out of the loop for upcoming releases.

A Solitude of Wolverines by Alice Henderson

Expected publication: September 15, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: While studying wolverines on a wildlife sanctuary in Montana, biologist Alex Carter is run off the road and threatened by locals determined to force her off the land.

Undeterred in her mission to help save this threatened species, Alex tracks wolverines on foot and by cameras positioned in remote regions of the preserve. But when she reviews the photos, she discovers disturbing images of an animal of a different kind: a severely injured man seemingly lost and wandering in the wilds.

After searches for the unknown man come up empty, local law enforcement is strangely set on dismissing the case altogether, raising Alex’s suspicions. Then another invasive predator trespasses onto the preserve. The hunter turns out to be another human—and the prey is the wildlife biologist herself. Alex realizes too late that she has seen too much—she’s stumbled onto a far-reaching illegal operation and now has become the biggest threat.

In this wild and dangerous landscape, Alex’s life depends on staying one step ahead—using all she knows about the animal world and what it takes to win the brutal battle for survival.

Why I’m Excited: This is the beginning of a new series, a mystery series that focuses on a wildlife biologist. That idea really interests me. Once upon a time I wanted to be a biologist of some sort when I grew up, so these kinds of stories always capture my attention.

Fable by Adrienne Young

Expected publication: September 1, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

Why I’m Excited: As much as I should say no to young adult fantasies that sound as good as this, I never can. I keep hoping that the period of crappy young adult fiction will be over. Maybe this one will be the one. Because it sounds great! This one is also the first in a new series.

Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Published: June 2, 2020 by William Morrow

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

Rating:

Synopsis: The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

Review: This book was one of my most anticipated of the summer. The synopsis is great, the cover is intriguing, and the narrators for the audiobook were great. In the end, it was okay.

I really enjoyed the lead up to the climax of the story. Everyone had an interesting tale and some secrets to hide. Mostly they were not good secrets. They were pretty mundane except for one person. By the time we got to anything interesting we were already in the midst of the climax of the story. But I didn’t really mind because when you think about life most secrets are horrifying for the person keeping it and mundane for most other people.

It was fairly obvious that the author was going for an Agatha Christie vibe with the ending but unfortunately I think she picked the wrong Christie to emulate. By the time we find out who got killed, who killed them and why it just seemed a bit ridiculous. It was very convoluted and an innocent person ended up going to prison. I didn’t like that and it brought the book down for me. I know precisely the Christie ending that the author should have gone for, but I won’t tell. It would give away too much about the story.