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My thoughts on what I've been reading!

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Book Review: Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar-4 Stars

Having never read anything by Stephen King I was a little worried that this might be too scary or gory, but it’s not! It’s just a little spooky and thrillery.

Gwendy’s Button Box is a short story about a young girl named Gwendy, who, right before school starts, decides she is fed up with fat jokes and wants to get healthy, so she runs the suicide stairs up Castle Rock daily. One day, a man in a black hat invites her to sit and talk with him. Mr. Farris claims Gwendy is the perfect recipient for a button box he has. The box has various colored buttons that correspond with all of the continents, as well as levers, a black button, and a red button. The red button is the only one Gwendy can push multiple times and wish for whatever she desires. The levers dispense a tiny, intricately detailed animal shaped chocolates and Morgan dollars of very high value.

Gwendy notices her life slowly begin to change for the better after acquiring the box. But at what cost? Just how magical and powerful is this box?

For a short story I was still pretty thrilled and entertained. I found myself thinking WTF multiple times but I found the ending lacking and abrupt. Overall, still a pretty decent mind boggling read.

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Book Review: So Pretty it Hurts by Kate White-4 Stars

It’s been years since I’ve read a Bailey Weggins mystery and I was dying to get back to them! It’s just a fun mystery/suspense series with a kick-A heroine. Bailey covers true crime stories for a celebrity magazine called “Buzz” and she’s always in the midst of investigations, doing sleuthing on her own and trying to find the killer before the police do. In some novels that works for the main characters and in others it doesn’t, as the MC is an idiot who inevitably gets themselves in dangerous situations with no way out. Fortunately in Bailey’s case, it works. She’s pretty intelligent and is able to stay calm in scary situations and use her brain to come up with ways of getting back to safety.

In this novel, Bailey has joined her friend and coworker Jessie on a weekend retreat at the country home of Scott, a record producer. It’s a weekend full of being catered to by an in-house cook, massages, and guided hikes, and surrounded by pencil thin models and drug-addled musicians. When one of the models ends up dead over the weekend, Bailey is certain it’s murder, and not just a case of drug or anorexia induced illness. It becomes more apparent that Bailey’s hunch is correct because someone is trying desperately to throw her off course and get her to stop fishing around.
With the feel of a juicy tabloid, this mystery is an enjoyable, suspenseful ride!

Book Review: I Found You by Lisa Jewell-3.5 Stars

Three different stories: Alice, a single mum with three kids and three dogs, has a habit of taking in strangers to stay at her cottage. When she sees a handsome man looking lost on the beach, obviously she invites him in. He has no memory of who he is, he has no money, heck, he doesn’t even remember that you’re supposed to slice a bagel before putting it in the toaster….what?! He’s in a fugue state apparently, brought on by some traumatic event. Lily, a young Ukrainian woman is recently married to Carl, who doesn’t return home from work one evening. The final story takes place in 1993 with the Ross family on vacation, mum, dad, and teens Gray and Kirsty.  A local boy, Mark, takes an interest in young Kirsty, but he gives Gray bad vibes…

This story just fell flat for me. The reason for the 3.5 rating is the fact that I enjoyed the ending and how the stories and characters ended up being connected, it was actually pretty crazy! Otherwise it was slow moving and unbelievable. Alice has sex with “Frank” (lost memory man) without having a gosh dern clue who he is, if he’s married, she knows nothing about him! And I get the fact of losing memories like who you are, where you’re from, but to forget certain words or how to make a bagel, seriously? I wouldn’t really classify this as suspense or thriller like Goodreads has, but simply a mystery. There was a pretty scary and thrillery scene that had me on edge but that’s about it.

I received an ARC via NetGalley.

 

Book Review: The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green-3 Stars

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The Mark of the King is set in France and New Orleans during the 1720’s. Midwife Julianne Chevalier has been branded a criminal- a murderer to be specific, after losing a patient directly after she had given birth. Set out on a ship for Louisiana with other criminals, they are forced to marry and settle in the colony for the good of France. Treated like scum in a new place with little provisions, Julianne wonders how she will survive but she’s hopeful as her brother, a soldier, was last known to be in Louisiana.

While the premise of this story was great-historical, romance, intrigue, I was let down. Julianne’s character was reckless and irritating. Set during the First French-Chickasaw War before the French and Indian War broke out, this novel was obviously laden with graphic war imagery. Scalping, killing with tomahawks, an almost rape, floggings against women…it was almost too much to bear as I dislike reading such graphic violence! I did like the latter part of the novel and enjoyed the romance that eventually blossomed between Julianne and another character. This is an inspirational novel with Christian undertones yet it is not preachy, it’s a novel of how hope and grace can come from the darkest of times.

Thank you to Baker Publishing Group for this complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Roseblood by A.G. Howard-4 Stars

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From the author of one of my favorite series, Splintered, comes a dark and twisty spin on The Phantom of the Opera. Rune Germain lost her father at a young age. She has memories of him playing arias on his violin and she singing along, having never learnt the song, perfectly and beautifully. When she’s caught drunk and sends a boy to the hospital in a coma, music begins to imprison her. She can’t keep the melodies inside, but after releasing them, she is plagued with sickness or pain. Her mom doesn’t believe in the superstitions and auras Rune and her dad, as well as his family, believed in, which creates tension between the two of them. When Rune’s aunt offers to pay  her way at a prestigious opera arts academy, Roseblood, Rune’s mom hope it will help her get over her “stage fright.” Rune has become obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera rumors that are linked to the school. Soon, Rune is hearing whispers and violin melodies through the vent in her room. Could it be the elusive Phantom, THE Phantom? Could this be the key to helping Rune work through the pain that singing causes her?
Full of mystery and intrigue, as well as family secrets, Roseblood is a beautifully descriptive fantasy novel complete with some steamy romance as well as elements of darkness and evil. Highly recommend! This book is a standalone and I felt the story ended perfectly without any cliffhangers, although I wouldn’t say no to a continuation of the story! 4 stars to the fact I felt it was slow starting off.

Thank you to Netgalley and Amulet books for this review copy! All opinions are my own. Roseblood releases January 10, 2017!

Book Review: Srsly Hamlet by Courtney Carbone (and William Shakespeare)-4 stars

As a self proclaimed “Shakespeare Purist,” when I first saw this online I thought it was blasphemous! Making a mockery of Hamlet?! But it is hilarious! “Srsly Hamlet” is the tragedy of Hamlet told in text message format with emojis and modern day acronyms! If you love Shakespeare and also constantly talk in emojis, you need to read this. I think it will be especially great for teens in school, after they’ve read the original play, to read this as a follow up. I love how emotions were conveyed with specific emojis! I knocked off one star because no mention was made to poor Yorick in the cemetery scene. Overall, a really funny and up-to-date take on Hamlet.

Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty- 5 Stars

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Review to Serafina and the Black Cloak here.

Robert Beatty is back and even better with the sequel to Serafina and the Black Cloak. Serafina and Braeden, along with their animal friends defeated the man in the black cloak, thinking that all would go back to normal after his death. But the second book brings more trouble. Animals are fleeing the forest, and a detective, Mr. Grantham, arrives, who is looking in to Mr. Thorne’s (the man in the black cloak) murder. Book two also introduces another new character from England, Lady Rowena, who quickly makes friends with Braeden.

This book is ten times scarier than the first book! It was full of non-stop action, suspense, plot twists, thrills, and mystery. Serafina is a brave heroine who isn’t afraid to fight for what she believes is right. She desperately wants to shift into her catamount form but hasn’t succeeded. While struggling with her sense of belonging, she learns many lessons and proves to be a great role model for young readers. Strange, magical, unexplainable things are happening at Biltmore  and Serafina is the only one who truly understands what is going on, but doesn’t know how to stop the evil.

The author creates such an amazing, magical world at Biltmore, complete with characters so real, you find yourself experiencing their same emotions. You’ll find yourself cringing in fear, crying, and pumping your fist in the air over successes. I can’t wait for the next book!

* I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review!*

A Proper Tea: An English Collection of Recipes

 

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A Proper Tea is a beautifully illustrated collection of recipes for tea parties, complete with beverages and food. It also has interesting history of tea, tea sets/dishes, and the designers of specific dish collections! descriptions of tea and how to serve them. I especially loved the illustrated story of how the Blue Willow design came to be. Recommend for any lover of tea!

 

Book Review: Broken Crowns (The Internment Chronicles, #3) by Lauren DeStefano-4 Stars

What do you do when both kings love their country, to the point of taking drastic measures such as MURDER to keep their home the way it’s always been? “Broken Crowns” picks up where “Burning Kingdoms” left off- Morgan and her friends who escaped to the ground are realizing the horrors of two combating kingdoms and everyone is trying to plan how to remedy the situation. I really didn’t care for the second book, and I didn’t think I would ever finish this one-it was SO slow moving but the turning point happened when Basil and Morgan finally  make it back to Interment from the ground and find Celeste…(no spoilers!) I thought Celeste’s plan to unite the two kingdoms was very brave and seemed exactly the kind of decision she would make!

The character’s were very well thought out, as they have been from book one. No one is boring or flat, and every character offers something to the point of the novel, they aren’t just fillers. Pen was my least favorite character in book two, but I absolutely loved her in “Broken Crowns.” She is brilliant, stubborn, loyal, and thinks for herself. While on the ground, Pen calculates that Internment is sinking slightly each time the jet from Havalais travels back and forth, which could eventually cause serious problems for Internment. My favorite quote in the book came from her: ” A girl should never stop thinking…otherwise we’ll become what our world thinks of us….dull, simple creatures that must belong to someone lest we hurt ourselves” (p. 224)

Although it took me some time to get really in to it, “Broken Crowns” is full of shockers and twists you don’t see coming. DeStefano created such imaginative worlds with impressive characters that really draw you in to the story. I felt it was the perfect wrap up to this trilogy.

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