Everything Must Go

EMG

I received this ARC from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

I forgot how hard it is to be 17, white and rich…oh wait I was never two of those things.

Flora Goldwasser is quite possibly one of the least relatable characters I’ve ever encountered.  This is 2017 and for some reason Ms. Davis thought writing about an affluent, ultra-privileged white girl and her struggle for meaning was an excellent idea.

One of my aims here is to certainly tell a story.  But assembling this collection is really about seeing that story happen in just the way it happened, in all its urgency and all its absurdity.

Absurdity is right.  I normally don’t review books I don’t like, choosing instead to relegate them to “not my cup of tea” but this was too much.

Follow Flora as she departs her private all-girls school in New York City for the woo-woo Quaker upstate boarding school with 36 students run by people who espouse “non-violent communication” and disavow “shell speak”.  There is a male of color but he’s in the background and his name is Agnes, his moms are lesbians and one is even a famous gender theorist!  I feel like Ms. Davis made a list of all the relevant issues of our day and attempted to address them all at once in the most bizarre setting.

I’m going to stop now because all I have left are expletives and it’s not worth that.

Zero (0) Stars.

Publication Date: October 3, 2017

 

 

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Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1)

nyxia

I received this book courtesy of Random House & Crown Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.

Emmett is a tough kid with a tough life full of tough breaks.  In the not so distant future the world is full of much of the same: poverty, war and discontent.  When Babel Corporation gives him the opportunity to leave earth and compete for a place on a distant planet, he goes.  He goes for the money, for his family, for a better life.  Emmett is learning about the mysterious substance they are to mine on Eden-Nyxia-while battling nine other kids for his spot on the planet.  The kids come from all over the world but he has to cast notions about their similarities aside and win.

You may think you have nothing in common with each other, but in the expanse of deep space, you will soon discover that your shared humanity is the most precious commodity of all.

Emmett is one of the most most relatable protagonists I’ve come across as of late, maybe ever.  He’s a diamond that has been shaped by constant pressure from birth.  While he wants nothing more than to win, his introspection and awareness of what transpires around him astounded me.

It’s hard to tell the difference between rich and wrong.

All he wants is a better life, he doesn’t want to step on the backs of anyone else to achieve it.  His internal monologue had me hooked almost from the first page.

We still dig and fight and scrape for each point, but there’s something human beneath every mask now.  I know their secrets, and I know their stories.  I know now that I’m not the only one who comes from a broken world and I’m not the only one who’s desperate to fix it.

Pick this one up.  Journey with Emmett and his competition across the universe.  This is a tale of soul searching, hope and friendship.  I would definitely recommend this one to anyone looking for something a bit different.

Fear thunders in my chest.  I’m afraid it won’t work and I’ll blow my one chance.  But I’m also afraid of what might happen if it does work.  I’m afraid of breaking something I don’t know how to fix.

I look forward to the next book.

Not everything is lost or broken.  There’s still hope.

Four stars.

Expected Publication Date: September 12, 2017

The Marriage Pact

the marriage pact

I received this ARC courtesy of Random House Publishing Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they get married and live happily ever after.  That’s the dream, eh?  Jake is a therapist and Alice is his rocker turned corporate lawyer wife.  They have it all, a house in San Francisco, thriving careers and true love.  Enter “The Pact”.  Introduced to them by a rockstar client of Alice’s, it seems like a great program for maintaining the loving and healthy marriage they have as newlyweds.

With The Pact, the best policy is to always do the thing that will attract the least amount of attention.

Cookie cutter people in cookie cutter marriages with zero marital strife.  Sound to good to be true?  It is.

You hold things together every second of every day, then one time, just for an instant, one person loses concentration, lets go of the thread, and the whole thing unravels.

 Their marriage is no longer two people, it’s part of a machine.  A strange, omniscient machine.  As they struggle to fit in, they only stand out more.  After all, when your marriage is governed by a set of laws you don’t fully understand, you’re bound to be punished.

Each one of us becomes so used to the person we think we are.  In our minds, we carry a vision of ourselves, naïvely certain of our own moral boundaries, what we would and would not do.

The walls have eyes, the streets ears.  Will they escape with their marriage in tact?  Their lives?

Four stars.

Expected Publication Date: July 25, 2017

The Waking Land

waking

I received this ARC courtesy of Random House Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

Lady Elanna has been raised a hostage in a foreign land-well treated by the king, educated, castle dwelling-but a hostage just the same.  She cares for botany, for her best friend and dreams of heading off to study under a master.  Her memories of her hometown have faded to nearly nothing, her home is Laon now.  The rumors of magic from her homeland all but forgotten.

Then the nightmares faded; my tutors taught me that, while magic is considered anathema, in truth it simply has no place in the rational, modern world.

Everything changes when her father comes for her, at long last.  Accused of regicide, her “otherness” has never left her.  To Caeris she must run, to a land and a people she no longer knows.  It’s time for a revolution, birth land against homeland.

No one in this revolution is ever alone.

A motley crew of assorted figures fill out our cast of characters and Bates’ writing shines.  I loved the prose, loved the plot, loved the world-building.  Follow along as El goes to war against an empire, and herself.

All the gods damn it.  I hate battle, El.  I hate it-I hate what it makes me into.  It makes people’s lives seem not to matter.  But they do.  No one should have to die like that, not even for freedom.

You see, Elanna isn’t just a hostage.  She has the power to wake the land.  What does that mean?  Read and find out!

4 stars.

Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Grief Cottage

grief

I received this ARC from Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA in exchange for an honest review.

Eleven year old Marcus has lost his mother, the only family he has ever known.  Sent off to live with a great-aunt he’s never met on a small South Carolina island, to say he’s undergone some changes is an understatement.  His aunt moved there to escape a past she doesn’t discuss and a family she scarcely mentions.  She is an artist, specializing in island scenery and it has provided for her for a number of years.  One of her most famous subjects is “Grief Cottage” a cottage that hosted tragedy 50 years before.  Since then it’s been the subject of gossip and speculation and Marcus feels drawn there.  While trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, he finds a sort of life amongst the sand.

For me it was a time of flat days and anxious thoughts.  The sun rose later and set earlier.  It was as if the summer knew that its best days were gone and was giving in without a fight.

Godwin’s masterful writing made up for any slow periods in the novel, I could always find a sentence or phrase that spoke to me.  As Marcus struggles to process his loss and comprehend a grief he’s never known, his internal monologue bares all.

She said maybe it had been selfish to bring me into the world when she had so little to offer, but nevertheless she had wanted me more than anything in her whole life.  She said I was her great prize.

Though his mom is gone when the story begins, I felt as if she could have been any other the mothers I’ve ever known.  His sorrow is palpable, I just wanted to reach through the pages and hug him.

Well, you did die.  I waited for you to come back and you didn’t.  Whereas I’m still here, coming loose from my moorings, getting ready to fly apart.

Slow-moving and atmospheric, journey with Marcus as he processes what his life has become and solves a mystery or two at the same time.  Pick it up for the plot, finish it for the writing.

Sit Tibi Terra Levis-May the earth lie lightly upon thee.

4 stars.

Publication Date: June 6, 2017

 

 

 

What the Dead Leave Behind

whatthedead

I received this ARC from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

Rushmore “Mac” McKenzie is a detective, sort of.  After leaving the St. Paul police force in order to accept a reward for catching an embezzler, he finds himself rich and relatively idle.  Deciding to channel that boredom into “favors” for friends and friends of friends as an unlicensed detective, I get the feeling that his life is more exciting as a civilian.

This is a series and I was able to follow along without having read the first 13 books, which is always nice.  Housewright does a good job of supplying supplementary information in such a way that one unfamiliar with the series will still be able to understand.

I consider this to be the perfect sort of book to take along on a long-haul flight across the world, something I am very familiar with (I’ll be downloading the first few for my transatlantic flights this summer).  Mac’s girlfriend’s daughter implores him to find out what happened to her friend’s father.  He was murdered before the book begins and the police have no leads.  The game is afoot!

I believed in momentum.  I believed that if you keep moving, peeking under beds, peeping over fences, turning over rocks, there’s a better chance of accidents happening, some good, some bad; of the fortuitous unearthing of the odd puzzle piece in the most unlikely nook or cranny.

This is a truly interesting detective mystery.  Perhaps my favorite part was all of the Twin Cities love embedded in it.  No, I’m not from the Twin Cities, nor even the midwest.  I simply love when an author shows hometown pride.  I felt like I was there, from the descriptions of local venues to the complaints about traffic bottlenecks.  Mac is a good man, with a set of skills that he puts to good use.  Will the mystery be solved?  Read and find out.

Now the big question—why do you still care?  Good question.  I felt a little like a historian working a Rubik’s Cube, twisting the sides this way and that until it gave me a clear picture of what happened at such and such a time in such and such a place–but to what purpose?

4 stars.

Expected Publication: June 6, 2017

Take It To The Grave (Part I)

 

 

takethis

I received this ARC from Harlequin and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sarah has the perfect life.  Perfect husband.  Adorable baby.  House in the Hamptons.  A life she doesn’t think she deserves, a real upgrade.

Her sister Maisy is a nurse abroad, moving from developing country to developing country and never putting down roots.

The two haven’t spoken in years, but they both continue to think back to a singular event.

The unifying feature in this first part of a serial is that neither of them trust anyone and they both appear to have a great deal to hide.

I know your secret Sarah.

I’m going to tell.

This was a quick 20 minute read but as far as I can tell, the other chapters will be interesting.  Consider my interest piqued.

4 stars.

Publication Date: June 1, 2017