The Lost Girl (Fear Street)

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

Fear Street, the series of my childhood.  How could I turn down the chance to read and review the latest installment?!  R.L. Stine continues to prove he’s still got “it” and it isn’t going anywhere. Now that I’m no longer eight years old I breezed through this in under two hours, telling myself just one more chapter the entire way.  I absolutely loved it.

Michael Frost is your average high school senior in the suburb known as Shadyside.

Everyone in Shadyside knew about the Fear Mansion, which was owned by the weird family the street was named after.

Even after all this time just the mere reference to the Fear’s gives me the willies.  Michael is living an uneventful life.  He’s got great parents, friends and is on his way to Duke University in the fall.  Enter a beautiful yet odd new girl in town and some strange happenings and you have just another day in Shadyside.

Will Michael and his friends be yet more names added to the long list of Feat Street victims?  Buy the book and find out.

Run, I told myself.  Turn around and run.

Five Stars.

Publication Date: September 29, 2015

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Black Rose (Shadows Book 1)

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

The Louisiana bayou was her home.  Nothing of New Orleans lived there.  The city was a viper, a red-lipped lady of the night.

Mia LeMay is a born and bred bayou girl who had traded in the swamps for a tea room and club in the city.  Her exciting but predictable life ends when she witnesses a brutal murder from her balcony.  The killer wants her dead and the intriguing Ryder is tasked with protecting her.  Between the things that literally go bump in the night, talk of voodoo and her questionable protector, Mia is in for it.

This was a quick, fun read.  A bit of mystery, a dash of romance and of course a slightly spooky back-drop.  I was able to sit down long enough to finish the last 60% on a work night which is saying something since I wrangle first graders all day.

Three Stars

Publication Date: October 13,2015

*This is a re-release with a new publisher*

Thirteen Ways Of Looking

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

I have read very few collections of short fiction in my life.  There isn’t any particular reason why, I just seemed to have jumped from board books as a child straight to novels.  It was the cover art and description of this book that drew me in, I had to read it.  This collection features one novella and three short stories, I enjoyed them all.  The title comes from a poem “Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Blackbird”, a nod to how much of life is about perception.

The first story “Thirteen Ways Of Looking” is about an elderly man standing in the twilight of his life.  It flips back and forth between the immediate past and the present (after his death) told from his view and that of a commentator type narrator.  I didn’t want to like Mr. Mendelssohn at first, he seemed a combination of stereotypes but he grew on me.

I was born in the middle of my very first argument.

In brief snippets of his past and his musings on the present we get a clear portrait of man who has lived a good life, a life he is reflecting on.

And how is it that the deep past is littered with the characters, while the present is so housebroken and flat?

The second story “What Time Is It Now, Where You Are?” was my least favorite but still offered a few moments of clarity.  A journalist is writing a story on a deadline and he struggles to connect the pieces.

Out beyond the outpost, nothing but the dark and the white frost on the land.  The stars themselves like bulletholes above her.

The third “Sh’kol” really resonated with me, if only because of the title.

She had come upon the word sh’khol.  She cast around for a word to translate it but there was no proper match.  There were words, of course, for widow, widower, and orphan, but no noun, no adjective, for a parent who had lost a child.

A woman on the Irish coast is raising an adopted special needs child alone.  She wakes up one morning and he is missing.  Will he be found?  Will she glean anything about her life in the process?

Sh’khol…She knew the word now.  Shadowed.

The final story “Treaty” was truly touching.  An elderly Maryknoll nun sent for respite in Long Island.  A traumatic event in her life haunts her and the potential emergence of a villain spurs her to action.

She preferred to think and talk of other things, life in the village before she was captured, the volume of blue sky, the children in the schoolhouse, the fall of rain on the in roof…

I truly enjoyed reading these stories.  I found myself stopping to highlight and ponder often, bits and pieces of my own life coming to mind.  McCann is a gifted wordsmith, his framing of the concept of perspective a thing of beauty.  I have several people in mind already that I will personally recommend this collection to.

Sometimes it seems to me that we are writing our lives in advance, but at other times we can only ever look back.  In the end, though, every word we write is autobiographical, perhaps most especially when we attempt to avoid the autobiographical.  -Colum McCann

4 stars.

Publication Date: October 13, 2015

Hard To Fight

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

Once again I’m late (19 days post publication) with this review!  Over the summer I blamed my travels but this time I blame moving to Kurdistan two weeks ago.  The expat life is no joke.  I digress.

This book is exactly what it looks like; this is a formulaic bad boy meets good girl love story.  Raide Knox is definitely the kind of bad boy I can get behind, even if I found the heroine (Gracie) a little annoying at times.  Raide is a bad boy with a mission, on a path of revenge destined for sure destruction.  Gracie is a bounty hunter who spends far too much time worrying about how no one takes her seriously…I wouldn’t take her seriously either, she whines too much!  When she goes after Raide, Gracie finds that her first big take down is anything but easy. This is a cute little read, especially if you don’t mind a little smut.  Expect a HEA, even if it was a little too tidy.

Three stars.

Perfect Betrayal

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

This is Season Vining’s third book, and my third ARC, and I think it’s safe to say the writing is sound.  Mix an unlikely couple, a dramatic event and expect a HEA.

Levi is a young maintenance man from a solidly blue collar background.  Taylor is the spoiled daughter of a millionaire.  The two cross paths and hearts.

She refused to believe that nothing good could stay.  If that was the case, then what the hell was life all about?  What was the purpose of finding happiness only to know it’ll be ripped from you?  After surviving childhood and adolescence, Taylor was holding out for something better.  And she was willing to fight for it.

Is Levi the diamond in the rough he appears to be?  Is Taylor as vapid as she does?

Read and find out.  You won’t find anything inventive but you will find a story that can keep you occupied during a camping trip.  I’ll definitely take any ARC with Season’s name on it.

Three stars.

Alive

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I received this book from Random House Publishing Group – Del Rey Spectra in exchange for an honest review.

I started this book a few weeks ago, then life happened.  My sister had a baby, then she got sick and so between hospital time and the general stuff I do when I’m visiting home after a year overseas I got bogged down.  Enter a week out in the woods camping and I picked this back up.  I immediately regretted not powering through it.  What a read it was!

Scott Sigler is an author who had been unknown to me until I read this book.  I have quickly begun to think of him as some kind of literary sleeping giant.  I went in with no idea what this book was about, having read no reviews, nothing.  I was STILL shocked.  This book is almost impossible to review.  Impossible because at the end the author included a note asking readers to keep the plot to ourselves.  I can’t even really share my thoughts without betraying the plot.

A girl wakes up in a coffin.  She remembers nothing, not even her name.  Her mind is a sieve, memories just scraps of images and voices she can’t place.

I don’t remember who I am or what I was, but in my heart I know nothing I did before could possibly make me feel this alive.

She’s not alone.  Things are not alright.  She needs to do something…

That voice in my head stirs, the one that says crying doesn’t fix anything, the one that told me to always attack.  It’s a man’s voice, swirling up from somewhere in my hidden memories.  It says, choices have consequences.  The voice is right.

Read this book.  Tell your friends to read this book.

4 stars.

As Night Falls

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Once again I am seriously late (over two weeks after publication) with this review.  I came home from my year in China last month and have been a combination of busy and lazy since.  It took me over a month to finish this gem.  Apologies to the publisher!

I received this ARC from Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review.

GPS, satellites.  People could watch things from the sky, or from the objects small enough to fit in a pocket.  Their possessions.  Their children.  Themselves.

Sandy leads an idyllic life; gorgeous new home on a beautiful piece of land, a career as a therapist, dutiful and hardworking husband and intelligent and pretty daughter.  At first glance there is little worthy of a second glance.  This all changes when two strangers are blown in with a snowstorm.  These men are dangerous, posing a threat to the very carefully crafted life Sandy has built for herself.  Can she outsmart the men on the run?  Does she want to?

Therapists didn’t use physical means to encourage people.  They had other techniques.

I really enjoyed this one.  It was very slow at first but after the first 20% or so I was drawn in.  I pored over it on a flight, highlighting interesting sentences and pondering Milchman’s writing style.  I don’t often read suspense and I’m even less often unaware of what’s happening as late as I was with this one.  I definitely plan to go back and read her previous novels.  I took something away from this one, sometimes what’s buried is more dangerous than we think.

The knowledge, putrid and buried for so long, was somehow liberating.  It was like the moment you finally allowed yourself to be sick, then lay back afterward, panting and sweaty and emptied.

Four stars.