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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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

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

 

 

 

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

White Fur

WhiteFur.jpg

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

1980s.  Mixed-Race girl from the wrong side of the tracks meets wealthy boy born into a family as close to royalty as one can be in America.  Elise is loud, uneducated and floating along.  Jamey is privileged, observant and has had his entire future planned since before he was born.

When these two young lovers come together, the world around them won’t stand for it.  This is a Romeo and Juliet tale with a twist.

It’s gigantic, swollen, pounding on a molecular level like a billion hearts, the way a space does when the people in it realize their power.

This is not the type of story I typically wouldn’t be able to resist on the shelves of a book shop, or browsing Amazon.  I admit that I’m not the target demographic this book was intended for.  I found the writing to be quite good, Libaire has a way with words that would occasionally thrust me directly into the story.

Love, he thinks, is accidental, fleeting–he can’t possibly deserve it.

I found the polarity of Elise, seeking a home she hasn’t ever found and Jamey, who doesn’t know what love means to be interesting.  Something visceral is bringing them together but in stories like these, the center never holds.

He’s never had to be moral.  He falls into one of those crevices: a certain kid in a certain society in a certain generation where no decisions remain because his ancestors have finished every single thing within reach.

The build up was slow, glacially slow.  The end was an explosion that never came.  I knew from about halfway in that the ending wouldn’t be satisfying, but I kept reading.  There was something promising in the plot but the execution left much to be desired.

2 stars.

Expected Publication: May 30, 2017

The Chiron Confession

 

IMG_8679I received this ARC from Netgalley and Atlantis Ink in exchange for an honest review.

In the aftermath of Jesus’ execution a sect called Dominium Dei (Rule of God) has arisen to fill in the void left behind in the first church.  Lead by the mysterious Chiron, the order is dedicated to establishing Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire.  The problem is, Rome already has a religion, Cesar.  He has declared himself Lord and God of the empire and there is no room for any other gods.

Athanasius is a playwright, known to be an atheist, who pushes the envelope of what is acceptable in society.  He somehow finds himself accused of being Chiron and is launched smack dab into the middle of one of the greatest conspiracies of his age.

I’m innocent.  I’m not that villain Chiron.  I’ve never killed a man, or torched a public building, or committed any crime of any kind!

I found our unwitting protagonist to be well-written and his internal dialogue one of the best parts of the novel.  Who is trying to kill him? Cesar? Dei? Is there a difference?

No wonder old John’s Book of Revelation had Jesus standing outside the Church, knocking on its door.  The Church was probably the last place on earth anybody would find Him.

This was a fast-paced, page turner that I finished in about a day.  I enjoyed it and look forward to reading the other two books in the trilogy.

Four Stars.

Buy It Here

Expected Publication: May 16, 2017

The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate

The-Magnificent-Flying-Baron-Estate-Cover.jpgI received this ARC from Netgalley and Amberjack Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

This is a middle-grade book intended for kids 9-12, but when I saw the cute cover and description I couldn’t resist.  This is an old western meets a bedtime story.  1891,  Waldo ‘W.B.’ Baron is living with his cooky mad-scientists parents in the Arizona territory.  He’s more interested in reading western gunslinger novels than science but when his parents turn their house into a flying ship for a contest, his life changes a bit!

But on that very morning, when I looked out my bedroom window, I did not see the quiet desert or the hills that lead to Pitchfork.  In fact, I saw nothing but blue.  Blue and more blue, surrounding a lot of bluish blue with bluey blueness…the Baron Estate was floating in the sky like a hot air balloon.

With his weird Aunt Dorca, a friend named Shorty and a strange woman on a bicycle the plot goes from strange to stranger!  This is a story about adventure, family and acceptance.  Although I don’t think the writing was much to write home about, the plot was quirky and I could see the appeal to the demographic.

And, well… I wanted you to know that just because your family doesn’t understand and appreciate you, that doesn’t mean that nobody will ever understand and appreciate you. You might not have found where you belong yet, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t belong somewhere.

I would definitely buy this for my seven year old niece, it would be a whimsical read-along story, for sure.  The corny jokes and the strange plot holes wouldn’t bother her a bit.

Sometimes life is even better than a strange dream.

Three stars.

Expected Publication Date: May 16, 2017