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The Heiresses

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Heiresses

The Heiresses by Sara Shepard

Pub: May 20, 2014

A group of cousins — the wealthy heiresses of a diamond company — uncovers family secrets which cause the death of one of them.

Opening lines:

On a late April morning, as rain smeared the windowpanes, washed the dirt off the sidewalks, and slowed traffic on every block in New York City, twenty-seven-year-old Corinne Saybrook stood barefoot in a dressing room, talking on her cell phone in clipped, precise Turkish.

I’ll admit — I’ve caught a few episodes of Pretty Little Liars, and while I never really followed it enough to have any idea what was going on, the crazy, mysterious premise made me interested to see what the author would do with an adult novel set among the elite rich of New York.

What I liked: The first half of the book set up a really interesting mystery. There’s hints that the mysterious death early on in the novel is linked to other family secrets, and each of the heiresses that the story follows knows only parts of the real story. Because of that, they each have their own suspicions, and it’s interesting to see how each of their ideas would be plausible, and how they manage to piece together the truth.

What I didn’t like: TONS of characters are introduced early on, and for the first hundred pages or so, I had trouble keeping them straight, especially Rowan and Corinne. Also, the first half is really intense, but the second half doesn’t keep the momentum going — there’s just a lot of talking out feelings and hypothesizing and remembering things that had happened years ago. Also, was there anyone in the whole novel that wasn’t sleeping around?

Heads up: Sex, violence, some language

Guarding Angel

GuardingNEW this week!

Guarding Angel by S.L. Saboviec

While guarding reincarnated humans through the 17th century, Enael’s growing love for Kaspen, a fellow Guardian, is tested by the interference of his former lover, a powerful fallen angel.

Opening lines:

My Ward, Daniel Michael Wheaton, was a special assignment, direct from the Council of Seraphim — the highest rank of angel in Heaven — and I was determined to prove myself with him.

I am so excited to be able to finally give my congratulations to author & friend S.L. Saboviec on her debut novel! If you’re a fan of paranormal romance, then this story of good and evil, heaven and hell, angels and demons, fate and free will, and the sacrifices we make for those we love is one for your ‘to-read’ list. Look for it on Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Amazon paperback!

What I liked BEST about this novel…

  • I love how the author weaves Enael’s story through real-life historical times and places. Each of Enael’s Wards (the humans she’s protecting) live very distinct lives in very distinct places in time.
  • The relationship between Enael and Kaspen is very realistic. It grows and changes throughout the book, developing naturally over a period of time and fluctuating as the characters face challenges.
  • The ending. I’m going to try not to spoil anything, but even though this book is planned as the first of a series, the resolution was very satisfying.

Heads up: contains some scenes of graphic sex & violence (including rape), demonic possession, and a few instances of strong language

We Were Liars

We

NEW this week…

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

★ ★ ★ ★

Cadence and her three best friends spend every summer together on her grandfather’s private island, until one summer when everything changes.

Opening line:

Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.

No one is a criminal.

No one is an addict.

No one is a failure.

There’s very little that can be said about this novel without giving way too much away, so let’s just suffice it to say that this is an awesome book with an unreliable narrator (Cadence has selective amnesia after her fifteenth summer), and a couple twists that will throw even the most careful reader for a loop.

It’s about love, friendship, family, and fallings-out, and written in lovely,  poetic prose, and even includes some mini-fractured fairy tales in which Cadence tries to sort through what really happened to her.

Heads up: A tiny bit of crude language (2-3 instances?)

Second Star

Second

 

NEW this week…

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Wendy Darling goes searching for her missing surfer brothers and finds herself in a mysterious cove inhabited by runaways.

Opening lines:

I can smell the bonfire before I even get out of the car. It’s dusk, and the sun is low on the water.

I picked up this book because, well, hello, Peter Pan! I was really interested in a modern-day retelling w/ Peter and the lost boys as surfers. Very cool premise, and lovely cover (though it is eerily similar to We Were Liars‘ cover)

What I liked: I loved the nods to Peter Pan, from an orphan boy named Peter who flies on his surfboard over the waves, to his ex-girlfriend tagalong Belle with blonde hair and major attitude, to a great big dog named Nana. The setting is fabulous; I loved how the whole story engrosses the reader in the life of a coastal surfer.

What I didn’t care for: A large amount of the plot revolves around a love triangle and a drug dealer who specializes in a new kind of drug, dust. The MC spends a good chunk of the story doing things that don’t really make sense as she tries to find her brothers. I don’t really understand why she makes some of the decisions she does, and the whole last part of the book goes off in another direction which makes you question if this is really an unreliable narrator (a la We Were Liars). The ending didn’t feel resolved to me at all, and made me wonder if this was intended to be a series.

Overall: A beautiful setting, cool Peter Pan references, but the unresolved ending made me unable to ‘think happy thoughts’ about it.

Heads up: Teen drug use

The Book of You

TLCBookTours
BookThe Book of You by Claire Kendal

Pub: Apr 1, 2014

Clarissa fends off the unwanted, increasingly frightening attentions of a work colleague.

Sometimes I read books that make me feel let down, not necessarily through any fault of their own, but simply because I’d had higher expectations. So when this book was compared to Before I Go To Sleep, I had expected to be hanging on the edge of my seat, guessing until the last page, and though this definitely was a thriller, it lacked the mystery and suspense I was expecting.

What I liked: I feel strange saying I liked parts of this book, because really, this book was horrifying, mostly due to the very real nature of abuse, obsession, and stalking that the main character dealt with. BUT it did make me think, and I like books that make me think.

What I didn’t like: The point-of-view alternates between Clarissa writing in 1st person POV and the narrator describing her life in 3rd person POV, which I found highly distracting. Also, because Clarissa’s journal only described her encounters with Rafe (her stalker), it was a bit ‘spoiler-y’ to start a new scene knowing, oh, he’s going to show up again in this scene.

Heads up: disturbing subject matter, violence, descriptive sexual content (including a rape)

Feather Bound

Feather Bound

NEW THIS WEEK…

Feather Bound by Sarah Raughley

When Deanna’s friend Hyde (who has been assumed dead for nine years) shows up at his father’s funeral, Deanna gets pulled into a world of secrets and betrayals of the rich and powerful, and must fight to keep her own secret safe.

Opening lines:

At precisely seven in the morning, my oldest sister, Ericka, arrived at our Brooklyn shack and was horrified to find our dad sprawled out on the couch, basting in a sea of beer cans.

When I first read the premise for this story, the part about ‘human swans’ confused me, so I’ll tell you flat out: some humans are also swans. They discover this during puberty when they grow a robe of feathers out their back, feathers which show themselves when their “fight or flight” mechanisms kick in, but most the time are hidden from the world beneath skin. Swans are considered second-class citizens, and their feathers hold important powers. There, now doesn’t that pique your interest?

What I liked: The premise is brilliant. It’s based on traditional fairy tale The Swan Maiden, and the adaptation to the modern world is fascinatingly done, even integrating swans into the world’s history, economy, and social classes. It looks, feels, acts like the modern world, with the difference being the addition of swans. The characters were complex and relate-able, and their relationships were realistic. Deanna and her sisters remind me a bit of the March sisters from Little Women — each unique, each with her own struggles, but each fiercely devoted to one another.

What I didn’t like: Some really awful stuff happens to pretty much all the characters. At times it was hard to read simply because of the horribleness of what was happening. Then again, it really wouldn’t be the same story without these elements. Also, the father figure is quite useless.

Heads up: violence, sexual content/rape, language, human trafficking

The Heiresses

Heiresses

The Heiresses by Sara Shepard

Pub: May 20, 2014

A group of cousins — the wealthy heiresses of a diamond company — uncovers family secrets which cause the death of one of them.

Opening lines:

On a late April morning, as rain smeared the windowpanes, washed the dirt off the sidewalks, and slowed traffic on every block in New York City, twenty-seven-year-old Corinne Saybrook stood barefoot in a dressing room, talking on her cell phone in clipped, precise Turkish.

Full review coming June 2 as part of the TLC Book Tours!TLCBookTours

Overall: Mystery, secrets, and sooooo much drama

 

 

Me Before You

MeMe Before You by Jojo Moyes

Pub: 2012

A twenty-something with a quiet life becomes a caregiver for a wealthy quadriplegic man who hates how small his life has gotten since being injured in a motorcycle accident.

Opening lines:

There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren’t in a hurry, like maybe if you’re wearing platform shoes.

I’ve had the ARC for this book sitting on my shelf for months, but have trouble talking myself into reading books that I know are going to be sad. When our book club suggested it, though, I jumped right at the opportunity, glad to have someone “force” me to read this book that I’d heard so many good things about.

What I liked: Unlike most books that deal with end-of-life issues, disabilities, and depression, in this one, the author inserts a certain amount of humor that keeps the book away from the cliff-edge of despair. Although I did have my qualms about the main character, at least her point of view was interesting to read, and kept the book more lighthearted, despite the heavy subject matter.

I also thought it was really interesting to step into the world of people with disabilities and learn — through the narrator’s eyes — just what it means to have a disability, and how society really treats them as somewhat less-than-human, even in today’s world.

What I didn’t like: I have no idea where in England this story was supposed to have taken place, but the main character doesn’t know how to use a computer? The man she’s caring for has never used computerized dictation devices? Maybe ten or fifteen years ago, but it made the story seem out-of-date.

But my biggest issue of the book was the ending. It left such a bad taste in my mouth, and sent a contradictory, even hypocritical message.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

So Will hates how everyone’s been making decisions for him, how he isn’t able to live his life as he wants to? So what does he do — then proceed to make all sorts of decisions for Lou, berate her for wanting to live a quiet life close to family (which what’s wrong with that? what’s wrong with WANTING to work in a cafe, if that’s what she enjoys?), and convince her, basically, that life isn’t worth living if it isn’t big, exciting, full of world-travels and money. And she buys into it — yay, he saved her! Um… what?

I love sad endings. This one wasn’t sad; it was just frustrating. I felt like any sort of potential character growth was reversed — Will did what he wanted to regardless of anyone else, just as he always did, and Lou was content to let someone else tell her what she should be doing with her life.

Had Will died when he got pneumonia, there would have been the opportunity for a message about how life is precious, how even when we think we’re in control, that we’re not, and to life each day as our last. It would have been sad, but then Will’s gift to Lou could have been seen as a true gift, rather than a “consolation prize.”

 

Heads up: Sexual content (including a rape), some minor language

The Boundless

Boundless

NEW this week…

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

 

4 of 5 stars

On the greatest train ever built, teenaged Will teams up with a traveling circus to save the train from bandits.

Something shifts inside Will, like a door opening.  Maybe it was meeting the circus girl, maybe it was the view of all these new mountains like a gateway to a new and dangerous world — but he feels like his whole life is about to be upended.

Fans of the Airborne series will absolutely adore The Boundless.  Will’s got the strength and courage of Matt Cruse, and Maren is similar to Kate de Vries in her spunk and devil-may-care sense of independence.  And, just like in Airborne, the heroes are working together on a fantastic piece of transportation — this time, the world’s longest, biggest train, that spans over seven miles long and contains over 900 cars.  The picture of the train itself is awesome and fabulous, and the world outside the train is just as exciting and unknown, with great beasts and mythical dangers lurking at every turn of the track.

Some may argue that this story follows a plot a bit too similar to Airborne, and, in fact, it did seem to take me a bit to get into the story simply because of that.  At one point, I wondered why the author didn’t just have Matt fly himself over to America, have Kate join the circus, and plop them both on a transcontinental train.

Overall:  A fun alternate history adventure in the same vein as Airborne

Guarding Angel

GuardingGuarding Angel by S.L. Saboviec

Pub: May 19, 2014

While guarding reincarnated humans through the 17th century, Enael’s growing love for Kaspen, a fellow Guardian, is tested by the interference of his former lover, a powerful fallen angel.

Opening lines:

My Ward, Daniel Michael Wheaton, was a special assignment, direct from the Council of Seraphim — the highest rank of angel in Heaven — and I was determined to prove myself with him.

Full review coming in May!

Overall: An intricate paranormal romance about trust, destiny, and the sacrifices we make for those we love.

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