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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

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)

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

Murder on the Orient Express

MurderMurder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Pub: 1934

Detective Hercule Poirot works to solve a murder which has taken place in a snowbound train.

Opening lines:

It was five o’clock on a winter’s morning in Syria. Alongside the platform at Aleppo stood the train grandly designated in railway guides as the Taurus Express.

It was actually sheer coincidence that I post this the day after posting my review of The Boundless — another mystery on a train novel. I’m sure I’ve read this one or seen the movie or discussed its ending with someone at some point, though when it came right down to it, that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of it, because there was still the manner of why the man was murdered and how.

What I liked: Most of all, I love the plot twist here, the jigsaw puzzle that doesn’t quite line up and how the detective goes about extracting information from the suspects. His logic is impeccable, and it’s one of those mysteries where you look back and realize that the pieces were there all along, just waiting to be put together.

What I didn’t like: It isn’t a light read, and I seriously considered pulling out a piece of scratch paper to try to keep track of all the people and clues because there were so many and because the characters are all strangers to Poirot, we know very little about them and their personalities, so it was difficult to keep them straight.

Heads up: violence, including violence towards a child

Stardust

StardustStardust by Neil Gaiman

Pub: 1993

A boy leaves the mundane town of Wall on a quest for a fallen star in a fairy world.

Opening line:

There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire.

I normally am adamant about reading the book before seeing a movie. However, when I’d seen Stardust years ago, I had no idea it was based on a book, much less one by such a well-known and much-lauded author. I’ve been telling myself for years that I’d read the book because I loved the movie, and well, I finally got around to it.

What I liked:

This is a classic adventure tale, with fairies and talking trees and whimsical things that aren’t as they should be and I love the amount of creativity and imagination that went into it. It’s been compared to Princess Bride (another book I have yet to see because I love the movie), and I enjoyed both of these 2nd-world fantasies (though this one is really more magical, and more of a portal fantasy than anything else).

What I didn’t like:

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I recall the movie having more humor. I *know* there was more involved in the story of the lightning pirates and the relationship between Tristran and Yvaine. Basically, I was ruined by seeing the movie first, as this is one rare case where I really did like the movie better.

Heads up: This book would receive even stronger ratings than the movie’s PG-13 rating for its sex scenes and graphic/gory violence.

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.

The Whole Golden World

Whole

The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle

Pub: 2013

A small town is scandalized when news breaks of a 17-year-old girl who has been having an affair with her high school math teacher.

Opening lines:

Dinah felt the turning away like the snap of a rubber band that’s been pulled to far, finally lashing back, leaving a welt.

I don’t read a lot of Women’s Fiction. In fact, most of that genre I read only because that’s what our book club happened to have picked for the month. This one was not a book club book, but one that I’d seen a couple reviews for and thought I’d check out.

What I liked: This book reminded me a lot of other courtroom crime novel books I’ve read, like The Guilty One and Defending Jacob, where you feel like you just have to keep reading, if nothing else just to see if the guilty party gets his comeuppance, if justice prevails, and how these people whose lives are so completely shattered are able to come out of it on the other side. If that’s your thing, you’ll probably enjoy this one — the fact that the reader already knows who is ‘guilty’ and what really happened didn’t at all diminish my desire to see how everything panned out. I also really appreciated the multiple perspectives here, seeing the story from each of the three main women’s perspectives (teen, teen’s mother, teacher’s wife)

What I didn’t like: This whole book was a parade of dysfunctional relationships, which ended up being rather wearying. The female characters at least experienced growth at the end, though none of them really surprised me in any way — they all behaved pretty much exactly how I expected, leaving me feeling a bit lukewarm about the resolution.

Heads up: descriptive sexual content

The Shining Girls

Shining

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Pub: June 2013

A time-traveling serial killer hunts down girls who “shine” in Chicago from the 1930s to present-day as Kirby, the one girl who survived his attack, tries to stop him.

Opening line:

He clenches the orange plastic pony in the pocket of his sports coat. It is sweaty in his hand. Mid-summer here, too hot for what he’s wearing.

I’ve mentioned before how much I love time travel, which is why this book has been on my to-read list for awhile. The means of time travel that the author sets up is unique, a House in which time seems to fold over on itself, where things happen simultaneously across eras. I liked this concept, more fantasy-based than sci-fi-based, so you don’t have to worry about the mechanics of how it works, it just does.

The book is told from multiple POVs (third person), including that of the serial killer himself. His sections get rather grisly and are not for those with weak stomachs. Kirby, the girl who managed to survive his attack, reminds me of a slightly-less-jaded Lisbeth Salander (from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Overall, it was an interesting concept, and the ‘magical House’ take on time travel was enough to hold my attention and keep me reading, but because of the nature of the narration — jumping back and forth in time with the characters, often re-living the same event more than once — it ends up being too predictable, and the main character Kirby spends most of the book simply researching and asking questions we already know the answer to, which kills any sense of suspense.

Heads up: lots of violence, gore, sex, language

 

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