Saturday, October 3, 2015

September Monthly Reads!! By Christyn, Coll and Amanda!! (I know, I know it's a few days late!)

A few days late but here you go!

This Month's Reads (not all, but one from each of us ladies here!)

There's no rhyme or reason to which books we each chose. It may have been something we loved, hated, mehh-ed or maybe the only things we had time to read this month.

Christyn's Picks :)

The Affiliate (Ascension #1) by K.A. Linde

On the day of her Presenting, in front of the entire Byern Court, seventeen-year-old Cyrene Strohm's lifelong plans come to fruition when she's chosen for one of the most prestigious positions in her homeland—an Affiliate to the Queen.

Or so she thinks.

When Cyrene receives a mysterious letter and an unreadable book, she finds nothing is as it seems. Thrust into a world of dangerous political intrigue and deadly magic, Cyrene's position only grows more treacherous when she finds herself drawn to the one man she can never have...

King Edric himself.

Cyrene must decide if love is truly worth the price of freedom. Find out in this first book in USA Today bestselling author K.A. Linde’s new Ascension series.

Christyn's Rating: 3 Coffee Cups

I didn't LOVE this one. I didn't NOT love it either. Confusing right? For me too. It's not my usual genre, but it sounded interesting enough that I figured I'd give it a shot. The world K.A. Linde built was interesting, the characters fleshed out pretty well and the storyline just interesting enough to make me likely to pick up the next in the series. But I couldn't fully connect, not to the main character and not to the love story. I will give the next one a shot because of the supporting characters. HANDS DOWN. I loved all of Cyrene's friends and allies. They were brave and intelligent and loyal. And I would love to see how they fold into the storyline. So this one is a Mehh for me with the hopes of being more.

Never Let You Go: A Modern Fairytale by Katy Regnery

In this modern retelling of “Hansel and Gretel,” 13-year-old foster children, Holden and Griselda, escape from their abductor after three years of brutal captivity and try to cross the Shenandoah River on foot. Tragically, one of them makes it to safety but the other is left behind.

Ten years later, Griselda’s boyfriend drags her to a fight club grudge match where her world is turned upside down when she watches Holden step into the ring.

Though the connection between them is fierce, bitter regret, simmering rage and a cache of physical and emotional scars lie between them, just as dangerous as the whitewater of the Shenandoah.

Never Let You Go is a story of fear and hope, defeat and survival, and two people - once profoundly broken – who discover that love is the only thing that can make them whole again.

Christyn's Rating: 4.5 Coffee Cups!!

So I LOVED THIS BOOK. LOVED IT A LOT. To the point where both of those sentences required all caps. I really, really wish I had had the time to give this book it's proper due and give it a full out review. The story was emotional and heart twisting and extremely multi-dimensional. You see the effects of what happened to these two while it was happening and the after effects 10 years later. You also get the two different perceptions of what exactly did happened. From the memories of the escapee and the person stuck with their captor for another handful of years. The double POV is incredible in this story. The emotions are revealed to you almost in layers. Each chapter of the book gives you a whole new feeling. You feel all of the heartache and confusion and love. So much amazing, unconditional and soul crushing love. And it goes well beyond just the two main characters' romance. Gahh like I said- an amazing story that you most definitely should being picking up ASAP! 

Amanda's Picks :)

My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni

Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House — a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder — is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past — and open the door to deadly danger.

Amanda's Rating: 4 Tea Cups!!

Wow! I would highly recommend this crime, mystery novel! My Sister's Grave had everything, a disappearance, courtroom trial and tons of suspense. This novel had me guessing until the very end and I was still on the edge of my seat. 

I will continuing on with this series and will be checking out the other novels by this author.

5th Horseman (Women's Murder Club #5) by James Patterson

An angel of death is stalking the halls of a San Francisco hospital. Recuperating patients on the verge of release are suddenly stricken and die. Nobody can identify the cause -- or the culprit. In their most gripping case yet, James Patterson's Women's Murder Club convenes to track down a killer who hides among healers. A powerful hospital and courtroom thriller.

Amanda's Rating: 4 Tea Cups!! 

I love every novel in the Women's Murder Club series. They keep me on the edge of my seat and I never know what is going to happen. 

The 5th novel of the series was no disappointment. There was 2 major plot lines occurring in this novel, one being in the hospital, attempting to catch the killer and the other being in the courtroom, trying to take down the hospital. I loved both plot lines and of course there were twists and turns in each. I also enjoyed how the women in the murder club (Lindsay, Claire, Cindy and Yuki) were all involved in this novel, not just Lindsay. 

Coll's Picks :)

Red Queen (Red Queen #1)
by Victoria Aveyard

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.
That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.
Fearful of Mare's potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.
But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance - Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart...

Coll's Rating: 4 Coffee Cups

I have to admit that I could not stop reading this book and found myself constantly thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it. I really did enjoy it and I would have given it five cups if it had not been for a few things in the book that bothered me, such as the predictability of the story at times and a few things being left unanswered. Issues aside though, the Red Queen is definitely a book that will suck you in and that you will not want to put down. Aveyard created characters that you love and hate and built a world that you really do feel a part of as you read. The book is at times Reminiscent of the Mistborn series and the Hunger Games series but overall it does hold its own and immerses the reader in a captivating world and story. To me, the ending felt a little rushed and fell a little flat after the climactic points that led up to it but I still found it satisfying enough. I do know that I will continue on with the series and that I am looking forward to it. Aveyard ended the book not with a huge cliffhanger, but still in a way that makes the reader anticipate the next book in the series.  Overall, The Red Queen is great read and a book I would recommend to anyone who likes YA Fantasy.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.
One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur's chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread.
Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

Coll's Rating: 4 Coffee Cups!! 

Station Eleven was an incredibly imaginative take on a dystopian story and I felt like it took the genre to an area that has not been approached much before. Instead of focusing on only the negative aspects of a world that has fallen apart it shows some of the good that is still left in humanity and our desire and need to persevere. One of the main themes of the story was the importance of preserving the things we love and that keep us human such as literature, art, technology, music, etc. The book spans several decades, tells the stories of multiple characters and in the end shows how all their lives have unknowingly affected one another and the world around them. At certain points of the book I found myself unsure about the point of what I was reading and certain chapters seemed a little tedious to me. However by the time the book came to an end everything had been tied together quite masterfully and thinking back I was able to see the meaning in everything I had read. I think my favorite aspect of this book is how the author made Shakespeare such a key element in a dystopian world and showed the beauty that art and literature still held, even after the downfall of civilization.  Whether you are a fan of dystopian or not, I think this is a must-read book that anyone would enjoy.

"Because survival is insufficient."

Friday, October 2, 2015

Review by Coll! The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender. 3 Coffee Cups!

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall
by Katie Alender

Delia's new house isn't just a house. It used to be an insane asylum, a place to lock up "troubled" young women long ago. And a restless, wicked spirit is still at play--and it doesn't want defiant girls like Delia to go anywhere. So the house kills her.

Now Delia is a ghost, trapped in her creepy home forever. As she meets the other ghost girls who haunt the narrow hallways, as well as the handsome ghost boy on the grounds, she learns shocking truths about the house's history. Delia also realizes that her alive and grieving sister might be the house's next target. Can Delia unlock the mystery of the old asylum, save her sister, and free herself?

Reviewed by Coll 

My rating: 3 coffee cups

It has been a while since I’ve read a good haunted house horror book so I was excited for The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall. Delia inherits a house with a troubled past and while visiting the house it kills her, trapping her ghost on the property. She soon finds that she is not alone, she is trapped with the ghosts of other girls who died in the house when it served as an asylum for women. As Delia struggles to come to terms with life as a ghost she also searches for the underlying evil in the house in the hopes of destroying it, saving her sister, and freeing the souls of the trapped ghosts. 

My first thought about this book was that while it has its creepy elements I didn’t think it qualified as horror but as just young adult paranormal. I’m not sure if this is because of the background I have in reading horror or if the book really just wasn’t scary. Another issue I had was in the beginning of the book I found myself bothered by the writing style because it was so adolescent; I found it very much like reading the diary of a teenager. When I took a moment to think, however, I realized that since the story is being told from the point of view of a young teenager it would make sense to be written in such a way.

The premise of the book was reminiscent of many stories that already exist. I was hoping for more twists or something to separate it from the other haunted house stories that are out there but nothing about it really stood out to me. Nonetheless, the book did hold my interest and I found it intriguing enough for me to want to keep reading. Alender did a great job of describing the house in such a way that she almost gave a life to it. The main character, Delia, is someone that you care for and you grow to sympathize with her and the other ghosts in the book as well, as you learn their tragic stories. I think one of the most interesting aspects of the story is that ghosts are portrayed in a manner that I don’t think I have ever seen done before and I found it very unique and compelling. It makes the reader think of ghosts in a new way and you are able to relate to them more easily.

One thing I noticed early on in this book is how it makes you think. It took me back to when I was a teenager and how I behaved towards my family at times and I could not help but wonder what would have happened if the chance for me to show them how much I cared for them and loved them had been taken away. What Delia and her family go through is incredibly emotional and if you put yourself in Delia’s shoes it is heartbreaking to think “what if this happened to me?” Every ghost has their own emotional story and at times the book can be quite somber and poignant, in a thought-provoking but not depressing way.

For the majority of the time that I was reading the book I found it to be entertaining and was compelled to keep reading it. However its inability to scare me and the last few chapters of the book were its main downfall to me. It seemed like the author did not want to end the story quite yet so she kept adding in more scenarios to keep it going and the story became slightly tiresome at times. In regards to the ending, I felt like there should have been more to it from how everything about the evil in the house had been built up and when all was said and done I found myself a little disappointed. 

If you are looking for a scary horror book to read this would not be the book for you. It is an entertaining young adult paranormal book but, aside from the portrayal of ghosts, it is not really a new concept in haunted house stories. I would recommend The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall more for someone who is not a huge fan of horror but is looking for a mild taste of it. 

“Every fairy tale starts the same: Once upon a time. Maybe that’s why we love them so much. We all get to be part of that story. Just by existing, you get your once upon a time. It’s part of the deal. What’s not part of the deal, it turns out, is the happily ever after.”

Add to Goodreads

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cover Reveal!! The Fall Up by Aly Martinez! Check it out!

Maybe there’s only one direction to go when two people fall 
in love at rock bottom—up.

Add The Fall Up to your TBR list on Goodreads!

RELEASE DATE: October 26th


I wanted to jump. 

He made me fall. 

As a celebrity, I lived in the public eye, but somewhere along the way, I’d lost myself in the spotlight. 

Until he found me.

Sam Rivers was a gorgeous, tattooed stranger who saved my life with nothing more than a simple conversation. 

But we were both standing on that bridge for a reason the night we met. The secrets of our pasts brought us together—and then tore us apart.

Could we find a reason to hold on as life constantly pulled us down? 

Or maybe there’s only one direction to go when two people fall in love at rock bottom—up.

About the Author:

Aly Martinez

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five, including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.

After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. Five books later, she shows no signs of slowing. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.