Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Review: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Blurb from Goodreads:
The next blockbuster thriller for those who loved The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl...a novel with "an astonishing intensity that drags you in and never—ever—lets you go." (Daily Mail, UK)

On a rainy afternoon, a mother's life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street . . .

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past. 

At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them. Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner, says, “I read I Let You Go in two sittings; it made me cry (at least twice), made me gasp out loud (once), and above all made me wish I'd written it . . . a stellar achievement.”
My Review:
This was pretty good, not much of a mystery and not too thrilling but had I not just read a stellar book with similar and familiar territory (Into the Darkest Corner), I probably would have liked this even more.  However, I am still annoyed by the Gone Girl/The Girl on the Train comparisons.  Yes, it's another unreliable female narrator but that doesn't mean we should treat all of these books the same.  This book was actually originally released in 2014 but it got a shiny new cover and is being re-released after The Girl on the Train's  (another British female unreliable narrator) monumental popularity.  There were also two thread of the story (they weren't even divergent, really) and I didn't like the characters that were trying to solve this crime.  They were so insipid.  I think this one was also hyped and so well reviewed that I was expecting something a bit more -- no twist, no big thrill -- but a solid mystery that you will figure out half way through.  It is a fast read and definitely enjoyable.

I would recommend this to anyone that likes the current crop of thrillers with unreliable female narrators -- this was better than some of the others I've read lately.  For me, it was a pale imitation of Into the Darkest Corner but, perhaps, if I had read this one first, I would have liked it just as much.  I Let You Go is scheduled to be released today May 3, 2016, and you can purchase HERE!  
A hush descends on the court and the magistrate fixes me with an unsmiling gaze.  I have the absurd urge to tell him that I'm not like the usual occupants of his court.  That I grew up in a house like his, and that I went to university; held dinner parties; had friends.  That I was once confident and outgoing.  That before last year I had never broken the law, and that what happened was a terrible mistake.  But his eyes are disinterested and I realize he doesn't care who I am, or how many dinner parties I have held.  I'm just another criminal through his doors; no different from any other.  I feel my identity being stripped away from me once more.   

Monday, May 2, 2016

Monday Musts: The Raven King, D'Angelo Kills Me & So Many Great Bookish Links

Monday Musts is a weekly event, started and hosted by Jessica @ Lovin' Los Libros, which asks you to highlight your must read, must listen and must see!

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater

From Goodreads:
The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.
Without spoilers, this series is EVERYTHING !!!!!!!!!!!!


D'Angelo ft. Princess - Sometimes It Snows In April (Prince cover)

Favorite song, most beautiful tribute ever, ever.

This space is dedicated to my favorite book blog posts every week since I don't do weekly recaps (I don't have the patience) and there are always posts that I LOVE!
What are your Monday Musts??

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Monthly Recap: April 2016

Number of Books Read
I read (well, including one DNF at around 25%) 18 books in April.  This was a month of re-reads, first two of my favorite Rosalind James as I was preparing for an appellate argument (stress = comfort reads) and then my TRC re-read prior to the release of TRK.

The One That Got Away
My Mrs. Brown
Beach Town
The Girl Who Stayed
The Mercenary (T-FLAC #1)

Kiss and Tell (T-FLAC #2)
New Kids on the Block's Hangin' Tough
Just for Now (Escape to New Zealand #3)
Just This Once (Escape to New Zealand #1)
The Wedding Pact (The O'Malleys #2)

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3)
The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

Desert Boys
Kiss Me While I Sleep (CIA Spies #3)
I Let You Go
The Blue Bath

Highest rating
The Raven King
Lowest rating
The One That Got Away
Best read of the month
The Raven King
Book which surprised me the most
The Raven King
Fictional crush of the month
But which one?! Take a guess!!
The Raven King
Three books I’m looking forward to reading next month
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson         Troublemaker by Linda Howard        Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe
Monthly Recap
How was your April? 
Link up with your highlights, monthly recaps or favorites below!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Review: Lake of Dreams by Linda Howard

Blurb from Goodreads:
Dreams and reality collide—with potentially deadly consequences—in this stunning novella from New York Times bestselling author Linda Howard, available for the first time as a standalone ebook at an unbeatable price!

House painter Thea Marlow hasn’t been sleeping very well. Her nights are plagued by dreams, the setting by the water and the mysterious man who appears in them always the same. But the outcome of the dream changes nightly: sometimes the man loves her...and sometimes he kills her. Desperate for some much needed relaxation, Thea travels to her family’s remote country lake house. Imagine her surprise when a knock at the door reveals the man from her dreams...who happens to have just rented the house next door.

So will he love her—or will he kill her?
My Review:
This book was originally released as part of an anthology and, accordingly, it's very short; I would categorize this as a novella. You already know by now that I absolutely love Linda Howard and have read everything she's ever written.  I hadn't read this one for many moons and so I was excited to re-read it as a standalone e-book.  Although Lake of Dreams is not as much of a romantic suspense as the books that I love from her the most and the ones for which she is most associated, there is still some suspense in this one -- it just takes place in dreams/flashbacks.  There was still something so alluring about this to me in Linda's writing -- it is sultry and immediate.  I read this is one sitting and will happily be adding it to my collection of Linda Howard books to re-read (there are at least five or six every year for me).

If you like this one, you will absolutely love Son of the Morning (these two are pretty much Linda Howard's only "historical" romances, and Son of the Morning has some similarities and is almost in the vein of Outlander).  Lake of Dreams is scheduled to be re-released next week in standalone e-book format May 2, 2016, you can purchase HERE, and I really liked it.
She tried to remind herself that it had been less than twenty-four hours since she had seen him for the first time, but found that the length of time meant less than nothing.  There was a bone-deep recognition between them that had nothing to do with how many times the sun had risen and set.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Conversations With Myself (& Hopefully You): How Do You Define a HEA?

This discussion is partially inspired by Shannon's recent discussion regarding the "Pickiness of Endings" (a must read).  I was thinking about Shannon's discussion and I feel the same -- endings, especially series endings, disappoint me so often.  And then I thought about the fact that some of my very favorite books don't have a "happy" ending.  Sometimes this works because it feels more authentic for the story, for the characters and particularly, as Shannon pointed out, in a dystopian.  This led me to think about what a "happy" ending even means and so today I ask:

How do you define a HEA?

I often think of endings in simplest of Shakespeare's terms -- if it ends with a wedding, it's a comedy; if it ends with a funeral, it's a tragedy.  But maybe that is too simple. As you know, I hate spoilers and so I am going to try to talk about endings without referencing any particular books.  As I intimated above, some of my favorite books don't necessarily have a "happy" ending.  But what even is a happily ever after or a happy ending?  In romance, for me, a non-happy ending is one in which the characters aren't together.  If the characters are together, even if it's not straight-forward, then the ending is happy.  I don't want, especially in YA, a wedding, an engagement or a birth -- that's too easy.  When you read outside of romance, however, endings become blurrier.  For example, if an important character (or even non-important but not necessarily a villain) dies at the end of a book -- does that mean it's not happy?  Not necessarily -- maybe that's the way it was supposed to happen or maybe there's a message in the ending of things, even lives.  I guess my point is that I think we sometimes are too focused on happy endings, especially in romance.  A romance can still be a great romance even if the characters aren't together at the end -- without overt spoilers, Casablanca and Gone With the Wind are both great examples of this.  A romance can still be great romance without a HEA and sometimes that's exactly what I want because real life isn't HEA -- it's messy and complicated; it's imperfect and unapologetic for it.  And a book can still be great even if it has a heart-wrenching ending.  I will say that I think Tarryn Fisher, Donna Tartt, and Emily St. John Mandel are all amazing at endings -- I think this is also why they are some of my favorite authors.  Their endings aren't always neat, tidy or, for lack of a better word, happy.  But they are right -- right for the story, right for the characters, and right for the ultimate message of the book, and sometimes that is more important than the fiction of happily ever after.

As always, this is just my opinion.  How do you define a HEA?  Should we always expect a HEA, especially in a romance?  And is that what you want? Can a HEA be something besides all hearts and rainbows?


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.

Today, I am waiting on:  
The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

From Goodreads:
From Edgar Award winner Alex Marwood comes another gripping psychological thriller. When a child goes missing at an opulent house party, it makes international news. But what really happened to Coco Jackson?

Real estate mogul Sean Jackson is throwing himself a splashy fiftieth birthday party, but trouble starts almost immediately: His ex-wife has sent his teenage daughters to the party without telling him; his current wife has fired the nanny; and he’s finding it difficult to sneak away to his mistress. Then something truly terrible happens: one of his three-year-old twins goes missing. No trace of her is ever found. The attendees of the party, nicknamed the Jackson Associates by the press, become infamous overnight.

Twelve years later, Sean is dead. The Jackson Associates assemble for the funeral, together for the first time since that fateful weekend. Soon the barbed comments and accusations are flying. By the end of the weekend, one will be dead. And one of Sean’s daughters will make a shocking discovery.
I've been hearing great things about this author and this book so I hope it is suspenseful and a really great mystery!  The Darkest Secret is scheduled to be released on August 30, 2016, and I can't wait to read it!

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday??

Review: The Wedding Pact (The O'Malleys #2) by Katee Robert

Blurb from Goodreads:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katee Robert continues her smoking-hot series about the O'Malleys—wealthy, powerful, and full of scandalous family secrets. 

Carrigan O'Malley has always known her arranged marriage would be more about power and prestige than passion. But after one taste of the hard-bodied, whiskey-voiced James Halloran, she's ruined for anyone else. Too bad James and his family are enemy number 1. 

Hallorans vs. O'Malleys—that's how it's always been. James should be thinking more about how to expand his family's empire instead of how silky Carrigan's skin is against his and how he can next get her into his bed. Those are dangerous thoughts. But not nearly as dangerous as he'll be if he can't get what he wants: Carrigan by his side for the rest of their lives.
My Review:
I liked this one.  I think my first GR status update was that I was not expecting so much plot -- I hope that doesn't sound awful but usually when a shirtless guy is on the cover of a book, there may not be a lot of history or plot that isn't forward momentum for the romance.  Not so, here -- in fact, for me, there may have been a few too many details about the backstory,  and about the two mob families to which the two MCs/love interests belong.  This has almost a Romeo and Juliet feel -- definitely forbidden romance.  I liked James a lot and the chemistry between he and Carrigan was real so I'm not exactly able to pinpoint why this isn't a higher rating for me.  I did feel like this took forever to read and, again, maybe was too long because of all the plot/backstory/history that did not move the romance forward.  That being said, this was still an enjoyable read.

I would recommend this to fans of this series and fans of contemporary romance that has a bit of an edge!  Katee Robert definitely knows how to write steamy scenes!  The Wedding Pact comes out today April 26, 2016, and you can purchase HERE!  
She could go home, climb in a bath, and hope that would be enough to soak away her misery.  Or she could take this man's hand and run away from reality for awhile.  Really, it was no contest.  Carrigan slipped her hand into his, "Where we going?"   
"Crazy, lovely.  We're going crazy."   
Imagination Designs