Thank you NetGalley and Berkley Books for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
SYNOPSIS: When the bodies of two girls are found torn apart in the town of Smiths Hollow, Lauren is surprised, but she also expects that the police won't find the killer. After all, the year before her father's body was found with his heart missing, and since then everyone has moved on. Even her best friend, Miranda, has become more interested in boys than in spending time at the old ghost tree, the way they used to when they were kids.
So when Lauren has a vision of a monster dragging the remains of the girls through the woods, she knows she can't just do nothing. Not like the rest of her town. But as she draws closer to answers, she realizes that the foundation of her seemingly normal town might be rotten at the center. And that if nobody else stands for the missing, she will. (AMAZON)
A witches' curse, a monster hiding in the forest of a small town, and a secret that could destroy many if it comes to the light. This novel was a page-turner!
The Ghost Tree slowly develops without once dulling in storytelling. Christina Henry does a great job of keeping the reader not just invested in this tale, but truly entertained. There are moments that border on creepy—almost scary—and it leads us, bit by bit, into show just how wrong and twisted the history of this town is, along with most of its residents.
There are many details here, and many lines that interconnect—it makes for a rich world. Every time that I thought I had a handle on things, a new twist would be added to keep me on my toes. The myth of the witches' three and how the curse came to be that centers around the missing girls was one of the surprises that I was not expecting, but it was perfectly slipped into the folds of these pages and once it was known, not only did things fall into place but it was the pivotal moment when the entire lie that had been kept over this town started to unravel.
I don't know if it was the 1980s-setting, or the fact that David (who was precious, and such a gift) reminded me slightly of Danny, but I got a Stephen King vibe a few times and I was very much digging it. The Ghost Tree, however, has its own voice and its own style as well, not to be mistaken.
Lauren makes for a lead that, as the teenager that she is, made me feel all the angst that her age defines. She's unwilling to do and be who she finds herself to be, but pushes past that selfishness to help others when she realizes the importance of her role. The one fault that jumped out at me was at the very end, during Lauren's showdown with the monster of the ghost tree. Yes, as the scene describes, it happens far too fast and though I don't exactly want to make the suffering last, things evolved and finished easier than all the pain inflicted on everyone warranted.
All in all, however, there was a mysterious and unnatural ambiance during the whole book that made it that much easier to slip into the world and become part of the story. Despite the dark nature of The Ghost Tree, it's a deeply entertaining book to read.
Thank you NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
SYNOPSIS: The Surun’ nomads do not speak of the master weaver, Benesret, who creates the cloth of bone for assassins in the Great Burri Desert. But aged Uiziya must find her aunt in order to learn the final weave, although the price for knowledge may be far too dear to pay.
Among the Khana in the springflower city of Iyar, women travel in caravans to trade, while men remain in the inner quarter, as scholars. A nameless man struggles to embody Khana masculinity, after many years of performing the life of a woman, trader, wife, and grandmother.
As his past catches up, the nameless man must choose between the life he dreamed of and Uiziya―while Uiziya must discover how to challenge the evil Ruler of Iyar, and to weave from deaths that matter. (AMAZON)
Sometimes the actions in a story lack the life necessary to charm the reader, no matter how interesting they may seem. And sometimes the action begins so prematurely and so suddenly that it leaves the reader completely lost at sea from the start.
Maybe it's because this seems to be the second book in this universe and I have not read the first, but the author seemed to think that I was supposed to know what they were talking about from the get-go. No explanation was given for events, people or terms and I found myself grappling for a good deal of this short volume so that I could understand the references being presented. By the time I had a somewhat weak grasp on things, I was done reading. The Four Profound Weaves is quite short in length, but context nonetheless lacked even though there was plenty of room for including it.
This story is told from twin POVs: Uiziya e Lali and the nameless man's (who later gives himself the title of “nen-sasair”). Both have a reason for leaving the settlement they currently inhabit, and go on their “epic adventure” together for support as well as need. It was often difficult to tell one POV from the other, because neither of these two characters stand out in tone. Had it not been for the fact that their sections are titled with their names, I would have had no trouble believing it was the same one leading the narrative for most of this book. Only near the end, when the two arrive at the court of the Ruler of Iyar, do they become slightly more distinguishable—and that's only because their paths are forced apart.
The idea of how those who are weavers use their magic, however, was inventive. Uiziya e Lali's creation of the carpet of death, especially, was absolutely incredible. That was the one instance when I felt the time was truly taken to flesh out this story and make us connect with the somber atmosphere of the scene while she discovered and developed her skill—albeit rather fast despite the fact that she'd never done it before. And the myth of what comes to pass when the carpets of sand, air, song and death come together was intriguing even if it didn't develop into much other than finally seeing a vision of the goddess Bird.
I appreciated and respected the representation of the characters' need and ability to change their gender when the time and moment arrived for them. For that alone, the book is worth a try—and it will speak to many. But, overall it was weak in its ability to dazzle or even entertain the majority of the time.
Thank you NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
SYNOPSIS: They say there's a door in Wakefield that never opens...
Sam Wakefield's ancestral home, a decaying mansion built on the edge of a swamp, isn't a place for children. Its labyrinthine halls, built by her mad ancestors, are filled with echoes of the past: ghosts and memories knotted together as one. In the presence of phantoms, it's all Sam can do to disentangle past from present in her daily life. But when her pregnant sister Elizabeth moves in after a fight with her husband, something in the house shifts. Already navigating her tumultuous relationship with Elizabeth, Sam is even more unsettled by the appearance of a new ghost: a faceless boy who commits disturbing acts--threatening animals, terrorizing other children, and following Sam into the depths of the house wielding a knife. When it becomes clear the boy is connected to a locked, forgotten room, one which is never entered, Sam realizes this ghost is not like the others. This boy brings doom... As Elizabeth's due date approaches, Sam must unravel the mysteries of Wakefield before her sister brings new life into a house marked by death. But as the faceless boy grows stronger, Sam will learn that some doors should stay closed--and some secrets are safer locked away forever. (AMAZON)
It's not often that I come across a modern Gothic novel told in a language that will make me fall deep into the story and catch the mad fever overtaking the characters. But It Will Just Be Us delivers tenfold.
The setting of the book is to be expected: an old house, big, imposing, with more rooms than those who live there can take care of and ghosts roaming the halls while the world outside is dreary and sometimes more inhospitable than this terrible home becomes. But these ghosts are not figments of the imagination. They're rather very real to anyone who spends enough time in the Wakefield mansion to see them. By being too loud, by living too strongly, by feeling too much joy, sadness, pain or hatred, the house takes an imprint of those moments and saves them so that they can live on at odd times of manifestation and tell the tale of everyone who has lived here. It was interesting yet eerie to see these phantoms of the past, even as they helped drive the plot forward.
Half of the “main” characters in this book (save for Elizabeth and Donovan) are fairly quiet in personality. They keep their emotions deep within themselves, and therefore cope in less than healthy ways, which only gives more fodder for Wakefield house to use. And yet, for Samantha. at least. this repression begins to crack at the edges until she not only starts to let go and show how she truly feels, but does so while allowing the instability of the house to dig into her. It's both freeing to see and devastating, as one connects the dots of everything that has been shown so far and realizes the conclusion that her life will have.
It made me, the reader, feel wonderfully out of my mind a few times while allowing the story take hold of me. And eerie became downright creepy whenever the at first mysterious Julian would make an appearance. What darkness the genre of this book insisted upon, Jo Kaplan was happy to supply us with. You will be spooked, you will feel uncomfortable even while driven by a need to see what happens next, and you will be as repulsed as you are fascinated.
The writing itself is absolutely gorgeous and gives the story a very authentic and old time feel despite the contemporary setting. It was a book that was impossible to put down, and deserves to be read by those that are fans of such an uncanny tale.
Thank you NetGalley and Harper Collins Publishers for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
SYNOPSIS: Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.
But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.
When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear? (AMAZON)
When No One Is Watching will not be a simple book to read, and it is not supposed to be. It made me uncomfortable at times, it made me upset, it broke my heart on more than one occasion, but it made its point. This isn't just your average thriller—this one is going to tug deep and make you connect.
As far as pacing goes, this novel does take its time. But while it may seem as if it drags at first, it really just gives itself the freedom to develop at the rate necessary to give the reader the full picture before events begin to spiral out of control. And while Sydney drives the biggest chunk of the story, Theo is the guide through which we open our eyes to what is happening behind the facade of Gifford Place. They're both complicated characters that begin to work on their individual issues once they get together to labor toward a common goal.
While the book centers around Gifford Place, the overall descriptive quality of it is so well done that it was incredibly easy to place oneself in this setting. Especially for someone—such as myself—who has never visited New York, it was like stepping into the pages every time. The author pulls no punches in giving this neighborhood and its people their unique personalities and quirks. And it truly does give one the ability to see what it must be like to live here.
Alyssa Cole uses no filter in portraying the racism around which the plot revolves, nor should she. This is a topic that travels well past this novel. The moments of discrimination start subtle and indirect, yet eventually build toward a blatant and outrageous degree that is seen often and brushed aside by some. And by the time that Sydney and Theo take matters into their own hands to stop what has begun to too easily take over this central neighborhood, it is impossible to ignore the damage that misappropriated power does to those unjustly believed to be inferior.
If there's one thing that I felt to be slightly weak in delivery was the ending. It was satisfying in its own right but felt off beat. After their confrontation at the closed down hospital, having Theo and Sydney be attacked and held against their will, only to be freed again with barely any struggle, was anticlimactic and pointless. There's a nice close that promises some momentary relief if not a complete conclusion, due to the reality that what this cast goes through is also going on further out of New York. It's an awareness lent to the reader that this is an issue that will simply not stop anytime soon. At least not without further battle.
Thank you NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
SYNOPSIS: Who is Last?
Fame is rare in Driftwood―it’s hard to get famous if you don't stick around long enough for people to know you. But many know the guide, Last, a one-blooded survivor who has seen his world end many lifetimes ago. For Driftwood is a strange place of slow apocalypses, where continents eventually crumble into mere neighborhoods, pulled inexorably towards the center in the Crush. Cultures clash, countries fall, and everything eventually disintegrates.
Within the Shreds, a rumor goes around that Last has died. Drifters come together to commemorate him. But who really was Last? Lying liar, or heroic savior? A mercenary, a charlatan, a legend? A man, an immortal―perhaps even a god? (AMAZON)
Similar to One Thousand and One Nights, Driftwood tells its main tale through the aid of several short stories themed after the main character of Last. Last, who has lived for longer than anyone remembers or knows, while the rest of the worlds slowly disintegrate until they reach the Crush at the center of Driftwood and cease to exist.
As a whole, Driftwood is the sum of a lovely set that touches on our emotions in different ways. There is, throughout, a theme of friendship and bonding that spans along different years by way of the lead. And as the stories are read, we are reminded again and again that everything, eventually, comes to an end—yet there is no reason for one to dwell on that rather than attempt to make the best of the time that is left, live it, enjoy it, and be joyful. It's a takeaway worth keeping no matter the times.
As a reader, I have preferences, and one of them is my desire and enjoyment in getting to know characters and seeing them grow. That's not always easy to do when shorts are used rather than a novel, which is why I don't tend to read them too often. Therefore, it did lack that broadening of self that I want to see in a full cast.
However, as it is, there's also the advantage that a lot of ground was covered throughout the book and the reader gets to experience some of the different cultures and worlds that inhabit Driftwood. And these are fairly different and inventive. Marie Brennan does not lack imagination. With every story, there's something to learn about the people and places we read about, and the original Quinendeniua—or, The Court of Memory—is the little gem that I take with me moving forward.
The entire structure of Driftwood and its workings is not only well drafted and detailed, but I felt the sadness, hopelessness and sorrow that so many of these people feel at the fact that places eventually come to their end, and so do the people that belonged to them. It puts one in the place of Last while reading, thinking of what it must be like to exist as he has—to see so many that he cared for lost and gone, but remain, eventually alone and needing to start again.
There's heart of this book lies in its sentiment.
Thank you NetGalley and William Morrow Paperbacks for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
SYNOPSIS: Welcome to Little Bridge, one of the smallest, most beautiful islands in the Florida Keys, home to sandy white beaches, salt-rimmed margaritas, and stunning sunsets—a place where nothing goes under the radar and love has a way of sneaking up when least expected...
A broken engagement only gave Molly Montgomery additional incentive to follow her dream job from the Colorado Rockies to the Florida Keys. Now, as Little Bridge Island Public Library’s head of children’s services, Molly hopes the messiest thing in her life will be her sticky-note covered desk. But fate—in the form of a newborn left in the restroom—has other ideas. So does the sheriff who comes to investigate the “abandonment”. When John Hartwell folds all six-feet-three of himself into a tiny chair and insists that whoever left the baby is a criminal, Molly begs to differ and asks what he’s doing about the Island’s real crime wave (if thefts of items from homes that have been left unlocked could be called that). Not the best of starts, but the man’s arrogance is almost as distracting as his blue eyes. Almost…
John would be pretty irritated if one of his deputies had a desk as disorderly as Molly’s. Good thing she doesn’t work for him, considering how attracted he is to her. Molly’s lilting librarian voice makes even the saltiest remarks go down sweeter, which is bad as long as she’s a witness but might be good once the case is solved—provided he hasn’t gotten on her last nerve by then. Recently divorced, John has been having trouble adjusting to single life as well as single parenthood. But something in Molly’s beautiful smile gives John hope that his old life on Little Bridge might suddenly hold new promise—if only they can get over their differences. (AMAZON)
As a first time Meg Cabot reader, I was ready to be pleasantly surprised. I know that she has quite the fan-base with her YA stories, but coming across an upcoming adult release by her that centered around a librarian and a cop (which is a favorite trope of mine in romance novels), I was eager to dive into this story.
The book began on a cringe-worthy and startling scene involving human-shaped cookies and the fondling of them by a teenager in front of children, during a children's activity at the library. I'm aware that it was meant to be funny, but this instance, like others in the book, felt forced.
Our leads Molly and John are, let's face it, expected to fall in love. This is, after all, the main point of a romance book in this vein. However, they don't so much fall in love as get shoved together by the author. It didn't read as something that naturally happened between them, and I felt no spark for their relationship. I don't care if two people fall in love at first sight or over a long period of time, but I want to see it happen organically. Molly—while meaning to be sassy, independent and a go-getter—comes across as bossy, pushy and meddling. John, on the other hand, lacked in personality and was fairly dislikable and belittling whenever he had a scene that attempted to connect him with the others working under him at the Sheriff's Office.
Barring the love story of a book that falls short as soon as I have an issue feeling an attachment for the main couple, I was hoping for some other saving grace. But Cabot tends to tell the reader rather than show far too often, there were a couple of instances of generalizations on characters based on sexuality and/or race that did not sit well with me, and the book was overall dull. My best takeaway from this story was the factoid that Molly spews—among the many that she incessantly spews either verbally toward someone else or in her own head—concerning the behind-the-scenes on the writing of Nancy Drew books, which was fairly interesting to learn and something that I had not expected despite the many times I've devoured a ND story.
This was, unfortunately, one of the few exciting tidbits.
Thank you NetGalley and Berkley for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
SYNOPSIS: At the height of her career and on the eve of her first Golden Globe nomination, teen star Grace Turner disappeared.
Now, tentatively sober and surprisingly numb, Grace is back in Los Angeles after her year of self-imposed exile. She knows the new private life she wants isn’t going to be easy as she tries to be a better person and reconnect with the people she left behind.
But when Grace is asked to present a lifetime achievement award to director Able Yorke—the man who controlled her every move for eight years—she realizes that she can’t run from the secret behind her spectacular crash and burn for much longer. And she’s the only one with nothing left to lose. (AMAZON)
Hollywood is a world full of dreams and heartbreak, and it is a story that has been told through more than 100 years. A place that offers you the possibility to have everything that you could want exerts a price of entrance, a steep one sometimes, the memory of which you will need to carry with you thereafter. This is the world that protagonist Grace Turner (Hyde) is welcomed into at the tender age of thirteen, after being discovered by the talented director Able Yorke during an audition at her London school. She rises fast as his muse through the years, until everything goes terribly wrong and her fame and talent are swept from under her.
Though this is not a new story, I was drawn to the synopsis and the idea of a female lead empowering herself against the man who (seemed) had taken so much from her. And, indeed, Grace is put through the wringer for a good deal of her life. Both due to her parents naivete and misplaced antagonism, as well as the total control of a man who should have protected her rather than used, Grace is not just physically but mentally abused at a time when she feels those closest around her to be role models and people that she can trust. And because those around her are all the wrong kind of people, she spirals into a darker and deeper void as her life progresses and she enters adulthood.
It was inevitable that she would crash and burn.
The depression and listlessness that this young woman feels for most of this book is palpable. One cannot deny that she is a tortured soul and does not know how to pull herself from where she has sunk. But so much time was spent in stasis, that it felt as if the story was going nowhere. Grace seems to allow herself to be pulled along for the ride as one small event happens after the other, and slightly stirs only when she approaches Emilia again, Able's wife. Her purpose behind this was nonsensical at first, and I found it odd that someone who appeared to have taken such a toll from these people (one directly, one indirectly) would attempt to get near either one of them again. When she finally started to settle on an attempted plan of revenge against Able, this was soon abandoned and she again lost purpose.
It wasn't until the last ten or so chapters that the novel picks up speed, but by then I couldn't help but feel that the majority of The Comeback wasted momentum. The rabid chases by the paparazzi, the sudden night out with her husband's current girlfriend, the meetings with her old agent and manager that amount to nothing, and even her sudden car crash alongside the man who abused her are events that seem to happen at random and without much build up. It's all quite frantic. And while what happened to Grace was terrible, as any situation of that standing would be whether it happened once or a hundred times, it was touched on so lightly and delved into so little that I had trouble connecting as deeply with her pain as I would have liked.
The book is well written, however, and at the end of the day, this is always going to be an important type of story to tell and read. Power often breeds monsters, and monsters will never stop preying. It's a must to shine a light on them.