Summer of Mystery (Authors)

Every booknerd loves a signed book. The only thing better than a signed book is getting the opportunity to get it signed in person. This summer I had the opportunity to do that with three incredible authors.

Linda Castillo

Linda is the author of the Kate Burkholder series and was in town for her latest book, Down a Dark Road, which I attended with my dad. The series is set in Ohio and Linda’s book tour always stops in the area. This was my fourth time getting to see her and it is always a wonderful time. I always love hearing about her inspiration for the books and her path to getting published. This particular tour stop has become my new favorite because when I went to get my book signed she remembered my name before I even said anything!

Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter was in the Cleveland area for her new book The Good Daughter and I attended it with my Book Buddy, Amanda. One of the first books I reviewed on this blog was one of Karin’s Will Trent books. I didn’t know it was part of a series when I started reading it, but once it was done I had to go back and read the rest of the series and thus discovered a new favorite author. Karin spoke of her childhood and how she started writing (stories about her sisters being mutilated lol). In regards to The Good Daughter in particular she shared that the inspiration for Gamma was one of her old English teachers. She also shared that both the Will Trent series and Cop Town has been optioned for tv series. I asked her if there would be any more books with the characters from this novel and she said no, other than the prequel novella. “The characters have been through enough, don’t you think?”

Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline was in the Cleveland area for Exposed, part of her Rosato & DiNunzio series, and I attended it with Amanda. Lisa was a hoot! She had us laughing the whole event. She told a lot of stories about her family and how she got started writing. Before this event I had only read one book by her, One Perfect Lie, but afterward I read the first book in the series that preceded this series (I’ve decided I want to read them all in order, so I haven’t read Exposed yet) and really enjoyed it. Hearing Lisa’s stories and her style of humor really added something to the reading experience and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Bromances

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday (see their Good Reads group here) is: Favorite BromancesI think we have done this topic before in the distant past, but who doesn’t love a good bromance? Bromance = platonic relationship between two male characters.

Can't say enough how much I loved these. Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown. Red Rising, Golden Son and Morning Star

1. Darrow and Sevro from the Red Rising trilogy. I love them both and they are always better together.

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2. Garret, Logan, Dean, & Tucker from the Off-Campus series. I only read the first two books and then it got a little too far into erotica territory for me, but these boys cracked me up.

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3. The Raven Boys: Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah. These characters are the reason these books are so popular.

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4. Declan and Rev from Letters to the Lost. The romance in this book was ok, but the bromance in between these two is what made it for me.

"we're a little married" this is the reason why i am going in to the medical field lol

 

5. JD and Turk from Scrubs. Yes, it’s not a book, but theirs is the ultimate bromance. I think the first time I ever heard the term was in connection with them.

What are your favorite fictional bromances?

Review: Sociable by Rebecca Harrington

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I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Sociable will be available March 27, 2018.

Synopsis from Good Reads:

The Assistants meets The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. in this exuberant comedy of manners set in the world of Internet media, a brilliantly irreverent novel about what it means to be young, broke, dumped, and scarily good at creating viral content.

When Elinor Tomlinson moved to New York with a degree in journalism she had visions of writing witty opinion pieces, marrying her journalist boyfriend, and attending glamorous parties with famously perverted writers. Instead, Elinor finds herself nannying for two small children who speak in short, high screams, sleeping on a foam pad in a weird apartment, and attending terrible parties with Harper’s interns wearing shapeless smocks. So when Elinor is offered a job at Journalism.ly, the digital media brainchild of a Silicon Valley celebrity, she jumps at the chance. Sure, her boyfriend is writing long think pieces about the electoral college for a real website while Elinor writes lists about sneakers and people at parties give her pitying glances when she reveals her employer, but at Journalism.ly Elinor discovers her true gift: She has a preternatural ability for writing sharable content. She is an overnight viral sensation! But Elinor’s success is not without cost. Elinor’s boyfriend dumps her, two male colleagues insist on “mentoring” her, and a piece she writes about her personal life lands her on local television. Broke, single, and consigned to move to a fifth-floor walkup, Elinor must ask herself: Is this the creative life she dreamed of? Can new love be found on Coffee Meets Bagel? And should she start wearing a smock? With wry humor and sharp intelligence, Sociable is a hilarious tale of one young woman’s search for happiness–and an inside look at life in the wild world of Internet media.

I am usually a sucker for books that deal with journalists or authors. It’s just one of those topics that will make me automatically want to read something. Unfortunately, it was not enough to save this book for me.

The synopsis describes the tone as “irreverent”, but it fell short on that front for me. There were a few humorous moments, but I felt like things should have been a little more exaggerated. I get what the author was trying to do in poking fun at Millennial culture and could appreciate the effort, but it didn’t take it nearly far enough to make any sort of impact. Elinor just ended up coming across as insufferable and not in a funny way. All of the other characters were just as unlikable, especially her boyfriend Mike. No one really grew and there wasn’t really anyone I wanted to root for. JW, the one “real” journalist at Journalism.ly, was the only character I really enjoyed reading about, but we saw less and less of him as the story went on.

There was one thing in the writing style that really bothered me. The story starts out with kind of a 1st Person Plural POV. “It was midway through the party…when we saw Elinor.” and We were in a small backyard…” (quotes taken from ARC). Then it completely abandons that style and seemingly goes to straight 3rd Person POV, with one exception. “Perhaps, the reader might be questioning…Reader, I don’t even know what to tell you.” (quotes taken from ARC). That is the only short part the reader is addressed and then the narrator uses “I” instead of “We” like in the beginning. If there is a purpose for those style choices, I did not understand it.

Overall, Sociable was just not for me. I think it had a relevant and interesting concept, but it wasn’t executed well. I’m giving it two stars instead of one because it was a quick, easy read and there were a few humorous moments I enjoyed.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

 

Review: Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor. She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime. Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all…

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Dead Woman Walking will be available September 5, 2017.

I discovered Sharon Bolton earlier this year with the fabulous Lacey Flint series and have been eagerly devouring every book of hers I could get my hands on since then. Dead Woman Walking had become one of my most anticipated books of the year and I ended up really enjoying it.

The official synopsis is kept pretty vague and I am hesitant to really go further into it because I do think that it enhances the experience to go into it without a lot of information. I will say that the crime that is witnessed from the hot air balloon is just part of a much bigger mystery that is explored. The perspective shifts between the lone survivor, the murderer, the detective working the case, and flashback chapters. I’m a big fan of multiple timelines when done well and Bolton does it excellently here. Bolton also does an amazing job creating suspense, especially in the early chapters in the hot air balloon.

There are many little twists and surprises throughout the book. I’m the type of person that NEEDS to figure things out before they’re revealed and because of this I am not often surprised by the twists. There is one kind of major twist that I suspected very early and it took most of the book for it to be confirmed. I feel like anybody really paying attention would be able to figure it out because there are lots of clues, so I thought it took a little too long to reveal it. However, if you’re not the type of person that has to analyze every little thing then it might be a great surprise for you. There are a couple of other twists that I did figure out before they were revealed, but Bolton still managed to sneak in one surprise that literally made me go “What!?”.

Overall, even though I figured out most of the twists, I thought Dead Woman Walking was a really well-constructed mystery and I enjoyed pretty much every moment of it. I am impressed by Bolton’s writing in every book I read by her and this year she has become one of my favorite authors. I definitely recommend this one to mystery/suspense fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Fallen Heir (The Royals #4) by Erin Watt

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

These Royals will ruin you.

Easton Royal has it all: looks, money, intelligence. His goal in life is to have as much fun as possible. He never thinks about the consequences because he doesn’t have to.

Until Hartley Wright appears, shaking up his easy life. She’s the one girl who’s said no, despite being attracted to him. Easton can’t figure her out and that makes her all the more irresistible.

Hartley doesn’t want him. She says he needs to grow up.

She might be right.

Rivals. Rules. Regrets. For the first time in Easton’s life, wearing a Royal crown isn’t enough. He’s about to learn that the higher you start, the harder you fall.

I received a copy of this title from the author. It does not impact my review. 

Fallen Heir will be available August 28, 2017. 

The Royals series is such a guilty pleasure for me. They are not the type of books I usually read, but I picked up Paper Princess because of all the hype and found it totally addicting. I felt like that addictive quality was lost a little bit in the following books, but it was back in full force for me with Fallen Heir.

Fallen Heir shifts the focus from Ella and Reed to Easton. I really enjoyed getting his 1st person POV. I was expecting the story to be told in dual POV between Easton and the love interest, newcomer Hartley, but I’m actually really glad that it wasn’t. I can’t really think of many Romance books that are told solely from the male’s POV and so that set it apart a little bit. And while there was a lot of brooding, I did like the insight into his behavior and I enjoyed it a lot more than I had enjoyed Reed’s POV.

As expected, there was all sorts of behavior I don’t approve of when reading about young adults (or regular adults for that matter), but I felt like it was toned down a lot from the previous books. I really appreciated that the story didn’t rely so heavily on shocking or graphic content. This book focused more on Easton’s destructive behavior and that there were actual consequences to it for both him and the people around him. I am really hoping that Easton gets into a rehab program before this series is over.

I enjoyed the slow burn relationship between Easton and Hartley. While at times Easton did come across a little too stalkery, being in his head we know there was no ill intent, so it didn’t really bother me that much. I liked that we got to see Ella and Val and I liked Easton’s friends Pash and Bran a lot, too. There was some more high school mean girl drama that kind of annoyed me, but I didn’t find it as over-the-top as it was in previous books either.

Overall, I really enjoyed Fallen Heir. I loved getting Easton’s POV. Sometimes he’s a hard character to like, but I was 100% rooting for him the entire time. I felt like this book recaptured the addictive writing that the first book in the series had and I can’t wait to read more – especially with those major cliffhangers this one ends with.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Chasing fame.

Chasing love.

Chasing a future.

Emme has long lived in her best friend Sophie’s shadow. She writes songs, and Sophie sings them. It’s always been like this, and feels like it always will be.

Sophie will stop at nothing to be a star. Even if it means using her best friend and picking up a trophy boyfriend, Carter.

Carter is a victim of a particular Hollywood curse: He’s a former child star. Now all he wants is a normal life. But being normal is about as hard for him as being famous.

Ethan has his own issues – a darkness in his head that he just can’t shake. He’s managed to sabotage every relationship he’s ever been in. Emme’s the only girl he’s ever really respected… but he’s not sure what to do about that.

Emme, Sophie, Carter, and Ethan are all students at a performing arts school, where talent is the norm and fame is the goal. But sometimes, being in the spotlight isn’t as important as the people you’re sharing it with – as the four of them are going to find out in Elizabeth Eulberg’s excellent new novel, which is about the auditions life puts us through every day, both big and small.

I very recently discovered Elizabeth Eulberg and have been working my way through her books. While I’ve enjoyed all of the ones I have read so far (especially Better off Friends), Take a Bow has become not just my favorite Eulberg book, but one of my favorite books of the year.

I loved the characters. The story is told from the 1st person POV of four students at a prestigious arts school: Emme, Ethan, Sophie, and Carter. I really enjoyed each of their perspectives. I loved Emme and how kind she was. I loved her relationship with her band members, Ben, Jack, and Ethan. Ethan came the closest to the “tortured artist” persona I was expecting for the setting, but it was never over the top. While he messed up plenty, he did really try and I loved him. Carter was the former child star who just wanted to have a normal life. He was so nice and I loved the friendship he developed with Emme. His part of the story is really focused on finding himself and while I appreciated it and did like him, he came across a little pretentious at times. I pretty much straight up hated Sophie at first, but as the book went on I started to kind of love to hate her. She could not be more different than sweet Emme and I couldn’t wait to see this mean girls get what was coming to her.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been binging on Eulberg books lately and I think the thing that keeps making me come back is the character development. All of her characters are really well developed and I become deeply invested in them. I almost start to feel like they’re real people and I wish I was part of their friendships. This year I have been really into mysteries/suspense and have not had a lot of patience for anything else. These books have made me really start to appreciate a good character-driven story again.

The only thing I didn’t really like about the book was how Carter’s chapters were formatted. Every time there was dialogue it had the character name and then a colon and then what was said. It took me a little while to figure out that’s it’s supposed to mimic a script. It didn’t work for me, though, because the rest of the text wasn’t like that. If the whole POV could have been written out like a script I think it could’ve been a really interesting narrative choice, but as it was it was just kind of distracting.

Overall, I really loved Take a Bow. I read it in a day. I loved the characters and the friendship and even the catty egomaniac. I know this review does not do justice to how much I enjoyed this book. I can’t believe how long it has taken me to discover Elizabeth Eulberg. If you are a fan of YA Contemporaries, you definitely need to check her out.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4.5 Stars