Dennis Reviews: 10/18/17

Book Title: If We Were Villains
Author: M.L. Rio
Series: None
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction
Goodreads
4.5 STARS

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

If We Were Villains is an intoxicating, modern day tragedy that spectacularly shows the effects that loyalty, betrayal, jealousy, and rage can affect not only yourself, but everyone around you. Oliver Marks has been released from jail after serving a ten year sentence. Detective Joseph Colborne sits down with Oliver and simply just wants to know; “Why?”

Flashback to the moment of truth, we are introduced to Oliver and his actor friends; Richard, Meredith, Wren, Filippa, Alexander, and lastly, James; attending an elite drama school for the gifted. These young adult students (think college age) are driven, obnoxious, privileged, and desperate to succeed at all costs. As their tenure at the school progresses, their roles on stage start to become their roles off stage. As competition begins to get more intense, inner demons and drastic measures are taken, leaving people to face their deepest and darkest secrets.

If We Were Villains is a beautifully written and tragic masterpiece. M.L. Rio’s debut novel miraculously intertwines Shakespeare, love, and betrayal so effortlessly that I could not put the book down. I was drawn in originally by the cover and the title of this novel, but I stayed because of the story. I can’t wait to see what M.L. Rio comes up with next.

Book Title: He Said/She Said
Author: Erin Kelly
Series: None
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Goodreads
4 STARS

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever. Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear, and while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something, and someone, is always in the dark.

I’m torn between 3.5 stars and 4 stars with this one so I’ll round up.

Erin Kelly’s He Said/She Said creeped me out to my core! After arriving to a festival for eclipse chasers (which I just found out recently was athing), Laura and her boyfriend Kit witness a violent attack. After calling the police, the couple is immersed in a highly publicized court case and stand to provide testimony that could irrevocably change a person’s life. Laura ends up getting herself more involved in the case than she should be, permanently lodging herself within the framework of the case permanently. Years pass and Laura and Kit arestill completely unhinged due to the aftermath of this situation. Their lives are being lived with a shadowy eye always watching. How did they get to this point?

He Said/She Said is a brilliantly written mystery novel for anyone who wants to be left speechless after being tricked by Ms. Erin Kelly’s plot twists and turns. As the synopsis says, you may think you know, but you can never see the whole picture. Ms. Kelly takes that theme and runs with it throughout the novel, taking the storyline and turning it on its head. This is a slowburn with a lot of exposition, which definitely provides you a link to the backstories of these characters. The story provides alternate POVs, but with unreliable narrators (which I love), don’t be too sure you know what’s happening until you gather your thoughts based on both POVs. Not everything is what it seems.

Book Title: The Lying Game
Author: Ruth Ware
Series: None
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Goodreads
2.5 STARS

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

I was so excited to pick up Ruth Ware’s The Lying Game , as The Woman in Cabin 10 was one of my favorite reads of this year. Let me tell you right now, if you’re expecting The Lying Game to be another iteration of the same story, you will be un/pleasantly surprised. I say it that way because, this story is told in a very different tone and manner than Ware’s last two works so you might be caught off guard. The Lying Game starts off with Isa Wilde and her family, where she receives a text from her friend Kate – “I need you.” – Immediately, Isa packs up and heads back to Salten, a boarding school set by the English Channel, where Kate resides by. June meets up with Kate and her other high school best friends Fatima and Thea to uncover mysteries surrounding their time at Salten, and reveal the truths about the effects of their dangerous game that they played; the lying game. As the story unfolds, the reader learns a lot about each character without it going too deep into non-relevant characterizations. The best part about this book is the feeling of girl power that I got while reading. I think it’ll serve a nice purpose in that aspect.

The Lying Game is more of a teen drama than a thriller or mystery to me and it was too much of a slow burn for me to actually enjoy that much. It’s not to say that you won’t enjoy it, because I can tend to be stuck in my own mindset of what I enjoy with books. Ruth Ware’s writing is one of the many reasons why she can slap me in the face, and I’d keep coming back for more. I will be back for the next Ruth Ware novel!

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Review: Reading People

Book Title: Reading People
Author: Anne Bogel
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: NonFiction, Self Help
Goodreads
Pub Date: 09/19/17
5 STARS

If the viral Buzzfeed-style personality quizzes are any indication, we are collectively obsessed with the idea of defining and knowing ourselves and our unique place in the world. But what we’re finding is this: knowing which Harry Potter character you are is easy, but actually knowing yourself isn’t as simple as just checking a few boxes on an online quiz.

For readers who long to dig deeper into what makes them uniquely them (and why that matters), popular blogger Anne Bogel has done the hard part–collecting, exploring, and explaining the most popular personality frameworks, such as Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, and others. She explains to readers the life-changing insights that can be gained from each and shares specific, practical real-life applications across all facets of life, including love and marriage, productivity, parenting, the workplace, and spiritual life. In her friendly, relatable style, Bogel shares engaging personal stories that show firsthand how understanding personality can revolutionize the way we live, love, work, and pray.

“We are all different-in matters both serious and silly-and discovering those differences is strangely enjoyable. Cynics argue that we’re drawn to these simple check-the-box quizzes because we’re ill-equipped to deal with the complexity of real life, but I believe this trend points to something more substantial.” 

This year has unexpected rendered an explosion of ARCs to read, leaving very little time for pleasure books of my choosing. When I saw the opportunity to review a read that was on my “for fun” wish list, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and here we are. I don’t read nearly enough nonfiction, as I’m in the walk of life where I’m needing fictional escapes to refill my depleted tank of “ME”, but picking up Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything helped me understand the WHY behind that need, along with a multitude of other self realizations I hadn’t known I had been searching for. It won’t be for everyone, but if this type of stuff interests you I can’t imagine finding a better resource out there.

“A big part of learning about personality is learning to make peace with who we are. But if we use personality insights well, we wouldn’t dream of stopping there.” 

I truly believe that the above quote sums up the entire purpose of this book; sure, we want to be able to cope with our quirks and throw up a good defense, but the end goal really is to take it a step further and go on the offensive so that we can thrive utilizing our best traits. Going into this book, you should know that the author has done her research; over the course of multiple years she has utilized some of the most popular and useful resources and condensed what she feels is the most helpful of such into one succinct companion to help you discover and apply the parts you need to know. After reading the introduction and first chapter, it is encouraged to flip through and read the rest of the book in whatever order interests you most; there’s no need to just hunker down and absorb in numerical fashion. I really enjoyed the freedom this gave me and found myself skipping back and forth, while also reading certain sections more than once. I’m going to briefly list the table of contents below since I’ve received a good number of questions wondering what all is covered here; this way you can decide if it contains some of the topics interesting you personally.

Introduction- A Noble Pursuit
1. Understanding My Personality Type
2. Introverts and Extroverts
3. Highly Sensitive People
4. The Five Love Languages
5. Keirsey’s Temperments
6. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
7. The MBTI Cognitive Functions
8. The Clifton Strengths Finder
9. The Enneagram
10. How Much Can People Change? 

Obviously that’s a lot of information and it took me almost 2 weeks to get through it all, but this isn’t the type of study that you want to rush through. I was able to learn so many things, like how I’m actually an introvert and not an extrovert (I AM STILL SHOCKED AND SHOOK AND A MESS ABOUT THAT GUYS) and I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (I didn’t understand what that actually meant. I thought it was just people who cried at grocery store openings like my mom). Clearly we all can stand to learn a little bit about ourselves, and if you’re looking to do so but have no idea where to start and are as overwhelmed as I felt, this is the perfect book for you! Listen, Anne has done all of the hard work for you so that you don’t have to sift through all the muck that she did. If you’d like to do the hard thing and look at yourself a little longer than is typically comfortable, give this a try. I can attest that Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything is an eye-opening experience, whether you’re just looking to brush up on some of the latest trends or if you need an overhaul on your personality like I did. Highly recommended to all!

*Quick side note- if you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to one of Anne’s podcasts and hearing her voice, make sure and do that before picking up the book. Imagining her reading this out loud to you just enhances the experience, I promise!

*Many thanks to the author for sending me a signed copy; it now sits on my special signed shelf and sings Nanny Nanny Boo Boo to all who walk past. ❤

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Review: The Chalk Man

Book Title: The Chalk Man
Author: C.J. Tudor
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Goodreads
Pub Date: 01/09/18
5 STARS

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

I haven’t felt this sure of a book’s worthiness to be read since I picked up The Dry by Jane Harper back in January. I’ll admit, I find myself enjoying a majority of the books that I read; I don’t know if I’m just not as picky as other readers or if, after so many years of reading, I generally can tell what will tickle my fancy. That said, there are the books you enjoy, and then there are THOSE books. You know the ones I mean; the unicorns, the diamonds in the rough, the ones you’ll be shoving in peoples face screaming “OH MYLANTA READ THIS BOOK! LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!!!” because it’s just that good. Well, it’s official-this one gets the highly prestigious Holy Guacamole stamp of approval from The Suspense Is Thrilling Me. Please, please, hold your applause.

After two close friends had read an arc of this (one of which sent me her prized copy to borrow because she’s the bestest book bestie ever), I knew I had to pick it up immediately. I was nervous to get myself too hyped up over it, as I tend to become disappointed when that happens, but if there was ever a book worthy of being hyped this was it baby! I really don’t want to say anything about the plot, other than it was constantly twisting and turning in ways I couldn’t predict. This was a huge bonus, but I adore how this wasn’t the focal point of the story; the entire plot wasn’t dependent on cloak and dagger tricks yet was enhanced by the many reveals along the way. The story is told between past and present, but our narrator is one consistent voice recalling events from the past and telling the present plot, which gives a natural ease in following along. There are some graphic descriptions of violence in the act and in the aftermath, so those with a sensitive stomach may want to give this a hard pass, but otherwise I can’t think of a single reason not to pick this book up if you’re a fan of twisty psychological thrillers.

I struggle in believing that The Chalk Man is a debut novel for author C.J. Tudor; the writing quality is so excellent you could have told me a seasoned, bestselling author had written this and I would have believed you without question. The complex nature of the story, the insertion of comic relief and dark humor, as well as equal parts action and characterization inserted really made for the trifecta of perfect books. If I could give this novel 100 stars I would do so in a heartbeat! Sometimes you can just tell early on which books will be buzz worthy in the coming seasons, and I truly believe that The Chalk Man will be talked about non-stop by fans looking for their next psychological thriller in the crime fiction realm. Go ahead and pre-order this one, mark it on your TBR, do whatever you need to do to make sure you don’t miss out on grabbing this book the SECOND it hits shelves. I’ll be buying a finished copy for my personal collection as I can see this being a reread in the future for myself, although realistically I’ll likely shove it at someone and make them read it instead. HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!!!!! 

*Sorry, did I mention that I liked this book? Yes? Ok, just making sure. 🙂

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Goodreads Power User Summit

And I’m Off!!! (But I’ll Be Back)

It’s true; I’m signing off until Monday the 16th, but for good reason. I’m really excited to share with you guys that I’m going on a book related trip. I’ve been dying to spill the beans and I can finally say that I was invited to attend the Goodreads Power User Summit in San Francisco! EEK! So what exactly is that you may ask? I didn’t know such a thing existed, but basically the Goodreads team handpicks a few members to come to their headquarters for a couple of days and we will get a sneak peek at some upcoming features, get to meet the team who works there, and participate in some fun activities. That’s really about all I can say at this point, because I’ve already signed a NDA and will sign another when I get there, but I’m planning on doing a blog post about the experience in general, meeting the team, etc and just omitting any confidential information. That said, I have maybe one or two posts pre-scheduled for while I’m gone but I won’t have a chance to be online sharing, so I’ll plan on catching up on everyone’s posts that I miss when I return. Happy reading folks and I’ll check in with you on Monday! ❤

 

 

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Dennis Reviews 10/11/17

Book Title: Don’t Close Your Eyes
Author: Holly Seddon
REVIEWED BY: DENNIS
Series: None
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
Goodreads
Pub Date: 07/04/17
3 STARS

Twin sisters Robin and Sarah haven’t spoken in years.

Robin can’t leave her house. A complete shut-in, she spends her days spying on her neighbors, subtly meddling in their lives. But she can’t keep her demons out forever. Someone from her past has returned, and is desperate to get inside.

Sarah can’t go home. Her husband has kicked her out, forcibly denying her access to their toddler. Sarah will do anything to get her daughter back, but she’s unraveling under the mounting pressure of concealing the dark secrets of her past. And her lies are catching up to her.

Don’t Close Your Eyes is a story about sisterhood, about love and acceptance, and about the struggles of family dynamics. Robin and Sarah Marshall are twin sisters who haven’t seen each other in years. Robin suffers from agoraphobia, keeping herself locked away, people watching, and somewhat instigating drama in her neighbors lives. Sarah on the other hand, is dealing with relationship problems with her family. She has been kicked out and excommunicated from both her husband and her daughter, Violet. Sarah is desperately trying to find her sister, but cannot seem to get in contact with her. Sarah’s secrets and lies are catching up to her, and Robin is the only person in her life that can help her. As the story unfolds, both women begin to unravel, showing their vulnerabilities and the damage that the past has done to them. What are they hiding that is affecting both of them so much, and why?

Don’t Close Your Eyes is one of those books that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The story predominately features twin sisters, Sarah and Robin Marshall, but also beautifully characterizes the supporting characters as well. The story is written with two POVs, each being one of the sisters. It is an extremely slow burn so it can get be of mundane in the beginning, but as the pages kept turning, small pockets of new information regarding the story kept unfolding and pulling me back in. Honestly, both sisters really pissed me off and weren’t really likable, which is fine because (in my opinion) if you love/like to hate a character, it still locks you into the story. I really enjoyed the secondary characters more than Robin and Sarah, so I got really hooked when we started learning more about them. The story is not really a thriller but a mystery that provides snippets of new information while continuing to move the story along. I wish that it was a little more fast-paced because it really didn’t thoroughly engage me until 75% of the story was over. Don’t Close Your Eyes jumps between the present and the early ’90s while they were growing up, and honestly their past was more enjoyable and binge-worthy than the present. If you’re looking for a book to enjoy during your lunch break, or while having a coffee, look no further because this is your book!

 

Book Title: The Broken Girls
Author: Simone St. James
REVIEWED BY: DENNIS
Series: None
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Gothic
Goodreads
Pub Date: 03/20/18
4 STARS

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

What a marvelous and unexpected on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of read! Simon St. James’s The Broken Girls is set in Barrons, Vermont, during two different time periods and ultimately merging into one storyline.

1950- In a generation of people affected by the aftermath of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War, there is a boarding school in rural Vermont called Idlewild Hall. This all girls boarding school is home to many of society’s “degenerates”, trouble-makers, family secrets, and broken girls. A group of outcasts, Katie, CeCe, Sonia, and Roberta are the best of friends, forging their time at Idlewild with their own sisterhood, showing each other that they can handle anything life throws at them, as long as they have each other.

2014- After decades of Idlewild Hall being shutdown, a mysterious buyer decides to reopen the boarding school under suspicious circumstances. Journalist Fiona Sheridan decides to pick up the story because it is near and dear to her heart. Idlewild’s operations ceased after her sister was tragically murdered by the facility owner’s son. Why is Idlewild being restored? Why now, after all this time? And… who or what is looming over the property? As time progresses, secrets start unraveling at the seams. Not everything in Barrons is what it seems.

The Broken Girls really kept me engaged from the moment the storyline was established. It was my first read by Simone St. James and I will definitely be interested in seeing what else she has in her pocket in the future. Usually I don’t like stories that follow two or more different timelines, as I feel like it becomes an over-zealous attempt at creating an in depth story, but St. James really has a good handle on weaving in the past to the present here. Slowly, each puzzle piece locks in for an epic conclusion.

*Thank you Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Review: How I Lost You

Book Title: How I Lost You
Author: Jenny Blackhurst
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction
Goodreads
Pub Date (US): 10/10/17
4 STARS

 

I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don’t you? My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address, and a chance to rebuild my tattered life. This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he’s dead? If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?

This is the type of book that is my worst nightmare come to life; any mother of small children knows what a delicate, fragile state you are in during your kid’s first year of life and the premise of this story is so real and hard to swallow that it makes for a powerful read. As a woman who has struggled with postpartum depression/anxiety previously, I could totally relate to Susan Webster on a certain level. No, I didn’t kill either of my children, but I’ve visited some deep, dark places that I would never wish upon anyone. I could give a trigger warning for those who have been through a similar experience, as it very well might be too much for someone too close to that current situation, but as a survivor of this type of mental illness I felt wholly capable of reading this book without it being too disturbing to my psyche. Proceed at your own caution, but know that this book was well worth the time and emotional effort required of me to read it, in my humble opinion.

What immediately grabbed me with How I Lost You was the format in which the story is told. The prologue is Susan’s letter to her parole board in a plea for consideration of release and also as a confession of remorse toward the horrible act she committed. After that, each chapter mostly alternates between present day, which is directly after Susan is released from prison and has changed her name officially to Emma, and these flashbacks to a group of boys committing atrocities that are seemingly unrelated to the present day. There are multiple mysteries that tie together into a single storyline, which is just the type of read I love most. The intrigue between each thread that appeared to be separate coming together was what really won me over, and I was gripped from beginning to end. This was a bit of a slow burn in the beginning that picked up over time, and until the end was more of a psychological suspense than a full blown thriller with action sequences.

I can certainly see why this book was so popular in the UK that it made it’s way across the pond to be published in the US as well; with the twisty psychological thriller still being highly coveted, How I Lost You has remained wholly relevant on the mystery/thriller/suspense scene, even after multiple years between publications. It won’t be for everyone, and those who are particular savvy with psychological thrillers may figure out the ending, but I can honestly say I didn’t have it all solved and only picked up on parts here and there. I felt the ending was perfect; while there was much needed closure on the big mystery, it also left a bit to the imagination which is always appreciated here. If you enjoy a book full of twisted suspense that is dark, gripping, and a bit disturbing, go ahead and pick up Jenny Blackhurst’s How I Lost You and add it to your fall line up!

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here. 

You can purchase How I Lost You via Amazon HERE!

 

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Mini Review Monday: 10/09

Happy Monday friends! As you can see, it’s been fairly quiet here on the site. Aside from a few reviews, I’ve lost my blogging mojo for the moment. I’ve been trying to read more books for fun to see if that can shake up my schedule and bring back my motivation, but for now my schedule is filled with house hunting and family things. ❤ I’m so thankful that my desire to read hasn’t taken a hiatus though, so I thought as a nice compromise I would bring you a couple of mini reviews (courtesy of NetGalley) today!

Book Title: The Goblins of Bellwater
Author: Molly Ringle
Series: None
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Goodreads
Pub Date: 10/01/17
3 STARS

Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out.

Skye, a young barista and artist, falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. Her older sister, Livy, is at wit’s end trying to understand what’s wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn’t talk of such things: he’s the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.

Unaware of what’s happened to Skye, Kit starts dating Livy, trying to keep it casual to protect her from the attention of the goblins. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Kit, Skye draws his cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods, dooming Grady and Skye both to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever.

It’s a midwinter night’s enchantment as Livy, the only one untainted by a spell, sets out to save them on a dangerous magical path of her own.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, and I think if I had fit into the target audience then maybe my star rating would have been a little higher. I truly love the concept behind the story, where it originated from, and how weird and quirky it was. The writing was beautiful and the setting was a dreamy type of atmospheric that was both fantasy fueled and modern meshed into one. I think my main hesitations came within some of the plot features themselves; maybe I’m just being nit-picky, but it felt as if these characters in their early to mid twenties had at least a decade on me in maturity and wisdom. Hey now…. Again, my issues were more “cosmetic” than anything else, and I feel like those who lean toward more romantic stories (again, not my go to) will eat this up. Recommended with caution as many people seem to think this is YA, but it is very much in the NA realm, and there is a good bit of graphic, erotic material. Again, not a problem, just hoping the disclaimer helps place this little novel in the right hands.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy via NetGalley.

Book Title: Last Star Burning
Author: Caitlin Sangster
Series: Last Star Burning #1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian
Goodreads
Pub Date: 10/10/17
5 STARS

Sev is branded with the mark of a criminal—a star burned into her hand. That’s the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed their entire nation.

Now her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a paralyzed half sleep by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. And as further punishment, Sev is forced to do hard labor to prove that she’s more valuable alive than dead.

When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she must escape the city or face the chopping block. Unimaginable dangers lurk outside the city walls, and Sev’s only hope of survival lies with the most unlikely person—Howl, the chairman’s son. Though he promises to lead her to safety, Howl has secrets, and Sev can’t help but wonder if he knows more about her past—and her mother’s crimes—than he lets on.

But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Even when Sev’s life and the lives of everyone she loves may hang in the balance.

This novel was pure young adult perfection! While it’s being marketed as a fantasy, I (like many other reviewers) felt this fell more under the realm of a science fiction/dystopian world with fairy tale elements, and it was absolutely brilliant. I had a hard time putting this book down; it had non-stop action, bigger than life characters, and a setting that was so unique and exquisite it was to die for. As the first in a new series, there was a good bit of world building, but it wasn’t the typical info dump that causes most debuts to slow down and lose readers along the way. I’m not sure what else to say other than I loved, loved, LOVED IT! Between the gorgeous cover and the perfect balance of all the elements I look for in an epic saga, this one was an excellent introduction to the new series and my greedy little hands are already doing the gimmie shimmie. Please do yourself the favor of picking Last Star Burning up if it’s your type of story; you’ll be wowed and thrilled to bits.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy via NetGalley.

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