Kindle Unlimited: Jan 2018 PT. 2

Are we ready for part two of my not so slow descent into a diagnosable hoarding of books? My obsession could clearly be worse (imagine if I had a compulsion to purchase every pair of Jimmy Choos I came across!), but like many other bloggers this year, I’m taking it upon myself to plow through the books I already have without adding too much to my current stack. I posted my first 10 current kindle books HERE on Monday and am posting the remaining 10 today. As always, help guide me to those books I should begin with, pretty please? ❤

  • CHAOS, DESIRE, AND A KICK-ASS CUPCAKE by Kyra Davis (Mystery, Chick Lit, Romance)
  • WATCHING GLASS SHATTER by James J. Cudney (Mystery, Thriller)
  • MIDNIGHT by Stefani Chaney (YA, Urban Fantasy)
  • KILLMAN CREEK by Rachel Caine (Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction)
  • THE UNREMEMBERED GIRL by Eliza Maxwell (Southern Gothic Fiction, Mystery, Suspense)
  • THE COSY CANAL BOAT DREAM by Christie Barlow (Women’s Fiction, Romance, Chick Lit)
  • DESPERATION ROAD by Michael Farris Smith (Southern Crime Fiction, Mystery)
  • THEY MOSTLY COME OUT AT NIGHT by Benedict Patrick (Fantasy, Horror)
  •  PRESENT OVER PERFECT by Shauna Niequist & Brene Brown (Spirituality, Non-Fiction, Self-Help)
  • THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin (Science Fiction, Horror)
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Dennis Reviews: Night Film

Instagram: @scared_str8

Book Title: Night Film
Author: Marisha Pessl
REVIEWED BY: DENNIS
Series: None
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
Goodreads
Pub Date: 07/16/13
5 STARS

On a damp October night, the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. By all appearances her death is a suicide – but investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. Though much has been written about the dark and unsettling films of Ashley’s father, Stanislas Cordova, very little is known about the man himself. As McGrath pieces together the mystery of Ashley’s death, he is drawn deeper and deeper into the dark underbelly of New York City and the twisted world of Stanislas Cordova, and he begins to wonder – is he the next victim? 

**********

Who would have thought my first 5 star review of 2018 would be this throwback by Ms. Marisha Pessl?! Night Film is original, captivating, and so intelligently produced. It is one of the most astounding reads I’ve ever read in my life. The story starts off with the death and apparent suicide of young twenty-something Ashley Cordova, the daughter of infamous producer and director Stanislas Cordova. Stanislas Cordova is infamous in his own rite; creating a cult fanbase with a series of dark, twisted movies that were eventually blacklisted from ever seeing mainstream production. Scott McGrath, disgraced journalist who has battled Stanislas Cordova in the past has decided to see if he can do some research and see if there’s anything he can find out about the mysterious death of Ashley. With little background on the Cordova family to go on, Scott must venture in uncharted territory with unspeakable means of gaining access to this uber-wealthy and secretive family. With a spin of the supernatural, Scott begins to notice that there’s been an abundance of strange coincidences happening around him. While Scott is trying to find answers, is someone trying to find him?

Alright everyone, that’s all you get for my synopsis review of the story because I can’t divulge anymore without spoilers. For 2018, I decided to commit to reading books that have been unread and sitting on my shelf for an extended period of time. I didn’t know that Night Film would be the book I’ve been waiting for my entire life. Listen, I’m apprehensive over any book over 500 pages, but I figured I’d try it out and if I was bored, I’d just DNF it. Boy, I was sooooo wrong! Marisa Pessl has created a masterpiece that I don’t think I could ever forget. Not only does she tell the story with beautifully and tactfully crafted pieces of imagery that highlight the plot masterfully as you read, she paints a story that is so original that kept me guessing up until the very last page! How can that happen? Ms. Pessl, call me! We need to discuss this book more. As a New Yorker, I found Pessl’s research on various checkpoints in the story depicted perfectly. Without giving too much into the story, I’ll provide an example. There’s a store called Enchantments featured and this store is described 100% perfectly—I should know as I’m a customer there! Ms. Pessl did her research while crafting this story and it doesn’t go unnoticed to me.

Overall opinion: If you want to have a taste of horror, but you are also a crime-fiction junkie, then pick up this book! Night Film is not a beach read, it will take some dedicated time to get through as it is pretty dense, but it is so worth it. I felt as if I was latched into the story. I wanted to be there and help goddammit! If you’re a fan of The X-Files or The Twilight Zone then I highly recommend picking this up NOW.

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Blog Tour: Hydra

Book Title: Hydra
Author: Matt Wesolowski
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: Six Stories #2
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Goodreads
Pub Date: 12/24/17 (UK Kindle)
5 STARS

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the “Macleod Massacre.” Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden “games,” online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess.

**********

I heard them at lunchtime, over the sound of the radio.
They followed me here.

After everything that’s happened, they followed me here…
I don’t know what they want.

Sometimes you read a book that blows you away so strongly that you are a bit terrified to pick up the author’s sequel. As my date for this blog tour grew closer, my tummy started to get a bit anxious and I wondered how Hydra would compare to Six Stories. There was quite a twist at the end of the first book and I pondered whether that affected my rating and review. Maybe the writing wasn’t as amazing as I originally thought? Maybe I was just on board the hype train; what if the novelty of a book structured as a podcast wore off? Guess what guys? IT WAS INCREDIBLE AND AMAZING!!! Just like in Six Stories, we have a unique format of storytelling (with excellent writing), but we get to know Scott King a little better this go around than we before. This book was incredibly creepy, but in a rich, realistic, atmospheric way.

You don’t technically have to read these in order but I HIGHLY recommend doing so in an effort to receive the greatest emphasis on all the right parts. The novels in this series are short, yet powerful; so far each case has been fully relevant to current culture and gives many nuggets to ponder no matter who you are. The anxiety riddled OCD inside me really loves the structure of these books; I know I’ve mentioned it already but the organized efficiency in which the author tells the story gives the ability to cover all that is needed while also allowing the reader to come to their own conclusions. Neither book really gives you a cut and dry ending; while most of the larger questions are answered, these stories ask the reader to use their thinking cap and decide what may or may not have happened to these tortured individuals.

I really want to keep this brief and stay away from the plot, but I was once again shocked with, not one but TWO brilliant twists! I won’t say exactly when they occur but they are just as genius as the ones in Six Stories. If you are looking for a way to shake up your usual hum drum of crime fiction and are tired of the Gone Girl wannabes, give these books a go. What do you have to lose? They’re brief snippets of unique storytelling and I find myself once again salivating for the next one. Please tell me we’ll have more than 6 episodes of Six StoriesPretty please with sugar on top. Highly recommended and I feel lucky to have found one of my Top Reads so early on two years running.

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

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Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015.

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Kindle Unlimited: Jan 2018

Oh hey guys! It’s me again; you know, the girl with all the unread books? I guess I feel like if I acknowledge all the various reads I have sitting around that it’ll make me get myself in order and stick to what I own instead or wanting to purchase ever shiny new book that comes my way. One thing I’ve really neglected lately is my kindle, and while I did give it a little love last week with my NetGalley posts, I have 20 unread books on there that aren’t ARCS, but either books I’ve read or more so, Kindle Unlimited choices I’ve snagged. I really want to make better use of this feature, because it’s saved me from committing to a bunch of arcs that I can find on here as soon as they’re published. I’m posting my first 10 today and the remaining 10 tomorrow; my goal is to get through at least half of these before adding anything new on either account. Have you read any of the books you see below? Any you’d recommend my attempting first?

  • BEAUTY OF THE BEAST by Rachel L. Deme (Historical Romance, Fantasy, Retellings)
  • THE FOURTH MONKEY by J.D. Barker (Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction)
  • I LIKED MY LIFE by Abby Fabiaschi (Women’s Fiction, Mystery)
  • THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE by Meg Elison (Post Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Science Fiction)
  • THE WOOD by Chelsea Bobulski (YA, Fantasy)
  • OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon (Historical Fiction, Romance, Time Travel)
  • GRACELING by Kristin Cashore (YA, Fantasy, Romance)
  • THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater (YA, Fantasy, Mythology)
  • EVERY LAST WORD by Tamara Ireland Stone (YA, Contemporary Fiction, Mental Health)
  • STILL WATERS by Viveca Stein (Crime Fiction, Mystery, Scandi Noir)

 

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Dennis Reviews: Behind Her Eyes

Instagram: @scared_str8

Book Title: Behind Her Eyes
Author: Sarah Pinborough
REVIEWED BY: DENNIS
Series: None
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Crime Fiction
Goodreads
Pub Date: 01/31/17
4 STARS

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

**********

I finished Behind Her Eyes late last night and I’m still at a loss for words on how to accurately rate and evaluate this novel for you. Let me do a quick summary of the plot and maybe it will help me form actual sentences and thought processes… here’s hoping!

Louise is a single mother, an administrative assistant—bored, lonely, and slightly depressed after a divorce left her feeling pity upon herself. After a night of drinking, Louise meets a man and makes out with him in a drunken stupor. Ecstatic that Louise has finally made a move on someone, she reports back to her friend Sophie and gives her all the gossip. When Louise goes into work the following Monday, she is shocked to see that this mystery man is now her new boss, David Martin. David is a psychiatrist that just joined the practice, as he and his wife Adele just moved into the neighborhood. Louise is so upset with herself, but she can’t seem to shake the feeling that their drunken make out session was something more captivating.

Louise ends up meeting David’s wife accidentally and the two ironically hit it off. As time progresses, Louise can’t help but to be drawn by Adele and David, but in different ways. Adele is the friend that Louise needs, David is the man she wants, and they both have secrets that are just not adding up for her. Louise starts witnessing the unraveling of a marriage gone wrong, but she just can’t figure out what exactly.

That quick synopsis did help gather some ideas and thoughts for discussion. First and foremost, if anyone tells you more than what I just told you in the plot, they aren’t your friend. Behind Her Eyes is the type of book that I went into blindly and appreciated my friends for not snitching. You cannot enjoy this book if you know too much. Call Will Smith and get the mind eraser tool from Men in Black or something, but if you end up knowing too much then just skip this read. When I first began this story, it started playing out in a similar domestic thriller fashion that was starting to bore me. Once I hit the halfway mark, things weren’t what they seemed for me. Something was off, but I couldn’t figure out what. I was glued to the story! Sarah Pinborough’s storytelling here does not go unnoticed, as I was completely sucked into the plot. Do I hate Louise, do I hate Adele, do I hate David—WHO DO I HATE?! I NEED TO HATE SOMEONE, RIGHT?! And more importantly, who do I root for? This is a rare find with books where I found myself not rooting for anybody, but still wanted to know what happened. These people are not people you can relate to (hopefully or you’re probably not that good of a person). Overall Sarah Pinborough’s storytelling won me over!

HOWEVER let’s talk about that ending.
Girl, bye! The reason why this novel didn’t get a full 5 star rating from me can be attributed to the ending. UGH! I want to rip every single final chapter from every single copy of this book out of the story! I want a reprint without that final chapter! I am so frustrated, but I will not divulge why here (I’m also slightly offended by it, but if you are my friend/read this book you’ll know why). Thinking back to the final wrap up of the novel, the final chapter does make sense to how the story played out as there were nuggets of information sprinkled throughout the book that led to the final conclusion—but it sucked. I would have totally given this book a 5 star review if we ended the story right before the last chapter. The story didn’t need it and was strong without the back-to-back twists. Sorry, but I just felt that the story was doing too much with that final ending.

Overall, I want to thank my friend Kourtney at https://www.kourtneysbookshelf.com for providing me a copy! It was a very intense read that I do recommend to anyone who hasn’t read it already.

 

 

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Dennis Reviews: Everless

Instagram: @scared_str8

Book Title: Everless
Author: Sara Holland
REVIEWED BY: DENNIS
Series: Everless #1
Genres: YA, Fantasy Fiction
Goodreads
Pub Date: 01/02/18
4 STARS

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

**********

Sara Holland’s Everless is an exhilarating, fantastic read of a lifetime. We are looking at the next Hunger Games, the next Maze Runner, the next new blockbuster read for 2018. Sara Holland’s debut novel will captivate you from the moment you crease the first page. I am stunned to see that this is a debut novel because it was so masterfully told that I just needed to finish it and see what happens.

In another realm, similar but very different to the one we currently live in, is a kingdom of Sempera. In Sempera, time is converted into money and riches. The source of this time comes from an individual’s own blood—turn into the currency of blood iron, that they can be transferred between person to person. Ultimately, people can live for centuries or die at a very young age, and all it takes is having the influence and power to farm this currency. Sempera shows vast inequality between the classes of people, where the rich tax the poor in exchange for blood iron. A prime example of that is by the Gerlings family taxing impoverished towns within their reign of the kingdom in exchange for “safety”; leaving the poor to struggle with their own mortality, while the Gerlings live for centuries.

The story’s protagonist, Jules Ember resides in a small distant town within the control of the Gerlings and the capital of Everless, with her father, both trying to make ends meet. Jules and her father used to be servants for the Gerlings at their mansion in Everless, until one day they are forced to escape. As a young adult, Jules is given the opportunity to return to Everless for work and help her father with the struggling debt that has accumulated over time for their family. In exchange for working at Everless, Jules can provide blood iron coins to extend her father’s rapidly diminishing life. In Everless, danger and suspicion have greatly caused Jules more grief than she ever knew. Why did her father and her flee Everless in the first place and why is her father adamant on keeping her away from the Queen? Jules has to figure out why if she wants to get to the bottom of her ever-growing list of suspicions.

Like many of you, once I saw that Everless was coming out early January 2018, I just had to pre-order it on Amazon, and I’m so glad that I did. I was immediately drawn into the story and hooked from the very beginning. I felt that Ms. Holland’s story is rich in its originality, with subtle tones of what has worked in the past for so many successful authors. Jules’ personality is very reminiscent of Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games series, but with her own strengths and weaknesses that provide original story telling. As a debut novel, Everless successfully starts the blossoming of what I believe to be a very extraordinary series of fantasy novels.

The only real critic that I have about this story and the only concrete reason why I couldn’t give this a full pledged 5 star rating was that the story had diarrhea of the mouth at the beginning—we were told way too much of the story in the very beginning. I was really excited about everything Ms. Holland provided in the beginning, but then it began to slow down towards the middle of the story. If the story became more of a mystery where we only got bits and pieces as the story progressed, it could’ve provided a more robust storyline of the central plot. Other than that, I believe that Everless has solid characters, a strong plot, and a wickedly exciting sense of entertainment. One disclaimer to all readers: it does end on a cliffhanger. I know some people get frustrated when authors do that and would rather wait for Book #2 and then read both consecutively, but this isn’t a critic for me.

Sara Holland, I’m ready for what’s next in store for the Everless series.

 

 

 

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Review: Just Between Us

Book Title: Just Between Us
Author: Rebecca Drake
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: Domestic Suspense, Mystery, Crime Fiction
Goodreads
Pub Date: 01/09/17
3 STARS

Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all. 

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

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This is a hard book for me to review; a three star rating on my own scale means that overall I enjoyed the book, but I found some issues I couldn’t overcome or the read wasn’t altogether memorable. Here, I found I enjoyed the read in a broad sense, but struggled with the format and determined that I just wasn’t engaged enough to keep all the details straight. This will be a short review, as I don’t have a lot to say, but I still wanted to take the time to acknowledge that I read this and try to reach the reader who may find this to be their own five star read. While this is being promoted as a psychological thriller/suspense, I’d like to add in that I feel it has a lighter, more dramatic angle than a truly dark one. Think Desperate Housewives and Big, Little Lies.

The writing is top notch people. I read the author’s previous novel, Only Ever You, and I devoured it. Her, the writing was just as high quality, so I came to the conclusion that it was my inability to keep straight the multiple POVs that narrate the story. There are four friends here, and we hear from all of them along the way; while this was definitely an interesting idea, I think I might have benefitted from the author choosing two ladies to tell the story and our gathering characterization from the remaining cast throughout their voice and experiences. This is 100% just my opinion though and has no bearing on the quality of writing or the value of the plot’s content. I thought the story was a wonderful idea and found myself having not figured out a few of the twists. If you enjoyed Big, Little Lies and other similar domestic dramas, I think you’ll enjoy this as well.

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

 

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