Latest E-Book Haul

Happy weekend! You probably have been wondering where my non-review posts have been since I’ve seemed to only be publishing my thoughts on various ARCS lately. I promise, they aren’t gone, I’m just really getting down to business on clearing my shelves. I was so behind for so long and, if I stay on track, I should be back in business by the end of October. Bear with me as you see a lot more reviews for the next 6-8 weeks; after that I’ll have a healthy mix of other blogging topics covered as well. That said, I’m really excited to share my latest haul with you, because it’s ebooks! I know I don’t give these enough credit, but I’m really coming around on my thoughts of them, as they are so convenient to take when I’m out reading and multitasking. Staying true to the book nerd that I am, I’ve broken them down into categories and I hope you’ll tell me which ones you’ve read and what you thought of them!

NETGALLEY

KINDLE UNLIMITED

PURCHASE/FREEBIES

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Review: The Child Finder

Book Title: The Child Finder
Author: Rene Denfeld
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: Mystery, Literary Fiction, Magical Realism
Goodreads
Pub Date: 09/05/17
5 STARS

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

I cannot in good conscience give this anything less than 5 stars. I’m not sure I have the words to properly describe just how The Child Finder made me feel; it was heavy and disturbing in many ways but contained a haunting beauty that only Rene Denfeld seems capable of mastering. The writing was lush and exquisite, containing her signature trademark stamp of magical realism. I was completely lost in this icy, poignant world, and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have changed a single aspect in her crafting of this fine tale. Highly recommended with caution, as the content could be a little much for some readers (more on this below).

Without spoiling any details or going too far into the plot, you know from the blurb that this story changes between various POVs, but is mainly regulated to Naomi and “The Snow Child”. Naomi is our protagonist, known simply as the child finder, and she is perfection in her flawed nature and broken past. As she leads the investigation in searching for long time missing Madison, we also get glimpses into another mind, a young girl who will be identified later in the story. The time jumps are not broken up by chapter, so we flow between narratives quite frequently which kept the novel fresh and my attention rapt.

I think the reason I’m so drawn to the author’s work is how she can insert an essence of magical realism that leans heavily on the realism side. Think a character escaping a horrendous ordeal through their imagination. Once again, this story is really quite disturbing in a sense, but not in the gory, graphic way that most thrillers and action novels tend to be. Most of what happens is implied through this magical realism and child like innocence, but for those sensitive to abuse scenarios, you may have trouble reading this. For me, I felt these plot points only added to the brilliance of the story and were fully necessary and tastefully done.

I can’t express how, even with the darkness surrounding the story, Denfeld manages to give her books such a hopeful, light filled feeling; in my humble opinion THIS is what makes her books so readable, relatable, and compulsive in nature. If you read her first book, The Enchanted, and loved it, you’ll likely enjoy this as well; while the plots are completely different they both contain that fairytale like quality shrouded in a contemporary novel. Highly, HIGHLY recommended as I cannot say enough good things about this book, and I cannot wait to see what Rene dreams up next!

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

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TDTJ Book Birthday Celebration

Good morning readers! Do you remember when I reviewed a young adult book last month titled The Door To January by Gillian French? If you missed my review, no worries! You can find it HERE. I was so pleased with this book that I just had to promote it further, and that day is finally here. I’m excited to be kicking off the blog tour with an excerpt from the book; this is the perfect way to figure out if it’s your type of read, free of commitment. I’ve included the graphic containing info on all the stops; you’ll want to visit each one and leave a comment as you’ll be entered to win a copy of the book! Also, if you’re planning on purchasing, all orders placed through the Islandport Press webpage (found HERE) will receive their copy signed by the author. Now, let’s get on to the excerpt!

 

CHAPTER 1

The house was a sad thing in the daylight. It sat on a hilltop, a sagging

pile of weathered clapboards and crumbling brick, the gutters stuffed with

the refuse of many seasons. It had been grand once, a two-and-a-half-story

Colonial built facing the harbor; a huge, swaybacked barn sat on the property

in its own private ruin.

Continue reading

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Review: Dead Woman Walking

Book Title: Dead Woman Walking
Author: Sharon Bolton
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
Goodreads
Pub Date: 09/05/17
4 STARS

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’m very familiar with Bolton’s work; so far I’ve read the Lacey Flint series as well as a handful of standalones, and while Flint will always be a near and dear favorite, Dead Woman Walking might just be her most enjoyable solitary book to date. The blurb on the back is very brief, which we all know I’m a fan of, so you really haven’t got a clue what to expect going in. Don’t read any reviews (including this one) if you’re wanting to know absolutely nothing ahead of time; there will be no spoilers here but I always like to give fair warning for those wanting to keep an open mind and a clean palate before picking up the book. If nothing else, know that this was a mesmerizing thriller containing a slow burning mystery. It was a perfect example of crime fiction featuring twisty characterization which makes it the perfect recommendation to anyone who likes the structure of a procedural with more action and quick snippets of chapters.

Where to start when there are so many wonderful attributes to this novel? I love how the beginning chapters really hook us into the story; there’s a large group of passengers on a hot air balloon and, in the midst of their tour, they are brought down in a terrorizing way where most of the people do not survive. We find out early on who the culprit(s) are, which was a really nice addition. As a reader, I used to hate when the whodunnit was revealed early on, but now that I’ve grown and matured a bit, I’ve come to really appreciate the new aspect and vision this brings to a story. As I stated above, the characterization is fabulous (this is one thing Bolton is known for), and she doesn’t shy away from writing about disturbing tendencies and creating dark characters, even in her protagonists. There are ever-changing POVs and timelines in the narrative which kept me on my toes, constantly trying to piece together this mystery of  the “why” and a deeper understanding of the “how”. While it could get a bit confusing for some readers in the early stages, by the time the middle to ending is reached everything clicks together to form a brilliant finale that blew me away.

There’s a reason Sharon Bolton is not only a fan favorite on Goodreads, but is so successful that her work has jumped the pond from the UK on our worldwide. There seems to be a certain trademarked feel to her writing; I can’t really describe it to someone who has never read her books because they don’t really compare to anyone else I’ve read. This unique signature she bears in her work is what keeps readers coming back for more with each book she writes. If you’re new to her work, Dead Woman Walking is a great place to start. She has managed to keep the suspense genre feeling fresh in a time where books being published feel stale and recycled. The plot here genuinely confounded me and, I have to say, it was great to experience that blown away feeling you get when a book has truly kept you in the dark until the precise moment the author choses to reveal their secrets to you. Highly recommended to all readers who love a thrilling plot with intriguing characters; I know I’ll be thinking about those last few pages until her next book is published.

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

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Library Haul-September

Oh hi there, it’s me again. Trying yet another new idea. 🙂 I’ve been thinking a lot in the past month about how much I miss utilizing the library. I never intended for my blog to only feature reviews of ARCS, yet it seems this is what it’s turned into. You can’t tell yet, because it’s taken time for me to catch up, but I’ve been really careful on the review copies I’ve been accepting lately. If it’s not on my immediate wish list or from an author I have a relationship with and trust, I’ve been sticking to my guns and whittling down the ARCS I already own. Between NetGalley, various e-arcs, and physical review copies, I’m  down to (at the time of this writing) 34 total review copies 37 total review copies (I forgot about 3 that are on the way). Coming from someone who had over 100 just 4 months ago I’d say that’s pretty good! September and October are still ARC heavy, but I’ve been planning on light reviewing for the remainder of the year due to another upcoming (local) move.

All that to say, I’ve missed just going to the library and browsing for a new book baby to bring home with me, or the building anticipation of waiting for that upcoming release to finally come in through your holds. My goal is to choose 5 books of various genres and formats each month to review here as part of my library haul feature. These can be anywhere from new releases to age old classics, physical books to audio books, and I’m hoping to mix it up each month for a healthy balance. This month I think I did fairly well; I chose 1 audio book (those take longer for me to get through) and 4 physical books of varying fiction genres. While 5 per month is a lofty goal until I get to November, I’m hoping to read at least 3 of these before the end of September. Do you see any favorites on here? Which do you think I should start with?

STATION ELEVEN BY
EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. 

Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as The Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. 

Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

UNNATURAL DEEDS BY CYN BALOG

Victoria Zell doesn’t fit in, not that she cares what anyone thinks. She and her homeschooled boyfriend, Andrew, are inseparable. All they need is each other. That is, until Zachary Zimmerman joins her homeroom. Within an hour of meeting, he convinces good-girl Vic to cut class. And she can’t get enough of that rush.

Despite Vic’s loyalty to Andrew, she finds her life slowly entwining with Z’s. Soon she’s lying to everyone she knows and breaking all the rules to be with Z. She can’t get enough of him—or unraveling the stories of the family he’s determined to keep hidden.

Except Z’s not the only one with a past. Straight-laced Vic is hiding her own secrets…secrets that are about to destroy everything in her path.

UNSUB BY MEG GARDINER

Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An UNSUB—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.

The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.

Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.

Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?

THE WHITE ROAD BY SARAH LOTZ

Desperate to attract subscribers to his fledgling website, ‘Journey to the Dark Side’, ex-adrenalin junkie and slacker Simon Newman hires someone to guide him through the notorious Cwm Pot caves, so that he can film the journey and put it on the internet. With a tragic history, Cwm Pot has been off-limits for decades, and unfortunately for Simon, the guide he’s hired is as unpredictable and dangerous as the watery caverns that lurk beneath the earth. After a brutal struggle for survival, Simon barely escapes with his life, but predictably, the gruesome footage he managed to collect down in the earth’s bowels goes viral. Ignoring the warning signs of mental trauma, and eager to capitalize on his new internet fame, Simon latches onto another escapade that has that magic click-bait mix of danger and death – a trip to Everest. But up above 8000 feet, in the infamous Death Zone, he’ll need more than his dubious morals and wits to guide him, especially when he uncovers the truth behind a decade-old tragedy – a truth that means he might not be coming back alive. A truth that will change him – and anyone who views the footage he captures – forever.

THE WALLS BY HOLLIE OVERTON

WOULD YOU KILL TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY?
Working on death row is far from Kristy Tucker’s dream, but she is grateful for a job that allows her to support her son and ailing father. 
When she meets Lance Dobson, Kristy begins to imagine a different kind of future. But after their wedding, she finds herself serving her own life sentence—one of abuse and constant terror.
But Kristy is a survivor, and as Lance’s violence escalates, the inmates she’s worked with have planted an idea she simply can’t shake. 
Now she must decide whether she’ll risk everything to protect her family.  Does she have what it takes to commit the perfect crime? 

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Blog Tour: Maria In The Moon

Book Title: Maria In The Moon
Author: Louise Beech
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: Louise Beech novels ARE their own genre???!!!
Goodreads
Pub Date: 09/30/17 (Paperback)
5 STARS

Thirty-one-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything. Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide… 

Well, she’s done it again folks! Upon reading The Mountain In My Shoe last year, I knew I’d stumbled across an unforgettable author in Louise Beech. Her novels are just so unique and, as you saw above, are quite difficult to force into any single genre. To do so would take away from the potential of what each reader may receive on reading these books, so I think it’s better to just say they fall under the great umbrella of fiction and leave it at that. I now expect a great wave of emotion to wash over me as I read her books, so when I picked up Maria In The Moon, not only was I expecting it, I welcomed this feeling with open arms. This is quite possibly the easiest five stars I’ve given this year, reinforced by the fact that I could have read this book on into eternity.

You know those stories that you simply can’t put down? I’m not talking the ones that you just happen to read quickly, I mean the ones you can’t stop thinking about, the ones you are sneaking around the house and hiding from your family to finish but somehow they always find you and no, you don’t want to make them another meal. Leave me alone! That’s exactly how I felt about Maria, which I found funny because my sneaky books are usually thrillers and fast paced mysteries full of suspense. Maria was none of those, but she was something so special I just couldn’t leave her alone. This is the type of book that you’ll want to go in blind to the plot, but trust me it’s worth knowing as little as possible to gain the full experience that’s offered. I think quite a few readers will be expecting what happened in those missing moments for Catherine, but believe me that doesn’t take away from the story, as it only seemed to up the gut wrenching impact when all is revealed.

Incredibly moving and quite literally breathtaking, this is a book that stirs all types of emotion in the reader and leaves you with a sort of wispy feeling of magical realism, one that makes you wonder if you dreamed the entire story or really did just read it. Excellent writing and highly, HIGHLY recommended if you’re looking for a book that is many things all at once, as no single genre can confine this novel. I’m so grateful for fearless writers like Louise who can lead us places we may never be brave enough to take ourselves. For those unaware, there is a song titled MARIA IN THE MOON written by Carrie Martin that accompanies the novel in full perfection. If you’d like to find out more about the creation of the song, Louise and Carrie’s friendship, and how to download the track and watch the video, please visit Carrie’s website HERE

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

Louise Beech has always been haunted by the sea. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She was also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show for three years.

PURCHASE LINKS:
AMAZON US: HERE
AMAZON UK: HERE
BOOK DEPOSITORY: HERE

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Review: No Plain Rebel

Book Title: No Plain Rebel
Author: M.C. Frank
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: No Ordinary Star #2
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Goodreads
Pub Date (most recent): 07/16/16
5 STARS

A soldier is summoned to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix a the great Clock for a celebration. He has no idea what to do. 
A girl, hunted for the crime of being born, almost dies out on the ice. She is rescued by the last polar bear left alive. 
A library waits for them both, a library built over a span of a hundred years, forgotten in the basement of an ice shack.

The world hasn’t known hunger or sickness in hundreds of years. It has also forgotten love and beauty. 
The year is 2525. 

Inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, this futuristic novel is set in a world where Christmas -among other things- is obsolete and a Clock is what keeps the fragile balance of peace. 

Written in three installments, this is the breathtaking and sensual story of how two unlikely people change the world, and each other, one book at a time. 

AHHHH!!! Once again I’m left wanting to continue the story, which makes me grateful that it won’t be long until I have my greedy little paws on it. Muahahahaha. What an adventure! Where No Ordinary Star contained the essence of necessary world building, intrigue, and introductions to our characters, No Plain Rebel was fast paced, plot driven action that I nearly swallowed in a single sitting. When it comes to trilogies, I typically struggle most with the middle installment, as it can feel a bit like filler material stretching out the series. Here, the books are short enough that this is not true; each precious page is valuable and treasured and I was blown away at how engrossed I felt in this middle passage on our journey through what has become an enchanting alternate world.

If you read my previous review for No Ordinary Star then you know I was really hoping to learn a bit more about Karim in this book. You’ll be pleased to hear that we get to know all sorts of things about him and from him, and he might just be my favorite character to date! While these are overall very beautifully serious novels, it was a pleasure to find some levity in Karim’s character and his witty one liners. I was swept away in the delicate, budding romance between Astra and Felix and couldn’t help but turn a little mushy in their discovery as individuals, but also as a romantic duo. I’m not sure that cliffhanger is the correct word for how this part ends; I felt there was enough closure for the moment, but we are left desiring answers and more to the story for certain.

It’s safe to say that this series is a fine example of near perfect world building; between the establishing factors in the first book and the plot taking off in the second, I found myself intoxicated by this world that was chilling and mysterious. To say that I am eagerly anticipating the final act in this drama would be an understatement, and if you enjoy young adult fantasy of the dystopian type, but hate all the cliches and immaturity of most current reads, you should really pick this series up. It is fresh, unique, and wholly satisfying, while keeping a feel of the classics without becoming stuffy or difficult to comprehend. Highly recommended and I can’t wait to see how the author chooses to conclude this breathtaking saga!

*Many thanks to the author for providing my copy.

 

If you missed my review of No Ordinary Star (Book 1), no worries! You can find it HERE

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