Review: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

30689335The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Published by: Crown Publishing

Publication Date: March 7th 2017

Genre: Adult Fiction/Mystery/Contemporary

Pages: 276 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4 STARS)

Trigger Warning: suicide & sexual abuse

*HUGE thanks to Penguin Random House/Penguin’s First to Read & Amy Engel for the eGalley of The Roanoke Girls

 

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Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

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I picked up The Roanoke Girls not knowing a thing about the plot or premise other than it was making waves in the blogosphere & sometimes that makes for the best possible reading experience. I’m glad I had no clue what I was getting into, this book definitely was dark & twisted with a bit of shock factor working for it. Told in first person point of view, the main protagonist Lane is living her life in NYC when she gets a call from her grandad letting her know that her cousin has gone missing & that she needs to come home. Lane reluctantly heads back to Roanoke, the one place she swore to never return to. There are a ton of secrets, mystery, hurt, and cover-ups in Roanoke that Lane can’t seem to escape. I immediately started asking myself questions as to what could possibly make Lane stay away from her grandparents home. She opted to leave to NYC where life is not at as easy as it would be if she’d stayed at Roanoke with her wealthy family. As the plot unravels you realize how deep the secrets go & that Lane is just one from generations of Roanoke women that can’t seem to escape the manipulation and abuse in the Roanoke home. I was not expecting this book to go the direction that it did & yes I am purposely being vague because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone trying to read it. It is the darkest book I’ve read to date and seriously made me question the psyche of these characters from all angles. The air of mystery is held throughout the book until the very end since we are from the very start trying to figure out what happened to Allegra? did she run away? or is she dead in a ditch somewhere like everyone thought she was fated to end up? & while Lane attempts to solve this mystery, we are also being exposed to the family secrets one by one…

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I don’t believe I’ve ever come across a cast of characters this messed up smh. Our main protagonist Lane is carrying some serious baggage from childhood that stems back to her relationship with her mother. Lane’s mom fled Roanoke while pregnant with her but she never truly escaped her past & lived a life of sadness where she cried daily and couldn’t actually have a relationship with Lane. Her mom carried the Roanoke secrets buried deep within her & committed suicide when she was 15 which meant that Lane would be sent to live with her grandparents (next of kin) back at Roanoke. The book is told by a now adult Lane who has flashbacks to the summer she arrived at Roanoke after her mother committed suicide. We meet Allegra in the flashbacks & for those of you who have watched the show Pretty Little Liars, Allegra is the equivalent of Allison & that’s as close a comparison as I’ve ever seen one haha! She is energetic & oftentimes frenetic. Allegra is ecstatic to have Lane join them at Roanoke & we get to follow the girls that summer while they date & even fall in love. We also get to see how the extent of the abuse they’ve experienced affects their relationships with their boyfriends at the time. Lane considers herself unworthy and therefore sets out to destroy whatever good she comes across through toxic behavior. I am not kidding when I say EVERYONE in this book is messed up but the Roanoke girls have it the worse. Paraphrasing here but one of the characters actually mentioned that there are messed up families & then there’s reallllly messed up when he referred to Lane’s own family. They were all twisted enough to stay in my psyche for quite a bit, this book won’t be for everyone but I found these characters interesting & they kept me wondering at all hours of the night.

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The formatting of this book kept me completely captivated, alternating between the present & the summer Lane arrived in Roanoke was interesting enough. However, I also really enjoyed the excerpts written in third person POV for all of the Roanoke girls who suffered the same fate while living in the Roanoke household. I couldn’t put this book down for too long, I needed to find out the truth but also Lane felt like a loose cannon the majority of the time & I couldn’t keep my eyes from reading just to see what she would do next. A page turner that for sure will make you uncomfortable but I think this speaks to the authors skilled writing. This book won’t be for everyone however, I enjoyed it probably because I gravitate towards complex characters. Given, this is on a whole other level of complicated but still, it made me feel several emotions & that was enough for me to know that this was a solid read my bookish peeps ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have any of you read The Roanoke Girls? If so, what are your thoughts? If you reviewed The Roanoke Girls, feel free to drop that link down below & i’ll swing by your corner of the inter-webs ๐Ÿ˜‰

Review: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

30320053Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

Published by: HarperTeen/HarperCollins

Publication Date: February 21st 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 432 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… 1/2 (3.5 STARS)

*HUGE thanks to HarperTeen, Edelweiss, and Rhiannon Thomas for the eGalley of Long May She Reign in exchange for an honest review

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The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girlโ€™s unexpected rise to power.

Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles donโ€™t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom โ€“ and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she canโ€™t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the kingโ€™s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.

As Freyaโ€™s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.

plot-banner The 1st YA Fantasy standalone I’ve read with an interesting premise in a very long time, Long May She Reign is more than just a Fantasy, it can also be classified as a mystery. The blurb & beginning pages disclose that the King of Epria & his court have all been poisoned to death during his birthday celebration leaving Freya the 23rd in line, the heir to the throne. Freya, a self-proclaimed Scientist who loves to experiment in her lab away from court & all of its politics would never have imagined herself sitting on the throne as Queen. Surrounded by the nobility & citizens of Epria who lost family as a result of being poisoned, Freyaโ€™s reign begins on a dark note. Met with opposition, anger, accusations, and suspicions she takes on this task sheโ€™s inherited & tries to find answers while also bringing about some much needed change in the kingdom.

When we first meet our main protagonist Freya, she is in her laboratory working on an experiment to self-create heat in your hands. She lives alone with her father a man who climbed his way up the nobility ladder with the help of his now deceased wife. Freyaโ€™s mother was of a noble family & was known for her charm whereas Freya experiences anxiety at the thought of working a room. I instantly found myself relating to Freya who is more comfortable amongst her books and test tubes & not socializing. Rhiannon Thomas gave us some of the most common symptoms of anxiety. Those of us who have anxiety know that everyone is different & we donโ€™t all experience the same symptoms yet I was able to recognize & relate to what Freya was feeling. I also found myself feeling uncomfortable with her which speaks to the authors writing & knowledge of anxiety. Freya has BIG dreams which her father & the rest of the world would deem non-traditional. Court life just isnโ€™t for her, not when thereโ€™s a whole world of Who? What? Where? When? Why? to be answered. Sheโ€™s known since she was a little girl that science was her calling. As the 23rd in the royal line, it was highly unlikely that sheโ€™d ever inherit the throne. When the unlikeliest of events occurs & she is thrust into the throne, we get to see Freyaโ€™s personality unfold. She couldโ€™ve been selfish & run away from everything she feared & disliked but instead she decided to rule like only Freya could. I enjoyed seeing her infuse her ingenuity into strategies of war & apply her knowledge to investigate the poisoning. Freya developed strong female friendships within the court which I absolutely loved reading since again, we donโ€™t get them enough in our books. We also get introduced to the Kingโ€™s illegitimate son who also is presented as a love interest to Freya. Iโ€™ll admit to being a bit weirded out by this oneโ€ฆFreya being 23rd in line & all at some point I wondered aloudโ€ฆarenโ€™t they related? I guess this would be a good question to ask the author *mental note*โ€ฆ I do wish weโ€™d been given a little more background on the Kingโ€™s son & some of the other supporting cast. I will say though, the characters in Long May She Reign delivered when it came to politics & court intrigue. They had me suspecting each & every one of them of murder & high treason LOL!

Long May She Reign may be at its core a YA Fantasy however, it also fits in the Mystery genre. I was pretty much consumed, following Freyaโ€™s science experiments & deductive reasoning. Freya doesnโ€™t have a large court to begin with since they were for the most part all in attendance for the Kingโ€™s birthday where they ate their last meals. This helped in limiting the amount of players on the board but it also meant that those closest were to be suspects. I had wondered how a YA Fantasy standalone would read since Iโ€™m accustomed to long standing series or trilogies but it worked well. Since this is a standalone we donโ€™t see too much world building, instead this book is very plot driven. The supporting characters aren’t really too fleshed out. We do get a well developed female protagonist, Freya was pretty awesome however,her development wasn’t w/out its faults. The Freya we meet in the beginning who suffers from anxiety isn’t quite the Freya we get at the very end. I wondered what happened to her anxiety since I myself am a person who deals with this disorder every day. Then again, as I mentioned at the very beginning of my review…we don’t all suffer the same symptoms or cope the same way ๐Ÿ˜‰

The writing style is engaging, I felt very much a part of Freyaโ€™s investigations which I really enjoyed. This is a slow build which is something that as a YA Fantasy reader Iโ€™m also not accustomed to & yet it never once lost my interest. Iโ€™d definitely recommend Long May She Reign for those bookworms looking for strong female friendships, ingenuity, & a good olโ€™ murder mystery ๐Ÿ˜‰

Long May She Reign was released this past Tuesday (while I was moving to my new home lol), & so Iโ€™m a little late with my review. How many of my bookish peeps have Long May She Reign on your TBRโ€™s? a Scientist Queen? Who can resist?!?! ๐Ÿคด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ’ฐโŒ๐Ÿ‘ธ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ“š

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words and to participate all you have to do is answer the three Wโ€™s listed below. Once youโ€™ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Samโ€™s comments <3โ€™s!

The questions are:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think youโ€™ll read next?

*All covers will take you to their Goodreads page*

 

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Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

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Currently reading this short story collection and honestly taking my time with it because of the heavy subject matter. The author was nice enough to send me a eGalley a couple of weeks ago after seeing me express interest in her book. The writing is poignant & thought provoking. I’m currently on story 4 out of 5 and think I already have a favorite unless the last one dethrones my current favorite. My heart strings have been pulled while reading Manipulated Lives, making me think of my own personal experience with a manipulative friendship. My husband says that he’s never seen me take such copious notes lol, I just don’t want to forget anything with my terrible memory. I should be done reading Manipulated Lives by tomorrow & then a full review will follow ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

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I recently read & reviewed Scrappy Little Nobody (review here) by Anna Kendrick, I listened to the audiobook which I tend to do with all comedienne autobiographies/memoirs. I gave this one 4.5 stars, Kendrick delivered tons of laughs & an inside look to her childhood and come-up. Never once did she sound braggy of her fame, instead we get a humble down to earth Anna who is still in awe of just how far she’s come. If you’re a fan of her movies and find her funny, Scrappy Little Nobody is worth a read.

Lost Girls by Merrie Desetefano 

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Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano was HANDS DOWN a 5 star read for me (review here) for the plot, characters, writing, and yes even world building…a dark & seedy one. This is a Young Adult Thriller/Mystery yet I honestly got a more mature vibe to Destefano’s characters & found that to be refreshing. The Goodreads synopsis describes this as Black Swan meets Fight Club, and a more accurate description there is not! If you’re interested in characters that are morally gray, stories with awesome family dynamics, and adrenaline infused reads then this is the book for you ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Roseblood by A.G. Howard

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Goodreads Synopsis

In this modern day spin on Lerouxโ€™s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake sheโ€™s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Runeโ€™s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thornโ€”an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thornโ€™s dark agenda comes to light and heโ€™s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father heโ€™s ever known.

A Phantom Of The Opera re-telling? I couldn’t resist picking this one up at NYC Comic Con/BookCon. I’ve always admired this authors book covers from afar & even have her Splintered series on my TBR. I’m hoping this one is a hit & if it is then 2017 will be the year I binge this authors books.

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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Goodreads Synopsis

When Griffinโ€™s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future heโ€™s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffinโ€™s downward spiral continues. Heโ€™s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets heโ€™s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

Thankful to have an eGalley from Soho Teen/Adam Silvera. After reading More Happy Than Not last year I started following Adam Silvera on social media & relaized how cool & down to earth this author is with his fanbase. Once I read the synopsis to History Is All You Left me I immediately knew that it was going to put me through it but I am SO READY! super excited to read this one & I know Adam will not fail me ๐Ÿ™‚

Review: Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano

lost-girlsLost Girls by Merrie Destefano

Published by: Entangled

Date of Publication: January 3rd 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery

Pages: 360

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating:โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… 5 Stars

 

Goodreads:

Fight Club meets Black Swanโ€”Rachel wakes up in a ditch to find she doesnโ€™t remember the last year of her life, and that everythingโ€”including herselfโ€”is vastly different than she remembers.

Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammyโ€™s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life.

She doesnโ€™t recognize the person sheโ€™s become: sheโ€™s popular. She wears nothing but black.

Black to cover the blood.

And she can fight.

Tell no one.

Sheโ€™s not the only girl to go missing within the last yearโ€ฆbut sheโ€™s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls.

But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darkerโ€ฆsomething she still cravesโ€”the rush of the fight, the thrill of the winโ€”something she canโ€™t resist, that might still get her killedโ€ฆ

The only rule is: There are no rules.

*Iโ€™d like to thank Entangled Teen for approving me to receive an eGalley of Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The 1st sentence in the synopsis for this book immediately had me clicking Request This Book over at Netgalley because my mind sees Black Swan & Fight Club as the ultimate mashup & i’m all for it.

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I can happily confirm that the description doesn’t lie & if you’re looking for your next adrenaline infused read then Lost Girls is the book for you! The book opens up with Rachel in a ditch in the middle of no where with no recollection of how she got there. Rachel makes her way on to an open road and is able to flag down some help & call her parents. It turns out that she’s been missing for the past 2 weeks however, her last clear memory is of being in her room studying for a class she took 1 year ago. See, Rachel has lost all recollection of the past year and can’t provide any insight as to what led to her disappearance. Once she is back home and begins to settle in, she sees that her room looks completely different than it did 1 year ago. Everything went from light colors to black. Digging around in her closet she finds a box with articles of clothing and items that indicate she was quite possibly living a double life–one that isn’t so much Girl Next Door but more Good Girl Gone Bad. In school she realizes she is now popular, a part of the cool kids, and dating the hottest guy in the school. Yet last she can recall, her best friends name is Molly & they enjoy dressing up in Lord Of The Rings Cosplay. Everything had changed in Rachel’s life and she was intent on getting answers. She went along with her new friends and quickly realized they knew more than they were letting on. She finds it easy to establish herself as the leader of their crew of friends, something that she is almost positive would NOT have been the norm 1 year ago. Rachel is the Alpha whether she has her memories or not, she also has a new found love for danger & fighting but no clue as to how long those feelings have lived with her. Rachel returns to ballet practice to try & bring some normalcy back into her life, not realizing that this too is a clue to her missing year of memory. Little by Little she begins to piece together the mystery of her disappearance & her personality change, in doing so she finds that she was involved in a very dangerous lifestyle…

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Rachel is our protagonist and she is not your typical run of the mill YA protog in the sense that I wasn’t able to fit her into any of the YA roles. She is not a hero, anti-hero, or what some would call a “good character”. Rachel is flawed in a lot of ways & this made her all the more relatable. I understood that she had made a ton of mistakes and that she has this calling towards fighting. She struggles reconciling the person she was a year ago with the person she changed into. Was it really a gradual change? or was it something embedded in her personality all along? is this just her nature? I loved this character so much because she understood that there is no good or bad but there’s plenty of gray. Seeing how she handled her returning memories was also interesting and played into her need for control. She internalizes a ton and that brings me to another character I loved who plays a major role in building her trust, her dad. Rachel’s dad was formerly a Navy Seal and is the more quiet and observant type of parent, her mom is a nurse who handles crisis in the hospital well but not so well when it comes to her kids (I can totally relate lol). It was her dad who kept a close eye on her even when she wasn’t aware he was doing so. One of my favorite scenes in this book is between Rachel & her Dad…a few tears were shed *no shame*

There’s also the crew of Girls & Guys that run with Rachel (don’t want to giveaway too much) that each add personality to the group. Loved the loyalty they all had for each eachother & how protective Rachel was over each of her girls. We get to learn a bit of back story on each of the girls who ALL can fight & crossing paths with Rachel may have just saved their lives. There is a love interest in the story & he also is a part of the underworld Rachel thrives off of, a fighter and a poet. No instalove here though since when we meet him, they would have been dating for more than the past year. Rachel’s reconnection with him feels fated & I enjoyed learning how exactly they fell down the rabbit hole they are in when the story begins. I also can’t go without mentioning Molly who was/is Rachel’s nerdy best-friend. I absolutely ADORED Molly and seeing how fiercely loyal she is to Rachel even when she didn’t exactly deserve it. Molly is that one friend you have that you know is ride or die HAHA!

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The world Merrie Destefano has created in Lost Girls is so DARK & ADRENALINE FUELED…I couldn’t put this book down. I’m talking full on phone slapping me in the face awake at 2am because I thought I could break night just to find out what was going on. There are both female and male groups that fight in this underworld for the most part they are all high school students. This isn’t some luxury club in  a good neighborhood either, she took us into the worse of the worse. The part of town you don’t want your car to break down in & she accurately describes what it would look like & the characters that you would come across. Of course, you can’t realistically fashion an underworld with illegal fighting without the appearance of drugs. There are different types of drugs with names like Pink Lightning or Blue Thunder that the fighters are given so as to get them addicted. The writing (specifically fighting scenes) is descriptive enough to make you imagine how much pain was being inflicted. The plot & pacing were on point and maintained my attention to the very end. I look forward to reading more from this author and hope we do get another book soon *crosses fingers*

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Photo Credit: The Planet’s Last Dance

 

November Owlcrate & Book Of The Month

November was an exciting month for subscription boxes, I know I received exactly what I DID NOT predictย lol..every month I go about guessing the book, yeah I know that it defeats the purpose but tell that to my curiosity *hides face*ย  November’s theme is Wonderland & it was the 1st month that the obvious new release was staring me in the face yet It was the last book to come to mind HAHA! they got me good lol. I recently read, reviewed, and loved Heartless by Marisa Meyer (review here). This was a nice surprise & again I must tip my hat off to Owlcrate for their AMAZING thoughtful curation, each month they surprise me with the items they include in their boxes. I also nabbed myself a 3 month subscription to Book Of The Month from Groupon (Sale still going) and my November selection was The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6) by Tana French. I have been meaning to get to this series since January when I picked up Into The Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1)ย while on a trip to Miami. From what I’ve read in reviews, the good thing about this series is that you don’t necessarily need to read them back to back since each book has a new set of characters and plot line. However, the characters in each new book are introduced in the previous book (if that makes any sense).

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Goodreads Synopsis:ย 

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the Kingโ€™s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Book Of The Monthย 

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The Trespasser by Tana French

Goodreads Synopsis:

A brilliant new novel from theย New York Timesย bestselling author, whom Gillian Flynn calls “mesmerizing” and Stephen King calls “incandescent.”

Being on the Murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad sheโ€™s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but sheโ€™s getting close to the breaking point.

Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers loversโ€™ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty, groomed to a shine, and dead in her catalogue-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. Thereโ€™s nothing unusual about herโ€”except that Antoinetteโ€™s seen her somewhere before.

And that her death wonโ€™t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinnโ€™s boyfriend, fast. Thereโ€™s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette’s road. Aislinn’s friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be.

Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she canโ€™t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?

Do any of you subscribe to Book Of The Month? if so, which book did you go with this month? thoughts on the Owlcrate exclusive cover? yay or nay?

 

 

Standalone Sunday

Happy Sunday Bookies!!! this is my 1st time participating in Megan@BookSlayerReadsย Standalone Sunday, a feature where you select a book (not part of a series) that you loved & would recommend to others. Super excited to be participating in Megan’s feature since i’ve been eyeing it for weeks & racking my brain for a good standalone I could post. It seems like lately series are the norm but I would love to get some more standalone’s read & this seems like a great source for motivation. On to this Sunday’s pick…

 

 

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Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

 

Publisher: Vintage

Publication Date: October 24th 2000

Page Count: 311

Genre: Fiction/Mystery-Crime

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lionel Essrog is Brooklynโ€™s very own self-appointed Human Freakshow, an orphan whose Tourettic impulses drive him to bark, count, and rip apart our language in startling and original ways. Together with three veterans of the St. Vincentโ€™s Home for Boys, he works for small-time mobster Frank Minnaโ€™s limo service cum detective agency. Life without Frank Minna, the charismatic King of Brooklyn, would be unimaginable, so who cares if the tasks he sets them are, well, not exactly legal. But when Frank is fatally stabbed, one of Lionelโ€™s colleagues lands in jail, the other two vie for his position, and the victimโ€™s widow skips town. Lionelโ€™s world is suddenly topsy-turvy, and this outcast who has trouble even conversing attempts to untangle the threads of the case while trying to keep the words straight in his head.ย Motherless Brooklynย is a brilliantly original homage to the classic detective novel by one of the most acclaimed writers of his generation.

This week I chose Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem, a book that I read in college as part of my required reading. I didn’t know it then but this would go on to become one of my most favorite detective tales that has since stayed with me. I am hazy on many of the smaller details but I loved the narratorย Lionel Essrog an orphan with Tourettes Syndrome & OCD. Lionel ends up working for Frank Minna (mobster) as muscle up until Frank is murdered. The book is narrated by Lionel & therefore you’ll get random bursts of his Tourettes as well as his need to count things as he sets out to solve the mystery of Frank’s murder. I fell in love with Lionel’s character & felt this need to see him be ok on his own. There are many heartfelt moments as well as humorous ones…straight out laugh out loud moments. I loved seeing Lionel navigate Brooklyn (my home sweet home lol), the borough isn’t portrayed in a positive light but I believe people have forgotten Brooklyn’s past before gentrification. I’d recommend Motherless Brooklyn to anyone who enjoys a good detective novel & wouldn’t mind being inside the mind of a person with Tourettes & OCD since it isย narrated by the character with these mental disorders.

Quotes

โ€œTourette’s is just one big lifetime of tag, really. The world (or my brain—same thing) appoints me it, again and again. So I tag back. Can it do otherwise? If you’ve ever been it you know the answer.โ€ย 
โ€•ย Jonathan Lethem,ย Motherless Brooklyn

โ€œGuilt wants to cover all the bases, be everywhere at once, reach into the past to tweak, neaten and repair. Guilt like Tourettic utterance flows uselessly, inelegantly from one helpless human to another, contemptuous of perimeters, doomed to be mistaken or refused on delivery.โ€ย 

โ€• Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn

โ€œPrince’s music calmed me as much as masturbation or a cheeseburger.โ€

โ€• Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn

Review: Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

29477965Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

Publisher: Lake Union

Publication Date: October 4thย 2016

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Genre: Suspense/Mystery

Page Count: 360 pgs

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (3.75)

Goodreads Synopsis:

Julie Prentice and her family move across the country to the idyllic Mount Adams district of Cincinnati, hoping to evade the stalker whoโ€™s been terrorizing them ever since the publication of her bestselling novel, The Murder Game. Since Julie doesnโ€™t know anyone in her new town, when she meets her neighbor John Dunbar, their instant connection brings measured hope for a new beginning. But she never imagines that a simple, benign conversation with him could set her life spinning so far off course.

After a series of misunderstandings, Julie and her family become the target of increasingly unsettling harassment. Has Julieโ€™s stalker found her, or are her neighbors out to get her, too? As tension in the neighborhood rises, new friends turn into enemies, and the results are deadly.

*Iโ€™d like to thankย Lake Unionย for approving me to receive an eGalley ofย Fractured by Catherine Mckenzieย via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

PLOT

Fractured is the 2nd mystery/suspense novel I’veย read this year in which I was unsure whether one of the main protagonists was a unreliable narrator or not. This novel kept me in the dark for almost the entirety of the book with incredible build up. Formatted in past & present tense, Fracturedย is narrated by Julie Prentice who is the newly moved in neighbor & John Dunbar who has resided in the close-knit neighborhood all his life. This book gave me such Stepford/Desperate Housewives feels & I wasn’t complaining since I loved the movie & tv show. I will say that any time I read or watch anything that takes place in a suburban community, I am always left feeling creeped out and thankful for my city and the neighbors who couldn’t be bothered to watch my coming’s & going’s HAHA! So, Julie Prentice who is looking to start a new life far away from her stalker decides to move to Cincinnati with her husband and twins. Julie has had much success from her debut thriller The Murder Game based loosely on old law school games she used to play with her law school buddies. “The Book” as Julie refers to it, runs parallelย to her own lifeย with many similarities between her and The Book’s protagonist Meredith. In “The Book”, someone is murdered and it just so happens that within Julie’s circle of real life law school buddies, someone was murdered while they were all at a frat-like party many years ago. Now a well known debut author with rising fame, Julie is used to all of the rumors swirling around The Murder Game aka “The Book” except that her stalker isn’t just some random Jane. Julie’s stalker actually attended the same law school & claims to know the truth. Julie struggles with depression & is a recovering alcoholic. Her transition into the new neighborhood is awkward from the very beginning & unfortunately only takes a downward spiral after a series of encounters with some of the neighbors (cue The Stepford Wives jeje). John Dunbar is the first to befriend Julie over a mutual love for morning runs. They develop a friendship since he’s a work-from-home dad & she an author with a deadline for book 2. In a community where every move is watched & reported, a friendship like theirs is sure to stir up some talk. However, it is the decisions they make that put into effect a series of life changing events. Since this is a Mystery/Suspense novel I don’t want to go to in depth. I went in blind like I do with most mystery/suspense novelsย & I think it works best with Fractured.
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CHARACTERS

Since this book is told by Julie & John both in past andย present tense, we get to see a mixture of old and new friends for each of these characters. Their family set-up is almost identical except for that Julie’s twins are I believe aroundย 5 or 6 years of age and John has two teens. They are both married and their spouses work coincide with one another. Everyone is connected one way or another and everything is treated as public knowledge with very little room for privacy. We get introduced to some of the neighbors who under the leadership of one of the residents, have formed a committee. The leader of the committee throughout the book sends out these memos updating & revising (more like adding) the policies (rules) for the neighborhood and monthly block party which served to insert some humor into this book. I found myself thinking how it could be possibleย for all of theย neighbors to follow these rules without protest but chucked it off to group thinking. The neighborhood as a whole down to some of the teens were pretty intense and very quick to pass judgment on Julie. The giph below perfectly describes how I pictured the women of Mount Adams would look at Julie every time there was a so called “incident” on their street. Most of the time I disliked the way the other women were towards Julie but there were some occasions that made me raise a brow. John I wasn’t too fond of at all, he came across as weird in a gross way and cowardly. Catherine McKenzie gave us two very complex protagonists & for that I am thankful since I like my characters roughly shaped LOL.ย 
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THOUGHTS

I read Fractured in a fairly short amount of time which usually means that I enjoyed what I was reading, and I did. I was desperately trying to figure out what exactly happened and didn’t see that ending coming at all. I especially enjoyed the formatting of the chapters in past & present tense counting down to the final present hour. It all felt like flashbacks and you the reader get the full picture of how exactly the cookie came to crumble. There were certain things that played key roles in Julie’s life that I wish weren’t so easily tucked away (won’t say what due to spoilers) & some questions from her past that lingered in my mind. Overall though, this was an enjoyable read. What I loved most about reading Fractured had to be Catherine McKenzie’s writing style, which means I will definitely be looking into her other books. If you’re looking for the next suspense filled mystery novel this one is sure to hold you in it’s grasp till the very last page ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

P.S. It aint a block party if the punch aint spiked! BAHAHAHA!ย 

October Wrap-Up & Haul

 

Wrap-Up

October saw me reaching for cozy reads which I find mostly in mystery, suspense, and humor. I was lucky to have come across some quality reads, three of these were real page turners and 1 was an audiobook. I’m now interested in reading more books by Lisa Unger, Cyna Blog, and Anna-Marie McLemore. Personally, I love when I come across new or under the radar authors in my TBR’s that truly surprise me. October was a slow blogging month for me & I’m only now crawling out of my blog slump but I never stop reading. As a matter of fact, the rest of the year is going to demand that I organize my reading schedule & tackle some arcs. The month of October was pretty AMAZING for me with bookish experiences. I attended my very 1st Comiccon/Bookcon (event post here) with my husband & bookish twin Gretchen @Chicnerdreads where I met some AMAZING authors & scored some epic arcs. I attended 3 days out of 4 and learned some valuable tips & tricks all while having a blast surrounded by the book community. I loved my October & I’m looking forward to Bookcon 2017 since at the moment BEA is up in the air due to all of the changes taking place with the event (Publishers Weekly article). November is here & with it comes Thanksgiving & basically the start of all of the end of the year festivities. I’m hoping to take advantage of some of my days off to read on the go since mostly, I spend it with family. Next week on the 17th, I have a Crooked Kingdom Buddy read & i’m hyped up for that ๐Ÿ™‚

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When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore 5 Stars

Gemina by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman 5 Stars

The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer (audiobook) 3.5 Stars

Ink And Bone by Lisa Unger 4.75 Stars

Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog  5 Stars

Book Haul

My October Book Haul was humble…at least I think it is compared to previous months LOL. A major reason for this was that as I mentioned above, I attended Bookcon & came home with a good stash to keep me far away from the bookshop. Two of the books listed below were gifts from my hubby (Harry Potter & Vassa) and the others were either Bookoutlet, B&N, and Book Of The Month. I did purchase 1 Kindle book, I jumped when I saw The Underground Girls OF Kabul for $1.99 since this is a book that i’ve been itching to read since last year smh *covers eyes*  Overall though, my book shopping is going to see a MAJOR slow down for the rest of the year. I won’t call Book Ban LOL cuz that would be setting myself up for failure haha! BTW I had to cancel Book Of The Month, they changed their plans after I subscribed for the very 1st time. Switching me from my preferred month-to-month plan to a 3 month plan at $48…yea no, as much as I love BOTM I am simply not rollin in the dough to give them all my $$$ so instead I’ll check out their monthly picks & continue buying books from their selections sans a subscription. If they ever bring back the month-to-month plan I would gladly sign right back up but until then, i’ll admire from afar ๐Ÿ˜‰

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A Study In Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1) by Brittany Cavallaro  (Bookoutlet)

Every Heart A Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire (Bookoutlet)

Vassa In The Night by Sarah Porter (Owlcrate-recurring VDay gift from Lรฉ Hubby)

The Mothers by Brit Bennett  (Book Of The Month $5 for their 1st box)

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris (B&N Coupons & Sale =$5.99)

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (full price cuz it’s worthy LOL)

Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (gift from Lรฉ Hubby)

The Underground Girls Of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg  (Kindle $1.99)

 

In Other News…

October saw me become OBSESSED with Luke Cage!!! every night I came home & after settling our 2 tiny humans in for the night, hubby & I would watch 1 episode a night. Netflix has been putting out some quality series & this one is no exception. Luke Cage touched on relevant current day issues taking place within black communities, thought provoking with it’s subtleties. I couldn’t stop watching this man who is bullet proofa man of colorbullet proof…let that sink in my fellow bookies. Hands down, this show was one of the best i’ve watched in 2016 & I’m looking forward to any news of a 2nd season. Also, the soundtrack…I am truly old school with my music & when I say old school I mean old school hip hop. The series has WuTang on it’s soundtrack which was a perfect fit & gave it more character. If you’re into that old school feel with a mix of politics and kick a** scenes then Luke Cage is for you. It does have a bit of a slow beginning but the pay off is HUGE! This is the 3rd series after Daredevil & Jessica Jones (to be followed by Iron Fist last) that will tie into Marvel’s The Defenders (Youtube trailer here).

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โ€‹Hope you’re all having a great November, I’m a bit late with my October wrap-up & haul โ€‹but if you’d like to share a link to yours, i’d love to take a gander ๐Ÿ˜‰

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words and to participate all you have to do is answer the three Wโ€™s listed below. Once youโ€™ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Samโ€™s comments <3โ€™s!

The questions are:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think youโ€™ll read next?

 

www-wednesdays

CURRENTLY READING

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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Goodreads

Started Heartless yesterday as part of a buddy read with my book twin Gretchen @Chicnerdreads & enjoying it immensely! honestly Marrisa Meyer is the Queen of Fairy Tale re-tellings. You’re immediately thrust into the kingdom of Hearts & the Wonderland feel is ever present. I am very interested in Catherine’s aka The Queen Of Hearts story before she becomes who we all know & fear for her mood swings lol. I love that Catherine is a baker…I think I love any book in which there is baking especially when the author does a great job of making me want a pastry straight off the page.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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Goodreads

Also started this one yesterday in audiobook format BECAUSE it’s none other than uncle Gaiman come to tell a story & I can’t get enough of his narrating voice lol. After listening &  adoring the hell out of Stardust, I knew that I would be a fan of Gaiman for life. This is now my 2nd book & i’m only 12% in and i’m hooked. The Graveyard Book is rich with characters from page 1 and I find myself smiling like a little girl every time I listen to these characters (he even does the voices & does them WELL!) dialogue. I love little Nobody Owens & want to protect him for as long as possible…I have a feeling this will lead to me buying uncle Gaiman’s (not really my uncle lol) books for my shelves.

What did you recently finish reading?

Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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Goodreads

I recently read & reviewed Gemina (review here) by Amie Kaufman & jay Kristoff, this was a 5 star read for me and an EPIC addition to the Illuminae files. Inside & out, this book was stunning!!! with illustrations by Marie Lu the author of The Young Elites trilogy to enhance the reading experience. Gemina offered up tons of laughs & a whole new set of characters to LOVE & care for.

The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

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Goodreads

This was a 3.5 star read for me (review here), I listened to the audiobook & have a new found respect for Amy. Although the 1st half of this book was a bit hard to get into due to a bit of Amy’s own awkwardness & what comes off as dicomfort…the 2nd half really saw her coming into her own & owning her words. Schumer hits on some really tough subjects in this her collection of essays. Not every moment will be a laugh out loud moment but it will be raw & she makes no apologies for that, which is why I am now a fan ๐Ÿ˜‰

What do you think youโ€™ll read next?

Fractured by Catherine Mckenzie

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Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:

Julie Prentice and her family move across the country to the idyllic Mount Adams district of Cincinnati, hoping to evade the stalker whoโ€™s been terrorizing them ever since the publication of her bestselling novel, The Murder Game. Since Julie doesnโ€™t know anyone in her new town, when she meets her neighbor John Dunbar, their instant connection brings measured hope for a new beginning. But she never imagines that a simple, benign conversation with him could set her life spinning so far off course.

After a series of misunderstandings, Julie and her family become the target of increasingly unsettling harassment. Has Julieโ€™s stalker found her, or are her neighbors out to get her, too? As tension in the neighborhood rises, new friends turn into enemies, and the results are deadly.

After seeing so many rave reviews from bloggers I follow, I requested and was approved for this eGalley on Netgalley. This author has been on my radar for another one of her books titled Smoke and if I enjoy Fractured, will be probably be boosting Smoke up the more immediate TBR list.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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Goodreads

I will be buddy reading the 2nd book in the Six Of Crows duology with Jill @rantandraveaboutbooks, Melissa @Booknerdmomo, & Megan @Bookslayerreads starting November 17th. A bit bittersweet feeling since I am not ready to let go of this world & my babies! but it’s time, I can’t continue dodging Crooked Kingdom spoiler bombs on Twitter (quite stressful lol). Looking forward to jumping back into this world ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:

โ€œAre you happy with your life?โ€ Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jasonโ€™s never met smiles down at him and says, โ€œWelcome back, my friend.โ€

In this world heโ€™s woken up to, Jasonโ€™s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable–something impossible.

Is it this world or the other thatโ€™s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he couldโ€™ve imaginedโ€”one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Another book that comes highly recommended by some pretty awesome book bloggers I follow & love. Also, while waiting in line to get my book signed by V.E. Schwab I over heard her say that she LOVED this book & that it was simply just SO GOOD! I mean, if that isn’t enough motivation to finally start this one I don’t know what is. Such an interesting premise, i’m looking forward to finding out what is happening to Jason.

Did any of you participate in WWW Wednesday? if so, drop that link & iโ€™ll swing by your blog for a peek. October was a blur of activity & i’m hoping for a much more mellow November but who am I kidding? LOL! 

Review: Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

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Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger 

Published by: Touchstone

Date of Publication: June 7th 2016

Genres: Mystery Thriller/Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

Pages: 352

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4.75 stars)

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

An instant page-turner (Lisa Gardner) that straddles the line between thriller and horror…sure to appeal to a wide range of readers, including Stephen King fans. (Booklist, starred) A young woman’s mysterious gift forces her into the middle of a dangerous investigation of a little girl’s disappearance. 

Twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery is rarely alone. Visited by people whom others canโ€™t see and haunted by prophetic dreams, she has never been able to control or understand the things that happen to her. When Finleyโ€™s abilities start to become too strong for her to handle โ€“ and even the roar of her motorcycle or another dazzling tattoo canโ€™t drown out the voices โ€“ she turns to the only person she knows who can help her: her grandmother Eloise Montgomery, a renowned psychic living in The Hollows, New York.

Merri Gleason is a woman at the end of her tether after a ten-month-long search for her missing daughter, Abbey. With almost every hope exhausted, she resorts to hiring Jones Cooper, a detective who sometimes works with psychic Eloise Montgomery. Merriโ€™s not a believer, but sheโ€™s just desperate enough to go down that road, praying that sheโ€™s not too late. Time, she knows, is running out.

As a harsh white winter moves into The Hollows, Finley and Eloise are drawn into the investigation, which proves to have much more at stake than even the fate of a missing girl. As Finley digs deeper into the town and its endless layers, she is forced to examine the past, even as she tries to look into the future. Only one thing is clear: The Hollows gets what it wants, no matter what.

 

I’d like to thank Touchstone for providing me with a eGalley of Ink & Bone by Lisa Unger via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I guess I should start off by saying that horror is NOT my thing! this gal right here has avoided the Freddy intro ever since first hearing it at the age of 10. I was the girl who avoided spook every Halloween & somehow always managed to get “accidentally” egged LOL. The mere mention of a spirit or ghost in my home was enough to keep me up several nights & my dear old g’ma used this as a way to get my sister & I settled down when being too rowdy at night. Fast Forward to 2016 & Spookathon Read-alongs are EVERYWHERE! can’t escape them. I decided to start Ink & Bone since it was described as a mystery thriller with an ominous cover but no mention of spook just a couple of psychics….I can do psychics right?…

Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger sunk its teeth into me from the 1st page & never let me go. It starts off with a prologue which I surprisingly enjoyed. It gives us a piece of the puzzle & lingers in your mind as the story unfolds. We get introduced to a couple who have been married for 16 years (unhappily so) with 2 kids. They are both night & day, Wolf is a writer and Merri is an editor. Wolf is also quite the charmer & the player, being unfaithful from day 1. Merri is aware of his philandering but has come to accept it as the norm, knowing that he hasn’t been faithful for longer than a year at a time. Merri also knows that Wolf loves her, they have amazing sexual chemistry, and when its good its great. Its the every day cycle of their lives as parents filled with repetition and very little adventure that bores Wolf. While carrying on a relationship with another woman (complete opposite of Merri), Wolf decides that the family needs a little getaway, packs them up, and heads to The Hollows. A town filled with mystery, death, and sadness but of course at the time Wolf had no idea. Wrapped up in his own needs & wants, Wolf hasn’t found a way to cut ties with his lover and instead is stringing her along. At the end of the day he knows that he loves Merri & that he wants to be faithful, that Merri is the only woman that can truly have a hold on his heart. It’s during a outing with the kids on a hiking trail in The Hollows that everything changes for the worse. Even though we are shown what happens in the prologue, I won’t do so beause I want you ALL to read it for yourselves & enjoy it just as much I did of course HAHA! the events however, only further put a strain on their marriage. Throw in resentment, regret, guilt and what you have is a recipe for divorce…or not? won’t give that away ๐Ÿ˜‰

We also get introduced to Finley Montgomery who i’ve already added to my collection of fave female protagonists. Finley is described as having neon pink & black hair, tattoo sleeves (most of her back is covered), and a motor bike she rides all over town. Finley lives with her grandmother Eloise in The Hollows, they both are survivors of a tragic accident that left them with the powers to connect to the dead. Finley is able to see the dead who linger in this town with unresolved business. Kudos to Unger, the descriptions of these dead ones was haunting & bone chilling which led me to have to read Ink and Bone with the lights on. The Hollows is a place with abnormally high levels of abductions, murder, and abortions. It calls to others who like Finley, are able to see or feel those that have crossed over to the other side. It isn’t long before Finley’s path crosses with Merri & her family. Eleven months after the disappearance of Abbey (Merri & Wolf’s daughter), Meri still feels that there is hope and decides to resume her search by hiring an independent detective known for his work with psychics. Detective Jones Cooper has solved many cases alongside Eloise (Finley’s g’ma) but this time he will find himself working with Finley who is trying to learn how to control & set boundaries for her powers.

Thoughts

This book had me at the edge of my seat in certain parts & in others it had me searching for the light switch. The writing is haunting and a bit disturbing, I found myself wanting to know more about The Hollows but NEVER wanting to visit. The Hollows is described by Eloise to be some sort of vortex or place of power (maybe even a vacuum) that acts like a magnet for negativity which would explain all of the death. We even get to see dead spirits of three young girls who were accused & burned as witches. Unger brought The Hollows to life for me, it was a very atmospheric read that left me googling to see if it exists…haven’t found it yet (thankfully lol). I also felt that although there was resolution, we also get a sense that she’s leaving the door open for more. I can only hope that this gets turned into a series since there seems to be plenty of material & Finley is only just now getting acquainted with her powers. I did find The Whispering Hollows which is a collection of 3 short stories introducing us to The Hollows (before Ink and Bone was published) & I will be reading this in November since it’s only 159 pgs. & my curiosity for The Hollows is unusually great. If you’re looking for your next Booktober or fall read, Ink and Bone is the way to go ๐Ÿ˜‰

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