Heartless

heartless Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Read Date: January 5, 2017

Amazon, Goodreads

I haven’t had a book hangover quite like this one gave me in…I don’t even know how long. Too long. I couldn’t even think about picking anything else up when all I wanted to do was to be transported back to Wonderland.

My exact thoughts that I wrote down after reading the book were: I am so profoundly sad. Heartbroken; though my heart is more than broken, it’s actually gone. Which is eerily similar to what happened in the book.

I’m pretty sure I cried a couple of days after finishing this because it was just so good that I kept thinking back on it and then ended up becoming really sad all over again.

I know that so far all I’ve done is make you think that this book is sad, and that you probably don’t want to be sad when finishing a book, but that’s where you’re wrong. This made me feel so much emotion that I 100% plan on reading it again.

I purposefully went into this book without knowing too much about it. I knew it was a book in Wonderland, but I, shockingly, did not realize it was an origin story for how the Queen of Hearts came to be. I was perfectly content without having that information until I screwed it up for myself halfway through when I went on Goodreads to see if everyone else loved it as much as I was loving it. I tried to distance myself from the work then, knowing that it couldn’t have a happy ending, but I wouldn’t have ended it any other way. It was perfect. I wish it wasn’t a standalone book so I could get more from Wonderland and all of the awesome characters.

The Cheshire cat is awesome! Please allow me to share my favorite quotes from the book… all of which so happen to be from the Cheshire cat. Don’t worry, they’re not spoilers–they’re just incentive to read this.

Abigail told me that once she dreamed about a big glowing crescent shape hovering in the sky…and the next morning Cheshire showed up, all grinning teeth hovering in the air and begging for a saucer of milk. Years later and we still can’t seem to get rid of him.”

Cheshire’s head spun upside down. “How slow you are tonight. I was speaking of the rumors surrounding the new court joker.”
She perked up. “No. I haven’t heard anything about him.”
“Neither have I.”
She furrowed her brow. “Cheshire, that is the opposite of a rumor.”

“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”

“Why, yes, I would enjoy a cup of tea. I take mine with lots of cream, and no tea. Thank you.”

“I’m only saying that you might be the King’s wife, but who is to say you couldn’t also have more clandestine relations with the Joker?” (This in particular is what I had been wondering for myself throughout the whole book–it would kind of be a way to solve the problem. It’s not like kings and queens have never done it before!)

Unashamedly, almost all of the quotes I marked were Cheshire quotes. Such a clever cat. Here’s another quote (not from Cheshire!) that specifically speaks to me as an editor.

“Sir Hare?” asked Catherine.
“Haigha,” said the March Hare. “Rhymes with mayor, but spelled with a g.”
She stared, not sure how Hare could be spelled with a g. Before she could ask again, Jest settled a hand on her shoulder and whispered, “I’ll spell it for you later.”

Moving on, I loved watching how Cath went from the girl who could dream up six impossible things before breakfast to being all “Off with its head!” I thought it was perfect. Instead of thinking of the Queen of Hearts as this awful character, I will forever think of her as the girl who only ever wanted to open up a bakery with her best friend. She never stood a chance. Also, I loved how we learn just why she hates white roses–I would too.

In my notes, I wrote heavily about how perfect this was through my tears. I’ll just leave this at bringing up how clever it was to throw it other stories, such as “The Raven” from Poe, and “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater.”

I just read this…but after writing this review, I think I might just read it all over again.

five-stars

The River at Night

the-river-at-night The River at Night by Erica Ferencik

Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Read Date: January 4, 2017

Amazon, Goodreads

Winifred is lonely. Her husband has left her for a grad student, and her beloved brother has taken his own life. But every year, her and her three best friends go on a vacation adventure to get away from all of the worries of the world and to catch up with each other. The latest trip idea though is worrisome. White water rafting on a river that has only ever been navigated by a 20 year old who is also going to be their guide? No way. But Wini doesn’t want to be left behind, the one who chickens out while the others end up having a blast and she’s left alone. The adventure ends up taking a turn for the worst, and not only are their friendships tested, but Wini has to dig deep and see what she’s made of to survive.

This is a suspenseful thriller that kept me captivated by the truthfulness and realness of their friendships with each other. I could picture my friends in each of those roles and would know that we would have acted very similarly to these characters. It felt like I was almost testing myself, that I was in Wini’s shoes and would have made similar choices.

There’s a similarity between Wini and her brother and a later character, Dean, that I really enjoyed. I think those scenes in particular are what really makes Wini have her own voice and it’s awesome.

Ultimately, in this was a suspenseful thriller, I felt like we were really watching Wini accept herself and to not be so afraid of the world, to be welcoming of whatever comes next because nothing can be as fearful as the river at night.

Many thanks to NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of this book!

four-stars

Right Behind You

right-behind-you Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner

Publication Date: January 23, 2017
Read Date: January 3, 2017

Series: FBI Profiler (Quincy & Rainie) Series
Book #7

Amazon, Goodreads

Retired FBI profilers Quincy and Rainie are in the process of adopting their foster daughter, Sharlah. Meanwhile, tragedy strikes the town and it’s looking like Sharlah’s brother Telly Ray Nash, whom she hasn’t seen in eight years, is the shooter. What does this mean for Sharlah and why is he killing again after beating his drunken father to death with a baseball bat years before?

This crime procedural is part of a series but it’s also a stand alone. I didn’t have any issues wondering what I was missing. With that out of the way, it took me a long time to get into this. I would read a chapter, then put it down and read something else. It took me a full month before I finally had read enough chapters to get me interested and then I couldn’t put it down.

What made it hard for me to get interested in the story was how much telling was going on versus showing. Especially in Sharlah’s perspective. She just explains everything and that’s not really the writing style I am interested in. It was really her and Shelly the Sheriff’s perspectives at the beginning that caused me to not keep reading this faster; I just didn’t really care. Shelly made a big deal about electronics being difficult too, which is just ridiculous, we’re not in the stone ages anymore.

Anyways, after pushing myself past the telling versus showing aspect, I started to get into the story. Both Telly and Sharlah have been bounced around the foster care system, Sharlah getting lucky and finding her forever home, and Telly finding a place that wanted to prepare him for the world. It was interesting to see the two different takes on foster care families, one who wanted a daughter to call their own and the other wanting to be mentors to really help a troubled teen find his way.

There are twists and turns, every law enforcement officer and volunteer after Telly, yet mayhem still ensues.  How can a 17 year old be so intelligent and stay out of sight and several steps ahead of everyone? It’s cool to see how he learned everything he knows whenever we were in his perspective. I liked Telly’s story-being able to understand him with each new chapter on him.

This was a fast read after getting into it, even if it’s 400 pages. If you’re a fan of the Quincy and Rainie series, I’m sure you’ll love it. Having never read the series before, I’m not sure this sold me on going back to find out more about the characters. One more note, I love how Gardner gets the names for her book. She holds little contests and offers up literacy infamy to those that donate to the animal shelter in her area-genius!

I received this advanced reader copy courtesy of the Penguin First to Read program.

three-stars

As Old As Time

as-old-as-timeAs Old As Time by Liz Braswell

So when I was at Barnes and Noble recently, I walked in and saw this beauty (no pun intended). There’s just something about a really cool cover; the fact that it was a Beauty and the Beast telling made it a win for me. The internet connection is always awful at my Barnes and Noble location, though, so I wasn’t able to check reviews before buying it. Wish I had been able to, because they weren’t the greatest. I am, however, not going to let those reviews affect my own.

I put down the book about halfway through after flipping to the end to see what the point of all of it was. It’s basically an exact telling of the Disney movie, word for word, in the chapters that have to do with Belle and the Beast. The other chapters are devoted to Maurice and meeting and then loving Belle’s mother, who is a powerful Enchantress. Those scenes weren’t very compelling, and if I want to read the scene-for-scene version of the Disney movie…I won’t. I’d rather just watch the movie. (Side note: which is why I won’t pick up the screenplay versions of movies coming out.)

Anyways, I don’t really care about Maurice falling in love, so that makes the chapters not devoted to the retelling of the movie boring. There are a couple of things I liked, though, which were the explanations as to why we never hear about Belle’s mother (could she have been enchanted to forget?) and if Belle might end up suffering from Stolkhom Syndrome, which she recognizes and disagrees with (love that it’s brought up). I noticed that a little after halfway through it starts going off track from following the movie to a T, but I longed stopped caring.

I was expecting an imaginative retelling, not something that was an exact telling with a romance involving crazy old Maurice peppered in.

one-star

Different

different Different by Alicia Linwood

Tainted Element Series:
Book 1

Moira is an elemental, along with many other people in this world. There are people with pure elements, which are considered strong, and sub-elements, which are considered weak. Moira is starting to develop a second pure element: fire. It’s kind of freaking her out because that’s supposed to be unheard of. After traveling to an island where her mom might be able to help find answers, help finds Moira instead. Noah appears out of thin air to tell her there are others like her and that he can help. And so starts the adventure.

With so much to understand about this world, it was tough to figure it out when I had to keep rereading confusing sentences, such as:

“…I could feel myself reaching for it, but I couldn’t feel fire, which obviously didn’t mean I didn’t have it.”

There are many of these sentences with negative contractions throughout the sentence. It just makes it more difficult to read, because I have to keep going back to see that I’m thinking what it means to tell me. It’s just unnecessary when a simpler sentence would do. Also, everyone seems to be licking their lips before they say anything. Is the air dry there? On an island? I don’t think so. I don’t want to keep reading about every single person licking their lips before they need to speak.

Timing was off whenever cooking was involved with dialogue. In one scene, someone starts making pancakes (or french toast in another scene), and dialogue goes back and forth twice and all of a sudden the pancakes (or french toast) is done. What? Not even 30 seconds have gone by! That’s a bit too much liberty with the time there.

So the above issues coupled with the grammar and editing issues left much to be desired. I didn’t even care about the cliffhanger because I just didn’t really care about anyone. I do have to say that I loved the loyalty and trust Moira had towards her parents; that was really commendable and it made her a stronger heroine. But the start of what was looking like a weird love triangle despite the lack of romance amidst the mind control and elementals hunting other elementals, just isn’t really interesting me.

However, because of how much rereading I had to do to make sure I understood this world, it’s tempting to continue on with the series in the hopes it gets stronger. I invested myself enough to understand the world, I might as well give it one more book to see if I’ll really stick around.

two-stars

Scary Mary

scary-mary Scary Mary by S.A. Hunter

Publication Date: August 18, 2010
Read Date: December 10, 2016

Series: Scary Mary
Book #1

THIS. I absolutely adored this short story. Mary is what is deemed a clairaudient. She can’t see ghosts, but she can hear them and speak to them. Growing up in a small town, everyone remembered when she was a kid and used to talk to herself on the playground. She is now labeled as a freak and is bullied in high school. She does her best to look past it, but she can’t help the snarky comments that come out of her from time to time. Who can blame her?

Her best friend, Rachel, is the only friend she has until a new boy starts at the school and takes a liking to her. This all goes downhill when a trip to his house makes her realize his house is haunted, and not by a very nice ghost either.

The humor is awesome; the sarcasm is spot on. Rachel is the greatest. This is honestly a story I would reread over and over because I enjoyed it so much. There’s an invisible dog she plays fetch with, how much more fun can this get? Also, the random ghosts that are anchored throughout the town that she can listen and talk to are so great.

I pulled out one of my favorite quotes from Rachel to Vicky, the resident mean girl:

“Hey Vicky,” Rachel called, “I’m sorry too, but I can’t make it either. I gotta be in Aspen this weekend. You understand, right?”

“So what?” She said. Her voice dripped with disdain.

“Oh, I just wanted to be a part of the rejection. Buh-bye,” she said giving her the beauty queen parade wave.

And then this one from Mary to Vicky:

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fakest of them all? Oh never mind, I see her.”

Those will be even funnier when you read the book, which I highly recommend doing. The only issue I have with it is that there are some spelling and grammar errors, but I loved this so much, I can’t even dock a star for that.

five-stars

Wicked

wicked Wicked by Joanne Fluke

In this modern adaptation of Agatha Christine’s Ten Little Indians, we have a group of college kids staying in this old mansion for a writing workshop. Things start to go very wrong when they’re stuck on the property and fellow peers start getting picked off one by one, eerily like one student’s thriller, “Ten Little Writers.”

When starting this book, I was confused because I had no idea these were going to be college students, and then I had no idea what year of college they were even in. One girl, Angela, was going to be a freshman, but that’s all I got for deciding what age they were. It kind of read more like a young adult novel in that sense.

There wasn’t too much character development aside from our main girl, Eve. She went from being the mean girl who was going to reign the sorority and the school to being relaxed and caring. Because she was the only one who was fully developed, understandably as the MC, I didn’t care when a fellow student was picked off. There was no reason for me to care other than  “Oooo I wonder who is going to be killed next and when they’re going to start accusing each other.”

My biggest issue, and I don’t really recall it being explained, was WHY does NO ONE have a cell phone? The phone lines are disconnected to the house so they can’t call for help. You’re telling me that none of these college kids brought a cell phone with them? Yeah freaking right. College students are attached at the hip with their cell phones; I know, I used to be one. Even if the workshop had said that cell phones weren’t allowed, they still would have snuck them in to at least have them at night or during downtime. So that was wholly unrealistic to me.

I was able to figure out who the killer is pretty simply; the red herrings thrown in never detracted from who I knew it would be. There were some spelling errors, but other than that, it was still a fun and fast read.

three-stars