Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"Auraria: A Novel" by Tim Westover

Tim Westover uniquely mixed magical realism, fantasy, folklore, fairy tale, and historical fiction together to create an interesting book named "Auraria". The genres are mixed well and blend seemlessly. Westover did a great job with writng. I just honestly don't know how I feel about this book. 

The book's very first line reads "Hortzclaw hadn't heard of Auraria until his employer sent him to destroy it." which made for a great opening line! Auraria is a town deep in the mountains of Georgia that is obsessed with gold mining despite rarely finding gold, fishing is done by casting a line into the strange mist, and houses have infinite interior space. The story takes place during the 19th Century and is based around Appalachian folklore. 

I honestly hate when people compare books to other books, but in this case I am breaking my own rule because I'm not sure how to explain the weirdness of this book without comparing it to Lewis Carrol's Adventure In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass. It is the fantastical characters and awkward weirdness that makes this book intriguing at times and thoroughly confusing at others. 

I think I could have really enjoyed this book more if I had knowledge beforehand of the basis of some of these ghost stories and history of the folklore used. The story setting has a divine richness to it which is really the main thing that kept me reading. The main character was a bit dull- all these strange things keep happening to him and he is a blank slate with no reaction or feeling to the craziness around him. 

Auraria is extremely well written. Westover did a fantastic job at describing characters and places. I had no problem imaging  them.  The plot kept me intrigued, and though at times I was confused, it was (almost) never a boring plot. I do feel that the strange side stories were confusing at times and took away from the main story. 

To the right reader this book is a 5 star read. To me, however, this was a 3 star read. Entertaining, yes, but there was just something "off", which left me confused. The ending was satisfying and appropriate and I honestly was left with the notion of wanting to research Appalachian folklore in hopes of better understanding certain plot points of the story.  I think because it is based off a real place (Auraria, GA exists) and includes real "beliefs" I just couldn't get lost in the magic. I wanted to know more about the "real basis" which didn't allow me to just enjoy the story. 

Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"The Girl With No Past" by Kathryn Croft

Kathryn Croft's "The Girl With No Past" is a gripping, psychological, heart thumping, leave-you-guessing thriller. It was an eARC provided to me via Netgalley and other than the description given when I requested it, I did no further research before reading. Not on the author or even reading other reviews beforehand. I wanted to be completely open minded when starting this book. I am so glad I went into this book with no expectations because it made for an amazing read! That being said, this review will be purposefully vague so you can have a stellar experience when you read it! 

Leah lives pretty much the life of a shut in. Aside from her job as a librarian and visiting her mother, she really doesn't do anything. She finally decides to take a chance and make a possible "love life" for herself, but a stalker has appeared, sending her threatening emails involving something from her past. She tries to brush the emails off, but it soon becomes clear that this person knows the truth about Leah and is determined to ruin what little existence of a life she has. 

This book alternates between present day Leah and early teen aged Leah. The plot flip flops back and forth and gives the reader a very slow peek as to what event(s) took place in Leah's past that has her so afraid to live for the future. 

Psychological thrillers seem to be all the rage lately and this book's promoters claim "A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train".  While this book isn't perfect, I would say it's on the better side of thrillers. It is chilling suspense with gripping mystery and an ending you never saw coming. It definitely makes for a great read! I honestly never guessed the ending until the last page, but it did seem a bit too tidy and rushed. All in all it was a fun read!

I give it 4 stars and I plan to read other books from Kathryn Croft, an author I hadn't been familiar with until now.

Once again thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for allowing me to read and review!

Happy Reading! 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

"Black Eyed Susans" by Julia Heaberlin

Tessa was a 16 year old girl who was found almost completely buried among a patch of Black-Eyed Susans in a field. She was nearly dead and among her was the body of a dead girl along with the bones of 2 other girls. She is the lone survivor of "The Black-Eyed Susans", the nickname given to the girls whose murderer meant for them all to share the same flowery grave. Though her memory is fragmented, Tessa's testimony sent a man to death row. 

Nearly 20 years later Tessa is now an adult. A mother of a girl who is almost the same age she was when this horrific ordeal occurred. The "murderer" is soon to be put to death, but Tessa isn't so sure he is the one actually responsible due to the fact she finds a patch of Black-Eyed Susans under her bedroom window in the death of winter. 

This book was fabulous! It alternates between 17 year old Tessa trying to remember what happened after she was found, and current day Tessa who is a single mother striving to give her teenage daughter a normal life while also trying to reassure herself that the murderer isn't still stalking her while an innocent man awaits death. 

Fearing she made a mistake in helping convict an innocent man she turns to the legal team working to free the inmate. Bill is a passionate lawyer who believes his client was wrongly convicted using "junk science". Jo is a scientific genius, who specializes in recovering DNA from bones thought to be unidentifiable. All together the three of them create a cast of characters who fit so well together, yet at the same time are so different that it makes for an amusing story. 

Young Tessa's life is just as entertaining, and includes her best friend at the time, Lydia, who is an eccentric teen with a love of morbid stories and isn't afraid to speak her mind. Tessa's court appointed therapist also helps her try to retrieve missing memories but at the same time doesn't want to push his patient too hard.

Later on in the story we get to read trial transcripts, which I thought was a very clever way for the author to tell the story. 

This book is a thriller, mystery, and a hint of romance.  The plot moves along smoothly and kept me intrigued. The twists thrown in here and there left my mind swirling and wondering where Heaberlin would take this story next. The ending was NOT anything I saw coming. 

Black-Eyed Susans was an engrossing read that I would recommend to anyone wanting a quick weekend read. It is a mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. A 5 star read!

Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A. R. Torre's "Do Not Disturb"

I feel like I should premise this review with: I LOVED The Girl In 6E , which is the first book in this series. I gave it a 5 star review. It was so original and such a thrill to read. It was everything I expected it to be- what I had hoped from 50 Shades of Grey but didn't get, plus with murder instead of romance. But A.R. Torre's latest release, Do Not Disturb I just couldn't get into and by the time I did start enjoying it, the excitement  sizzled out fast.

I suggest starting at the beginning, so if you haven't read Torre's first book in The Madden Girl series definitely start there. 

When we last read about Deanna, we learned that she was not responsible for killing her family. She was not the murderous serial killer with rendezvous thoughts of blood and murder she was destined to repeat again in the future. She had locked herself in her apartment, not leaving for 3 years, and making her living being a "cam girl" for a triple x website while ordering everything from toilet paper to food online and having it delivered by UPS. She had finally left the confines of her apartment to save a little girl from a web client who was indeed a real killer. With the help of her UPS man, Jeremy, she had saved the day and possibly started a crush between her and her delivery man.

Now in this book we see that she does leave the apartment to go out on dates with Jeremy. She is able to crack her window and breathe in fresh air while gazing out at the city's lights below without thinking of killing everyone in her site. She realizes she needs freedom. She yearns for it. 

I was questioning how Torre was going to expand on Deanna. How she would take it a step up and make this book as good as the last. Turns out everything exciting about Deanna happened in the first book. It was hard to wrap my head around the fact that Deanna still had thoughts to kill, even though both she and the reader know she wasn't the one responsible for killing her family. The notion of her thirst for blood was just too far fetched for me after reading the first book. It was almost like everything that happened in the previous book was forgotten by all characters in Do Not Disturb.  

The big story in this book, once again, is discovered during one of Deanna's camming sessions. She upsets a client, who just got released from prison on rape charges, and it pisses him off so bad that he decides to hunt her down. Little does this rich prick with no respect for women know, but Deanna (or Jessica Reilly as she is known in the online sex world) is a hardcore fighter with thoughts of blood and a love for weapons.

The first half of this book is full of thoughts and feelings that Deanna experiences as she searches for what she wants and needs in her crazy life. It was boring. I almost stopped reading to add this book to the pile of "couldn't finish" books I have. But I pressed on and it did pick up. Deanna's weird love relationship with Jeremy, the UPS delivery guy, was interesting and as stated before, pissed off websex guy is pretty entertaining even though he is all-mighty douche. 

The ending was just... an ending. There is a third book planned (which I will probably read), but nothing was too great about this book. The general plot of the series as a whole is interesting. It is like a true X-rated 50 Shades meets Dexter. I just couldn't get past the fact that this book completely ignored the ending to the previous book and that it was mostly filled with Deanna's thoughts on steps to take to reclaim her life. It was too slow for my liking. 

A 3 star read for me. 

Happy Reading! 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"The Accident Season" by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

"So let's raise our glasses 
to the accident season,

To the river beneath us
Where we sink our souls,

To the bruises and secrets,
To the ghosts in the ceiling,

One more drink
 for the watery road."

It's the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara's life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara's family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items - but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

I am not sure I will be able to explain why I loved this book so much. But I will try. So please, bear with me as I try to tell you all about this lovely book.

The Accident Season  is Moira Fowley-Doyle's debut novel and what a stunner it was! From the very first page I knew this book would be something special. She has this magical way of writing. Everything is explained and worded so effortlessly, yet has this magical pull that keeps you reading along. She explains things so detailed, so extraordinary, yet so real. She explains places, characters, and scenes that paints a perfect picture in your mind, yet still leaves enough room for your imagination to run wild and grow with the story. 

The story itself was haunting. A captivating story that revolves around relationships with family and close friends.  Every character was extremely unique, yet they all fit together so perfectly. There is a romantic relationship (or two) explored in this story, but it is done so elegantly and realistic that I didn't feel the need to roll my eyes and it didn't take away from the main story. 

I am not sure how I would categorize this book... perhaps YA thriller, contemporary, coming-of-age, magical realism, paranormal reality, mixed with fantasy. It is truly a one of a kind story. 

I really wish I could write more about this book, but I fear that too much will give it away. Please add it to your list. You will not be disappointed. Plus the cover is amazing! This is a book that will be savored until the very last page and even after you close the cover will be memorable.

I give this book a full 5 stars! 

Happy Reading!