Every Breath You Take by Bianca Sloane

Every Breath You TakeEvery Breath You Take by Bianca Sloane

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Natalie Scott goes jogging along Chicago’s lakefront. She likes foreign films, cinnamon gum and strawberry yogurt. She smells like sunflowers in the summer and roses in the winter.

These are just a few of the things Natalie’s stalker knows about her.

In fact, he knows everything about her.

In one brutal act of violence, Natalie’s stalker will reveal himself to her, imprisoning her in the process, determined to own her body and soul. Now trapped in a madman’s web, Natalie finds herself in a terrifying battle of wills where the only way to survive is to beat the monster at his own game…

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I look forward to new Bianca Sloane novels for a lot of reasons, but mostly it is her incredible ability to create plot twists that the reader never expects.

“Every Breath You Take” is a perfect title for this book. The author has not only shown us what it is like to be stalked, tortured and desperate, but has given us a more in-depth look at the world of serious psychiatric disorders and the darker side of obsession.

The main character in this story has been through a lot, and yet remains strong and even likeable all the way through the book. I could easily identify with her desire to be free of burdens from the past and want to start anew, and I found my own emotions following that of the character through each event in the book.

I was particularly impressed with the dynamic between kidnapper and kidnapped. Watching the main character gain understanding of her captor and how to use his own desires against him was interesting and kept me on edge.

Once you start reading this book, you won’t want to stop. I found it hard to put this novel down and do much of anything else. This story is quickly paced, intelligent and has the kind of characters that it is easy to love (and hate.)

If you are looking for a good book to take you away from everything, this is one you can get lost in.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Something I rarely ever do

I gave up on a book. Shocking, I know. Maybe it was the silly connection used to link the MC to Bridget Bishop of the Salem trials. Maybe it was just too many words used to describe too little importance. Either way–here’s what I thought.

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

*review may contain minor spoilers*

So, I apologise if this review makes me come off sounding like a giant Ashmole, but I have to be honest–this book nearly bored me to tears. I gave it the old college try. Really, I kept going even after I thought I couldn’t take another minute of it, but in the end, I had to give up before I finished it. I made it over 200 pages in.

I can sum it up rather quickly. It reminded me of Twilight for adults, with a bit more science thrown in.

Oxford and library described in extreme detail.

The characters eat, with vivid description of the contents of each meal. They drink many different wines. They go to Yoga.

In the following chapters, the characters eat. They drink lots of wine. They go to Yoga.

The Vampire likes watching the witch sleep.

The vampire is afraid he will hurt his love interest.

Wine.

Yoga.

Food.

Vampire hunts deer rather than humans.

I can’t handle it anymore. Utmost respect for those who found this book exciting and loved it. I was not one of those people.

I wanted to like it. I failed.

Not one I can recommend.

The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft–and a chance to win a great book

Please scroll to the bottom of the post for a link to the Rafflecopter giveaway of a Landmark fiction prize pack, for your chance to win

ABOUT THE FAR END OF HAPPY:

The Far End of Happy is a powerful new novel based on author Kathryn Craft’s personal experience with a stand-off involving her husband.  Here Craft delivers “real, raw emotion” (Library Journal) exploring a marriage unraveled by mental illness; and one man’s spiral towards a violent conclusion that tests the courage, love, and hope of the three women he leaves behind.

When the emotionally troubled Jeff engages police in a deadly stand-off, his wife, mother-in-law, and mother struggle to understand why the man they love has turned his back on the life they have given him, the one they all believe is still worth living.

“Framing the novel within a 12-hour period keeps the pages turning (Library Journal).” Narrating from the alternating perspectives of three women, whose lives will be forever altered by Jeff Farnham, gives an intimate look at the steps a woman will take to get the help her husband so urgently needs while desperately trying to keep her children safe.

The Far End of HappyThe Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m going to write this review beginning with a confession. When I began reading this book I had not read that it was based on a true life event. Would it have changed the way I felt about it? Perhaps.

Since I did not know until after I read this that it was based on experiences from the author, I am going to write the review as I would have if I had not learned that information, with one minor exception–I now know how the author managed to make the feelings of pain and uncertainty so real in this story, and I applaud her for putting into words what only time and reflection will allow us to examine.

Now on to the review.

This is a powerful, painful, shocking, realistic and at times difficult to keep reading piece of literature. The author really knows how to express the pain that suicide and mental health issues, especially depression, inflict on the family members around the victim.

The thoughtful prose and highly quotable phrases in this novel are not few and far between. This is a book that will make you wonder how lucky you are to be you in this moment, make you think about the people you know ho have not been so lucky and make you realise that your problems may be small in comparison.

This isn’t a book that I would recommend to everyone. Although I do not see this as a selfish attempt from the author, but more part of a healing process for herself and her family, I also think that it is a highly personal sort of story. It is intense and as stated above, emotionally difficult.

It was a hell of a book, for the better or worse.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY:

please click below to go to Rafflecopter and enter for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Take a Peek with Peek-A-Bear

Take a Peek with Peek-A-BearTake a Peek with Peek-A-Bear by Jill Mangel Weisfeld

“Take a Peek with Peek-a-Bear” is cleverly designed children’s book filled with colorful imagery and playful poetry that takes you on a exciting interactive adventure with the character Peek-a-Bear. It is the first of a series of “Peek & Play” books.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are looking for a great gift idea or an entertaining way to spend time with young children, this is a wonderful option.

Not only does this book feature delightful illustrations and age appropriate poetic rhyming, but it has extras as well. There are lots of colours, textures and moving parts in the book, so that kids can play peek-a-boo with bear. (Mum had a lot of fun playing peek-a-boo too.)

There are a lot of creative books out there, but this one has the kind of special quality that makes children’s eyes light up and makes them want to read it again and again.

An imaginative and adorable book for young children, highly recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

What doesn’t Kill her by Carla Norton

What Doesn't Kill Her (Reeve LeClaire, #2, US Edition)What Doesn’t Kill Her by Carla Norton

Read

What Doesn’t Kill Her (Reeve LeClaire #2)

by Carla Norton (Goodreads Author)
From the acclaimed author of The Edge of Normal, a riveting new thriller in which the heroine must confront her former tormentor who has escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane

Reeve LeClaire is a college student, dammit, not Daryl Wayne Flint’s victim. Not anymore—not when Reeve is finally recovering a life of her own after four years of captivity.

Flint is safely locked up in Olshaker Psychiatric Hospital, where he belongs. He is walking the grounds of the forensic unit, performing his strange but apparently harmless rituals. It seems that he is still suffering the effects of the head injury he suffered in the car crash that freed Reeve seven years ago. Post-concussive syndrome, they call it.

For all that Flint seems like a model patient, he has long been planning his next move. When the moment arrives, he gets clean away from the hospital before the alarm even sounds. And Reeve is shocked out of her new life by her worst nightmare: Her kidnapper has escaped.

Less than 24 hours later, Flint kills someone from his past–and Reeve’s blocked memories jolt back into consciousness. As much as she would like to forget him, she knows this criminal better than anyone else. When Flint evades capture, baffling authorities and leaving a bloody trail from the psychiatric lock-up to the forests of Washington state, Reeve suddenly realizes that she is the only one who can stop him.
Reeve is an irresistibly brave and believable heroine in Carla Norton’s heart-stopping new thriller about a young woman who learns to fight back.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a really terrifying, edge of your seat kind of book. If you are bored with thrillers that claim they will keep you up at night and then disappoint, this is a book you should read. It has been a long time since I was excited and frightened at the same time to turn to the next page.

Carla Norton has brought us characters that seem as large as life and that are easy to care about (or hate with a passion, depending on which character it is.) Whilst reading this I felt my own pulse responding to the fear factors and yelling out loud at the characters to run! Hide! (Don’t read this book around others if you want people to think you are well adjusted.)

From the very first chapter this is a novel that will take you to unexpected places and thrill you. I never found myself obsessing over the percentage on my kindle…surely a sign of a great book.

The only gripe I had throughout the whole thing, is that the main character at times seemed to jump to conclusions about things a bit quicker than I would have expected.

My favourite character was bender. He is tough, intelligent and the kind of guy that you can’t help but love from the start.

I think this would be an awesome book for a book club or other group reading as there is so much in it that could be discussed later on. I’m hoping for a sequel.

Go. Read it. You won’t be sorry you did.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

One of Everything by Donna Carol Voss

ONE OF EVERYTHINGONE OF EVERYTHING by Donna Carol Voss

Is It Possible to OD on Life?

The recipe for happily-ever-after? Start with one middle-class white girl in 1976. Add in her longing for love and acceptance, another middle-class white girl, a huge dollop of gossip, and excruciating peer and family pressure. Stir in youthful travel abroad, a Berkeley education, and a foray into paganism, drugs, marriage, and divorce. Whip until frothy with interracial and bisexual affairs, relationship violence, and exploration of multicultural mores. Season with salsa dancing. Temper with a segue into Mormonism. Decorate with a Temple wedding and garnish with motherhood to three adopted siblings. And what you have is a memoir capable of sating anyone’s need for a great read.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very courageous memoir that does not hold back from telling the truth about the author’s life. She writes with a strong voice and gives her audience the kind of audience that one hopes for when they pick up a memoir.

We all have struggles in our lives at some point, some more so than others, and I applaud Donna Carol Voss for using her own experiences to help others that may be experiencing some of the same things.

She writes about a lot of different topics, some very personal, some not as much, but each one of them is interesting in a different way. The author had a lot of unique experiences when she was younger and travelled a long road to come to the realisation of her true faith and what she was meant to do with her life.

From her early life and questions of her sexual orientation to her feelings about motherhood and the relationship with her own mum, she covers a lot of ground in this book.

If you enjoy memoirs and are looking for something good to read, this is a book that I think you will enjoy. Open, honest and helpful.

This review is based on a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All opinions are my own.

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

Based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been described as “ Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity for the new media age.” YA fans new and old will learn the secrets behind Sunshine—the adorkable girl living in a haunted house—a story that is much bigger, and runs much deeper, than even the most devoted viewer can imagine…

Yes, I think that is really supposed to say ADORKABLE

The Haunting of Sunshine GirlThe Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First–an admission. I was not one of those people who followed the Sunshine Girl videos on YouTube so I came into this unaware of what it was about and went off the book blurb to tell me about it. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I suppose I went into reading this without any real expectations.

For the first third or so of this book, I was pretty enthralled. I liked Sunshine and her mom Kat right away. I liked the dog and the cat and the best friend and I was grateful that the author didn’t wait until the last page to start revealing the paranormal aspects of the story. This seemed like it would turn out to be the kind of old-fashioned, creepy ghost story that relies a lot on the unseen to create terror. The it went a different way.

I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the rest of the book, I did, but in a bit different manner. Rather than being a ghost story, this book becomes more about the strange qualities of the main character and what her future holds. I thought the plot line was pretty unique, and I was still happy to continue reading, but I also was a bit dismayed that the story went from being about one thing and suddenly became about another. I’m not sure (again with the lack of videos) where the author will take this series, but it should be interesting to see.

I do have to say, the final battle with the dark force in the story was not my favourite. It seemed a bit too easy and too convenient for such heavy subject matter. I also want to mention that the bathtub scene is possibly one of the most terrifying scenes in any book I’ve read. So, I guess it balances.

Overall I think teens (and adults) will enjoy this book. I look forward to reading the next and seeing what happens to Sunshine in the future.

This review is based on a complimentary copy offered in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Stranger by Harlan Coben

The StrangerThe Stranger by Harlan Coben

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Harlan Coben is pretty far up there in my list of favourite authors and so it pains me a little to admit that I really didn’t like this book, but sadly, that is the case.

What makes a Harlan Coben book a good read in my opinion? The fact that he can think up plots that are outside the normal everyday realm and yet make the reader believe them. He can take something ordinary and make it extraordinary. I didn’t see that with this book, and here’s why I feel that way:

Flimsy plot device in the form of silly power-wielding character who causes evil by trying to prevent it. The “villains” in this book are numerous but ultimately I could not suspend belief long enough with the central villain to believe anyone could or would go to such extremes for such a small benefit. It reminded me of a bad rehashing of every religious-leader-gone-bad-fire-and-brimstone-cult-mentality film or book ever written.

Even the protagonists in this story seemed to be thin on character development. Hello person that we really know nothing about, let us support you.

There are a lot of twists, but without a strong backbone for the story, they became all jumbled together. Around every corner is a surprise of some sort, but none of them were particularly impressive to me as I felt the rest of the story still had no oomph. The main character fell flat for me, his wife we didn’t ever get to know and the reader likely spends half the story thinking she was quite possibly evil incarnate. So…how are you supposed to care what happens to them? Combine that with the list of unimportant characters that keep growing and never being sure why they are doing what they are doing in the first place and I found this book to be a recipe for disaster.

Of course, this is just my personal opinion and others might love it. I encourage you to give it a read and see what you think. The author pulled a lot of punches in this book, but I thought most of them missed the target. I also missed the humour that this author’s books tend to have interspersed throughout the more serious subject matter.

Loved the last couple of books, “Missing you” and “Six Years” were both fantastic, but this one just didn’t do it for me.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag

The Dress Shop of DreamsThe Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag

For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Dress Shop of Dreams is a captivating novel of enduring hopes, second chances, and the life-changing magic of true love.

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a sweet, charming tale with characters that are easy to love. If you like magic realism and you are looking for a story to take you away from everything, this would be a good book to choose.

I liked the characters right away. This is one of those stories that will transport you away from your daily stresses and make you smile and feel warm inside. The relationships between the characters, (both family and love interest,) are interesting and different from other books. You feel as if you have gotten to know these people within the first few chapters and after that, it is like you have become part of the story yourself.

The magical surprises in this book are many and as the story continues, you find yourself hoping that everything will work out the way you want it to.

This was a great book, with a lot to recommend it.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher as part of the shereads.org blogging program. All opinions are my own.

The Connicle Curse by Gregory Harris

The Connicle Curse (Colin Pendragon Mysteries, #3)The Connicle Curse by Gregory Harris

Victorian London’s private detective Colin Pendragon learns that the cost of wealth can indeed be dear as he investigates the grisly fate of a well-heeled financier. . .

When wealthy Edmond Connicle suddenly disappears, his distraught wife enlists the services of master sleuth Colin Pendragon and his loyal partner, Ethan Pruitt. Already on the case, however, is Scotland Yard’s Inspector Varcoe. He suspects the Connicles’ West African scullery maid of doing in her employer, especially when a badly burned body is discovered on the estate grounds with a sack of Voodoo festishes buried beneath it.

But all is not as it seems, and as more bodies are found, the pressure mounts on Varcoe, forcing him to forge an uneasy alliance with his nemesis, Pendragon. At the same time, Mrs. Connicle’s fragile mental state appears increasingly more precarious. Could madness, not black magic, be at the root of these murders? To untangle the twisted truth, Pendragon and Pruitt must penetrate the hidden lives of the elite and expose the malevolent machinations of a ruthless killer. . .

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I say yay for character development. Whereas some series tend to fizzle out after a while because the characters become predictable and so do the events, Gregory Harris has ensured that this didn’t happen with these novels.

I’m always excited to see what Colin and Ethan are going to get themselves into with each new book, and what location they will find themselves in. This has become one of my very favourite series and this book reminded me once more, why I love these books so much.

The relationships in these stories are as complex as the plot and mysteries within. I like that the reader finds out more about the pasts of the two main characters with each new novel, and the emotional connection I have with these two unlikely heroes grows every time I read another one.

Of the three books thus far, this one has the most intricate mysteries, involving a larger group of suspects. I appreciate that try as I might, I can’t guess what is really going on until it is fully revealed in the end.

This book made me laugh as usual. The relationships between Colin and those he is forced to work with to solve these cases allows for many snarky remarks and uncomfortable situations, easing the tension of the grim subject matter. I was sad to see a favourite character go in this book, but liked the way it ended overall.

In the end, I find myself impatiently waiting for the next book and hoping it isn’t a long wait.

Always recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.