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The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

The CutawayThe Cutaway by Christina Kovac

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First things first: “The Cutaway” is a great thriller which will keep you guessing and twisting until the reveal. It’s like a tangled web where everyone’s involved, the question is: how?

But that ending with the main characters: thumbs DOWN! But maybe that means we’ll see these characters again. And if that’s the case, put me down for a copy ASAP.

The story revolves around Virginia Knightley, a news producer in Washington D.C., who gets a standard press release about a missing woman. But something about this woman strikes her, and she decides to look further into the case. How did a beautiful woman disappear after dinner with her husband in a wealthy area of D.C.? The more questions Virginia asks, the more questions she has.

The thriller/mystery was awesome. I was hooked. It was like an episode of Dateljne that you can’t look away from. And as the pieces start to come together, it creates a dark picture of the inside world of Washington’s social and political scenes, which are dangerously entangled.

I liked the depiction of the news aspect as well. It was pretty accurate as far as news judgement and sourcing goes, which I appreciated.

But oh, that personal drama storyline. I was so rooting for it to go the exact opposite of what it did. I’m still not over it. But hopefully this means we’ll see more of these characters and continue their story. That’s the only way I’m able to accept it, lol.

Overall, it’s a great book. I might have wished for it to go a little bit differently, but I was definitely flipping pages to see how to it turned out. Make no mistake, I was hooked.

Highly recommended.

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Follow Me Down by Sherri Smith

Follow Me DownFollow Me Down by Sherri Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know this comparison has been overused, but allow me another go at it: this book really reminded me of Gillian Flynn a la “Sharp Objects” or “Dark Places.” It’s a gritty, dark mystery with a screwed-up female lead you’re not sure if you can trust. And it’s really very good.

Mia Haas is forced to return to her small North Dakota hometown after learning that her twin brother, Lucas, a high school English teacher, has disappeared amidst rumors he seduced and murdered one of his students – a dancer with a “golden girl” image. But Mia’s convinced that he could never do something so heinous, despite their mother’s own tainted past. And as she finds out when she investigates further, a lot of people in Wayoata are hiding things.

This book has so many things which make it great: a dark atmosphere in a grieving small town; family secrets; murder; and an unreliable narrator who we learn early on has many good qualities, but is also a pill-popper learning to deal with her own drama. These all blend perfectly to create an air of suspicion. Mia finds she can come up with several theories about Joanna’s death – including that Lucas is indeed guilty.

And the ending is….shocking.

But that’s also where my 4 stars come in. The ending is indeed every bit as dark and twisted as the story sets it up to be, but in the back of my mind, I can’t help but think that some of the theories Joanna came up with would have been a more satisfying ending. It’s like, that ending was good, but I might have enjoyed seeing the outcome of another one of Mia’s theories MORE.

But that’s not to say that I hated the ending or anything. It just wasn’t wholly satisfying in the way that, say, “Sharp Objects” was (ONE OF MY FAVES BTW).

But there are clues along the way, and it does wrap things up nicely. Overall, this book kept me hooked from page one. It was a great ride and I look forward to more from this author. She’ll probably be on my “definitely buy” list from now on.

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Blog Tour: Secrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey Griffin

I’m really excited to be a part of the “Secrets of a Reluctant Princess” blog tour, organized by Chapter by Chapter! Below is my review of this delightful teen romantic comedy; make sure to also enter the Rafflecopter giveaway where One (1) winner will receive a signed copy of Secrets of a Reluctant Princess + a Tiara!

Also check out the remaining tour dates for more on this great title!

Secrets of a Reluctant PrincessSecrets of a Reluctant Princess by Casey Griffin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a cute YA romp through today’s high school world: where “reality TV” and social media rule and being perfect is the only way to stay away from humiliation. I would liken this book to a younger Sophia Kinsella novel – full of slapstick situations which can make you laugh out loud at their absurdity- or a 2000’s teen movie with a modern twist – a light, sweet movie where everything turns out all right in the end. Yay!

Andrea “Andy” Bottom is the heiress to the Bottom’s Bathrooms fortune, and her family’s move to Beverly Hills and newfound riches are going to be chronicled on the show “Bathroom Barons.” Soudns cool right? Except Andy is more “Lord of the Rings” than Kardashian, and while she tries to reinvent herself into a diva in the middle of the popular crowd for the sake of helping out her parents’ business, she secretly longs to join a group of LARPers, headed up by the cute nerd Kevin. How long can she maintain this double life before it crashes down around her? She’s about to find out.

This book has a great premise – Andy is literally named the “Porcelain Princess” of Bottom’s Bathrooms – and there were some scenes that just had me laughing so hard. I loved that Andy seemed to find herself in these over-the-top situations after a couple things just didn’t seem to want to go her way, just like in real life. I related to her realness.

I do wish that Kevin had some more development, though. It seemed like we just sort of were told that we liked him, without showing us why we were supposed to like him. He also seemed to fall in love a lot, with practically any girl who didn’t make fun of him, which isn’t a great sign, but I can forgive these issues for the sake of the storyline. The star of the show is Andy, and whoever her fairytale prince is, I’ll support.

I also loved the reality television storyline because it felt so relevant. Everyone seems to be getting a show these days, and to get a “behind the scenes” peak at how that can be both a curse and a blessing was really cool.

Overall, this was an easy, cute read for anyone who enjoys a good fairytale or a good pun. You’ll want this “Porcelain Princess” to be your friend in real life by the time you turn the last page.

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SoaRPTour

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The Lost Woman by Sara Blaedel

The Lost WomanThe Lost Woman by Sara Blaedel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn’t know if I’d like this novel from the description. It seemed interesting, by more focused on characters than plot.

But I am so glad to say that I was wrong. This novel was incredibly intriguing and I loved every page.

The story begins with the murder of a woman in England, Who turns out to be a Danish woman reported missing nearly 20 years earlier. Louise Rick is plunged into the case when it turns out the dead woman is her new boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. As they dig into her pass it becomes apparent that her murder may not be random, The culmination of nearly 20 years of events.

Don’t want to give away too much because the reveal is very good but this novel is so much deeper than just a police procedural. The background is explained along side of the modern case story; we learn about Sophie’s background and what led to her actions, and therefore the actions of her killer, as police investigate her murder.

It’s really good because it involves a modern-day issue that is complex and nuanced and the story is too. Even the ending is incredibly complex and makes you think. It’s not a black-and-white story and that makes the novel even better.

Some of the danish names were hard to keep straight but the main characters have fairly simple, Anglicized names, which made it a tad easier.

This is a novel in a series but I read it as a standalone. It certainly can’t be read as a standalone and I had no problems picking up the storylines. The only thing I didn’t like about this book being part of a series is the fact that I feel bad that I missed such great novels – I’ll be going back and looking up the rest of the Louise Rick series.

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The Girl from Rawblood by Catriona Ward

I’m so excited to finally be able to share my love of “The Girl from Rawblood” with you all! The book is out now – don’t forget to check out the preview and giveaway for your chance to win a free copy!
The Girl from RawbloodThe Girl from Rawblood by Catriona Ward

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every so often, I read a book that is so good, when I’ve finished it, I find myself wanting to read another book just like it. The experience was that good.

“The Girl From Rawblood” is one of those books.

It’s a gothic novel that gave me a Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein-like vibe. And please note: it is dark and depressing, just like that novel. If you’re looking for happy endings, please find another book.

But I seriously couldn’t put this book down once I got into it. I devoured it.

The novel begins with Iris, a young girl whose father doesn’t allow her to venture outside the confines of their home, Rawblood, or have friends, since their family is haunted by a strange curse which will kill them if they invite love into their lives. The pair are the last of the Villarca line and the story then begins to tell, from their own perspectives, the story of their family and how the curse, known as “Her,” came to be.

As I’ve said, this novel is very much in the style of classic gothic novels and is a dark, sad tale which will rip your heart out in places. But it’s also a tale of the power of love and how much it pervades our lives, no matter how much we try to push it away. Love reaches all of the characters, no matter how hard they push it away.

I think some of the lower reviews were from people expecting a modern-day style novel, and it’s not. It’s very much classical literature-style. You have to go in knowing that. Also, FYI: This book does contain some scenes where animals are harmed. Not anything over-the-top, but it may give you pause.

I do have some questions about the ending, since it’s very symbolic and tries to tie together all the loose ends of the novel, but I can deal with that – most is explained and revealed, there’s just some details I need to confirm. Hopefully, once the book comes out I’ll be able to read some fan theories.

Overall, I’m really still processing this book. It will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it. If you’re a gothic horror/romance fan, buy this book, yesterday. I loved it.

I will definitely be buying more from Catriona Ward.

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In the Shadow of Lakecrest by Elizabeth Blackwell

In the Shadow of LakecrestIn the Shadow of Lakecrest by Elizabeth Blackwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I DEVOURED this book.

I was worried that the historical (1920’s) setting would give the book a stilted/overly complicated style. But this book was such an easy read on top of such a great story, that I didn’t even realize how quickly I was racing through it.

The novel tells the love story of Kate Moore – raised by a poor mother who dreamed of a rich, handsome husband for her only child – and Matthew Lemont, a wealthy heir to a Chicago family’s fortune and terrible legacy. The Lemonts are well-respected, but also feared due to rumors of strange happenings on the family estate, Lakecrest. Many of the tumors surround Matthew’s aunt, Cecily, an eccentric artist who disappeared into a strange building 16 years before. As Kate unravels the family’s secrets, can she keep her sanity and her life from falling apart?

This story has it all: rumors of strange, heathen rituals, an evil mother-in-law, family secrets, a weird, sprawling estate; literally every gothic novel element is there, just waiting to be unraveled. And the author does a great job of using each element just enough to keep you guessing. There are enough moving parts to keep you guessing until the end.

I also liked that you couldn’t trust any of the characters in the novel. It wasn’t clear who was telling the truth, who was insane, etc. throughout the book. Even Kate comes under suspicion. That’s really the mark of a great suspense novel, when you truly feel you can’t even trust the person telling the story – you’re so wrapped up in the intrigue.

I also loved the ending. So neat and clean. It really was the exact perfect way it should have ended.

I highly recommend this novel to people who love suspense and great thrillers. I look forward to this author’s next work.

A++

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Wrong Number by Carys Jones

Wrong Number (Wrong Number #1)Wrong Number by Carys Jones

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m conflicted about this one.

On the one hand, I really liked it. It kept my attention and kept we wondering how it was all going to turn out. On the other, it wasn’t very suspenseful, as implied in the description, and it was a cliffhanger ending. I hate cliffhanger endings.

If you do too, this book is not for you.

Basically, the story is about a woman – a former darknet hacker – who has settled down into married life and thinks everything is going great, until one day she was a weird phone call asking for someone she’s never heard of. The next morning, her husband is gone. With the help of her ex-boyfriend, a homicide detective, and her hacking skills, she discovers that her husband is hiding some very dark secrets.

Like I said, this novel is actually pretty light on suspense, since it’s not too hard to figure out what has happened, but I did enjoy reading along to see how everything turned out. There’s a love triangle – of course – and I actually really liked that part. It was very interesting to see what Amanda chooses to do and where her feelings lie.

That love triangle was actually the most interesting part to me and I was weirdly invested in it (Team Shane!).

But then there’s the ending, which as I said earlier, is a bit of a cliffhanger. It resolves some things, but leaves a huge, wide door open. I understand that this is supposed to be the start of a series, but I would have liked a little more closure here. I mean, it truly felt like the ending of an episode of “Scandal,” but now we have to wait until the next book comes out, which can be a long time in book world.

But I guess the big question is would I pick up the next in the series. And the answer is yes, I would. As I said before, it’s not a bad story, and I am interested to see where it goes.

So I mildly recommend this one. Fans of action books and love triangles will enjoy this book; if you’re looking for a mystery/thriller, skip it.

Maybe if the next one is a little more developed, it will veer into the thriller genre. The author certainly has the potential to write a very good, suspenseful novel.

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