Little Monsters, by Kara Thomas ~ 4.5 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Release Date: June 25th, 2017

336 Pages

Synopsis: Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life.  A life with a stepbrother, stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls–she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all–especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when the you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

Little Monsters has been one of the more hotly anticipated books of 2017, and I’m happy to say that it more than lives up to the hype. 

I love stories about the darker layers of the human psyche, especially in regards to teens. It would have been easy to turn this into a more horror/thrillerish ripoff of Mean Girls, but Kara Thomas has made her characters fascinating if not always likable. Kacey herself, is a sketchy character. There were times when I really liked her, especially during her interactions with her stepbrother and half sister, and other times, I had doubts in her innocence, even though she seemed determined to discover what happened to Bailey. The other characters are equally well written. I especially loved Bailey’s journal entries, which showed how much someone can change in a fairly short amount of time. Their inclusion gives the already suspenseful story an additional creepy and menacing layer. 

The story itself moves along at a steady pace and because I was so invested in the characters I finished it in two sittings. There are a lot of red herrings, so I didn’t really guess who was behind Bailey’s disappearance until right before the big reveal. The only reason why I didn’t give this a perfect 5 is because I thought the supernatural plot device of the “Red Lady” was interesting, but ultimately never went anywhere. 

In the end, I have to agree with the many other reviewers who have commented that Little Monsters is a perfect book for fans of Pretty Little Liars. It’s an enjoyable, twisty mystery and thriller that will keep you guessing right up until the end!

Senator John McCain

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We are taught to understand, correctly, that courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity for action despite our fears.

~ John McCain ~

If you live in the United States, you’ve probably already heard that Senator John McCain has been diagnosed with one of the most virulent forms of brain cancer. When you hear Senator McCain’s name, two words usually come to mind: Hero and Patriot. While I oftentimes disagree with his politics, Senator McCain is someone I’ve always respected and admired. He’s a man who on numerous occasions has shown his willingness to put country before party. Having survived five years of captivity and torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese, if anyone can beat this, it’s this Maverick of the Senate. While Washington and our country remains divided, I think one thing we can all agree on, is sending our thoughts, prayers, and best wishes to Senator McCain and his family.

R.I.P. Martin Landau ~ 1928 – 2017

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I can’t believe two film legends have died on the same day! The stars are definitely not shining as brightly over Hollywood tonight.

One interesting piece of trivia: At age 19, George Romero briefly worked as a page-boy on the set of North By Northwest, which Martin Landau starred in. 

 

Everything that has happened to me is of value to me. As painful as certain things are, and have been, and were, there’s a use for those things in my life and in my work.

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It is better to live as your own man, than as a fool in someone else’s dream.

 

Maureen Dowd Predicts No Happy Ending In The Game Of Trump

“If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”‘That just about says it all!

Gronda Morin

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I think Maureen Dowd has reached her limit of  watching the President Donald Trump’s reality show. She must have enjoyed writing this column…

On July 14. Maureen Dowd of the New York Times penned the following satirical treat, “Game of Trump.

“Wicked siblings willing to do anything for power. Secret deals with sworn enemies. The shock of a dead body. A Wall. Foreign bawds, guns for hire, and snakes. Back-stabbing, betrayal and charges of treason. Little birds spying and tattling. A maniacal mad king and his court of scheming, self-absorbed princesses and princelings, swathed in the finest silk and the most brazen immorality, ruling with total disregard for the good of their people.”

Image result for photos of trump family in white house“The night in Washington is dark and full of terrors. The Game of Trump has brought a pagan lawlessness never before seen in the capital.”

“So far in life, Donald Trump has survived and thrived…

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The Breakdown, by B. A. Paris ~ 3.5 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: July 18th, 2017

336 Pages

Synopsis: Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside–the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or, the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

B. A. Paris has already gained a worldwide following with last year’s Behind Closed Doors. I still haven’t gotten around to reading that, but I read so many rave reviews about it, that when Breakdown appeared on NetGalley I didn’t think twice about requesting it. While I didn’t dislike it, there was something missing for me. 

I liked the main character, Cass, very much. She’s a woman who is tormented by a split second decision that she made, one that many of us would have the same problem with. Adding to that, is her worrying over her memory lapses and the possibility that she may be developing early-onset dementia as her mother did. For the first half of the book, While I completely emphasized with what she was going through, I grew impatient at times with her naïveté and gullibility. There are so many repetitive scenes showing Cass feeling guilty, or afraid that she’s going to be the murderer’s next victim, at one point I thought “Oh get on with it already!” And of course felt guilty myself immediately after. 

The other main issue was that the entire storyline seemed to rest solely on the mystery of who the murderer was, and was he/she really stalking Cass, or was this all in her head. I think it was about three or four chapters in that I already figured out what was really going on. The list of rather bland, two-dimensional suspects was quite short, so it was not only fairly easy to guess who the villain was, but also what their motivations were. As I plodded through the pages, I kept hoping that there was going to be some shocking twist at the end which would prove me wrong, but except for a couple of small surprises, this didn’t happen. 

The ending I felt was too abrupt, although in the last few chapters I did appreciate Cass changing from a self-doubting damsel in distress, to revenge/justice seeking, force to be reckoned with. 

In the end, I confess, that after all the hype I was a little disappointed with The Breakdown. However, with its sympathetic heroine and the realistic plot that had me thinking a few times “Hmm. What would I do in that situation?” I would try another book by this author. And once again, I’m in the minority in regards to my opinion. The vast majority of reviews I’ve read on Goodreads have been positive. My blogging buddy Carrie at https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress.com absolutely loved this and has written a wonderful review if you’d like to check it out.

R.I.P. Liu Xiaobo ~ 1955 – 2017

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Mild-mannered university professor, poet, and Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo, has passed away from liver cancer. He was also the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”. Serving an 11 year prison sentence for “subversion”, even facing death, he was kept locked away in a hospital under the watchful eyes of guards. Mr. Liu was a human rights defender and was repeatedly incarcerated throughout his life for his passionate beliefs. Even when he wasn’t in prison, he was kept under the most severe restrictions and surveillance. After the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square student protest, ended in bloodshed and tragedy, Liu and other activists successfully negotiated the safe passage of hundreds of demonstrators saving their lives. This last prison term was in response to his participation in the creation of the Charter 08 Manifesto, which called for multi-party democracy in China. His wife, Liu Xia remains under house arrest. 

Free expression is the base of human rights, the root of human nature and the mother of truth. To kill free speech is to insult human rights, to stifle human nature and to suppress the truth.

~ Liu Xiaobo ~

 

Ash and Quill (The Great Library #3), by Rachel Caine – 4.5 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Available Now

368 Pages

Synopsis: Hoarding all the knowledge in the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny…

Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.

Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies–and to save the very soul of the Great Library…

The third installment in the Great Library series, Ash And Quill picks up immediately where Paper And Fire left off. To quickly sum up the mythology of the series: The Great Library of Alexandria exists in this alternate reality. Sadly, this isn’t a good thing. You see, they insist they’re there “to contain the knowledge of the world in the name of the greater good.” What this really means is no one outside of The Library is allowed to possess actual print books. If they want to read they’re given “blanks”, into which stories can be temporarily downloaded. There are all sorts of other rules and restrictions, but the biggest and most serious offense is possession of a real book. It’s not only a serious crime, it’s one that may cost you your life.

This is shaping up to be one of my favorite YA series, which isn’t a huge surprise as I’m a huge fan of Rachel Caine’s previous books. While I found the last book a little slower paced, here the action began on the very first page and never stopped. And what I really liked was that everything that unfolds in this book is obviously setting things up for the last two. 

What truly stands out though are the characters. In the previous two books there were times where I felt somewhat disconnected from Jess and his friends. Here, they literally spring to life. The dynamic between them is wonderful and they each contribute something vitally important to their mission. Although romance understandably takes a backseat in this eventful story, what is there is lovely, whether it’s between Jess and Morgan; Wolfe and Santi; or Dario and Khalila. And best of all, there is no angst and no annoying love triangles!’

The world-building continues to be spectacular and with Jess and his fellow rebels spending a majority of the story with book “Burners” in Philadelphia, you get to see what The Great Library has done in a different light. The ending is a heart-rending cliffhanger and I can’t believe we have to wait an entire year for the next book! I swear this series is going to kill me before it comes to a close! 

Ash And Quill is definitely my favorite of this series thus far. Full of magic, adventure, friendship, and of course–BOOKS!–this is a series not only for teens, but adult book lovers as well, and I really can’t recommend it highly enough!