The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen ~ 4.5 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: January 9th, 2018

352 Pages

Synopsis: When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement. 

You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.

You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.

You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.

Assume Nothing.

Discover the next blockbuster novel of suspense, and get ready for the read of your life.

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The Wife Between Us is a much buzzed about book right now, and I can honestly say it’s entirely deserving of the hype. It’s also one of those books that you probably won’t want to read in a public place, because if you’re like me, you’ll be gasping and exclaiming out loud numerous times, which may leave you on the receiving end of some funny looks.

*As always, this is going to be a spoiler free review, but I feel the need to include a trigger warning for any reader that may have been in an abusive relationship.*

The first thing I loved was how no matter how hard I tried (and I really did), I could not tell the difference between the two authors’ writing. It flows seamlessly from one chapter to the next and helped make this such a pleasurable reading experience.

And then there’s the characters. They’re all brilliantly written. It’s actually a fairly small cast, but the intricately tied relationships between them are made so much more interesting by the multiple red herrings and mind-blowing revelations about them. The synopsis warns you not to “assume” anything, and I advise anyone planning on reading this to take that to heart. My one disappointment is that while the narrative does alternate a couple of times, given what a pivotal figure he was, I would have loved to have heard something from Richard’s POV.

There are so many twists and turns that by the time I reached the end I was completely exhausted. Of course this was also due to the fact that I started reading about 7:00 pm and finished 5 hours later at 1:00 the next morning. I honestly could not bring myself to put it down except for one brief bathroom break. I think my husband came in at one point to ask me something and I snarled something unintelligible at him! 

In my opinion, The Wife Between Us is going to be a bestseller along the lines of Gone Girl and Behind Closed Doors. Unsurprisingly, it’s already been optioned for a film. Admittedly, some of the scenarios aren’t exactly realistic, but with such a wildly entertaining tale, in the end that doesn’t really matter. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers, you need to put this at the top of your 2018 Must Read list! It’s a book that everyone will be talking about!

 

 

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Whimsical Wednesday ~ NaNoWriMo Edition

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I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.

~ Shannon Hale ~

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 For my fellow bloggers participating in National Writing Month this year, I wanted to pass on my best wishes. You’ve got this!

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Dear Earthlings

Please Check Out This Brilliant Piece By Michael!

Afterwards

It’s me, the Universe.  Call me what you will, Jesus, Allah, Buddah, The Great Nothing, Merlin, Aslan…I do not mind particularly.  My closest friends call me Darren.

Not been here for a while, so just popped in to check up on you and I will admit, you never cease to disappoint me.  You really cannot be nice to each other for five minutes can you.  I turn my back to enjoy a rather lovely supernova sun and when I come back you’re at one another like you always are.

I was going to list the wars you’re waging against each other but you know what, I really cannot be bothered.  Please, slaughter away – the sooner you’re all dead the better.  I plan to bring the dinosaurs back – they were far cooler than you lot.  Oh, I may keep the Japanese – they’re cool too and I think a world…

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Sutherland Springs, Texas Shooting

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As many of you know, this week has started with another mass shooting here in the U.S. Yesterday morning, a man armed with an AR-556 rifle, entered a Baptist church in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs, Texas and opened fire. When it was over twenty-six people were dead including the pastor’s fourteen-year-old daughter and other children as young as eighteen-months-old. Eight members of one family were killed including a pregnant mother. The massacre has left another twenty who were wounded. One of these is a six-year-old boy who was shot four times. This shooting has wiped out 4% of the town’s population.

A neighbor who lives across from the church, engaged in gunfire with the gunman as he was leaving the building, leading the murderer to drop his weapon and flee in his car. The neighbor flagged down another town resident and the two Good Samaritans pursued the man until his car swerved off the road. When police arrived, he was dead from what seems to be a self inflicted gunshot wound. 

Right now there’s a lot of confusion about the gunman. He was a member of the US Air Force from 2010 – 2014. He served in logistics readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. In 2012 he was court-martialed for assaulting his wife and child. He received a bad conduct discharge and imprisonment for twelve months. Whatever his motives were, they seem to be related to a domestic situation. His mother-in-law has been known to attend the church although she wasn’t there yesterday morning. She’s also received some threatening texts from the shooter. 

It’s also been confirmed that he was denied a Texas gun license, yet according to CNN this morning, he purchased the gun in April 2016 from an Academy Sports & Outdoors store in San Antonio. At a press briefing right now, officials stated that he purchased four guns in total. Two in Texas and two in Colorado. All these factors beg the question of how he passed the background checks.

Naturally there’s already a lot of passionate debate between Second Amendment rights advocates, those calling for an outright gun ban, and those asking for common sense gun restrictions. Trump himself weighed in by stating the tragedy is a mental health issue, not a gun issue. But except for knowing that he abused his wife and child, we know absolutely nothing about the shooter’s mental state.

Growing up, I was taught to have a healthy respect for guns by my father who was a gun collector. I support the Second Amendment. But honestly? I don’t think our Founding Fathers foresaw the technology that would allow people determined to kill as many innocents as they can, to carry out these evil acts. This gunman NEVER should have been able to legally purchase a gun, but apparently, unless reports change again, that’s exactly what he did. 

As always, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and friends. I also have to be honest and say that I’m sickened, disgusted and angry. This country need to take a long hard look at itself. We are the only developed country that has continual mass shootings of this magnitude. I’m sick and tired of weeping and wailing every single time something like this happens, while at the same time waiting for the next event. Indeed, that is probably the only thing we agree on right now. There will most definitely be another mass shooting in the not too distant future.

Rosemarked (Rosemarked #1), by Livia Blackburne ~ 4.0 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: November 7th, 2017

400 Pages

Synopsis: A healer who cannot be healed…

When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she fully succumbs. Now she’s destined to live her last days in isolation, cut off from her people and unable to practice her art—until a threat to her village creates a need that only she can fill.

A soldier shattered by war…

Broken by torture at the hand of the Amparan Empire, Dineas thirsts for revenge against his captors. Now escaped and reunited with his tribe, he’ll do anything to free them from Amparan rule—even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self.

Thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, the two couldn’t be more different: Zivah, deeply committed to her vow of healing, and Dineas, yearning for vengeance. But as they grow closer, they must find common ground to protect those they love. And amidst the constant fear of discovery, the two grapple with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts.

I have to admit that I initially requested Rosemarked based almost solely on the cover art. You have to admit though, it really is gorgeous! The premise though also intrigued me. A young healer that catches an incurable disease and a man who has survived the disease, teaming up as spies to infiltrate the capital city of an empire who threatens both of their people. I just couldn’t resist!

This is definitely a character-driven story which is told alternately by Zivah and Dineas. They are both very complex characters, but Zivah stood out the most strongly for me. Knowing she wanted to be a healer from a very young age, she has only just attained her goal when she becomes sick. Living with this incurable disease transform her from this sweet, naive girl to someone with much more purpose in her life. She’s determined to not only find a cure, but to also protect her people from the ruthless Amparan Empire. 

Dineas has managed to survive not only the rose plague, but also torture at the hands of the Amparan military. In the beginning, he’s angry and bitter. He also suffers from what the reader would recognize as PTSD. But as the story unfolds, you get to see literally the type of man he would be if he hadn’t gone through the horrific trials he was forced into. Underneath his harsh exterior he’s kind and compassionate, and it’s because of this previously hidden nature, that he and Zivah start becoming more than friends. Their relationship slowly evolves throughout the story and is believable and engrossing. 

The world-building is fascinating, but I wish there had been a little more to it. As Zivah and Dineas spent part of the story traveling, I was hoping for a little more descriptive detail. I would have also liked more backstory as to what life was like before the rise of the Amparan Empire. What does make it more compelling  is that while this is a fantasy, there are some political aspects to the tale that are not dissimilar to our own world. 

The story itself was interesting, yet lacked any truly climactic moments until right near the conclusion, and those were somewhat predictable. However, I think because the story was relatively uncomplicated, that gave more time for character development which is so brilliantly done that in the end, I can’t complain too much.

Overall, I enjoyed Rosemarked, despite the few issues I had with it. I went back and forth between giving this a 3 1/2 star or 4 star rating, but Zivah and Dineas truly are so beautifully written, that they stand out from characters in other fantasy books. Livia Blackburne focuses a lot of her time on the human elements and personal growth of not only Zivah and Dineas, but some of the secondary characters as well. I’m interested in seeing how they continue to evolve in the next book. I’m also hoping there’s a little more action and suspense in the sequel. I highly recommend this to fans of politically-themed fantasy who love complex characters they can instantly connect with. 

Briefly, Life Was Good ~ #Ooops

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Around 7 p.m. ET. tonight, Mr. Trump’s Twitter page mysteriously went missing!

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 Alas, this was just a brief respite as his account was reactivated eleven minutes later. He’s now back in fine form attacking Hillary, the DNC, and former FBI Director, James Comey. 

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Twitter issued a statement blaming the all too brief, yet glorious disappearance on an employee who had just finished their last day on the job.

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Hmm… But was it? Was it really?

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Follow Me (The Amateurs #2), by Sara Shepard ~ 3.5 Stars

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

Release Date: November 7th, 2017

272 Pages

Synopsis: It was the perfect night for a party.

That is, until twenty-one-year-old Chelsea Dawson disappeared. The social media star was last seen enjoying a beautiful summer night at the Jersey Shore with her friends. But after an explosive fight with her ex-boyfriend, she vanished without a trace.

When Seneca, Maddox, Aerin, and Madison hear about the suspected kidnapping, they notice a jarring detail about the victim: she looks exactly like Aerin’s sister, Helena, who was killed five years earlier. Seneca is convinced she knows who killed Helena, and she can’t shake the feeling that the same person has taken Chelsea.

Desperate for answers about the two girls, and the truth behind her mother’s murder, Seneca will stop at nothing to find out if the cases are linked. So when Maddox receives an invitation to the Shore from none other than their primary suspect, the Amateurs begin an intense new investigation.

Full of disturbing secrets, startling twists, and horrifying revelations, the second book in #1 bestselling author Sara Shepard’s The Amateurs series follows the team down a twisted path—one crafted by a brilliant killer.

Follow Me is the second installment in Sara Shepard’s The Amateurs. It could be read as a standalone, but I recommend you read the previous book before starting this one. To sum up what’s happening, a group of teen sleuths are attempting to find a serial killer, the same killer they now know is behind the murders of Aerin’s sister and Seneca’s mother. While this sequel lacks the enormous “gotcha” twist of its predecessor, there are still a few surprises here.

Once again, I mostly enjoyed the story being told from multiple povs, including those of the killer and his latest victim. The one problem I had was even at the end of this sequel, I still didn’t find myself attached to any of the characters. It’s not that they’re unlikable, well except for the killer that is. I just didn’t find them all that interesting. If I had to pick two who I’m still hoping to connect to, it would be Seneca and Aerin, as they have direct personal ties to catching this killer. 

Now that the intrepid sleuths know the villain’s identity, the mystery focuses more on where is he, finding his latest victim before it’s too late, and what is his endgame. The one thing that’s apparent is that he plays everything out as a sick twisted game, and he delights in taunting and tormenting not only the girl he’s kidnapped, but also the Amateurs. 

While this particular kidnapping is solved by the end of the story, it still concludes with a cliffhanger that sets things up nicely for the third book. 

Follow Me is definitely more a plot driven book than a character driven one, but it’s still a quick and entertaining read. I think fans of Sara Shepard’s other books, especially her Pretty Little Liars series will enjoy this series.

Booke of the Hidden, by Jeri Westerson ~ 4.0 Stars

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

Release Date: Available Now

330 Pages

Synopsis: After a relationship gone bad in California, Kylie Strange moves to rural Maine for a fresh start. But she gets more than she bargained for when she finds a supernatural book bricked into the wall of her new tea shop, Strange Herbs and Teas. As soon as she opens the Booke of the Hidden, the quiet town of Moody Bog suddenly becomes a lot more interesting.

First the mysterious and handsome Erasmus Dark shows up unannounced, claiming to be a demon and warning Kylie of untold destruction. She waves him off, until a museum proprietor turns up dead, and the sheriff targets Kylie as a suspect. With the help of Erasmus and a ragtag group of local Wiccans, Kylie unravels the Booke’s secrets, and they begin to believe the culprit is someone—or something—much more sinister than a run-of-the-mill human murderer. 

Award-winning author Jeri Westerson crafts a tale of magic, murder, and romance, drawing us into the mystical world that surrounds Strange Herbs and Teas.

Booke of the Hidden is the first book in a new urban fantasy series, and while I found the romance to be a little “meh”, I still really enjoyed it.

I loved Kylie who’s spunky and sassy and all those other things you like to see in a heroine. Erasmus, the demonic romantic lead is tall, dark and dangerous, and literally smolders. That’s why I was surprised there didn’t seem to be more sparks between the two of them. There’s also the beginning of a love triangle between Kylie, Erasmus and Ed, the sheriff of Moody Bog, but you can already tell that this series is most likely going to focus on the forbidden romance between Kylie and Erasmus. 

The secondary characters, namely the small coven who become Kylie’s friends and support team are fantastic and just as interesting as the main characters. The dialogue between everyone in this story made me laugh out loud more than once, in a good way of course!

At the beginning I had a difficult time visualizing  a quaint little town in Maine being an epicenter for paranormal activity, but the author does a fantastic job detailing the town and it’s history. The action is pretty fast paced and the ending perfectly sets things up for the next book.

The Booke of the Hidden is a fun urban fantasy with tones of a cozy, that kept me thoroughly entertained from beginning to end. I’m hoping the romance between Kylie and Erasmus is developed more in the sequel, but otherwise I highly recommend this to fans of these genres.