The Night Sister – Review

September 7, 2015 Review 0 ★★★★

The Night Sister – ReviewRelease Date: August 4, 2015
Title: The Night Sister
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Pages: 322
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Source: NetGalley
From the Publisher: The latest novel from New York Times best-selling author Jennifer McMahon is an atmospheric, gripping, and suspenseful tale that probes the bond between sisters and the peril of keeping secrets.

Once the thriving attraction of rural Vermont, the Tower Motel now stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper's kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel's past, something that ruined their friendship forever.

Now adult, Piper and Margot have tried to forget what they found that fateful summer, but their lives are upended when Piper receives a panicked midnight call from Margot, with news of a horrific crime for which Amy stands accused. Suddenly, Margot and Piper are forced to relive the time that they found the suitcase that once belonged to Silvie Slater, the aunt that Amy claimed had run away to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming Hitchcock's next blonde bombshell leading lady. As Margot and Piper investigate, a cleverly woven plot unfolds—revealing the story of Sylvie and Rose, two other sisters who lived at the motel during its 1950s heyday. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one carries the secret that would haunt the generations to come.
4 Stars

Since this was my first novel by Jennifer McMahon, I really had no idea what to expect when I picked it on Netgalley. It sounded rather intriguing, and I like dark mysteries – especially when ther’s a hint of the supernatural.

And I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it. There was nothing predictable about this book – and it’s rare that I don’t figure out what’s going to happen at the end quite early on. The Night Sister was written from the various perspectives of several characters, so we never got quite the whole story. Instead, we got snippets from each person’s experience. Looking back, it’s clear to see how the ending was foreshadowed but while reading I was totally wrong (when I wasn’t in the dark). I loved how McMahon seamlessly took us between three different timelines. It would be easy to get confused with that kind of complexity, but I always knew what was happening and when it was happening.

I ended up closing the book (or rather, turning off my iPad) before I went to bed because I was worried about reading about blood and monsters just before falling asleep. That’s silly because it really wasn’t that scary – but it was so suspenseful that I stayed on the edge of my seat. Who killed Amy? What happened to Sylvie? Is Rose really crazy? Are there really ghosts? And what is the 29th room?

Luckily, every single one of my questions was answered in the end. I hate it when books don’t answer all of the questions they raise – but in this case, I got very satisfying closure.

The book I keep thinking of as comparison is Gone Girl – but that’s not quite right. There’s not a twist of that magnitude, and the plot has virtually no similarities… but I can’t shake the comparison. I think it’s because it’s dark, it does involve murder, and there’s a mystery that you’re trying to solve before you get to the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed Night Sister, and you will too if you’re a fan of suspenseful mystery. This may have been my first novel by McMahon, but it certainly won’t be my last.

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Fleur de Nuit by Cat Montmorency – Review {Blog Tour}

September 3, 2015 Blog Tour, Review 0 ★★★★

Fleur de Nuit by Cat Montmorency – Review {Blog Tour}

Fleur de Nuit by Cat Montmorency – Review {Blog Tour}Release Date: September 1, 2015
Title: Fleur de Nuit
Series: Bourbon Street Bondage #1
Author: Cat Montmorency
Pages: 291
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Source: Inkslinger PR Blog Tours
From the Publisher: The difference between wanting and taking is the barest catch of a breath…

Decadent food, smoky music, dark delights—who could live in the French Quarter and not be tempted to partake? Moira D’Arcangelis, that’s who.

Ever since her college boyfriend tried to add her to his list of murder victims, she’s lived a quiet life, which is code for no life at all. When her best friend Kara convinces—okay, drags—her to meet Adrian LaCroix, master of the local underground kink scene, his commanding presence and sexy Cajun accent bring her latent desires back to life.

His offer to train her as a Domme is the key to regaining control of her life. Yet becoming Adrian’s protégé comes with complications. As he opens her body, mind, and soul, she begins to see Kara in a new light—right about the time a legendary Domme returns, intent on stealing Kara away.

Moira has a fight on her hands. For Kara, and against a past that comes roaring back with a vengeance. She’ll need every trick Adrian can teach her to win the right to both life—and love.

Warning: This book contains more seasoning than a New Orleans kitchen. It’s simmering over with sex. Boy/girl sex. Girl/girl sex. Girl/boy/girl sex. Sex toys, sex talk, sex clubs, dark and troubled sexual pasts…you get the picture. Could be too spicy for beginners, but hey, where there’s Cajun heat, there’s fire. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
4 Stars

OH MY GOSH GUYS.

So when I agreed to review this book, it was because it sounded sort of interesting and I hadn’t done a blog tour stop in a very very long time. I didn’t have high expectations for the book. I was prepared to come out of it firmly feeling “meh”. Since 50 Shades, there have been so many books about kink – and most of them aren’t done well at all.

But then I couldn’t put it down.

I stayed up until 1am when I was already exhausted because I simply couldn’t stop reading this book. This is the kind of book that gets under your skin and in your heart.

There are a few things that irritated me – which bumped it down to 4 stars instead of 5 (but oh my gosh guys – it’s so good). First, Moira went from a broken woman to Dominatrix extraordinaire way too quickly. That process should have likely taken months – or at the very least weeks. In the book, it happened in days. Second, I had a hard time believing that someone who went through what Moira did would so easily be able to step into this lifestyle. It was handled well in the narrative, but I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief at the beginning.

But truthfully, those things are easily overlooked in the grand scheme of things. This book. THIS BOOK. This book gave me everything I was hoping for (a decent romance) and then SO MUCH MORE.

Cat Montmorency understands kink. She understands the difference between being Dominant and being abusive. [pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The primary rule of a Dominant/submissive relationship is to hurt, not harm.[/pullquote] She understands that not everyone who has a kink or is in the BDSM community is a sadist or masochist. She understands that BDSM isn’t always physically sexual.

One of my favorite things about Fleur de Nuit was the inclusivity of it all. There were few labels (other than Dom(me)/sub). Sex could be enjoyed equally with your own gender as with the opposite gender. There were no rules (other than the aforementioned “No harm” rule). Straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, monogamous, non-monogamous… none of it was better than the other. None of it was treated as if it were unusual or wrong.

And the story. Romance novels are generally formulaic and predictable, yes? Not this one. When I started this book, I hadn’t read the blurb in awhile. I had no idea what it said. I couldn’t remember any of the characters it mentioned, and I only knew it involved kink because of the word “bondage” in the series name. If you read it now, you may not think the book was as unpredictable as I did. I was certain that Moira’s love interest was going to be someone other than it was. And then I thought maybe it was going to be someone else. Both of those characters fit the formula. But it wasn’t either of them.

I love it when a book surprises me.

And this book did. It reached up, grabbed me by my hair, and pulled me towards it until all I could do was submit and read it.

When does Book 2 come out?

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Menagerie by Rachel Vincent – Review

September 1, 2015 Review 0 ★★★★

Menagerie by Rachel Vincent – ReviewRelease Date: September 29, 2015
Title: Menagerie
Series: Menagerie #1
Author: Rachel Vincent
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Source: NetGalley
From the Publisher: From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent comes a richly imagined, provocative new series set in the dark mythology of the Menagerie…

When Delilah Marlow visits a famous traveling carnival, Metzger's Menagerie, she is an ordinary woman in a not-quite-ordinary world. But under the macabre circus black-top, she discovers a fierce, sharp-clawed creature lurking just beneath her human veneer. Captured and put on exhibition, Delilah in her black swan burlesque costume is stripped of her worldly possessions, including her own name, as she's forced to "perform" in town after town.

But there is breathtaking beauty behind the seamy and grotesque reality of the carnival. Gallagher, her handler, is as kind as he is cryptic and strong. The other "attractions"—mermaids, minotaurs, gryphons and kelpies—are strange, yes, but they share a bond forged by the brutal realities of captivity. And as Delilah struggles for her freedom, and for her fellow menagerie, she'll discover a strength and a purpose she never knew existed.

Renowned author Rachel Vincent weaves an intoxicating blend of carnival magic and startling humanity in this intricately woven and powerful tale.
4 Stars

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead.

I didn’t think it was possible to do so, but Rachel Vincent has created in Menagerie a world that I’ve never before seen in my reading. While no single aspect of this world is unique, the way that Vincent has expertly woven various mythologies into a single universe left me feeling as if I were stepping into a new universe for the very first time.

While the book takes place in the United States – specifically Oklahoma and Texas – it is not the United States that we know. In this alternate version, every kind of creature you’ve ever imagined or read about co-exists with humans. Mermaids, minotaurs, fae, sirens, werewolves, skinwalkers, thunderbirds – there are simply too many to name. They have all of the same rights and privileges that humans do. They work with humans, they live next to humans, and they exist peacefully with humans.

Until the reaping.

One night in 1986, millions of human children were systematically murdered by their parents. In every family, a single six year old child remained alive. It was soon discovered that those six year old children were not human; six years prior, some 30,000 children were born but never made it out of the hospital. They were replaced with surrogates.

Because of the reaping, these non-humans – cryptids – were stripped of any and all rights and privileges. Millions lost jobs and homes. They became property. And the world of the Menagerie was created.

Delilah is thrust into this world when she displays some rather unusual characteristics while touring the Menagerie. After twenty-five years of believing she’s human, Delilah’s world changes in the span of a few seconds.

As I read, I found myself relating to Delilah in ways I didn’t expect. I was at once both captivated and disgusted by the Menagerie. Captivated by the mysteries it contained, yet disgusted by the treatment of those in captivity. The monsters weren’t the ones locked in the cages.

At it’s heart, Menagerie is a story about humanity and whether or not being human is a pre-requisite (spoiler: it isn’t). The story that Vincent tells is intense, vibrant, and – at times – heartbreaking. But what I liked most about it is that it wasn’t predictable. I thought I knew exactly what was going to happen, how the characters were going to interact, and how the first book of this trilogy was going to end. I was wrong.

I like being wrong when it comes to the predictability of what I’m reading.

I do have some concerns about things being “too tidy” – and perhaps a bit too easy… but thankfully Vincent has more books coming to muddy the waters again.

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You’re Never Weird on the Internet – Review

August 24, 2015 Review 2 ★★★★★

You’re Never Weird on the Internet – ReviewRelease Date: August 11, 2015
Title: You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)
Author: Felicia Day
Narrated by: Felicia Day
Length: 6 hours 17 minutes
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Source: Audible
From the Publisher: From online entertainment mogul, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood.

The Internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day—violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world…or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.

After growing up in the south where she was "homeschooled for hippie reasons", Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia’s misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star.

Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now, Felicia’s strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism—just like her memoir.

Hilarious and inspirational, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should embrace what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now—even for a digital misfit.
5 Stars

Dear Felicia Day (because you’ll never be simply ‘Felicia’ to me – like Harrison Ford or William Shatner),

It would be weird for me to say that I love you. Because we’re strangers and that’s just creepy. But I do feel a certain kinship with you.

You get me.

Listening to you tell your story was like I was listening to the version of my life I wish I’d had. The version of my life that I was too scared to reach for. I don’t mean the fame and notoriety, but embracing who you are and being unapologetic for it. You had a passion and then you carved your own life and career path to match.

I wish I’d done that.

I mean, I’m still only 32 – but that’s almost totally old. (What? No. I’m never going to be an adult.) I still have time. I have a list of things I want to do. All things that require me to join strangers or start something from scratch…while hoping that strangers come join (like a book club). Things I am absolutely terrified to do. And your book simultaneously inspires and shames (only a teensy bit) me.

The only thing that disappointed me about this book was how little it focused on your work apart from The Guild. While I loved your web series, it was your other work that solidified me as a fan – in particular Buffy and Dr. Horrible (though your work on Eureka and Supernatural was amazing too). I would have loved to have gotten more insight into how those shows influenced your career and fan base. I do, however, understand that you had to pick and choose the events that told the story you were trying to tell – and The Guild was integral to that story.

My Audible file has several bookmarks throughout because you had so many great nuggets for me to remember – those sayings you want to put on a mug.

On living life to the fullest:

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#C79199″ class=”” size=””]Scare yourself good. You have a finite number of toothpaste tubes you will ever consume while on this planet. Make the most of that clean tooth time. For yourself.[/pullquote]

On following your dreams:

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]No matter what you feel is holding you back in life, you can attempt anything.[/pullquote]

On mental health:

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#C79199″ class=”” size=””]My mental problems made me feel ashamed. I felt like I had to hide them until I could “work through it on my own” which I never did because I didn’t know how. I didn’t feel brave enough to make fixing my mind a priority because I didn’t think anyone would understand.[/pullquote]

And finally…

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I hope all my copious oversharing encourages someone to stop, drop, and do something that’s always scared them.[/pullquote]

There was no oversharing in this book. I’m so glad I read this book – and I’m so glad you wrote it. People like me aren’t alone. It’s okay to be a “geek” – to have passions that maybe most people don’t understand. To love gaming, or comic books, or super heroes. Or flan.

I’ve always said that the internet is full of my people – and I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one.

Mandi Kaye
xoxo

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Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison – Review

August 20, 2015 Review 0 ★★★½

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison – ReviewRelease Date: July 18, 2011
Title: Dragon Bound
Series: Elder Races #1
Author: Thea Harrison
Narrated by: Sophie Eastlake
Length: 12 hours 59 minutes
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Source: Audible
From the Publisher: Half-human and half-Wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the Wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful—and passionate—of the Elder Races.

As the most feared and respected of the Wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed. And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they've ignited in each other.

Pia knows she must repay Dragos for her trespass, but refuses to become his slave—although she cannot deny wanting him, body and soul.
3.5 Stars

I think this is going to be a difficult book for me to review.

I hated parts of it. I loved parts of it.

Pia Giovanni drove me absolutely nuts.

Part of me wonders if I would have appreciated the book more had I read it, instead of listening to the audio book. One minute Pia was a whiny pushover who I wanted to smack around and the next she was tossing the gryphons on their asses. Would I have been as irritated if I didn’t have to listen to the whininess? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Other irritants: this book is the very definition of insta-love. And it’s rarely (if ever) questioned. It’s just a completely natural thing for Pia and Dragos to become a couple as soon as he shows up to punish her for stealing from him. Yes, he’s intending to kill her but instead they end up together. A couple.

And the entire book is made up of obstacles that seem dire but are tidily wrapped up with no difficulty whatsover as soon as the dragon shows up. Seriously – the climax of the book is View Spoiler » That trope happened several other times too – Dragos is just too damn powerful, I guess?

But oh my goodness – the sex scenes were damn steamy. I also appreciated how Thea Harrison used anatomically correct language in many places. Yes folks, this romance novel used the word penis. And testicles. It was so very refreshing to read a story that wasn’t full of euphemisms that often make me uncomfortable. Oh! And the word clitoris was used. No pussy or cock here (shudder). Thank you for that Ms. Harrison.

In the end, despite the many annoyances and irritations that occurred I found myself invested in these characters. Even the supporting ones. I want to stay in this world a little longer, so I will read the next book in the series. And I do mean read – no audio book moving forward.

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