Source: NetGalley

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The Sisters Club – Review

September 28, 2015 Review 0 ★★★★

The Sisters Club – ReviewRelease Date: August 18, 2015
Title: The Sisters Club
Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Pages: 340
Publisher: Diversion Books
Source: NetGalley
From the Publisher: Four women have little in common other than where they live and the joyous complications of having sisters. Cindy waits for her own life to begin as she sees her sister going in and out of hospitals. Lise has made the boldest move of her life, even as her sister spends every day putting herself at risk to improve the lives of others. Diana is an ocean apart from her sister, but worries that her marriage is the relationship separated by the most distance. Sylvia has lost her twin sister to breast cancer, a disease that runs in the family, and fears that she will die without having ever really lived.

When Diana places an ad in the local newsletter, Cindy, Lise, and Sylvia show up thinking they are joining a book club, but what they discover is something far deeper and more profound than any of them ever imagined.

With wit, charm, and pathos, this mesmerizing tale of sisters, both born and built, enthralls on every page.
4 Stars

The Sisters Club was such a refreshing read for me. It’s rare that I read something that’s not paranormal, romance, or YA. And this was none of the above. Technically, this book probably falls under what’s commonly known as “chick lit” – but I’m just going to call it fiction.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#81DAF5″ class=”” size=””]No matter what goes wrong in life, I thought, the bookstore is always the best place to go. -Diana[/pullquote]This book resonated with me in so many ways. Diana is lonely. She just married and moved to another country. She has no friends and no life outside of her marriage. So she decides to do something about it. She places an advertisement in a bookstore’s newsletter, looking for women to come together and share stories about their lives and what they’re reading.

That’s something I should probably do.

Three women – Sylvia, Lise, and Cindy – respond. And through the pages of the book, their stories become intertwined with one another. [pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#81DAF5″ class=”” size=””]It’s been my experience that if you have a book in your hands, and you keep your nose in it the whole time, even the most die-hard talker that sits down next to you will eventually get the message and shut up. -Lise[/pullquote]

Sylvia is the oldest, with a severe face and deep voice – she never hesitates to give her opinion. But she has a secret.

Lise is a writing professor who wants to write the next Great American Novel.

Cindy is young, and stuck in a relationship with a man who is not very nice.

Diana is overweight, and she has always defined herself by her weight and her appearance. [pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#81DAF5″ class=”” size=””]Do you have any idea what it’s like to go through your entire life knowing it doesn’t matter what you do or what you accomplish, you’ll never achieve your ideal? -Diana[/pullquote] Together, these women work towards becoming the selves they always dreamed of being. Walls are hit. Hurdles are leapt over. And bonds are formed that shouldn’t be broken. I am reminded of a line in a movie I watched recently, “Brothers fight. But they’re still brothers.” That applies to this book in so many ways. These women may not be sisters by blood, but they become sisters by choice.

And I enjoyed every second of the journey.

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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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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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We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt – Review

July 28, 2014 Review 0 ★★★

We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt – ReviewRelease Date: May 27, 2014
Title: We Are the Goldends
Author: Dana Reinhardt
Pages: 208
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Source: NetGalley
From the Publisher: Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellayla. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They're a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell's a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she's happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it's wrong, and she must do something about it.
3 Stars

I am so very frustrated right now.

I’ve been on a serious re-reading kick for the last several months. We Are the Goldens is the first new book I’ve picked up to read since I can remember. I was really hoping to be blown out of the water.

But I wasn’t.

The book was interesting enough to keep me turning the page, but when I got to the final page it really felt as if there should be more pages. The story is one where Nell, the younger sister, keeps her older sister Layla’s secret until she just can’t do it anymore.

But we don’t get to see the fall out from that secret. And let me tell you – it’s the kind of secret that’s a Big. Fucking. Deal. Even though you figure out the secret very early in the book, before it’s confirmed.

The story I wanted to read was about how the secret – and its consequences – affected the sibling relationship.

The story I got was simply a younger sister complaining about how her sister is different until she can’t hold onto the secret any longer. The end.

I needed more to really connect with the story and the characters. This book only scratched the surface, and it left me feeling disappointed and a little bit as if I wasted my time with it.

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Me Since You by Laura Weiss – Review

May 21, 2014 Review 0 ★★★★

Me Since You by Laura Weiss – ReviewRelease Date: February 18, 2014
Title: Me Since You
Author: Laura Weiss
Pages: 368
Publisher: MTV Books
Source: Edelweiss, NetGalley
From the Publisher: Laura Wiess captures the visceral emotion of a girl’s journey from innocence to devastating loss and, ultimately, to a strange and unexpected kind of understanding—in this beautiful and painfully honest new novel.

Are there any answers when someone you love makes a tragic choice?

Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.

If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother—and herself—from the endless replay of heartache and grief.

Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?
4 Stars

Let’s start with Twitter, shall we?

Those tweets pretty much perfectly sum up the constant emotion I felt while reading this book.

It hurt.

But I’m so glad I read it. It was so real and so raw. I’ve never experienced anything like what Rowan went through in this book. Yes, I’ve been depressed. Yes, I have wanted to be dead. But I’ve never even considered the possibility of making that happen.

I just can’t imagine. Even though I read it and felt it and lived it with her, I still can’t imagine that being someone’s reality.

Yes, this book was hard to read.

But it was worth the hurt.

Me Since You is definitely the kind of book that can begin a dialogue with teens who either are, or know someone who is, depressed. I highly recommend it.

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