Here and Now and Then, by Mike Chen

Y’all, I have a special place in my heart for time travel and I love reading about future tech. It’s the reason I love Black Mirror so much–seeing possibilities.

I don’t read nearly enough speculative fiction and Here and Now and Then has given me the nudge I needed.

hereOne of the things that made this book so enjoyable for me is that there is plenty of technology involved, but we don’t get bogged down in specs and the kind of extraneous detail that sometimes makes my eyes glaze over.

I think it works so well because although time travel is the glue that holds the story together, I would consider it the B plot.

The A plot is more about family and relationships, love and sacrifice, and all the joy and pain that comes with it.

The cast of characters are strong enough that I really cared about all of them. The empathy I felt made Kin’s mission feel as important to me as it was to him, and that is a rare treat.

This is a fast paced, fun read, but it’s also touching and evocative.

Here and Then and Now is another debut novel that is just superb. The writing is on point and the dialogue is seamless, and despite it’s future/past setting, it’s quite believable.

5/5 stars. Expected date of publication is January 29th, 2019.

I received an ARC from MIRA Books, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are mine.

 

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The Night Olivia Fell, by Christina McDonald

I’ve read a lot of five star books this year, but The Night Olivia Fell is the only debut novel among them.

olivia fellI could tell from the first page that this book was a standout. I think I often in reviews say that the writing is good, almost as a way to articulate that I liked the book even if I wasn’t completely fond of the story.

In this case, the writing is outstanding. It goes beyond good. It’s intelligent and vibrant. The word choices are fantastic. The story is heartbreaking and heart mending.

Olivia and Abi are strong, relatable characters, and I found myself wishing throughout that Olivia wasn’t actually brain dead and that there would be some kind of deus ex machina solution.

The supporting cast of characters were, for the most part, well developed, too.

I wasn’t a big fan of Madison. I thought she was pretty terrible best friend, and Kendall was no better. I’m not sure if it’s just that I’m older and don’t have any teenage children, but my only criticism of the book was that I didn’t find their characters believable and often found myself wondering if teenagers really talk like that.

This is a thriller, so of course there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing, and I thought they were executed well. There was enough misdirection that I didn’t figure it out until the author intended me to, and the solution was credible.

I don’t think there is anything more I could have asked from this book, and I am delighted that McDonald was signed to a two book deal. I can’t wait for the next one!

5/5 stars. Expected date of publication is February 5, 2019.

I received an ARC from Gallery Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Microreview: Swerve, by Vicki Pettersson

I actually read this book way back in May of 2015, but I somehow managed to lose track of posting the review. But mistakes can be corrected, especially in bookland.

swerve

The first thing you need to know is that I love serial killer driven plots, and the second thing you need to know is that I always hide my eyes during horror movies.

This book is not for the squeamish. It made me really uncomfortable in a lot of places, but I still loved it. My heart was pounding the entire time, and I tore through the book.

I did not see the twist coming at all, and I was just blown away. My chief complaint with these kinds of books is usually that either they are predictable or that the twist is completely nonsensical, so Swerve was a breath of fresh air.

Swerve is a solid 5/5 stars.

Thanks go to Gallery Books and NetGalley, who provided me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

The Wife Before Me, by Laura Elliot

Gone Girl basically spawned its own genre of dead wife, unreliable narrator, OMG twist ending books. These books can range anywhere from god awful to pretty great.

The Wife Before Me lands somewhere in the middle.

wife before

After reading the synopsis, I knew what I was getting into. These types of books are pretty much a guilty pleasure at this point.

When I first began reading, I didn’t think I was going to like it very much. The story starts out slow and I didn’t connect well with Elena in Part One. Nicolas and his despicable mother were pretty easy to hate, though.

I really started to get into the story during Part Two, which is set in the past and is from Amelia’s point of view. Amelia is a solid protagonist. She’s likable, fierce, and relatable. While Elena immediately becomes a target for Nicolas’ abuse, Amelia fights back at first. It made for a compelling evolution over time, and made me feel like ‘Wow. That could have happened to me or someone I know, too.’

Elena did grow on me over the course of the book. There is a pivotal moment after which she has to choose whether she is going to fight back and how, and that is where the tension mounts and made me want to keep reading.

While many of the subplots are pretty obvious, the hows and whys are less predictable. In the end, the final twist is a bit out there, but the writing bears it out and it’s not groan worthy.

I give The Wife Before Me 3/5 stars generally and 4/5 stars when judged against books in its own genre. It goes on sale August 24, 2018.

I received an ARC from Bookouture via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

It’s Raining ARCs

I’m relatively new to NetGalley. I joined a few years ago, but lost track of it for a while when I started a new job. (My poor feedback ratio. Sadface.)

I get declined for many title requests because I still have a fledgling blog and because of the aforementioned feedback ratio. I only missed three reviews, but because the number of books is pretty low to start with, I’m facing an uphill climb.

So, I’m climbing! I request a good number of titles at a time to take into account the possible rejections, but this week the ARC gods have smiled upon me and I wanted to give you a preview of what’s to come.

The Witch of Willow Hall, by Hester Fox

witch

This one I’ve already read, but the publisher has requested that reviews not be posted until a month before release. Look for my glowing review on September 2nd. This is a great book!

Synopsis

Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.

The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…

Expected publication: October 2nd 2018 by Graydon House

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Microreview: Legendary, by Stephanie Garber

Legendary was an awesome beach read.

I read most of it across the street from the beach, on a super comfy porch, which is just like reading it on a beach, only better.


 

legendary

I’m totally cheating and only doing a microreview, because I absolutely loved the story and was completely charmed by Tella, and I don’t want to do a deep dive and be bothered with silly things like details.

The thing I most loved about Legendary–and Caraval, is that the story comes alive on the page. The writing is so good and the descriptions so sharp, that I feel like I am actually there and then I realize that I’m not actually there and that it would be impossible, and then I am just a little bit sad.

The character work is fantastic as well. Without giving anything away, I fell for and hated in equal measure the antagonist, which I guess is kinda the point.

Of course, we’re left with a massive cliffhanger at the end. Why must my patience be tested so?

I don’t think I really need to say it, but I will. I give Legendary five out of five stars.

 

My Very First Book Tag — Life in Books

To be fair, I wasn’t exactly tagged, but Boston Book Reader has inspired me to play along whether I am tagged or not.

A newbie’s gotta do what she’s gotta do, y’all.

1. Find a book for each of your initials

circealonespeculation

2. Count your age along your bookshelf – what book is it?

I cheated a little on this one. I read almost all books on my kindle now, so I used my Goodreads read shelf.

power

3. A book set in your city/country

I didn’t think I’d find a book set in Gainesville, GA, but I did!

dream

Continue reading “My Very First Book Tag — Life in Books”