The July Girls ARC Review


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Blurb:
Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost.
Addie has a secret. On th emorning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks – but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman’s purse hidden in his room.
Jessie says they mustn’t tell. She says there’s nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman’s baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn’t always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they’re keeping may start costing lives.

Book Information:
Publication date: July 25, 2019
Format: Hardback, eBook and Audiobook also available
Price: £18.99
Publisher: Wildfire
Author: Phoebe Locke

My Review

I haven’t read Locke’s first book, The Tall Man, but after reading The July Girls you can bet I’m definitely interested in reading it now.

You all know how much I love a good thriller, and Lock did not disappoint. The premise was promising enough but it was Addie’s narrative voice that really made this book a gem for me. The story is told from her perspective from the age of 10 all the way to following after secondary school, divided into sections for a different time period each. The fact that this is told over a decade was a wise decision on Locke’s part. This is the sort of crime that needs time to mature, too often I read things where serial killers accomplish numbers in such a short time period that I’m left wondering how there’s anyone alive in their towns, but this is different, it’s careful and well thought out.

This, of course, makes it, as I love to say, deliciously creepy to read. Like any solid thriller, it’s not too easy to figure it out, you expect some misdirection but I have to say I was definitely pleased that though I knew I was being misdirected I still hadn’t fully grasped the whodunit part, at least not in its entirety and haha oh, she’s a clever one because I DID not see that twist coming.

It was great, and if you want to know what it was, well, you’ll have to read it, won’t you?

I definitely have to say this will be on my list of favorite thriller reads of 2019 and Addie has been one of the best narrators that I’ve read in a thriller to date.

She’s so honest and consistently stuck between a rock and a hard place that you can’t help but want the best for her while simultaneously reading as tragedy keeps surrounding her story.

Jessie was by far one of the most complex characters of the story. A big sister who loves her little sister more than the world and who has tried to protect her at any cost.

I also loved how their father was portrayed, he wasn’t a good father, but, there were times where Addie still felt love for him, just as many of us have felt with conflicted feelings when it comes to our own parents, no matter the aspect.

There’s such a varied cast of characters and I loved Lock’s vivid and bright writing style. I read this in one Saturday, unable to put it down.

 

About the Author

Phoebe Locke is the pseudonym of the full-time writer Nicci Cloke. She previously worked at the Faber Academy, and hosted London literary salon Speakeasy. Nicci has had two literary novels published by Fourth Estate and Cape, and also writes YA for Hot Key Books. She lives and writes in Cabridgeshire. The July Girls follows Phoebe Locke’s debut thriller The Tall Man

 

**Thanks so much to Jen Harlow and Wildfire, an imprint of Headline Books for sending me an ARC to review. In return, I have published an honest review of The July Girls**

The Favorite Daughter ARC Review


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GoodReads Blurb: 
From the author of the page-turning domestic suspense Best Day Ever, comes another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena.

The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.

Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.

It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?

The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…

Thank you SO much to Wunderkind PR for sending me this great book! I’m giving my honest review in exchange for this gifted copy.

First off I want to say that it’s almost hard to put into words just how much I enjoyed this book. It did something that thrillers can’t always do for me since I’ve read so many and that was keep me in suspense and not because it was anything scary but because you just needed to know what was in store for Jane and her family at every turn.

I could barely put this book down! It was right up there with Miracle Creek for being one of my fave non fantasy reads/dramatic reads for the year.

Jane Harris is truly one of the most unique narrator voices I have read and though she’s the main character, you’ll do anything but root for her. Her sense of entitlement the way she warps things in her mind are scary because I think most of us do know someone like Jane.

The hold she has on people is incredible and watching her manipulate everything around her just had me on the edge of my seat. Not to mention it addresses an issue that can come with a style of parenting not really talked about which was a nice change of pace, and it really looked at the family dynamics.

I don’t want to give too much away, and it’s no secret that Jane is not a great person but the book does throw some surprises your way.

The rest of the cast are not a matter of being ‘good’ while Jane is bad, no one is without their faults and that’s great because it extends that suspension of disbelief and you live in this world and believe these characters are real. These people are all flawed and they’ve all made mistakes the question is, who has made the biggest mistake? What happened to Mary?

This was creepy in all the right ways and Kaira Rouda was a master at weaving the story, honestly I was in shock with how much I enjoyed this book and how quickly I flew through it.

If you’re looking for something different, a thriller told in a way to send shivers down your spine from the revelation of characters then I strong suggest #TheFavoriteDaughter, you can bet that I will be reading everything that @kairarouda comes out with now!

Seriously, 5/5 Cups of Coffee, I could fangirl over this all day long. I just want to say if it’s the sort of book you’d think you’d enjoy please go read it! This book releases on May 21 in the US!

 

Dark Shores eARC Review


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GoodReads Blurb:
High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, the first novel in a new YA fantasy series.
In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.
A PIRATE WITH A WILL OF IRON
Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences. 
A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET
Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world. 
A DANGEROUS QUEST
When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.

At first, I wanted to give it four stars as I felt like I’d been loving everything too much then decided, screw it, I loved it and I wanted to give it 5 stars.

I did receive this book as an eARC from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This book really delivered!

I adored Jensen’s blend of the Roman-inspired Celendor Empire and the amazing Maarin traders.

Teriana is more than just a Maarin Sailor, she is an heir to the Maarin Triumvirate and best friend to the daughter of a Cel Senator.

In an attempt to save her friend, Teriana jeopardizes her people, their way of life, and the fate of multiple countries.

Forced to enter a bargain, Teriana’s fate, and the fate of the Maarin are now tied with Cel Legionnaire and Legatus, Marcus.

He is the reason she’s alive, and she’s the reason he’s escaped the eyes of the Senate but their voyage is a dangerous one and despite have their fates intertwined, it does nothing to give them a shared cause other than survival.

Jensen’s world building is great and if this weren’t a trilogy I’d be screaming for more in this novel but I’m rest assured there’ll be more to come and temporarily appeased though I’m still just as impatient for book two.

Teriana and Marcus seem quite tangible in their feelings and not just in romance but I mean their regard of one another and what is occurring around them. Not to mention they’re both faced with limited choices.

One could easily judge them but they have done what they have to protect those that matter to them. And really in the same situation what wouldn’t most do to protect those they care about. I love books that live in a grayscale world, it’s so much more believable when they make their choices, even if you might disagree with them.

Teriana is for appearances fearless but she runs deeper than that, she’s as complex as anyone would be in her situation and I love her all the more for it. She is a strong female character and not just because she’s brave or doesn’t cry, because she does, and she does show fear, it’s because she’s got such a good heart and makes choices out of love and I think that’s admirable.

Marcus definitely has you realizing not everything is quite so black and white but I think Teriana really steals the show for me. Her and the other Cel soldiers and her Maarin crew.

There’s so much to look forward to with regards to the Dark Shores and more lands to find out about. It’s like we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg and that makes me so incredibly happy!

I loved this adventure of the high seas and uncharted lands (well uncharted to the Cel!) and hope the wait isn’t too long for book 2!

The Bird King eARC Review

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GoodReads: 

– …Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret—he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

So you all just saw this yesterday, but, surprise! I’m waiting until Saturday to review Descendant of the Crane and I have another review already scheduled for tomorrow, so here we go, two days in a row of The Bird King.

I really couldn’t explain why I liked this book as much as I did, I mean other than because in my opinion it was a really good book but if I were to give out a list of reasons, I’m not sure what would go on those. Wilson has a flowery sort of prose that’s really lovely to read, so that’s one, but I think the main reason would be because her characters are so beautifully human (the ones that are human!).

They are beautiful, selfish, ugly, kind, pious and sinning, and they are wonderfully flawed each and every one.

Think about it, a protagonist who is selfish but yet selfless and it isn’t grating on your nerves or made to feel fake. That said, I think it’s great because Wilson has decided to give you a protagonist that you can choose to love or hate but that will still make the story powerful.

The antagonist is frightening because of just how real they are and I always find those always make the best ‘villains’ the ones that are too plausible.

Fatima’s best friend Hassan is gay, and in the 1400s, well, it was the sort of thing the Inquisition could ‘get you’ for. But more than that, as I don’t want to spoil anything I’ll not say more about Hassan, there is this great feeling of fluidity when it comes to the sexuality of the characters.  I would say Fatima herself is maybe even more pansexual than anything? [Think Jack Harkness, she likes what she likes, but this isn’t really a romance novel]

^ Speaking on that last []^ It was a freakin’ BLESSING for me to read a story that didn’t try to force a romance down my throat, I mean with Descendant of the Crane that book was amazing, start to finish, and did its romance right as well but I’ve had this slump with people trying to force romances [I’m looking at you Ready Player One] and this was great for me. You are getting to know a different sort of love. A love of a friendship that just made my heart swell.

Wilson writes a fanciful historical fiction set during the Inquisition, the Spaniards, Granada, a Jinn (or more possibly? No spoilers), monsters human and not, adventure, loss, and the price of freedom with the worth of freedom as well. Poignant and with such a feel of humanity for better or worse, this book was well worth the read.

I would say that you have to be ready for this book, to go on this journey because I think if you’re not ready for it, it might be the reason it’ll drag for you.

I know some complained about pacing but I think because I like this sort of pacing in novel it wasn’t an issue for me, I didn’t think it went slowly but you do go from a sort of ‘frantic’ part to I guess could be seen as a lull but to me it was still on the edge of my seat type of thing. The Bird King is beautifully written and it was another great read for me, so, it’s been a nice group of great books.

I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

**Content Warning:** Death, violence, and the chance the book will rip your heart out and stomp on it. But you know, no biggie. 

The Parlor Girl’s Guide [eARC Review]


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Trigger Warnings: Rape, sexual assault, very heavy drug use, slavery…oh…and…Extremely vulgar, like, not even GRR Martin would write this much explicit crap.

I didn’t think I’d rate this two stars when I started reading it. But then I kept going.

This book started with an interesting premise but seemed to just go downhill from the moment Molly’s old life is behind her. Also…he was so bad at making it clear what the hell time period we were in. I’m assuming between 1917-1924 but it could have been 1949, and people just drove old ass cars. IDK! Cotton and Molly weren’t relatable and I wanted to like Molly but as the story went on I just found no sympathy for her. The vulgarity in this book was something that detracted rather than added to the story and it was off-putting to have just some weird supernatural religious undertones that never went anywhere. Angels who let Molly see the future or know things/enter other people’s dreams and yet, and yet!!! NOTHING IS EVER EXPLAINED AND YOU’RE LEFT WITH THIS AWKWARD SENSE OF NOT UNDERSTANDING WHY IT WAS EVEN INCLUDED!!

It was a quick read and kept me intrigued enough to keep going but I would not recommend this book to anyone I know. The ending was completely…I don’t know how to explain it, but it felt useless as if you’d gained nothing by the end.

You just sat there and thought ‘well, wtf was the point?!’

I received this book from Edelweiss via the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

The author has talent, his prose is nice to read when he’s not being a vulgar vulture but the story was just not a winner and I’ll be staying away from this sort of thing in the future.

WHAT THE F WAS WITH THE ANGELS?!!!

In Search of a Witch’s Soul

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Human, private detective Anna Caill isn’t keen on the prohibition of magic enacted by the 18th Amendment, but she won’t deny it’s good for business. The coppers couldn’t care less about the witches’ problems, giving her any number of clients to choose from.

When mysterious witch Jesse Hunt saunters into her office, he and his case will test her limits. While a killer stalks the magical underworld, Anna is hired to find Jesse’s friend, the high priest of an ancient coven.

As her case unravels, Anna is forced to confront her addiction to a dark spell in this urban fantasy noir.

1920s, prohibition exists but not as we know it, it’s a prohibition on magic. Anna Caill a flapper girl and private eye who helps Witches (which are both men and women) who come to her with cases. Not to mention she goes against the 18th amendment to use the Living Memory spell whenever she can to help ease the pain she’s been in from losing a loved one.

Jesse Hunt comes in with what seems a pretty straight forward missing person’s case with a person not really missing, just run away, but why is she so drawn to Jesse Hunt? And is this case as straight forward as she thought?

[Trigger Warning: Character death(s), some steamy love scenes in general if that’s a thing that may be a no for you or a trigger]

Pros:
-Guys…GUYS. It’s prohibition era, NOIR urban fantasy! IT IS A MYSTERY WITH FANTASY [I am freaking out!]
-Quick, fast-paced read
-Such a great integration of magic into the 1920s setting
-1920s slang even used throughout the narration not just when characters talk
-Jesse Hunt is pretty cool
-Jack is very cool
-Small twist in the epilogue that I hope means we get to see more of Caill!!!
-Caill is an awesome flapper who solves freakin’ mysteries and helps out witches.

Cons:
-More erotic than I thought? Which isn’t necessarily a con but it really just goes wham bam and you’re peering around you wondering if anyone can see you blushing.
-1920s slang may seem trite to some instead of immersive
-Jesse Hunt may be eye-roll inducing for the first 60% bahaha
– You may find it too predictable [In Lieber’s defense I would imagine that she meant it to be predictable to us, it was supposed to be a surprise for Caill, not us lol]
-May have tropes you hate that I don’t want to give away too much and give out spoilers, but some usual romance tropes, a bit of a love triangle.

This isn’t my usual thing as far as reading something with steamy scenes but I loved it and just read it in like a handful of hours between two sittings last night and this morning. I think Lieber has a fantastic voice and I really hope there’s more to this! IF NOT I GOT SOME WORDS FOR HER!

[I received an eARC copy of this in exchange for my honest review via NetGalley, here is the GoodReads Link]

 

It’s Friday, Friday, Gotta Get-

Just joking. But I do have that song stuck in my head now.

I think I’ll be talking about book clubs but before I do…..

Updates: So I’ve never done like a book haul before, just post pictures when we go charity shopping, but I may actually be able to do one for March! I just preordered the paperback of Cindy Pon’s Want for my YARC challenge (the library didn’t have it and the Kindle version was more expensive by enough that it made a difference and I bought the paperback, so I’ll be twiddling my thumbs for that, and A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia Cole…not to mention….Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller! (Comes out March 1 for us U.K. peeps!)

So there we have it, three new books when the newest book I bought was the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay, used, this past summer.

As far as reviews go, I’ll probably not post any reviews for my Agatha Christie reads on here, I might on GoodReads if I feel it’ll add something but it just feels like an unnecessary cluttering of the blog if I do it here!

I’ve finally started Dead Man’s Blues last night which is a large read, got through part one and there are 8, so, it’ll probably take me a few days as I’m trading off between that, an ARC, and my huge nonfiction slow burn read, The Romanovs. This weekend I plan to finish and review the ARC by Sunday, hopefully finish Dead Man’s Blues by Monday/Tuesday, and then really knuckle down on my February TBR that I’ve been ignoring to push down my NetGalley list (I am not allowed to browse on there until I’ve finished what I’ve picked up already). However, I feel I may not get to Becoming Michelle Obama, until late March, I was 90 on the hold list when I signed up (or 89…one of those two) and uh I’m 79 now, so progress, but, it’ll be a minute! Also on hold for two others but I’m in the single digits on those so I’m not too worried. : End Updates

Alright, now that I’ve got my mindless rambling out of the way, let’s talk, Book Clubs! I’m in one right now as well as in some reading groups on GoodReads (if you’re on there, feel free to snoop, I’m in 4, but active in 3 as I can’t get to the books they have in the last one, but the moment I can get one I’ll leap in!

Are you all in book clubs, and are they online or physical ones? I was the secretary of the High School Book Club and though I did enjoy it I found that most of their reads were not something I found interesting, I will admit though that at least two books had a really big impact on me. One neat thing about that club was that the school funded it entirely so we didn’t have to pay for the books. The others books I was able to give away to friends and so it was no harm no foul, but now as an adult, if I can’t get it at the library that means having to buy it. If it’s old or commonplace I can snag it cheap but if it’s not, well I’m like Scrooge and I cry over my pennies as they pry them from my hands at the counter. Such as, I spent 8 dollars (my kindle is still connected to my American Amazon and American bank card) on Stalking Jack the Ripper, and as someone who wasn’t very fond of that, I glare at it daily on my carousel on my KFire, in fact, I keep it in my carousel for that very reason, to glare at it.

I love that book clubs get me into genres I might not normally dive into, honestly, I do, but I also hate when we read ab ook that I know is going to be one everyone loves and I’m in the corner like this:

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I also sometimes get very busy with other reads and forget and then I’m rushing to read and in a state of panic….like this:

I think for me I better enjoy doing a book club with people I know, or one that perhaps focuses on certain novels. Like I love my Agatha Christie GR group, but, because I know I’ll enjoy every book, not to mention, I don’t have to sit there with them in person. I am friends with the person who leads the FB one with the regrettable kindle purchase, and it’s nice to be in a book club with people I know in real life but via online. The only problem with this one is that it’s a free for all, people just recommend a read for the month and it’s randomly chosen, which is not the problem…The problem is that I can see myself being uncomfortable if I really don’t like the read and it was recommended by someone I like and know.

“Let’s read my favorite book, guys!”
“OKAY!”

Oh crap, I hate their favorite book.

“So what did you think of the book that changed my life?!”

I really don’t like feeling very guilty and I hate telling people I hate something they love. I mean I’m mean…but I don’t go soul-crushing for no reason!

So I can prep myself, has this happened to any of you all, book club situation or not? Did you just say ‘it just wasn’t for me’ or were you like ‘UNLEASH THE KRAKEN!’

Are you all proud of me? I finally had the energy to use gifs, can you tell???

In the end, my verdict on book clubs? I love them but I am an ugly ball of anxiety and lies in them.