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review 2018-03-21 18:54
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
See What I Have Done - Sarah Schmidt,Jennifer Woodward,Erin Hunter,Garrick Hagon

This is a fictionalized retelling of the Lizzie Borden murders and though it gets many “meh”reviews, I surprisingly enjoyed it very much. These people are awful! They are selfish, resentful, devious and maddening in their “woe is me” entitled thoughts but I LOVED reading about their misery. And, boy, did they all live in a cesspool of misery, resentment and hate.


I do think you have to be in a certain grumpy headspace to appreciate this one and I was there. We’ve had a never-ending winter and I hurt my back so bad I had to quit a much loved workout routine probably forever. Reading this when I did was perfect timing. We were all miserable together for a short time. So moral of this sad story? Don’t read this if you’re happy or want to be happy.


The story is told from three different points of view. Lizzie, Bridget the maid and a shady male character whose name I can’t recall right now. I listened to the audio which is narrated by three different people. The women do a fine job as does the male narrator EXCEPT when he attempts to do a female voice in a painful fake falsetto. Fortunately he’s mostly narrating the man part so the cringe level is tolerable.


Many people have an issue with the grit and grue factor in this book and I can understand that. This book is an experience. You can feel the cloying sickness permeating these people and for me that’s the mark of good writing but it’s almost enough to make one queasy and I have a strong stomach. There is an exceptional amount of blood everywhere but almost worse is the vomit and rumbling stomachs. These gross people have been eating rotten mutton broth for what seems like weeks on end! The maid suspects it’s bad but keeps adding more salt to disguise the reek of rotten meat. I’m guessing this was because poppa Borden was too much of a cheapskate to let food go to waste.  But I wasn’t there so who knows.


Many people also have issues with the way the story was told and I get that too. It jumps around in time and can be quite confusing and the people telling the story seem quite confused themselves at times. The end of the book leaves a lot of questions unanswered but still I love reading about these people. I cannot explain exactly why. Their relationships are poisonous and mean but if you’re up for that maybe you’ll love it too!

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review 2018-03-21 13:15
The Dark Side of an Author
The Dark Half - Stephen King

Well I haven't read "The Dark Half" since I was a teen. I realize now why that was, probably because teen me was bored reading parts of this as adult me was now. I do think that parts of the book are fairly good (I loved the sparrows and the growing realization of who George Stark was)  but think that the book gets bogged down a ton with way too much talking that goes nowhere and an ending that kind of fizzles. You end up having to read the other Castle Rock books in order to find out what happens to the characters mentioned in this one which is okay, but does make it that "The Dark Half" is not a true standalone book. 


"The Dark Half" was written in response to when Stephen King was outed as writing as Richard Bachman. I have to say that "The Dark Half" really does read like a Bachman book (go read "The Long Walk," "The Running Man," and "The Regulators"). Most of those works seemed to have violence for violence sake. Not my favorite of King's works, but still interesting. "The Dark Half" is mostly brutal with parts broken up by characters talking to each other about things we as readers are already privy to. So most of the book you are just waiting for everyone to figure out things and for the ending to come. 


"The Dark Half" is about author Thad Beaumont who has recently come out and admitted that he has written under the name of  George Stark for years. Thad and his wife decide to declare George Stark dead after a man tries to shake them down for money to keep their secret hidden that he really is George Stark. Thad has started to find some success writing under his own pen name and thinks now is a good time to lay Stark to rest. Unfortunately, someone takes significant pains to go out and murder anyone connected with the "death of George Stark." When all signs point to Thad or someone close to him being responsible for these deaths, Thad starts wondering if someone is delusional enough to think that they are really George Stark.


The character of Thad intrigued me in this one. I do feel bad about what ends up happening to him (see "Needful Things" and "Insomnia"). Thad has a good life and when you realize his connection to "George Stark" I ended up being moved to mostly pity for the guy.

The other characters in this one come in and out and don't really sing to me. We have Thad's wife Liz that felt like an afterthought after the first couple of hundred pages. I wished for more from that character.

Sheriff Alan Pangborn I honestly didn't care for in this one. I liked him much better in "Needful Things" he is also referenced down the line in "Bag of Bones." I think the issue for me is that the sheriff blames Thad for what has occurred, but I didn't and thought it was weird how the book ended. 


We also get a plethora (not really but it felt like it) of characters who ended up being murdered by George Stark and reading all of their bad ends was gruesome after a while.

The writing was okay, but as I said, there was way too much talking going on. I found myself really bored after we get to Part II: Stark Takes Charge. Also since I had this in paperback format, it was hard to read some of the writing that was included in this book that was in cursive and showing what Thad and Stark's writing looked like. I honestly wish I had a magnifying glass.

The setting of this book is pretty familiar to Constant Readers. We are back with Castle Rock, Maine the site of some insanity that has gone on in many a King book. I always wonder why people never move away from that place. The first book in the Castle Rock series would be "Cujo". After "The Dark Half" you can read "Needful Things" where you can follow up with Sheriff Alan Pangborn and hear about Thad Beaumont again. 


The ending was a meh to me. I mean I liked how King dealt with the problem of George Stark. It sounded awesome and terrifying (I will never look at sparrows the same way again) but it just took way too long to get there. 

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review 2018-03-21 12:34
A magical blend of hot burning passion, new beginnings, tender romance, humor, forgiveness & the true value of family.
Brett (Bad Billionaires After Dark #4) - Melissa Foster

The beauty of reading is when you are lucky enough to find a book that connects with your heart and soul, it has you there in the moment, and this is exactly what happened reading Brett and Sophie's magical story. I was left feeling elated from all the emotions, joy and excitement that had built up inside while reading this beautiful, hot and tender story.

Brett and Sophie's characters are equally lovable, they totally captured all my imagination and my heart with their their humor, passion and love that grew. I felt myself smiling at their chats and their inner thoughts. I loved Brett's inner turmoil as he tries to understand his new feelings and vulnerabilities towards Sophie, questioning himself if he was actually mentally prepared for his first real relationship, and learning to allow his softer true side out instead of the macho one he wore. It reminded me of all those worries and nagging doubts you have as you enter a new relationship. But Brett knew deep down what he wanted with Sophie and was strong enough to jump as many hurdles as he needed to. He was such a fun, impulsive character, he definitely carried Sophie off her feet. Sophie is also a strong character that knows her own worth, she dreams of forever love, she could see glimpses of the man hiding underneath all his muscular armour and hoped with all her might that her happy ever after dream would come true with him. There were treasured times within this story that actually took my breath away and not just bedroom scenes, pure emotions that actually tore through me as their true feelings were being shared.

In the story we also get to see old and upcoming characters within this wonderful story giving the sense of such a strong family bond and friendship between them all, it was great to see them all together. Sophie's family scenes in the story, how they welcomed Brett so readily into their lives and how Brett was with them, were a joy to read and I've got to say that Nana was a hoot! It also reminded Brett of how families can be with each other and stirred up deeply hidden emotions that potentially could ruin everything.

A magical blend of hot burning passion, new beginnings, tender romance, humor, forgiveness & the true value of family. This thoroughly touching story was a pure joy to read and for me it is easily the best Bad Boys read from the series, and that's saying something because I enjoyed them all. The feelings when reading this book will stay with you for quite some time!

Source: beckvalleybooks.blogspot.com
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review 2018-03-21 10:06
Our Dark Stars - Audrey Grey,Krystal Wad... Our Dark Stars - Audrey Grey,Krystal Wade

I received a review copy for the blog tour.

So I was really excited about this book. Been meaning to read it for some time so imagine my delight when I spotted the blog tour and the chance to review it before it came out! I just had to take it! And in the end I quite loved this book, I flew through it. There were some parts that I didn’t quite like, but for most the good parts won.

We have two characters; Will and Talia. Will’s parts take place in the now, a world ruled by mocks. Talia’s parts first take place in the past, a world that was at war, a world where mocks were servants or looked at with distrust. Later on it merges with Will’s timeline. And that is when the true fun and excitement starts.

I was a bit confused by Talia’s behaviour. In the past parts we can clearly see that she is a princess, but she isn’t treating anyone wrongly (like so many others do). She is actually pretty fun, kick-ass, and I loved her there. I loved how she was kind towards mocks, Ailat especially. How she actually didn’t feel like being a princess that much, how she just wants to hug or talk to her dad normally. She was just a teenage girl with a crown. Plus I loved the fact that she could fly a figher plane with ease. My heart broke when she had to do that to her best friend. I wish that she could have whispered something to her friend, told her it wasn’t meant to be like this. That she was doing it to save Ailat.
However, the Talia in the now was just a totally different girl. I get that what happened traumatised her, but for some reason she started to also act like your stereotypical princess girl. Asking the mocks (Will and his crew) for all sorts of things (sandwiches and such), being disgusted that she had to help out, being a total bitch towards the crew. And also making so many stupid mistakes that almost cost them all their lives. It was like during that time she was frozen she also lost a few of her precious kick-ass braincells. I just found it such a shame as I really loved Talia of the before. :(
Thankfully, around the middle/near the end she slowly started to show more of those kick-assness again, and I saw that she was caring for the crew, for Will especially. The ending it was just the old Talia again, and I was so happy, so delighted. Welcome back, don’t leave us again!

Will was just a delightful character. He also didn’t have a good past, so where Talia is distrustful of mocks, he is distrustful of humans. I loved Will from the start, he was interesting, plus I was curious to see how he would grow. Would he be able to stand up for himself? Would he tell his brother and father to stuff it? And what about his growing attraction to Talia? Would something bloom between them? Sure, he made some stupid mistakes, but I can forgive him. There is so much manipulation, so many lies, it is hard to see what is good and what is the truth. Plus he just wanted something better for him and his crew.

Then there is the crew. At first I didn’t like Lux, but that girl just grew on me until she was one of my favourite characters. Followed by Tandy (I get that she was a holo, but dang that girl is just too awesome and feisty, I wish we could get a book about her), and then Leo and Jane.

Who the Queen was? Gee, I knew from the start who that was. Though I was also secretly hoping there would be a twist, something different from all the other books with the same idea. But no, so in the end I probably startled my neighbours when I shouted: “I KNEWWWWWWWW ITTTTTTT!!” when the “revelation” was there.

I did like the mocks and the fact they could jump out of their bodies into a new one. That must be pretty awesome, though I am not too sure if I am into living forever.

Big plus points to the cover, I just adore it to bits, it is so gorgeous.

There is tons of action, and the book is really fast-paced. You won’t be bored one moment while reading.

I would definitely recommend this book to all.

Review first posted at https://twirlingbookprincess.com/

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review 2018-03-20 20:39
Unsettling, entrancing tale of escaping the traps we're born to
Along the Indigo - Elsie Chapman

Disclaimer: Reviewing pre-publication proof via NetGalley


I loved this. Vivid, strong character writing and a fully fleshed-out sense of place from the first page made this an engaging story, and the dark fantasy/paranormal elements, while light, tinted the story with a deliciously creepy atmosphere.


Marsden is saving up to skip town with her 8-year-old little sister before one or both of them get roped into joining Nina's girls like their mom. Their dad died (or killed himself) when she was her sister's age, and their mom started working the not-so-secret nightshift in the boarding house they live in/brothel.


Being pressured toward sex work isn't the only source of Marsden's misery. She's half Chinese in a white, rural American town. Her mother's job - and her likely future - are an open secret, and the predatory, bullying behaviour of her peers and neighbours has her self-isolating to survive. And she can't hear the voices of the dead - despite regularly visiting the covert behind the boardinghouse to strip the bodies of the dead for cash. It's the last remaining piece of family property, a sort of suicide forest, tainted by the murder spree of a mad ancestor.


So there's a lot going on here. The visible minority/POC/mixed ancestry thing is handled well and comes up in Mars & her sister's experience, as well as another boy in town's story. The absent/abusive parent thing is troubling but very well handled, as is the dysfunctional community. And the suicides. There's heaps upon heaps of messed up in this book, but the author doesn't bury you in it. It's an engaging read, atmospheric and challenging without feeling hopeless. It reminds me of Brenna Yovanoff's books, and Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed In Blood just a touch. I think it's set in eastern Oregon or Washington maybe, or one of the prairie/desert states further east of there, but it has more in common with Southern Gothic paranormals. Creepy, foreign and familiar at the same time, unsettling and entrancing. Will circle back to this author's earlier works and follow her future books with great interest. Highly recommended read.

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