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review 2017-05-27 14:28
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
The Rules of Magic - Alice Hoffman The Rules of Magic - Alice Hoffman

A special thank you to Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Hoffman revisits the Owens family in this prequel to Practical Magic.  For hundreds of years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town.  It all started in 1620 when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for falling in love with the wrong man.  Hundreds of years later in New York City, Susanna Owens knows all too well the dangers of falling in love, and tries to spare her three children from the curse.  This means no walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no books about magic, and most importantly, no falling in love!  Franny, her most difficult child, has hair the colour of blood, and skin as white as milk; Jet is a dark-haired shy beauty who can read other people's thoughts; and Vincent, irresistible to women, is full of trouble.

The Owens children visit their Aunt Isabelle at her home in Massachusetts where they uncover family secrets, and the truth of who they really are.  Feared and revered, it is made clear that this next generation of Owens will not be exempt from the scorn of the townspeople, that is until they want something that only magic can cure.
Back in New York City, each of the Owens children begins on their own journey of discovery while trying to avoid the family curse by not falling in love.  They cannot escape the magic, just as they cannot escape love and the bonds they share.

Thrilling and magical, this beautiful work sets the table—the sisters grow up to be the aunts from Practical Magic, while Vincent leaves behind the legacy that will define the Owens women.  Rich with imagery and prose, Hoffman sprinkles pop-culture and history in this beautiful story of love, loss, and magic, and I simply did not want it to end.

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review 2017-05-22 18:35
Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman
Black Mad Wheel: A Novel - Josh Malerman

Black Mad Wheel is a story which defies categorization and instead focuses on delivering characters that you like and can believe in.

 

The Danes are a band consisting of ex-army men, (even if they were only in the army band), who are asked by the military to investigate a noise in the African desert. I know it sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but I found it be compelling dark fiction.

 

From Philip's point of view, (Philip being the band's keyboard player), the narrative switches between the trip to Africa and the present, in which he is hospitalized with every. single. bone. in his body broken. He wakes up not quite remembering everything that happened to him or what happened to the rest of the band. The very fact that he wakes up at all is a miracle. Or is it?

 

Featuring some of the creepiest scenes I've read in quite some time, the author's talent for dark fiction really shines through. I doubt that I'll ever look at a goat in the same way again and I'll probably freak out if I ever see a red piano in real life. I loved the writing and the descriptive scenes and I even loved reading about the two prior military teams that were sent to investigate this mystery sound. (Not to mention the story of the couple native to that part of the desert-it was truly disturbing.) The only difficulty I had was that the premise wasn't really believable-at least not to me. However, I suspended my disbelief, and once I did, I just went along for the ride and what a ride it was!

 

If you've ever felt a song in your heart, I believe you'll be able to identify with Philip and Ellen, his nurse, because it's the music they discover is a common bond between them. The ties between band members are also incredibly strong, (especially when they've been together as long as The Danes), and those connections are not easily broken. (In this respect, Black Mad Wheel reminds me of Robert McCammon's THE FIVE, easily one of the best fictional books about a band that I've ever read.) The last scene nearly broke my heart and I can't think of a more perfect ending.

 

Music, mystery, desert mines and mad doctors, (oh, didn't I mention that before?): with all that going on how can you resist reading this book? You know you want to! Go ahead: invest yourself in Black Mad Wheel , at the very least you'll be intrigued. At the very best, you will end up making space on your bookshelf at home-the one that houses all your favorite books. Highly recommended!

 

Available everywhere tomorrow, May 23, 2017 here: Black Mad Wheel: A Novel

 

*Thank to Ecco books and to Edeweiss for the e-ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This is it. *

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text 2017-04-26 00:22
See What I Have Done
See What I Have Done - Sarah Schmidt

A special thank you to Edelweiss, NetGalley, Grove Atlantic, and Atlantic Monthly Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Lizzie Borden took an axe

And gave her mother forty whacks

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her father forty-one

 

Or did she?

 

I'm not going to lie, I kept putting this one down.  The opening chapter narrated by Lizzie was well-written with a nice hook, and then the second chapter narrated by her sister Emma threw me off.  However, I limped through it, and then a few more chapters here and there, and then I couldn't put it down.  This book was well-written and captivating, especially for a debut, and I would definitely recommend it.

 

In See What I Have Done, Schmidt takes on the daunting genre of historical fiction with her account of one of the most famous murder cases of all time with.  Lizzie Borden's father and step-mother are found bludgeoned to death at the Borden residence.  Told from multiple perspectives, the reader goes inside the mind of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the Irish maid Bridget, and a mysterious stranger Benjamin who has ties to the family.  This multiperspectivity works brilliantly and while I enjoyed Lizzie's chapters the most, the other perspectives were needed to balance out the story.  

 

Schmidt juxtaposes the visual imagery of sickness—blood, vomit, rotting food—against the relationships of the family.  This is more than fiction, it is a foray into the human psyche and a study of the most intimate kind of relationships.

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review 2017-04-13 22:30
Jericho's Razor by Casey Doran
Jericho's Razor (Jericho Sands) - Casey Doran

 

Jericho's Razor is a fast paced thrill ride, dodging the bad guys and the police until the very last page! What a blast!

 

Jericho Sands is a horror author being stalked by a serial killer. I know that it sounds like it's been done, and it has, but I think this one was above average. Being the son of serial killers himself, Jericho get his bad juju out through his writing. His character, Christian Black, acts out the things that Jericho has thought about and even seen during his time growing up. But now, someone is acting out the role of Christian and trying to pin it on Jericho. Who could it be and what do they want? You'll have to read this to find out.

 

I read the review of a Goodreads friend, (that'd be you, Bandit), and decided I needed to read this one for myself. I'm glad I did! Despite more than a few missing words and a couple of grammatical errors, I enjoyed this book. I read it in only 3 sittings and never once felt bored or questioned the motivations of the characters. A couple of them were rather cliche, (ambitious local politician, I'm looking at you), but overall I think Jericho's Razor was a resounding debut novel and I recommend it! I'll be looking forward to reading the next one later this year.

 

*Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the free e-copy in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

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review 2017-04-06 01:17
Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
Saints for All Occasions - J. Courtney S... Saints for All Occasions - J. Courtney Sullivan

A special thank you to Edelweiss and Knopf Publishing Group for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Two sisters, 21-year-old Nora and 17-year-old Theresa Flynn, leave their small village in Ireland and embark on a journey that will bring them to America. 

Nora is the more responsible of the two; she is practical and shy and accepts the proposal of a man she isn't entirely sure she is in love with.  Theresa is a free sprit that is easily charmed with her new life in Boston which includes dresses and dance halls.  When Theresa ends up pregnant, it is Nora that comes up with a plan that ultimately changes the course of their lives.

Fifty years pass—Nora has four grown children: John, a successful political consultant; Bridget, in a relationship and preparing for a baby; Brian, a former baseball player who has moved back in with Nora; and Patrick, Nora's favourite child, who is responsible for causing much heartache to those around him.  Estranged from Nora, Theresa lives in Vermont in a secluded abbey and is a practicing nun. 

After decades of not speaking, a death in the family forces the sisters to confront the choices they have made and each other.  This is a beautiful, sweeping novel about relationships, family, secrets, and sacrifice.  

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