Review: Anxious People

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Atria Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

This was my first book by Fredrik Backman and I was not disappointed. I didn’t have any expectations going in and this book ended up taking me for a ride. There were a lot of twists and turns that I did not see coming. I didn’t know that this book was a little bit of a mystery so I ended up being pleasantly surprised. 

The author’s insights into the human condition are so insightful. He really delves into the choices people make and what motivates them. He has a talent of saying so many poignant things in such an effortless way. I can definitely see why so many people love his books. 

The cast of characters were probably the best part of the book. They were idiots, but lovable idiots. I don’t have a favorite because I loved them all. They all had something about them that I found compelling. 

I loved how the story all came together. There are a lot of little random things that get mentioned, especially in the beginning, that you don’t quite know what to do with yet. But by the end, it all makes sense and there is that a-ha moment where everything falls into place. 

Overall, this book lives up to all the hype! 


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Review: Catherine House

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Custom House) for promotional purposes. 

I know not a lot of people liked this book, but I oddly liked it. It’s not going to be an all time favorite of mine, but I was satisfied with it. 

A lot of people say that nothing happens in the book and there is some merit to that. There are a lot of scenes that aren’t that important to the book because they are kind of mundane. To me, I liked those parts because it helped highlight what life was like at the school. The school is the core of the book, so those parts were necessary. 

Speaking of the school, the author did a tremendous job giving Catherine House a voice and personality. Catherine House was a character itself. 

As for the ending, I liked it. It was a little ambiguous which I typically don’t like, but for this book it worked. The book is mysterious and I liked that it kept that element through the end. 

I really liked the writing style. There was something about it that pulled me deeper and deeper into the story. It was haunting and mesmerizing.

One critique I have is that the book didn’t do a good job explaining plasm. I still don’t fully understand that part. I understand what it is generally, but don’t grasp how it works.

Overall, this book will not be for everyone, so I recommend you read it for yourself and see what you think! 


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Review: Say Say Say

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Rating: ★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Knopf Publishing Group).

I was very excited to read this book because the prose is compared to Sally Rooney (who I love) but it didn’t live up to my expectations. 

The main issue I had was that the prose is incredibly wordy. Usually I don’t take issue with that, but this novel went overboard with it. A lot of the wording would end up being awkward and hard to read. 

For example, there was one part that ended up being (unintentionally) casually racist. When talking about a high school friend, the main character states:

“Dai had spoken perfect unaccented English, but Ella had known that his family still spoke Vietnamese at home…Ella felt him watching her absorb the foreignness of his house, the unfamiliar food smells…”

pg 118

This could have been worded differently so that it could have avoided using the perpetual foreigner Asian stereotype. I get that she was trying to paint a picture of how different his house was, but there’s a way to say that without falling back on stereotypes. 

This book wasn’t all bad. I did find that it explored the life of a caregiver in a very interesting and thought provoking way. It was very intimate. 

Also, every once in a while, the wordiness would pay off, and something profound would be said. One line that stuck with me was

“She believed if she looked at it squarely, her own shoulder would throb unbearably, that his suffering might be contagious, that there might not be any cure, that she would leave his house, return to her ordinary life, and suddenly find she could no longer lift the knowledge that Alix would one day die, that Ella would, too, her shoulder would strain against this once-manageable dread, mirroring the weeping of Bryn’s wound”

pg 89

Overall, this book had some good parts, but ultimately just didn’t resonate enough with me. 


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Review: Big Summer

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Rating: ★★★½

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher (Atria Books) and a finished copy from BookSparks for promotional purposes.

I went into this book pretty blind which I think is the ideal way to read this book. The book description doesn’t give a whole lot of information. The only thing I really knew about this book was that it had a lot of unexpected twists and turns. That is 100% true. I can truthfully say that I did not see any of it coming. 

I found the pacing of the book to be a bit off. It gets off to a really slow start. It didn’t capture my interest until around page 90. There were a lot of flashbacks in the beginning that I felt slowed the book down. Fast forward to the last 90 pages, and that was incredibly fast paced. 

My favorite character was actually Drue. She reminded me a lot of Fallon Carrington from the CW’s reboot of the show, Dynasty. They had similar personalities to an extent. 

As for the plot, I still don’t quite know if I liked it or not. It was fun because it was unexpected, but at the same time I didn’t love it. 

Overall, I do recommend this book because of the unexpected surprises. It makes for a fun reading experience. This is not your typical summer beach read, so if you’re looking for something a little different, try it out! 


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Blog tour: Elizabeth Webster and the Court of Uncommon Pleas

Hi beauties! Today I am a stop on the Elizabeth Webster and the Court of Uncommon Pleas blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. This book sounds perfect for Halloween. There is giveaway for this book so be sure to keep reading!

About the Book

Title: ELIZABETH WEBSTER AND THE COURT OF UNCOMMON PLEAS

Author: William Lashner

Pub. Date: October 15, 2019

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Pages: 320

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindleAudibleB&NiBooksKoboTBD

Welcome to Elizabeth Webster’s world, where the common laws of middle school torment her days . . . and the uncommon laws of an even weirder realm govern her nights.

Elizabeth Webster is happy to stay under the radar (and under her bangs) until middle school is dead and gone. But when star swimmer Henry Harrison asks Elizabeth to tutor him in math, it’s not linear equations Henry really needs help with-it’s a flower-scented, poodle-skirt-wearing, head-tossing ghost who’s calling out Elizabeth’s name.

But why Elizabeth? Could it have something to do with her missing lawyer father? Maybe. Probably. If only she could find him. In her search, Elizabeth discovers more than she is looking for: a grandfather she never knew, a startling legacy, and the secret family law firm, Webster & Son, Attorneys for the Damned.

Elizabeth and her friends soon land in court, where demons and ghosts take the witness stand and a red-eyed judge with a ratty white wig hands out sentences like sandwiches. Will Elizabeth’s father arrive in time to save Henry Harrison-and is Henry the one who really needs saving?

Set in the historic streets of Philadelphia, this riveting middle-grade mystery from New York Times best-selling author William Lashner will have readers banging their gavels and calling for more from the incomparable Elizabeth Webster.

About William: 

William Lashner is the New York Times Bestselling creator of Victor Carl, who has been called by Booklist one of the mystery novel’s “most compelling, most morally ambiguous characters.”  The Victor Carl novels, which have been translated into more than a dozen foreign languages and have been sold all across the globe, include BAGMEN, KILLER’S KISS, FALLS THE SHADOW, FATAL FLAW, and HOSTILE WITNESS.  He is also the author of GUARANTEED HEROES, THE BARKEEP, which was an Edgar Award nominee and a Digital Book World Number One Bestseller, THE ACCOUNTING, and BLOOD AND BONE.

Writing under the pseudonym of Tyler Knox, Lashner is also the author of KOCKROACH, described as “roaringly entertaining,” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “an energetic tour de force,” by USA Today.  As Tyler Knox he has written a number of book reviews for the Washington Post Book World.

Lashner was a criminal prosecutor with the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. before quitting the law to write fulltime.  A graduate of the New York University School of Law, as well as the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he lives with his wife and three children outside Philadelphia. 

William Lashner Photo © Sigrid Estrada 

Website | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of ELIZABETH WEBSTER AND THE COURT OF UNCOMMON PLEAS, US Only.

To enter the giveaway click here!

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

10/1/2019- Pandora’s Books– Excerpt

10/2/2019- Southern Girl Bookaholic– Review

10/3/2019- Shelf-Rated– Review

10/4/2019- BookHounds YA– Excerpt

Week Two:

10/7/2019- Odd and Bookish– Review

10/8/2019- EatingbetweenthelinesINC– Review

10/9/2019- Little Red Reads– Review

10/10/2019- History from a Woman’s Perspective– Review

10/11/2019- Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers– Excerpt

Week Three:

10/14/2019- Books_andPoetrii– Excerpt

10/15/2019- Jena Brown Writes– Review

10/16/2019- Nerdophiles– Review

10/17/2019- Savings in Seconds– Review

10/18/2019- The Reading Corner for All– Review

Week Four:

10/21/2019- Books a Plenty Book Reviews– Review

10/22/2019- Wonder Struck– Review

10/23/2019- Smada’s Book Smack– Review

10/24/2019- Novel Novice– Excerpt

10/25/2019- fictitious.fox– Review

Week Five:

10/28/2019- Fyrekatz Blog– Review

10/29/2019- Two points of interest– Review

10/30/2019- Fictitiouswonderland– Review

10/31/2019- PopTheButterfly Reads– Review

Review: The Tesla Legacy

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from BookSparks as part of their YA Winter Reading Challenge. 

This was my second book by K.K. Perez and I loved it. I had previously read her other book, Sweet Black Waves, and fell in love with it, so I was eager to read this one. 

I don’t typically read sci-fi so this was a bit out of comfort zone, but I still enjoyed it. I actually really liked the science aspects. It was very interesting and I liked how alchemy was also incorporated. 

I assume this is the first book in a series so a lot of the book was setup. It did take a bit for it all to come together but that’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the sci-fi aspects if all the info just gets thrown at you, so I was appreciative of how it slowly came together. 

I loved the main character, Lucy. I liked how independent and critical she was. She doesn’t easily follow and believe what people tell her and is skeptical about the world she is discovering. I found that to be so refreshing. 

But that ending. Wow. K. K. Perez sure knows how to pull off plot twists. She did this in Sweet Black Waves too. She knows how to really get you at the end and make you crave the next book ASAP! 

Lastly, I have this habit when reading books of noting descriptions of libraries and this book had a magnificent description of one on page 195-196. It was at the center of the house and had spiral staircases. #LibraryGoals

Overall, this was an intriguing sci-fi novel that is a great start to a new series. 

Review: When Summer Ends

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received an ARC of this book for free as part of a Storygram book tour. 

When I first started this book, I just thought it would be your typical YA summer romance book. Something generic and cliched. But it ended up exceeding my expectations and being so much more. 

This book was so damn cute. Aiden and Olivia had such a cute relationship. Like that is the teen summer romance that I have always wanted. They were so good together and brought out the best in each other. They complemented each other so well. And Aiden in general is just amazing. Like he’s total boyfriend goals. 

I also enjoyed the writing style. It was easy and effortless and the POV changes were done very well. Because of this, reading this book was a breeze. I flew through it. 

I loved that this book dealt with a teenager with vision loss. That’s something that I haven’t come across in a YA book before so it was nice to see that representation. 

The only critique I have is that I wanted a little bit more closure in the epilogue. It was short and only from Aiden’s perspective. There was something in Olivia’s life that I had wanted to see how it played out. 

Overall, if you’re looking for a cute YA romance to read for the summer, definitely pick up this book! 

Blog Tour: Chasing Petalouthes guest post

For today’s post I am partnering with Love Books Tours to bring you a guest post from the author of Chasing Petalouthes, Effie Kammenou. In her post she discusses how she finds inspiration for her books. Keep scrolling to read her post and to find out more about her book!


 

Guest Post Written by the Author

Inspiration

Inspiration can come from any number of sources – a life experience, a fleeting yet compelling observation, or perhaps an unforgettable dream. For me it’s been all of the above and then some. I believe every writer draws from personal experience and any creative person tends to possess keen observation skills.

My younger daughter is a graphic designer and art director. I can see her eyes light up when inspiration strikes. I might not understand what caught her attention or what was running through her mind, but when she’s done setting up her shot and I see the final product of what she created, then I understand.

The same is true for my eldest, a dance teacher and choreographer. She’ll hear a piece of music that speaks to her and it’s as though a light switch was turned on. I can almost see her eyes dancing as her mind begins to create.

The smallest seemingly insignificant moments can be the most inspirational of all. Each year my family and I attend the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival. It’s a crowded park at that time of the year. Actually, it’s always pretty crowded, but during the festival there are lines of people waiting to sample food & alcoholic beverages from kiosks that represent dozens of countries. I was sitting on a bench waiting for my family and I noticed a young couple sampling some of the offerings. It was apparent that the young man enjoyed what he’d tasted and he brought the wax paper clad pastry up to his girlfriend’s lips. He watched her eagerly, hoping she would enjoy it as much as he did and smiled when her reaction was the same as his. He then sweetly brushed off a flake of pastry from her bottom lip, allowing his finger to linger long enough to caress her mouth before lowering his head to gently kiss her. The whole exchange couldn’t have been more than fifteen seconds but it stayed with me. There was so much love in the young man’s gesture. I could see from that tiny slice of their life that he cared deeply for her and it moved me. I decided I would write a similar sweet moment into one of my stories. (Hint – It’s in Waiting For Aegina)

I began writing my first novel, Evanthia’s Gift, when my mother passed away. It had always been in the back of my mind to write, but I’d always dismissed the idea until this life-altering event and inspiration was born from grief. The story I had always played with in my mind grew from as simple love story to a family saga when I created a character that honored the essence of my mother’s heart and soul.

My mother like her mother before her never wanted to leave this earth, and they especially didn’t want to leave their family. My grandmother, who we called Yiayiá, would say in heavily accented English, ‘Don’t forget me,’ years before she had to worry about dying. My mother promised to always be with us and watch over us. And I believe she has done just that. I’ve had several dreams since I’ve lost her. Ones that contained an important message. I’ve used those dreams as inspiration although I changed the details and used them in a different context.

In 2004 I reluctantly attended my thirtieth high school reunion. The committee chairperson, an old friend I hadn’t seen since those school days, contacted me repeatedly until I finally agreed to attend. I ended up having a wonderful time and reconnected with many old friends. We became a close-knit group, and fourteen years later, we still get together. Because of this, the idea came to me to write a fictionalized story about a circle of friends who grew up together. I added these friends to Book One: Evanthia’s Gift as secondary characters, but in Book Two: Waiting For Aegina they are the focus of the story and each have their own subplot.

Although there may be bits and pieces of my friends in these women they are purely a figment of my imagination. I thought back to those days when we were young and idealistic and remembered what we all thought we would be doing with our lives years later. I expected to be a successful actor. There was a 1:1,000,000 chance of that! I was certain one of my friends would be a fashion designer and another a very important politician. Neither is the case in their real lives but my teenage ideals for them was inspiration enough for me to develop completely new characters with different histories, backgrounds and physical attributes from my friends.

Although none of the characters in Chasing Petalouthes are based on my daughters or any of the children in my family, it is their generation that inspired the storylines of Evvie and Stella. In truth, a very brave young woman shared a personal and painful part of her life with me and she inspired part of the plot. And of course, like I do in the rest of the saga, I delve into the past in a way where the current generation can learn valuable lessons from the generations before them.

I’ve already started to plot the next series in my mind. As a matter of fact, I witnessed something recently that inspired me enough to have my new love interests meet in a similar manner. But I’m not saying a word just yet!


Book Blurb

Chasing Petalouthes cover

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The Gift Saga concludes with the next generation coming into the forefront of the story during their tumultuous years between adolescence and adulthood.

Evvie has lived through more tragedy than a young girl should ever endure, having lost both her father and a most beloved grandmother at a young age. Her rebellious ways are her only defense to mask the ever-present pain in her heart. Closing herself off emotionally, Evvie vows to never let anyone into her heart. But will her determination to keep everyone out see her lose the only person who could heal her broken soul?

Over-achieving, focused, talented, determined to succeed. Those are the traits Stella envies in her siblings and cousins. Her insecurities and lack of confidence stunts her ability to realize her own worth. When an older, handsome young man claims her as his own, Stella believes she has finally found who she has been looking for—someone to love her enough to mold her into the best version of herself. But has she fallen in love too quickly for a man she barely knows anything about?

 Chasing Petalouthes (Chasing Butterflies) is the coming of age story of two flawed, young women who push their way out from the confines of the cocoons they’d built around themselves and discover how to soar.

 Can be read as a standalone. For the full emotional impact on the character’s live and histories, read Evanthia’s Gift & Waiting For Aegina.


About the Author

cover photo 2

Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she’d thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women.

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category.  Waiting for Aegina is Book Two in The Gift Saga and Chasing Petalouthes is Kammenou’s latest release, completing the series.

Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.


chasing-petalouthes

Review: But Not Forever

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Rating: ★★★½

I received an ARC of this book for free as part of BookSparks’ YA Summer Reading Challenge.

This was a fun and fast read. It wasn’t super intricate but it was still enjoyable.

I loved the characters, especially the side characters like Kerry (she was the best!) and Sonnet’s cousins. 

The ending was really good. I didn’t quite know how it was going to end but I loved the reveal that happened. I was on the fence about this book while I was reading it, but the ending tipped me over and made me decide that I liked the book. 

IMG_1609

As for the things I didn’t like, there were a few things I wasn’t huge fan of. The first being that the book read a little too juvenile for my taste. The characters are 15 and 16 but the writing style felt very middle grade. 

Second, there really was no explanation at all for the time travel aspect. That didn’t bother me a lot, but I still would have lot to have seen more depth to it. How it happened still remains a mystery. 

Lastly, two of Sonnet’s cousins were half Filipino and half white (just like me!), and I wish there would have been more done with their heritage, since Filipinos hardly get any representation. I knew it probably wasn’t going to happen, but I kept hoping that there would be some sort of nod to Filipino culture in the book.

Overall, while this book wasn’t 100% perfect, it was still an entertaining read. 

Blog Tour: Busted guest post

Today I am partnering with Love Books Group for a guest post from author, Michele I. Khoury. In her post, she talks about the story behind one of her characters and the research she did to bring that character to life. Keep scrolling to read her post and to find more information about her book!


eCover

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Guest post by the author

Busted: The Story Behind the Good Guy

While writing my debut novel, I did a ton of research, which also included interviewing people who had the same profession as the characters in Busted. The story is about three people who collide over cocaine and how their experiences intertwine.

One of the primary characters is a DEA Special Agent, named Bobby Garcia. While I created a storyline that included drugs and the drug world, I did what writers are not supposed to do: I wrote about topics that I did not know.

Through research and networking, I met a Lt. in Narcotics from the Anaheim Police Department (the same city where Disneyland is located.)

The lieutenant was wonderful. Not only did I interview him on numerous occasions, but I also emailed him at all hours the day and night, to which he responded quickly. He is an honorable individual; he is conscious and respectful of the law, and relentless in arresting drug dealers. Unlike another character in my novel, the lieutenant is committed to the war on drugs and believes that marijuana is a gateway drug.

Not having a legal background, I found myself fascinated by the intricacies of law enforcement. He educated me about the process of identifying suspects, tracking their behavior, finding proof, obtaining search warrants, and setting up stings. The dedication he exhibited became the basis for the DEA Special Agent in my story.

Bobby was a joy to create—a dedicated thirty-eight-year-old family man, who loves his job. His vulnerability comes from his daughter, a rebellious fourteen-year-old who accidentally OD’s on cocaine. Bobby didn’t need any more motivation to rid society of drugs, but when his daughter almost dies, he’s personally impacted and allows his emotions to cloud his judgment.

Dear Reader, What about you? Have you ever taken on a project where you had no clue as to what you were getting into? If so, what was it? What happened? How did you learn what you needed? Were you successful? Or not? What value did you gain?

Warmest Regards,

Michele I. Khoury

Please feel free to contact or follow me:

Mkhoury18@gmail.com

http://www.michelekhoury.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMicheleKhoury/

Twitter: Michele Khoury@MicheleIKhoury

Subscribe to my blogs: http://michelekhoury.com/blog/


Blurb 

Impacted by the recession, twenty-four-year-old artist Gina McKenna is down to her last few dollars and days away from living in her car when a successful businessman buys a painting and commissions another. As their relationship evolves, she’s seduced by his charm and mesmerized by his luxurious lifestyle until she discovers he’s a drug kingpin. As her world turns upside down, she struggles to survive vicious brutality. 

Miguel Lopez is a cocaine supplier with a weightlifter’s physique and ‘the rules do not apply to me’ attitude. Maniacal and ruthless, he has no qualms about killing anyone who interferes with his distribution network, including Gina. 

Dedicated to eradicating illegal drugs, DEA Special Agent Bobby Garcia spent months and hundreds of thousands of dollars working undercover to buy his way up a dealer chain to identify the moneyman. When his fourteen-year-old daughter overdoses on cocaine, he traces the blow to Lopez. As Bobby’s mission becomes personal, he makes emotional decisions, which negatively impact civilians and his job. Unable to let go, he risks his career to orchestrate the biggest drug sting in Southern California. What happens isn’t what he expected. 

When a deputy district attorney meets Gina at a party, he is smitten. As his attraction grows, so does Gina’s involvement with the DEA’s case, of which he is the designated prosecutor. Mindful of his professional ethics, he tries to stifle his feelings. 

Sex and violence permeate the twists and turns of this cautionary tale about choosing one’s friends well.


Khoury, Michele 04-16-4872_cover

About the Author

Writing is Michele I. Khoury’s third career. After graduating from the University of California at Riverside with a Masters degree in Economics, she worked at Xerox, where she set multiple sales records, and Apple Computer, where she received the Business Development Manager of the Year award. For twenty-one years, she was an international business consultant and taught technology companies around the world how to sell.

Her writing career began when she took the Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Novel Writing Classes offered through the University of California Irvine’s extension program. She was one of three out of the fourteen students her professor choose to mentor and attended weekly critique sessions for six years. BUSTED is her debut novel, and she is currently writing her second book, which is about domestic violence and abuse.

She lives in Orange County, California with her husband and rescued dogs, Bubbles and Thriller.

For more information, please visit http://www.michelekhoury.com.


Busted