Leaving Time

Finished Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult.  I received a copy from the publisher at BEA.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Throughout her blockbuster career, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult has seamlessly blended nuanced characters, riveting plots, and rich prose, brilliantly creating stories that “not only provoke the mind but touch the flawed souls in all of us” (The Boston Globe). Now, in her highly anticipated new book, she has delivered her most affecting novel yet—and one unlike anything she’s written before.

For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons—only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish. A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers.”

I was talking to a coworker about this book and I said that I think it reminds me most of Jodi Picoult’s book Lone Wolf.  It’s different from most of her other books (although I still haven’t read The Storyteller, which I’m guessing is also different) and it deals as much with animals as  it does people.

I absolutely adored this book and its central mystery.  I felt for Jenna, who has no idea what happened to her mom, and whether she’s alive or dead.  (And really, which of those is the better scenario? If Alice is alive, then she chose to leave Jenna…but at least they could have a relationship, possibly, if Jenna could find her.  If she’s dead, then at least she loved Jenna and would’ve stayed if she could.)

Jodi Picoult’s biggest strength is writing characters.  I immediately knew who these people were, and so seeing things happen to them was upsetting.  (Yes, I treat fictional characters like they’re real. Shut up.)

Highly recommended.

Famous in Love

Finished Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen.

Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…

When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.”

I absolutely loved this book.  It’s incredibly fun but it’s also got a lot going on under the surface.

I think most people have had little daydreams about becoming famous and this book addresses that somewhat—the idea that, while it seems incredibly fun at first glance, there are a lot of other things to consider.  You’ll earn a lot of money, of course, but you’ll also have to give a lot of things up: privacy, obviously, but also a lot of your relationships will change.  It will be hard to relate to your friends who have minimum wage retail jobs when you can match their weekly salary in probably, what, half an hour of work? This was touched on in this book, but I think it will come into play in the next two books, as well.  (YES, this will be a trilogy and that makes me ridiculously happy.)

I feel like this contemp is breaking all the contemp rules (trilogy, not standalone; love triangle where both boys are actually good people, not the obvious choice and the distraction) and I love it.

And yes, while we’re here, let’s talk about the boys.  I love Rainer and Jordan but my choice is clear: I am SO Team Rainer.  And again, it’s not that Jordan is a bad choice.  He isn’t.  I just feel like we got to know Rainer more in this book and I like him as a person and as the “leading guy” for Paige.

Bottom line, this book is an absolute delight and I can’t wait for everyone to read it and talk about it.

Highly recommended.

Book Community Drama And Renewed Manifesto

Over the weekend, a huge thing happened.  And then all of a sudden, a lot of bloggers (including me) got nervous.

Do I need to get a PO Box?  Should I scour my blog and Twitter for any hints as to my personal life (jobs/location/places to find me) and double-check that my Facebook is locked down?  Is there a way to increase my anonymity without completely starting over?

And do I need to worry that someone will randomly call me at work or show up at my house because they don’t like something I Tweet or blog?

I quickly eliminated that last worry.  As I said to a blogger friend of mine, one of the perks of having dozens of readers is that you stay pretty low under the radar.

And then I came to some decisions.

1)  I am not going to alter my habits online or on this blog.  It’s primarily a book blog (and that’s a lot of what I discuss on Twitter—except for this month, when I have gotten a lot of use out of #31HorrorFilms31Days) and that won’t change.  But when I feel like getting personal, I will.

2)  I’m not writing any more negative reviews.  (To be fair, I have barely written any anyway, because I have a pretty good handle on what I like to read and so I am rarely surprised by a book that doesn’t gel with me.)  It’s not because I worry that an author will show up at my house; it’s because this particular drama has given me an epiphany: I don’t want to talk about books I don’t like.  It takes time away from me talking about the books I do like.

And there are so many books that I want to read that I don’t want to spend time reading a book I don’t love because I feel pressure to review it.  Screw that, kids.

And that brings us to my final decision (which has been made a long time ago):

3)  I will not read or review any book that is written by an author who behaves badly.  I am not giving any of them any publicity whatsoever.  And those authors (including the one who sparked this incident) will not be discussed or promoted on my blog.

We only have so much free time, and I would rather spend mine flailing about good books.  I would rather get you to read Darby Karchut or Gae Polisner or Martha Brockenbrough or Courtney Summers or Jo Knowles or DK Mok or Walter H. Hunt or Daisy Whitney or Michelle Johnson or Suzy Rigdon or DC Farmer or Rhys A. Jones or Eileen Cook or Lisa Schroeder or Sarah Darer Littman or Amy Fellner Dominy or JK Rock or Lisa Amowitz or Errick Nunnally or Jodi Picoult or Stephen King or M.D. Waters or Shauna Kelley or Ann Stampler or Carrie Jones or any one of a billion writers I love, and who I bet you would love, too.

(ETA: As a side note: if you have entered and won a contest of mine, I do not keep any addresses. Once the prize has been shipped, addresses are destroyed.  If the book was sent from the publisher, that contact person is the only person your address has been shared with.)

The Monogram Murders

Finished The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah (writing as Agatha Christie).  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The bestselling novelist of all time.

The world’s most famous detective.

The literary event of the year—an all-new mystery featuring
Agatha Christie’s legendary hero Hercule Poirot.

Since the publication of her first novel in 1920, more than two billion copies of Agatha Christie’s books have been sold around the globe. Now, for the first time ever, the guardians of her legacy have approved a brand new novel featuring Dame Agatha’s most beloved creation, Hercule Poirot.

‘I’m a dead woman, or I shall be soon…’

Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered.  She is terrified – but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.

Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London Hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim …”

I absolutely loved the concept (as well as getting to read—sort of—a new Agatha Christie novel).  This is an incredibly interesting plot.  I definitely want to read more of Sophie Hannah’s books because this one was very fun.

But it didn’t quite read like Agatha Christie (or at least the ones I’ve read).  This isn’t a bad thing; the changes were all good ones.  (Poirot has acquired a Watson of sorts, and most of the book is told from his first person perspective.)  Most of the other aspects of the novel were the same (including the fact that I am apparently never going to be able to guess the killer or reasoning in a Christie [or "Christie"] novel).

My intellectual shortcomings notwithstanding, I think there’s a lot to love here.  Recommended.

 

The Silent Murders

Finished The Silent Murders by Mary Miley.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Vaudeville actress Leah Randall took on her most daring role ever when she impersonated missing heiress Jessie Carr in order to claim Jessie’s inheritance in The Impersonator. Now that the dust has settled around that tumultuous time in her life, Leah has adopted Jessie’s name as her own and moved to Hollywood, where she’s taken a modest but steady job in the silent film industry.

Jessie’s thrilled when Bruno Heilmann, a movie studio bigwig, invites her to a party. She’s even more delighted to run into a face from her past at that party. But the following day, Jessie learns that sometime in the wee hours of the morning both her old friend and Bruno Heilmann were brutally murdered. She’s devastated, but with her skill as an actress, access to the wardrobes and resources of a film studio, and a face not yet famous enough to be recognized, Jessie is uniquely positioned to dig into the circumstances surrounding these deaths. But will doing so put her own life directly in the path of a murderer?

With Silent Murders, MB/MWA First Crime Novel Competition winner Mary Miley has crafted another terrifically fun mystery, this time set in the dizzying, dazzling heart of jazz-age Hollywood.”

Like the first book in the series (The Impersonator), this book is full of little winks at classic Hollywood history.  (Jessie’s really good friends with the person who becomes Myrna Loy, who is friends with the guy who becomes Gary Cooper—fun fact: many people change their names in Hollywood!)

Also like in The Impersonator, Jessie is a fun, easy-to-root-for heroine.  While I preferred the first one, this was very entertaining.

It centered around  a slew of murders that are seemingly centered around guests and workers at a big Hollywood party.  Not surprisingly, Jessie finds herself right in the middle of it and realizes that she is taking certain clues far more seriously than the police are.

This series is incredibly fun and I’m excited to see where they go next.

The Beast of Seabourne

The Beast of Seabourne by Rhys A. Jones comes out on October 28.

BeastofSeabournefinishWITHEARS

Synopsis:
“Oz Chambers has a wonderful secret; the obsidian pebble, gifted to him by his dead father, is an artefact of astonishing power.  The sort of power that makes the year eight science project a hands-down walkover thanks to the the pebble’s genius avatar, Soph. But, there are sinister forces abroad who will do just about anything to get their hands on the pebble, and when fellow pupils start being attacked,  Oz finds himself in very hot water.  Soon Oz and his friends, Ruff and Ellie, are caught up in a centuries old mystery involving a missing ring, lava toothpaste and a murderous monster known as the Beast of Seabourne.”
I’ve been lucky enough to read this and it is AMAZING.  If you are a fan of middlegrade books, you have got to check this series out (the first book is The Obsidian Pebble).

Naliyah

Finished Naliyah by Shauna E. Kelley.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from author’s blog):

Naliyah is Lenora’s story.

Lenora is different, and though her tight-lipped father Gabriel refuses to tell her much about what she is, she knows that she is not a vampire… not exactly. She can eat human food, survive the daylight, and is not quite immortal. Nonetheless, she and her father carry an ancient disease and need human blood to survive. They travel the world to battles and scenes of all manner of depravity feeding on the dying. They bring mercy and release to men in their final moments.

From 19th century Baltimore, across the Boxer Rebellion in China, and into the jungles of Vietnam, Lenora follows her father from each scene of brutality to the next, comforted only by her recurring dreams of a blue-eyed man.

Lenora’s life, surrounded by carnage and atrocity, weighs on her and she begins to question how long she can go on… until the blue-eyed man from her dreams becomes reality.”

I signed on to be a beta reader for this because the author is friends with my college friend Matt.  That’s the extent of me knowing Shauna, so me liking this book is not because we are friends once removed (although now we are getting to be actual friends).

And you guys, I absolutely adored this book.  I will admit that I absolutely love books set in Baltimore (and this one is, at least partially) and I loved learning exactly what was going on with Lenora.  There are definite parallels to Cassandra Clare in that the world-building in this is absolutely unparalleled.  (And I think that regardless of your feelings about Cassie Clare, you have to give her props for creating amazing worlds.)

I was immediately enthralled in this story and I loved Lenora and was desperate to know what was happening.  The answers come at their own pace but it never feels dragged out.

I’m delighted to know that this is part of a series and cannot wait for the second book.  I hope it comes out soon.

Highly recommended.

Damsel Distressed Blog Tour

First, the excerpt!

“When are we gonna get a fat princess? How about a princess with bad acne and crappy posture and the mouth of a sailor? Probably never.

Every. Single. One. Is the same. Totally hot. Totally predictable.

Snow White has the attention of seven little men, not because she’s the only one who can reach the top of the bookshelf, but because she’s a porcelain-skinned, ruby-lipped knockout.

The little mermaid got a prince because she shut her trap for five whole seconds and looks fierce in a bikini.

And Cinderella? She’s a girl who clearly demonstrates to the prince that she’s got lots of experience on her knees and doesn’t mind getting dirty.

Carmella and those chicks would run in the same clique, that’s for sure. And they’re the girls who get it all…Who get happiness.

Something to strive for? Something that one can attain with enough passion, faith, and positivity?

Yeah, right.

Happiness isn’t a choice. And people who say it is are just lucky enough to not really need to choose it.

Real happiness? You show me a barrel full of chicken nuggets and ten different sauces, and I’ll show you real happiness.”

DD_FNL_FS_FNL.indd

Title: Damsel Distressed

Author: Kelsey Macke

Release Date: October 14, 2014

Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

 

Synopsis: Hot girls get the fairy tales. No one cares about the stepsisters’ story. Those girls don’t get a sweet little ending; they get a lifetime of longing

 

Imogen Keegen has never had a happily ever after–in fact, she doesn’t think they are possible. Ever since her mother’s death seven years ago, Imogen has pulled herself in and out of therapy, struggled with an “emotionally disturbed” special ed. label, and loathed her perma-plus-sized status.

 

When Imogen’s new stepsister, the evil and gorgeous Ella Cinder, moves in down the hall, Imogen begins losing grip on the pieces she’s been trying to hold together. The only things that gave her solace–the theatre, cheese fries, and her best friend, Grant–aren’t enough to save her from her pain this time.

 

While Imogen is enjoying her moment in the spotlight after the high school musical, the journal pages containing her darkest thoughts get put on display. Now, Imogen must resign herself to be crushed under the ever-increasing weight of her pain, or finally accept the starring role in her own life story.

 

And maybe even find herself a happily ever after.

 

Enhance the experience with the companion soundtrack, Imogen Unlocked, by the author’s band, Wedding Day Rain.

 

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17788889-damsel-distressed?from_search=true

 

Damsel Distressed Website: http://www.DamselDistressed.com/

 

Damsel Distressed Tumblr: http://teamomgen.tumblr.com/

 

 

BUY LINKS:

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Damsel-Distressed-Kelsey-Macke/dp/1939392179/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412356141&sr=8-1&keywords=Damsel+Distressed

 

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/damsel-distressed-kelsey-macke/1118587141?ean=9781939392176

 

The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Damsel-Distressed-Kelsey-Macke/9781939392176

 

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Damsel-Distressed/book-RFTIcQw3o06PYIJYoZrJ5w/page1.html?s=2vx86xWXaUCEC0UUsDkVFQ&r=1

 

 

 

CD Track Listing + Short description:

 

Imogen Unlocked Track Listing:

 

  1. Heavy
  2. No Goodbye
  3. Something About
  4. Sinking
  5. Don’t Wake Me Up
  6. Let Me Go
  7. My Strength
  8. Unseen
  9. Always Speak Too Late
  10. The End is Just the Beginning
  11. Breathe Easy
  12. Edge of the Fall

 

CD Blurb:

 

Damsel Distressed is the story of Imogen, a girl who’s survived the years after her mother’s death by focusing squarely on her best friend, Grant, musical theatre, and lots of cheese. The book is full of humor and heart, and also contains a few surprises. Full page sketches are scattered throughout the novel, and each one contains a QR code that corresponds to a song from the book’s soundtrack. Imogen Unlocked is a 12-song album of original music written by the author and her husband Daron as their indie-pop band, Wedding Day Rain. Together, the book Damsel Distressed and the soundtrack Imogen Unlocked work together to tell the story of a girl who might just make her own Happily Ever After, if she can just hold herself together.

 

 

Author Bio and social media links:

 

Author Bio:

 Kelsey_Author_Photo

Kelsey Macke has been creative for as long as she can remember. From an early age she was on stage singing, penning poetry, and writing notebooks full of songs. When the idea for her debut novel, DAMSEL DISTRESSED, popped into her head, she was undeterred by the fact that she had no idea how to actually write a novel. Her bff, the internet, was her guide, and after much trial, error, and candy, she finished it, and set out to get it published… a process far more difficult than, the internet (now her mortal enemy), had lead her to believe.

Her whirlwind adventure was made even more unbelievable when she signed with fabulous agent, Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency and, shortly after, Danielle Ellison of Spencer Hill Contemporary bought her debut.

This innovative, mixed-media art project has given Kelsey an incredibly unique opportunity to join two of her passions: writing and making music with her husband as half of the folky, indie-pop band Wedding Day Rain.

DAMSEL DISTRESSED, and the companion album of original songs, Imogen Unlocked, are scheduled for release in October 2014.

 

 

Author Social Media Links:

 

Website: http://kelseymacke.com/home

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KelsNotChels

 

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

 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/kelsnotchels

 

Tumblr: http://kelsnotchels.tumblr.com/

 

Blog Tour Banner

Queen of Someday

Finished Queen of Someday by Sherry Ficklin.  I received a copy from the author for review.

QoS Cover

TOUR PIC

Summary (from Goodreads):

ONE GIRL WILL BRING AN EMPIRE TO ITS KNEES…

Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.

Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.

Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.

In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?”

This book is just completely fun.  It’s been compared to the CW show Reign, and I can absolutely see that comparison.  Unlike Reign, though, it held my attention for the entire thing (I watched, I think, two episodes of Reign.  Maybe three.)

I loved Sophie, who is completely pragmatic.  She’s there to marry Peter.  If she does, her family will be safe and she will be comfortable for the rest of her life.  She doesn’t love him and she knows he doesn’t love her, but she knows that love has nothing to do with it.  She has a responsibility to her family and to her own future and she’s going to fulfill it.

Except then she meets Alexander and all of a sudden, things aren’t so clear-cut anymore.  And, not surprisingly, there is also a great deal of court intrigue (not surprising to anyone who’s read Katherine Longshore or Philippa Gregory).

This book is a complete delight and I cannot wait for the sequel.  I can’t wait to see what happens with Sophie and how she lives with the choices she made in this book.

Recommended.

Alice and Freda Forever

Finished Alice and Freda Forever by Alexis Coe.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In 1892, America was obsessed with a teenage murderess, but it wasn’t her crime that shocked the nation—it was her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell had planned to pass as a man in order to marry her seventeen-year-old fiancée Freda Ward, but when their love letters were discovered, they were forbidden from ever speaking again.

Freda adjusted to this fate with an ease that stunned a heartbroken Alice. Her desperation grew with each unanswered letter—and her father’s razor soon went missing. On January 25, Alice publicly slashed her ex-fiancée’s throat. Her same-sex love was deemed insane by her father that very night, and medical experts agreed: This was a dangerous and incurable perversion. As the courtroom was expanded to accommodate national interest, Alice spent months in jail—including the night that three of her fellow prisoners were lynched (an event which captured the attention of journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells). After a jury of “the finest men in Memphis” declared Alice insane, she was remanded to an asylum, where she died under mysterious circumstances just a few years later.

Alice + Freda Forever recounts this tragic, real-life love story with over 100 illustrated love letters, maps, artifacts, historical documents, newspaper articles, courtroom proceedings, and intimate, domestic scenes—painting a vivid picture of a sadly familiar world.”

This book is absolutely heartbreaking.  It’s based on a true story, but one that I had never heard.

In the late 1800s, two women were in love.  Or at least one of them was.  And they were engaged to be married.  Except it was the late 1800s and they were two women.  So things didn’t go well when their families found out and they stopped talking, as their families demanded.  And then one of them ended up dead by the other one’s hand.

There are about a billion different ways this all could have been prevented, not the least of which is by one person (really, almost anyone who knew them) being aware of just how deep their friendship was and how unhinged Alice was at being denied access to Freda and stepping in to keep them separated.

While Alice’s story breaks my heart, she is not the hero of this story.  This story doesn’t have a hero but it has a ton of victims.

This book is so compelling and, while it’s incredibly short, it made me feel like I knew Alice and Freda.  A lot of research was obviously done, and it helps that things were included (love letters, court documents, etc).

This is an amazing book.  Highly recommended.