Category Archives: Books I Received From The Publisher

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.

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.

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.

Ben Fox: Zombie Squirrel Specialist At Your Service

Finished Ben Fox: Zombie Squirrel Specialist At Your Service by Daisy Whitney.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Ten-year-old Ben Fox has good friends, a great dog, and a lightning-fast little sister who drives him a bit batty. The only thing in the fifth grader’s life that’s truly annoying–well, besides having to wear braces on his feet every day–is the family’s wily Siamese cat, Percy.

Ben has always suspected something was off about Percy, who has never shown him or his beloved dog, Captain Sparkles, much affection. But now he’s sure something is off–Percy has raised an army of squirrel zombies in the backyard and they’re ready to take on the dog.

It’ll be up to Ben to figure out how to stop the dastardly cat before the dog falls prey to the feline’s nefarious plans, especially since Percy and his newly reanimated squirrel friends are gunning for nothing less than a full-scale Animal Zombie Apocalypse–when all the dogs start to behave like cats.

If only Ben could enlist his mom’s help in the undead animal war. But his mom is petrified of things that go bump in the night, so Ben’s only hope is to team up with his little sister. The battle won’t be easy though, because squirrel zombies are the most dangerous of all…”

This book is adorable and absolutely perfect for middlegrade audiences (especially so close to Halloween)!

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Daisy Whitney fan, and this book didn’t disappoint.  I love the idea (and I have to admit that I find doggy doors a little suspect so this definitely played into my paranoia there).  This is her first middlegrade, and I hope there will be more.

One of the things I love most about her books is that the pets have really fun names and that’s true in this one: the dog’s name is Captain Sparkles.

I liked Ben and his sister Macy (and their mom, whose “punishments” are that Ben has to play nicely with Macy, who’s his little sister).  And how awesome is the fact that the cat (Percy) can literally summon up zombie squirrels?  (And that this is apparently a thing that animals can do, although it’s mostly kept very secret.)

Highly recommended.

Bleed Like Me

Finished Bleed Like Me by C. Desir.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the author of Fault Line comes an edgy and heartbreaking novel about two self-destructive teens in a Sid and Nancy-like romance full of passion, chaos, and dyed hair.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just “Gannon” to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers-even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she’s standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She’s given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks-until he poses the ultimate test.

Bleed Like Me is a piercing, intimate portrayal of the danger of a love so obsessive it becomes its own biggest threat.”

It took me a very long time to get into this book, but once I did, it made the earlier struggle worth it.

First, you should know that it felt almost gratuitous in parts.  Gannon’s a cutter, and it describes the cuts and their effects on her.

And there is insta-love between Gannon and Brooks.  They immediately click and go from being strangers to a couple in no time whatsoever.

And this is not a good relationship.  The two of them separately are incredibly damaged people.  The two of them together?  Well, as a friend of Gannon’s says (and I’m paraphrasing), “You’re Romeo and Juliet.  We’re just waiting to see who stabs themselves and who takes the poison.”

For roughly the first half of the book, I felt incredibly disconnected from Gannon, which kept me from being able to connect with any part of the story.

Now, though, I feel like that may have been a deliberate choice from the author.  Gannon is disconnected from everyone (including herself) and is determined not to feel anything.  Cutting is her way of ensuring that she only feels things on her own terms.  Once she stops cutting, she starts feeling everything and then I started connecting with her and the story.

(If it was a deliberate choice—and again, I think it was—that was brilliant.)

So be aware that this story takes a while but is absolutely worth the effort.

The second half of the story is much better than the first.  It also absolutely shows the results of being in an unhealthy relationship.

This story will hurt while you’re reading it.  But it serves as an excellent cautionary tale.

Afterparty

Finished Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother — whose name her dad won’t even say out loud. That’s why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her…and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she’s everything Emma is not.

And it may be more than Emma can handle.

Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It’s more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop…

This explosive, sexy, and harrowing follow-up to Ann Redisch Stampler’s spectacular teen debut, Where It Began, reveals how those who know us best can hurt us most.”

I had heard really good things about this from my blogging friends and it took me about two seconds to accept the pitch to review it.  (Primarily because it’s hard to type “Yes! Thank you!” when you are excited.)

There are a lot of books that center around dangerous relationships, but almost all of them focus on romantic relationships.  I’m sure there are others that center on friendship (Choker, maybe?) but this is the first one I’ve read.

When we meet Emma, she’s Queen Good Girl of the incredibly nice people.  She is a dutiful daughter and is …well, not necessarily HAPPY to do whatever her dad wants, but she’s incredibly content not to rock the boat).  Her mom has died of a drug overdose (Emma never really knew her) and she’s determined to prove that she’s just like her dad and has nothing at all in common with her mom.

And then she and her dad move to LA and THEN she becomes friends with Siobhan.  All of a sudden, there are things that are more important than being The Good Daughter.  Like parties.  And boys.

I spent the whole book hoping that things would end well for Emma and getting increasingly anxious because it started to seem less and less likely that it would.  Ann Redisch Stampler slowly amps up the tension until, by the end, I was at risk for major paper cuts from turning the pages as fast as I could.

Now I cannot wait to read Where It Began (the author’s first book)!

Highly recommended.

The Young Elites

Finished The Young Elites by Marie Lu.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

This sounded very different than Marie Lu’s Legend series and initially I was a little worried about how I’d enjoy it.  (Turns out I was worried for nothing; while the two series are not at all similar, both are incredibly enjoyable.)

I liked the idea of there being these “young elite” people who have these incredibly creepy powers.  (I sort of picture them as being like the kids in Village of the Damned, in terms of being able to make things happen with their mind.)

They view themselves as being descendents of the gods; not surprisingly, “regular people” view them a little differently—they’re considered demons and are hunted and killed on a regular basis, typically in creepy ways.

I feel like I’m just starting to get a handle with what’s going on, and I am so excited for the second book in the series.

I’m definitely in love with this series and can’t wait to see where Marie Lu goes next.

Highly recommended.

Stars In Their Eyes

Finished Stars In Their Eyes by Lauren Blakely.  I received a copy from the author for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A sexy and swoony new adult romance…

Celebrity photographer and college senior Jess Leighton desperately needs to crash the wedding of the year. Snapping just one pic of the A-list Hollywood couple tying the knot will pay her way through grad school. But with security tighter than the bride-to-be’s corset, she’ll need more than her camera and smarts, she’ll need help from her biggest rival–hot, British, motorcycle-riding William Harrigan, whose sexy accent can melt the panties off any woman. He’s the last person Jess should trust, but he’s her only ticket in.

William Harrigan wants one thing – to stay in L.A. past college graduation. With a student visa set to expire, the clock is ticking. When he lands a gig that pairs him with the beautiful blond spitfire Jess, he’s scored his best shot at living out the American dream. Winning her trust would be a whole lot easier, however, if he didn’t have ulterior motives…

But there’s no faking the intense attraction between them. Try as they might to resist each other, soon sparks are flying, as they devise a plan to sneak into the ceremony. But when Jess’ new celebrity client raises the stakes, she starts to smell blackmail, and soon she and Will are chasing down cheating directors, staking out clandestine trysts, and making fake IDs, all while sneaking scene-stealing kisses and hot nights together.

The audience loves a happy ending, but in a town where everyone’s acting and no one’s playing by the rules, can Jess and William find their own ever after in time?”

**STARS IN THEIR EYES is a spin-off of the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling CAUGHT UP IN LOVE series. It is the start of the new adult series WRAPPED UP IN LOVE.**

After reading the prequel,  I was incredibly excited to dig in to this one.

As pointed out in the story itself, this book perfectly mirrors your standard romantic comedy and deserves its place next to the best of them (in my mind When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail or pretty much anything by Nora Ephron).

One of the things I love best about Lauren Blakely’s books is the fact that pretty much every book features little cameos by the characters we already love.  This book is no exception (although I won’t be any more specific, because spoilers) and I love every time it happens.  I like imagining that these characters are real and that their stories go on even after their respective books are over. Yes, I’m weird; no, I don’t care.

I’m happy that this is the start of a new series and I cannot wait to spend more time with these characters.  (While I am told that the next books will feature different main characters, I have every reason to hope that they will pop up in other books.)

Highly recommended.