Category Archives: Books I Received From The Publisher

Prototype

Finished Prototype by M.D. Waters.  I received a copy from the publisher on Edelweiss.  (Spoilers for its predecessor, Archetype, in this review.)

Summary (from Goodreads):

The stunning debut that began with Archetype— and has readers buzzing—concludes in Prototype, when a woman’s dual pasts lock onto a collision course, threatening her present and future.

Emma looks forward to the day when she can let go of her past—both of them. After more than a year on the run, with clues to her parents’ whereabouts within her grasp, she may finally find a place to settle down. Start a new life. Maybe even create new memories with a new family.

But the past rises to haunt her and to make sure there’s nowhere on the planet she can hide. Declan Burke wants his wife back, and with a little manipulation and a lot of reward money, he’s got the entire world on his side. Except for the one man she dreads confronting the most: Noah Tucker.

Emma returns to face what she’s done but finds that the past isn’t the problem. It’s the present—and the future it represents. Noah has moved on and another woman is raising their daughter.

In the shocking conclusion to M.D. Waters’s spectacular debut, Emma battles for her life and her freedom, tearing down walls and ripping off masks to reveal the truth. She’s decided to play their game and prove she isn’t the woman they thought she was. Even if it means she winds up dead. Or worse, reborn.”

I can’t even adequately express how much I loved this book and its predecessor, Archetype.  And I am very, very sad that the series is only two books, because I will miss Emma and Noah very, very much.

I read these two books almost back to back (thank you, Penguin!) and I recommend that very highly.  It was so fantastic to see and be able to really appreciate the growth of Emma’s character.

She went from a timid person to an actual warrior.  (The timidity is understandable, because she had no memories—can you imagine having to figure out everything about yourself?  Let alone learning that the person you were trusting to help you navigate everything was a liar and creep?)

And oh, Noah.  I loved Noah.  I pictured him as kind of a Michael Biehn-type, circa original Terminator.  And I love his relationship with Emma.  Those two are absolutely perfect together, and the love they have for each other is completely swoon-worthy.

I hope M.D. Waters continues to be this prolific, because I already need many more books from her.  Preferably within a month or two.  That’s doable, right?

Highly recommended.

Like No Other

Finished Like No Other by Una LaMarche.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Fate brought them together. Will life tear them apart? 

Devorah is a consummate good girl who has never challenged the ways of her strict Hasidic upbringing.

Jaxon is a fun-loving, book-smart nerd who has never been comfortable around girls (unless you count his four younger sisters).

They’ve spent their entire lives in Brooklyn, on opposite sides of the same street. Their paths never crossed . . . until one day, they did.

When a hurricane strikes the Northeast, the pair becomes stranded in an elevator together, where fate leaves them no choice but to make an otherwise risky connection.

Though their relation is strictly forbidden, Devorah and Jax arrange secret meetings and risk everything to be together. But how far can they go? Just how much are they willing to give up?

In the timeless tradition of West Side Story and Crossing Delancey, this thoroughly modern take on romance will inspire laughter, tears, and the belief that love can happen when and where you least expect it.”

I absolutely loved this book.  It’s smart and sweet and, best of all, didn’t go for an easy story or ending.  When I say that, I mean that it would have been very easy for Devorah to renounce her faith and/or family or for Jaxon to decide that he would be willing to convert.  Devorah’s faith is a huge part of who she is, and it would be incredibly unrealistic for her to decide that she was willing to walk away from it (and from her family) to be with a guy.

This is a love story, yes, but it’s also a story of how each character grew up and became adults instead of children.

I absolutely adored this book and hope to read Five Summers soon. (Thanks to the miracle of Penguin’s First to Read program, I may even have read it by the time this review is live on my blog.)

Highly recommended.

 

One More Night

Finished One More Night by Lauren Blakely.  I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Your presence is requested for another installment in the tale of Julia and Clay, two red-hot lovers. Come inside their world of passion and suspense once more for a deliciously erotic and heart-poundingly dangerous story of pearls, handcuffs, thieves, mobsters, poker and pleasure in the city of sin…

Happy endings don’t come easily. They’re hard-won and Clay Nichols is going to have to keep earning his…
Now living together in New York with her debt safely paid off, sexy bartender Julia Bell and hot-as-hell entertainment lawyer Clay thought their future was clear sailing.
But life doesn’t work that way and the fiery lovers run into a slew of new challenges as Clay tries to put a ring on it. Trouble looms in every corner–trouble from clients, trouble with timing, and, most of all, trouble from her past returns on their trip to Vegas. A dangerous man who knows much more about Julia than he should surfaces in Sin City where they’re supposed to be enjoying a weekend getaway. Following her in the casino, watching her every move at the pool, targeting her as she plays poker.
Too bad Clay is called away repeatedly, leaving Julia alone in a sprawling hotel full of dark corners, back rooms, and unsavory characters. Can Clay save her from danger one more time, and then finally get down on one knee? Or will he be too late for the woman he adores?
Read on in ONE MORE NIGHT, a novel in the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Seductive Nights series packed with more sex, more dirty talk and more danger. And per your request, the recipe for Julia’s award-winning cocktail, the Purple Snow Globe, has finally been revealed in this ebook!”

This was slightly different in tone than the earlier two Clay and Julia books.  They’re already much darker than most of her other books, but this is the darkest yet.  As the synopsis states, there’s a sense of danger all through this book, and while we know it’s coming, we don’t know who the danger is.

But while there are a lot of tense moments, there’s also a lot of the romance (and steamy scenes) we’ve come to expect from Clay and Julia (and from Lauren Blakely’s books in general).

I’m hoping for more Clay and Julia, but I also can’t wait for every other book she writes.  I love that she’s very prolific.

Highly recommended.

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Finished Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The newest thriller from Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author

When 13-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he’s plunged into a new life, issued a false identity and hidden in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The plan is to get Jace off the grid while police find the two killers. The result is the start of a nightmare.

The killers, known as the Blackwell Brothers, are slaughtering anyone who gets in their way in a methodical quest to reach him. Now all that remains between them and the boy are Ethan and Allison Serbin, who run the wilderness survival program; Hannah Faber, who occupies a lonely fire lookout tower; and endless miles of desolate Montana mountains.

The clock is ticking, the mountains are burning, and those who wish Jace Wilson dead are no longer far behind.”

First to warn you, I don’t want to discuss the plot too much because it runs the risk of ruining it and you don’t want any aspect of this book to be ruined.

I absolutely loved this book.  I read it over the course of my vacation and it was the best/worst decision I could’ve made.  I didn’t have much free time for reading and it was so hard to walk away from these characters and plot (even though I had a great time).

So I would advise you to learn from my mistake and read this when you have time to read it all in one gulp, because that’s what you’ll want to do.

Like all of his books, this novel is completely intense and the last hundred pages especially are impossible to put down (that’s when I finally basically told Jen to do whatever she wanted to do and that I couldn’t do anything until I was done).

The easy comparison to this book is to The Client, but it’s a lot better.  (No offense to The Client, which I enjoyed when I read it.)  I think the main reason this book completely surpasses that one is the characters. I liked Mark Sway but I love Jace.  Everything about him is believable, including the fact that he’s so obviously a kid who’s way, WAY out of his depth.

But I love everyone—Ethan and Allison and Hannah and all the characters you’ll meet here.  Even the Blackwell brothers, who are the creepiest killers since Anton in No Country For Old Men—they’re unlike anyone I’ve ever seen and I guarantee they’ll give you chills, too.

Highly, highly recommended.

Landline

Finished Landline by Rainbow Rowell.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?”

I am so in love with Rainbow Rowell’s books.  I’ve read all four and they are all so different but all are excellent.

I could relate to Eleanor & Park and Fangirls, but this book was different for me.  I’ve never been married and I’m not anyone’s mother, so I was a little worried initially.  I shouldn’t have been.

This book is amazing and perfect and I didn’t need those relationships to appreciate it.

I loved Georgie and the fact that she had a career and a family and didn’t apologize for it.  (And I loved Neal and the fact that he was comfortable enough to be a stay at home dad and that the two of them were just this fantastic couple.  We didn’t see it so much in the present day but I loved the conversations between present-Georgie and past-Neal.)

And I love the fact that this book absolutely made sense and it didn’t feel cheesy or contrived (like, say, Peggy Sue Got Married).

Highly, highly recommended.

And Then There Were None

Finished And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to a lonely mansion on Indian Island by a host who fails to appear but leaves a recording accusing all of undetected murder. Cut off by his orders, one by one each die according to a nursery rhyme Ten Little Indians. A confession in a bottle solves how nobody remains alive.”

This was my first Agatha Christie novel, which—as a mystery fan—was a bit embarrassing for me.  I’m very happy that Harper Collins is doing this readathon (a re-readathon for most of the participants) so that I can catch up a bit.

I feel like this is definitely one of her more famous novels (this and Murder on the Orient Express were the two I had always heard mentioned) and I definitely think this is the best one to start with.

From this point on, expect spoilers.

I had read Gretchen McNeil’s Ten, which is a reimagining of this book and I had seen the Facts of Life episode that’s a takeoff on it, but all that really meant is that I knew that one of the characters was the killer and would fake their own death, but I didn’t know which character it was.

I love how everything tied in to the poem (nursery rhyme?) mentioned in the beginning and how the little toy soldiers disappeared as people died.  I thought everything in this book was incredibly clever, although I do understand the annoyance at how it is literally impossible to figure out what’s going on until you get to the epilogue and everything is spelled out.  (But this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book.)

Now to the book club questions!

1-      When we first meet the “ten soldiers,” while they may not have been the best group of people, you don’t necessarily wish them ill will. As their pasts are revealed and their true personalities unmasked, did you feel any sympathy for them as a victim of the situation? Do you think that we, the reader, were predisposed to dislike certain characters more and feel sympathy for others?

The only one I really didn’t like was Emily Brent.  I liked Vera, even though her crime was arguably the worst.  (Incidentally, her character and situation reminded me of Marion Crane in Psycho—in love with someone she can’t have, due to circumstances beyond her control.  That scenario led both to do something horrible, and both ended up paying for their actions.  So I guess the moral here is don’t fall in love, right?)

But yeah, I hated Emily Brent.  She was so holier-than-thou and definitely enjoyed her perceived status as being better than everyone else.  I have to say of all the deaths in the book, I felt the best about hers.

2-      Each soldier was initially defined by their stature or position in life, did that change for any of them as the story progressed, or did they rely more on their roles off the island for survival?

I think everyone stayed incredibly true to who they were off-island.

3-      One of the themes present throughout And Then There Were None is guilt and the effect it can have on a person. How did each character deal with the guilt of their past crimes? Who handled it the best? And who was the most torn up from it?

I think Vera was the most affected by what she had done (and understandably so).  I think the others were all more or less okay with what they had done (especially Emily Brent, who never seemed to feel at all guilty for what she had done).

4-      What did you think of the use of “Ten Little Soldiers” throughout the book, both the poem posted in the bedrooms and the little disappearing figurines on the dining room table? How do they both figure into the story? Do you think the reminder of the “Ten Little Soldiers” poem was necessary throughout the story?

I don’t think they were necessary, per se, but they were definitely very, very creepy.  It was fun to guess how the next death would occur, and the mental picture of the figurines disappearing one by one was very unsettling.

5-      If you were trapped on Soldier Island, which character’s behavior would you most identify with and why? If not, what would you have done differently?

Ideally I would have been able to figure out a way to escape.  (But I probably would’ve freaked out like Vera.)  I do think I would’ve followed through with her idea to just lock herself in a room and not leave until help came.  The pantry was apparently very well-stocked and I would’ve just grabbed some tin cans, an opener and just holed up until everyone else was dead.  (The hermit’s guide to surviving a murder mystery!)

6-      From the very beginning certain characters are drawn to each other to form alliances in their strange situation—at first Vera and Emily, later Blore, Armstrong, and Lombard, Armstrong and Wargrave, and then Vera and Lombard. What do you think brought them together? How do these alliances affect events?

I think desperation was behind all of the alliances.  Initially, I think they were formed out of a need to feel safe and the whole safety in numbers idea.  Obviously, though, the alliances didn’t change any of the outcome because “Unknown” has clearly planned for everything.  (Obviously he’s not a great person but I do admire anyone who plans like this.)

7-      Did you have your own theories about who Unknown was before getting to the “Manuscript Document” and if so, at what point?

I didn’t think it was one of the women or Rogers.  I knew that the person was going to fake their death, so the fact that someone died didn’t get them off the hook for me.

8-      It’s widely commented that Christie “violated the standard rules of mystery writing” by making it nearly impossible for us to solve the mystery before she explains it to us. How did that make you feel as a reader?

I understand the annoyance as I said earlier, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book.  I don’t read a book to see if I can figure things out before I’m told.

9-      As Agatha wrote in her author’s note, the plot was so simple, yet so baffling, that she herself was most pleased with the outcome for having done it. Are there any mysteries from recent years that you think come close to what she accomplished here?

I agree with Jenny’s assessment that it’s similar to Gone Girl. I feel like they’re both two of those books where you go along with it and the writer reveals thing in their own time.

Dream Boy

Finished Dream Boy by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg.  I received a copy from the publisher. You can watch the trailer here.

DREAM BOY COVER 300

Summary (from Goodreads):

Annabelle Manning feels like she’s doing time at her high school in Chilton, Virginia. She has her friends at her lunchtime table of nobodies. What she doesn’t have are possibilities. Or a date for Homecoming. Things get more interesting at night, when she spends time with the boy of her dreams. But the blue-eyed boy with the fairytale smile is just that—a dream. Until the Friday afternoon he walks into her chemistry class.

One of her friends suspects he’s an alien. Another is pretty sure it’s all one big case of deja vu. While Annabelle doesn’t know what to think, she’s willing to believe that the charming Martin Zirkle may just be her dream come true. But as Annabelle discovers the truth behind dreams—where they come from and what they mean—she is forced to face a dark reality she had not expected. More than just Martin has arrived in Chilton. As Annabelle learns, if dreams can come true, so can nightmares.”

I read this book on the way from Phoenix to Baltimore, and if you are going to have a minor travel nightmare (delayed in an airport for two hours, a few bouts of turbulence and a very loud child across the aisle from you), this is the book you’re going to want as a distraction.

For starters, it’s incredibly fun and smart.  I absolutely loved Annabelle and her friends and the book’s premise.  Who doesn’t like to think about their dreams coming true?  Except, as the synopsis says, if the good dreams can come true, so can the nightmares.  And obviously that is a less than great prospect.  Especially when you’re Annabelle and your nightmares are crazy scary.

I definitely think the book left the possibility open for a sequel and I hope that there is one.  I’m very interested in seeing what other secrets this small town is hiding.

Recommended.

Conversion

Finished Conversion by Katherine Howe.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .

Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?“

This book was one of the most fun reading experiences ever.  (And also creepy, because apparently this is based on true events—not just the Salem witch trials but the more recent afflictions, which somehow I managed to not hear about.)

I read Katherine Howe’s first book, The Physick Book Of Deliverance Dane, and absolutely loved it so I was delighted to see that she’d written another book and even happier to see that it was YA and a reimagining of The Crucible.  (This book is a good one to get people to stop mocking YA and the adults who read it, btw.)

I enjoyed spending time with Colleen, who is trying to get to the bottom of exactly what’s going on when classmates at her exclusive school start getting sick—and no one has exactly the same symptoms, which makes everything weirder/scarier.

This book is absolutely captivating, and I hate that we can’t really discuss it but trust me, you don’t want to know anything else going in.

Highly recommended.

I Said Yes To Everything

Finished I Said Yes To Everything by Lee Grant.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Born Lyova Haskell Rosenthal in New York City, actress Lee Grant spent her youth accumulating more experiences than most people have in a lifetime: from student at the famed Neighborhood Playhouse to member of the leg­endary Actors Studio; from celebrated Broadway star to Vogue “It Girl.” At age twenty-four, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Detective Story, and a year later found herself married and a mother for the first time, her career on the rise.

And then she lost it all.

Her name landed on the Hollywood black­list, her offers for film and television roles ground to a halt, and her marriage fell apart.

Finding reserves of strength she didn’t know she had, Grant took action against anti-Communist witch hunts in the arts. She threw herself into work, accepting every theater or teaching job that came her way. She met a man ten years her junior and began a wild, liberat­ing fling that she never expected would last a lifetime. And after twelve years of fighting the blacklist, she was finally exonerated. With cour­age and style, Grant rebuilt her life on her own terms: first stop, a starring role on Peyton Place, and then leads in Valley of the Dolls, In the Heat of the Night, and Shampoo, for which she won her first Oscar.

Set amid the New York theater scene of the fifties and the star-studded parties of Malibu in the seventies, I Said Yes to Everything evokes a world of political passion and movie-star glamour. Grant tells endlessly delightful tales of costars and friends such as Warren Beatty, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, and Sidney Poitier, and writes with the verve and candor befitting such a seductive and beloved star.“

This book is absolutely captivating.  I haven’t seen very many of Lee Grant’s movies (although I’ve seen a few and plan to see more) but you don’t need to to appreciate this book or its stories.

After reading this, I get the feeling that Lee Grant would be a fantastic person to be friends with.  I also believe that there could be another whole book full of Hollywood stories; as fun as this one was, you can tell that it didn’t even scratch the surface of the things she could say.

Recommended.

Zac and Mia

Finished Zac and Mia by AJ Betts.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The last person Zac expects in the room next door is a girl like Mia, angry and feisty with questionable taste in music. In the real world, he wouldn’t—couldn’t—be friends with her. In hospital different rules apply, and what begins as a knock on the wall leads to a note—then a friendship neither of them sees coming.

You need courage to be in hospital; different courage to be back in the real world. In one of these worlds Zac needs Mia. And in the other Mia needs Zac. Or maybe they both need each other, always.”

It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did, I was hooked.

The easiest comparison I can make is to Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. They’re not similar thematically, but my reaction to Mia was the same as my reaction to Sam in that book. I didn’t like them initially because they seemed shallow and kind of awful.  In each case, though, I persevered and ended up loving both of them.

(So stick with Mia; she gets better.)

But I did love Zac the whole time.  I think it’d be pretty hard to write teenagers who have cancer, because you’d probably have a hard time being able to resist the idea of making them perfect. (And Zac is pretty perfect, although he also clearly has faults.  Like most teenagers I know, he gets very annoyed by his mother, for example.)  But Mia is not at all perfect.  If anything, she’s angry (as naturally you would be when your easy life all of a sudden hits some major potholes).

This book is not for everyone.  It’s not The Fault in our Stars.  But it’s interesting and sweet and clever.

Recommended.