Category Archives: Series

The Secret Place

Finished The Secret Place by Tana French.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption says, I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.

Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to get a foot in the door of Dublin’s Murder Squad—and one morning, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey brings him this photo. The Secret Place, a board where the girls at St. Kilda’s School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

But everything they discover leads them back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends and their fierce enemies, a rival clique—and to the tangled web of relationships that bound all the girls to Chris Harper. Every step in their direction turns up the pressure. Antoinette Conway is already suspicious of Stephen’s links to the Mackey family. St. Kilda’s will go a long way to keep murder outside their walls. Holly’s father, Detective Frank Mackey, is circling, ready to pounce if any of the new evidence points toward his daughter. And the private underworld of teenage girls can be more mysterious and more dangerous than either of the detectives imagined.

The Secret Place is a powerful, haunting exploration of friendship and loyalty, and a gripping addition to the Dublin Murder Squad series.”

This is my first Tana French novel and I’ve heard amazing things about her and her books.  It seems like pretty much every single person I know is absolutely in love with them.  (So I was very excited to get a copy at ALA and, after that mysteriously disappeared, to get a copy through Penguin’s First to Read program.)

I was instantly drawn into this book, which goes back and forth in time and has two viewpoints (Holly and her friends in the past and Stephen in the present)…and then I hit a subplot that kind of ruined the book for me.  (SPOILER: Holly and her friends seem to all develop some kind of psychic ability.  I can deal with one Carrie but not with four of them.  Obviously I can’t share if/how that subplot was resolved.)

After that, the book lost of a lot of credibility with me and even though that’s a very minor part of the book, I was like, “WHAT?!” and it affected everything else.

I would definitely read another book of hers but this one was a bit of a letdown.

Isla and the Happily Ever After

Finished Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.”

Oh, you guys, this book.

I’ve been waiting for it for years, since my friend Daisy sent me the first book, since I randomly was able to snag a copy at BEA the following year—I feel like I’ve been waiting for this book my whole life.

And it is perfect.

I feel like there’s really nothing I need to say, because you already know whether you’re reading it or not and because by the time you read this review, you’ll probably have already read it anyway.  (Yes, it just came out yesterday, but even so.)

So here’s what I can tell you.

It’s a billion times better than Lola and the Boy Next Door.  And it’s even better than Anna and the French Kiss.  (Paris trumps San Francisco; Paris and New York trumps everything.)

It’s about flawed characters who grow (separately and together) and, as Rainbow Rowell said in the blurb, it’s about the kind of love we all wish we had.  (I’m paraphrasing.)

I absolutely adore this book (and her others) and I hope I don’t have to wait as long for the next one.

Highly recommended.

 

Kingston’s Project

Finished Kingston’s Project by Carrie Beckort.  I received a copy for review from the author.

Summary (from Goodreads):

How do you find the strength to embrace a future that’s different than the one you planned?

For Sarah Mitchell, the answer is simple—you don’t. For two years, Sarah has shut herself off from most of the world around her. She needs to move on, but doesn’t know how to begin.

Unexpectedly, Sarah is presented with an opportunity that could change everything. Elijah Kingston, her firm’s largest client, wants her to lead a highly confidential assignment. When Sarah learns the shocking nature of Kingston’s project, she is torn between Elijah’s promise of healing and her fear of falling deeper into despair.

Kingston’s Project is a poignant story about the effects of grief and the loss of hope. Can Sarah find happiness again, or is the hold from her fear and guilt too strong to break free?”

I think this was the perfect time for me to read this book.  My best friend and I have the macabre joke that we would each take a gold medal if grieving were considered an Olympic sport.  Turns out, though,  Sarah has us both beat.

She lost her husband and two-year-old son in a tragic car accident and now, two years later, she’s just starting to surface from grief.  (And even now, she’s not doing all that well.)  So when she has a chance to go to Colorado and manage a new, top secret project, she’s not entirely sure it’s a good idea but her best friend convinces her to accept unless there’s a major reason not to.

I would’ve considered the type of project Elijah has in mind to be the worst idea ever, but Sarah accepts.  And it’s a good thing she does, because this is an amazing, heartwarming book.  I don’t want to say too much about it, because seeing Sarah start to become herself again is not something to spoil.  But you want to read this book.

I’m happy that there’s a sequel.  You probably aren’t surprised to know that I’ve already bought it and I hope to read it soon.

Highly recommended.

Since Last Summer

Finished Since Last Summer by Joanna Philbin.  I received a copy for review from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Rory McShane should be excited to spend the summer in East Hampton with Connor Rule, her generous, smart, cute boyfriend. After all, Rory’s no longer the hired help at the Rule family mansion on the beach, and she and Connor have made it through a year of long-distance dating. But now, in the months leading up to college, Rory can’t help but wonder if she really belongs in Connor’s world.

Isabel Rule is still trying to get over Mike, the devastatingly sexy surfer who broke her heart last summer. Enter Evan, an aspiring filmmaker who’s kind, funny, and crushing on Isabel. He’d be the perfect summer fling — so why can’t she seem to forget about Mike?

Set against a backdrop buzzing with the rich, the famous, and the wannabe rich and famous, Since Last Summer, a companion novel to Rules of Summer, is the perfect beach read.”

I remembered loving the first book in this duology (Rules of Summer) but  this book fell flat for me.

A big part of the reason for that is that the respective romances took center stage over the friendship between Rory and Isabel.  (A major pet peeve of mine is when you have main characters who basically completely revolve around guys.  And yes, these are teenage girls but still.  STILL.)

Also, it seems like everything is overcome a little too easily.  (SPOILERS) Rory and Connor are SO IN LOVE until they aren’t and Isabel is SO MAD at Rory for “going after” Evan, until she isn’t.  And these changes come in pretty much literally a chapter each.  Short chapters, too.

I did love her Daughters series and I will definitely check out whatever Joanna Philbin does next, but this book was not a favorite.

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.

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.

License to Spill

Finished License to Spill by Lisi Harrison.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Three girls, two guys, five secret journals.

The five most popular students at Noble High have secrets to hide; secrets they wrote down in their journals. Now one of their own exposes the private entries…

When our parents were growing up they were encouraged to make mistakes. That’s how they learned. But us? Our mistakes go viral. There is no delete button on the Internet. What kind of future do we have if we can’t escape our embarrassing pasts? I must come off as quite the hypocrite; complaining about our overexposed lives in a book of secret journals I have leaked. But these pages hold proof of how this pressure affects the “best” of us… so until the heat’s turned down, keep reading.“

This book is over the top fun.

I do wish that I had re-read The Pretenders before starting this, because I had problems remembering everyone and their storylines.  But I quickly fell back into this, and it was just what I needed.  (It’s not a must-read, but if you’re in the mood for something light, this may just be the book and series for you.)

Like before, I had definite preferences for some storylines.  I don’t remember liking Jagger very much in The Pretenders, but I liked him a lot more this time around.  I loved Sheridan and her overfondness for drama, movies and journal entries that read like scripts.

And I especially love Vanessa, who has footnotes in her journal entries.  I don’t know why but that always amuses me.

The Hound at the Gate cover reveal

The Hound at the Gate is by Darby Karchut.

Hound

The cover is by Lisa Amowitz.

Jacket copy:

Autumn: the season of endings. And beginnings.

Especially for one young apprentice.

At the annual Festival of the Hunt, thirteen-year-old apprentice goblin hunter Finn MacCullen and his master, Gideon Lir, join other Tuatha De Danaan to honor their people’s heritage. But Finn soon realizes that there are some who denounce his right to attend due to his half-human bloodline.

As he struggles to keep his place by his master’s side, he finds himself embroiled in a decades-old grudge between Gideon and another Knight, bewildered (and beguiled) by a female apprentice with a temper as explosive as his own, and battling a pack of goblins determined to wipe out the entire camp in a surprise attack.

It’s going to take some fancy knife work, the help of a female Knight with a lethal bow, and one old pick up truck to defeat the goblins and prove to his people that Finn’s blood runs true-blue Tuatha De Danaan.

https://www.facebook.com/darby.karchut

http://spencerhillmiddlegrade.com/

The Beast of Seabourne Cover Reveal

BeastofSeabournefinishWITHEARS

The Beast of Seabourne is the sequel to The Obsidian Pebble.  It’s by Rhys A. Jones and is out in October.

Jacket copy:

“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 am beyond excited to read these books and I love the cover.

Sloppy Firsts

Finished Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“My parents suck ass. Banning me from the phone and restricting my computer privileges are the most tyrannical parental gestures I can think of. Don’t they realize that Hope’s the only one who keeps me sane? . . . I don’t see how things could get any worse.”

When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?

A fresh, funny, utterly compelling fiction debut by first-time novelist Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts is an insightful, true-to-life look at Jessica’s predicament as she embarks on another year of teenage torment–from the dark days of Hope’s departure through her months as a type-A personality turned insomniac to her completely mixed-up feelings about Marcus Flutie, the intelligent and mysterious “Dreg” who works his way into her heart. Like a John Hughes for the twenty-first century, Megan McCafferty taps into the inherent humor and drama of the teen experience. This poignant, hilarious novel is sure to appeal to readers who are still going through it, as well as those who are grateful that they don’t have to go back and grow up all over again.”

I first read this book when I was in college.  I immediately fell in love with Jessica Darling (so much so that I bought each sequel on their respective release dates and read them immediately and I’ve even read the MG prequel and am excited to read that book’s sequel as soon as I can).

But let’s start discussing Sloppy Firsts, shall we?  This is the book that introduces us to Jessica Darling, her parents and sister (wedding obsessed like the family in Sixteen Candles, one of Jessica’s beloved “new classics”), her best friend Hope, her current “friends,” who she has dubbed the “Clueless Crew” and possibly best of all Marcus Flutie.

This book is technically marketed as adult fiction, probably because when it was released, there really wasn’t a thriving YA market like there is today.  (Which is just as well; when it was released, I wouldn’t have read it if it were marketed as YA.)

I feel like there are two things people discuss with this book.  The first, of course, is Jessica and Marcus Flutie.  (Oh God, it’s highly possible that this is my literal favorite fictional relationship ever—more than Anna and Etienne, more than anything from Sarah Dessen, more than anything).

But the second—and this is even better than Jess and Marcus—is Jessica herself.  She’s got this very unique, very funny, VERY sarcastic voice.  (Probably her closest comparison is to Olive from the movie Easy A and maybe a dash of Veronica from Heathers, but with a healthier love life.)

Bottom line, though—this book is perfect.  If you’ve ever felt like you’re in the wrong place or the wrong era, this book  is for you.  If you’ve ever felt even remotely like an outsider or misunderstood, this book is for you.  (So basically if you’ve ever been a teenage girl—or are one now—this book is for you.)

Highly, highly, highly recommended.