Monday, February 17, 2020

Book Review | The Chill by Scott Carson

The Chill is a thriller by Scott Carson (aka Michael Kortya).

The Chill by Scott Carson

In this terrifying thriller, a supernatural force—set in motion a century ago—threatens to devastate New York City.

Far upstate, in New York’s ancient forests, a drowned village lays beneath the dark, still waters of the Chilewaukee reservoir. Early in the 20th century, the town was destroyed for the greater good: bringing water to the millions living downstate. Or at least that’s what the politicians from Manhattan insisted at the time. The local families, settled there since America’s founding, were forced from their land, but they didn’t move far, and some didn’t move at all…

Now, a century later, the repercussions of human arrogance are finally making themselves known. An inspector assigned to oversee the dam, dangerously neglected for decades, witnesses something inexplicable. It turns out that more than the village was left behind in the waters of the Chill when it was abandoned. The townspeople didn’t evacuate without a fight. A dark prophecy remained, too, and the time has come for it to be fulfilled. Those who remember must ask themselves: who will be next? For sacrifices must be made. And as the dark waters begin to inexorably rise, the demand for a fresh sacrifice emerges from the deep...

The beginning of The Chill had a wonderfully dark and creepy tone. It was awesome, and I was excited for the ride I was about to take.

Unfortunately, the first 20% turned out to be more of a hook instead of a promise. The Chill got bogged down in information and turned into an entirely different book.

The reviews have been great for The Chill so I think most people will be able go along with the turns and changes, but I am terrible with broken promises. The Chill weighs in at 450 pages. Combine that with the struggle of the story not matching what I expected it to be, and it just turned into a tough read for me.

⭐⭐★★★

Review copy provided by publisher

Jennifer

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Book Review | The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

The Bride Test is a contemporary romance novel by Helen Hoang.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

Subjective review alert! The Bride Test was this month's selection for my book club.

First I'm going to explain why The Bride Test was a great read. I think the representation of autism was my favorite aspect of The Bride Test. One of the main characters was autistic, and this aspect was handled so well. The writing was really compelling, too. If I didn't have to take care of my family, I'm certain this would have been a one sitting read. Even with commitments, it was still only a one day read for me.

Now I'll explain my three-star rating. It's a contemporary romance, and I'm just not a romance reader. I pretty much need plots that aren't possible.

I think folks who like sweet and sexy romances would probably dig The Bride Test. though.

While The Bride Test was a step completely outside of my wheelhouse (which is exactly why I'm in a book club), I enjoyed the representation of autism and recommend it to folks who love reading  contemporary romance.

⭐⭐⭐★★

Jennifer

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Monday, February 10, 2020

February 2020 Book Releases in Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, and Thrillers

I'm a little late with this post this month, but better late than never! It's really never too late to get excited over books, right? These are the February release books I'm most looking forward to reading:

The King of Crows (The Diviners #4) by Libba Bray

The King of Crows (The Diviners #4) by Libba Bray
Expected publication: February 4th 2020 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

The breath-taking finale to the epic New York Times bestseller, The Diviners, from Printz winner and beloved author, Libba Bray.

After the horrifying explosion that claimed one of their own, the Diviners find themselves wanted by the US government, and on the brink of war with the King of Crows.

While Memphis and Isaiah run for their lives from the mysterious Shadow Men, Isaiah receives a startling vision of a girl, Sarah Beth Olson, who could shift the balance in their struggle for peace. Sarah Beth says she knows how to stop the King of Crows-but, she will need the Diviners' help to do it.

Elsewhere, Jericho has returned after his escape from Jake Marlowe's estate, where he has learned the shocking truth behind the King of Crow's plans. Now, the Diviners must travel to Bountiful, Nebraska, in hopes of joining forces with Sarah Beth and to stop the King of Crows and his army of the dead forever.

But as rumors of towns becoming ghost towns and the dead developing unprecedented powers begin to surface, all hope seems to be lost.

In this sweeping finale, The Diviners will be forced to confront their greatest fears and learn to rely on one another if they hope to save the nation, and world from catastrophe...



Age of Death (The Legends of the First Empire #5) by Michael J. Sullivan
Age of Death (The Legends of the First Empire #5) by Michael J. Sullivan
Expected publication: February 4th 2020 by Riyria Enterprises LLC

Winter blankets the land, and more than just hope has died. Prevented from invading the Fhrey homeland by the tower of Avempartha, the western army seeks a way across the Nidwalden River before the fane obtains the secret of dragons. As time runs out for both humanity and the mystic Suri, the only chance for the living rests with the dead. Having made their fateful choice, can a handful of misfits do the impossible, or are they forever lost to an inescapable grave? Do gods truly exist? Is it possible to know the future? And what lies beyond the veil of death? In the tradition of Virgil’s Aeneid, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and Milton’s Paradise Lost, the most epic of tales transcend the world of the living. It’s time to see what lies in Elan’s Age of Death.

From Michael J. Sullivan (New York Times, USA Today, and Washington Post bestselling author), comes the second to the last installment in the epic fantasy series, Legends of the First Empire. The series chronicles a pivotal point in Elan’s history when humans rise against the Fhrey who they once saw as gods. Set 3,000 years before the Riyria tales, Legends is a standalone fantasy series which is independent of all other Elan stories. That said, if you do read the other books, you’ll see lies revealed and the truth about historical figures unmasked.



The Haunting by Lindsey Duga

The Haunting by Lindsey Duga
Expected publication: February 4th 2020 by Scholastic Press

A dark family secret prompts a ghost to wreak havoc in this spooky novel in the spirit of Mary Downing Hahn.
The only life 12-year-old Emily has ever known is the cold, unloved existence of being an orphan. But everything changes when the Thorntons, a young couple from London, adopt Emily, whisking her away to a new life at their grand estate.

At first, life at Blackthorn Manor is wonderful. But as Emily explores the grounds and rooms, she stumbles upon a mysterious girl named Kat, who appears to be similar in age, and the two become fast friends.

That's when things take a turn for the worse. Kat seems to know a curious amount about the estate, and strange things happen whenever she's around. In one case, Emily narrowly avoids getting toppled by a bookcase in the library; in another, the fire erupts in the fireplace, nearly burning Emily's hands. It's almost as if someone -- or something -- wants Emily dead.

Emily must find out what happened to the Thorntons and, more important, how Kat is connected to these strange goings-on at Blackthorn Manor before it's too late!



Mazes of Power (The Broken Trust #1) by Juliette Wade

Mazes of Power (The Broken Trust #1) by Juliette Wade
Expected publication: February 4th 2020 by DAW

This debut work of sociological science fiction follows a deadly battle for succession, where brother is pitted against brother in a singular chance to win power and influence for their family.

The cavern city of Pelismara has stood for a thousand years. The Great Families of the nobility cling to the myths of their golden age while the city's technology wanes.

When a fever strikes, and the Eminence dies, seventeen-year-old Tagaret is pushed to represent his Family in the competition for Heir to the Throne. To win would give him the power to rescue his mother from his abusive father, and marry the girl he loves.

But the struggle for power distorts everything in this highly stratified society, and the fever is still loose among the inbred, susceptible nobles. Tagaret's sociopathic younger brother, Nekantor, is obsessed with their family's success. Nekantor is willing to exploit Tagaret, his mother, and her new servant Aloran to defeat their opponents.

Can he be stopped? Should he be stopped? And will they recognize themselves after the struggle has changed them?



The Boatman's Daughter by Andy Davidson

The Boatman's Daughter by Andy Davidson
Expected publication: February 11th 2020 by MCD X Fsg Originals

A "lush nightmare" (Paul Tremblay) of a supernatural thriller about a young woman facing down ancient forces in the depths of the bayou

Ever since her father was killed when she was just a child, Miranda Crabtree has kept her head down and her eyes up, ferrying contraband for a mad preacher and his declining band of followers to make ends meet and to protect an old witch and a secret child from harm.

But dark forces are at work in the bayou, both human and supernatural, conspiring to disrupt the rhythms of Miranda's peculiar and precarious life. And when the preacher makes an unthinkable demand, it sets Miranda on a desperate, dangerous path, forcing her to consider what she is willing to sacrifice to keep her loved ones safe.

With the heady mythmaking of Neil Gaiman and the heartrending pacing of Joe Hill, Andy Davidson spins a thrilling tale of love and duty, of loss and discovery. The Boatman's Daughter is a gorgeous, horrifying novel, a journey into the dark corners of human nature, drawing our worst fears and temptations out into the light.



The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
Expected publication: February 18th 2020 by Berkley

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn't right at the Sun Down, and before long she's determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…



Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus

Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus
Expected publication: February 25th 2020 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Liv Fleming's father went missing more than two years ago, not long after he claimed to have been abducted by aliens. Liv has long accepted that he's dead, though that doesn't mean she has given up their traditions. Every Sunday, she and her lifelong friend Doug Monk trudge through the woods to check the traps Lee left behind, traps he set to catch the aliens he so desperately believed were after him.

But Liv is done with childhood fantasies. Done pretending she believes her father's absurd theories. Done going through the motions for Doug's sake. However, on the very day she chooses to destroy the traps, she discovers in one of them a creature so inhuman it can only be one thing. In that moment, she's faced with a painful realization: her dad was telling the truth. And no one believed him.

Now, she and Doug have a choice to make. They can turn the alien over to the authorities...or they can take matters into their own hands.



The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu
Expected publication: February 25th 2020 by Gallery / Saga Press

From award-winning author Ken Liu comes his much anticipated second volume of short stories.

Ken Liu is one of the most lauded short story writers of our time. This collection includes a selection of his science fiction and fantasy stories from the last five years—sixteen of his best—plus a new novelette.

In addition to these seventeen selections, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories also features an excerpt from book three in the Dandelion Dynasty series, The Veiled Throne.



Finna by Nino Cipri

Finna by Nino Cipri
Expected publication: February 25th 2020 by Tor.com

When an elderly customer at a big box furniture store slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but our two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago.

Can friendship blossom from the ashes of a relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.



What February releases are you most looking forward to reading this year?

Jennifer

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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | February 9

Happy weekend everyone! I am living in a flu house. I'm pumping my body full of fluids and prayers hoping I don't get sick. The good news is I have some down time this weekend to get caught up around the blog and with the TBR pile!

Posted Last Week


I posted my January 2020 Wrap Up.

I also posted my ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review of Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Finished Reading


The Festering Ones by S.H. Cooper The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

The Festering Ones by S.H. Cooper ⭐⭐⭐⭐★ - This was a fun horror novella. I'm kicking myself for not having written my review yet. I will get that done ASAP.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang ⭐⭐⭐★★ - I read The Bride Test for book club. It was a really great book, but it was a romance and I have a heart of stone. I'll have a full review up in the next week or two because I do recommend it.

Currently Reading


The Boatman's Daughter by Andy Davidson Inside a Marathon: An All-Access Pass to a Top-10 Finish at NYC by Scott Fauble, Ben Rosario

The Boatman's Daughter by Andy Davidson - Andy Davidson is one of my favorites. I'm currently savoring The Boatman's Daughter.

Inside a Marathon: An All-Access Pass to a Top-10 Finish at NYC by Scott Fauble, Ben Rosario - This is basically a running diary between athlete and couch while training for the NYC Marathon and I'm loving it.

Recent Acquisitions


The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James The End of the Day by Bill Clegg Girls Save the World in This One by Ash Parsons
Follow Me by Kathleen Barber Severin by Lydian Faust Poetry February 2020

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James - I've decided to try out Book of the Month this year. I've been keeping an eye on it, and they've consistently had books I've bought or books I want to read in their selections so I'm giving it a go. For my January box I selected The Sun Down Motel.

The End of the Day by Bill Clegg - Thank you to Gallery/Scout Press for offering me a copy of The End of the Day. I'm hoping for a beautifully written mystery with this one.

Girls Save the World in This One by Ash Parsons - Thank you so much to Philomel Books for sending me a copy of Girls Save the World in This One. I rarely put in a request for a review copy, but I had to review this one! It's a YA horror comedy, and I'm excited to read it.

Follow Me by Kathleen Barber - Gallery/Scout Press also sent me out a copy of Follow Me by Kathleen Barber. I'm looking forward to reading both this one and Truth Be Told (which was just made into a series) by Kathleen Barber.

Severin by Lydian Faust - Lydian Faust just released this scifi/horror poetry collection, and I had to order it!

Poetry February 2020 - I also received my February poetry book from the Poetry Foundation.

So what about you? Let me know what you're reading this week or leave me some links!


This post is being shared as part of Book Date's It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Caffeinated Book Reviewer's The Sunday Post.

Jennifer

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Book Review | Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing is a coming-of-age novel by Delia Owens.



A novel about a young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open.

For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She's barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.

But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world--until the unthinkable happens.

I am struggling with writing this review! Five star reads are either super easy to write or really hard. This one is really hard for me to capture and do it justice.

Where the Crawdads Sing caught my eye early in its publication, but I have a hard time fitting regular fiction into my genre lineup. Over the last year, I've seen more and more of my friends falling in love with this book. Thankfully my book club chose Where the Crawdads Sing as one of our monthly reads, and I finally fit it into the mix.

I see why so many people love this book. I'll be honest... the first half of this book I didn't see it. I was enjoying it, yes, but I really feared I was going to be the outlier who just didn't love it. At the halfway mark everything changed for me, and I could see it all by the end. I just needed to give it the room to grow.

Aside from loving the characters and the mystery, there was also science and poetry woven throughout Where the Crawdads Sing. I just loved this beautiful book, and I highly recommend it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jennifer

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