What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview #YA #thriller

Spencer volunteers at the library. Sure, it’s community service, but he likes his work. Especially if it means getting to see Mallory.

Mallory spends a lot of time keeping her head down. When you’re sixteen and homeless, nothing matters more than being anonymous. But Spencer’s charm makes her want to be noticed.

Then sinister things start happening at the library. Mysterious symbols and terrifying warnings begin to appear, and management grows suspicious. Spencer and Mallory know a homeless teenager makes an easy target, and if they can’t find the real culprit soon, they could lose more than just their safe haven…

As a total book nerd, a library setting is what drew me to this novel initially.  Not only are there strange happenings afoot in the library, this book portrays teens dealing with devastating real-life issues such as emotional abuse, homelessness, and unsafe home environments.

In the first couple of pages, I met Spencer and immediately loved his voice.  He possesses a wicked sense of humor, is a bit mischievous, and, as a senior in high school, is trying to figure out his future and where he fits in the world.  Mallory’s situation is heartbreaking.  With a controlling and emotionally abusive stepfather who’s made Mallory’s mother practically a prisoner in her own home, Mallory chooses homelessness over staying in an unsafe environment.  It’s obvious the author performed extensive research into available resources for people in these dangerous situations, and includes a hotline number in the author’s note.

Something I particularly admire is the way the parent-child relationships are portrayed.  In Mallory’s case, the roles are nearly reversed.  As a level-headed teen with a talent for problem-solving, she senses the danger at home, researches options, and tries to convince her mother to leave.  With Spencer, he’s dealing with his own issues in addition to helping Mallory, but eventually realizes he needs his parents’ help, and is even encouraged by a friend to talk to them.  When Spencer’s future plans don’t line up with his parents’ expectations, they keep an open mind and listen to his ideas.

What You Hide is billed as a YA romantic thriller, but I’d describe it as more of a YA thriller/contemporary/coming of age story.  Maybe there’s a bit of insta-love, but the romance is adorable, and not the primary focus of the story.  Add this to your TBR today.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

 

 

Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst #bookreview #YA #fantasy

In Sky Hawkins’s family, leading your first heist is a major milestone–even more so than learning to talk, walk, or do long division. It’s a chance to gain power and acceptance within your family, and within society. But stealing your first treasure can be complicated, especially when you’re a wyvern–a human capable of turning into a dragon.

Embarking on a life of crime is never easy, and Sky discovers secrets about her mother, who recently went missing, the real reason her boyfriend broke up with her, and a valuable jewel that could restore her family’s wealth and rank in their community.

With a handpicked crew by her side, Sky knows she has everything she needs to complete her first heist, and get her boyfriend and mother back in the process. But then she uncovers a dark truth about were-dragon society–a truth more valuable and dangerous than gold or jewels could ever be.

Humans that turn into dragons?  Heists?  Why wouldn’t you want to read this?  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Sky’s family and friends are the most important things in her life – along with kissing and ice cream.  Her priorities are straight, and her humorous voice makes this such a fun read.  The world-building is amusing – in the wyvern culture, leading your first heist is cause for celebration.  As dragons, stealing and hoarding gold is encouraged, so in Sky’s world, her situation is pretty much a coming-of-age story.

The family dynamics make up a good portion of this story – a family mourning their mother gone missing, an overprotective father, and brothers who clearly care about Sky, but show it in awkward, yet heartfelt ways.  Most of the supporting characters are well-drawn, and Sky’s human friend, Gabriela, is like an adorable puppy you want to hug.

Fire and Heist is more of a fluffy read, but with an Ocean’s Eleven-like heist, a lovable family, and a charming and determined MC, it’s light and enjoyable.  Also, dragons!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

 

Dark Visions: an anthology of 34 horror stories #bookreview #horror #TuesdayBookBlog

From the creators of the #1 bestseller The Box Under The Bed horror anthology comes Dark Visions, 34 horror stories from 27 authors. Tag along on a con man’s New Orleans vacation where he gets more than he bargained for from a mysterious voodoo shop. A collection of family photos reveals an eerie secret about a beloved grandmother’s true nature. A child’s horrifying memories haunt her into adulthood. A new camp counselor learns that the camp has secrets she might not live to reveal. Edited and compiled by Amazon bestselling author Dan Alatorre, this anthology of horror brings together the minds and pens of more than two dozen amazing authors. Dark Visions will take you into the realm of the eerie and macabre, with thrills and chills from: bestselling author Dan Alatorre (The Navigators) bestselling author Jenifer Ruff (Everett), bestselling author Allison Maruska (The Fourth Descendant), bestselling author J. A. Allen, award-winning author MD Walker, award-winning author Juliet Nubel, award-winning author Dabney Farmer, award-winning author Sharon E. Cathcart, award-winning author Heather Kindt, award-winning author Bonnie Lyons, award-winning author Sharon Connell, award-winning author Geoff LePard, award-winning author Anne Marie Andrus, award-winning author Christine Valentor, award-winning author BA Helberg, Ernesto San Giacomo, Alana Turner, Nick Vossen, award-winning author Robbie Cheadle, Betty Valentine, award-winning author Frank Parker, award-winning author Bonnie Lyons, award-winning author Lori Micken, Chuck Jackson, Ellen Best, Victoria Clapton, Perfect for Halloween or any time, these stories will make you think twice before spending the night alone, planting a tree in your garden, or even visiting your mother. Consider yourselves warned. 

If you’re looking for quick reads to enjoy during a break in your day, Dark Visions offers some eerie, creepy, and unsettling short stories that are perfect for this time of year.  Although I can’t review each individually, I’ll mention those I was still thinking about days after finishing.

If you’re a parent, The Storm by J.A. Allen will rip your heart out.  Pictures showing people who were absent when the picture was taken is disturbing and haunting – which is why The Stranger by Allison Maruska is a freaky little tale.  The Willow Tree by Robbie Cheadle is dark and twisted, but what makes it even more frightening is that it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility.  It’s easy to imagine hearing about something like this in the news.

Dark Visions offers a nice variety of stories that may have you looking over your shoulder and double-checking the locks on your doors.

I received an ARC from one of the authors.

 

 

Calendar Girls: Let It Snow (Best Book Set In Winter)

Calendar Girl is a monthly meme now hosted by Katie@nevernotreading and Adrienne @darquedreamer

The Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was created by Melanie at MNBernard Books, and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile. It was inspired by the 1961 classic song by Neil Sedaka and created to ignite fun bookish discussions among readers and bloggers.

Each month we get a new theme and choose our favorite book for the theme. The participants get to vote for their favorite.

The other fun piece to The Calendar Girls group is the Twitter chat. On the 3rd Sunday of each month, at 8 p.m. EST, Katie and Adrienne will host a chat with hashtag #CGBChat, where everyone can participate and gif away. They will get the ball rolling by asking a question or two about the theme or the picks of the month to get everyone chatting. The hashtag will be used in all tweets, so you can see all the fun!

 

I’ve read tons of books set in winter, but there’s no way I’d be able to name all of them.  Many scenes in the Harry Potter series come to mind, of course, and fairly recent reads such as The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon, and The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.

But the one that’s stuck with me all these years is The Shining (do I really need to list the author?) by Stephen King.  Of all his works, it’s easily among my favorites.  It’s the only book that’s literally given me goosebumps – and that was in the middle of summer, 90+ degrees, while lying by a pool.  The sheer volume of snow in the book plays a key role in isolating the Torrance family from help, and is as much of a character as Delbert Grady, Lloyd the bartender, the old woman in the bathtub, and the Grady daughters.  Some images from the movie are permanently embedded in my brain.

Kind of makes me want to read the book again and watch the movie.  Part two of The Shining, Doctor Sleep, will be released as a movie in 2020!

 

I Won! #NaNoWinner2018

So – this happened yesterday.  I topped out at 50,985 words.  Never again will I say 500 words per day is about all I can do.   Some days, that may feel true – but when I push myself (and have the right playlist), I know what I’m capable of.

I’m giving myself some time off to get caught up on things around the house, finish Christmas shopping, and read (I’m so behind on ARCs) – and then the massive edits begin.  I may have nearly 51k words, but it’s out of order, names may or may not have changed midway, plot points took on a life of their own and went in different directions – basically it’s a pile of incoherent ideas and sentences that need to be whipped into shape.  But I finished.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

 

The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone #bookreview #horror #scifi

After two years of living on cheap beer and little else in a bitterly cold tiny cabin outside an abandoned, crumbling mansion, young programmers Shawn Eagle and Billy Stafford have created something that could make them rich: a revolutionary computer they name Eagle Logic.

But the hard work and escalating tension have not been kind to their once solid friendship—Shawn’s girlfriend Emily has left him for Billy, and a third partner has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. While Billy walks away with Emily, Shawn takes Eagle Logic, which he uses to build a multi-billion-dollar company that eventually outshines Apple, Google, and Microsoft combined.

Years later, Billy is a failure, beset by poverty and addiction, and Shawn is the most famous man in the world. Unable to let the past be forgotten, Shawn decides to resurrect his and Billy’s biggest failure: a next-generation computer program named Nellie that can control a house’s every function. He decides to set it up in the abandoned mansion they worked near all those years ago. But something about Nellie isn’t right—and the reconstruction of the mansion is plagued by accidental deaths. Shawn is forced to bring Billy back, despite their longstanding mutual hatred, to discover and destroy the evil that lurks in the source code.

I read The Hatching series by this author, which I enjoyed, and after seeing the cover of this one – I needed it immediately.  And AI books fascinate me.

After reading this, you may think twice about having a smart home.  The thought of a computer program becoming sentient and deciding independently to control the lives of its creators is freaky scary.  It made me think about how my Alexa speaks at random times – even when no one is in the room with her.  Nellie is dark and dangerous – and she really shines the last 20% of the book during some intense situations – but I wish she would have gotten more page time.  It’s mentioned in the blurb that Shawn, Billy, and Emily had a love triangle back in college, but the drama surrounding that and flashbacks from their respective pasts make up a larger portion of this story.

Not that the plot of The Mansion is anything like The Shining but, being a King fan, I noticed some parallels – a secluded mansion/resort in the middle of winter, an alcoholic sleeping very little and consumed with his work, a character named Wendy, and young creepy sisters – but these are twins with an unusual connection, not ghosts.

I wouldn’t classify this book as horror scary, but more disturbing and unnerving.  It’s a long read at over 400 pages, and contains a good bit of repetition which can be difficult to get past, but I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to both sci-fi and horror fans.  With this being an ARC, the word count may change before publication.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

 

WWW Wednesday: What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake.  This is my first book by this author, and it was the cover that first caught my attention, but I’ve always had an interest in mythology also.  I’m about halfway through, and it’s a fast-paced read, but it hasn’t really grabbed me yet.

When a stranger gives Analiese Jordan a list of names before he dies, the last thing she expects to see is her own on it. Not. Cool. Her search for answers leads to the man’s grandson, Marek, who has dangerous secrets of his own. Both are determined to unlock the mystery of the list.

But the truth is deadly. Analiese is a descendant of the God of Death, known as a Riser, with the power to raise the dead and control them. Finding out she has hidden powers? Cool. Finding out she turns corpses into killers? No, thank you.

Now the trail plants her and Marek in the middle of a war between gods who apparently want to raise an army of the Risen, and Analiese must figure out how to save the world—from herself.

I just finished The Similars by Rebecca Hanover over Thanksgiving.  Me being such a sci-fi geek, all I needed to see was the word ‘clones’, and I immediately hit the request button on NetGalley.  This one had me wanting to curl up in a corner away from the Thanksgiving festivities so I could finish it.

When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.

Next, I’ll read The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi.  Early reviews are positive, and I’m anxious to get started.  Another beautiful cover.

Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.