It Came From the Sky by Chelsea Sedoti #bookreview #YA #contemporary #aliens #TuesdayBookBlog

From the author of The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett and As You Wish comes the unforgettable story of the one small town’s biggest hoax and the two brothers who started it all.

This is the absolutely true account of how Lansburg, Pennsylvania was invaded by aliens and the weeks of chaos that followed. There were sightings of UFOs, close encounters, and even abductions. There were believers, Truth Seekers, and, above all, people who looked to the sky and hoped for more.

Only…there were no aliens.

Gideon Hofstadt knows what really happened. When one of his science experiments went wrong, he and his older brother blamed the resulting explosion on extraterrestrial activity. And their lie was not only believed by their town―it was embraced. As the brothers go to increasingly greater lengths to keep up the ruse and avoid getting caught, the hoax flourishes. But Gideon’s obsession with their tale threatened his whole world. Can he find a way to banish the aliens before Lansburg, and his life, are changed forever?

Told in a report format and comprised of interviews, blog posts, text conversations, found documents, and so much more, It Came from the Sky is a hysterical and resonant novel about what it means to be human in the face of the unknown.

I enjoyed every minute of this crazy, bizarre, hilarious book and the brothers who engineered this quirky town’s biggest hoax.

Science genius Gideon and Ishmael, his Hawaiian shirt-wearing brother who prefers to coast through life, are polar opposites in almost every way and go into this hoax with different objectives.  Ishmael is looking to top his record for practical jokes at their high school.  Gideon, with a lifelong goal of working for NASA, visualizes it as a way to distinguish him from thousands of other MIT applicants and ensure his acceptance.  Obviously, everything about this is a bad idea, but watching the story unfold and spiral out of control makes for such a pleasurable read.

In the midst of all this, Gideon is also learning to navigate a relationship with his first boyfriend.  Being science-oriented, he prefers to deal in facts and rules, so personal relationships and the emotions and nuances that come with them are difficult for him to understand.  His character arc is strong, heartfelt, and one of my favorite things about this novel.

As the description indicates, the narrative is broken up by interviews, blog posts, footnotes, etc., and while some readers felt them a distraction, I thought they worked well with the tone of the story.  Some of them also caused me to burst out laughing.

Along with the hijinx, supposed alien abductions, a giant lava lamp, and a runaway cow named Muffin are incredibly supportive friendships, strong family bonds, and powerful life lessons on acceptance and self-worth.  If you’re looking for a light-hearted, entertaining read, grab a copy of It Came From the Sky.  This book is scheduled for publication August 1st, 2020.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

#WritingGoals, Book Sales, and #AmWatching

Met the writing goal again last week – woo hoo!  Things are really coming together with this sequel to Subject A36.  While brushing my teeth (I swear I have the best ideas when I’m doing totally mundane things), a few different pieces just fell into place in the span of a couple seconds.  Don’t you love it when that happens?  Kind of makes the job a little easier.  I’m hoping to continue with the streak this week.

With so many author events cancelled this year, does anyone have brilliant ideas on how to sell more books?  If so, please share them.  I’ve been reading articles I’d hoped would miraculously introduce some new technique I haven’t tried, but they all seem to say the same things, just packaged differently.  I miss those in person events where I could talk to readers.

Last week hubby and I watched one movie that wasn’t so great and one that was okay.  The not so great was Eurovision.  I’m usually a Will Ferrell fan (except for Anchorman – by every mathematical concept, I should love that movie), but this one didn’t work for either of us.  I will say Dan Stevens seems to have a knack for comedy and gave me a few laughs.

We also watched Greyhound with Tom Hanks on Apple+.  Tom Hanks in anything immediately elevates a project in my opinion.  If you enjoy historical movies with a lot of action, I’d recommend it.  Not a bad way to spend ninety minutes.

Have a safe and healthy week!

 

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston #bookreview #LGBT #romance

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

If you’re a regular at my blog, you may be thinking you’re in the wrong place because I don’t read romances.  And you’re right – I usually don’t.  But with so many friends recommending this book, its outstanding reviews and amusing premise, I succumbed to peer pressure.  As a bonus, it fulfilled a book club requirement!

There’s nothing I can say about this novel that hasn’t already been said.  It’s an immensely enjoyable rom-com, and I totally want to join this family.  I listened to the audiobook and the narrator (Ramon de Ocampo) does a fabulous job.  Every character is so well done and adds to the depth of the story.  You’ll cheer for Alex and Henry and laugh at their nerdy Star Wars references and witty banter.  Ellen Claremont, Alex’s mom and the President, now holds the title of my favorite fictional mom.  Yes, she’s POTUS, but when everything hits the fan, she’s a mother first, and I loved that about her.  The strong themes of family, sibling relationships, and friendship are felt on every page.

No, I don’t often read romances, but Red, White, and Royal Blue was worth every minute and earns an easy five stars from me.

 

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’ve waited for this book for months, and I did plenty of happy dances (a sight you don’t want to see) when I received an ARC from NetGalley.  Schwab is one of my favorite authors and has never disappointed.

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Over the weekend I finished It Came From the Sky.  I’d hoped for a humorous read with this one, and it exceeded my expectations.  My review will be posted here next week, but I’ll tell you this was a treat to read – five stars.

From the author of The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett and As You Wish comes the unforgettable story of the one small town’s biggest hoax and the two brothers who started it all.

This is the absolutely true account of how Lansburg, Pennsylvania was invaded by aliens and the weeks of chaos that followed. There were sightings of UFOs, close encounters, and even abductions. There were believers, Truth Seekers, and, above all, people who looked to the sky and hoped for more.

Only…there were no aliens.

Gideon Hofstadt knows what really happened. When one of his science experiments went wrong, he and his older brother blamed the resulting explosion on extraterrestrial activity. And their lie was not only believed by their town―it was embraced. As the brothers go to increasingly greater lengths to keep up the ruse and avoid getting caught, the hoax flourishes. But Gideon’s obsession with their tale threatened his whole world. Can he find a way to banish the aliens before Lansburg, and his life, are changed forever?

Told in a report format and comprised of interviews, blog posts, text conversations, found documents, and so much more, It Came from the Sky is a hysterical and resonant novel about what it means to be human in the face of the unknown.

I waited months for Addie Larue, but the wait for this book has been nearly three years.  The second in the series, The Empress, destroyed me – I’m still not okay.  To say I’m anxious to get to Nemesis is a gross understatement.

In the heart-pounding conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Diabolic series, the Empire teeters on the edge of destruction as rumors spread that Nemesis is still alive.

Three years ago, Tyrus Domitrian shocked the galaxy by killing the woman he swore to love forever. The woman for whom he upended the Empire. The woman with whom he wanted to build a new and brighter future.

Now, the once-idealistic heir apparent has become the cruel Emperor Tyrus, wielding his authority with an iron fist, capable of destroying planets with a single word, controlling all technology with a simple thought. He has bent the Grandiloquy to their knees, and none has the power to stand against him.

But there is a muttering among the Excess. They say that Nemesis is not truly gone. They whisper of her shadow spotted in distant star systems. They say that Nemesis lives. That she will rise, and rally the people to topple the man who was once her truest love—and is now her fiercest enemy. 

The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2) by Roshani Chokshi #bookreview #YA #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost ― one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumoured to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.

The first book in this series was at the top of my five star reads last year, which made this sequel one of my most anticipated reads this year.  Soooo worth the wait.  Reviewing sequels without spoilers is difficult, but I’ll do what I can.

Compared to The Gilded Wolves, this followup is darker, stakes are higher, and tense situations abound.  But there’s also the same witty banter and obvious love between these characters who have chosen to be family.  Still reeling from a tragic loss, they’re all scattered in different locations at the beginning of this book.  Once reunited, their hunt takes them to a beautiful location – the author’s world-building is magical, and the imagery is just stunning.  With rotating POVs, each character has their time to shine, and some learn shocking truths about themselves.  But that ending!  This is the second book I’ve read in a week that ripped my guts out.  I’m holding onto one sliver of hope revealed in the epilogue.  The next book can’t come soon enough for me.

With an inclusive, charming cast, historical elements, clever puzzles and riddles, and an intricate, complex plot, this is easily a crossover series I’d highly recommend to fantasy/historical fiction fans.  This book is scheduled for publication September 22, 2020.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#WritingGoals, #AmWatching, and Fireworks

Last Monday, I set a goal for adding 3K words to my WIP.  I’m excited to say I exceeded that goal!  I’m not in a writing group, so I think being accountable to you guys gives me that push I need.  This week I’ll add 500 words to my goal and we’ll see how it goes.  I have another five scenes in mind, and I had an epiphany last week while putting on makeup (that seems to be when they occur) about something that needs to occur.  Other things need to be put in place first, but I’m really excited to write that scene.

A couple weeks ago, hubby and I watched My Spy on Amazon Prime.  After Guardians of the Galaxy, I’m a Dave Bautista fan and with the sparse selection of new material out there, we took a chance of this one.  Yes, it’s predictable (tough guy CIA agent meets smart, cute kid) and inspires eyerolls in some parts, but it also has some sweet and laughable moments.  The young actress is a scene stealer and holds her own against Bautista, and their developing friendship is adorable and fun to watch.

Hope everyone had a fabulous and safe Fourth of July.  We spent the day with friends hanging out by their pool drinking margaritas and eating burgers.  When we got home that evening, we drug chairs into the backyard and watched fireworks.  Plenty of neighbors were setting them off, so we had quite a colorful show.  The cat wasn’t as crazy about them, so he stayed under the bed until the wee hours of the morning when all was quiet – then jumped into bed and slept on my head the rest of the night.

Have a great week and stay healthy!

 

Prelude for Lost Souls by Helene Dunbar #bookreview #YA #paranormal

In the town of St. Hilaire, most make their living by talking to the dead. In the summer, the town gates open to tourists seeking answers while all activity is controlled by The Guild, a sinister ruling body that sees everything.

Dec Hampton has lived there his entire life, but ever since his parents died, he’s been done with it. He knows he has to leave before anyone has a chance to stop him.

His best friend Russ won’t be surprised when Dec leaves—but he will be heartbroken. Russ is a good medium, maybe even a great one. He’s made sacrifices for his gift and will do whatever he can to gain entry to The Guild, even embracing dark forces and contacting the most elusive ghost in town.

But when the train of Annie Krylova, the piano prodigy whose music has been Dec’s main source of solace, breaks down outside of town, it sets off an unexpected chain of events. And in St. Hilaire, there are no such things as coincidences.

Honestly, after I read the first line about most people in St. Hilaire making their living by talking to the dead, I didn’t need to read any further.  Attention secured.

One of my favorite things about this book is the friendship between Dec and Russ.  Both have suffered tragic losses in their lives, but know they can count on each other no matter what.  Everyone needs a friendship like that in their life, although at some points it seems as if the balance shifts with Dec taking more than he gives.  Each is at a crossroads where the decisions they make will significantly impact not only their lives, but also their loved ones – especially Dec.  Russ is struggling with some personal demons (not literal ones – but he does struggle with literal ghosts) that may prevent him from achieving his goals.

While Dec and Russ had to maneuver through hurdles and obstacles, Anna didn’t seem to have as much agency.  She shares POVs with Dec and Russ, but primarily exists to support other story lines.  I’d love to see her play a bigger role in the second book.

Something I never had a firm grasp on was The Guild.  Their presence looms like a dark cloud over the story, and they control many activities of citizens in the town, but exactly how they obtained that power and how they used the money brought in from tourists and other sources was never clear to me.

I’d describe this book as a quiet paranormal that reads like a contemporary.  It may lack heartstopping reveals or shocking twists, but the story takes you by the hand and leads you on a pleasant supernatural journey.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick #bookreview #YA #mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

This gripping thriller follows two teens whose lives become inextricably linked when one confesses to murder and the other becomes determined to uncover the real truth no matter the cost.

What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried…

When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected–and that she knows what happened to her.

Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?

If you’re looking for a compelling beach read, I got you covered.  I Killed Zoe Spanos will keep you in that beach chair for hours.

This is my first time reading this author, but it absolutely won’t be my last.  I was glued to this book from the beginning and conjured up tons of theories about what was happening during the course of the story.  Even then, only part of one of them turned out to be correct by the end.

Martina’s podcast is a clever way to introduce backstory – what happened with Zoe, who the suspects were, what the police did or didn’t do, etc., and it gives the reader a peek into her head since her POV is shared along with Anna’s.  The alternating chapters between past and present made me even more curious to learn how the characters got from point A to point B, and it’s one of my favorite storytelling techniques.  With such an intricate plot, I can just imagine the story boards the author must have created.

Although it works well with the story, I had to suspend my disbelief a tad with the way the investigators handled Zoe’s case.  Still, I devoured this book in two days.  Pay close attention near the end – things move fast and a lot of questions are answered.

With a heavy dose of red herrings and twists to keep you guessing, I Killed Zoe Spanos is a must read for mystery/thriller fans.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#AuthorLife, Moving, and #WritingGoals

Not much going on around here.  Last week was a blur of unpacking from vacation, washing clothes, apartment hunting (more on that below) and trying to sneak in some reading and writing time.  With all of my scheduled author events cancelled, I’ve been working on some new Canva and Bookbrush images to try and sell some books.  The good thing is that my fall writing retreat is still on – yay!

Looks like hubby and I have two moves coming up later in July.  The oldest son is moving into a different apartment along with starting his new job.  This one includes a small office, which will be perfect since he’ll be working remotely.  His cat, Sora, will be thrilled with all the windows and a balcony where she can go outside – assuming she’s smart enough not to try jumping.  The youngest son and two friends have been searching for a new apartment before the fall semester, but they haven’t had much luck.  His current lease expires at the end of July, so time is running out.  We’re just hoping the new apartment isn’t on the third floor (like his current one) and it’s not a thousand degrees outside with 100% humidity the day we move him (like it was last summer).  Good times.

An author friend has inspired me to make some weekly writing goals (thanks, Staci!).  My goal this week is to add at least 3K words to my WIP.  I think that’s pretty doable and I’m hoping to exceed that number.  I have about four scenes planned out in my head – I’ll update you next Monday.

Have a great week and stay healthy!

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin #bookreview #paranormal

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Several friends recommended this book, and I’d seen reviewers raving about it.  When I won a copy, it seemed like fate meant for me to read it.

As a confirmed fantasy fan, the description intrigued me – a witch hunter unknowingly married to a witch.  I’m not much for strong romantic elements in my reading, and this book contains more than I expected, but I was so enamored with Lou and Reid that I was willing to set those preferences aside.  They’re polar opposites – Lou having no filter and stating whatever is on her mind and Reed more reserved with strong convictions – and I enjoyed watching them get to know each other.  And learning how wrong their preconceived notions were.

The world-building is rich and detailed, and there are quite a few surprises and twists I didn’t see coming.  All the supporting characters are well done, but my favorites are loyal friend Coco and young, determined Ansel.  He has the potential to be a scene stealer.

Witty banter, enemies to lovers, strong heroes and heroines, and lovable supporting characters all made Serpent & Dove well worth the read.  It’s a series I plan on continuing.