The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Dear Bookworms,

What a wonderful read this was! I can honestly say I had never heard about the “orphan trains” from American history and wow, how eye opening. It is definitely a topic that I will be digging into after this read.

Orphan Train
By Christina Baker Kline

When 90 year old Vivian Daly needs someone to help her clean out her attic, the task falls to rough around the edges Molly. Molly is a foster kid who has one foot out of the door in her current placement due to her recent run in with the law. Cleaning out the attic seems a boring if easy job for Molly to complete her community service hours. The hours spent with Vivian going through the mementos of her life begin to forge an unlikely bond between the two women.

In the early 1900’s a young Irish immigrant (our very own Vivian Daly) finds herself an orphan after an unfortunate apartment fire kills her parents and siblings. Along with thousands of other children during this time period, young Vivian finds herself aboard the orphan train, headed to the Midwest in the hope of finding a kind family to take her in. So begins Vivians journey across the vastness of the Midwest with only her meager belongings and the strength of her spirit.

This book was told in alternating time periods; with Molly in the present day, and Vivian in the early 1900’s into present day. My heart hurt for both girls, orphaned and alone in the world trying to not only survive but make a way and forge an identity. They each experienced heartbreak and pain, but their shared resilience and fortitude seemed a common thread in both their lives, separated by decades. Their stories were one of thousands of stories, both from the time of the orphan trains to the current foster system in the United States. Klines writing was detailed and heartfelt, and I couldn’t read fast enough!

I highly recommend this read, it was full of emotions and an absolute page turner.

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

Book Review: Faeries of Saizia by Tonya L Chaves

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review. (Another Beep review! The Bloggess fan club is such a talented tribe!)

Faeries of Saizia
By Tonya L. Chaves

In the land of Saizia, two young fairies, Avery and his best friend Zaria, find themselves in trouble after venturing into the forbidden Eerie Hollow. Stumbling upon a secret chocolate production and a pair of elves, the two fairies are at a loss for what to do. Should they tell Queen Yamani? Continue to investigate alone? Curiosity wins out and Avery and Zaria soon find themselves in too deep when they are discovered snooping by the evil King Thordon of Eerie Hollow. In an effort to save themselves from having their wings ripped off and enslaved by King Thordon for breaking the century old truce to keep their kingdoms apart and secret from one another, the fairies accept a mission. If they succeed, they live, if they fail they belong to King Thordon. The two must venture out past the boundaries of anywhere they have ever been to retrieve a special seed. Their journey is rife with adventure and danger. With only their wits and determination, can Avery and Zaria complete their mission? And will King Thordon betray them in the end?

What a fun read! This one is perfect for all my middle grade readers and up and is filled with all things magical. There are fairies, elves, dragons, and magic- what more could you want?! I was tickled over the fairy speech patterns and colloquialisms. “Leaping Lizards!” is one exclamation that I hope to introduce into my everyday vernacular. Saizia was truly a wonderful world to dive into, and I’m not gonna lie, some place that i would like to live. There were some neat twists and turns that I was not expecting which kept me on my toes. (I would love to read a prequel about the events leading to the fallout between Saizia and Eerie Hollow and the truce to remain separated forever!)

Thanks Tonya for a really fun read, one that I will be sure to recommend to all my fantasy lovers! (Also, where can I get my copy of Human History and Other Mistakes to Learn From because clearly we need a refresher over here in the human world.)

Add this one to your reading list folks! It’s a goodie! See you guys next week!

XOXO,

Coco


Book Review: Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

Dear Bookworms,

My cup overflowth with joy at this book.

Seriously guys….my heart!

Book Three in the Dark Artifices series picks up right where book 2 leaves off (you can read up on both book 1 and 2’s reviews first find the tags at the bottom of this page!) The Blackthornes are mourning the death of Livia , Julian takes drastic measures to extinguish the fire of his forbidden love for his parabatai Emma, a sickness has seeped into the world mortally weakening warlocks, and the Black Volume of the Dead has been stolen and taken away to Faerie. With little time for mourning, Julian and Emma embark on a dangerous covert mission to Faerie in order to bring back the Black Volume of the Dead before civil war breaks out in Alicante. When the two unexpectedly find themselves hurtled into an alternate reality, Thule, they come face to face with a horrible, twisted version of their world, one they may not survive. With all the forces of the world bearing down on them, they must work together to survive this land, get back home, cure the blight that is slowly spreading throughout their land sickening the warklocks, and stop the bigoted newly elected Head Counsil before their community is ripped apart. With the threat of the parabatai curse looming ever nearer, Julian and Emma seem to be fighting an uphill battle.

Cassandra Clare is a writing goddess. Her books are so intricate, deep, and well written they are one of my favorite worlds to get lost in. Clare has no limit to her ability to weave tales so complicated and heart wrenching that you find yourself utterly immersed and completely addicted. To stop reading is physically painful people! You just don’t ever want to leave her universe! At 880 pages there is no lack of action and plot development. She broke my heart countless times, filled me with hope, kept me on the edge of my literal seat throughout the entire book. Her ability to build worlds is truly remarkable and I am convinced she is a warlock sharing a piece of Shadowhunter to us mundanes. There was quite a bit of character development with not only Julian and Emma but Christina, Mark, Keirian, Diana, Ty, and Kit. Everyone, while fighting towards the common goals of the larger arc of the plot, also went through immense personal growth, experiencing their own personal struggles to get there. Clare once again touches on issues prevalent in today tumultuous political climate. Themes like bigotry and xenophobia were woven within the plot and was very reflective of some of the issues we face even today. The complex and diverse relationships found within not only this book but the series as a whole is filled with an honestly and depth that was really amazing to read and watch unfold. I fell in love with Chistina, Mark, and Kierian. Their love was so pure and so honest. I swooned over Diane and Gwyn and the quiet strength of their relationship. And obviously Julian and Emma, that relationship has driven me crazy for 3, 800+ page books and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I’m sure it goes without saying considering this entire review has been one long fangirl squeal but if you haven’t read any- PLEASE add anything and everything Shadowhunter to your TBR. You will hate me because it will consume your life but you will love me forever for pushing you to jump into this world you will never want to leave.

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

P. S I would also like to take a minute to point out how stunning the inside of the book jacket and all of the art interspersed throughout the book is. It is absolutely amazing!

Book Review: Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

Dear Bookworms,

Pillow Thoughts
By Courtney Peppernell

After reading Rupi Kaurs two books of poetry last year I have definitely been more intrigued to pick up and explore this genre some more. This book popped up as an Amazon Prime freebie so of course I gave it a whirl.

Pillow Thoughts is a collection of poetry and prose broken into 10 sections. All deal with love, heartache, loss, and self worth. Peppernell delves into all the various aspects and emotions that come with falling in love. The heartache when it ends, the butterflies when it’s new, the beauty in the comfortable mundane-ness of a relationship. Peppernell explores feelings of self esteem and self worth, something that everyone has struggled with at some point in their lives. She has a simple yet heartfelt writing style that was easy and relatable. She captures complex feelings and emotions in a way that is easily digestible and enjoyed. I could see myself in much of her work. Here are a few passages that I really connected with:

“ There are little pieces of happiness and they are scattered through your day. So take a basket with you as you step outside, fill it up with all the little pieces, and bring it back inside. Take a moment, just by yourself, take out all of the pieces, and place them on your shelf”

“ Of all the tragedies on this earth, there is none more tragic than a person who cannot see their worth”


Even if your sadness

feels quite heavy

the truth is

it’s just a paperweight

Learn to turn the page”

Overall an enjoyable, quick read, one that can be revisited and felt anew with different stages in life. Definitely recommend this to my poetry fans (and like me- new to the poetry game!)

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

Book Review: Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister

Dear Bookworms,

I picked this one up as I had read and really enjoyed Macallisters previous novel, The Magicians Lie. I was hoping for all the same elements that I enjoyed with her first novel; action, danger, and a kick ass female led.

Let me tell you guys, Macallister delivers yet again!

Girl in Disguise
By Greer Macallister

Kate Warne has quite literally no where to turn. A young widow in the 1850’s (don’t feel too bad, she was coerced into a loveless marriage by her good for nothing parents) with no income, she was quite literally almost out on the streets when an ad in the newspaper caught her eye. Pinkerton Detective Agency was hiring a new detective. The fact that there was no such thing as a female detective did not dissuade Kate; if anything, it made her want it even more. Kate is determined and quick witted and Pinkerton takes a chance and hires her on. Kate works twice as hard as every man on the payroll to prove herself, and prove herself she does. With the country on the verge of a civil war, Kates life as an operative takes her on countless dangerous missions, all over the country. Inspired by the real woman who was Americas first detective, this read is one you won’t be able to put down.

Y’all, Kate Warne is such a badass! I could read about her operations all. damn. day. This is a historical fiction done right. I do love some action and suspense in my reading and sometimes with a historical fiction, it really just isn’t there (obviously, I mean I’m not expecting them ALL to be, just that for that reason- they normally aren’t my cup of tea) but Girl in Disguise was such a perfect blend of action and plot to the back drop of one of the most important times in American history- the Civil War. The politics of it all are more a backdrop to Kate and her navigating her life as not only an operative at a prestigious detective agency, but a woman fighting gender norms and societal stereotypes on how she should be living her life. Kate is smart, and she uses these stereotypes to her benefit. After all, who would suspect a woman * gasp * of subterfuge and deceit? Kate was firery and brave- just such a great character to read. In addition to the action and danger that the life of an operative entails, we also are shown a more vulnerable side to Kate which was really moving to read. There was loss and heartbreak, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t tear up at some scenes.

Do yourself a favor and add this gem to your reading list. I will certainly continue to read anything Greer publishes and look forward to her next book!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

Book Review: Mira's Griffin by Christie Valentine Powell

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Mira's Griffin
By Christie Valentine Powell

Something is terrorizing the city of Mund Cove. People are disappearing, never to be seen again. Strong willed Mira pays no mind to the warnings of the elders and continues to spend her time scouring the cliff walls for eggs to trade and barter with in town; until that is, she is captured and taken for prisoner. The griffins have been taking and enslaving her people, and other people from neighboring villages to work in their vales as their own personal “animal” labor.

When Mira forms an unlikely bond with a griffin in her vale, she in convinced she can forge a way for humans and griffins to live together in harmony. Together with a small band of humans, Mira and her Griffin work to overcome stereotypes and break down boundaries. Not everyone is sold on this idea, and violence ensues. Can Mira and her gang of revolutionaries convince the humans and griffins alike to work together, or will they let their differences destroy them all?

This book was such a fun read. There was a little bit of everything in there; action, loss, love, magic, and an overarching theme of rising above stereotypes and discrimination to coexist with those who may be different than yourselves. It’s about understanding, or caring even to understand, about people who are different than ourselves. How these differences can be used as strengths to a common community and its posterity.

Mira was such a likable character. She was strong willed to the point of bullheadedness and ever the idealist. She wasn’t afraid of hard work and lived her life with an open mind. We could all learn a few things from Mira. Powell created an enchanting and well written world that was a joy to dive into. Mira’s band of revolutionaries (that’s how I like to think of them anyway) were a great supporting cast each distinct and complete as characters.

Overall this was a really great read. Definitely recommend to all my middle grade and up bookworms!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read is definitely heavy so I did want to include some trigger warnings in case it might not be the read for you.

Girl in Pieces
By Kathleen Glasgow

TW: Sexual assault, self harm, alcoholism, drugs, suicide, violence.

Charlotte (Charlie) Davis has hit rock bottom. After nearly successfully committing suicide, she finds herself in the all womens ward of Creeley, a mental hospital in Minnesota. While there, she slowly opens up, piecing herself back together from her life on the streets. Upon discharge, her mother refuses to take her home, sending her instead with a one way bus ticket to Arizona where a friend has offered to help her get settled. Charlie once again is forced out into the unknown, at time when she is most vulnerable in her recovery. As she moves into this new life, and looks to make a place for herself, she falls back into destructive habits with an equally damaged guy named Riley. Charlie clings so desperately to Riley but his demons prove to be too much for them both, and Charlie finds herself spiraling, quickly, back into dangerous waters.

Like I said, this book was heavy. My heart ached for Charlie who seemed to be dealt one shitty hand after another. Charlies story is the story of so many girls and women who each face shame not only from society but from themselves; a self loathing that is masked with drugs, self harm, or destructive relationships. Charlie was vulnerable but hard and was written so so well. One thing that really stuck out with me throughout the book was the small kindnesses she encountered along her journey. It is an important reminder that we all have the power to be kind, and our kindness, however small and insignificant it may seem, could truly be the defining line between life and death. The women at Creeley were all so robust, they were honestly probably my favorite part of the story, though they only occupied a small percentage of the book. I listened to the audiobook version of this one (shoutout to the narrator Julia Whelan- she really nailed it!) and the afterward by the author was really something special. Glasgow talked about her own struggles with self harm in a way that I felt was both very brave and very powerful.

This is a must read for sure and is a glimpse into a life of someone struggling with mental health, one that I think is important for everyone to take a look at.

Until next week my bookish friends!

XOXO,

Coco


Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Dear Bookworms,

This one has been on my to read list foreeeeeevvvver. I have always been a huge John Green fan (The Fault In Our Stars anyone?! Dear god I loved that one) Needless to say, I had high hopes for this one.

Spoiler alert….I loved it.

16 year old Aza and her larger than life best friend Daisy embark on an adventure in search of a missing billionaire, who just so happens to be the father of a childhood friend, Davis, who Aza met at a grief camp when they were children. The two girls are caught sneaking around on Davis’ property in search of clues, and thus reignites the once friendship (now possibly more??) between Aza and Davis. The thing is, Aza isn’t well. Her intrusive and obsessive thoughts are wrecking havoc on her life, and she begins a downward spiral that she isn’t sure she can pull herself back from.

I don’t know why I continue to be amazed at how well Green captures the minds and emotions of people so well, but every time I finish one of his books I just slowly clap for the master… bravo John!

This young adult fiction really explores so many relevant topics; mental health, relationships, loss, grief, and unwavering friendship and loyalty. Although it’s never exactly labeled in the book, Aza seems to suffer from a diagnosed anxiety disorder and/or obsessive compulsive disorder. Her struggle is gripping, and I found myself completely sucked in when her mind began to spiral and the intrusive thoughts won out over her rational thinking. It wasn’t a book with a happy ending where the girl gets the guy, and they overcome their issues to ride off into the sunset, and honestly, that’s ok. It’s real life. It was the journey through the muck and the fear and loss of control that really made the story. Despite the lack of a picture perfect happy ending, there was hope. Aza was a superbly written character and as secondary as Daisy seemed at first to me in the novel, she really was a great character in and of herself. She kind of sneaks up on you.

As a side note, I really love all the obscure trivia I picked up from the book including , but not limited to, attributes of a tuatara, gut health, and clostridium difficle colitis.

Overall, definitely recommend this one!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco






Past Life by Dominic Nolan

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Abigail Boone has no memories before waking up in a dirty flat in England, beaten and bruised. After a harrowing escape which left her maimed and broken, Abigail is trying to put her life back together. It’s been a year, and she still has no memory of her life before that day. Her husband and son are patient, if weary, of the process and her former life as a detective is over.

Past Life
By Dominic Nolan

Boone (as she prefers to be called now), once she is strong enough, begins to investigate what happened to her. She pours her days into rereading the old case file of a missing girl which lead her into being kidnapped that fateful day over a year ago. Following leads and reconnecting with another woman who escaped from that flat with her that night, Boone embarks on a dangerous journey, one in which powerful people will stop at nothing to silence her for good.

This debut novel was a slam dunk! From the intense and gripping first chapter it was a roller coaster of excitement and tension. Having the main character suffer from amnesia was a really interesting take on a thriller that worked well for the plot line. We were piecing together the story in real time with Boone and it was heart pumping to say the least. Within the story of figuring out what happened to Boone and finding some sort of closure with the missing persons case she was investigating prior to her kidnap and injury, we have the story of Boone herself, struggling to make sense of her new life and the people in it.

There were layers of drama that were interesting to unpack. Boone is one bad ass chick; despite all her past trauma she was tough as nails, and almost stubborn to a fault. Her gang of supporting characters were just as unique and eclectic which made for good reading. There was no slow build to action with this book. Boone finds herself in plenty of hairy situations which left me furiously flipping pages to see how in the world she was going to extricate herself in one piece. There were some adult themes in this one so be cautioned if you are triggered by violence and brutality as the fight scenes are pretty intense.

Overall a great read! Make sure to crack into it with plenty of time to devote to reading because you absolutely will not be able to put it down when you start!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco




Book Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Dear Bookworms,

Into the Water: A Novel
By Paula Hawkins

Having read, devoured, and thoroughly enjoyed the wild ride that was Girl on a Train by Hawkins, I had the bar set quite high for this one and to be honest, I was kinda let down.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad read, it just really didn’t have that wow factor for me.

After learning of her estranged sisters (Nell) apparent suicide, Jules Abbott travels back to her home town to wrap up her sisters affairs and try to figure out what to do with her teenage niece. The drowning pool, as it’s known in town, has claimed the lives of women dating all the way back to the days of witch hunts and was also the topic of the book Nell was in the process of writing, chonricaling all the women and their stories who had lost their lives in it’s icy depths. Jules isn’t convinced that her sister would ever purposefully take her own life and after a few days in the town, begins to have suspicions of foul play. Being back home brings back memories that Jules has worked hard to forget, painful memories which include her own near death at the drowning pool.

Overall not a bad read, the characters were well written and engaging, even if I wish they hadn’t been so predictable. The drowning pools history was eerie and interesting to read and provided a great backdrop and setting for the plot. I think my issue was with the predictability. I (like most mystery/thriller readers I would venture to say) was really waiting for that wow moment that unfortunately just didn’t come. The ending was predictable and I had it figured out pretty early on in the book. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the ride to get there, but It wasn’t the shocker I was craving nevertheless. The ending could have been wrapped up a little quicker, I didn’t feel like we needed all that “after”the mystery was solved” information.

Anyone have any thoughts on this one? Did you like it as much as Girl on a Train?

Until next week my bookish friends!

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: Born Survivors by Wendy Holden

Dear Bookworms,

Let me start off by saying that I cried, dozens of times, reading this book. It was utterly heartbreaking.

This memoir follows three young Jewish women in Europe during the rise of the Nazi party until the end of WWII and the liberation of the concentration camps. The reader is given a glimpse into each woman’s upbringing including a look into her life; likes, hobbies, families, loves. As the war intensifies, the women find their once idyllic and independent lives, slowly leached of not only property and belongings, but liberties, freedoms, and basic human dignity.

While this is the unfortunate, heart wrenching story of countless Jewish peoples during the time period, these women have something quite unique about their stories. Each woman was newly pregnant at the time of their incarceration in a concentration camp, and against all odds, not only did they live to be liberated by the Americans, but their children, born into the desolate, hopeless camps, survived as well.

Wendy Holden does such a wonderful job of sharing these brave women’s stories. I felt I knew them each, deeply when I finished the book. I wept for them, I silently prayed for them even knowing how their stories would end up, I felt them on such an emotional level.

One of the things which really struck me about each of these women was the unimaginable resilience they each possessed. Losing their child, or death, was never an option. They fought each an every day, each and every minute even, to stay alive. Even in a place as bleak and hopeless as a ghetto, isolated and starving, scared and beaten for minor infractions; people cobbled together beautiful works of art in the form of plays, musicals, and performances. Friendships blossomed, and even love took root. It was moving and profound to read.

Overall I cannot speak highly enough about this book. As a mother, it spoke to me in a way that it will forever be branded in my mind, and I will always been amazed at these three women and the incredible fortitude they displayed at what is arguably one of the worst, most horrific genocides of modern time.

Until next week my bookish friends.

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: Returning by Yael Shahar

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Returning
By Yael Shahar

This is an unusual memoir to say the least. The first half switches back and forth between Alex (written in first person) and Yael (written in third person). Alex is recounting his tale of having been imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camp of Birkenau. Alex is deeply troubled about his time spent in the camp and the things he had to do to survive. His memories are painful and he feels much guilt about some of the things he had to do to survive, mainly working in the crematorium leading down the weary and frightened Jews to their deaths, then collecting the dead bodies and feeding them into the fires. Yael is plagued with intrusive thoughts about a time in which she could not possibly have experienced. Memories of being held in a concentration camp, filled with fear and pain. Alex begins correspondence with a rabbi in order to sort through his feelings and emotions surrounding his time at Birkenau and submit to a final judgement on his actions within the camp. He is wracked with guilt and knows that while it will be hard, it is the only way to achieve peace in his soul.

This emotional memoir really hooked me for the beginning half. The journey back in time as Alex relives his time at a German concentration camp is heartbreaking. It was descriptive and vivid and I found myself needing breaks in between especially disturbing passages, it was a lot to digest.

I was really not as invested in the story of Yael and her journey of self discovery, and when the two characters story lines came together it was shocking and not anything remotely close to what I had been anticipating. The second half of the book dragged quite a bit to me; it was very repetitive and clinical with reading of sacred texts and discussing at length and in multitude, Alexs actions in the concentration camp.

Overall it was a very different sort of memoir (no spoilers but trust me on this one) one that I really am not sure was my cup of tea. Had it been wrapped up shortly after that halfway point twist, I think it would have been a much more enjoyable read.

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen

Dear Bookworms,

This book was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Storytellers
By Bjørn Larssen

Ekkkkk!! This book is so special to my little bookworm heart. Not only does it take place in one of my favorite places in the world, Iceland, but it is written by a fellow Bloggess lover (you do remember my obsession with Jenny Lawson, no?) and internet buddy who really is a super cool dude (check out his blog here!)

Gunnar lives a quietly predictable, if lonely (although I am sure he would argue that he’s not) life in rural Iceland in 1920. When a bedraggled injured stranger shows up on his door step, Gunnar unenthusiastically allows him lodgings until his broken foot is healed enough for him to continue on with his journey (the wad of cash offered for his discretion didn’t hurt either). Sigurd, an enigmatic man with a penchant for telling stories, passes his time in convalescence with Gunnar by telling him a tale of love, adventure, jealously, betrayal and murder. Little does Gunnar know, the story he has begrudgingly come to greatly anticipate hearing each day will collide with his once small world, turning everything he knew upside down.

Alright kids, this one is FOR SURE, a keeper. Bjørn has a knack for writing witty, enjoyable characters. Gunnar is crass and harsh, a raging alcoholic but damn if you don’t root for him every step of the way. The story within a story if you will, that Sigurd tells, sucks you in. It was always leaving you wanting more each time he breaks, yanking me back from his story, into the current story ( are you following me here?). Bjørn seamlessly brings the two together in a fast paced, action packed ending that definitely left me reading way past my bedtime (a bookworms famous last words amiright?) His characters are uniquely flawed, each one, which was honestly refreshing. They each have vices, or personality quirks (or just plain old horrible personalities) that resonates with truth, and was much more enjoyable to read than some cookie cutter character that no one can relate to. There were surprises and twists that I didn’t see coming, and even an appearance from an elf (hello- it IS set in Iceland).

Do yourself a favor and go ahead and pre-order this one now! You can even score some cool merch from his Etsy shop too!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

Book Review: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamo

Dear Bookworms,

I honestly really don’t know how I feel about this book, lets unpack it shall we?

Before I Let Go
By Marieke Nijkamp

Corey and Kyra have always been inseparable. Growing up the small Alaskan town of Lost, they were outsiders, but they always had each other. Corey was the only one who understood Kyras manic highs and depressive lows in a town rife with judgement and shunning. Six months after moving away to Canada for her mothers new job opportunity, Corey gets a call that Kyra has been found dead in the lake, under the frozen surface. Corey goes back to her childhood home for Kyras memorial and realizes this town, and the people in it, have become strangers. Corey is convinced Kyra would never kill herself, and the town is hiding secrets.

Don’t let this synopsis fool you, this book is not your run of the mill murder mystery. It has an ethereal almost otherworldly feel to it. Lost, cut off from the world with his snow and ice harbors a sort of preternatural feel which is hard to put into words. Corey is desperate for answers and continues to uncover horrible truths about Kyras last months in Lost before her death. I was so certain that I knew how this book would turn out (I was convinced Kyra and Corey were the same person with a case of dissociative identity disorder and this was some insane therapeutic way to separate her personalities and leave her with only one- I was waaaaay off base).

It was creepy, cultish, and sinister and the setting of this isolated Alaskan town really lent itself to setting that tone and mood throughout the book. There were some aspects of the supernatural; premonitions of the future and voices from beyond the grave.

There were some interesting themes that were explored which were refreshing to read. Mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder as well as various angels of sexuality that are too often underrepresented in literature.

Overall, I would say this was an entertaining read. It was certainly different from any other mystery I’ve read in awhile, even if I was left slightly dazed and confused at the end.

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: Such a Perfect Wife by Kate White

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Criminal reporter Bailey Weggins is sent on assignment to the idyllic small town of Lake George, NY. After dropping her kids off at school , Shannon Blaine sets out for her morning run, only this time, she doesn’t come back. It doesn’t take long for Bailey to compile a short list of possible suspects; her seemingly perfect husband (husbands are ALWAYS a suspect amiright), a bitter older sister, a creepy hotel manager, and a young deacon at the church Shannon recently rejoined. After an anonymous call points Bailey in the direction of the church she stumbles upon the body of not only Shannon, but 2 other unidentified persons. The case gets dangerous, and quickly, for Bailey. Using her reporting and researching skills, as well as pure gut instincts, Bailey is close to unraveling the truth. Can she unmask the killer before he silences her, forever?

Y’all…. this was a wild ride! White does an amazing job of laying the ground work (clues and red herrings alike) for an epic mystery; It was well paced and exciting. As with any good mystery there are plenty of interesting and plausible suspects. At various points in the book I was convinced they were each responsible, only to change my mind and go another route (at least half a dozen times!) Baileys profession as a criminal reporter ensures our MC is quick witted and attentive to detail. She is able to think outside the box as any good writer can, and has an uncanny ability to piece together information seemingly unrelated to form a comprehensive picture of the situation. No family is perfect, and Shannon Blaines life and the people in it contain their fair share of secrets. Bailey does not give up until she uncovers them all.

I will definitely have to check out more of Kate Whites work, specifically the Bailey Weggins mysteries. I am hooked!

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco



Book Review: Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw

Dear Bookworms,

Another Greta Helsing book for the win! And if its even possible, this one was even more enjoyable than her first book, Strange Practice.

Greta and Ruthvan are in Paris for a series of medical conferences when she begins to notice what she deems, peculiar happenings. For starters, strange monsters keep making their way into her hotel room, a well monster and hair monsters (harmless creatures really, but unusual nonetheless). After Ruthvan flies out of Paris, Greta decides to ease her mind and reach out to the guardian of the city, St. Germain (a werewolf) to get his take on the strange little creatures. Before she is able to make it to her appointment however, Greta is kidnapped and taken to an underground prison cell by a vampire leader with a decades old vendetta against Ruthvan. Greta is to serve as bait in order for this vampire, Corvin to exact his revenge. Meanwhile, someone is practicing magic to summon these little monsters, and in doing so is tearing the fabric of reality. Alone and with only her wits, Greta hopes her friends realize shes missing, before she becomes more meal than bait in his coven of hungry vampires. And time is of the essence as reality is splitting and may not be able to be held together for much longer.

SUCH. A. GOOD. BOOK. Greta and her posse are really like a group of old friends by the end of this book. At only the second in the series I feel like I know them all so well. They are comfortable and familiar and I could read about their adventures forever and not tire of them. Greta is such a great MC; She is smart, witty, and cunning in a way that isn’t devious but more so resourceful. She is the damsel in distress who doesn’t need saving. She buckles down, uses her brain, and saves herself. She is brave and headstrong, someone you definitely want in your corner when trying to save the fabric of reality. The blooming relationship between her and Varney is swoon-worthy (yes I swooned) and the addition of a few new characters to the group was fun. In addition to the baby ghouls from the last book, I have decided I would also like to add a well monster and a hair monster to my list of supernatural creatures I would like to meet/keep as pets. (How can you resist that siren cry of “glup” and the fuzzy hair monster snuggles?!) The book was full of action, friendship, love, and redemption and I cannot recommend it enough!

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco


Book Review: The Last Straw by Ed Duncan

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

After a car jacking gone wrong results in the death of a man, the witness to the crime, a young teenage girl, is set to testify against the suspect. Before taking the stand, her father is shot and killed after walking her home from school. Clearly a botched attempt at silencing the witness, her neighbor, Paul Elliott keeps an eye on her until her mother who is out of the country can be located. A respected lawyer, Elliott finds himself enmeshed in a criminal plot by the local crime boss to silence the witness. As Elliott tries to keep his friends daughter safe and figure out why the bounty on her head, a ghost of his past, professional hitman Rico Sanders resurfaces.

Rico was chosen for the job to take out the young witness. When he refused saying it went against his rule of “no kids”, the boss chose the second in his arsenal of killers, John D’Angelo. Rico and John have a complicated relationship and soon Rico finds himself working tenuously together with Elliott in an effort to not only save the girl, but take out D’Angelo altogether.

When I agreed to read and review this book, I didn’t know that it was the second in a series. Although I was able to follow along having not read the first, it was slightly confusing at times and for that reason I would say it would be best to start with book one. The plot was interesting and packed with tension/action, although the characters felt a little flat. I could have done with some better dialogue and character development to really beef it up. At times it was cliched but still enjoyable for the most part. Rico was a good “bad guy with a conscious'“ that you as the reader find yourself rooting for, even if he is a hired hit-man. Paul Elliott was sort of your average joe who seems to get caught up in extraordinary circumstances and does really make you as the reader think “could I really pull the trigger and kill someone if my life depended on it?” Elliott and his girlfriend explore the morality of these situations in a way that is thought provoking.

Overall I would recommend this one to those of you who enjoy a good mystery with plenty of action.

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco






Book Review: Aaru 2 Halls of Hell by David Meredith

Dear Bookworms,

This read was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Halls of Hel is the second in the Aaru series by David Meredith. Didn’t catch that review, find it here!

Things is Aaru are idyllic. Rose and Franco are closer than ever, her friendships with her fellow Lords, Ladies, and Vedas are flourishing. In a land where her every thought, dream, and desire can become reality, what more could one ask for? Koren is struggling out in the real world. Her relationship with her parents is testy, her father is drinking too much and her mother is barely around. She is constantly tugged between promotion, event, and interview as the spokesperson for Elysium Industries with hardly a minute to catch her breath. Magic Man is still at large, plotting and toiling away behind a computer to hack into the Aaru mainframe, ensnaring and enslaving Koren forever. The two sisters are up against the most sinister foe, can they ward off Magic Mans attack before it’s too late?

Ok, I am just going to go with the things I liked and the things I didn’t like route here. Once again, this was a really imaginative plot with some really unique themes being explored. The afterlife and it’s connection to technology and thus immortality raise some really interesting talking points which had me debating myself while reading. Are the “damaged” brain scans uploaded into Aaru deserving of a quarantined location, away from the inhabitants and glory of Aaru? (I’m still going back and forth on this one) Is deleting a brain scan equivalent to murder/death. (I think so?) Leaves a lot to think about. Fighting a war within Aaru is also a compelling plot line, and one that left me furiously turning pages to see what would happen next.

Now for the things I wasn’t so thrilled with…. Koren is WAY oversexualized for a child of 14. The descriptive language of her sleazy dress, her body, and relationship with pop star douche just made me feel….icky…it wasn’t needed and felt like too much. Koren is essentially a child, one maturing into adulthood sure, but way too young to be parading around in the book like a little sex kitten. It didn’t work for me, and left me feeling skived out. I also feel the plot line could work just as well without the villain being a crazed pedophile. It’s too much; a disgruntled ex employee would work fine, a college aged computer hacker with a vendetta against Elysium Industries is another more plausible angle. Magic Man is just a gross, weirdly written villain to me. (Obviously I am not an author but speaking purely my personal opinion). I was looking for more character development here in the second book but felt it fell a little flat in that department. Rose comes off as some angsty, lusty teenager, and Koren a petulant brat.

Overall a really interesting plot line if the characters just felt more authentic and not so overly sexualized, it would be a really amazing read.

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco





Book Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Dear Bookworms,

I know you all are probably sick of me gushing about my love for Ruth Ware but damn, I love her! I listened to this one on audible and the narrator, Imogen Church, slaaaaaaays once again.

Two days before a career changing business trip aboard the luxury cruise liner, Auroras, maiden voyage, Lo Blacklocks London flat is broken into and burgled. Lo, writer for the travel magazine, Velocity, is shaken but not harmed and despite her sleep deprived state (who can sleep comfortably after a break in?) she packs her bags and boards the vessel in what is promised to be 5 days of top of the line luxury cruising. After perhaps one too many drinks, while sleeping fitfully in her cabin on the first night, Lo hears a scream from the cabin next door, and the distinguishable sound of a body hitting the water outside.

Rushing to her balcony she can make out the body of a woman sinking beneath the waves. Immediately calling staff security, they are confused with her desperate attempts to explain what she heard/saw. No one had been assigned to cabin 10, the investor who was slated for that room cancelled last minute and it remains unoccupied. But that doesn’t explain who the woman was Lo saw in the room before dinner, the one who lent her some mascara. And she is certain she heard that scream and splash. As Lo starts digging, someone tries to thwart her every move. Stuck out at sea, Lo is trapped on board with a killer, but who? And who was the woman in cabin 10?

This was like a modernized version of Murder on the Orient Express. Stuck in the middle of the ocean on a small luxury cruiser, the suspects are obviously very limited. Lo’s profession as a journalist and thus her investigative nature obviously lends well to the plot. There are some amazing “ah-ha!” moments that are honestly really just masterful. I was engaged, enthralled, and enraptured the entire time. The two fold mystery of who the woman was (and why no one knew she was aboard) as well as who killed her (and why) had my gears working double time trying to fit the pieces together (I definitely didn’t fit them together either haha). Ware did a good job of making Lo just unreliable enough (drinking, lack of sleep, mental health history, recent burglary that set her on edge) that the stone walls she kept running into with the security officer and other passengers was plausible. And let’s face it, her gender helped too; women are all too often thought to be hysterical or over-imaginative <insert annoyed eye roll here>

Overall this read was thrilling and suspenseful, the perfect mix of intrigue and conspiracy. I have officially now read all of Wares books and CAN’T WAIT for her 2019 publication The Turn of the Key.

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

Book Review: Kindred in Death by JD Robb

Dear Bookworms,

This read was a more random choice trying to fulfill my reading challenge prompt of “a book by a female author using a male pseudonym”. I didn’t realize when I started that this was one of a continuing series of crime thriller (number 29 in fact!), but it was written in a way that made reading it independently of the others wasn’t a problem.

Kindred in Death
By J. D. Robb

Eve Dallas’ plans for a quiet night in are dashed when she receives an urgent call from her superior to be the lead investigator when the newly promoted police chiefs teenage daughter is found dead. When Eve arrives to the scene she finds the young girl has been brutally raped and strangled to death. Delving into such a case brings up memories of her own past trauma, but Eve digs in her heels and gets to work.

When another woman turns up dead, killed in the same fashion, Eve knows she is running out of time before the killer strikes again. Connecting the dots and digging into clues is Eves specialty. Can she connect the dots fast enough, or will the tech savvy murderer slip through her grasp to finish his murderous revenge?

I didn’t realize when I started this one that it was set in the future, 2060 to be exact. Although it wasn’t too scientifically advanced from current day to be distracting, it did make for an interesting take on a murder mystery. This book was pretty graphic and grizzly when discussing the details of the rapes/murders which honestly seemed overdone at times. The constant discussing of the case details with all the various characters seemed a bit too much and would have been much better without in my opinion.

Overall it was entertaining and engaging. It kept my interest with the swiftness of the action and plot development (the whole book spans only a few days). The characters were likable enough if a little cliched. I did appreciate Eves tough as nails attitude and fearlessness. Like a dog with a bone, Eve Dallas does not give up on a case, she digs in, tooth and nail, devoting all her time and energy to bring justice to victims.

Kindred in Death is number 29 in this series (wow right?!) If murder mysteries are your thing, this series has got you covered for quite a bit of reading!

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco

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