Book Review: Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts by David Ahern

Dear Bookworms, 

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

So after I read and reviewed Madam Tulip book 1, David Ahern graciously sent over the second in the series for review! 

Derry O'Donnell is back! After her play is shut down, indefinitely, due to structural damage at the theater (namely the roof caving in), Derry finds herself out of work once again. Her old acquaintance, Marlena offers her a gig reading fortunes as her alter-ego Madam Tulip for a weekend at a friends engagement party.

Unable to pass up the lucrative paycheck, and promises of donations to the theater for repairs, Derry agrees. Of course things don't go as planned (when do they in a mystery novel?) and mysterious body parts are mailed to the estate. Derry finds herself entangled in an unsettling tale of buried family secrets, deceit, and deception. 

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Once, again a very good read from David Ahern. The second book in the Madam Tulip franchise follows much the same recipe as the first. Derry is plagued with visions and dreams which turn out to be foreshadowing of events to transpire throughout the novel. Her trusty BFF Bruce is back as her sidekick (love that guy) and there are plenty of humorous antics between her parents Vanessa and Jacko.

As with any good mystery there were many surprises as the story progressed, namely the ending (once you read the book you'll know what I mean!).

The book was a tad slow starting off but picked up much more around the halfway mark. Overall a fun read and one I would definitely recommend to you guys! The book is out now and available on Amazon!

Make sure to come back next week for an all new book review!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Year in Review: A look back at my top 5 reads of 2017

Another year has come and gone and a whopping 52 books were read! Check out my 2016 reading challenge: (it's taken a beating this year!)

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While I didn't cross off everything, (I have book ADD- I start off with lists and plans and then get sidetracked with book recommendations from friends and review requests, and I veer a tad off course) I was able to accomplish the majority of the reading prompts.

*Pats self on back*

CHECK OUT LAST YEARS READING RECAP HERE!

So let's find out my favorite books of 2016 shall we? (Disclaimer: These books may or may not have actually been published in 2017- only that they are my personal top reads of the year- meaning I actually read them this past year) 

1) Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare:

Y'all know I just can't get enough of the Shadowhunter universe and the follow up to Lady Midnight did not disappoint. With each book, Clare has a way of making the plots more intense, the heartbreak more devastating (damn you!), and the stakes much higher. At this point, I would gladly read the woman's shopping lists with gusto, she's that good. 

2) Roanoke Girls by Amy Engle

I have long been a fan of VC Andrews type reads (I can't get enough of Dollanganger drama) so this one was right up my ally. It was deliciously creepy and utterly engrossing. COULD. NOT. PUT. IT DOWN. Engle has a fun writing style that can make even taboo subjects binge worthy. 

3) Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan

One word: Hilariously relatable (ok that was two). Laditan perfectly captures the fears and insecurities even the most seemingly well put together mom faces with a hysterically self deprecating fictional story. I legit laughed out loud, many times, reading this one. I had long been a fan of her (you can follow her on Twitter at @Honesttoddler) and her hilarious tweets/musings on motherhood. I will for sure be picking up anything else she publishes. 

4) The Book Jumper by Metcthild Glaser

This book spoke to my inner bookworm fantasies. The ability to actually JUMP INTO A BOOK and hang out with the characters?! Yes please! The possibilities are endless in a book jumping world, sadly I think this is a stand alone book and not one of a projected series. There were a few loose ends that may bother some readers but honestly, the whole concept behind the story was so unique, I just had to mention it in my top 5.

5) Number the Stars by Lois Lowery

This review was posted in 2018 but I actually read it in 2017 and it was the most moving and powerful book I have probably ever read. Seeing the horror that was the Holocaust through the eyes of a young child really shook me and left me thinking about myself and the world around me in a much deeper way. Even if you have read this book as a child, please do yourself a favor and revisit it as a adult. 

It was a great year of books for me in 2017 and (as always) I am super pumped to start my 2018 reading challenge. You can find a copy of my prompts for this year here!

Now whats on my radar for 2018 you say? Glad you asked!

- Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare. The final installment to the Dark Artifices, this one isn't slated for release until December (insert sad face here) but you can bet I will have that one pre-ordered and ready to go for release day!

- Peace Talks by Jim Butcher. This one was on my list last year as one I was highly anticipating for 2017, but sadly it wasn't released. Fingers crossed for a 2018 publication date! I need more Harry Dresden in my life! 

- Shawdowsong by S. Jae-Jones. I finished up the first in this series, Wintersong, late last year (read the review here) and really fell in love with the characters. I am excited to see what happens next with the Goblin King! 

What were some of your favorite books from this past year? What are you most excited to read in 2018?

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Number the Stars by Lois Lowery

Dear Bookworms, 

So I chose this weeks read to cross off "a book set during war time" from my reading challenge. I remembered the title as one I had read back in middle school but couldn't remember much, if anything, about the story. I don't think I will ever forget it after reading it once more as an adult. Such a powerful read. 

Annemarie is just a young girl living in Denmark at the beginning of Nazi occupation during World War II. Armed soldiers on every street corner, food rations, and limited electricity are the new norm; but despite all this, she still feels the relative safety only the naivete of youth brings. Only when the town is warned by the local rabbi that a raid on the Jewish people is imminent do things take on a gravely dangerous feel. Annemaries best friend, Ellen is Jewish. In a quick flurry of activity, her family sets out on a dangerous mission to save their beloved friends and neighbors. 

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It's no wonder this novel is highly acclaimed and heavily honored with awards, it was absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful. I can honestly say I wept while reading this book; the sheer bravery and courage of not only Annemaries family, but the people of Denmark to protect their Jewish friends and neighbors was breathtaking. I think Lowery perfecting sums up how people (myself anyway) relate to this book with this quote:

"They want to be honorable people. They want to do the right thing. And they are beginning to realize that the world they live in is a place where the right thing is often hard, sometimes dangerous, and frequently unpopular"

I found myself thinking about what I would do in little Annemaries shoes, in her mother and father, and Uncle Henricks shoes. Would I have been so brave? Would I have done the dangerous but courageous thing and helped those I could, escape to freedom? I'd like to think that I would have; that I would have gone to any lengths to save not just my friends but all those who needed saving. 

In today's particularly explosive political climate, books like these remain important to challenge the ways in which we think, and the truths that we hold dear. Replace "Jewish" for any number of disenfranchised groups; African American, undocumented immigrants, Dreamers, LGBT, Muslim. What are you doing to actively protect these groups? Do you stand up to injustices or are you too afraid? Or worse yet, do you not see a problem to begin with? 

If you haven't yet, do yourself and favor and pick this one up to read. Even if, like me, you had read it in your youth I guarantee you will find new meaning and more thought provoking questions that will leave you thinking about the book long after you finish its pages.

Until next week...

XOXO,

Coco

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Dear Bookworms,

So I found this read while hunting around for "a book with a season in the title" for my 2017 reading challenge. 

Growing up, Elizabeth, (Liesl) was always warned of the Goblin King. Brought up on stories of the beautiful man luring unsuspecting maidens into the Underground, never to be heard from again, she doesn't pay much mind when her superstitious grandmother warns her and her sister before heading into town one day. Liesl is no stranger to the Goblin Grove and the woods surrounding her parents inn. As a child she would often frolic between the trees playing with her tall beautiful friend. Making music, playing games, he is a distant memory now that Liesl is grown with increasing responsibilities. When her vibrant, beautiful sister is taken, Liesl must brave the Underground and go up against the enigmatic Goblin King to win her back, before she wastes away to nothing in the land of goblins. 

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This book was really not what I had expected, in an insanely good way. It was like some weird (and I use that adjective in the positive) mashup of Labyrinth, Beauty and the Beast, and 50 Shades of Grey. I'm not sure that I would really say that this book is YA appropriate due to some... *ahem*....adult situations which bordered on slightly S & M territory (hence the 50 Shades comparison) but damn if they weren't hot and thoroughly enjoyable to this (mostly) adult reader. The Goblin King was a remarkably layered character, cold and cruel but also deep and thoughtful. The developing relationship between him and Elizabeth was maddening. The constant push and pull was enough to drive any reader crazy (in all the best ways) which only made that ending even more heartbreaking. Thank god there is a followup book on the horizon, to be released in February because  I NEED MORE GOBLIN KING IN MY LIFE. Elizabeth, or Leisel, was a dynamic character in her own right. She was incredibly talented and passionate, if guarded. The way they both connected to each other through music was an interesting dynamic and provided this whole ethereal soundtrack to their relationship. It was honestly really beautiful. 

Now I sit back and wait (impatiently) for the followup, Shadowsong! 

See you all next week!

XOXO, 

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Dear Bookworms,

So I know what you're thinking. Another Neil Gaiman book?! What can I say, the man is a master, this must be The Year of Neil Gaiman for me. I was browsing Goodreads for some suggestions to fill my " A book by multiple authors" category for my 2017 book challenge and this was a recommended read, so of course I had to go for it.

It's the end of the world....seriously. The Riders of the Apocalypse are assembling, the Lost City of Atlantis has risen, the Kracken has been released, and fish are falling from the skies. Oh, and the Antichrist seems to be missing. Tibetans are also tunneling all over the world and are popping up at inopportune times but yes, the world is coming to an end. Everything is going pretty much to plan based on The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. Aziraphale and Crowley, Angel and Demon respectively, have lived on Earth with the humans for centuries and aren't really too thrilled with the idea of the Apocalypse. The forces are mounting and the battle lines drawn, now if only they could find the damn Antichrist.....

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It pains me to say that I didn't love love love this book as I did with all the other Gaiman books I've read. It was slow going for me but once I hit the half way mark things definitely picked up, so I won't say I disliked it per se, just that it wasn't my favorite. The entire book was comical and satirical which I enjoyed. There was a good deal of fun poked at humans and humanity in general which was so fitting and much appreciated (humans can be assholes, no?). The characters were rich, and not how you may expect, say an angel and demon, to be portrayed. Famine was by far my favorite Rider of the Apocalypse by portraying not just the quintessential idea of famine (starving and death and all that jazz) but societal pressures to be thin and waif-like, inducing a self imposed famine on entire generations of people. That coupled with the pre-processed foods (fastfood/junkfood/fake food) that we seem to shove down our throats on any given day which provide zero nutritional content was really spot on. Overall enjoyable book, bringing a light-hearted and comical approach to an otherwise dark topic with some real zingers on humanity as a whole (much deserved though folks, again....assholes). 

Of note- I've read that they are creating a BBC miniseries based on the book and the casting is ON. POINT. I will most certainly be tuning in for this one! 

See ya next week!

XOXO, 

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!!

  

 

Book Review: Bianca: The Brave, Frail, and Delicate Princess by Meg Welch Dendler

Dear Bookworms, 

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

Princess Bianca of Pacifico has never left her castle. Ever since her birth in which she lost her mother, her father has been obsessed with her safety. Always worried she may fall ill, become injured, give herself a fright, Bianca was closed off from the world around her. Her schooling through carefully vetted tutors and sneaking through the castle eavesdropping were her only means of learning about the outside world. Upon discovering that her father and his knights were leaving the castle in search of a dangerous dragon terrorizing the countryside, Bianca's interest in the outside world peaks ten fold. After three long weeks, when the hunting party still has not returned, Bianca takes matters into her own hands, stealing away to search for her father and deal with the dragon herself. Can Bianca survive out in the world by herself and put an end to the dragon drama once and for all?

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What a lovely read! Geared towards a more 5th-7th grade reading level I found this one lots of fun! I especially loved what a strong and courageous character Princess Bianca was, #girlpower! I love books with strong female characters and think they are so important especially for the younger readers. So many great underlying themes dispersed throughout the book; courage, defying stereotypes, being open minded, kindness, breaking out of gender norms. I would definitely recommend this one to read with your kids, boys and girls alike. There was tons of adventure to keep any overactive imagination occupied. The author has really opened up an endless world of adventures for Princess Bianca and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future! 

What other books have you read that made you cheer GIRL POWER! Share them in the comments!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Strange Sight by Syd Moore

Dear Bookworms, 

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

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Having recently inherited the Essex Witch Museum, Rosie Strange and her curator Sam Stone have been roped into another strange situation. Owner of The Fleur restaurant, Ray Boundersby has hired the duo to investigate some eerie occurrences at his restaurant. Blood dripping from the walls, cases of patrons turning ill while dining, ominous messages found written on the walls, and the ghostly apparition of a bonnet clad woman has the restaurant on edge. Before the pairs scheduled appointment to check out the happenings, the chef of the restaurant is found dead, and the sole witness claims it was a ghost.

This book is the second in a planned series but written in a way that allows the reader to read them independently or in succession. Moore did a good job of providing some backstory which was pertinent to understanding the main characters and some insight to their unique relationship. Rosie was a fun and likable character; witty, skeptical, and sarcastic with a teensy bit of prissiness which made her involvement in, what I imagine is essentially ghost hunting, quite comical at times. Sam was the steady, academic type, the perfect balance to this budding duo.

The book at times felt a tad long winded and dragging but was overall enjoyable. I liked how the author was able to incorporate science and fact based logic while continuing to keep an air of the supernatural. The ending was fulfilling and left just enough questions to keep me engaged and eager for the next in the series.

I think this series has great potential as Rosie discovers and explores more about her familial background and I am certain there is no end to the amount of ghostly business they can drum up in a city so rich in history!

Overall, I would recommend this read and would continue reading along with the series!

See you all next week!

XOXO, 

CoCo

CHECK OUT MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

    

Book Review: Rash by Lisa Kusel

Dear Bookworms, 

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

Lisa Kusel, writer, wife, and mother of one shares this lighthearted memoir about the time a move to Bali almost ruined her marriage. Seizing an opportunity of a lifetime, Lisa and her husband Victor uproot their cozy life in California and move to Bali with their 5 year old child, Loy. Victor plans to teach at The Green School, an up and coming eco-friendly school he is sure will be revolutionary, while Lisa continues to work on her next novel; all to the picturesque backdrop of the Balinese jungle. What was supposed to be a beautiful, enriching, professionally developing opportunity quickly strains the marriage in a way that Lisa is unsure they can come back from. Told in a humorous, almost self deprecating tone, Lisa has a writing style which keeps the reader engaged with plenty of humor to keep me turning pages.  

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Who would have thought moving to BALI could be such a pain? Sure, it all sounds fine and dandy in theory right? Luscious rain-forests, up and coming eco-friendly educational system, and a personal cook/maid are the things of most suburban moms dreams. But living life in the jungle isn't as glamorous as Lisa and Victor thought it would be, proving that open jungle living exposes them in a way that forces the couple to examine themselves and their relationship to each other in a way that they have never had to before. From a house with no walls, nightly ant attacks, sweltering heat, and unpredictable indoor plumbing- Lisa faces one disaster after another. In order for their marriage to survive, Lisa has to take a good hard look at that now exposed side of herself and decide if she's going to change, or let her misery eat her and her marriage alive. There was enough well placed humor in the book that it was a light read, never too heavy or disheartening. An overall satisfying read, and one I would recommend to any of my friends who enjoy a good lighthearted memoir!

I'm new to the world of memoirs, what are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!!

Book Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Dear Bookworms, 

This week we have the second installment of The Dark Artifices trilogy and oh. my. god. I can't even handle all the feels. 

The inhabitants of the LA Institute are still reeling from the shocking betrayal of Malcolm Fade. Burdened with the true knowledge of what their forbidden love could mean, Emma must keep her true feelings for Julian, her parabatai, a secret, while pushing him away to protect him. When new dangers threaten the Blackthorn Family, Emma, Julian, Mark, and Christina venture into Fairy lands where they strike a deal with the Seelie Queen. Find and deliver to her a powerful spell book known as The Black Volume in exchange for help with not only a threatened war with the King of Unseelie Lands, but also help in finding a way for Emma and Julian to be together. A new group within the Clave is gaining momentum, The Cohert, who proclaim Shadowhunters superiority to Downworlders and wish to strip their rights and freedoms within the Shadow world add an extra layer of trouble to the issues at hand. A war is brewing, and a stark division within the Shawdowhunter ranks makes them more vulnerable. For Emma and Julian, the stakes are higher than ever. 

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This book was a 699 page roller coaster of action and emotions. The intensity was almost unbearable (in all the right ways) at times, not only with the fight scenes and brushes with death, but the emotional intensity. Emotions from all ends of the spectrum; grief, devastation, betrayal, earth shattering love, all of it was just so intense and deep. One thing that really stands out about this book and the plot development, is how Clare uses her platform to not only write beautiful and engaging stories, but to promote a message of tolerance and acceptance of those who may be different than us. That those who aren't like us, can serve as our biggest allies in times of crisis or they can become our biggest threat, the choice is really ours.

"When a decision like that is made by a government, it emboldens those who are already prejudiced to speak their deepest thoughts of hate. They assume they are simply brave enough to say what everyone really thinks."

I absolutely love how every single character is not only complex but also diverse within their relationships (both romantic or otherwise). They are so layered and meaningful. The absolute unconditional love Julian has for his brothers and sisters actually made me cry at times it was that beautiful and believable (there is not one inauthentic or chintzy character or interaction in this book- in any of her books). There is also much to be said for the inner struggle of self discovery of many characters that a lot of people can relate to and find comfort in seeing themselves reflected within a book. Seeing Kit settle into life with the Shadowhunters, and especially with Livvy and Ty was heartwarming. I think everyone has had those times when they feel unsure of themselves, like they just don't fit in and to see Kit grow from a timid, suspicious kid into someone who feels like he has found his place and his people was fulfilling. I honestly thought the Julian/Emma conflict was going to be the death of me, it was PAINFUL to see them pushing each other away but be so madly in love. I had to put the book down and take a break many a time because my heart just couldn't take it anymore. Makes me anxious all over again just writing about it......Learning more about Diana and the secret she has been hiding was really shocking, I wasn't prepared for it at all but it absolutely made sense. I can't wait to explore her and Gwyns relationship more in the next book, as well as how she will finally reveal her secret to the Clave and (hopefully) be able to live her true self, free of secrets. The ending was such a whirlwind of action and devastation I was left simultaneously emotionally drained but fervently thinking/pondering/daydreaming/hypothesizing about book 3. My mind will not be quiet! Once again, I am blown away by Cassandra Clare. If it's possible,  her books only get better each and every time. Her words bring to life this amazing, unique world, one of my favorites to loose myself in. 

Who else has read these books, what did you think? But can we talk about that ending though?!

See ya next week!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!     

Dark Saturday by Nicci French

Dear Bookworms,

I received a free copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

In order to repay a debt to an associate, Frieda Klein, psychotherapist, is to interview a patient at Chelsworth Hospital which houses the criminally insane. Hannah Docherty has been incarcerated/hospitalized for over a decade for the brutal murder of her family in what was deemed at the time to be a very straightforward case. Friedas assignment seems easy in what is described to her as standard procedure. The lead investigator of the Docherty case has come under some heat from irregularities in his investigating, thus leaving all of his previous cases up for review. Little more than a shell of the once vibrant, albeit troubled, teenager she once was, Hannah is unable to be of much use to Frieda. Like a dog with a bone, Frieda delves deeper into the long ago closed case, increasingly more sure that Hannah is in fact, innocent. As Frieda uncovers long forgotten truths, someone is actively trying to keep those truths hidden, and will stop at nothing to do so. Can Frieda uncover the truth before it's too late?

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So, this book is part of a continuing series but an independent story. Because of this, there were relationships I didn't fully understand the complexity of, or the shared history of past cases between characters. The author does a good job of presenting information in a way that I did not feel totally lost and was able to follow along well despite not having read any of the other Frieda Klein novels. I enjoyed the writing style and the complexity of the plot which contained all the elements to any good mystery. I always enjoy thrillers, and this particular novel especially peaked my interest as it centered on a character in a psychiatric hospital (I myself work at such a hospital and always find these stories fascinating). The plot took many interesting turns, many of which caught me completely by surprise. This novel was unique to me in that there were not many "shady" characters lurking around of which I could try and sleuth out who I thought the real killer would be. The plot was also much more technical and clue riddled, perhaps due to the fact that it was more PI work than a regular citizen trying to ascertain some truth. Overall, it was a perfectly enthralling mystery which kept me engaged from beginning to end. I would definitely pick up another Frieda Klein novel, most likely the next one what with that jaw dropping cliffhanger of a last chapter.....

See you guys next week!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

Dear Bookworms,

So this week’s read was chosen for two reasons. 1) To fulfill an item from my 2017 Reading Challenge, "a book with a cat on the cover" & 2) because it was recommended by Jenny Lawson (read my reviews of her latest book here and book signing here) and we all know how much I adore her and her brand of fuckery. 

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We Are Never Meeting in Real Life is a collection of essays written by Samantha Irby, author of the popular blog, bitchesgottaaeat.com. I was (shamefully) not a follower of her blog but you can bet after finishing up with this masterpiece, I will be shamelessly stalking the hell out of that thing. Her essays take us through both intense and hilarious times in her life, told with much the same kind of humor found in Jenny Lawson's writings.

She has a knack for tackling difficult subjects with her crass sense of humor coupled with her self deprecating bluntness; which of course made for some quality entertainment. Irbys essays are not for the faint of heart or prudish readers out here. It is loud, and brash with enough swear word-jar money potential to most likely end world hunger.

She kept me giggling, cringing, grinning, and even snorting for the entirety of the book. How could you not when she regales us readers with gems like the time she ate her fathers ashes, or when she was forced to take a explosive diarrhea poop out of the the side of a car on a backed up intersection during a blizzard?

These essays are a thing of beauty, people!

 As someone who also enjoys my screen time, and desire to curl up at home and not be bothered with peopleing, I can relate to her on so many levels. Do yourselves a favor and go ahead and add this one to your TBR pile, you can thank me later. 

Catch y'all next week!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan

Dear Bookworms,

Y'all this book is giving me life this week. Written by Bunmi Laditan, writer for Huffington Post and popular Twitter account HonestToddler, she perfectly captured what it means to be a mom. 

Ashley Keller, stay at home mom of one, enters a contest for a mommy boot-camp orchestrated by her idol, Americas darling, successful talk show host, mompreneur Emily Walker. Lasting six weeks, each week is given a focus, intent on helping each participate reach her maximum potential as a mother, homemaker, and wife. At the end of the six week bootcamp, all 10 contestants are flown out to Napa Valley to stay at Emilys very own estate and broadcast live from her morning talk show where one mother is chosen to receive the grand prize of $100,000. Insert crafting disasters, culinary conundrums, sketchy personal hygiene (at best), and enough dirty laundry to loose a baby in, Ashley has her work cut out for her. 

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I am unashamed to admit that I read this book in less than 24 hours. Ashley Keller is my people. Witty and self depreciating with occasional thoughts of murder towards her husband, she really embodies all the struggles and self confidence issues that moms face everyday. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with glossy magazine covers of well put together moms and the black hole that is Pinterest, it can seem like everyone has it together and is doing such a better job at "mom-ing" than you. The reality is, we all face our own challenges, some are just more upfront about them. Ashley's fierce determination was something I admired in her character. She threw herself wholeheartedly into each challenge, even if they turned out disastrously (but often times humorously so). Anyone who's a mom can appreciate this hilarious take on motherhood, and not feel so alone in navigating it's sometimes maddening waters. I laughed, thought "that's me!", and even teared up a little, this book is definitely one for all my moms out there.  

Now go grab yourself a copy and a spoonful of peanut butter. Let me know how you like it!

XOXO,

Coco

CHECK OUT MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Find Her by Lisa Gardner

Dear Bookworms,

Ooooo-eeeee do I have a good thriller for you guys this week!

Kidnapped seven years ago while on a college spring break trip, Flora Dane spent 472 days learning just how much she can endure, and what she would do to survive. Much of her time was spent locked in a wooden coffin, as her abductor slowly broke her down into a compliant, albeit petrified, plaything. Since her dramatic rescue five years ago, Flora has been unable to return to a life of normalcy despite her attempts to pick up where she left off in life. She is no longer the carefree girl from a farm in Maine, she's now a stranger to her mother and brother. After a night out on the town, she is found naked and bound in a garage, her attacker dead. Entangling herself into the cases of three missing girls from her area, Flora finds herself in grave danger, with her past creeping back in to haunt her once more. While Chicago Detective DD Warren is investigating what exactly happened that lead to Flora being abducted and held in the garage (and if she is in fact a victim or a vigilante), Flora turns up missing. Can the tireless detectives of the Boston PD and her assigned victims specialist advocate piece together the clues in time to find Flora before it's too late? 

So I have never read any books by Lisa Gardner but you can bet your ass I'll now be picking up anything I can get my hands on by her! Told in alternating perspectives (first person from Flora, and third person from Boston PD Detective DD Warren) with chronological flashbacks of her 472 days in captivity, Lisa Gardner takes you on a twisty turny ride of who dun it. As with any good thriller, just when I think I have everything figured out in my head, a new piece of information is uncovered or revealed which left me right back at square one. Heart racing page turner at it's best, this was one book I could not put down. This is a book about survivors, heartbreaking and exquisitely written. I can't recommend this one enough!

See you guys next week for an all new review!

XOXO,

Coco

**READ MY OTHER REVIEWS HERE!**   

Book Review: Black Waters by India R. Adams

Dear Bookworms, 

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

Y'all know I love me some India R. Adams (#indieauthorsrock) so after I gushed about how much I enjoyed Blue Waters, India sent over it's companion, Black Waters. Bookworm score!

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I started the book thinking it was a continuation of the previous novel (stop and read that review here then proceed) which ended with a major cliffhanger. Turns out, this novel is told from the perspective of Link and covers the same time line as Blue Waters, extending out past the major cliffhanger. (Thank god because I was seriously afraid it would be the same cliffhanger but then just even more feels because now I know this whole *other* side of the story line.) Black Waters dives much deeper (see what I did there) into the danger and background of the characters and let me tell you, it was a lot. Many of the lingering questions from Blue Waters are revealed from Links perspective and really give the reader greater insight into how all the characters are linked (haha I did it again) together, and the past that has lead them into the dangerous predicament they now all find themselves in. I know I said from my review of Blue Waters that I was team Crash all the way and I was *not* feeling a Link/Whit love story but damn if India didn't change my mind. It's amazing how reading the same set of events from another characters perspective can really alter how you feel about situations and connections between characters. Now don't get me wrong, I'm still a big Crash fan (we've been through the whole bad boy thing- they are intoxicating what can I say?) but understanding the ending would have just left me pissed if I had read it in Blue Waters versus Black Waters. I could come to terms with a lot that transpired in the end, knowing Links side of things. This book was filled with some pretty shocking revelations that were complete mind = blown situations which of course are always great to read. I love having to stop a book and just be like, damn........, for a minute before I pick back up and continue, those are the best. 

From a little sneak peak at the end I know there is more to these characters story to come (score!) so I will just sit by (not so) patiently and wait to catch up with them!

XOXO, 

Coco

CHECK OUT MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Blue Waters by India R. Adams

Dear Bookworms, 

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

Whitney (Whit) Summers leads an exceptionally privileged life (much to her chagrin). Her dream of becoming a professional dancer is scoffed by her parents who have lofty goals of her graduating her elite prep school, and attending Harvard to ultimately enter medical school. With parents who are mostly absent, she clings to her friends as a lifeline, her lifelong friend Link in particular. Whit's life takes an unexpected turn one day when she meets the dangerously handsome Crash, and their whirlwind relationship is electric from the first meeting. Crash is most definitely hiding something, a dangerous past secret that ultimately threatens everyone Whit cares about. 

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This novella was a quick read, just a couple hours but man was it packed with a whirlwind of emotion and action. There were some interesting twists and turns, many that I did not see coming. The ending was a major cliffhanger for sure and I will have to read the second in this collection, Black Waters, soon for some peace of mind (Hopefully? Will there be peace of mind?!). I was immediately captivated from the prologue, it was beautifully written, almost lyrical in it's prose. The whole story is very reminiscent of a modern day Romeo and Juliette and I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't be very majorly bummed if Whit and Crash suffer the same fate as the famous star crossed lovers. I felt there was some groundwork laid, and some hints planted that perhaps another relationship could bloom but I am seriously hoping those were some sort of red herrings because I don't know how I would feel about that. (Yes I understand I become way to emotionally invested in the relationships of fictional characters ok?). I think everyone has that corner of there heart that is always won over by the mysterious bad boy, and Crash definitely won over a piece of mine. What is it that's so intoxicating about them?! Overall it was a well written book that I am eager to continue reading with the next novella! 

If you are interested in reading my reviews of India's other books here they are!

My Wolf and Me

Serenity

Destiny

Rain

See you guys next week!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: Madame Tulip by David Ahern

Dear Bookworms,

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

Living in Ireland, Derry O'Donnell is hard pressed to find work as an actress. Hailing from America, she hasn't be cast in anything successful and is on the verge on being financially cut off from her mother when her best friend Bella convinces her to use her...unique talents...to make some money and keep her head above water.

As the daughter of a seventh son of a seventh son, Derry is a psychic; mainly doing readings for friends she has never considered making a living from her gifts, often times playing them down but desperate times call for desperate measures and her fortune telling alter ego is born, Madame Tulip. Her first gig is for a charity event hosting the rich and famous, and unfortunately, a guest winds up dead. Derry finds herself embroiled in a mystery of drugs, lies, and deceit. Signs and symbols from her readings keep manifesting in the case. Can Derry sleuth out the truth before it's too late? 

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This was a really great read guys! Touted as a mystery/thriller, this was a much more light, fun, mystery versus a dark gritty thriller. There was plenty of comedic relief what with the array of unique and flamboyant characters (Jacko was my favorite!), that it almost felt like a lighthearted Nancy Drew type mystery novel.

There wasn't a lot of shock and awe as far as the plot line was concerned, everything panned out as I expected, but the ride to get to the conclusion was a fun one. Ahern has definitely laid the groundwork for what could be a fun and exciting series with Madame Tulip. I am already invested in all of the characters, each providing a unique dynamic to the group giving Derry as a character more depth through each of these relationships. I, personally, hope to see more of Fitz (wink wink) in the future. If you are in the mood for a fun mystery that is sure to keep you entertained, this one is for you! 

CHECK OUT MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE! 

XOXO,

CoCo

Book Review: Meritopia by Joel Ohman

Dear Bookworms,

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

Charley and his crew are once again on the run. Fleeing Meritorium after a bloody battle in the Venatio, they must make their way across unfamiliar lands in their pursuit of the Czar in a desperate attempt to once and for all zero the System. The Czar has fled to Meritopia, hailed in his warped mind as the utopia of society where he will meld human and animal, creating the most perfect master race. Battling new and dangerous animal combos along the way, and teaming up with familiar faces from Meritropolis, Charley makes it to this "utopia" only to find it more eerie and dangerous than he imagined. Will he be able to zero the System and kill the genetically enhanced Czar once and for all, or will the System finally win? 

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This book is formatted and paced in much the same manner as it's predecessor. Charley and his gang flee a broken city, traverse the unknown wild lands in search of a newly discovered city, combat combo and human adversaries, arrive at destination, and fight the Czar.

I appreciated that it was paced and structured in a similar fashion to the previous books, lending it a sort of symmetry. I once again enjoyed the various imaginative animal combos. Ohman certainly had a way of making each and every combo come alive on the pages (I find myself with an intense desire for some gobster after finishing this series).

The characters continued to grow and develop, most notably with Orson. He was perhaps the most conflicted character of the series in my opinion who subsequently experienced the most dramatic metamorphosis (not physically- that would be the Czar of course *wink wink*).

My only criticism, much the same throughout the series, are the sermons and preachy moments dispersed throughout the book. I think Ohman did himself a disservice in this novel by focusing too much on the morality of this new world (which duh- we as readers know that it's pretty fucked up) and Gods hand in it (or absence as the dialogue suggested) and not enough on delving deeper and expounding on the System itself and the world in which it derived.

Understanding the mechanisms and nuances of the System and it's affect on society (especially seeing as how the System was a relatively new construct as The Event was not that long ago in history) and being more in touch with society as a whole versus just Charley and his group would have made for a far better read in my opinion. If you can get past these obvious attempts to explain the mysterious workings of God through the characters struggles, the story itself is interesting, action packed, and enjoyable. Overall I would recommend this one if you are in the market for a unique dystopian read.  

See you guys next week for an all new book review!

XOXO,

CoCo

**Check out my other book reviews here!**

Book Review: Meritorium by Joel Ohman

Dear Bookworms,

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

So book two in the Meritropolis series picks up right where book one ends. Charley, Hank, Sandy, Grigor, Orson, and the remaining citizens of Meritopia have fled beyond the decimated walls on a quest to find Meritorium where they believe they will find Orsons father, to once and for all exact revenge and level The System. Charley insists that all travelers are treated equally, high and low scores alike, as they forage and hike their way across the unknown. In a journey fraught with danger and treachery, the group is captured, split up, and sold by a slaver to the highest bidder to compete in the annual Venatio. A gladiatorial event, the Venatio is held in a large colosseum, reminiscent of the ancient Roman games. Charley and his crew must survive the tournament while coming up with a plan to take out the Czar and with him, The System itself. 

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Overall, I felt this was a strong follow up to book one, Meritropolis. It was filled with action, great animal combos, and some personal character development which was satisfying. I did have a few minor issues with some aspects of this book, which could totally be a personal preference versus through any fault of the author. While I did enjoy the inner struggle that Charley often faced with tempering his anger, the morality of killing (both man and beast), and the concept of revenge, I feel it was a little to focused on the "god" aspect of these issues. The author could have easily portrayed these struggles in way that didn't come off so "preachy". Religious books/themes in general are a turn off for me, so like I said, this may not bother you in the least. While the introduction of the Circumcellion, a crazed religious cult of sorts, was a great idea and did make for crucial plot points in the storyline, I wasn't all that satisfied in the way they were portrayed. Suicidal religious zealots? Check. I can get down with that and understand their place and how they may have sprung up in this type of society. What I didn't really like was how they were touted as rapists, murders (of innocents), and druggies. These facets just don't seem to go well together in describing the movement and it's ultimate purpose. The story could have been written just as effectively with them omitted, or perhaps a little better fleshed out as a whole. I will say the battles of the Venatio were well written and exciting to read, all the various animal combos were great additions. The ending was a slam dunk for sure! Shocking and unexpected which definitely left me eager to start the finale book in the series.  

Be sure to check back in next week to read my review of the third and finale book in this series, Meritopia! 

Until next week!

XOXO,

Coco  

** Check out my other book reviews here!**

Book Review: Meritropolis by Joel Ohman

Dear Bookworms,

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

Meritropolis is the last known refuge for the human race. After "The Event" wiped out civilization as we know it, a system was implemented to ensure the smooth running of Metropolis and it's finite resources. Every citizen is assigned a number ranking based on a variety of criteria including beauty, intelligence, physical prowess, and athleticism. Those with high scores live a more comfortable life. They live in better housing and enjoy better foods while those with lower scores live on the fringe, barely surviving.

If your score drops too low, you are exiled from Meritropolis, banished outside of the walls, left to the mercy of the wild and all the savage hybrid beasts which inhabit the land. Charley is lucky, with the second highest score in Meritropolis he is destined to have a comfortable life, but a lifelong, deep seeded hate for the System boils over and is unleashed when he witnesses a small child be sentenced to banishment. His act of defiance sets off a chain reaction that could mean the destruction of Meritropolis and the eye opening knowledge of life beyond the walls. 

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Overall this was a pretty solid read. Fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent will enjoy this book which echos some of those same undertones and themes of powerful elite, corruption, and the rebellion of the people against oppression.

The main character, Charley, faces much inner turmoil as he grasps with the morality of his difficult choices. Killing to save innocents, the value of life even if it doesn't have anything to offer you, speaking up in times of moral crisis; these are all themes and ideas that can be applicable across any generation or time period giving the reader pause to consider the implications and consequences.

 The dystopian world that Ohman creates is unique. The hybrid creatures prowling outside of the wall were quiet imaginative and honestly some of my favorite scenes from the book. As part of a trilogy, this first book really only scratches the surface of understanding this complex world, and my hope is that book two and three delve more into the world outside of Meritropolis as well as more detail about this "Event" which lead to the destruction of the free world. The characters are strong and well written, I am eager to see where Charley goes from here and to learn more about this world that Ohman has so artfully imagined. 

You can check out Joel Ohmans website here  to find out more about Metropolis! Come back next week to read my review of the second book in the series, Meritorium.

XOXO,

Coco

** Check out my other book reviews here!**

Book Review: Aaru by David Meredith

Dear Bookworm,

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

You may recall I reviewed David Meredith's first book, The Reflections of Queen Snow White, sometime last year (read that review here if you missed it!). When David reached out to me to read his newest novel, Aaru, I eagerly said yes! 

Rose Johnson is dying of terminal cancer. Her days are spent bed ridden in a hospital, totally dependent on her nurses for even the most basic of tasks due to her ill state and weakness. Rose has given up hope of a miraculous recovery and wishes to just die in peace, until a strange man, Mr. Adams of Elysian Industries, shows up with a new trial technology that he says, will save her life. At the behest of her sister, Koren, Rose reluctantly agrees to this last ditch effort. What transpires next is groundbreaking.

Rose's brain is scanned and uploaded into a computer mainframe, a digital utopia called Aaru. After her physical body dies, Rose is alive and well within Aaru, able to communicate with her family through a computer screen linking the digital afterlife with the world. In order to market the groundbreaking success of this technology, Koren is conscripted to be the official spokesperson for Elysian in promoting Aaru to the public. The sisters quickly realize that things are not quite as perfect as they had initially thought as they find themselves embroiled in a cat and mouse game with a dangerously brilliant nemesis who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. 

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Brilliant book! What most struck me about this book was it's uniqueness. As someone who reads quite a lot of books (hello, I have a book blog this should not come as a surprise to anyone) I have never read one quite like this.

The whole concept of a technologically induced life after death was fascinating while at the same time elicited an almost eerie feeling. Sure it all sounds good on paper, but the characters portrayed as residents in Aaru raised some interesting and thoughtful concerns about their existence within the virtual paradise. It was a topic that definitely had me thinking long after putting down the book.

David has a very florid type writing style that evokes strong images and feelings. It is easy to find yourself lost in his words which is always a treat to any bookworm. This book certainly had it's fair share of intensity and danger (TW sexual assault), which I feel I should mention, would not be appropriate for younger readers. Much of the last part of the book was uncomfortable for me to read as an adult and seemed almost too graphic for a book I feel seems marketed to a YA crowd? Maybe it's not marketed to that demographic, but I always feel like books with main characters in the teen ages are?

Either way, just be aware if you are sensitive to that type of material, this may not be the book for you. Overall, it was a really imaginative and interesting read, I would definitely recommend it to my high-school age and up readers. This is book one of a planned trilogy and I have to say, I am excited to see where the series takes us!

See you guys next week!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!