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!

Book Review: Broken Circle by J.L. Powers & M.A. Powers

Dear Bookworms, 

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

Adams has high hopes for life as a normal teenager but when you can see people's "shadows", can tell when someone is about to die, and have a crazy demented spirit woman haunting your dreams, life just can't be that simple. His father is less than helpful. Always away on business, most likely as a member of the mofia, or something? After his dreams start to become a little too real, Adam is whisked away to a boarding school....for soul guides. Playing catch up is hard, and something stalks Adam in his dreams. When you are warned everyone is out to kill you, who can you trust?

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Overall this was a very entertaining read. Adam was a likable character. I couldn't help but see a lot of myself in him; sarcastic, riddled with self doubt, loyal. He was relatable and interesting and kept me rooting for him from page one. 

Being whisked away to soul guide school with different warring houses was very Harry Potter-ish but the writing tone, and plot line were unique and held it's own. More grit and grim than magic and whimsy for sure.

There were some revelations that were not really very big shockers for me, perhaps they weren't meant to be. This book is one of a planned series and I will say my interest is piqued- I will have to keep up with the series to see what happens next. Although confusing at first, I did enjoy how the book alternated from current events from Adam's perspective, to a council meeting of some sort with the ruling body of soul guides, telling a story of a forbidden love between two warring clans (think Romeo and Juliet). This gave the reader a little insight into Adam's parents backstory which helped explain current events and plot points, and which I felt was a great way to dole out information in way that made it feel natural to the progression of the plot. I am going to go ahead and recommend you all snag a copy of this book when it releases today, October 3rd! 

See you guys next week!!

XOXO, 

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser

Dear Bookworms,

Wow. Wow. Wow. Holy geez. And wow. 

This weeks book has to be one of my favorite reads in recent memory. In part because it involves a girl who is able to jump inside of books and hang out. Yes, pretty much every bookworms dream come true right? But also for the beautiful way in which Glaser is able to deliver. 

Seventeen year old Amy Lennox lives in Germany with her young mother Alexis. She has never known her father or extended family, only that her mother left young, when she was pregnant with Amy, and has refused to return ever since. When her mother experiences a particularly hard breakup, and Amy battles her own issues with peers in school, the two drop everything to take off to Alexis' childhood home on the island of Stormsay in Scotland. Shortly after arriving at Stormsay, Amy finds out she is from an ancient line of book jumpers. One of two clans tasked with protecting the world of literature by ensuring all stories remain intact, doing so, by actually entering the story itself. But something is happening within the stories, ideas are being stolen from the books, irreparably damaging the plot and thus the stories themselves. With the help of Will, fellow book jumper from the McAlister clan, Amy must find out who is stealing from the stories, and why, before countless classics are damaged forever. 

I'm sure anyone can see why I was drawn to this book from just reading the blurb online. I had it on my Amazon wishlist and my kids picked it out to gift me for Mothers Day this year. I was immediately sucked into Amy's book jumping world with pure fascination and if I'm being honest, a smidgen of jealousy. To actually be able to enter my favorite book world and talk to beloved characters, well I can't imagine a much better dream come true. Glaser writes such a uniquely magical story that any book lover will fall in love with. The island of Stormsay itself is a lovely backdrop to the story. Secluded, with beautiful marshes and centuries old castles, it was breathtaking. The book had a nice flow that was paced well with plenty of intrigue and action. The budding relationship between Amy and Will made my heart pitter-patter in only that way that a good YA romance can do. There were some things I figured out myself along the way, and many others that I did not see coming. The ending was much different than I had anticipated but was perfect in a way you'll understand once you read it. This book will certainly hold a little piece of my heart and will be one that I will most definitely revisit again. 

Until next week friends, I'll just be over here dreaming about book jumping...*le sigh*

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

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Book Review: Destiny by India R. Adams

Dear Bookworms,

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

You guys may recall the review I did for Serenity a few months back (read it here)? I know it wasn't the most glowing review, but the story had good bones so I went ahead with the second in the series, Destiny. 

Serenity and Dereck are married, navigating life at the University of Texas where Dereck is a beloved football star and Serenity is often heckled and scorned for her misunderstood past. After a video of Dereck singing at the Destiny concert goes viral, he is suddenly launched into stardom with a record deal, music video, and summer tour with Destiny. On the road, Serenity and Destiny's relationship deepens, and new protectors are added to the unusual group of people in Serenity's life. As they try to understand their unique relationship to each other as well as their unique abilities, a darkness threatens the group. Seeming to grow more powerful and dangerous as the groups relationships and devotions solidify, not everyone will make it out unscathed. 

I am glad that I stuck with this book and listened to my gut that this story had great potential as I really enjoyed the second installment to this series. Perhaps it was the fact that I was going into it with the knowledge that this group was different and that there seemed to be a greater force at work within their lives and relationships? I think the flashback scenes to previous lives were interesting and reinforced the idea that this group of people are meant to be together and have purpose. I would even venture to say I would love to see more and longer flashbacks that drew into the current plot line and struggles the group is currently facing. Speaking of the plot line, it definitely came together more in this second book with a much deeper understanding of how everyone really fits together, why they are they way they are if you will. The addition of all the new characters (there were a lot) seemed to fit together with the core group nicely. The new characters were all well written with fleshed out personalities (Zane was kind of my favorite, seconded by Tank). The sense of familial love palpitates from the pages and without giving away any spoilers, the scene with a main character facing mortal danger was honestly so tense and heartbreaking my eyes were flying across the pages to see what happened. Overall a good read and I am excited to see where Serenity's story takes us next! 

Check out my other reviews for Indias reads, The Wolf and Me here and Rain here

See you guys next week!

XOXO,

Coco

**Find all of my book reviews here!**

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Book Review: You Are Here by Jenny Lawson

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read is a tad unconventional but bear with me, it's worth it. I promise. 

Back in March, Mia took me to the book signing for You Are Here in Raleigh, NC. We were awkward and cringy (stop telling me "cringy" isn't a word autocorrect!) but meeting Jenny was definitely a blast.

See that story here: RELATED: THE BLOGGESS BOOK SIGNING

You Are Here is not your traditional book. It's a hybrid coloring book, short stories, funny quips, and inspirational musings. While on tour for her book, Furiously Happy, Jenny would often find herself stuck in hotel rooms, paralyzed with anxiety. Needing something to occupy her time (and hands) she took to doodling as she often would growing up. She would share her drawings on Twitter and her followers (myself included) devoured them (figuratively of course). This book is a collection of those drawings and others, meant to be colored, torn out and hung up, or left as is. As she states in the beginning, we are co-creators of this book, free license to do as we please! 

As per her usual style, this book is rife with dark humor surrounding tough subjects, namely mental illness. Jenny has a unique, off the cuff way of writing so many different complex emotions, simultaneously making you cry, making you chuckle, or simply just inspiring. It's  a unique emotional roller coaster of a read. But a good one. Not one of those ones you feel all stiff and wobbly and a little vomit-y after.  

I, myself, have yet to color in any of the pages, every time I try I am paralyzed with fear that I will "mess it up". (Also the inner bookworm at me screams every time I even think about bringing a coloring pencil to the books pages) One day perhaps....

For now I will leave you with a few of my favorite lines from the book, be well friends.

"I am made up of stitched-together parts and worn-out pieces and small, bright things and memories that bring happiness and sadness, and tiny patches that I picked up along the way and forgot where they came from. I am made of rips and tears and gentle stitching from myself and loved ones and strangers. I am a patchwork quilt. Comforting and surprisingly warm."

"Weird on, you bad-ass motherfucker."

Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Dear Bookworms,

I'm back with another Gaiman masterpiece! I have gone so off course with my reading challenge the past few reads, this one didn't fit into any of the categories, but it's Neil Gaiman! I couldn't help myself. 

Nobody Owens, or Bod as he is known around the graveyard, is an usual boy. Granted the Freedom of the Graveyard as a toddler when his family was brutally murdered and he toddled into the graveyard, he lives in a world of shadows. Living in the graveyard, his playmates are ghosts, his lessons consist of learning how to "fade" and why not to trust a ghoul. Silas, his undead guardian, has assumed responsibility for Bod, ensuring he is fed and clothed, procuring things from the outside world that a growing child might need. Bod is never to leave the graveyard as the man, Jack, who murdered his family still hunts for him to finish the job he was tasked with completing, killing him. As Bod grows up into a young teen, he eventually must face the man Jack, but will he come away unscathed?

This book was quirky and dark, full of rich and vibrant characters, which is kind of odd considering mostly all the characters are dead, or undead, or somewhere in between. (Also why does auto correct keep trying to change "undead" to "unread"? Apparently auto correct  hasn't read much fantasy/fiction *sigh*)  Bods adventures growing up in the graveyard were magical and fun to read, and his strength and fortitude were something I admired in a character. My personal favorite was his foray into ghoul world. (Note to self, never foray into ghoul world!) This is a book you could read solo as an adult, or read with your kids (though it's never childish) and enjoy it just the same. As an added bonus, the reading was punctuated by some pretty stellar illustrations by Dave McKean that really brought the book even more to life. 

Any other Gaiman fans out there? What else should I read of his?

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

CoCo

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon

Dear Bookworms,

This weeks read was provided to me for free courtesy of Library Thing and their early reviewer program, in exchange for an honest review. 

I was really excited when I received this beauty in the mailbox as a) it seemed like a really good read based on the blurb I had read online and b) I was immediately in love with the stunning cover art (I know, I know...always with the cover art right? I can't help it- I'm a sucker for a good cover!)

Hel is just your average 14 year old goddess, banished from her new place in Asgard in order to become the ruler of the Underworld. Daughter of a god and a giantess, with a wolf and a snake for brothers, Hel has not known much in the way of love and affection. Made more embittered and ravenous for revenge after her banishment, Hel bides her time in the underworld waiting for the end of times. 

Told in the first person, this YA novel was a seriously fun read! Hel is witty and crass, sarcastic and cranky.... in other words, she's my kind of people. Her life as a goddess had many interesting parallels to real life as a teenager; parents who don't understand you, siblings who drive you nuts, peers who reject you, poor self esteem and self image, we've all been there right? The book follows Hel from her birth (like literally the moment she was born- she remembers it all) until, well, the end of times. I enjoyed all the myth and mythology that was central to the plot line and characters, and felt having the main character be an unlikely goddess, one perhaps not so revered and idolized in culture, was brilliant. Like I mentioned, this is a YA novel, but my 32 year old self found plenty of enjoyment in it so all you adults out there, don't write it off!

Thanks for stopping by this week my bookish friends, come back next week!

XOXO,

Coco  

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan

Dear Bookworms,

You may remember a few months back when I reviewed, What She Knew, by Gilly MacMillan (read here if not), and I absolutely fell in love with her writing style and storytelling, which of course meant I had to purchase her other novel, The Perfect Girl.

Zoe is a 17 year old musical prodigy with a genius IQ to boot. Attempting to settle into her "new normal" life with her mom and newly acquired stepfather, stepbrother, and half sister she is finally starting to feel like she is putting her life back together. After a devastating accident left 3 of her schoolmates dead, landing Zoe in juvenile detention for 18 months it's been difficult to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. An elaborately planned evening piano concert was supposed to be her reemergence back into her former glory days of playing, but before sunrise the next day, Zoe's mother is dead and she finds herself falling down the rabbit hole as she examines her new family under more scrutiny and tries to understand just what happened to her mother. 

Given that the span of this book was over the course of roughly 24 hours and at over 400 pages long, it was incredibly rich in detail. Alternating perspectives between Zoe, Tessa (her aunt), Richard (her uncle), and Sam (her former lawyer) kept the story fresh. It was interesting to see events unfold through so many different lenses and mindsets. The story contained flashbacks and recollections of the horrible accident which sent Zoe to a correctional facility which ultimately played a large part in her feelings and thought processes when faced with a new crime/investigative procedures. It made it all the more threatening for Zoe which ramped up the paranoia and tenseness. The ending was not as much of a shocker for me compared to her previous novel but it was one that I was hoping for which left me satisfied. Overall it was a great read, a perfect thriller to get sucked into!

See ya next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco 

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: The Siren by Kiera Cass

Dear Bookworms,

Waiting for my heart to stop pitter-pattering over here so I can write this review, but I fear that may take awhile so I'll just jump right in. 

Kahlen was given a second life by the Ocean 80 years ago. Saved from a shipwreck, she is in service for 100 years to the Ocean as one of her Sirens. Made to sing thousands to their death each year to sustain and feed the Ocean, Kahlen has resigned her time on her sentence to taking care of her sisters, completing her scrap books with all the people who have perished under her song, and most importantly, keeping to herself in the human world so as never to disclose her secret. Forbidden from speaking to humans lest their secret be reveled, many Sirens have had flings but none have ever had a relationship with a human, until now. Kahlen finds herself drawn to the human boy Akinli in a way she never thought possible. Torn between her growing affection for Akinli and her duties as a Siren, Kahlen finds herself in an impossible position, one which may have deadly consequences. 

I was absolutely sucked into this story from page one. The ocean is always something that has seemed so wonderful and majestic while at the same time dark and dangerous and this book really captured that essence for me. Watching Kahlen and Akinli fall for each other in their brief snippets of time together was heart warming and endearing. Akinli stole my heart from the beginning with his mild mannered sweetness and playful disposition. Their separation and Kahlens subsequent heartbreak and torn loyalties was gut wrenching.  My only complaint about the book as a whole was the Ocean as a character was very reminiscent of an abusive significant other at times and I sometimes had a hard time really feeling sorry for Her, even in the end. The possessive and fierce love She had for Kahlen was at times overpowering and frightening. Overall, this story was so well written, eloquently capturing the deadly beauty of the ocean and the powerful force of love. 

I will definitely be snagging a copy of Kiera Cass' Selection series as she has found a fan with The Siren!

See you guys next Tuesday!

XOXO,

Coco

READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Dear Bookworms,

So I picked this weeks read to fulfill one of my 2017 reading challenge items, "Read a book recommended by an author you love". Jenny Lawson (Let's Pretend this Never Happened, Furiously Happy, You are Here) is a big Neil Gaiman fan and always recommends his books. I read his novel American Gods a few years back, which I enjoyed, and while perusing his other works, was immediately drawn to this one, once again sucked in by another beautiful cover. (My kryptonite!)

Coming back to his childhood home in order to attend a funeral, a middle aged man reminisces about his time as a young child and the strange girl, Lettie Hempstock who lived at the end of the road. Memories of great and terrible things resurface, things he had long ago forgotten. He once again recalls those monstrous and frightful events and what truly happened to little Lettie Hempstock. 

I am SO. GLAD. I took Jennys advice and cracked open another Neil Gaiman book. This man is a master storyteller. His writing is intoxicating, addicting, and mysterious. His story and world building feels ethereal and otherworldly but simultaneously real and present. This novel brings you back to the days of youth, when magic is commonplace and monsters are real. It's a world long lost by adults but present nonetheless. Do yourselves a favor and add this one to your TBR list, like right now. 

See y'all next week people!

XOXO,

Coco

***READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!***

Book Review: Letters from the Looney Bin by Thatcher C. Nalley

Dear Bookworms,

I chose this weeks read to fulfill a category on my 2017 Reading Challenge, a book of letters. So while pursuing Amazon for something to fit this category I came across this read, Letters from the Looney Bin. Being that I work in mental health, the synopsis sounded interesting so one click, 2 day shipping, and I was in business!

Although made to look like a work of non-fiction, it is, in fact fiction. No one ever found out what happened to Emerson Rose mental institution. It's patients, doctors, and staff mysteriously disappear with no clues as to what happened or where everyone went. Years later, as the property was set to undergo demolition, a cache of letters was found hidden within a mattress. The letters were all addressed to a Dr. Quill and were written by patients in the months leading up to the mysterious disappearances. Detailing their torrid pasts as well as the heinous conditions of the institution, they provide a brief glimpse into the events leading up to the disappearances. 

Let me just go ahead and rip the band aid off quickly, this was not a great read. While the concept and idea were really interesting and had so much potential, the writing quality was poor and the book was FILLED with typos. They were so distracting as I was reading I just really couldn't get past them. There was really no resolution at the end of the book, the letters just....ended....The patients back stories and descriptions were interesting, and with a little fine tuning in the writing department, I think they could have been even better. It had a sort of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest mixed with a little American Horror Story Asylum feel. I assume this is one of a series and I would give the second one a go since I did like the idea of this book, in the hopes that the writing improves and someone actually edits the book for typos. 

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

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Book Review: The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

Dear Bookworms,

This week was a twisty psychological thriller full of dark secrets and shady characters.

Clare Wild and her two girls, Pip and Grace, move into a small rental flat in London after a devastating fire and an estrangement from her husband left them homeless. The apartment buildings form a ring to enclose a beautiful private communal garden place for the residents. Full of roaming teens, talkative neighbors, hidden nooks and crannies, and more than it's fair share of secrets, the garden is the backdrop to a mysterious crime which leaves Grace unconscious, in a coma.

I guess I have another thriller writer to add to my ever growing list of authors who have wowed/stumped/blown me away. Jewell has so many complex and interesting characters, each with their own secrets and agendas, that it's hard not to suspect everyone of some nefarious wrong doings in the book. Starting off the book with a bang, the opening chapter is Grace being found unconscious in the park by her sister Pip. The rest of the book (except the very end) take us back, months prior, to when the Wild's first move into the flat. Working through the devastating house fire and estrangement from their father, the young girls navigate life in the new terrain of the communal garden forming new ties, and making new enemies. I found myself suspicious of everyone in this book, certain with each new piece of information, that I had sleuthed out the person behind Grace's attack. If there was one thing I learned from this book, it's that you can never really know someone, not if they don't want you to and especially if you don't care to look. The lengths to which some people go to cover up or ignore those in our lives who we suspect of wrong doings was disturbing and certainly can make one uneasy. Overall, it was an insanely addictive page turner with an quietly explosive ending that left me more than a little terrified of what people are capable of, both in committing, participating in, and turning a blind eye to chilling crimes. 

What are some of your favorite page turning thrillers?

See you all next week!

XOXO,

Coco

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Book Review: Freeks by Amanda Hocking

Dear Bookworms,

Hello again! So a few things about this weeks read. First of all, I absolutely fell in love with this book when I saw the cover, isn't it gorgeous?! We all know I am a sucker for a beautiful cover, and this one is a looker folks. Secondly, I have been a huge fan of Amanda Hocking ever since I devoured her Trylle series (sidenote: please read those books if you haven't!) It should come as no surprise that when I heard she was publishing a stand alone book I had to scoop it up. 

Mara, 19, travels the country with her mother as a part of Gideon Davorians Traveling Carnival. Filled with friends who have turned into family, most everyone involved in the carnival is special, or possess a unique ability. The show has been summoned to Caudry, Louisiana in what was promised to be a 10 day stint with a pretty hefty payout upon completion. Caudry proves to be a place harboring its own secrets. Everyone's abilities seem to go on the fritz since entering this small town and something is stalking the carnival at night; something dangerous and deadly. Mara is also inexplicably drawn to a local, Gabe, who harbors his own secrets. Something about him screams at Maras insides that he's dangerous. Can Mara and her carnival family figure out who (or what) is picking them off one by one, and more importantly, can they stop it?

I came into this book with high hopes being that I was already an Amanda Hocking fan, and surprise surprise, I was not disappointed. I know I have an unhealthy obsession with literary characters (I make no apologies), but dang it if I didn't just add another literary love to my life. Gabe is a dreamboat people! There I said it.....His and Mara's strong pull and chemistry with one another just left this chick weak in the knees. This mysterious love unfolding to the backdrop of an increasingly dangerous and dark plot and conflict made it extra heady. I couldn't get enough of all the carnival "freaks" and to be honest, I fantasized more than once about running away with the circus while reading this book. (Besides the whole supernatural entity stalking and attacking them, it seemed like such an exciting nomadic way of life.) And about that....there were quite a few surprises throughout this read, some I had figured out, others I had not. The ending was exactly what I had hoped for (thank you Amanda!). Even though it was written as a standalone novel, this is definitely a literary world I would love to read more of!

Check out Amanda Hockings website here for more info on all her published works.

You can pick up a copy of Freeks here on Amazon.

See y'all next week!

XOXO,

Coco 

Book Review: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Dear Bookworms,

So, I chose this weeks read because I recently saw a trailer for the new Hulu original based on this novel and I was immediately intrigued by the premise. Written roughly 30 years ago, it's not a newbie by any means, but as I came to conclude after finishing, definitely worth a read! 

In a dystopian future, women fulfill certain, predefined roles within society, namely to bear children. Healthy, live, full term births are very rare and those women who are fertile are just as rare themselves. Women are forbidden to read and write, and live strictly to serve (in some capacity) at the mercy of their men. Men in high ranking positions whose wives are infertile are gifted with a Handmaid, a woman whose sole job is to bear a child for this distinguished couple, then to be moved on to another family to hopefully do it once more. Offred has been transferred to be the new handmaiden of a Captain, replacing one who was unable to bear him a child. She reflects on her life before, when she was happily married, employed at a job she loved, and raising a young daughter, while simultaneously contemplating this new world and her role within it.  

This novel was so chilling. Just to imagine our society slowly crumbling and morphing into something so unrecognizable from our current lives was enough to give me serious pause. The careful and systematic stripping of rights until it was to late for anyone to do anything was something I found eerie and honestly (terrifyingly) very believable. Written in a somewhat disjointed style, paragraphs often skip from various stages in Offreds life (childhood, college, marriage) back to present day under this new rule,  I was easily engrossed. The story was very finely crafted and written, and really painted a bleak picture of society as a whole. I will definitely be tuning in to the Hulu original to see this enthralling novel brought to life on the small screen. (Release date April 26, 2017)

Who else out there has read this book and what did you think, especially with the way it ended?

Catch y'all next week!

XOXO, 

CoCo

**READ MORE BOOK REVIEWS HERE!**

Book Review: A Curse of Stone and Moonlight by Ashley Maker

Dear Bookworms,

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

I was pretty excited to read this one since I really enjoyed Ashley Maker's first novel, Under the Trees (find that review here). Once again she writes a winner!

Cursed to live life as a marble statue in the evil sorcerers Wilmonts collection, Adele is only able to be turned human by either an incantation done by Wilmont or when a moon beam touches her skin. Awake and able to see, hear, and feel what goes on around her, Adele spends years as his beautiful captive. Her quest for freedom and her promise to her mother right before she was struck by the curse keeps Adele strong throughout her captivity, always looking for a means of possible escape. Can Adele keep her long ago made promise to her mother, and escape the evil Wilmonts ghastly collection? And what about all the other sculptures scattered around the room in which she is held? Are they too victims of the evil Wilmont?

Look at that cover art people! So striking! 

Look at that cover art people! So striking! 

My only qualm with this book (novella? short story?) is that is was way too short! When I received the copy I didn't realize that is was more of a short story versus a full length novel and I was left seriously wanting more (which is not necessarily a bad thing per se...as long as we get more to the story soon!). I was totally engrossed in the story line and was amazed when I zipped through it in 20 minutes. The concept for the story was definitely unique and I am sure I will find myself looking twice the next time I peruse an art gallery. I would absolutely love to see this as a full length novel, or at the very least, more short stories within this world!

This short story will release on April 18th, hop over to Amazon to snag a copy here.  

See y'all next week!

XOXO, 

Coco

**READ MORE BOOK REVIEWS HERE!**

Book Review: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Dear Bookworms, 

So many feels this week, be still my heart!

Let me first give you all a little backstory. Growing up a child of the 80's, The Princess Bride has always been, hands down, my most favorite movie of all time. I can quote the entire movie line by line (and to the annoyance of those who watch the movie with me, I do so...frequently). Westley was one of my first ever fictional crushes (a close second was Macgyver....80's kid remember?). My most shinning parenting win was when my then five year was told to brush his teeth and he promptly head into the bathroom proclaiming, "Asssssss yooooooou wiiiiiiiish". 

Now for an embarrassing truth.

I had absolutely no idea that this was originally a book (insert gasp here). 

The self proclaimed booknerd who devours everything she can get her hands on HAD NO CLUE HER FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME WAS A BOOK?! It's shameful I know. 

This year for Christmas, my husband gifted me with a copy of the 30th edition. 

"It's a book?!" I gasped clutching my new treasure to my chest

"It is" he replied with a grin (he knew he won Christmas this year for sure).

So here I am, learning all sorts of new things about one of my most cherished childhood stories. 

For those of you who have been living under a rock in recent history (or like me who only knew of the movie version). The Princess Bride written by William Goldman and published in 1973, later still to be written into a screen play, giving us the 1982 classic of my childhood. 

Gah! Look at that beautiful cover...I swoon!

Gah! Look at that beautiful cover...I swoon!

Buttercup is a beautiful farm girl who falls in love with the quiet farm hand Westley who leaves said farm to strike out on his own in search of riches in order to return home again and marry his beloved, not as a poor farm boy, but as a made man. Thought dead at the hands of pirates, a broken hearted Buttercup acquiesces to a marriage with Prince Humperdinck (booooo) but not long before the wedding is kidnapped by a clever Sicilian, a Master Spaniard swordsman, and a fiercely strong giant. Trailed by a mask man in all black, the gang of three kidnappers is slowly bested by the man in black who ultimately reveals his true identity to Buttercup. True love, adventure, loss, magic and revenge weave a tale that is truly unforgettable.

For fans of the movie who have not read the book, please....do it now. It was so exciting to read my favorite one liners from the movie in novel form. "My name in Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die." Perhaps even better than that, was reading all the new (to me) passages from the book which were not represented in the movie. Reading snippets of back story on Fezzik and Inigo, the Zoo of Death,  and the torture of Westley at the hands of the Count. And can we talk about the illustrations for a second? This edition was illustrated, beautifully so, by Michael Manomivibul. They added just another layer of perfect whimsy to an already perfect story. 

But wait! There's more!

THE STORY DOESN'T END THERE

There is a sequel in the works entitled, Buttercups Baby, with Goldman joking it may be ready by the 50th anniversary of The Princes Bride (sorry dude, I can't wait that long!). While initially hesitant about treading into new territory with my favorite characters, after reading the excerpt at the end of the 30th edition, I have to say..... I am foaming at the mouth to finish it. (As long as no one dies, my soul couldn't take such torture!) 

So I will leave you with this bookworms. I apologize for such a nostalgic review this week but I feel like a kid again, my favorite characters are alive and well in a novel with the promise (hope?) of more to come in the future. If you are a fan of the movie and haven't read the book- do it. If you have never heard of either, read the book and watch the movie. You can come back to thank me later. 

Until next week friends!

XOXO,

Coco

**READ MY OTHER BOOK REVIEWS HERE!**