Review | City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

cotl

Format: Ebook  264pgs (6 novelas/44 pages approx. ea)
Published: June 30, July 7, July 14, July 21, July 28 and Aug 4, 2015.
Genre: Horror/Mystery
Age Range: 17+
Rating: 4/5

Summary: Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. Since then she’s become a talented police detective, tethered only to her job, her best friend, Diana, and the occasional evening with her sexy, no-strings-attached ex-con lover, Kurt. But then Diana’s abusive ex finds her again, despite all Casey has done to help her disappear. And Casey’s own dark past begins to catch up with her. The two women need to run—and Diana’s heard of a place where they won’t be found, a town especially for people like them….


 

So as we all well know, I’m a big Kelley Armstrong fan. To my utmost surprise, she announced that she was publishing a novela that would be divided into 6-parts, and each part posted weekly – For, you guessed it, 6 weeks. Because I own everything of hers under the sun (and then some), I pre-ordered each booklet, and waited patiently for them to arrive.

While it took me till about week 4 to finally sit myself down and begin reading them, I’m kind of glad that I did. Each book finished off with an epic cliffhanger that forced you to wait an agonizing seven days before you would know what happened next.

The first book sets the background for the story. Casey is a police detective whose had a bit of a tough life. When she was younger, she and her boyfriend were attacked, and it left Casey in a state where she had to take time away from her life and school in order to recover. Building the story forward, Armstrong forces Casey’s demons to resurface through therapy sessions, and ultimately, someone who is sent to kill her – As a reminder that she cannot escape her past. While this is occurring, her best friend Diana is also going through her own emotional turmoil, and mentions a special city where you can go, to be lost, and separated from society.

Without giving too much away, I highly recommend this series. It’s got a bit of everything for everyone. Mystery, police procedural, horror and humour. Armstrong has outdone herself with the flow of her writing in these 6 novelas.  If you’re looking for something a little different, but incredibly enjoyable, I’d suggest you check this one out.

Author’s Note: This book is ONLY available in e-book format at this time.

 

Review | Scorched by Jennifer Armentrout

scorched

Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Published: June 16th 2015
Genre: Contemporary/Romance, New Adult
ISBN:9781633920156
Age Range: 18+
Rating: 2.5/5

Do you ever read a book and find yourself connecting to characters? I do, and more frequently than not, I get overly attached to them as well. Sometimes I think I’m the ‘overly attached reader’ (Like the overly attached girlfriend meme) and I find myself wanting to know everything about these characters. It usually ends with me blasting through a book to find out what happens to them – Which, I later regret if the book was really good.

But sometimes? I have the biggest problem connecting to them.

I started, and finished Scorched by Jennifer Armentrout last night. As I’ve posted before, Jen is one of my favourite authors. I can pick up one of her books and instantly fall straight into it, without any issues. I was particularly looking forward to reading Scorched for a few reasons. One, it was the sequel to Frigid (Which came out in 2014, and was her first New Adult novel I read); Two, it’s a Jen NA novel, so you know there’s gonna be some hot scenes; and Three, the main character (Andrea) has a lot of issues – Particularly, drinking and mental illness.

Without going too much into my life (and Andrea’s story), I connected to her and her problems, because these were my problems. When I was in University, I did everything that she did (Sans one particular thing towards the end of the book). I partied too hard; drank too much; had (what are now considered to be) violent mood swings; The list of similarities between Andrea’s life and mine is almost the exact same – it’s kinda scary.

Even knowing all that, I still didn’t connect the way I thought I would, and I think partially that has to do with the fact that Andrea’s problems, were almost a second storyline to her romance with Tanner. Yes, romance and new adult books talk about romance and whatnot. But I’ve seen it done where there can be a perfect balance of romance and intricate plotlines that draw you in. Sadly, this wasn’t one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge fan of Jen’s work… But I don’t know if I’m going to be as excited for her next releases. Scorched just felt like a bit of a disappointment, after so much build up.

Early Release | The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

I get far too excited for books, like it actually terrifies some people how excited and animated I can get when I’m very passionate about things.

giphy

readthebook

One thing that will ensure my excitement? A much anticipated book being released early! It doesn’t happen very often, and sometimes it’s only certain stores that will have it out prior to it’s scheduled release day, but it gives me joy to realize I can get started on it sooner than originally planned.

Last summer, Erika Johansen published the widely popular ‘The Queen of the Tearling’. Prior to its release, it had already received such massive acclaim, and had even been picked up by actress Emma Watson, to become a movie – which she is also set to star in, as the lead Queen Kelsea Glynn. Due to so much press prior to its release, many stores had very little copies for a short period, before it exploded into stores, and could not be kept on the shelf.

Part of the acclaim attached to the story, was that there were rumours circling saying that this new fantasy book, was a perfect cross between ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘A Game of Thrones’. Widely popular titles in their own genres of YA and Fantasy, this book seemed like a perfect title to bridge the gap for those who may not have entered into either area before.

It’s been a very long year to wait for the sequel to this epic, but I have to admit, I’m extremely excited to start reading it!

invasion

Author’s note: In an attempt to try and get my ‘TBR’ list under control, I’ve technically had this book since Thursday evening, but I was already half-way through a novel, so I chose to sideline ‘The Invasion of the Tearling’ until I was finished the previous book.

Book Announcement | All Closed Off by Cora Carmack

Stella Santos is fine.

Maybe something terrible happened to her that she can’t even remember. And maybe it drives her crazy when her friends treat her like she’s on the verge of breaking because of it. Maybe it feels even worse when they do what she asks and pretend that it never happened at all. And maybe she’s been getting harassing emails and messages for months from people who don’t even know her, but hate her all the same.

But none of that matters because she’s just fine.

For Ryan Blake, Stella was always that girl. Vibrant and hilarious and beautiful. He wanted her as his best friend. His more than friends. His everything and anything that she would give him. Which these days is a whole lot of nothing. She gets angry when he’s there. Angry when he’s not there. Angry when he tries to talk and when he doesn’t.

When Stella devises an unconventional art project for one of her classes all about exploring intimacy—between both friends and strangers—Ryan finds himself stepping in as guinea pig after one of her subjects bails. What was supposed to be an objective and artistic look at emotion and secrets and sex suddenly becomes much more personal. When he hits it off with another girl from the project, Stella will have to decide if she’s willing to do more than make art about intimacy. To keep him, she’ll have to open up and let herself be the one thing she swore she’d never be again.

Vulnerable.


To say that I’m excited that the Rusk University series is continuing, is an understatement. But what I’m most thrilled about, is the fact that this story will focus on Stella and Ryan’s budding relationship, after the traumatic event that nearly ruined her life. At the end of All Broke Down, Dylan and Silas discover that Stella has been sexually assaulted by someone on the football team. I don’t want to give away too much more, but here’s a snippet of Cora Carmack’s thoughts on the forthcoming novel.

“While I was writing All Broke Down, the news was inundated with information about the Steubenville rape trial and other tragedies and injustices like it. Tragedies where women have been violated first by an attacker, then by judgmental and hateful people, and finally by a justice system that repeatedly fails survivors of sexual assault. Having grown up in Texas, where too often football stars are treated like gods and can get away with just about anything, it hit particularly close to home. And since All Broke Down featured a passionate activist heroine, I felt compelled to reference this chronic dark underbelly of elite sports… So I let go of all the plans I had for her, and allowed her to tell me her story, which is about more than just sexual assault. It’s about the aftermath. Depression. Shame. Guilt. Anger. Injustice. Victim-blaming. Slut-shaming. It’s about the way that kind of event can change everything– how you relate to people, how you think, how you dream, how you love. It’s about the way the rest of the world moves on to the next big tragedy, and you’re still left holding the broken pieces of who you used to be, with no idea how to put them together again or even if you want to. It will be the most difficult story I ever tell. And the most important. Because it’s a story that belongs not just to Stella, but to millions of people around the world. It’s a story that belongs to a new person every 107 seconds*. And that’s just in the United States. Think about that for a moment. 107 seconds. Stella’s story won’t be any easier to read than it will be to write. But I hope you’ll help me drag this story into the light.”

*Statistic from RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network)

Look for it to be published independently sometime in 2016. Cora has also included in her email that she is using this book as an outlet for her readers who’ve had similar experiences to Stella’s. There is additional information that I can provide to you, if you’re comfortable sharing your story or having it mentioned in the book. The forms can be anonymous or not – That is the readers choice. You can also use the hashtag #WhenItHappened on social media, to add your voice.

Taste of Tuesday | Fall With Me (Wait For You #4) by Jennifer Armentrout

fall with me

Eleven months ago, bartender and weird-shirt-wearing extraordinaire Roxy and Officer Reece Anders had a one night stand. Well, kind of. She’s been in love with him since she was fifteen, and he wishes that night they shared never happened. She’s sworn him off forever, but the past and future collide, forcing her to rely on the one man who broke her heart not once, but twice.

Her best friend since birth has been in a long-term care facility since he became a victim of a hate crime years ago, and the person who put him in there is out of prison and wanting to make amends with him and Roxy. She’s not sure she has room for forgiveness in her and when she begins to receive frightening messages and is on the receiving end of escalating violence, she thinks she knows who is to blame. The man who already destroyed one life already.

But Reece isn’t convinced. The threats are too personal, and even if Roxy doesn’t believe him, he’s not willing to let anyone hurt her. Including himself. He’s already messed up more than once when it comes to Roxy and he’s not going to let history repeat itself.


Fall With Me is the 4th book in Armentrout’s ‘adult romance’ series – Wait For You. Each book can ideally be read as a stand alone, but there are characters that appear throughout the series, whose stories you might be missing out on. This particular story focuses on Roxy and Reece. Roxy first appeared in Stay With Me as a supporting character and friend of Calla’s. Roxy is a bit on the eccentric side with her personality and mannerisms, but ultimately plays a very close friend to Calla in her time of need.

Reece made brief appearance in the previous novel as well, and conversations between Roxy and Calla hinted that this book would most likely focus on Roxy’s history and future with Reece. From the synopsis of this book, it sounds like it may take a darker look at the relationships between Armentrout’s characters. Each of her previous books in this series, have had dark themes, but with Reece being a police officer, I think this one may have a slightly darker approach compared to previous ones.

This book is for an audience of 18+

 

Review | The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Kite_runner
Format: Trade Paperback, 400 Pages
Published: May 11, 2004
Genre: Fiction (General)
ISBN: 9780385660075
Age Range: 16+
Rating: 5/5


“I sat on a bench near a willow tree and watched a pair of kites soaring in the sky. I thought about something Rahim Khan said just before he hung up, almost as an afterthought, ‘There is a way to be good again.’”

Now in paperback, one of the year’s international literary sensations — a shattering story of betrayal and redemption set in war-torn Afghanistan.

Amir and Hassan are childhood friends in the alleys and orchards of Kabul in the sunny days before the invasion of the Soviet army and Afghanistan’s decent into fanaticism. Both motherless, they grow up as close as brothers, but their fates, they know, are to be different. Amir’s father is a wealthy merchant; Hassan’s father is his manservant. Amir belongs to the ruling caste of Pashtuns, Hassan to the despised Hazaras.

This fragile idyll is broken by the mounting ethnic, religious, and political tensions that begin to tear Afghanistan apart. An unspeakable assault on Hassan by a gang of local boys tears the friends apart; Amir has witnessed his friend’s torment, but is too afraid to intercede. Plunged into self-loathing, Amir conspires to have Hassan and his father turned out of the household.

When the Soviets invade Afghanistan, Amir and his father flee to San Francisco, leaving Hassan and his father to a pitiless fate. Only years later will Amir have an opportunity to redeem himself by returning to Afghanistan to begin to repay the debt long owed to the man who should have been his brother.

Compelling, heartrending, and etched with details of a history never before told in fiction, The Kite Runner is a story of the ways in which we’re damned by our moral failures, and of the extravagant cost of redemption.


A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a BuzzFeed article called ’26 Contemporary Books That Should Be Taught in High School’. I was intrigued to see what books I’d read, had made the list (if any) from when I was in high school. Shockingly, none of them were ever taught when I was growing up. Sure, I’d read Harry Potter & The Hunger Games, but never in school. As I read the accounts of each BuzzFeed contributor, I was particularly moved by the reviews for The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood), and The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) – So much so, that I went directly to my Kobo and purchased them.

I was not disappointed. I burned through The Kite Runner in under 2 days, and I could not get enough. The backdrop of the story is Afghanistan in the late 60s and 70s, and showcases the beautiful friendship of Amir and Hassan as they grow up together. Amir is a boy (and eventual man) of privileged birth – His father is a wealthy man who built an orphanage and helped his community. Hassan is not nearly as lucky as his friend. Like his father (Ali) before him, Hassan does not know how to read or write, and his life is dedicated to serving Amir and his family.

Their relationship takes a turn for the worse when an incident happens the year that Amir wins the kite flying contest (And Hassan, his kite runner, rescues the kite for his beloved Amir). Eventually, the boys part ways as Ali and Hassan refuse to serve Amir and his father any longer. From there, the book takes a darker turn.

Death holds sway over the characters in the novel, constantly reminding them that at any turn, life can change, and drastically. But even amongst the tragedy of the novel, Hosseini weaves such a wonderful story of love and friendship, that it makes you feel as if these characters are real. I’ve only ever cried at a handful of books, and this is one of them. It’s hard to describe how quickly I grew emotionally attached to these characters. Watching them suffer, and lose their loved ones, left an ache in my chest.

I would highly recommend that you check out this book. It has something for everyone – Love, Death, War, Friendship. It’s a touching book about the trials we face growing up, and how it impacts our lives, and how even the smallest of things, can stay with us forever.

 

Jumpstart | Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

geisha

Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men’s solicitude and the money that goes with it.

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl’s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable.


 

I cannot begin to tell you about my deep love for this book. I’ve always been fascinated with Japanese culture and history, and when I first heard about this book in high school, I knew I had to get my hands on it. The book is actually a fictionalized memoir of sorts, that uses the background story of Mineko Iwasaki. Nitta Sayuri’s life begins in a very poor fishing village. Her mother passes away and in order to pay for his late wife’s medical bills, her father sends Sayuri and her older sister away, to become slaves in a geisha house.

As her life progresses, her rebellious nature pushes through – She is told countless times that she has ‘too much water’ in her personality – and she often continues to add to her ever growing debt (which has travelled with her from her home) for her insubordinate acts. With time, and careful training by Mameha (her benefactress), Sayuri grows to become one of Japan’s most sought after geisha’s.

This book was a beautiful look into the fictionalized life of a geisha; from her very humble beginnings, to her struggle to be with the man she loves. It’s wonderful and a must read.