This Year in Horror (so far!) #HO17 #BookReviews

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Looking back through my 2016 reviews, I’m astonished at how little horror I’ve actually read so far this year! But, here they are in one handy post. And yes, I use the term ‘horror’ pretty loosely sometimes.

The Haunting ~ Alex Bell

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Some curses grow stronger with time…

People say that all Cornish inns are haunted, but the Waterwitch’s history is particularly chilling. Built from the salvaged timber of a cursed ship, the guest house’s dark secrets go further back than anyone can remember.


Emma is permanently confined to a wheelchair after an accident at the Waterwitch which took place when she was ten. Seven years later, she decides to return to the place where the awful event occurred. But the ancient inn still has its ghosts, and one particular spirit is more vengeful than ever…

A chilling new title in the Red Eye horror series from the author of Frozen Charlotte. 

Mini Review

I’m loving this Red Eye series of books which is a YA Horror imprint. I don’t think there’s enough YA Horror out there. The Haunting was a fun, quick read incorporated lots of old Cornish myths and ghost stories which I thought set it apart from other ghost stories I’ve read. It was quite clichéd in places but it didn’t dampen my enjoyment of it. It’s a very traditional horror but the unique characters, especially protagonist Emma who is a wheelchair user, made it more interesting and diverse. A great read.

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The Marsh King’s Daughter ~ Karen Dionne

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The suspense thriller of the year – The Marsh King’s Daughter will captivate you from the start and chill you to the bone.

‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’

When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

Review

Yes. Just all the yes! It’s been a really long time since I stayed up wayyyy too late because I couldn’t put a book down, but this one forced me too.

The Marsh King’s Daughter is a fast-paced, thrilling, creepy, empowering, brilliant story about a girl who was brought up in the wilderness, taught to hunt and track by her unpredictable father (at a very young age), and who never met another single person other than her father and her parents until she was 12 years old.

She didn’t know it, but Helena was her father’s prisoner, just like her mother was.

Helena, now happily married with two little girls, has made a nice life for herself, but it came at a price. She became a new person and never told anyone who her father is. She wasn’t able to visit him in prison even though sometimes she wanted to.

When she hears on the news that he has escaped from the maximum security prison he was being held, killing two men, Helena is in no doubt that he’ll come for her and her girls, but luckily for her The Marsh King taught her everything he knew.

I loved so much about this story. Helena took to the wild life from an early age. She loved hunting, tracking, shooting, killing. She was a prisoner but she didn’t know it, and ironically the marsh offered her a freedom normal children will never experience. She had many happy times and she often idolised her Native American father. But she also feared him, and knew that his relationship with her mother was strange.

I found it really interesting how Helena viewed her mother. They hadn’t bonded and she wondered if she loved her. She didn’t understand why her mum was so weak and not present. The thought of staying in the cabin and making jam with her mum made her skin crawl. Her mum’s story is the truly harrowing element of this novel.

The whole way through I wondered if Helena’s mum had made the decision to not tell her about the situation out of fear, or because she wanted her to have some normality in her childhood. I wanted to know if she’d ever tried to escape, and if not, why not, but I think it was a much better story not knowing that as we only see through the eyes of Helena – which I thought was really powerful.

The Marsh King’s Daughter was great from the beginning but the second half of the book was outstanding, I really could not put it down. I needed to know if Helena and her lovely family would be OK; what she would say to her father when she saw him; If she could survive once more? I think she has to be one of my favourite protagonists of recent years, and I know her story will stay with me for a long, long time.

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Broken Branches ~ M. Jonathan Lee

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‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

Review

The cover of this book is so perfect it’s hard to put into words. It’s dark, beautiful and mysterious, which is exactly how I’d describe the story within.

Broken Branches is about the Perkins family, in particular Ian and his wife Rachel, who move into the cottage where Ian grew up. The cottage with the huge, ominous looking tree outside; the cottage where bad things happen.

I found the book a little slow to start with but before I knew it couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those stories that never quite gives you the answers you want. You know the type; the type of story that drives you mad in the best possible way.

There had been talk of ‘the curse’ since Ian’s childhood when his uncle died, but he never truly believed it until he inherited the cottage himself. This threw up many questions in itself – why would he move into a house with such a bad history? Other curiosities in the story (and believe me when I say it’s full of them), surrounded Rachel who is extremely distant and aloof from the start – was she depressed? Mentally ill? We’re not quite sure.

Ian delves deeper into his family history, and that of the cottage, in order to learn more about the curse, thinking that proving the existence of it will solve everything including whatever it is that’s wrong with Rachel and his marriage. But of course it only drives them further apart as Ian get more and more obsessed. He loses his job and sinks into a frenzied, isolated existence where the tree is always lurking in the background, and someone keeps moving his research around.

I think Broken Branches’ success comes from the masterfully layered atmosphere that just gets creepier and creepier as the story goes on. M. Jonathan Lee has done a wonderful job in creating suspense and intrigue, and there are some great horror elements in it too. I’m not sure I’d even want to read this on a stormy night…

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Charlotte Says ~ Alex Bell

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The much-anticipated prequel to the bestselling FROZEN CHARLOTTE, a Zoella Book Club title in Autumn 2016.


Following the death of her mother in a terrible fire, Jemima flees to the remote Isle of Skye, to take up a job at a school for girls. There she finds herself tormented by the mystery of what really happened that night.


Then Jemima receives a box of Frozen Charlotte dolls from a mystery sender and she begins to remember – a séance with the dolls, a violent argument with her step-father and the inferno that destroyed their home. And when it seems that the dolls are triggering a series of accidents at the school, Jemima realizes she must stop the demonic spirits possessing the dolls – whatever it takes.

Review

Charlotte Says was a highly-anticipated read for me because I loved Frozen Charlotte, which was my introduction to the Red Eye series of YA Horror books. This one is a prequel to the first book. It’s basically the origin story for the events that occur in Frozen Charlotte, so you definitely don’t have to have read that one to enjoy this.

Here, we go back to Victorian times where we meet Jemima, a girl of sixteen, but of course considered an adult at that time. After an evidently troubled and mysterious past, Jemima accepts a teaching job at a boarding school for the destitute and wayward.

At first things appear to be OK (don’t they always?). Jemima is reunited with an old friend, and the girls seem to warm to her quickly, but the Schoolmistress, Miss Grayson is nothing if not an evil old wench who causes Jemima no end of grief from day one.

And then the dolls arrive. Followed closely by a dolls house. Jemima isn’t too happy to see them as they come from her previous home where, let’s just say, bad things happened, but because the girls have so little Jemima donates them to the school.

Then the madness ensues!

I’m not sure how much I liked this book. It had a lot more depth to it than its predecessor, but it was also a lot less fun, and a lot less scary. There were some great horror elements in there, along with some creepy moments, but I felt like it was lacking something. It didn’t have the impact that FC did, and I found that a bit disappointing.

I can’t fault Alex Bell’s ambition though, or her writing. I loved the setting and the slow reveal of Jemima’s past, but I felt the pace was too slow overall, and it just didn’t have the creep-factor of the first book.

I’m still excited about what this author does next though, she’s one to watch!

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Have you enjoyed any of these yet?

Up next on Horror October:

30 Days of Horror – what will day 13 bring us?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books of 2017 So Far #TTT #2017Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

TTT has been on hiatus over the summer and now it’s back. Whoop. Welcome back! I wanted to join in to celebrate this, however I wasn’t very inspired by the topic (Ten book recommendations for ______________), so I’m going to do one of the ones I missed.

This week my topic is… Top Ten Books That I’ve Read So Far This Year (they were not all published this year). Links go to my review, or the Goodreads page if I haven’t reviewed it yet.

10. Spectacles ~ Sue Perkins

spectaclesWhen I began writing this book, I went home to see if my mum had kept some of my stuff. What I found was that she hadn’t kept some of it. She had kept all of it – every bus ticket, postcard, school report – from the moment I was born to the moment I finally had the confidence to turn round and say ‘Why is our house full of this shit?’

Sadly, a recycling ‘incident’ destroyed the bulk of this archive. This has meant two things: firstly, Dear Reader, you will never get to see countless drawings of wizards, read a poem about corn on the cob, or marvel at the kilos of brown flowers I so lovingly pressed as a child. Secondly, it’s left me with no choice but to actually write this thing myself.

This, my first ever book, will answer questions such as ‘Is Mary Berry real?’, ‘Is it true you wear a surgical truss?’ and ‘Is a non-spherically symmetric gravitational pull from outside the observable universe responsible for some of the observed motion of large objects such as galactic clusters in the universe?’

Most of this book is true. I have, of course, amplified my more positive characteristics in an effort to make you like me. 

Thank you for reading.

Published July 28th 2016 by Penguin

 

9. Broken Branches ~ M. Jonathan Lee

 

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‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse. 

Published July 27th 2017 by Hideaway Fall

 

8. Calling Major Tom ~ David M. Barnett

 

callingmtCALLING MAJOR TOM is a heart-warming and ultimately life-affirming story of a man who has given up on the world… but discovers in the most unlikely way that it might not have given up on him.

We all know someone like Thomas.

The grumpy next-door-neighbour who complains to the Residents’ Committee about the state of your front lawn. The man who tuts when you don’t have the correct change at the checkout. The colleague who sends an all-company email when you accidentally use the last drop of milk.

Thomas is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems.

But beneath his cranky exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all. And he’s about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world. 

Published June 18th 2017 by Trapeze

 

7. The Inexplicable Logic of my Life ~ Benjamin Alire Saenz

theinexplicThe first day of senior year:

Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief.

Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is—but if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he? 

Published March 7th 2017 by Clarion Books

6. All the Good Things ~ Clare Fisher

 

allthegoodTwenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve to ever feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone-even a 100% bad person-deserve a chance to be good?

Published June 1st 2017 by Viking, Penguin UK

5. The Last Act of Love ~ Cathy Rentzenbrink 

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In the summer of 1990 – two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school – Cathy Rentzenbrink’s brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out, suffering serious head injuries.

He was left in a permanent vegetative state. Over the following years, Cathy and her parents took care of Matty – they built an extension onto the village pub where they lived and worked; they talked to him, fed him, bathed him, loved him. But there came a point at which it seemed the best thing they could do for Matty – and for themselves – was let him go.

With unflinching honesty and raw emotional power, Cathy describes the unimaginable pain of losing her brother and the decision that changed her family’s lives forever. As she delves into the past and reclaims memories that have lain buried for many years, Cathy reconnects with the bright, funny, adoring brother she lost and is finally able to see the end of his life as it really was – a last act of love.

Powerful, intimate and intensely moving, this is a personal journey with universal resonance – a story of unconditional love, of grief, survival and the strength of the ties that bind. It’s a story that will speak to anyone who has lost someone close to them, to anyone who has fiercely loved a sibling, and to anyone who has ever wondered whether prolonging a loved one’s life might be more heartbreaking than saying goodbye.

Published July 2nd 2015 by Pan Macmillan

 

4. Labyrinth ~ Jim Henson/ ACH Smith

 

labyrinth1Finally back in print and for the first time in hardcover, the novelization of LABYRINTH written by A.C.H. Smith and personally overseen by Jim Henson, is the first in a series of novels from the Jim Henson Archives.

This beautiful hardcover features unpublished goblin illustrations by legendary illustrator and concept artist Brian Froud and an exclusive peek into Jim Henson’s creative process with 50 never-before-seen pages from his personal journal, detailing the initial conception of his ideas for LABYRINTH.

Published April 22nd 2014 by Archaia

 

3. The Rest of Us Just Live Here ~ Patrick Ness

therestofusWhat if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions. 

Published August 27th 2015 by Walker Books

2. The Marsh King’s Daughter ~ Karen Dionne

 

marshking‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’

When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

Published June 13th 2017 by Sphere

1. The Hate U Give ~ Angie Thomas

 

thugSixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. 

Published April 6th 2017 by Walker Books

 

Did any of these make your Top Ten of the year so far??

Reading Round-up: June 2017 #MiniBookReviews

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Welcome to my new post where I discuss any books that I read in the month which for one reason or another didn’t get the full review treatment. This is a way for me to keep track of what I’ve read but without the pressure of having to write comprehensive reviews for them all. 

There was only one book I read this month that I didn’t feel like reviewing in full…

The Winter King ~ Bernard Cornwell

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I never would have picked up a Bernard Cornwell book before I watched and enjoyed the TV adaptation of The Last Kingdom, but it made me think that maybe it’s my kind of thing after all. I also wasn’t aware that he’d written a trilogy based on King Arthur until I stumbled across this reissue at work, so I couldn’t resist picking it up.

I enjoyed a lot about this story of war in the time of Arthur, Mordred, Merlin and Guinevere, but for some reason it never fully grabbed my attention. I found Cornwell’s writing surprisingly beautiful, and I usually love most things Arthurian so I’m not sure why I couldn’t get into it. I did manage to struggle through, and was glad that I did but I’m not sure if I’ll pick up the other two books.

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{that’s any other business for those of you that’ve never had the misfortune of having a job where people say that all the time}

 

Well, that’s a wrap on June, folks! How did you get on?

This Month in Books: June 2017 #TMIB #BookoftheMonth

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June. Hmm…June actually felt like a lonnnng old month for once. We had the hottest June on record, although the heatwave only really lasted about 5 days. It did me in. I’m not made for hot climates and once again declared that I need to move to Iceland, as I do every year when it gets hot. LOL.

At the beginning of the month I went to visit my friend in Germany for her 30th, which was short but sweet. And I also finally went to Shakespeare’s Globe after over 15 years in London (shocking, I know) to see Tristan & Yseult which is one of my favourite stories ever. They certainly made it their own but I really enjoyed it.

June 2017 Stats

Total Posts: 9 (-4 from previous month)

Books Read: 4 (-2)
The Winter King ~ Bernard Cronwell
One of Us is Lying ~ Karen M. McManus
Broken Branches ~ M. Jonathan Lee
Fear ~ Dirk Kurbjuweit

The Breakdown:
Genres: YA (1/4); Historical Fiction (1/4); Crime/Thriller (3/4)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (3/4); Digital (2/4); Hardback (0/4); Paperback (2/4) // Owned (0/4); Borrowed (1/4); For Review/proofs (3/4)

Most Surprising: Broken Branches
Most Disappointing: The Winter King
Most Exciting: Broken Branches
Most Swoon-worthy: One of Us is Lying
Most Beautifully Written: The Winter King

Reviews

Most Viewed Posts

  1. This Week in Books 14.06.17
  2. This Month in Books: May
  3. Review: Broken Branches

Promos, Guest Posts and other Highlights

Awards

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TBR Shelf Update

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Earlier this year I decided I HAD to do something about my physical TBR shelves. Each month I’ll be doing a quick update to see how I’ve done. See my original post here, and my updated TBR list here. 

Previous TBR Count: 85

Books Added: 0!!! 🙂 

Books Read: 1

Remaining: 84

That was my month, how was yours?

This Week in Books 21.06.17 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next. 

Happy Wednesday, blog friends! It’s been a scorcher of a week over here. I’m looking forward to Winter already, LOL. I don’t deal well in the heat! Anyway, I hope you’ve all had a good week.

Here’s what mine has looked like…

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Now: Fear ~ Dirk Kurbjuweit 

I’ve only just started this thriller; so far, so good!

Then:  Broken Branches ~ M. Jonathan Lee

I really enjoyed this creepy tale about a family curse. My review will be up ASAP.

Next: ???

I’ve been saying White Cat by Holly Black for ages but still haven’t picked it up, so hopefully that!

New on the Shelves

Borrowed from the Library: 

We just bought all of Bateman’s Dan Starkey and Mystery Man books at work, on my recommendation (yay!) and I haven’t read this one yet so had to borrow it!

thehorseDan Starkey – international man of inaction – rides again. How far can he fall this time?

Ex-journalist Dan Starkey is stuck in a grimy Belfast bedsit. His life is a disaster, and his only solace is the pub round the corner. He needs to get out more, particularly since the sessions at Relate with his wife Patricia have been cancelled and she’s hooked up with new man Clive.

Fellow ex-journalist Mark Corkery, whose secret persona is The Horse Whisperer, an internet horse-racing gossip, wants him to investigate Geordie McClean, the man behind Irish American Racing.

Simple enough for a man with Dan’s experience, surely? But Trouble is Dan’s middle name. And trouble is what he finds…

I’m Waiting On…

…Shadowsong, because uhmmm… I’m not sure really. Wintersong was strange but I’m not sure how enjoyable it was. I think I need to give the second book a go though. Goblin Kinnnnng!

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The conclusion to the gorgeous and lush Wintersong duology.

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

Expected Publication: January 30th 2018 by Wednesday Books

 So that’s been my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

This Week in Books 14.6.17 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next. 

Hi guys! Sorry I’ve been a bit AWOL lately. I missed this post last week because I just didn’t get the time and I also had no new answers for you anyway. And this week has been annoying because the one day I set aside to catch up, my internet went down. Rage! Anyway, I’m back, so here’s what my week has looked like…better late than never, right!?

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Now: Broken Branches ~ M. Jonathan Lee

I’m about a third of the way through this intriguing and creepy book about a family curse. Liking it so far!

Then:  One of Us is Lying ~ Karen McManus

This was a good, quick contemporary YA read. My review (which is late-sorry!!!!) will be up ASAP.

Next: ???

Either Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit which is an ARC looking for early reviews as it’s not out until Janurary 2018, or something from my TBR pile – White Cat by Holly Black perhaps.

New on the Shelves

Netgalley: 

This looks so good!

thewayThere may be two sides to every story, but sometimes there’s only one way to set things right…

Music is Elijah’s life. His band plays loud and hard, and he’ll do anything to get them a big break. He needs that success to help take care of his sister, who has special needs. So he’d rather be practicing when his friends drag him to a musical in the next town…until the lead starts to sing.

Kristen dreams of a career on stage like her grandmother’s. She knows she needs an edge to get into a competitive theater program―and being the star in her high school musical isn’t going to cut it. The applause and the attention only encourage her to work harder.

Elijah can’t take his eyes off of Kristen’s performance, and his swooning face is captured on camera and posted with an out-of-context comment. It goes viral. Suddenly, Elijah and Kristen are in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they both could have ever imagined because these threats don’t stay online…they follow them into real life.

I’m Waiting On…

…Jane, Unlimited because I loved Graceling so much! I’m super excited abut this one. And look at that cover…swoon!

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Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family’s island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.” With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn’t know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.

Expected Publication: September 19th 2017 by Kathy Dawson Books

 So that’s been my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?