Book Review: Lunar Court, by Aileen Erin

lunar court
Image belongs to the author and Ink Monster LLC.

Title:   Lunar Court
Author:   Aileen Erin
Genre:   YA/ paranormal
Rating:   4 out of 5

Chris is the funniest, sweetest boy Cosette’s ever met. Despite the trauma he’s suffered, he still manages to brighten up everyone around him—even when he’s fighting a chapel full of demons. He’s exactly what Cosette needs in her life. He’s also a werewolf—and she’s from the Lunar Court, the only fey court with control over the werewolves, so she knows they can’t be together.

But when Chris goes missing, Cosette will do anything to find him and bring him home safely. Even if they can’t be together, she wants him safe and happy. She has no safety in her own life—not with assassins trying to kill her at every step and her mother trying to force her into marrying—but she wants Chris to have it. She finds Chris in the darkest of fey courts, where the truth is twisted and she can trust no one. It will take an archon to keep the two of them safe—and even that might not be enough to make sure everyone gets out alive.

I think I read the first two Alpha Girl books a few years back and enjoyed them but got distracted by something else. I need to go back and catch up. Lunar Court was a solid read, and I love the world here, combining my favorite creatures in intriguing ways. A solid, entertaining read!

Lunar Court is Aileen Erin’s newest novel, the eighth book in the Alpha Girl series.

(Galley courtesy of the author via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: Recursion, by Blake Crouch

recursion
Image belongs to Crown Publishing.

 

Title:   Recursion
Author:   Blake Crouch
Genre:   Sci-Fi
Rating:   4.2 out of 5

NYC cop Barry Sutton lives every day with the death of his teenage daughter years before. One night, he tries to stop a woman from committing suicide, his first direct experience with False Memory Syndrome—a condition where victims have false memories of a life they never lived. While Barry is investigating, he stumbles into something he never imagined, something that turns what he thinks he knows into something ephemeral and ever-changing.

Helen is one of the most brilliant minds on the planet, fascinated with memory and how it shapes us and changes us. She has created a technology that can save memories, and allow us to experience them again, but she has no idea of the repercussions of doing so. Soon she and Barry are the only ones who know what’s going on through an ever-changing past and present that will always end in catastrophe—unless they manage to stop the destruction.

This novel turned everything on its head. I never knew what to expect from page to page, but I was enthralled by the journey. Or journeys, I should say. Crouch makes a complex concept believable and terrifying, as well as creating characters that I connected with, even in a world that is dark and scary.

Blake Crouch is a bestselling novelist and screenwriter. Recursion is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Crown Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

The Best Books I Read in June (2019)

I read 20 books in June, bringing my total to the year for 102 books read.

I have to say, this was a case of quantity, not necessarily quality, as there were a few books that I really enjoyed, but most were just solid to mediocre reads.

That being said, two of my monthly goal books and one of the last books I read for review for the month were outstanding.

at the water's edge

At the Water’s Edge, by Sara Gruen. This was my cultural pick of the month. Which, admittedly, was fudging it a bit, since the heroine is American and the books starts in New York in 1942. But…socialite Maddie and her horrid husband, Ellis, and his best friend, Hank, end up in Scotland in search of the Loch Ness monster, so I rationalized it. Fantastic, engrossing book! I would love to go to Loch Ness, and Gruen’s prose is top-notch. Highly recommend this!

backseat saints

Backseat Saints, by Joshilyn Jackson.  This  was from my TBR pile. I discovered Joshilyn Jackson when I read gods in Alabama for the first time several years ago (and re-read it last year and was just as entranced). This was when I discovered Southern fiction was a thing. I’ve read several of her books now–and cannot wait to review her upcoming novel, Never Have I Ever, at the end of the month. Backseat Saints takes a minor character from gods in Alabama and explores her very challenging life. Joshilyn Jackson is an auto buy for me, and that’s a really short list, so…

the stationary shop

The Stationary Shop, by Marjan Kamali. I’m still emotionally reeling from reading this, so I’m not sure I can talk coherently about it. Most of this takes place in 1953 Tehran, when Roya and Bahman fall in love on the edge of a revolution. it’s…not a happy book, which I realzied immediately. Usually, I would have chosen not to finish what I knew would be a sad read, but this was so good that I continued reading.

 

 

Book Review: The Stationery Shop, by Marjan Kamali

the stationary shop
Image belongs to Gallery Books.

 

Title:   The Stationery Shop
Author:  Marjan Kamali
Genre:   Historical Fiction
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Roya is a teenager in 1953 Tehran. Her nation is on the verge of revolution, and she finds comfort within the walls of Mr. Fakhri’s stationery and bookstore. Mr. Fakhri introduces her to his other favorite customer—Bahman—whose desire to help change Tehran burns bright.

Soon Roya and Bahman are in love and engaged to be married. Their love for each other gives them hope even in the dark days surrounding them. When they are separated, Roya wants to find out what happened, but constant letters from Bahman comfort her. When he asks her to meet him in the square so they can be married, she is ecstatic. But violence erupts and Bahman never shows, and she never hears from him again.

Life must go on, but years later, a chance meeting gives her the opportunity ask the questions that have haunted her since her youth:  why didn’t he show up in that square? Why didn’t he love her enough?

As a general rule, I prefer not to read books that I know will be sad. I knew this book did not have a happy ending, but it was so good I read it anyway. The Iranian culture comes to life on these pages, but even more so does Roya and Bahman’s love for each other. Such a wonderful read!

Marjan Kamali was born in Turkey and has lived all over the world. The Stationery Shop is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Gallery Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

 

What I Read in June (2019)

Books Read in June: 20

Books Read for the Year: 102/175

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Atomic Habits:  An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, by James Clear (Nonfiction). This was quite an interesting read! I’m looking forward to putting it into practice.

Whisper:  How to Hear the Voice of God, by Mark Batterson (Spiritual). A excellent read!

Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee (Classic). Okay, not really a classic, but I’m totally counting it. This was…not a bad read. But, really, how do you follow-up to To Kill a Mockingbird?

at the water's edge

At the Water’s Edge, by Sara Gruen (Cultural). I was engrossed in this read from the very first page! I love reading about the Loch Ness monster, so this was great. And the culture it’s set in at the time was so interesting.

backseat saints

Backseat Saints, by Joshilyn Jackson (TBR). I am a die-hard Joshilyn Jackson fan. gods in Alabama was the first book of hers I read—when I discovered Southern fiction—so this was a natural choice.

For Review:

time after time

Time After Time, by Lisa Grunwald. A girl from the 20’s who keeps disappearing. A man in the 30’s. Two people who want a life together—even if one of them isn’t quite alive. This book was a great read!

montauk

Montauk, by Nicola Harrison. A society wife who wants more than a society life. I knew this wasn’t going to end like I wanted it to—with a happily-ever-after and sunshine and roses—but I enjoyed it anyway.

theredlabyrinth

Red Labyrinth, by Meredith Tate. I rad this straight through in one sitting. Intriguing dystopian world that pits the Skilled against the Unskilled in a desert land that isn’t quite as it seems. Definitely worth reading!

spin the dawn

Spin the Dawn, by Elizabeth Lim (forthcoming). I found this to be an excellent read. The basic idea is Mulan-like (in that a daughter disguises herself as a son in order to save her father), but the world, set-up, and tale were unique and I fell into the story immediately. Gorgeous cover, too!

a long way down

A Long Way Down, by Randall Silvis. A solid mystery read.

Fireborn

Fireborn, by Katie MacAlister. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale, and look forward to reading more of this story!

nothingwithin_ebook_medium_seal

The Nothing Within, by Andy Giesler. I almost put this down in the beginning, but something kept be going. I’m glad I did. Dystopian fiction with an Amish bent? Yes, please!

A-Family-of-Strangers-Emilie-Richards-680x1024

A Family of Strangers, by Emilie Richards. I would not personally market this as women’s fiction, as it’s more of a murder mystery/crime investigation story, with heaps of family drama thrown in. An excellent read!

once upon a bad boy

Once Upon a Bad Boy, by Melonie Johnson. I like linked standalone series, so you can find out more about characters you loved in previous books. This was a solid read.

Jackson cover

Blog Tour for Jackson, by Emily March. While I loved the Texas setting, parts of this felt rushed and unnatural, and some things were just glossed over/mentioned in passing that I felt should have actually been portrayed.

beau and bett

Book Review: Beau and Bett, by Kathryn Berla.I enjoyed this re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, with Bett being the beast for a change. A light read that touches on some heavier subjects.

the evil queen

The Evil Queen, by Gena Showalter. I’ve been super excited to read this. I love Showalter’s writing, and the idea was fascinating. The execution…was not. Starting with the characters’ names which I found pretty corny, to their personalities—annoying at best—and some very rapid about-faces with no character growth…I can’t say I’d recommend this.

the stationary shop

The Stationary Shop, by Marjan Kamali (review forthcoming). This books was amazing. The setting comes to life (Tehran, then America), and I was drawn to the characters from the first page. I also knew, from the page, that it was not going to be a happy book, but it was so good, I finished it anyway (and I don’t usually read anything that I know will be sad.).

recursion

Recursion, by Blake Couch (review forthcoming). Alternate timelines, false memories, hard science…I can frankly say this book was WAY over my head in a lot of ways, but I read it in one sitting because I was so engrossed.

lunar court

Lunar Court, by Aileen Erin (review forthcoming). I’d actually forgotten I’d read, I think, the first two books in this series years ago. I should probably go back and re-read them and the rest.

Left Unfinished:

Storm and Fury, by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I like the whole gargoyle/guardian thing, but found the MC to be one that does stupid things knowingly (being rebellious) and the romance angle started with them disliking each other, so it all felt a little too “done” for me. (I know this is a spin-off, and I haven’t read the original. Nor am I likely to.)

The Great Unexpected, by Dan Mooney. My only problem with this—I read 15% of it—was its slow pace. It just wasn’t a good fit for me at this time.

The Burning Chambers, by Kate Mosse. Clearly not the right choice for me, as the 10% I read didn’t catch my attention at all.

Sundays are for Writing #26

I decreased my fiction-writing goal to one session a week this week. Which is…sad, I know, but with things so stressful lately, I’ve needed to put resting and de-stressing at the top of my list.

And it worked, more or less. I got in my writing session on Saturday. I also wrote a long piece for the internship and a shorter personal profile as well.

More importantly, I survived the unusually chaotic and stressful workweek, so there’s that.

Book Review: The Evil Queen, by Gena Showalter

the evil queen
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press.

Title:   The Evil Queen
Author:   Gena Showalter
Genre:   YA, fantasy
Rating:   3.5 out of 5

In Enchantia, fairy tales are real, but they are prophecies of the future. Everly Morrow is raised in the real world and has no idea she’s a princess until she starts to commune with mirrors. Then the truth comes out:  Everly is destined to become the Evil Queen.

Except it’s not that simple. Everly meets Roth Charmaine—Prince Charming—and can’t deny she’s attracted to him. But as a sorcerian, she only draws his hate. As their fairy tale unfolds, she faces countless betrayals as she fights to save her family while deciphering the truth.

I generally love Gena Showalter’s novels, and I loved the idea of The Evil Queen. However. I found this one to be not up to Showalter’s usual high quality. Parts of it were very rough and juvenile—and I’ve seen lots of comments to the effect of “remember it’s YA so that’s okay”—but YA should still be well-written, and the characters should be believable and fully fleshed-out. These seemed very one-dimensional to me, and several times they completely did a 180 without us seeing any character growth to account for that. Everly was frankly quite annoying and egotistical and Roth wasn’t much better. I guess I just expected better from an author I generally love—and whose young adult books I love. I did like the actual answer for who each character was supposed to be in the fairy tale.

Gena Showalter is a bestselling author. The Evil Queen is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Beau and Bett, by Kathryn Berla

beau and bett
Image belongs to Amberjack Publishing.

Title:   Beau and Bett
Author:   Kathryn Berla
Genre:   4.2 out of 5
Rating:   YA

When Beau’s mom hits Bett Diaz’s fancy SUV, it’s just more bad luck for the LeFrancois family. After all, his dad is laid up with an injury and his sister is getting married soon, so money is tight, and without car insurance, the family is teetering on the edge of disaster. So, Beau offers to spend his weekends working at the Diaz ranch to pay off the debt.

Beau doesn’t mind working, but he’s not sure about working near Bett, a.k.a. “The Beast,” as she’s known at school. Her temper is infamous, and he wants nothing to do with it. But as he slowly gets to know Bett, he realizes there’s more than snobbery and anger beneath her prickly exterior and soon they become friends. Then he catches Bett in a lie and isn’t sure if The Beast is the truth—or quirky, socially-awkward Bett.

I enjoyed Beau and Bett. Having Bett be the Beast is a nice twist, and her reasons for being so angry are revealed slowly as the trust between Beau and her builds. I also liked the behind-the-scenes look at a family like Beau’s, and I found the novel both entertaining and enlightening.

Kathryn Berla believes in love at first sight and happily ever after. Beau and Bett is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Amberjack Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)

Blog Tour for Jackson, by Emily March

Jackson-BLOG-BANNER-900x337-onsale

Jackson cover
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Jackson
Author:  Emily March
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Caroline doesn’t know what to do with herself after her much-older husband dies. Her life revolved around him, and now that he’s gone, she’s adrift. So she decides to move to Redemption, Texas, a small town that takes Caroline in as she gets ready to open her bookstore. She’s ready to start a new life in Redemption, but she’s not expecting to fall in love again.

Jackson comes to Redemption after an ugly custody battle with his famous ex-wife. He just wants peace and quiet—and maybe to start songwriting again, if he’s lucky. He’s not interested in love—look what happened last time—he just wants to make his new business venture a priority. Then he meets Caroline and wonders if maybe his life needs a little bit more than all work.

Jackson is a good place to start reading a new author. I’m from Texas, and the author does an excellent job in capturing the nuances of the culture and bringing the setting to life. I love the idea of Enchanted Canyon and look forward to reading more!

Emily March is a bestselling author. Jackson is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Once Upon a Bad Boy, by Melonie Johnson

once upon a bad boy
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Once Upon a Bad Boy
Author:  Melonie Johnson
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Sadie Johnson has a reputation as a spoiled rich girl with connections, not talent. She just won a role in a blockbuster movie and can’t wait to prove to the world that she really does have what it takes. Until she sees stunt coordination Bo Ibarra, who broke her heart ten years ago.

Bo is determined to prove himself on this movie, but he’s not prepared for the distraction Sadie proves to be. He wants to put the past behind them and move forward, but when a secret from the past comes to light, he’s not sure it’s even worth the risk.

I’ve really enjoyed the Sometimes in Love series, and this book is no different. It’s great seeing familiar characters from the other books, as well as getting to know background characters from those books now front and center. I love stories with a past, and this read is no exception, as secrets from Sadie and Bo’s past threaten to destroy everything.

Melonie Johnson is the author of the Sometimes in Love series. Once Upon a Bad Boy is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)