Book Review: Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)

Escaping from HoudiniTitle: Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Pub. Date: September 18, 2018

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 3.5


In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. . 

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?


This WON’T BE A SPOILER FREE REVIEW.

I wanted to make this a spoiler free review, but I’ve been struggling to write it for days now and I have FEELINGS about this book and they’re quite rant-y.

Like always, I loved this book and I’m annoyed at myself for taking so long to read it. Audrey Rose and Thomas are two of my favorite characters ever created, and I love their chemistry and personalities, but I’m going to start this review off with a yelling confession.

Be prepared.

IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE EPILOGUE, I WOULD HAVE HAD TO DISOWN AUDREY ROSE AS A FAVORITE CHARACTER BECAUSE SHE MADE ME SO MAD AND SO ANGRY.

Okay, now that’s off my chest, I can continue. Take from that what you will, but I promise it spoils nothing, because we all know that characters make us mad from time to time. It’s nothing new.

This book picks up right where Hunting Prince Dracula left off, with Audrey Rose and Thomas on their way to America. This book is a roller coaster of twists and turns of death, intrigue and dismay. As always. Audrey and Thomas are haunted by death and it’s up to them to figure out what is actually going on.

I’m going to move onto the rant-y / spoiler section of this review, so this is your final warning.


















I’m not lying when I say I actually really enjoyed this book, but I honestly do think that I’ll love anything Kerri Mansicalco writes pertaining to these two characters. But I can also honestly say that this book angered me. I raged at it. I raged and raged and raged at Audrey Rose, who I nearly disowned. Do I think the Epilogue erases her of her treatment of Thomas? Nope. And her realization at the end of the book felt a little contrived.

I went into this book expecting the Audrey and Thomas to use their abilities to solve a murder, but Thomas was woefully missing throughout most of the book. It was like he was an afterthought, because Mephistopheles had Audrey’s attention.

Yes, he was charming. Yes, he was interesting, but hell, he was SO annoying. I didn’t get Audrey’s fascination of him. I get it, you’re 17, and Thomas is the only guy who’s ever really caught your attention, but damn, Audrey, you treated him like crap.

 God, just writing the review for this book is bringing back all my feelings of rage. I wish I could reach into the book and freaking shake Audrey out of her stupidity.

Legit, this whole review could be summed up with * aggravated yelling into the void * because Thomas Cresswell deserved so much better in this book.

Okay, let’s start at the beginning of this book. The first chapter was brilliant, opening with a murder and the atmosphere. I listened to the audiobook and it gave me chills. It was nice to see how everyone interacted with each other, and the tiny stolen moments between Thomas and Audrey were wonderful.

Then the murder and the suspects and enter Mephistopheles. The ringmaster of the Moonlight Carnival and the prime suspect. Audrey feels kind of drawn to him and his secretive air.

Then each night to follow, there’s another death, and none of them can seem to make sense of why and how they were happening.

Now, this is when I expected for Audrey and Thomas to start sleuthing around, quipping at each other as they tried to solve the murder. Instead some secrets come to life, like Audrey’s cousin having seemingly disappeared only to be a performing in the Moonlight Carnival. Audrey is furious with her cousin, and for someone who is all about having her own freedom and not being put in a cage or being owned by someone, she is quick to do the opposite to her cousin.

And then you have Mephistopheles – who I’m going to name M for the remainder of this review – and he did nothing but put Audrey in compromising positions and used her interest, infatuation, stupidity against her to woo her. He knew exactly what he was doing.

He offers her a deal, I’ll help you if you help me, BUT you can’t tell Thomas any of it, otherwise the deal is off”.

For someone so freaking smart and intuitive, Audrey was pretty dumb this book. I get why she made the deal, but she shouldn’t have, and she should’ve told Thomas. And she should have told Thomas, once Liza had been told about Houdini.

To me, it would have made perfect sense if he’d been behind it all, to drive a wedge between Cresswell and her, but he wasn’t and it just cheapened everything, and nearly ruined her and Thomas.

*also, side note, I kind of don’t get why the book is called Escaping from Houdini when he isn’t the antagonist? Not really? I mean, when you think of the first two, they were actually dealing with Jack the Ripper, and then the murders in the second where made to look like a vampire – aka Dracula – was killing them, but Houdini wasn’t the one behind the murders and was just as much of a victim because the murder affected his performances. I guess this one just doesn’t make as much sense to me as the others, unless we’re talking about Liza who leaves him. But I don’t know.

For a while, Thomas just assumed that Audrey is doing what she has to, in order to get information and while he’s not entirely comfortable with it, he trusts Audrey. It’s not until M starts really trying to break the two of them up that Thomas starts acting betrayed and hurt AS HE SHOULD BECAUSE HE DESVERED SO MUCH BETTER THAN AUDREY’S WISHY-WASHY FEELINGS.

Ugh.

 We’re just going to fast forward to the end, when they figure out who is the murderer, and Audrey decides to jump in front of a knife and nearly dies.

If you could only see my face right now.

Thomas is there, holding her, telling her to stay away, being there for her in a way that she hadn’t been for him the whole book. He loves her, so much so, that when she survives that he’s willing to walk away if she wants to be with M.

I volunteer to give Thomas all the hugs. I will literally take him if Audrey doesn’t want him.

I would have been heartbroken if Thomas had actually walked away, because I do like the two of them together, but he’d been used and played and hurt deeply by Audrey and had every right to leave her.

And I get it. It can take something as major as nearly dying to clarify feelings but COME ON. I don’t think there’s such thing as the Perfect Guy, but Thomas complimented her to beautifully, and they were meant to be together.

But Audrey has come to the realization that she loves Thomas and never wants to be without him and is ashamed of her actions and when he leaves, she breaks, but then he comes back.

Yeeeaahhhh.

I’m glad I read this, and it doesn’t break the series for me. I’m disappointed in it, sure, but maybe now that they’ve been through this test of their relationship, they’ll be stronger than ever. I have high hopes for Capturing the Devil and I can’t wait to be back with these characters.

September is so far away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Salt for Air

Salt for AirTitle: Salt for Air

Author: M.C. Frank

Pub. Date: October 3, 2018

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Greek mythology meets The Little Mermaid in this delicious fantasy novel about a quiet, nerdy girl who meets a mer prince in her bathroom. Perfect for fans of The Heroes of Olympus and the Lux series.

Seventeen-year-old Ellie dreams of mermen. She writes fanfiction about them and spends time in underwater kingdoms in her imagination, trying to escape the sad reality: she is an orphan. And not only that, but she’s bullied every day at school -she’s a nerd, she hates sports, she loves books and she used to be overweight. What’s not to bully?

One day, the bullies go too far. They try to drown her, but at the last minute an otherworldly creature shows up in the water. He keeps her breathing and tells her to live: “How will you be able to save anyone if you can’t even save yourself?”

She thinks it was a dream, but the emerald-eyed merman boy who rescued her appears in her school the next day. Is he really the exiled prince of an ancient kingdom that’s on the brink of utter destruction? And is he asking her to save him? Or is something far more sinister and deadly lurking in the water that surrounds her little Greek town?

When myth and reality collide, can love save their lives?


I’m not going to say this is a spoiler free review, because I don’t know exactly how I’m going to discuss this book. I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t love it. So, I’ll try and avoid big story ruining spoilers and will try to be vague, but I make no promises, because more or less I just want to vent about this book. So, this is your warning.

I’ll leave you with this. It wasn’t a bad book, but I didn’t think it was a good book. I was left disappointed, didn’t really care for the writing style or the characters. The plot was okay, interesting enough to keep me turning the page, but lacked enough that if I stopped reading it, it took a while to get back into it. IF you don’t want to be potentially spoiled for this book, stop reading now.










Spoiler-y/ranting part is coming up next.









I’m still so conflicted about this book, but I’m leaning more towards disappointed. I’ll be honest and say that I was enticed by the cover and had initially planned on buying it solely based on how gorgeous it is. Based on the synopsis, this book sounded exactly like something I’d love, and it wasn’t very long. I figured that I would be able to knock it out in a couple of hours.

It took me days to finish, and usually I would have just DNF’d it, but it was so short, and I wanted to give it a fair chance in the hopes that it got better towards the end. It wasn’t that the book was bad as a whole, once I got into it, I kept turning pages and got lost in the story, but anytime I had to put the book down, it took a while to get back into it.

I’m not sure if it was the way that it was written, or the pacing, or the characters, but I do think the author tried to execute some plot elements that just fell short, and therefore impacted the story as a whole.

Image result for supernatural dean beat up gifsI will say that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the main character Ellie. I get that we were supposed to feel for her, be sympathetic, but I didn’t feel that way. At all. In the beginning of the book it’s almost emphasized that she lives in a tiny Greek town where everyone knows everyone else’s business, that nothing goes unnoticed or not gossiped about. Except apparently her being bullied to the point of nearly dying, and this isn’t the first time she’s been bullied to the point of physical harm or evidence of being attacked, and yet no one, not a single person bats an eye at this. No one in her school, no teachers, not even the people she’s living with. Ellie tells them all lies, but come on, no one gets their whole head and shirt and pants soaked by splashing water on their face. You will never convince me of that. For something so emphasized, it plays no part at all. Are all the adults in this town oblivious or stupid? Or maybe my expectations are different, but if you have eyes and a girl is getting nearly killed multiple times by brats at school, I think someone would notice.

Ellie was also the girl who, because she was so alone, stayed home and wrote her own fantasy fanfictions, and dreamt about a handsome prince coming to take her away and rescue her from her aloneness.

I also wasn’t a fan of the way the book was written, that Ellie talked to me (the reader). She was also very cynical and tried to stay under the radar, but it never really worked out of her. Maybe this was a way to really get us to connect with Ellie, to feel her pain as if she were confiding in us, but what (as the reader) can we do? We can’t reach into the book and protect her.

And speaking of protecting, let’s talk about Ky and how much of an asshole he was. He was the gorgeous, godlike good looks, with the body no high school boy should have, and shitty attitude new guy. The prince that Ellie fantasized about taking her away. If she only knew. It was the same guy who had saved her the day she had almost drowned in the toilet, the same beautiful, otherworldly eyes.

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I was not a fan of Ky in the beginning, middle or end of this book. He came into Ellie’s life and just took over, demanding that she protect him, and that she just had to be okay with it. Of course, she accepts, because the new hottie popular guy in school can offer her some protection against the vicious bullies, she’s spent her life trying to avoid. But he’s not the nice, heroic, protective type. He has these moments where he’s fiercely protective of Ellie, but a lot of the time, he’s demeaning and mean to her.

There’s this back and forth between Ellie and Ky, one of hatred and then love, and their relationship went from wariness and infatuation on Ellie’s part, faked love on Ky’s part – to hatred and loathing – to true love, and it felt so rushed. I think it happened over a few weeks, but I didn’t find it very clear and it felt like insta-love which I’m not typically a fan of. Insta-lust, sure, but not love. You don’t just automatically fall in love with someone without some kind of fantastical involvement.

And speaking of the fantastical involvement in this book, i.e. Ky’s otherworldly secret identity that he can only (conveniently) reveal to one person, and “Congratulations Ellie, you are the Lucky Winner!”

We’re supposed to believe that all of Greek mythology is based on these creatures from another realm, a realm where death doesn’t exist, and it’s somehow managed to come to Earth and that’s why people die…

Yeah.

Ky’s been exiled for whatever reason, and he can’t go back home until he makes a sacrifice – something he leaves out when revealing himself to Ellie. It’s only by accident that Ellie finds out that she’s the sacrifice – sacrifice the girl to appease the gods! – and rightly so, when Ellie finds out, she’s livid. They had taken one look at her life, saw she was super alone, and picked her as the girl no one would miss if she just suddenly died

Does that rub anyone else the wrong way?

Image result for twue love gifsBut then Ky realizes that he *actually* loves her, and doesn’t want anything to happen to her, because ~ heart eyes ~ They are cosmically meant for each other, and Ky had been so wrong about her, and he was not sorry about everything that had already happened between them.

 There still needs to be a sacrifice otherwise Ky will never get to go home and take his rightful place on his throne, and literally become The Ocean. Ellie is still refusing to sacrifice herself, as she should, but things are starting to get dicey. Creatures from this other realm, hell-bent on killing Ky have started appearing.

Ellie does some serious introspection and realizes that she could never be told to sacrifice herself for Ky, that if she were going to do so, then she had to make the choice.

Hey, Ellie, how about we just don’t die?

Image result for sacrifice gifsSo, then one fateful day Ellie and her classmates are on a field trip, and those pesky evil creatures that want to kill Ky make a move and Ellie SACRIFICES herself to save him. Her reasoning is that she couldn’t bear to be a person to stands and watch someone die, so she did what she had to. The attempt on Ky’s life, leaves her severely battered and bruised – a head injury and spinal injury plus a myriad of other problems. Ky is besides himself that Ellie is dying, the typical “I can’t believe one body can hold this much blood” and “don’t leave me, I love you” all while sobbing with tears and snot pouring down his face.

Then we get the “GOTCHA!”

Ellie is alive, barely, in a hospital bed, unable to walk, not quite dead, but not quite alive. Ky refuses to leave her side, even though with her sacrifice he can go home, but won’t go without her, because * true love *

Can I just take a minute here – at this point in the novel, my eyes are just rolling around in my head, because OF COURSE Ellie didn’t die. It’s what? The second or third time she just ~ nearly ~ dies without actually dying? For a girl who is so ordinary, so plain, so alone, she spends an awfully lot of time escaping death’s clutches.

So, let’s fast forward a little bit, Ky tells Ellie that there’s a way to save her, because suddenly Ellie is really, truly, honestly dying, and now it’s a mad dash to save her life. And to do so, she would have to leave Earth behind and become one of them – like Ky – a mermaid, merperson – tbh I don’t remember was phrase they used in the book. HER WISH COME TRUE. (I mean I get it, we all wish that, but come on.)

Image result for really? gifs

So Ky takes her out to the water and submerges her, because she basically has to die a mortal death – i.e. drown – to start her new life. Only there’s a catch! In order to save her life, Ky has to sacrifice his own!

Didn’t see that one coming did you, DID YOU.

Image result for mermaid gifsFast forward again, and one of Ky’s family members, his sister, but not his sister – listen it’s complicated – gives her life for his, because she’s lived for thousands and thousands of years, and a lot of Greek mythology is based off of her. So now we’re playing Musical Chairs: Life Edition, Ky and Ellie get to be together, but she can’t really ever come back to earth, but that’s okay because she’s with the love of her life.

The book ends on a happy note, Ellie is no longer alone, and she gets to live out her fantasy in a world where death doesn’t exist. Her life is just perfect.

I didn’t intend for this review to digress into a rant, but I’m not sorry it did. I find that so often I try to censor myself when it comes to reviews, but maybe sometimes I just need to let it go and be snarky and honest.

I didn’t know exactly how I was going to review this book, because I was so conflicted in my thoughts on it. I was so disappointed in it, and didn’t understand why? How? I was so upset with what this book was. Maybe I expected one thing and didn’t get it, or maybe my expectations got away from me. Whatever the reason is, I’m still not really 100% sure, but I do feel better having gotten all of this off my chest.

I have another book by the same author – and maybe it was premature for me to buy it before having read Salt for Air, but I do plan on reading it, and maybe I’ll love it. I don’t think the author is a bad writer. Despite the fact that this book sounded perfect for me, maybe it wasn’t for me. Maybe I missed some big underlying message that the reader was supposed to get out of it. But again, I didn’t. I read a book that had the potential to be so good, but ultimately fell flat.

The reason I’m giving the book a solid 3 out of 5 is because I did keep me interested and I was able to finish it. I feel like it wouldn’t really be fair to rate it lower, because again, it’s not a bad book.

Maybe if it had been slightly longer, if the characters had better arcs, or more time to interact with one another, maybe if things had been explained a little better, I wouldn’t have had so many issues, but as it stand, I probably wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. But if you think it’s something you might like, then it doesn’t hurt to give it a go. I’ve found some of my favorite books that way, and you have a 50/50 shot of loving or hating it.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Signing: Brigid Kemmerer, Susan Dennard & Elise Kova

img_3037.pngA few weeks ago, I heard about a signing up in Philadelphia. Three amazing authors would be there, talking about their books and chatting with the audience, and I wanted to go.

I asked my best friend – the one that I usually drag to book events (just kidding, I don’t have to drag her) but she already had plans to go to the Happiest Place on Earth – Disney. I was alone, and with the plan to go such last minute, I didn’t really have anyone else to ask.

So, I did what any sane person does and went to Twitter, putting a call out to see if anyone (in my area) wanted to drive up with me. Living in Maryland meant that it would be over a two-hour drive – verging on three hours with traffic, and I really didn’t want to make the drive by myself. It’s not a hard drive, but long, and I would have preferred company.

img_3033Amazingly someone offered to go with me, and I was thrilled. She was a fellow book lover and writer and while I figured it would be a little awkward making a three-hour drive with a complete stranger, I was willing to make it work, and what better way of getting to know someone, than being stuck in a car for hours?

Unfortunately, the day of the event (Friday, Feb 15) she had to back out last minute and I thought my plans for going to this signing were shot. I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed.

img_3038An hour before I had originally planned to leave my wonderful mother offers to go with me – something I didn’t ask her to do, because it ended up being an all afternoon, evening and night affair and I knew that wasn’t how she would have chosen to spend her day after having been at work.

It took us three hours to get from our house to the Barnes & Noble at Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem PA. I had to buy a THIRD copy of Bloodwitch just so I could actually participate in the signing.  (I had already pre-ordered it, which wouldn’t be here until Saturday, and I had bought a copy on Thursday so I’d have one for the signing) You got a wristband with the purchase that had number on it for the signing line.

img_3041.png*One copy has since been returned to the store, and the other one I got signed for my friend who couldn’t come, and she’s buying that one off of me, but for a hot moment, I had three EXACTLY THE SAME copies of this book, which was too many.

Anyways, I digress. We make it to the signing with about ten minutes to spare, and it’s already packed to “Standing Room Only”. The event was supposed to run from 6-7pm but I figured we’d be leaving closer to 8pm. If I only knew.

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Almost immediately did the three authors ask for questions from the audience, in leu of talking about their books. Most of the questions I couldn’t hear, due to people not speaking up, but just watching and listening to how Brigid, Susan and Elise interacted with each other and the audience was entertaining. Then it was time for the singing.

Remember that wristband I was talking about? I was #66.

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They called people up to get their books singed in groups of 10-15…and it took forever. They had to keep the Barnes & Noble open LATE to accommodate everyone. From my understanding there were only about 70 wristbands handed out, but it took 4 hours to get through everyone. We didn’t leave the store until about 10pm putting us home around midnight. The only good thing about leaving that late, it meant that there was absolutely no traffic getting home so it was roughly the two-hour drive Maps had estimated.

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Now, I totally understand wanting to talk and chat with authors, and the way the workers were doing the signing was a 1:3 ratio – one reader to the three authors. And each reader, or group of friends went up, was spending upwards ten minutes chatting with the authors, even after their items were signed.

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Probably on any other day this wouldn’t have annoyed me, but I had a 2.5-3-hour drive home and it was already 9:30pm and I was tired, my mom was tired after working all day and then driving up here, and it felt a little insensitive towards everyone else. I also don’t want to sound to whiny or like I’m complaining too much because these authors don’t have to come out and meet readers, and one day I do hope on being one of those authors, but as a reader who had to wait almost three and a half hours to get my stuff signed, I was a little annoyed at how poorly it was handled.img_3059

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Despite that, I did have a good time, and was able to get my books signed and have a few quick words with Brigid, Susan and Elise. Brigid’s a friend so I knew we’d catch up later, it had been a few years since I’d seen Susan, so it was nice to chat with her again, and it was my first-time meeting Elise so I kind of freaked out a little. I didn’t get all my Elise Kova books singed, because luckily, I’ll be seeing her again at the end of March for Apollycon in DC, but now I won’t have as many of her books to lug around at that event!

img_3055.jpgAll in all, it was worth the drive up there, but it will have to be a stellar line-up to get me to go there again, and if I do, I’ll be leaving at noon and just spending the afternoon up there so I can miss the traffic we ran into. img_3056

If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out Brigid’s A Curse so Dark and Lonely and her other novels, Susan Dennard’s Witchlands Series and the Something Strange and Deadly Trilogy, and Elise Kova’s Air Awakens Series and the Loom Saga and her other books!

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Call It What You Want

call it what you wantTitle: Call It What You Want

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Pub. Date: June 25, 2019

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4.5


When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship…

This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?


 This will be a SPOILER FREE REVIEW.

At the launch for A Curse so Dark and Lonely, Brigid was so nice and handed me a copy of her upcoming Contemporary Call It What You Want – a very loose Robin Hood inspired story that she has worked her magic on, and you will feel for these characters.

It’s taken me awhile to sit down and figure out my thoughts on this book, because for the longest time I was just a bunch of squealing noises and grins. I know you know what I’m talking about, but that doesn’t make for a very good written review. I didn’t have words, but now I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I still want to squeal about this book, and I will, but now I can formulate complete phrases and sentences to talk about just how much I loved this book.

Brigid has done it again with Call It What You Want, I have fallen in love with her characters, the world and the story, so much so that I would totally be happy with a prequel novel and a sequel.

Let’s start with the characters –

Rob – he needs all the hugs. All the time. He’s a social pariah due to his father’s bad business choices and everyone hates him. His classmates blame him for his father’s actions. It weighs heavily on him and he does everything he can to stay under the radar. No friends, no social life, he’s drowning. His situation broke my heart. I really liked that he was emotional – in the sense that we actually saw what he was feeling, that he wasn’t afraid to hide it.

Maegan – she’s a perfectionist who made a mistake, and now it’s haunting her. I felt like her social pariah status was a little extreme, but it is high school and teenagers can really freaking suck.

Samantha – I loved Samantha. She was funny and her personality was great, even with everything she was going through. She didn’t have it easy, but I really enjoyed that she didn’t act like a victim and realized that she was old enough to make the mistake, therefore she was old enough to take partial responsibility.

Owen – he was a nice little surprise and I would love to see more of him. I really enjoyed his and Rob’s friendship and how it grew.

The relationships between these characters was fantastic. Rob and Maegan are two outsiders who are forced to work together, and it’s only after some time, do they realize that they aren’t who everyone paints them out to be. That they are both lonely and misunderstood. Maegan’s relationship with her sister is strained due to the pressure Maegan feels trying to live up to her sister, and the pressure she feels from her parents to be the “good girl” which holds a whole new meaning now that her sister is pregnant. But that feeling of having to be good, to be perfect makes Maegan feel like she’s drowning and that she has to do anything and everything to stay that way in her parent’s eyes. As for Owen and Rob, they start off as tentative friends, unsure and unprepared for how well they get along. Rob feels awkward because of who his father is, and Owen, an outsider himself, decides to figure out who Rob is. Together they hatch a scheme that not everyone would agree with.

The pacing was good, though it did kind of feel like we were dropping into the middle of the story – hence why I said I’d like a prequel and a sequel! And the little twist at the end I didn’t see coming, which is something Brigid excels at and gets me every time I read her new books.

I wouldn’t say that this my favorite Contemporary Brigid has ever written – that belongs to More Than We Can Tell, but just like with everything she writes, I fall for the characters, the writing, and even more importantly I feel for them. I feel their pain, their excitement, their sadness and longing. Her characters are some of the most real feeling, and I absolutely enjoy reading anything and everything she writes, and I highly doubt that will ever change. I will say that I have a few qualms about the book, but I won’t post them because this is a spoiler free review, and they definitely don’t impact how good this book is, and how touching these characters are. But this definitely felt more like Rob’s story than Rob and Maegan’s story. As much as I loved the two of them together, her storyline felt a little less impactful, less important than Rob’s. I just loved Rob so much. I just wanted to sit there and hold him and tell him that the everything would be okay. My heart ached for him through much of the novel.

Call It What You Want is Brigid’s next book, and like always, you will be feeling every up and every down that these characters go through. You will fall in love with Rob and Maegan and go with them on their journeys to figure out that they are more than a single action, that if they don’t let it, it doesn’t have to define who they are. They can make their own choices and live their own lives, and sometimes finding someone is feeling as lost and alone as you are, can help.

 

Galentine’s 2019 / Books Featuring Strong Female Friendship

Thanks for Vicariously & Voraciously for creating this tag!

It’s February 13th, so you know what that means!

It’s Galentine’s Day!

Day Celebrating GIF

Even though Leslie Knope is a fictional character, she sends a great message. Too often are women pitted against each other, or we take advantage of each other. Instead of tearing down, we should be lifting each other up.

This is kind of a hard post for me to write, seeing as I just lost a friendship with someone, I considered my best friend, and had been friends with for over ten years. She was the first person to really talk to me when I first moved to the US, and just recently she decided that our friendship wasn’t worth trying to continue because we had grown apart. It sucks. There’s no other way to put it.

But, on a happier note, my other best friend, she puts up with me and all my weirdness on a daily basis and I couldn’t love her more for it. She and I both know I talk way too much, sob over fictional characters too much, and drag her to too many book related events. The good thing is, is that she loves books just as much as I do. So, I’m dedicating this post to her, because god knows I would have dumped my ass years ago. 😂

So, in honor of our friendship that consists of me talking about fictional characters with getting Starbucks coffee and walking around Target for no apparent reason, here are three books with some strong and awesome female friendships!


Air AwakensAir Awakens by Elise Kova

Gosh, I could talk about Vhalla and Larel for forever and how much I love them. My reread of the Air Awakens series has reminded me of that. Vhalla’s life changes drastically in such a short amount of time and Larel is there to help ease her mind, offer her support and love and to remind her that she isn’t just a tool for the Empire to use. Vhalla was there for Larel to confide in when she decided she wanted to open up, they comforted each other when the rest of the world got too big, too loud, too dangerous and scary. They stand by each other no matter what.


TruthwitchTruthwitch by Susan Dennard

I’m sure everyone talks about Safi and Iseult’s relationship and how great it is, and as they should. They are two parts of one whole, their destinies woven intricately together. Each is driven towards their own goals but wouldn’t hesitate for a single moment to put the other first. They are willing to face down whatever for each other, and it’s amazing.


Half Blood.jpgHalf-Blood by Jennifer L Armentrout

Okay, so this one is technically the series, but I’ll put the first book down for convenience. Alex and Olivia have their ups and downs, and are brought together by a mutual friend, but they would go to the ends of the earth for each other, die for each other and cheer each other on no matter what, and they do. When Alex is feeling at her lowest, Olivia is there to help cheer her up, make her see the bigger picture. And when Olivia is feeling upset and broken over a certain event (no spoilers!) Alex is there to remind her of all the good things she and (redacted) shared and that (redacted) wouldn’t want her to live her life upset. They balance each other out nicely and can kick some serious ass!


I’m sure I missed plenty of other books with strong female friendships, but I’m not going to lie, the minute I decided I was going to participate in this tag – hosted by Vicariously & Voraciously – my mind emptied of pretty much every book I’ve read, and only gave me books that didn’t feature strong female friendships…so thanks for that brain. But here are my three picks and let me know in the comments some books that feature strong female friendships!


Ps. How many times did I type “strong female friendships” ooops. 🙈

 

 

Dreams

We are veering FAR AWAY from books for this post. Because I have a question? A fear? A desire for you to dream analyze me? Whatever it is, Google didn’t really help me.

Image result for gifs dreaming

I have pretty weird dreams sometimes, hell, they’re what give me most of my story ideas, so I’m all for weird dreams, but this one dream, it confuses me.

It’s never the exact same dream, but the premise is reoccurring, and I’m going to take you through two very vivid scenarios, and then I’ll tell you what Google suggested to me as an answer. I don’t think the analysis of these dreams is very deep for me, I think it’s just a regular ol’ fear, but I’m interested in what you think. So, feel free in the comments to give me your wildest, outlandish theories or explanations for why I keep having these kinds of dreams. I want to hear them!


Let me preface this by saying this has NEVER happened to me, or anyone I know, which is why I believe it to just be a fear playing itself out in my subconscious.

Dream #1: this happened a few months ago

It’s autumn, and leaves crunched under my boots as I walked out of the English Department Building on University of Maryland Baltimore County’s campus. It had been a long day and I was beyond ready to go home. Having been here since 7:30 AM, I was exhausted, and my brain hurt and the feeling of being done for the day was a relief. I started down the hill towards my car. Why the school needed to be built on a hill was beyond me. Though, walking down it was infinitely easier than walking up it every morning, because of course, the English Department was situated at the very top.

I plugged in my headphones and started listening to music as I crunched through more leaves and passed other students. It would take me another ten minutes to reach my car, so I picked up my pace, wanting to get home faster.

 I walked for what felt like forever, not finding my car where I parked it initially and panic starts filling my chest, a tight fluttery feeling that made my breath catch in my throat and my hands start trembling. Where was my car? I walked around, up and down isles until I saw the tailgate of my Red Volvo. I let out a sigh of relief and walked over to it. My steps faltered as I got a good look at it. Something was off, the driver side door hung at an odd angle, like someone had tried to rip it off its hinges. Then I looked at the rest of the car, and evidence of destruction was everywhere. It was as if The Hulk had gotten angry at my car. The passenger side door was hanging by a few wires, and the sun roof had been peeled back like paint peeling off a wall. I gingerly opened the trunk and my dog, was asleep curled in the back. I didn’t understand how he had gotten here, I wouldn’t have brought him to school with me and left him in my car all day. Autumn in Maryland meant that it could be freezing or still feel like the dead heat of summer, and today was the latter.

 I fumbled for my phone calling my parents, telling them everything that I was seeing.

Then I woke up.

Even reading it back, it still makes no sense to me. Even my college’s campus had been laid out differently, and I didn’t notice all the damage until I really looked at it.


Dream #2: this happened last week.

I lived at the grocery store. I was always coming over to the one across the street from my house, because family members eat bananas like their monkeys. It’s a little ridiculous. As I left the store, I pushed my cart past these two little boys, no parents in sight and time seemed to slow a little bit as one of them caught my eye. I blinked and time resumed at a normal speed. I cursed under my breath as I stepped hard, into a puddle and my shoe soaked through. I looked back and the two little boys were gone. Well, that’s weird. I shook my head and walked around my car, stopping mid step.

 Why…why was my back tire on the driver’s side sitting away from my car – not attached to my car. My heart leapt into my throat, and my breath started getting ragged. I looked around the parking lot, trying to find the person or persons who did this, but there was no one. The parking lot was basically empty except for a few empty cars, their owners inside the store. I opened the truck to pull out the tools I would need to replace the tire to my car but pulling up the trunk floor revealed that the tools weren’t where they were supposed to be. Panicking, I called my mom, knowing full well that a call to AAA would be a better use of my time, and asked her what I should do.

After placing the groceries into the trunk – because what else was I supposed to do, I maneuvered the tire back over to the car and stuck it back where it was supposed to be. At least this way, it could support the car, even if I couldn’t drive it anywhere.

Sighing, I sat in the driver’s seat, waiting for AAA to show up, and that’s when I notice that something is wrong. My parking break is gone. As is my phone charger that is ALWAYS plugged in. Upon closer inspection my stereo is also missing, replaced by a solid piece of plastic, the speakers in the doors are gone, and with a quick jerk, I saw that my glove box was emptied for everything but my old campus parking passes. I checked the middle console and CDs and tissues and other odds, and ends were still contained within it.

It made no sense. Who would steal a parking break? That struck me the oddest. I could understand stealing the car charger, and maybe my stereo, but it wasn’t like my car was a brand-new model. It was old, out of date. The stereo wasn’t even Bluetooth capable. It was 2007 Volvo Station Wagon. My brain flashed back to those two little boys, but I shook my head. No way.

Then I woke up. I still don’t know how to explain this one. I’m at a loss.


I’m also going to preface this next part with, I don’t ascribe to horoscopes or dream analysis very often, or at all for that matter. I take it with a HUGE grain of salt. So, the explanations I got, I don’t necessarily believe them. Usually these kinds of things are just vague enough that the reader (me) can attach any kind of meaning to them, and have it work. I’m not bashing people who do believe these kinds of explanations.

Now, as for what Google provided me as an explanation: Here

 The dream about your car being broken into and parts being stolen means that someone has taken advantage of you in a certain way”

 “Having your car being vandalized in the dream means that someone might be hurting your outward image.”

I don’t think either of these explanations fit. After some inward retrospection, I’m pretty positive that neither of these are the reason, at least not to my knowledge. Maybe someone out there is bad mouthing me or taking advantage of me, but I’m not sure.

Since I didn’t buy into either of those explanations, I clicked on another link and this is what I read.

“Many people see their cars as being extensions of them. They think that if their car is being broken into, that someone has just seen them at their very core and has formed judgments about them. Even if nothing is taken from the car, the mere fact that it was broken into brings a feeling of powerlessness along with it. If only you had been there, you could have prevented it. If only you had done one thing differently you wouldn’t have been in this situation, if only you had parked across the street instead of right in front of the store. The list of if only goes on a long way and ends nowhere. You can’t keep telling yourself “if only this, if only that” all day long. It will do you no good and only serve to make you feel worse about it. This is what would happen if your car were actually broken into.”

“Even more likely, something happened that was totally out of your control and it lead to an undesired result for you, and now you are feeling the aftereffects of this violation.”

While, I still don’t buy into this explanation, I can ~ kind of ~ see how it could apply.

Recently I lost my best friend – no she didn’t die or anything – but she decided that our friendship wasn’t worth her time or energy, because (her words) “I think we’ve just become different people with different interests and don’t see our friendship going any further”. Over a decade of friendship done, just like that, as if it were a business arrangement being terminated. And it wasn’t for a lack of me constantly trying. She gave up, I didn’t, so of course I took it really hard. I try not to think about it, because it still hurts, but it does crop up from time to time, so it wouldn’t surprise me if my subconscious is using my dreams to deal with it.

“When you dream that your car has been broken into it is because you feel like you have been violated. This is the only answer to a dream like this, (unless it really is a deep seated fear that you have of your physical car being broken into).”

More than likely, this is what these dreams are. It’s terrifying thinking that someone might break into your car, or even steal it. I don’t ever want to have to deal with that. I also think that part of the fear is the bill that will come with a break in / stealing.


Well, that’s it for my weird dreams…well not really, I have tons of weird dreams, so if you want to hear more about them, let me know in the comments! Also let me know what you think of these two dreams, or tell me about a weird dream you had, a reoccurring theme, or just any dream you think is interesting! I’d love to hear about them. I guess my subconscious is just a weird place, but as long as it continues to give me story ideas, I’ll let it be.

January Wrap-Up!

I’m going to do these Wrap-Up posts a little differently than I did last year. Instead of sharing the synopses of each of the books, I’m just going give a brief few sentences as a tiny review, and I’ll link the Goodreads page for each.

I feel like a lot of the time; my Wrap-Up and Haul posts are so similar – in books and formatting – that they feel like the same post and therefore repetitive.

I had a pretty good reading month. I’ve mainly been rereading series, and I’m not upset about it at all. It’s been so nice being back in each of these worlds. There were a few standalone novels, but the two series The Covenant Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout and The Air Awakens Series by Elise Kova have occupied the majority of my time. I didn’t notice it before, but they are pretty similar plot wise, and I’ve realized I have a WEAK spot for these kinds of stories.

Image result for gif read the book

Besides these two series, I read five other books, one I absolutely loved, two I thoroughly enjoyed and the other two were so-so books for me. Didn’t hate them but didn’t love them.

With that being said, let’s get into the books I read in January!

(I’m going to group the series together)


Air AwakensThe Air Awakens Series – Elise Kova

Air Awakens ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Finished 1/29/19) GR / Fire Falling ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Finished 1/31/19) GR

Fire Falling.jpgI listened to these via Audible and fell back in love with the characters and the world. Elise Kova knows how to write, and she does it so well! The narrator, Devan McGaughey (for the first three books) was a perfect choice – in my opinion – I felt like she got the characters correct. I was pretty bummed when I realized she didn’t narrate the fourth and fifth books.

Elise makes you love all the characters and makes the world she created come to life. These are some of my favorite fantasy books. Ever.


PureThe Covenant Series – Jennifer L. Armentrout

Pure ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Finished 1/14/19) GR

I started this reread of the series back in December 2018, mainly because I was in such a book rut that nothing held my attention. Jen is one author who can pull me out of a reading slump, and it had been quite a few years since I read this series. The Covenant Series is still a favorite and being back with Aiden and Alex has been so much fun, but now that I’m on the last book, I’m in full dread mode. This series is so good, and the characters are so much fun, and you fall in love with them. Next month you’ll see the rest of the series on that Wrap-Up post.


call it what you wantCall It What You Want – Brigid Kemmerer

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️4.5 (Finished 1/29/19) GR

I loved this book and am so thankful that Brigid gave me the chance to read it early! It wasn’t my favorite contemporary she’s ever written – that goes to More Than We Can Tell – but it made me happy and kept me in engaged. I will absolutely continue to champion and read anything Brigid writes because it always makes me feel all the emotions. I don’t want to go into too much detail since I will have a full non-spoiler review up in a few weeks.


moon struckMoon Struck (Hillcrest Supernaturals #2) – Ben Alderson & Danielle Rose

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Finished 1/18/19) GR

My review for this book is already up, and I really have been enjoying this series. So far, Crimson Bite and Moon Struck have been very enjoyable reads, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next. I honestly, didn’t expect to like these books as much as I have, but I’m so glad I do.


Salt for AirSalt for Air – M.C. Frank

⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Finished 1/22/19) GR

This book. I’m so conflicted on my thoughts about it. On one hand it kept me engaged and interested in what was happening, but on the other, it had so many issues. I * think * the issue is that the author tried to execute some plot elements and they fell flat, which detracted from the story. I do plan on writing a full review for this book later, so I won’t go into too much detail. I had a hard time connecting with the characters.


Stolen Marriage.jpgThe Stolen Marriage – Diane Chamberlain

⭐️⭐️2.5 (Finished 1/24/19) GR

I never would have willingly picked up this book – it was a book club pick, so I had no choice. It wasn’t a bad book, and it was a pretty easy read – only took me a handful of hours to read the whole thing. It was interesting, but damn, I did not like it. Even though the main character does change from the start to the end of the book, she ends up in the exact same place she started. It just kind of felt like everything she went through was pointless? And everything she went through could have been avoided if she had just talked to her fiancé – which I legit said to my mom at the start.

Apparently, it’s supposed to be kind of factual of the author’s life, but don’t take my word for it, because I didn’t enjoy the book enough to actually look into it. (Sorry if that negligent on my part) but this book genuinely made me angry. And sitting here writing this mini-review is just bringing my frustrations back to the surface.


only a breath apartOnly a Breath Apart – Katie McGarry

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Finished 1/18/19) GR

I didn’t expect to love this book. I’m not super into Contemporary novels, and this one has become a new favorite. Here’s my review! I stayed up until 5:30 AM reading – that’s how good I found it. I could not put it down. I surprised my friend with how much I loved it. Since I finished it, I’ve been screaming about it, and in like two months’ time, when it’s my turn to pick the book club book, I’ve already chosen this one.


I’m happy with what I was able to read this past month! After being in a reading slump from Kingdom of Ash it’s been nice to just continuously dive into new books. I’m almost done both The Air Awakens Series and The Covenant Series which is bittersweet, but I cannot wait to get to some of the other amazing books I have sitting on my TBR shelf – and if you want to know what those are, go check out that post – I’ve linked it above!

Now that my posts are done for the week, I’m going to power of my Mac and get some more reading done!


Have you read any of these books? If so, what were your thoughts? Let me know below in the comments!