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TBalla04

99 problems, and a book ain't one

Hello. My name is Tricia, and I have an addiction, an addiction to fiction. Fellow addicts, I welcome you with open arms. Blogger over @ bookwormcoalition.wordpress.com

DARK MATTER BY: BLAKE CROUCH

Dark Matter: A Novel - Blake Crouch

I thought this was a really unique, dark & twisty read, and I loved it! Crouch has a way of talking about these huge intricate things but in a really down-to-earth way that makes it seamless to follow right along. It was really fast paced and it honestly kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Surprisingly romantic in a really weird/frightening/fantastic way too lol. I definitely see why so many people were raving about this one.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 176 out of 352 pages.

— feeling evolution
Dark Matter: A Novel - Blake Crouch

Did I just become a scientist? Lol I love that Crouch makes you feel as if you're actually smart enough to kinda grasp the idea of a multiverse and how to traverse it.

 

SEVERANCE BY: LING MA

Severance  - Ling Ma

Not quite what I thought it was going to be like but very well written and interesting none the less. The abruptness of the ending was a bit of a let down though tbh. 

CROWN OF THUNDER BY: KARISSA LAUREL

Crown of Thunder  - Karissa Laurel

While I'm saddened to see this fantastical adventure come to an end, what a way to go! Crown of Thunder gives us the end of a magical journey, but also a hopeful beginning of sorts that is just as important.

 

 

One of the things I found most enchanting about this addition might not be what you would expect. Can we please take a minute to talk about the storyline between Evie and Jackie Faercourt? I never in a million years could have envisioned their inevitable culmination to play out the way it did. Absolutely brilliant! I'm at war with myself a little where this is concerned because the ultimate reconciliation was EPIC, but there's also a part of me that really would have LOVED even more Jackie. That's really a testament to just how well written a character he was and also how he surprisingly added more depth to Evie as well. I was not prepared for him to rise to these all new heights in this book. I thought I knew him. I thought I knew how things would go when their paths crossed again. I thought wrong. At one point I thought PLEASE LET THIS BE A SET UP FOR A SPINOFF ANTIHERO STORY. He ultimately became one of the most interesting characters to me, and although I do not see any antihero redemption stories in his future, the way that things played out was really quite perfect. Evie suddenly becomes all of us, confused by the warring emotions swirling around inside of her and unexpectedly battered by this sadness that was so unexpectedly powerful where Jackie is concerned.

 

 

 

 

I was so glad to see just how much Evie had grown as a person in this one. Her wild adventure to find her way back home took a young, sheltered, naive girl and helped shape her into a fierce, compassionate, prudent queen. She found herself out on the road, (air and sea too!) and she found her people and her purpose.

 

 

 

I also found that I enjoyed the few quiet moments, in between the chaos. The moments where she strolled with a friend and they reminisced on their childhoods and let themselves think of the homes they desperately missed in a way they haven't in so long. Or stolen moments with her heart's desire that even in a war they took the few moments to remind each other what else they were fighting for.

 

 

I just love this whole world, so full of magic and mayhem, so vibrant and full of the most colorful people. I would be enamored by any one of their tales, I'm sure of it! I'm sad to say goodbye to it, but a girl can always dream that maybe instead it is, until we meet again one day.

 

AN ANONYMOUS GIRL BY: GREER HENDRICKS & SARAH PEKKANEN

An Anonymous Girl - Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

Another twisty, chilling psychological bombshell by the dangerous duo, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen!

 

Desperation is a funny thing. It can lead you to do things you never imagined before. The desperate need to survive, or find the truth, for love and money, to hold onto a secret, and for vengeance. This book is absolutely dripping with it and will keep you riveted as you try to find the answers you are looking for.

 

There's also an unsettling undertone about the risk you take when you let someone into your home, your head, or your life. As well as how powerful the secrets we keep can be. Whether it be a force that drives and shapes your life, or the leverage it could give another to shape it for you.

 

"A secret is only safe if one person holds it..."

 

An Anonymous Girl is fast paced and will keep you guessing until the very end.

 

Many thanks to St. Martin's Press for an ARC of this book! 

THE BLACK WITCH BY LAURIE FOREST

The Black Witch - Laurie Forest

The Black Witch was a bit of a slow starter, but never dull by any means. It slowly sunk its claws into me and wouldn't relent until I finished every book I could get my hands on in The Black Witch Chronicles.

 

Elloren could be hard to like and listen to sometimes, but I found her journey through the world and discovering beliefs and opinions for her herself to be a long, rocky, but ultimately real feeling one that allowed her to grow over time.

 

I was truly impressed with the world building in this book. I easily found myself totally enchanted with this land full of magic and mystery.

 

I do think that this story requires some amount of patience to really get into, but I found that after while I couldn't put the book down and any story that makes me instantly purchase every other book in series is a pretty impressive one, imo. 

 

*I received a copy of this book from Harlequin Teen via Netgalley and this is my honest review*

THE DINNER LIST BY REBECCA SERLE

The Dinner List - Rebecca Serle

I was pleasantly surprised to find The Dinner List in my mailbox a week back. The premise was interesting, I think we've all at least considered the question, if you could name five people, living or dead, who you could invite to dinner, who would they be? So the idea of having this dream dinner come true, what would that ACTUALLY look like, would everyone get along? Would some people end up not being what you thought they'd be like? Etc. Well our MC Sabrina had just this happen at 30th birthday dinner, her five living and deceased people there for her.

 

 

The story takes place over the span of this one time only dinner, and also jumps back to past events between Sabrina and all of the guests. While the story starts off a little awkward between the guests and what they are all really doing there, it starts all coming to light as it progresses. With a twist or two along the way!

 

This was a little of a slow burn. Not action packed by any means, but ultimately very emotional with some truly fantastic ideas about what it is to grow up, relationships, love, loss, and forgiveness.

 

A few things that resonated deeply with me:

 

1) The brilliant portrayal of what it is like to become an adult. To really start to question all the things around you, the relationships, the goals you want to achieve, what you want to do or be, want you really want and need vs what others may want or need or expect you to. The last one especially, we are almost hardwired on what to expect from life, go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, start a family, etc. I feel like we don't start questioning these things, if any or all of them are truly what we want or if we are just operating on someone else's playbook until we are in our twenties. It was refreshing and so real to see this exactly so beautifully on display in this book.

 

2) How relationships change over time. This can be such a difficult lesson to learn, but as we grow and our lives carry us in new exciting directions, our relationships change. That doesn't always mean they change for the worse, but one they definitely become something other than the center of your life, which is mostly how they feel when you are young. More often than not, it isn't even anything definable that changes it, no big dramatic moment, not one thing, it changes "Not with a bang but a whimper". Just a progressive shift of priorities, opinions, and lifestyles.

 

 

I thought this was expertly portrayed by Sabrina and Jessica in The Dinner List. Sometimes it can be so difficult to see that while your relationships look different, it doesn't necessarily mean make them less than they were. Jessica had a husband and a baby, living in the burbs, while Sabrina was in the city with a job and a long term boyfriend. Neither one being better than the other, but time, distance, priorities, these all account for just how we can be there for each other sometimes.

 

This was also highlighted well with Sabrina's relationship with Tobias as well. With them getting together when they were younger and growing up as a couple. I felt like in some instances as they grew, they started veering in different directions and it can be really hard to accept that some of those directions may just end up being deal breakers. They seemed more content to try and live in a bubble of denial that things were changing, maybe because they were afraid of what that change would mean for them as a couple. Unfortunately denial can only last so long and their bubble was reaching the bursting point for quite some time.

 

3) The absentee parent. Being someone who never met my father, I could relate to Sabrina and her inclusion of her father on her dinner list. If for nothing more than the burning questions, because there are always questions you have for someone meant to be there for you that wasn't. I was riveted by all their interactions with each other tbh. So many small details even, that rang so true, like Sabrina's apprehension to give him a chance to explain things like it would somehow be a betrayal to her mother.

 

There was something so brilliant and sad about them finally having only a few hours to say what they had to say to each other. And something so relatable to anyone, when you finally see your parents for what they are, human. Such a jarring realization to know that these larger than life pillars are merely flesh and bone people who aren't always right, make mistakes, and aren't all good or bad, but varying shades of grey like the rest of us.

 

Honestly, this book was more heavy than I anticipated going in, but in a wonderful way. And the inclusion of Audrey Hepburn and a random teacher of Sabrina's helped lighten the load a little throughout. They ended up bringing a nice balance to the dinner and the story itself. This was one dinner that just might change Sabrina's life, and one book that will make you think about your own. Very well done and I look forward to reading more from this author.

 

*I received an ARC of this book via Flatiron Books and this is my honest review*

 

BABY TEETH BY: ZOJE STAGE

Baby Teeth - Zoje Stage

 

Let me start this review by saying I have a teenage daughter. Now, as a mom, I can't be the only one ever to have one of those dreams...one of those terrifying nightmares where your child is basically the devil incarnate and you're just feverishly drowning in helplessness, no matter what you do the situation/your child cannot be swayed, controlled or tempered. Like trying to slog through the quicksand stairs while the monster is chasing you. This book is like living that nightmare and you just can't escape from it.

 

 

 

 

I was completely riveted by this story. It plays on so so many parental fears, fears we all have,

 

'am I doing this right?'

 

 

'Should I have done it this way or that way instead?'

 

'Am I wrong for thinking this..or feeling that?'

 

'Am I a good mother?'

 

 

 

 

It made me waiver constantly on my feelings towards Suzette. Much of her thought process was so relatable. We tend to, right or wrong, have a constant internal battle with ourselves and Suzette was a pretty spectacular example of this. Even the way she constantly compared her upbringing to that which she provided for her daughter. We all strive to 'be better', we all want for our children that which we felt we lacked and needed the most. On the flip side though, she could be selfish and quick to think or expect the worst, although considering her history it wasn't exactly a stretch to see why she would do so in some ways, and her constant desire to exude perfection, especially to her husband was concerning. Really she was a spectacularly flawed human, much like the rest of us. I mean, can you still call it paranoia if there's a legitimate reason to be paranoid?

 

 

Hannah was an equally compelling character. It was easy to teeter back and forth between feeling sympathy for her and wondering how much of what was happening with her was in fact due to the dynamic in the household, or stemming from Suzette's shortcomings or overreaching and her father's overcompensation and denial, or being terrified of the fact that maybe she is a deeply disturbed little girl capable of horrifying actions. Either way it was impossible to look away, I was as determined as Suzette to get to the bottom of this mystery. Admittedly some of her actions seemed over the top and to be a thrill just for the sake of the thrill, but it was honestly still riveting nonetheless.

 

 

 

 

I don't want to spoil anything because a lot of the page-turning fun of this book is waiting to find out what is really happening and which side you will ultimately fall on. Although I will say that even at the very end I still found myself conflicted on that! But I must say, as frustrating as that can be, it was also an unexpected surprise and I feel like it fit the story as a whole quite well. I truly enjoyed this book and had trouble putting it down, it was pretty much everything it promised it would be, a disturbing, fast paced page-turner that will keep you engrossed till the very end!

 

 

*I received an ARC of this book via St. Martin's Press and this is my honest review*

 

SKY IN THE DEEP BY ADRIENNE YOUNG

Sky in the Deep - Adrienne  Young

 

This book was a bit of a slow starter for me. While things were interesting enough at the beginning, it wasn't till the last half of the book where I became truly invested in it. I feel like maybe some of that was because it took me quite awhile to warm up to the characters. I just wasn't invested in the main character, Eelyn, for a long time. By the end I did feel more for her, but it took some time to get there. I think most of that came from the mercurial relationship between Eelyn and her brother.

 

I was also expecting more of the story in general. I was really excited to read about this mix of mythology and Vikings but I felt like those aspects fell short of my expectations. I think a lot of those elements that were a part of the story were the obvious ones, how intense the call to battle is and the idol worship, but I didn't see much that went beyond the surface there.

 

I liked the overall message of discovering that the enemy isn't always some unredeemable monster, but more often than not a person just like you, a shade of grey, a person capable of good and bad, darkness and light, with family and friends and people that love them. That was, to me, the best part of this story and undoubtedly the most compelling.

 

*I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley and this is my honest review* 

FURYBORN BY CLAIRE LEGRAND

Furyborn - Claire Legrand

 

This book is probably my FAVORITE book of 2018 thus far. These beautifully flawed, strong women are everything that I want to read in novels of any genre!

 

I loved the alternating perspectives from Eliana and Rielle / present and past, and how wonderfully their stories are so intertwined. All these characters live in shades of grey and I freaking love it!

 

Forbidden love, courtly drama, a Prince and a Wolf, two fierce women trying to figure themselves out and where they stand, magic and mystery, this book has it all. I was sucked in from the very beginning and I ended on the edge of my seat anxiously awaiting a sequel!


*I received an ARC via Netgalley and this is my honest review*

QUEST OF THUNDER BY: KARISSA LAUREL

Quest of Thunder  - Karissa Laurel

 

I was so excited to jump back into this epic fantasy world Laurel created, and this sequel did not disappoint. Where Heir of Thunder was a full-blown high adrenaline adventure, Quest of Thunder was a little less of an adrenaline rush, but full to the brim with the same magic and a heavy focus on character development. We got to see the main characters we know and love grow and flourish in many ways, and we met some new additions that I am absolutely over the moon for!

 

 

One of the best parts about these stories is how immersive they are. You feel like you are a part of Evie's grand adventure every step of the way, from flying ships to traveling circuses. Nothing is as it first appears, prepare yourself for layers of magical surprises! I honestly fell completely in love with the circus and all its many layers. I won't ruin any of the surprises here but I will say there was a definite steampunk theme that got added to the mix in the most amazing way! These books are fast paced fantasy fun and I highly recommend checking them out. I am anxiously awaiting the next book!

HEXEN'S CROSS BY J KOWALLIS

Hexen's Cross  - J. Kowallis

Mythology, magic and mystery...all my favorite M words in one novel.

 

 

 

If you read my reviews you know I'm a sucker for mythology, and Kowallis seamlessly weaves it into the world of the Hexens in an utterly unique way.

 

 

 

 

I also think it needs to be said that this story has some serious Indiana Jones vibes happening. The riddles to be solved, hunting for possibly fictitious relics from the past, magical BOOBY TRAPS, all being pioneered by the badass seeker of knowledge, professor/Hexen extrodinaire, Taran Grim.

 

 

 

 

Taran was pretty awesome. Although her Hexen legacy was not as accomplished as it could be, her knowledge on the mythological and mystical was second to none. Or at least, very few. I'm glad she still has some stuff to learn where her spells/powers are involved because I think if she had all that straight away she would be unstoppable at whatever she puts her mind to. I think I'll quite enjoy watching her develop and exact those powers as the story continues.

 

 

 

 

Now can we talk Collens Donovan for a hot minute? How is it even an accent on paper is HAWT?

 

 

 

 

I mean, he was kinda douchetastic at the beginning, but we all know sometimes those rough around the edges types are hiding all their many squishy loveable bits underneath. Coll was no exception. His magical prowess was a nice balance to Taran's wealth of knowledge. As Taran chipped away at his armor we got a much better idea of him as a person without the bluster and bravado...and of course, like Taran, it was hard not to like what I saw.

 

 

 

 

That ending was explosive, be prepared for twists and revelations you won't see coming! I was on the edge of my seat by the end and I CAN'T WAIT to see what happens next in this world of magic and mayhem! If you are a fan of mythology, adventure, magic, and swoon-worthy characters you need to add Hexen's Cross to your must-read list.

 

 

 

 

Btw still insanely jealous of Hexen's ability to magic their way around daily nuisances like doing your hair and avoiding traffic. Taran, share your secrets with me please!

 

 

 

 

*I received an ARC at no cost from the author*

THE WIFE BETWEEN US BY: GREER HENDRICKS & SARAH PEKKANEN

The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
Well, I feel like the blurb totally called it. 
 
"When you read this book, you will make many assumptions."
 
 
 
I had a lot of assumptions at the beginning of this book, and only one thing turned out to be true. Which I kinda can't tell you, because it would spoil all the fun. I even heeded the warning like blurb. I went into this one totally suspicious of EVERYONE. In the end I think that actually made this whole story even more fun. I was juggling at least 4 different theories on what was ACTUALLY happening, and none of those was what it ended up being. This was one hell of a plot twist and I imagine it is going to knock a lot of socks off! It surely got me! 
 
 
Part one was a little slower going, but still interesting getting a thorough examination of the characters and a glimpse at their relationships. It painted a really full foundation in your mind that is inevitably rocked down to its core in part two. I feel like the full picture at the end of the book was much more comprehensive because of it. The last half of the book is unputdownable. Once everything starts to shift it is nearly impossible to put down until the very end. And the authors have more than one surprise up their sleeves in this tale, so this is the book that just keeps on giving. 
 
 
I really enjoyed The Wife Between Us, I hear it will be coming to the big screen too and I am looking forward to watching that when it comes out. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more from these authors. 
 
Many thanks to St. Martin's Press for an ARC of this book! 

DARK DREAMS AND DEAD THINGS MARTINA MCATEE

Dark Dreams and Dead Things (Dark Things) (Volume 2) - Martina McAtee

 

"The monsters we kill think we're the monsters. Villains never see themselves as villains. I think it just makes you feel better to think of the things we kill as monsters. As things different than us."

 

 

Dark Dreams and Dead Things was a fitting title, for multiple reasons. I felt like there was a little bit darker of a tone to this one than the first, in a really great way. The character development was well done and I really liked the inclusion of some fresh, interesting faces too. I continue to be impressed with how big of a world that McAtee created and how well she puppeteers each of the many inhabitants and the story lines! There was a lot going on in this one, a few new mysteries to solve, along with the progression of the main plot. The ending was especially good and I can't wait to see what happens next! 

 

 

THE DRAGONS OF NOVA BY: ELISE KOVA

The Dragons of Nova (Loom Saga) - Elise Kova

 

    I have to say I really enjoyed this sequel to The Alchemists of Loom! It had everything I look for in a sequel, compelling character development and riveting plot progression. I liked the Alchemists of Loom, but I LOVED The Dragons of Nova. 

 

 

I am so happy we got a better view of Nova in this one, and all the juicy dragonian politics that come along with it. I found Arianna's time there so engrossing, being completely surrounded by the dragons she despises, even (if rather reluctantly) working with them to bring down the biggest, baddest one of them all. Seeing Cvareh in his natural habitat was also a treat. I think that he was so out of his element in the first book that often he seemed to be floundering, but in Nova we got to see this other side to him, one where he is well respected and a real pillar of strength to his people. 

 

 

As much as I liked Nova, I was also glad to continue Florence's journey with the rebels, and even more so her personal journey. It was nice to see her stepping out of Ari's shadow and really coming into her own. Florence had learned a lot of invaluable things from Ari, but watching her discover the world around her for herself and deciding on her own what is important to her and what to fight for. 

 

That ending was EXPLOSIVE, and I am dying to know what is going to happen next. I honestly can't wait to get my hands on the next book! 

*Bookworm problems*

— feeling hypnotized
Sixth Grave on the Edge  - Darynda Jones

I know I have like 6 book reviews to write but I seriously can't stop binge reading the Charley Davidson books right now! These books are addictive! A little bit of mystery, a little romance, a little supernatural, a little humor, a little action and a lot of fun! And all those things are really more than just a little.