Review: The Lost Girl

The Lost Girl
The Lost Girl by R.L. Stine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Growing up, summer wasn’t complete without a trip to the beach and a handful of Fear Street novels. I can’t even express the wave of nostalgia that came over me was I started in on this ARC- it felt like being in middle school all over again. “The Lost Girl” was just like the R.L. Stine Fear Street novels of my pre-teen-hood, creepy, gruesome and fast-plotted.* While by no means realistic, these books hit the sweet spot of being entertaining but still with some substance. I’m so glad that this author continues to write, and I can’t wait to add his newest works to my collection and one day pass them along to my own children.

“The Lost Girl” takes readers back to Shadyside where the mysterious arrival of a new girl in town is (of course) tied to a series of strange accidents and occurrences. Main character Michael, finds himself drawn to Lizzy, not realizing that a past tragedy from 60 years ago will come back to haunt them. Just as in other Fear Street novels, Shadyside’s dark history has a way of always rearing its ugly head. That said, you won’t really need to know the background of the other books to enjoy “The Lost Girl.”

While as an adult reader I had an inkling of where the story was going to go, I was still pleasantly surprised by the twists and turns of the plot. Clocking in at just under 300 pages, “The Lost Girl” should keep you busy for a few days if you can put it down.

Available for pre-order from Amazon.com and on shelves September 29th, 2015.

*Even now, some of the awful deaths/accidents in his novels still creep me out majorly.

Disclaimer: An ARC of this novel was provided to me for the purpose of review by the publisher.

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Review: The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

The Night Sister
The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun, creepy read for summer!

THE NIGHT SISTER is told in alternating narratives set in the past and present, but centers around the mystery surrounding the disappearance of a teenaged girl, Sylvie, in the 1950s and a motel in rural Vermont. In the 1980s, three high-school girls stumble upon the missing teen’s suitcase- a discovery that will continue to haunt them into adulthood. When Amy, who is Sylvie’s niece, as an adult stands accused of a horrible crime, her friends, sister Margot and Piper, must return to the Tower Motel to face the secrets they unearthed that long-ago summer.

Nicely paced and well-written, I found myself sucked into the story very quickly. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I was not expecting this book to go in the direction it does. That said, despite not being what I thought it would be, the conclusion/ending kind of worked out well.

Definitely recommend as a good, slightly creepy, book for summer travel or the beach/pool!

Available for pre-order from Amazon.com and on shelves August 4th.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel for the purpose of review via the Publisher.

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Review: Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova

Wildalone
Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that I really wanted to like so much, but fell painfully short of expectations.*

WILDALONE by Krassi Zourkova is a modern re-telling of Greek mythology set against the backdrop of Princeton University. Following in her deceased sister’s footsteps, piano prodigy Thea arrives on campus in search of the facts behind her sister’s untimely demise. She becomes involved with two mysterious brothers, Jake and Rhys, who seem to be somehow be tied to her sister’s death, and clearly have secrets of their own. Incorporating themes of magic and myth, WILDALONE tries ever so hard to successfully land in the same realm as A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, but fails due to poor execution. While the author’s first language is not English, I was surprised that the editors did not address some of the awkward phrases/wording. In fact, I often got so tripped up by the way a sentence or passage was delivered that it totally distracted from the rest of the novel.

Though the premise of WILDALONE initially was enough to suck me in, I struggled to finish the book and finally powered through this past weekend (I think I started it back in Feb?). It feels like the start of a series, but I can safely say I won’t be continuing with it. The mystery that is setup is not intriguing enough, and I don’t think I can struggle through another 300 pages of the writing.

Available now from Amazon.com, but it may be one you want to get out of your library instead.

*Honestly, the first tip off should have been all of the other novels it’s compared to… THE SECRET HISTORY, A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, JANE EYRE… it’s never a good sign when you have to use so many other books to describe what you’re trying to sell.

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“Luckiest Girl Alive” by Jessica Knoll

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4.5 out of 5 stars

Whoa. Jessica Knoll’s “Luckiest Girl Alive” was not what I was expecting in the best way possible.

Ani FaNelli is that New York girl you hate- skinny, pretty, huge engagement ring and designer handbags – she leads the kind of life that every small town girl dreams about. Bitchy, pithy and not exactly the nicest girl around, she’s done her best to distance herself from a life-changing event in her teens. However, when the anniversary of those events approaches… it becomes clear that the truth can’t be buried forever.

Will you hate Ani? Most likely yes. She reminds me of Curtis Sittenfield’s protagonist in Prep. Annoying, self-centered and shallow, she can be difficult to relate to, but by the end of the novel at least you’ll understand her and perhaps have some empathy. The novel is told from Ani’s perspective which can be a little trying at first, but don’t fight it- just give in.

I don’t want to give away anything from the plot, but I will say I was totally caught off guard and had no idea the direction that the story was going to go in. Again, while you may not love all of the characters, the writing is sharp and clean, and creates a delightful sense of unease. It may start off a little chick-lit, but the plot quickly becomes much deeper and darker. If you like Gillian Flynn’s novels, you’ll most likely enjoy “Luckiest Girl Alive.”

A definite must read for 2015! Also, it looks like the movie rights to this book have been snapped up by Lionsgate! Available for pre-order from Amazon.com and on shelves May 12th, 2015.

Disclaimer: I received and an ARC of this book for review.

Madam President by Nicolle Wallace – A Book Review

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Think of this as Scandal, Madam Secretary, The West Wing, and State of Affairs all wrapped up into one book. Populated by a cast of strong female characters, Madam President follows Charlotte Kramer, the forty-fifth US President, as she faces a day of terrorist attacks on US soil. Told from the various perspectives of those on her team it explores the women’s professional and personal lives. Nicolle Wallace, the book’s author, is a DC scence-ster (former White House Communications Director and political analyst for CBS Evening News), which adds a certain air of realism to her writing that makes it feel very believable.

I know this sounds awful, but there is one part of the book I found a little bit implausible: an almost entirely female administration. President, VP, Secretary of Defense, Press Secretary… While I’m not complaining, it just seemed like a little much. (Also, sidebar – it was slightly unclear to me how someone could go from Chief of Staff to Secretary of Defense and still be under 40…) That said, Wallace does a nice job of keeping the book focused on the political/current event situations at hand and does not let Madam President descend into chick-lit territory.

Overall, an enjoyable read for those who miss The West Wing and like their entertainment with a touch of politics.

Available for pre-order from Amazon.com and on shelves April 28th, 2015.

p.s. Can we talk about how fab the cover is?
Disclaimer: I was provided with an ARC of this novel by the publisher for review.

Catching Up!

Hi Readers –

Hope you are all well and enjoying this holiday season! Apologies for the delay in updates – things have gotten a little zany. That said, while I am working on updating this site with my most recent reviews, you can also head over to my Goodreads profile to get a sneak peak of what is to come.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday and a happy new year!

xo

“The Perfect Mother” by Nina Darnton – A Book Review

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“Perfect” mother of three, Jennifer Lewis has it all, until one night she receives a phone call from her daughter Emma who is studying abroad in Europe. A “ripped from the headlines” kind of novel, “The Perfect Mother” explores just how difficult the relationship can be between mothers and daughters, and just what unconditionally loving someone actually means.

For those that may have read Jennifer duBois’ “Cartwheel” the plot may sound familiar. College student who has not told her parents everything, secrets, a murder in a foreign country, etc. In fact, it was very hard not to compare the two as I was reading. Fortunately, it’s been a while since I read “Cartwheel,” and Darnton adds her own twists and turns, though I personally preferred the characters of “Cartwheel” more. It’s not that Darnton’s characters are not well developed, I just found it hard to like anything about Jennifer or her daughter, and I spent most of the book feeling horrible for the clearly long-suffering Mr. Lewis. That said, I much prefer the cover art of “The Perfect Mother” -I know, not totally relevant… but I really disliked what was chosen for “Cartwheel.”

Clocking in at just under 300 pages, the plot is well-paced and would be a perfect plane trip read. While you will enjoy it if you have read “Cartwheel,” be prepared for a lot of similarities.

Available for pre-order from Amazon.com and on shelves November 25h, 2014.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher.