Weekly Recap #40: Week of 2/11 – 2/17

 

It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

This week was such a mixed bag weather-wise.  We started out with wintry temps but by Thursday and Friday, we had spring teaser temps in the 60s and 70s. Those two days were fantastic, but sadly, today we were right back to highs in the 30s and sleet.  Mother Nature just can’t seem to make up her mind, lol.

Aside from the weather roller coaster, it was a fairly typical week here.  Valentine’s Day was okay, not as romantic as I would have liked, but it seems to always be that way when the holiday falls during the week.  We’re both just too rushed and too tired to put much effort into it.  Heck, I even bought my own box of chocolates this year just to make sure I got what I really wanted.  That evening though, the hubby did manage to surprise me with tickets to see the Dave Matthews Band in concert.  We won’t be going until July, but I’m pretty excited about it.  I haven’t been to a concert of any kind in years and DMB is from Virginia so it’s always fun to support the local boys.

The whole week feels like a blur honestly, in part because I fought a headache all week long and just couldn’t focus on much else.  Nothing over the counter helped at all, and I was just miserable.  I’ve never had a migraine before but when I described what I was feeling to my husband, he seems to think that’s what it is.  I finally called my doctor on Friday and have an appointment to see her this coming week. I also fell behind on my blog visiting/commenting late in the week as my headache grew worse, but hopefully I’ll be able to get caught up this weekend since it has finally eased up a bit.

In spite of the headache that just wouldn’t go away, I did watch a lot of the Olympics coverage as predicted, and I also managed to get a lot of reading done too.  Out of those 5 March 6th ARCs I was fretting about a couple of weeks ago, I’ve finished reading 3 of them and have started the 4th.  I haven’t written a single review for them yet (still working on that procrastination goal obviously, lol), but at least I’m making good progress and should have them all reviewed prior to the publication date.  Because I’ve been so focused on those ARCs, my backlist reading has not been nearly as good as it was last month.  I did finally start a backlist book though, Bruce Springsteen’s 500+ page autobiography.  I’m about halfway through it now and It’s one that has been on my shelf since October 2016, so I’m happy to finally be working towards marking that one off the to read list.

I think that’s it for me for now.  I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

     
  

UPCOMING REVIEWS

 

       
    
 

 STACKING THE SHELVES

 

    

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

Review: MY NAME IS VENUS BLACK by Heather Lloyd

Review:  MY NAME IS VENUS BLACK by Heather LloydMy Name Is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd
four-stars
Published by Dial Press on February 27th 2018
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 368
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

Set in the 1980s, Heather Lloyd’s moving debut My Name is Venus Black follows the story of Venus Black, a thirteen year-old straight A student who dreams of becoming the first female astronaut in space.  When the story opens, Venus is being placed into the backseat of a police car and taken away from her home and subsequently charged with a horrific crime.  Venus refuses to talk to anyone about what happened or why it happened, but she is adamant that her mother is to blame and refuses to speak to her as well. Ultimately Venus is convicted and sentenced to a juvenile detention facility for more than five years.  As if Venus’s crime and imprisonment wasn’t enough to tear apart the Black family, Venus’ seven year old brother Leo, who is developmentally disabled, also goes missing.  One minute he’s playing in the neighbor’s sandbox, the next he vanishes without a trace.  During one of their infrequent meetings, Venus’ mother Inez blurts out that she holds Venus responsible for the fact that Leo has gone missing.  Thus an already strained relationship becomes even more strained.

When Venus is finally released, she chooses not to go back home.  Instead, she decides she needs to make a fresh start so she obtains a fake id and thus tries to escape from her past and start over.  At first Venus is completely alone and refuses to trust anyone around her, but as she finally starts to meet new people, she finds herself opening up and letting more people in.  She makes a friend at the local coffee shop where she lands her first job, becomes like a big sister to the young daughter of a man she rents a room from, and even begins a bit of a flirtation with one of the regular customers at the coffee shop. What Venus eventually realizes, however, is that she can’t have these new relationships while living a lie and constantly looking over her shoulder wondering if someone has figured out who she really is.  This realization causes old wounds to reopen and Venus realizes that she has to face her past head on, including her estranged relationship with her mother as well as the disappearance of her brother (who is still missing), if she ever hopes to move past it.

Can Venus come to terms with the actions from her past and go after the second chance she deserves?  Can she forgive her mother for looking the other way when Venus needed her the most?  And most importantly, can Venus learn to forgive herself?

My Name is Venus Black is a moving coming of age story about second chances, forgiveness, facing up to one’s past, and most importantly, about family.

 

The focus on family was one of the themes that really resonated with me.  Whether it’s the family you’re born with or a family that you’ve made because you all happen to be living under one roof, this book is all about the connections we make with those around us.  Even though she is alone and has every intention of remaining so when she is first released, Venus slowly but surely finds herself forming an almost sisterly bond with a young girl named Piper that she lives with for a while.  Venus is also constantly reminded of the family she has lost and left behind.  She misses Leo and is always thinking about him and wondering if he is okay.  This story also strongly focuses on the idea that no matter how badly you think you’ve messed up, your family is always there for you and it’s never too late to start over if you’re willing to try.

What really got to me about My Name is Venus Black is that it was told mostly from the perspective of the two children, Venus and Leo.  Because some of the events of the story are so dark, it’s just all the more poignant to see them unfold through the eyes of a child.  All of the emotions, the fears and the uncertainty just got to me even more than they probably would have if the story had been presented to me differently.

I also loved both Venus and Leo.  Venus is such a strong voice in this story and her character development is incredible.  I felt bad for her in the beginning because she just wouldn’t talk about what happened and in some ways probably made things harder for herself by refusing to tell her story.  Venus’ story is all about growth though and what she goes through in this story takes her from being basically a terrified little girl in the beginning to a fierce young woman ready to take on the world by the end.

And even though this is mainly Venus’ story, Leo also plays a huge role.  He isn’t given a diagnosis in this book but based on the way he needs structure and the way he panics when his routine is disrupted, I think he is quite possibly autistic. Leo is such a vulnerable character that I immediately felt protective of him because he’s caught up in the middle of something he can’t even begin to comprehend.  Leo is important to the story primarily because of how his disappearance impacts Venus and Inez.  No matter how many years have passed, neither of them give up on the idea that he is still out there so he remains a connection between them no matter how estranged they are from one another.

 

I only had one real issue with My Name is Venus Black and that had to do with the way it would sometimes switch from one character’s perspective to another without warning right in the middle of a chapter.  Hopefully this is just an ARC formatting issue that will not be in the finished copy, but in the review copy I read, occasionally it would just randomly switch from Venus’ perspective to Leo’s from one paragraph to the next.  I found that a little odd, especially since the chapters themselves were told from different perspectives.  Why add further switches within the chapters instead of just making more chapters?  Anyway, it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the book but it did slow me down a few times while reading since it was a little jarring each time it happened.

 

My Name is Venus Black is an incredibly moving story about family and forgiveness.  It’s about learning that your actions have consequences and that you have to accept responsibility for them, but it’s also about second chances and how we’re all entitled to them.  If you’re looking for a poignant story filled with memorable characters, I’d highly recommend My Name is Venus Black.

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Venus Black is a straitlaced A student fascinated by the study of astronomy—until the night she commits a shocking crime that tears her family apart and ignites a media firestorm. Venus refuses to talk about what happened or why, except to blame her mother. Adding to the mystery, Venus’s developmentally challenged younger brother, Leo, goes missing.

More than five years later, Venus is released from prison with a suitcase of used clothes, a fake identity, and a determination to escape her painful past. Estranged from her mother, and with her beloved brother still missing, she sets out to make a fresh start in Seattle, skittish and alone. But as new people enter her orbit—including a romantic interest and a young girl who seems like a mirror image of her former lost self—old wounds resurface, and Venus realizes that she can’t find a future while she’s running from her past.

four-stars

About Heather Lloyd

Heather Lloyd, who has spent many years working as an editor and writing coach, lives with her husband in New York City. My Name Is Venus Black is her first novel.

Review: THE HUSH by John Hart

Review:  THE HUSH by John HartThe Hush by John Hart
four-stars
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 27th 2018
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 432
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

I’ve been a fan of John Hart’s novels for years, ever since I read his gripping thriller The Last Child so I was beyond excited to get approved for an ARC of his latest novel, The Hush.  My excitement grew even more once I started reading and realized that The Hush actually revisits the characters and landscape that I fell in love with in The Last Child.

The Hush takes place ten years after the horrifying events that rocked the lives of both thirteen-year-old Johnny Merrimon and the rest of the folks who lived in Johnny’s hometown.  Over the years, even though he has shied away from the spotlight, people have written books and tried to exploit Johnny’s story, so whether he wants the attention or not, he has become somewhat of a local celebrity and is both feared and revered by those around him.  When the novel opens, Johnny is now 23 years old and, desperate to retain some element of privacy in his life, is living as a recluse in the middle of 6,000 once-sacred, wooded acres known as The Hush.

Johnny’s only real connection to his former way of life is his childhood friend, Jack Cross, who has just finished law school and landed his first job as an attorney. I don’t want to spoil anything from The Last Child so I’ll just say that what these two boys went through in that novel has made their bond of friendship stronger than ever.  Jack would literally do anything and give up everything for Johnny, and I think Johnny feels the same way about Jack.  Even though I’d classify this book as a mystery/thriller, it is a moving story about friendship as well.

There is something strange and ominous about the place Johnny now calls home, however, and Jack senses its hidden dangers.  He tries to talk to Johnny about it but Johnny doesn’t want to hear anyone speak ill of his beloved Hush.  It becomes more and more clear that what happens in The Hush is not normal.  Most people cannot navigate the wooded, swampy land.  Landmarks seems to disappear or flat out move about, strange mists appear and lead to people getting disoriented.  In fact, many who attempt to travel into The Hush don’t come out alive.  Because he lives there, Johnny of course is immediately considered a suspect every time something happens.  Jack knows his friend is innocent and makes it his mission to prove Johnny’s innocence, but big questions remain:  What the heck is really going on in The Hush? Who else is interested in it and why are they willing to pay so much money for it?

One element of the story I liked right away is that, without completely rehashing the plot of The Last Child, Hart provides his readers with just enough background information to remind us why Johnny would choose such a secluded way of life.  In that sense, The Hush works quite well as a standalone novel.  You don’t need to have read The Last Child to follow along with this story.  (I definitely recommend reading it though, just because it’s a fabulous read.)

I loved The Last Child so much, so it was also just a thrill for me to revisit this story, and especially the characters, Johnny Merrimon and Jack Cross, who were both just such compelling characters.  It was wonderful to meet these boys again and see what kind of young men they have grown up to become and that Johnny has attained an almost mythic quality in the years since we left him.  The mysterious events that are taking place in The Hush also have Johnny pitted against local law enforcement, who seem eager to pin something on him, so legendary as he is, Johnny is also cast in the role of underdog in this story, and I’m always one to root for the underdog.

Hart drew me into this story, not just by revisiting some of my favorite characters, but also with the mystery of The Hush.  Johnny loves this place so much that even though he is on the verge of losing it if he can’t come up with the money to pay his taxes, he still won’t part with a single acre of it, not even when someone offers to pay him 10 times what it is worth.  The connection between Johnny and The Hush is almost surreal – Johnny is literally one with the land, and the land is one with him.  This intense connection captivated me immediately and had me zooming through the pages because I wanted to know how and why Johnny could have such a connection to the land, especially since it seemed to literally chew up and spit out anyone else who tried to venture onto it.

I’m also a huge fan of Hart’s writing style.  It’s a given that it’s filled with exciting twists and turns by virtue of the fact that it’s a mystery, but what I love about Hart’s writing is his gorgeous prose.  His descriptions, in particular of the landscape, are so lush and vivid that it’s easy to feel that you are right there with the characters.  What I love most is that he achieves this without making it feel forced or flowery; the descriptions are fluid and effortless.  I know he’s a writer so duh, but John Hart just really has a way with words.  His descriptions of The Hush were especially well done and just so atmospheric, especially when someone besides Johnny ventured in.  It was so beautiful and yet so creepy and ominous; I literally had goosebumps on my arms and felt like I was looking over my own shoulder for signs of danger.

Lastly, because I really don’t want to give anything away, I just want to say that I also love that Hart is willing to challenge himself by trying something different.  Whereas most of Hart’s novels are straight mystery/thrillers, The Hush actually ventures over into magical realism territory and is infused with a bit of the supernatural.  This was new and unexpected since that’s not what I’m used to with a John Hart novel, but I thought he did a fantastic job with it overall.  It kind of felt like a mashup of a typical John Hart novel and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and since Beloved is a favorite of mine, it was a great fit for me.

There was only one time when I had any kind of an issue with The Hush and that was towards the end.  I can’t really go into any detail without spoiling the plot, so I’m just going to say that it revolved around the supernatural aspect of the story.  It’s hard to even explain what my issue really was except that it’s along the lines of me being willing to suspend disbelief and see where the author wants to take the whole supernatural thing, but then reaching a point where I’m like “Nope, too far.  Reel it back in.”  If you read The Hush, you’ll probably know the exact scene that I’m referring to as soon as you get to it.  Aside from that one moment, I thought it was a fantastic read.

With his memorable characters and gorgeous prose, John Hart continues his streak of well-crafted stories with The Hush.  If you’re looking for a mystery that will keep you guessing until the end and can open your mind to supernatural possibilities, The Hush should be right up your alley.

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

The only writer in history to win consecutive Edgar Awards for Best Novel, New York Times bestselling author John Hart returns to the world of his most beloved novel, The Last Child.

Building on the world first seen in The Last Child (“A magnificent creation” —The Washington Post), John Hart delivers a stunning vision of a secret world, rarely seen.

It’s been ten years since the events that changed Johnny Merrimon’s life and rocked his hometown to the core. Since then, Johnny has fought to maintain his privacy, but books have been written of his exploits; the fascination remains. Living alone on six thousand acres of once-sacred land, Johnny’s only connection to normal life is his old friend, Jack. They’re not boys anymore, but the bonds remain. What they shared. What they lost.

But Jack sees danger in the wild places Johnny calls home; he senses darkness and hunger, an intractable intent. Johnny will discuss none of it, but there are the things he knows, the things he can do. A lesser friend might accept such abilities as a gift, but Jack has felt what moves in the swamp: the cold of it, the unspeakable fear.

More than an exploration of friendship, persistence, and forgotten power, The Hush leaves all categories behind, and cements Hart’s status as a writer of unique power.

four-stars

About John Hart

John Hart is the author of five New York Times bestsellers, THE KING OF LIES, DOWN RIVER, THE LAST CHILD, IRON HOUSE and REDEMPTION ROAD. The only author in history to win the best novel Edgar Award for consecutive novels, John has also won the Barry Award, the Southern Independent Bookseller’s Award for Fiction, the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, the Southern Book Prize and the North Carolina Award for Literature. His novels have been translated into thirty languages and can be found in over seventy countries. A former defense attorney and stockbroker, John spends his time in North Carolina and Virginia, where he writes full-time.

Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on OLIVIA TWIST by Lorie Langdon

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

* * * * *

My selection for this week is Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon.  I read and loved most of Charles Dickens’ novels when I was in high school and college, and Oliver Twist has always stood out as a sentimental favorite.  I’m intrigued by the idea of a re-imagining of this classic tale with a female in the starring role.  I also catch a hint of a possible hate-to-love trope, which as those who read my post yesterday know, I’m a huge fan of.

 

OLIVIA TWIST by Lorie Langdon

Publication Date:   March 6, 2018

 

 

From Goodreads:

Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive.

Jack MacCarron rose from his place in London’s East End to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron. Little does society know that MacCarron is a false name for a boy once known among London gangs as the Artful Dodger, and that he and his “aunt” are robbing them blind every chance they get. When Jack encounters Olivia Brownlow in places he least expects, his curiosity is piqued. Why is a society girl helping a bunch of homeless orphan thieves? Even more intriguing, why does she remind him so much of someone he once knew? Jack finds himself wondering if going legit and risking it all might be worth it for love.

Olivia Twist is an innovative reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist, in which Olivia was forced to live as a boy for her own safety until she was rescued from the streets. Now eighteen, Olivia finds herself at a crossroads: revealed secrets threaten to destroy the “proper” life she has built for her herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future.

 * * * * *

 

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your CWW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Literary Couples I Fell in Love With Even Though I’m Not a Fan of Romance

Created at canva.com

 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

This week’s TTT topic is Love Freebie (Romances, swoons, OTPs, kisses, sexy scenes, etc.).  I have to admit that I almost skipped this week’s topic since I don’t typically read romance novels and didn’t know if I would be able to come up with anything to share.  The more I thought about it though, the more I decided it would be fun to share some literary couples that I do love in spite of my aversion to romance novels.

I’m not up on all of the various tropes that are romance-related, but I think based on my list that romance fan or not, I am a HUGE fan of the HATE-TO-LOVE trope.  I’m all about two people being super snarky with one another and the sparks are just flying and then boom, all of the sudden they realize perhaps what they feel isn’t hate at all.  My other favorite trope is FRIENDS-TO-LOVERS.  I just love watching a relationship naturally grow beyond just a wonderful friendship into so much more.  I’m not much of a romantic, but those two tropes just really get to me.

That said, below are some of my favorite literary couples and I think it’s safe to say that all of them fall under one of these two tropes.

* * * * *

Top Ten Literary Couples I Fell in Love With Even Though I’m Not a Fan of Romance

 

BENEDICK & BEATRICE from Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George  (and from MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING by William Shakespeare)

MR. DARCY & ELIZABETH BENNETT from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

NINA & MATTHIAS from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

LILAC & TARVER from THESE BROKEN STARS by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

CELIA & MARCO from The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern

FEYRE & RHYS from A COURT OF MIST AND FURY

SIMON & BLUE from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

RON & HERMIONE from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

ELEANOR & PARK from Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

LOUISA & WILL from Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

 

* * * * *

Question:  Who are some of your favorite literary couples?

Review: HONOR AMONG THIEVES

Review:  HONOR AMONG THIEVESHonor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine, Ann Aguirre
four-stars
Series: The Honors #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on February 13th 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 480
Source: the Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

Honor Among Thieves, a science fiction novel brought to us by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre, is a thrill ride from start to finish.  Set in the not-so-distant future, the story follows teenage protagonist Zara Cole, a petty thief who is using her street smarts to survive on her own in New Detroit.  New Detroit isn’t the most pleasant place to live.  It’s actually quite seedy, but it offers Zara what she needs at this point in her life, freedom to live on her own terms and make her own decisions.  Zara has a family—in fact, she could be living with her mother and sister on a wonderful colony on Mars.  Zara’s past, however, has been filled with pain – pain she has experienced at the hands of an abusive father, and then the pain she feels that she has caused her mother and sister.  She decides that they would be better off making a fresh start without her causing them further pain, and so this is how she finds herself alone in New Detroit.

Zara is doing just fine for herself, stealing as she needs to and pawning what she steals for cash.  That is, until she steals from the wrong person – the daughter of Mr. Deluca, the most powerful man around – and finds herself on the run as Mr. Deluca makes it his mission to take Zara down.  Zara faces jail or even death, but in a surprise twist of fate, she finds herself being chosen to become an Honor instead.

The Honors is an elite team of humans who are chosen by the Leviathan.  The Leviathan are a race of what I would say are actual living space ships.  They can be piloted and lived in like space ships, but they can also think, communicate, and feel emotions.  Ever since the Leviathan stepped in and saved Earth from destroying itself, the Leviathan and the humans have had a symbiotic relationship.  Every year the Leviathan select 100 humans who will become passengers aboard the living ships and explore the outer reaches of the universe.  Usually those chosen to be Honors are scientists, musicians, and other scholarly types.  No one from Zara’s community has ever been chosen to be an Honor, so it comes as quite a shock to Zara, who is immediately suspicious as to their motives but agrees to take part because ‘Hey it’s better than jail or death, right?’

What surprises Zara right away is how almost as soon as she meets Nadim, the living ship she will be traveling on, she immediately feels at home for the first time ever.  More comfortable than she ever felt in her own home growing up.  She actually begins to look forward to spending a year traveling with Nadim; that is, until she realizes there’s more to this journey she is on than meets the eye.  Behind the allure of the elite Honors program, things are much darker and more dangerous than Zara had anticipated.  Between that and the other dark truths of the universe that she begins to see while on her journey, Zara realizes she might be in as much danger here as she was back on earth.

Can her street smarts help her here or is Zara in completely over her head?

 

Zara was definitely my favorite part of Honor Among Thieves.  I loved her spunk and her street smarts. She is tough as nails and it’s easy to cheer her on, especially as she takes on the underdog role, both against Deluca and then again as a thief among Honors (Side note:  I loved that little play on words with the title).  As much as I enjoyed the action in the story, it’s actually Zara’s development as a character that really drew me in and kept me reading.  She is so closed off and mistrusting of everyone around her when the story opens, but once she gets on that ship and starts to bond both with Nadim and with Beatrice, her fellow Honor, she becomes almost a completely different person.  She’s so much more open and trusting and her compassionate side just really comes out when it comes to protecting and defending those she cares about.  I liked Zara when the story began, but I absolutely adored her by the end.

Nadim.  Okay, I’ll admit the whole idea of a living ship kind of weirded me out at first.  The image I have in my head is along the lines of Jonah and the Whale but the Whale is actually a space ship.  The whole concept was just so wild. Once I got used to it though, I loved it, especially Zara’s ship, Nadim.  Almost as soon as she boards the ship, Zara learns that some of Nadim’s previous missions haven’t gone very well and that if his mission with Zara goes badly, he will be banished to live alone in space.  What I really liked about Nadim was that even though he is this massive space ship, he still has this vulnerable, almost childlike quality about him, and like Zara, I found myself feeling very protective of him.

The Action.  Between the actual mission itself and then all of the underlying, unexpected drama, this is one action-packed book.  In a lot of ways, this aspect of it reminded me of Illuminae with its breakneck pace and with the way it becomes a survival story.  The last half of the book goes by especially fast because there’s so much drama and suspense.  If you like action, aliens, space battles, and conspiracies, you’d be in for a treat with this book.

 

The only aspect of Honor Among Thieves that I had trouble with is what was referred to as ‘Deep Bonding’ between a Leviathan and a human.  Zara and Nadim engage in this ‘deep bond’ at one point and I don’t know if it was supposed to come across this way, or if I just read more into it than I should have, but it had an almost sexual vibe to me.  I was all for the idea of Zara and Nadim in a non-sexual, soulmate kind of way, but that one section just made for an awkward read for me.

 

Honor Among Thieves is the start of what is sure to be wonderful new series.  I hadn’t read anything by either Rachel Caine or Ann Aguirre prior to reading this story, but they are both on my watch list now.  If you’re into spunky, street smart heroines, space exploration, and are intrigued by the idea of living space ships, be sure to check out Honor Among Thieves.  You won’t be disappointed!

 

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.

Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

four-stars

About Ann Aguirre

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes all kinds of books, emo music, action movies and Doctor Who. She writes all kind of fiction in multiple genres, both YA and for adults.

About Rachel Caine

Rachel Caine’s rich, diverse bibliography of more than 50 books in print covers many categories and genres. She started out writing horror and fantasy as Roxanne Longstreet (Stormriders, The Undead, Red Angel, Cold Kiss, Slow Burn) before switching to the name Roxanne Conrad and publishing romantic suspense and mystery (Copper Moon, Bridge of Shadows, Exile). By 2003, she began to publish under her current pseudonym, specializing in urban fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal young adult fiction.

She has been writing original fiction since the age of fourteen, and professionally published since 1991. She graduated from Socorro High School in El Paso Texas (where she was a UIL all-state champion in music and journalism) and went on to earn an accounting degree from Texas Tech University. She played professionally as a musician for several years once out of college, but ultimately gave up the music for writing.

She’s had a varied “day job” career, including web design, graphic arts, accounting, payroll management, insurance investigation, and (most recently) corporate communications and crisis management. (It all counts as research.)

Rachel loves reading, writing, and mild amounts of arithmetic when required … but she has a special place in her heart for history, music, and science, and you’ll find those themes in many of her works.

Weekly Recap #39: Week of 2/4 – 2/10

 

It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

I feel like I say this almost every week but I’ll be so glad when spring gets here.  The older I get the more I dislike winter and want nothing to do with it.  It’s not even that we get all that much snow here — it’s that everyone overreacts as soon as the first flake falls.  We’ve probably had less than 4 inches of snow total since Christmas, yet my son has only had 2 full weeks of school since then.  Endless 2 hour delays and cancellations, which he loves of course.  Me, not so much. LOL!

The only good thing about delays and cancellations is that I can squeeze in a few extra minutes of reading on those days, so I’ve had some pretty good reading weeks this winter.  I still need to write the reviews for them, but I finished reading all of my February ARCs this week and even finished one of the 5 ARCs that I need to read and review prior to March 6th.  I still don’t know that I’ll get to any of my backlisted books this month, but I’m feeling more optimistic about getting my Netgalley deadlines met anyway.

Aside from reading, I feel like I spent most of the week camped out in front of the TV, although I can’t remember much of anything that I actually watched the first half of the week.  Work was busy this week so I think I basically just came home and zoned out, lol.  I’ve been glued to coverage of the Olympics since Friday and expect that will continue for the next couple of weeks.

I think that’s it for me for now.  I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

     
 

UPCOMING REVIEWS

 

       
   
  
     

 STACKING THE SHELVES

 

     
   
 

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

Source: Pinterest

Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for WINTER and OUR DARK DUET

Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for WINTER and OUR DARK DUETWinter by Marissa Meyer
Also by this author: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)
five-stars
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4
Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 10th 2015
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 827
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mark her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer's national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.

Review:

Winter is the fourth and final book in Melissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles. In Winter we not only continue the original story that Meyer has created in the midst of her fairytale retellings of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel, but we also get a Snow White retelling added to the mix.  As always, I’m most impressed with the way Meyer manages to seamlessly weave so many retellings into this series without losing any of the originality of the overall storyline.

As the lovely, quirky, and perhaps somewhat mentally unstable Snow White character, Winter is a welcome addition to this wonderful cast of characters that I’ve come to love so much.  I was definitely more attached to the characters I’ve known longer, but I grew to love Winter too and wish I had had more time with her.  What I especially liked about the introduction of Winter was that her presence really served to cast Levana even more firmly into the role of the evil (ummm, psychotic?) stepmother. Have I mentioned how much I loathe Levana?

Speaking of Levana, one of the coolest parts of this final book is that we finally make it to Levana’s home on the planet Luna.  Meyer gives the reader a vivid look into the lives of the Lunar people and the ways they are forced to live because of Levana.  I don’t want to give away anything else about the plot, so I’ll just say that I loved getting to see these amazing characters in action one more time working together to fight against the tyranny of Levana and free the Lunar people from her once and for all. (Even Iko is a total badass and it’s just so much awesomeness!) Because it’s so focused on the resistance and taking Levana down, Winter is truly action-packed from start to finish.  That’s pretty much my favorite kind of read ever, so I loved every page of it.  I’m so sad to have finally reached the end of this series, but I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect ending.  5 STARS

 

Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for WINTER and OUR DARK DUETOur Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
Also by this author: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)
five-stars
Series: Monsters of Verity, #2
Published by Greenwillow Books on June 13th 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 510
Also in this series: This Savage Song
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

THE WORLD IS BREAKING. AND SO ARE THEY.

KATE HARKER isn't afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she's good at it.

AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

THE WAR HAS BEGUN.

THE MONSTERS ARE WINNING.

Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims' inner demons.

Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?

Review:

Victoria Schwab really blew me away with Our Dark Duet, the final book in her Monsters of Verity duology.  Not only was it filled with dark and creepy monsters and the action-packed goodness that I enjoyed so much in This Savage Song, the first book in the duology, but it also literally reduced me to tears by the end.

There’s so much to love about this book, but Kate Harker’s growth as a character is probably at the top of my list.  She is now a spike wielding, monster-killing badass and I adored her even more in this book than I did in the first one.  My love for poor tortured August is still strong in this book too, and I rooted for both he and Kate as they valiantly battled their demons, both literally and figuratively.

Schwab’s worldbuilding and pacing are spot on in Our Dark Duet too.  I love this world she has created – it’s dark and creepy with monsters literally lurking around every corner, which just makes for such an intense and suspenseful reading experience.  The pacing was incredible too as it mirrors what is going on with Kate and August.  It starts off at a steady and even pace as Kate and August are each battling a lot of internal demons, but then once they come together to battle a monster that appears to be even worse than the Corsai and Malachi we met in This Savage Song, the pace increases to almost a frenetic pace.  The second half of the book flies by and is filled with blood, explosions, destruction, and death.  I devoured the nearly 500 page book in 24 hours.

Don’t even get me started on the ending, which just shattered my heart into a million pieces.  Schwab has done it again — Our Dark Duet is truly a heartbreaking piece of writing perfection. 5 STARS

five-stars

About Marissa Meyer

meyer

“One of my first spoken words was “story” (right along with “bath” and “cookie”), my favorite toy as an infant was a soft, squishable book, and I’ve wanted to be a writer since I first realized such a job existed.

When I was fourteen my best friend introduced me to anime and fanfiction—over the years I would complete over forty Sailor Moon fanfics under the penname Alicia Blade. Those so inclined can still find my first stories at fanfiction.net. Writing fanfic turned out to be awesome fun and brought me in contact with an amazing group of fanfiction readers and writers. As Alicia Blade, I also had a novelette, “The Phantom of Linkshire Manor,” published in the gothic romance anthology Bound in Skin (CatsCurious Press, 2007).

When I was sixteen I worked at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Tacoma, Washington, affectionately termed “The Spag.” (Random factoid: This is also the restaurant where my parents met some 25 years before.) I attended Pacific Lutheran University where I sorted mail that came to the dorm, carted tables and chairs around campus, and took writing classes, eventually earning a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Children’s Literature. Knowing I wanted a career in books, I would also go on to receive a Master’s degree in Publishing from Pace University (which you can learn more about here). After graduation, I worked as an editor in Seattle for a while before becoming a freelance typesetter and proofreader.

Then, day of days, someone thought it would be a good idea to give me a book deal, so I became a full-time writer. CINDER was my first completed novel, though I have an adorable collection of unfinished ones lying around, too.

I married my husband in 2011, two months before the release of Cinder, and we adopted our two beautiful twin daughters, Sloane and Delaney, in 2015. Reading lots and lots of bedtime stories is most definitely a new favorite pastime.”

Marissa Meyer in her own words, from www.marissameyer.com

About Victoria Schwab

ve schwab

Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the NYT, USA, and Indie bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and This Savage Song. Her work has received critical acclaim, been featured by EW and The New York Times, been translated into more than a dozen languages, and been optioned for TV and Film. The Independent calls her the “natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones” and touts her “enviable, almost Gaimanesque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones.”

She is represented by Holly Root at Root Literary and Jon Cassir at CAA.
All appearance and publicity inquiries should be directed to either her agent, or one of her publicists:

Harper: Gina.Rizzo@harpercollins.com
Tor: Alexis.Saarela@tor.com

Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on IN SIGHT OF STARS by Gae Polisner

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

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My selection for this week is In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner.  I read Polisner’s The Memory of Things a couple of years ago and fell in love with her writing style, so I was thrilled to learn that she has another book coming out next month, and that it is a coming of age story that focuses on mental illness.  That appealed to me right away, but then these early reviews sealed the deal.

  • “An intense, sometimes graphic, totally heartbreaking portrait of a character who will keep pages turning.” – Booklist, Starred Review
  • “An unapologetic and wry story about a teen finding his way out of a personal crisis.” – Kirkus Reviews
  • “An achingly fierce exploration of the way the world wounds us and heals us. If you love exquisitely written coming-of-age stories that will leave you breathless, In Sight of Stars is for you.” – Jeff Zentner, William C. Morris award-winning author of The Serpent King and Goodbye Days
  • “What a book. So human and kind and forgiving and real.” – Geoff Herbach, award-winning author of Stupid Fast and Hooper

 

IN SIGHT OF STARS by Gae Polisner

Publication Date:   March 13, 2018

 

 

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Klee’s father was the center of his life. He introduced Klee to the great museums of New York City and the important artists on their walls, he told him stories made of myths and magic. Until his death.

Now, forced to live in the suburbs with his mom, Klee can’t help but feel he’s lost all the identifying parts of himself—his beloved father, weekly trips to the MoMA, and the thrumming energy of New York City. That is until he meets wild and free Sarah in art class, with her quick smiles and jokes about his “brooding.” Suddenly it seems as if she’s the only thing that makes him happy. But when an act of betrayal sends him reeling, Klee lands in what is bitingly referred to as the “Ape Can,” a psychiatric hospital for teens in Northollow.

While there, he undergoes intensive therapy and goes back over the pieces of his life to find out what was real, what wasn’t, and whether he can stand on his own feet again. Told in alternating timelines, leading up to the event that gets him committed and working towards getting back out, Gae Polisner’s In Sight of Starsis a gorgeous novel told in minimalist strokes to maximal effect, about what makes us fall apart and how we can put ourselves back together again.

 

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your CWW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Been On My TBR the Longest and I Still Haven’t Read

Designed at canva.com

 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

This week’s TTT topic is Books That Have Been On My TBR the Longest and I Still Haven’t Read.  I’m a little embarrassed to say that all of these books were added to my Goodreads ‘Want to Read’ shelf back in 2012 and I still haven’t touched any of them.  There’s something about each of them though that still appeals to me, so even when I do occasionally go in and purge, these books still remain.  Considering they’ve been sitting there for six years, it seems doubtful that I’ll ever actually make the time for them, but we’ll see.  Maybe 2018 is finally the year…

 

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Top 10 Books That Have Been On My TBR the Longest and I Still Haven’t Read

 

NECESSARY LIES by Diane Chamberlain

PRODIGAL SUMMER by Barbara Kingsolver

SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST by Anne Tyler

OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham

INFERNO by Dante Alighieri

BURIAL RITES by Hannah Kent

THE STREET SWEEPER by Elliot Perlman

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO by Boris Pasternak

SOPHIE’S CHOICE by William Styron

 

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Question:  What books have been on your TBR the longest?