Backlist Briefs: Reviews for MUSE OF NIGHTMARES & VENGEANCE

Backlist Briefs:  Reviews for MUSE OF NIGHTMARES & VENGEANCEMuse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
Also by this author: Strange the Dreamer
five-stars
Series: Strange the Dreamer #2
on October 2, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 514
Also in this series: Strange the Dreamer
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.

She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.

She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she's capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel's near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

Review:

I’m just going to start off by saying that Laini Taylor’s writing in this series is about as close to perfection for me as it gets.  There’s just something so special about the world she has created with Weep and with her Godspawn characters that enchanted me from the first pages of Strange the Dreamer and that continued to captivate me all the way through her latest installment, Muse of Nightmares.  This has truly been one of my favorite fantasy reads and I’m probably just going to babble incoherently in this review and not do justice to the story at all.

Muse of Nightmares has an epic, sweeping storyline that is hard to talk about without giving away spoilers, so I’m just going to say that it not only revisits all of our favorite characters from Strange the Dreamer and takes each of their stories to the next level, but it also answers any and all questions that we were left hanging with at the end of that first book.  Then, Taylor ramps up the worldbuilding even more by taking us inside of the world that ultimately creates the Godspawn and gives us that origin story.  This aspect of the novel and the new characters that are introduced end up becoming crucial to the original storyline and I just found it so impressive how smoothly Taylor ties together all of the intricate threads that she creates between the two books.

The characters were of course still my favorite part of the series.  My love for Lazlo and Sarai and their relationship only grew as they continued to defy all odds to be together in Muse of Nightmares.  Ruby, Feral, and Sparrow are still as delightful as ever, and I even developed a soft spot for characters that I really didn’t care for in the first book, like Eril-Fane, Thyron Nero, and especially Minya.  My newfound love for Minya was what surprised me the most about this second book.  As much as I despised her in the first book, I actually cried for her in Muse of Nightmares.  Totally did not see that coming, lol.

I’m sure I haven’t begun to do justice to what a beautiful fantasy story this series really is, but trust me, it’s one of the most beautifully crafted stores I’ve read in a long time.  It’s not a fast-paced story by any means, but I thought the pacing was just perfect as Laini Taylor wove her exquisite tale and captured both my heart and imagination.  5 STARS

 

Backlist Briefs:  Reviews for MUSE OF NIGHTMARES & VENGEANCEVengeful by V.E. Schwab
Also by this author: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)
four-stars
Series: Villains #2
Published by Tor Books on September 25, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 478
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Eli Ever and Victor Vale were only medical students when their mutual discovery that near-death experiences can, under the right conditions, manifest extraordinary abilities.

They were best friends, and rivals, and then enemies. They were dead, then alive, and then---Eli killed Victor, once and for all.

Or so he thought---but Sydney Clarke felt otherwise, and used her own superpower to tip the scales. Now, a trio hides in the shadows, while another takes advantages of post-death life to take over the city of Merit.

If there can be life after death—will there be calm after vengeance, or will chaos rule?

Review:

Vengeful is the much anticipated sequel to V.E. Schwab’s immensely popular Vicious, and man, what a sequel it is!  It’s everything I hoped it would be and more.  Schwab revisits the world of the EOs (Extra Ordinaries) and all of my favorite morally gray characters and even adds a couple of new ones with cool EO powers to the mix.  If you’re into villains at all, you’re going to love Marcella because The Villains series really lives up to its name with the addition of her character.  I don’t want to give away too much about Marcella and what she’s after so I’ll just say that I spent much of the book waiting with bated breath to see what was going to happen once she finally crossed paths with either Eli or Victor.  I just knew from the moment we were introduced to her that it was going to be an explosive encounter!

The story picks up five years after the events of Vicious and we learn that when Sydney used her power to resurrect Victor the last time, something went wrong with his powers and now he keeps dying, each time staying dead longer and longer.  He’s in a fight for his life at this point.  As if Victor’s desperate need to find a way to save himself doesn’t make for an intense enough story, there’s Eli at the other end of the spectrum.  Eli has actually been captured and imprisoned by an anti-EO group and used as little more than a science experiment for years. The predicaments they find themselves in are clearly not what they had in mind when they first started trying to secure EO powers for themselves years ago.

Eli is perhaps the most surprising element of Vengeful for me.  He is, of course, still driven by his belief that he is good and every other EO, especially Victor, is evil and needs to be destroyed, but at the same time, we are given insight into Eli’s past (growing up with an abusive father, etc.) that brings such a level of humanity to him that I honestly felt tremendous sympathy for Eli. Aside from my unexpected sympathy for Eli, what I loved most about Vengeful, as with Vicious, are the scenes with Victor and his found family.  Those domestic scenes between Victor, Mitch, Sydney, and Sydney’s dog, Dol, just gave me such warm fuzzies and perfectly offset all of the danger and violence that infuses every other scene in the series.

I did struggle a bit with Schwab’s use of multiple timelines in Vengeful, mainly because there were so many of them to keep track of.  Thankfully though, I got used to them fairly quickly and settled in for the ride.

My love for V.E. Schwab’s writing continues to grow with each book that I read and Vengeful is no exception to that.  I love the intricate worlds that she builds, the flawed morally ambiguous characters that she makes me fall for, and the deliciously dark and dangerous storylines that she crafts.  4 STARS

five-stars

About Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor is the author of the National Book Award Finalist Lips Touch: Three Times, as well as the novels Blackbringer and Silksinger. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter.

About V.E. Schwab

ve schwab

Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the #1 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 her PR rep, Kristin Dwyer, at: kdwyer@leoprny.com

Weekly Recap #84: Week of 12/23 – 12/29

 

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 hope that everyone who celebrates Christmas had a wonderful holiday this week.  Mine was very nice, low-key like I wanted it to be, but I think everyone still enjoyed it.  Instead of trying to go see everyone on Christmas Day, we spread it out over a few days so that we can spend more time with each family member we’re visiting. So we saw my Dad and step-mom on the 23rd, my in-laws on the 24th, had the 25th for ourselves, and then went to my mother’s on the 26th.  I slept 10 hours the following day, but woke up feeling refreshed and have been pretty productive since then, especially on the blog.

I only posted one review this past week since I figured it would be a light traffic week, but also because I hadn’t written anymore. I finally got my butt in gear though and wrote all of my backlogged reviews so look for those next week.  I’ll have reviews for Muse of Nightmares, Vengeful, Throne of Glass, An Anonymous Girl, and possibly The Girl King going up this week. I also finally met my goal for the 2018 Discussion Challenge this week too so that was exciting, especially since it was the only challenge goal I hadn’t met yet.

As you can see from my list below, Christmas was very good to me in terms of books. Between actual gifts I received, an unexpected approval from Netgalley, and the great ebook deals on Amazon, I seriously stacked my shelves. Now I just need to stop watching Hallmark Holiday movies and get busy reading!

Oh well, I think that’s it for me.  Happy New Year, everyone!

 

 

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

       
 
       
 

 UPCOMING REVIEWS

     
      
   
 
 
 

 

 STACKING THE SHELVES

 

     
 

 

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

Getting Rid of Books – How to Decide When It’s Time to Part Ways

This is the time of year when I most often think about parting ways with some of the physical books that fill my bookshelves.  Every year I receive wonderful new books as Christmas gifts and then spend days trying to figure out where to put them because my shelves are already overflowing.

via GIPHY

I have to admit that as a book hoarder collector, I find it very hard to get rid of books. In the back of my mind, there’s always this little voice that tells me I might want to re-read all of my books someday and that it therefore doesn’t make sense to part ways with them.  Spoiler alert:  I rarely EVER re-read books so the little voice in my head is totally full of it.  And now that I’m doing bookstagram, that first little voice has been joined by another that says “Don’t get rid of that book. You might want to use it in a photo layout one day.”  So yeah, fun times, lol.

That’s not to say I never get rid of books though. I do. I have to. I’ve come to accept that my house just isn’t big enough to store an infinite number of books so when I’m maxed out on shelf space, I make the difficult choice to part ways with some books.

How do I decide which ones to get rid of?  Well, the easy ones are the books that I didn’t really enjoy when I read them, especially if I actually DNF’ed them.  Those are always the first to go. I know I’m never going to read them again so I go ahead and donate those, either to Goodwill or to the local library.

The books that are harder to choose from are those that I liked but didn’t necessarily love.  I kind of cheat when it comes to these books.  I’ll pull them off my shelves to make room for newer books, but I won’t part ways right away.  Instead, I box them up and shove them in the back of my closet.  If I haven’t given any of them a second thought after a few months, then I’m good with getting rid of them.  Because I did enjoy these though, I’ll usually show them to my mom and sister, who are also avid readers, and give them first pick if any are of interest, then I donate the rest.

I have an even harder time parting ways with classics. There’s just something about them that makes me feel like I should hold on to them, even if I didn’t particularly like them when I read them.  I have two copies of Moby Dick sitting on my shelves right now, for example, and I absolutely hated that book when I read it.  And as you can see from the photo above, they’re not even pretty copies of the book. Maybe it’s the collector in me or maybe I subconsciously think it makes me look smart to have classics on my shelf. Or maybe I think my son might want to read it someday. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just weird, lol.

So if classics are a struggle even if I didn’t like them, what happens if I actually loved a book?  Well, you can pretty much forget me ever parting ways with it.  It’s just not happening. Those are the books where those little voices in my head always win out.  Thankfully, although my methods are clearly far from perfect, it seems to work out well enough. I’m typically willing to get rid of just enough books each time to make room for the new ones.  If that ever ends up not being the case, I guess I’ll have to re-evaluate what I’m doing, but until that time comes, I’m content with my system.

 

So, what about you?  How do you decide which books to part ways with?

Review: WATCHING YOU by Lisa Jewell

Review:  WATCHING YOU by Lisa JewellWatching You by Lisa Jewell
four-stars
Published by Atria Books on December 26, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 320
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:

 

Lisa Jewell’s latest novel Watching You is the thrilling domestic drama you need in your life.  It’s a murder mystery that is filled with suspense, complicated characters, and a myriad of plot twists that will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat until the final piece of the puzzle is in place and the murderer is revealed.

Watching You is set in an upscale neighborhood in Bristol, England, and although several of the neighbors play important roles in the overall story, the novel primarily follows a character named Joey Mullen.  Joey apparently has a history of not always making the best choices in life and so when we meet her, she has just moved back to Bristol with her brand-new husband (who she has only known for a few months) and the two of them are living with Joey’s brother and sister-in-law while they try to find jobs and save up to get a place of their own.

One night Joey encounters Tom Fitzwilliam, the beloved headmaster at one of the local schools, and she, like most of the female student body at his school, develops a crush on Tom.  Even though he is happily married and therefore unavailable, Joey thinks about him all the time, makes up excuses to walk near his home to see if she can catch a glimpse of him, and goes out of her way to find ways to cross paths with Tom.  She thinks her secret crush is safe, but she doesn’t realize that Tom’s son, Freddie, has been watching her just as much as she has been watching Tom.

Ah yes, the watching.  That’s what it’s all about with Watching You.  Everyone in this novel is watching and spying on someone else.  It’s disturbing and yet also quite fascinating because none of them are as innocent as they would like for their neighbors to believe.  They all have secrets they’re trying to keep hidden, but at the same time, they’re almost desperate to find some dirt on their neighbors and in the end, everyone involved gets way more than they bargained for…

There’s so much to love about this book because Jewell just sets up the drama so perfectly.  She opens the novel by introducing us to Joey, Tom, and a few of their neighbors but then immediately hits us with a murder.  She starts building up the suspense immediately too because she doesn’t give the reader any details as to who the victim is or what has happened.  I was hooked right away and immediately started looking closely at the characters I had met so far, trying to figure out who might be the victim, who might be the murderer, etc.

Speaking of the characters, Watching You is filled with realistically flawed characters, any of whom seem capable of having murdered someone.  Each of the neighbors had messy, complicated lives and their individual dramas just added so many more layers to the story that made it so much more than just a murder mystery.  It was interesting to learn more about each of them and to watch them in action.  Fallible is probably the best word to describe them because mistakes and human error play a large role in the story.  As I’ve mentioned, these neighbors like to observe each other, but not only do they observe, they judge and make assumptions about people, they take things out of context and try to fit them into whatever narrative they’re trying to spin, and unfortunately, more often than not, they’re wrong.

All of these wrongs are what Jewell skillfully weaves into the narrative to drive the story along.  She presents the story to us from the viewpoints of several of the neighbors, so we get to see several perspectives as to what is going on in the neighborhood.  Those chapters move us forward toward the murder so we are able to see what tensions are mounting throughout the neighborhood – who might have been a likely target, as well as who might have the biggest motive to commit the crime.  Interspersed throughout, however, are also police interviews with the various neighbors to specifically give us their thoughts and theories about the murder.  The novel’s structure actually reminded me a lot of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, and it works here just as well as it did there. It really made for a fast-paced read that held my attention throughout, and the more I read, the more I desperately wanted to know who was dead and who had done it.

Overall, I really enjoyed Watching You.  I thought the pacing was fantastic and I loved how Jewell kept the suspense and tension building throughout the novel.  The only aspect of Watching You that fell a little short for me was that I didn’t really feel much of a connection to any of the characters.  Joey was probably the character I connected with the most, but even then, for the most part, I still felt like I was on the outside looking in.  Maybe that’s fitting since this is a story full of people watching each other, but that distance kept this from being a 5 star read for me.

Lisa Jewell’s Watching You is a riveting read that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys domestic thrillers.  If you’re a fan of Liane Moriarty’s books, you would probably enjoy this one too.  This was my first time reading Lisa Jewell but I’m looking forward to reading more of her twisty thrillers!

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…

four-stars

About Lisa Jewell

Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.

She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.

She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.

She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.

Can’t Wait Wednesday – KILLING NOVEMBER by Adriana Mather

 

“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 at Wishful Endings, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

* * * * *

My selection for this week is KILLING NOVEMBER by Adriana Mather.  This one caught my eye mainly because I’m always drawn to books that are set in boarding schools and this one is set in a boarding school that sounds pretty unique, to put it mildly.  It also sounds like it’s going to a creepy, twisty thriller, which is even more of a bonus!

 

KILLING NOVEMBER by Adriana Mather

Publication Date: March 26, 2019

 

From Goodreads

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Hang a Witch comes a thriller set at a secretive boarding school where students are trained to carry on family legacies that have built–and toppled–empires. 

November is trapped.

At the mysterious Academy Absconditi, a school that’s completely off the grid, there’s no electricity, no internet, and a brutal eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from knife-throwing and poisons to the art of deception. And the other students? All children of the world’s most elite strategists, in training to become assassins, spies, and master manipulators. November Adley doesn’t know why she’s been sent to this place, or the secrets that make up its legacy, but she’ll quickly discover that allies are few in a school where competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits in before she is found guilty of the crime…or becomes the killer’s next victim.

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Adriana Mather comes a captivating thriller that will leave you breathless.

 

 

 * * * * *

 

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 I Hope to Find Under My Tree on Christmas Morning

 

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 I Hope to Find Under My Tree on Christmas Morning.  I see several potential book-shaped packages under the tree with my name on them right now, so with any luck, some of these books will be in my hands on Christmas morning.

Wishing a very Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates the holiday!

 

* * * * *

Books I Hope to Find Under My Tree Christmas Morning

 

 

FIRE & BLOOD  by George R.R. Martin

 

(It’s not the long awaited Winds of Winter, but count me among those who would love to read a history of the Targaryens.)

 

Goodreads Synopsis:    With all the fire and fury fans have come to expect from internationally bestselling author George R. R. Martin, this is the first volume of the definitive two-part history of the Targaryens in Westeros.

Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.

What really happened during the Dance of the Dragons? Why did it become so deadly to visit Valyria after the Doom? What is the origin of Daenerys’s three dragon eggs? These are but a few of the questions answered in this essential chronicle, as related by a learned maester of the Citadel and featuring more than eighty all-new black-and-white illustrations by artist Doug Wheatley. Readers have glimpsed small parts of this narrative in such volumes as The World of Ice & Fire, but now, for the first time, the full tapestry of Targaryen history is revealed.

With all the scope and grandeur of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Fire and Blood is the ultimate game of thrones, giving readers a whole new appreciation for the dynamic, often bloody, and always fascinating history of Westeros.

 

 

KING OF SCARS  by Leigh Bardugo

 

(I know this isn’t out yet, but a preorder would make for the perfect Christmas gift for me.)

 

Goodreads Synopsis: Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

 

 

THE WICKED KING  by Holly Black

 

(I know this isn’t out yet either, but I’d love to receive a preorder of this book for Christmas.)

 

Goodreads Synopsis:  You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

 

 

HAMILTON  by Ron Chernow

 

(After seeing and becoming obsessed with the musical, I now really want to read the biography that inspired it.)

 

Goodreads Synopsis:   Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.

In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”

Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.Historians have long told the story of America’s birth as the triumph of Jefferson’s democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we’ve encountered before—from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton’s famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804.

Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America’s birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.

 

 

THE HELLFIRE CLUB  by Jake Tapper

 

(I’m mainly curious about this one because Jake Tapper is one of my favorite CNN correspondents.)

 

Goodreads Synopsis:   The debut political thriller from Jake Tapper, CNN’s chief Washington correspondent and the New York Times bestselling author of The Outpost — 1950’s D.C. intrigue about a secret society and a young Congressman in its grip.

Charlie Marder is an unlikely Congressman. Thrust into office by his family ties after his predecessor died mysteriously, Charlie is struggling to navigate the dangerous waters of 1950s Washington, DC, alongside his young wife Margaret, a zoologist with ambitions of her own. Amid the swirl of glamorous and powerful political leaders and deal makers, a mysterious fatal car accident thrusts Charlie and Margaret into an underworld of backroom deals, secret societies, and a plot that could change the course of history. When Charlie discovers a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of governance, he has to fight not only for his principles and his newfound political career…but for his life.

 

 

JOSH AND HAZEL’S GUIDE TO NOT DATING  by Christina Lauren

 

Goodreads Synopsis:  Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

 

ONCE A KING  by Erin Summerill

 

Goodreads Synopsis:  Aodren:  A lonely, young king, searching for a way to dismantle his father’s dark legacy.

Lirra:  A girl with the power to control the wind, torn between duty and following her dreams

For twenty years, Channelers—women with a magical ability—have been persecuted in Malam by those without magic. Now King Aodren wants to end the bloody divide and unite his kingdom. But decades of hatred can’t be overcome by issuing decrees, and rumors of a deadly Channeler-made substance are only fueling people’s fears. Lirra has every reason to distrust Aodren. Yet when he asks for help to discover the truth behind the rumors, she can’t say no. With Lirra by his side, Aodren sees a way forward for his people. But can he rewrite the mistakes of the past before his enemies destroy the world he’s working so hard to rebuild?

OBSIDIO  by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

 

Goodreads Synopsis:  In the snowy Highlands of Scotland, Suzanne McBride is dreaming of the perfect cozy Christmas. Her three adopted daughters are coming home for the holidays and she can’t wait to see them. But tensions are running high…

Workaholic Hannah knows she can’t avoid spending the holidays with her family two years in a row. But it’s not the weight of their expectations that’s panicking her—it’s the life-changing secret she’s hiding. Stay-at-home mom Beth is having a personal crisis. All she wants for Christmas is time to decide if she’s ready to return to work—seeing everyone was supposed to help her stress levels, not increase them! Posy isn’t sure she’s living her best life, but with her parents depending on her, making a change seems risky. But not as risky as falling for gorgeous new neighbor Luke…

As Suzanne’s dreams of the perfect McBride Christmas unravel, she must rely on the magic of the season to bring her daughters together. But will this new togetherness teach the sisters that their close-knit bond is strong enough to withstand anything—including a family Christmas?

 

BRUJA BORN  by Zoraida Cordova

 

Goodreads Synopsis:  Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…

GODSGRAVE by Jay Kristoff

 

Goodreads Synopsis:  A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.

Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

Set in the world of Nevernight, which Publishers Weekly called “absorbing in its complexity and bold in its bloodiness,” Godsgrave will continue to thrill and satisfy fantasy fans everywhere.

* * * * *

 

Question:  What are some books you’re hoping to receive as gifts this Christmas?

Weekly Recap #83: Week of 12/16 – 12/22

 

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’m late with today’s post because our Christmas celebrations started first thing this morning.  We hit the road for a trip out into the country to see my Dad and my step-mom.  I was going to type something up before I left but ended up accidentally oversleeping instead and had to rush around and get my act together so we could get out the door on time.  Oops!

Anyway, it was a really nice visit, lowkey and relaxed, which is how I like it.  The weather was nice so we spent quite a bit of the day outside, just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.  I’m home now and taking stock of where I am in terms of our Christmas preparations for the rest of the holiday.  I’m thrilled to say that I’m actually pretty much done.  We baked cookies and wrapped all of our gifts yesterday and we hit the grocery store today on the way home to pick up everything we need in terms of food to entertain our visitors.  We don’t do much here on Christmas Eve so tomorrow will hopefully be a relaxing day of reading and watching Hallmark movies.

I haven’t decided yet how much I’ll be posting on the blog this week.  If I’m remembering correctly, this is usually a slow week traffic-wise so I think I will probably just post a few times and then spend the rest of the time reading and getting caught up on blog hopping since I know I’m a couple days behind on that.  I also have a backlog of reviews I need to get to that I’ve been saying I’m going to post for weeks now and somehow still haven’t managed to find the time.  Here’s hoping for a relaxing yet productive week!

Happy Holidays everyone!

 

 

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

       
 
       
 

 UPCOMING REVIEWS

     
      
 
 
 
 

 

 STACKING THE SHELVES

     
  

 

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

Discussion Post: Sentimental Attachment to Books

 

Every year, as the holidays approach, my sentimental side kicks in and I start thinking about special gifts that I’ve received over the years.  Gifts from my son, gifts from my husband, and gifts from my parents are normally the first ones that come to mind, just because they’ve spent more time with me than anyone else and they just know what I’m going to love and treasure.  This year, however, the special gift that came to mind was actually a book so I thought it would be fun to share the story of this gift on the blog.

As a lifelong avid reader, I’ve of course received tons of books as gifts over the years.  I’ve received new releases, gorgeous hardcover editions for my collection, books that friends and family have loved that they think I should read, gift cards to go shopping for books of my choice, etc.  The bookish gifts are endless and I love them all.

All of that said, however, my all-time favorite bookish gift is actually a ratty old copy of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird that was given to me by my reading teacher when I was in the eighth grade.  We had just finished reading the book and doing a whole unit on it in class.   It was the first real “grown up” book I had ever read, and to this day, I still remember just how much the story and its themes resonated with me that first time I read it.  Once the unit was over, the teacher told us that it was her all-time favorite book and that she hoped we had loved it as well. Then she told us that the copies we were reading from were ours to keep.  I had never owned a “grown up” book before so I was just tickled to death to take home my very own copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and put it on my shelf.

 

 

I’ve since added much prettier editions of the book to my collection, but I still have that ratty old paperback sitting on my shelf.  I’ve read it and re-read it so many times over the years that I’m amazed it hasn’t disintegrated, but no matter how ratty it gets, it will always be my favorite edition of the book because of that sentimental attachment.

 

Question:  So, how about you?  Have you received any special books as gifts over the years?

Can’t Wait Wednesday – SPECTACLE by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

 

“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 at Wishful Endings, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

* * * * *

My selection for this week is SPECTACLE by Jodie Lynn Zdrok.  It’s a YA thriller, a murder mystery set in 1880’s Paris, and the protagonist has visions of the victims being murdered, from the perspective of the murderer.  Doesn’t that just sound like a fabulous read? I actually just got approved for an ARC of this and can’t wait to dive in.

 

SPECTACLE by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

Publication Date: February 12, 2019

 

From Goodreads

A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.

Paris, 1887.

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.

 

 

 * * * * *

 

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: My Winter Reading List

 

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 Winter TBR.  The hardest part about this was narrowing down to ten books I plan to read over the winter months.  I actually failed to narrow it down, so you’re getting my Top 13 list instead, haha.  I focused on ARCs that I have been approved for, so these are priority reads.  I’m sure there will be a few other non-ARC reads in the mix this winter as well though.

 

* * * * *

 

My Winter TBR

 

96 WORDS FOR LOVE by Rachel Roy & Ava Dash

AN ANONYMOUS GIRL by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

WHITE STAG by Kara Barbieri

SPECTACLE by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

WATCH US RISE by Renee Watson & Ellen Hagan

DARK OF THE WEST by Joanna Hathaway

THE SUSPECT by Fiona Barton

THE GIRL KING by Mimi Yu

FORGET YOU KNOW ME by Jessica Strawser

THE WARTIME SISTERS by Lynda Cohen Loigman

THE LOST GIRLS OF PARIS by Pam Jenoff

COURTING DARKNESS by Robin LaFevers

THE SISTERHOOD by A.J. Grainger

 

* * * * *

 

Are you planning to read any of these books this winter?