#BookReview Marianne by Ruth Miranda

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This book starts off with a BANG!

Seriously, I couldn’t believe that the book just jumped into the action, like some epic movie sequel! I loved this sweet surprise, since it’s a major change from the books I have been reading lately.

Ruth Miranda, the fantastic author, opens up the realm of fantasy even further in this book. The slow unraveling of this fantastical universe seemed to work really well within the story. I don’t think I would have liked this series as much if she would have thrown all of the elements at us at once. The way she gives us the secrets to this world piece by piece felt… flawless. Each little piece of information that was released made the story slowly fall into place, and gave some awesome added effects. The information about Nora was what really had me in awe – Ruth knows how to tell a great tale.

If there was a con to this point, I’d say that it sometimes felt like those super villain monologues when all of the information was being released. But, for me, it still worked well. I liked the long descriptions.

When looking at the overall book, it’s definitely the darkest of the three. As a reader, if you felt that the last two pushed the limits, then this book might not be for you. It’s past the PG-13 rating for some of it’s deep content, such as the rape scene. So in my mind, it’s a hard R rating. This scene is brutal, but shows some deep insights into the character it’s following. The plot line gets crazier as it goes on, which boggled my mind. The insanity Ruth introduces to the back stories of these characters… One word: WOW. Just… Wow. A good wow, of course!

As the book progressed, I really liked the depth of Marianne and Marcus’s relationship. It’s a unique dynamic, but it held me tight to this book. I wanted to know more about this pair, and I was so tempted to skip to the pages that they were on! If anybody stood out in this novel, it’s that pair! At times you feel bad for them, and then you hate them, but then you feel empathetic… This roller coaster of emotions is from Ruth’s epic writing. Seriously, I haven’t felt this exhausted from my emotions about a book in a LONG time.

In some weird way, I could relate and emphasize with Marianne. The humiliation, the desire to fit in or be loved by someone, and her emotions being painted on the page all hit me in just the right way. I felt like I’ve been there before, in different ways. And, in my opinion, I think this is where the book is really going to draw it’s audience. I don’t often feel and relate to characters in books like this, but with Marianne… There’s something there.

Nora and Cai’s side of the story is also intriguing – the characters are changing throughout the story as they try to find Marcus. While Marcus and Marianne stood out, the journey Nora and Cai go on is a nice parallel. It brings us away from the brutality of Marcus/Marianne, which is much needed in this story. The romance, the drama and the beauty of their story is the perfect mirror! Kudos to Ruth for making this parallel so good!

Overall, this addicting story of pain and growth is mesmerizing! This series is definitely a must read if you want something darker and fantastical. I’d highly recommend it! It’s hard to find a dark series that takes on so many tough topics, and comes out on top!

There is one big con for me, and Ruth said it herself – I wanted to throw this book at the wall when I was done with it. But I was reading it on my iPad, and that is too expensive to throw. So, I didn’t throw the book at the wall, but I would have liked to.

Five out of five stars! Wowza!

I received this book for free from the author Ruth Miranda in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Check out Ruth Miranda on Goodreads

 

Find the first book in this series, Blood, on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Blood

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Blood

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Blood

Find the 2nd book, Scars, on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Scars

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Scars

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Scars

Find more books by Ruth Miranda on Amazon:

Amazon.com – Ruth Miranda

Amazon.com – A Study for Love / Amazon.ca – A Study for Love

 

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter! @reviewalholic

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#BookPlaylist Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles

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Today on my blog we have a wonderful guest, the author Kelley Kaye Bowles! I recently read her book Down in the Belly of the Whale (which will be revealed on my blog on October 10th!!! I can’t wait!!), and I wanted to open your eyes to this author just a little more! Kelley offered to provide a playlist for her character Harper to honor World Suicide Prevention Day!

 

Harper’s Playlist

1. Belly of the Whale Burning Sensations ‘Belly of the Whale’   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZgtKt8K3ho

This is, of course, Harper’s theme song. She feels so isolated in her body – like most teenagers do – that it’s like she is down in the belly of a whale in the bottom of the ocean.

2. Closer to Fine Indigo Girls Indigo Girls – Closer to Fine
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZgtKt8K3ho

Harper‘s mom, Isabelle, introduced her to this song. Isabelle wrote a paper on this song when she was in college, and she’s loved it and the message ever since. Isabelle definitely feels this way—like the more you can go with the flow and roll with the punches, the better off you’ll be. Harper is trying.

3. No Roots Alice Merton
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUdyuKaGQd4

This, again, reflects Harper’s life theme. Since she’s not even sure she’s in the right family, she certainly doesn’t feel like she has roots anywhere.

4. The Man The Killers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3xcybdis1k

 This song is for Harper’s Uncle Pasta—the gay uncle who lives in the basement. He’s hilarious and awesome—totally The Man! 😜

5. Uptown Funk Bruno Mars
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1F0lBnsnkE

Harper can’t help but dance to this song—but she only watches the video wiith all the old movies in it, like all the stuff Uncle Pasta watches.

6. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic the Police The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aENX1Sf3fgQ

Since Harper can envision her glorious future with basketball star Larson McCready—even though she’s never even talked to him—she can imagine him singing this song to her.

7. Breathe Anna Nalick- Breathe (2am)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdRHSuPxgXo

The ability to say the right thing at the right time is an important and as yet unrealized skill for Harper. This song confirms how scary it is to put yourself out there for others to judge, but the song helps her know she’s not alone in feeling that way.

8. Blackbird The Beatles
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdRHSuPxgXo

Harper’s father, Michael, is this intense and driven man with very strong ideas and opinions. He’s the one who introduced her to the Beatles, but he was careful to explain that there are only a certain amount of Beatle songs that are genius, and some bubblegum poppy kinds that are lame. This, thankfully, he considers one of the genius ones because Harper thinks it’s beautiful, and feels like she is only waiting for HER moment to arrive…

9. Bohemian Rhapsody Queen
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ

Harper and Uncle Pasta like to headbang to this song.

And, for 10., Harper chose Michael Jackson, because, well, any playlist is incomplete without Michael Jackson! Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yURRmWtbTbo

 

 

Find this book on:

Goodreads

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

Find out more about Kelley Kaye Bowles on:

Goodreads – Kelley Kaye Bowles

http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/

Twitter – @kelkay1202

 

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter to let me know you read it! @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview Elves & The Argo Adventure by Katja Vartiainen

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Elves & the Argo Adventure is yet another funny, satirical, comic about elves created by the fabulous Katja Vartiainen.

This time around, the elves are going on an adventure! It all starts out when the swallows tell/tweet to the elves THAT THERE IS NO COFFEE! It’s a real tragedy, just like it is for us adults in the real world. How can the elves expect to work their five hour work week without some form of caffeine?! The elves resort to alcohol, magical beings, Dolph Lundgrun, and a fishcorn, to name a few.

In regards to the artwork, I’d be lying if I said my favourite picture wasn’t the little lady bugs/lady birds! They are so simple to draw, and yet I always love seeing them! I also thought the eye-phone picture was seriously hilarious!

When you pick apart this book, there’s many themes within it. The entire point of this book seems to be making fun of the human experience – how we’re racist, how we need coffee to survive, how we’ll do anything to get what we want, etc. It’s a nice to be able to look at our worldly problems in a comedic sense – especially in the fantasy setting.

I did have some negatives about this book, and one of them was it was hard to understand some of the phrasing. Most of the jokes were easy to read, but there were a few that either the grammar was off, or the joke went over my head to make me not understand the sentence in general. My other “con” was seeing the link that appeared on every few pages suggesting the reader check out the elves’s real website. I can totally understand trying to market it that way, but it caused me to become unfocused and break away from the story.

Overall, I think this book is a silly read you can definitely manage in one sitting. It’s a great escape book full of colourful artwork.

Three out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Katja Vartiainen in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this book Elves & The Argo Adventure on:

Goodreads – Elves & AA – Goodreads

Amazon.com – Elves & AA – Amazon.com

Amazon.ca – Elves & AA – Amazon.ca

Check out Elves Get Organized? another book in this series on:

Goodreads – Elves Get Organized? – Goodreads

Amazon.com – Elves Get Organized? – Amazon.com

Amazon.ca – Elves Get Organized? – Amazon.ca

Or check out Katja’s drawing book Half Done Fun on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Half Done Fun

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Half Done Fun

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Half Done Fun

 

Find out more about Katja on her website: http://www.artist-katja-vartiainen.de/

Or give us both a shout out on Twitter! @KatArtPics & @ReviewAlholic

 

#BookReview The Horse Thieves and Other Taleso f the New West by Patrick Scalisi

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My father had always told me stories about the West and loved watching Western movies with me, so this book was a nice reminder of my childhood when I got it in the mail.

This novel followed a few different stories (or tales) in the Western region. I found the novel was easy to read and quick to read, but at some points it was not easy to hang on to. The stories had their moments where I was addicted and couldn’t put it down, but there was also a few points in the book where I wondered why I was continuing to read it.

The first story, The Horse Thieves, seemed to begin in a random spot, and I felt like a better introduction could have been made. Since these are shorter stories and not complete novels, I understood why the story had to start out how it did, but I still felt a little cheated for an introduction. The chapters were nice and short, and continued to move at a good pace. I felt like some of the wording felt like anyone could have written the story, and I wish there would have been a little more description (but that is more of a preference I have for in depth descriptions and shouldn’t be held against the short stories). I didn’t exactly like the ending to the first story, and I felt it was a little too short. A little more action would have made the story a lot more interesting, but that’s just my opinion and shouldn’t be held against the novel either.

I thoroughly enjoyed the second story, The Quick and the Dead, and I don’t have much to say other than I wish there was more! It was a very pleasant read!

For the rest of the stories, they sat in between the first two. At some points I felt the story moved faster and I enjoyed it more (like The Quick and the Dead) and at other paragraphs I felt a little cheated (like The Horse Thieves). I did enjoy the plots of these quick reads and I highly suggest the author continue making stories like these, except I would love to see them increased in length.

I give this selection of stories four out of five stars, due to the first story not helping me cling to the entire novel. I hesitated in the first story about continuing to read it, which shouldn’t happen within the first few chapters. The novel was a nice Western gem! A good read!

I received this novel for free through Good Reads First Reads.

 

What is your favourite western novel? Comment below!

Did you enjoy this book review? Check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview SpaceMan by Tom Abrahams

If you read this review, tweet me with the hashtag #BriarsReviews to let me know!  @ReviewAlholic

#AuthorInterview Elaine Williams Crockett, author of the Warren Alexander series

Welcome back to my series, #AuthorInterview. This time around, I am interviewing Elaine Williams Crockett.

Elaine Williams Crockett Author Photo

 

To start this interview, instead of a question I’m going to request you introduce yourself! And to make it a little more interesting, add a unique fact about you that readers might not be aware of!

I’m Elaine Williams Crockett. I use my full name because there are so many Elaine Crockett’s out there. Who knew? I’m also a genealogist.  While researching my family tree, I became fascinated with the theory that specific memories can be passed down through DNA.  There is some science to back up this general idea, and that’s one of the theories I explore in Do Not Ask.

My first question for this interview, how did you decide to write your series (Warren Alexander) and in thriller/mystery genre?
I’ve always wanted to write, that’s why I went to law school.  However, law is not as exciting as it appears on TV.  So, writing my Warren Alexander (“Do Not”) series was a delightful diversion from my career as an attorney.  And the great thing is that my background prepared me for writing mysteries because law taught me how to make someone think one thing is happening when it’s actually something else!
According to your Goodreads Author Page, you had a career in law! If you had to do anything other than writing or working in law, what would you do?
 I would probably be an archaeologist because they are in the business of uncovering secrets.  And that’s what I love about writing mysteries.  I love constructing plots to give the reader the same sense of discovery an archaeologist experiences.

Now for a little bit more about yourself: What authors inspired you to write? And, if any, what authors or books did you not enjoy (that could have steered you away if you stuck to only those books/genres)?
I don’t have favorite authors but I do have favorite books.  In other words, I loved Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects (I read it five times), but I wasn’t crazy about Gone Girl.  Similarly, I loved Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca (I read it too many times to count), but I wasn’t crazy about Frenchman’s Creek.  I also loved Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Dominick Dunne’s The Two Mrs. Grenvilles.  You can probably see the underlying theme here among all these books – a storied family history, a fascinating mansion, a peek into the rarified world of the wealthy, and, of course, a murder mystery to be solved.  And that encapsulates what I also write about.
As far as the books that would steer me away from writing, there probably aren’t any. Unfortunately, though, I think there are books that steer readers away from buying books altogether and I think the reason is that many authors are under pressure to publish a book per year. That’s hard to do and still offer a quality product.
What do you find you struggle the most with as an author? 
My biggest struggle was just how different each book “felt” while I was writing it. I initially worried that meant one was better than another, but I realized they felt different because the stories were different.

This year, I read your novel “Do Not Ask” which is the second in the Warren Alexander series. Did you originally plan to write a standalone or a series? If so, did you pre-plan how your series would continue?
 I originally thought my “Do Not” series – Do Not Assume, Do Not Ask, and my next book, Do Not Answer – would be a trilogy, but then realized that would be like writing a 1,000 page novel.  Who wants to read a 1,000 page novel?  I don’t.  So, I gave up that idea, and each book in the series is stand alone.

If you had to market this book, “Do Not Ask”,  using only three words, what three words would you use?

 The President’s daughters are missing.  Sorry, I know that’s not three words, but it was the best I could do!
What do you want readers to know about any of your books or yourself?
 I want readers to know that I will entertain them.  If a book is boring, why read it?  Time is a precious commodity, there are a lot of books out there, and my goal is to make readers glad they chose my work to read.

For my second last question, if you had to jump genres what type of book would you write? And what would it (potentially) be about? Would you co-author with any specific authors in that genre?

 If I had to jump genres, I would probably write true crime.  I’d love to explore the 1966 unsolved murder of Senator Percy’s 21 year-old daughter at their Kenilworth mansion on Lake Michigan.  True story: Senator Percy heard glass shattering, his daughter screaming, and sound of the killer running off down the beach, never to be found.  Tragic but fascinating.
I’m afraid that I couldn’t co-author anything.  I like to be in control too much.  Just ask my husband!
My last question is – what question have you been dying to answer but haven’t been asked?
 I am dying to talk about my next book, Do Not Answer!  I hope that readers buy it and love it.  The publication date is Summer 2019.
The back blurb:  A serial killer is stalking Washington, DC, targeting wealthy women alone in their homes, rushing in, raping and killing them.  Women have been warned, but they keep answering their doors.  When the FBI determines the crime scenes match the fifteen-year-old unsolved murder of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Warren Alexander’s first wife, they ask Alexander for a DNA sample.  He’s anxious to comply and catch his wife’s killer, but it’s not as easy as it sounds because the suspect is a member of his own family.  
Briar, I thank you for reviewing my book, for giving me this terrific opportunity to reach readers and give them an idea of who I am and what I write!
~~~
Thank you to Elaine Williams Crockett for this wonderful opportunity to interview her! Do Not Ask was an incredible mystery/thriller that kept me hooked at every turn! You can check out my review here.
To find out more about Elaine, visit her website: http://www.elainewilliamscrockett.com/ or on Goodreads.
Check out, Do Not Assume, the first novel in the Warren Alexander series on Goodreads. Or visit the page for the sequel, Do Not Ask.
You can purchase these books on Amazon:

#BookReview Love Revisited by Jannat Bhat

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Love REVISITED is a beautifully written, new adult novel by Jannat Bhat.

This is Jannat’s FIRST book. That had me extremely excited, because that is such an accomplishment!

Now time for a brief summary:

Rose is a recent college graduate when suddenly her life gets uprooted with a move to Washington. She has to leave her life and friends behind and start a new journey! In this new city, there’s a bit of a thrill and mystery in the air. Rose begins having nightmares about Ruby, a name she used to demand she be called as a child. On top of that, Christopher and Alex seem so familiar… The thrills, chills, fantasy, mystery and romance in this novel will twirl you around and keep you hanging on the edge.

Some of the plot line was predictable, or just happens at the perfect timing. Like a psychiatrist, out of nowhere, asking if Rose loves a man in her dreams. There was no talk between them about this type of relationship between those characters, but it just pops up at the perfect time to keep the plot moving. I also found the story lacked some realism at times (I know it’s fictional, but it felt like it was supposed to be in a realistic universe) such as a psychiatrist looking with troubled eyes at a patient or believing in reincarnation (and suggesting it during an appointment). Additionally, a rushed romance where suddenly they are boyfriend and girlfriend, but it didn’t seem to be said to anyone until it randomly happens. As an adult reader, I notice that a lot more. I don’t think the Young Adult audience would have any issue believing those comments.

That being said, the drama was turned all the way up to high. For me, I don’t like too much drama (unless it’s a soap opera), so for me it felt cheesey. If you LOVE excessive drama – this book is perfect for you! The twists and turns felt like the soap operas I tend to watch (it’s a guilty pleasure of mine) and can easily be enjoyed! It felt so dramatic, like Romeo and Juliet in a present day scenario (with a few minor changes, of course). I really do praise Jannat for the constant drama that moves the plot at a nice pace. Some authors can’t find the balance, but Jannat had me hooked at every turn!

The book was labelled new adult, but I think young adult readers could easily pick it up as well. The age group of the characters are college graduates, but high school readers could also read this book and enjoy it. A lot of the quick romance and drama felt like the Young Adult novels I picked up back in high school. So, in my opinion, this book could work well for either Young Adult or New Adult audiences. I would even consider market it to a Young Adult audience, because it felt so right for both audiences!

Also, when considering a genre shelf to put this on – it could be in either a romance or thriller section. It had a nice mix of both to keep the story interesting, but was only labelled as New Adult when I read it. While it was a fictional novel, it had lots of romance scenes and thrilling twists inside it’s pages. There’s also a pinch of fantasy in this novel, but not enough to give it that label.

The writing style and my reading style did not match well, so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great book though! I also found the grammatical style to be different than one I am used to, so it took me a while to let myself escape into the book and let myself enjoy it instead of trying to pick it to pieces (I’m a perfectionist, I really can’t help it).

There is switching point of views in this novel. It happens later on in the book, but it’s still there! We follow Rose and Alex throughout their journey, with Rose having more chapters than Alex.

Overall, this book was a fun, dramatic read that will definitely resonate with readers who love thrillers, a splash of fantasy, and Romeo and Juliet-esque romance.

Three out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Jannat Bhat in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Love Revisited:

Rose Scarlet is your everyday girl just finishing college with her best friends Will & Aimee. But when she suddenly moves all the way across the country to a small town called Beacon Hill, normal was a thing of the past, for the city felt eerily familiar to her. How could she end up at the local park without directions when this was the first time she had step foot into town? How will she explain her irrational fears or feelings so strong for someone who is practically a stranger or is he?What was the story behind the burnt house? She felt like her heart wanted to cry every time she was near it.
And who was Alexander Sinclair? She could see that he was disturbingly beautiful, but how did she know things he had revealed to no one? Why had she seen his face in her dreams before ever laying eyes on him? A thousand more questions haunted her as she found the answers to none. Not until charming and handsome Nathan Sinclair walks into her life, whom she hated on sight.
Sometimes when something we love is so brutally taken away from us, our soul remembers what our mind is too afraid to.

Check out this book on:

Goodreads: Love Revisited – Goodreads

Amazon.com: Love Revisited – Amazon.com

Amazon.ca: Love Revisited – Amazon.ca

 

Find out more about Jannat Bhat on Goodreads: Jannat Bhat on Goodreads

Or her blog spot! Jannat Bhat on Blog Spot

 

Give us both a shout out on Twitter! @JannatBhat & @ReviewAlholic

#BookReview Death by Diploma by Kelley Kaye

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Death by Diploma by Kelley Kaye is a fun, cozy mystery that is perfect for binging!

I’ve gotta say, I have been yearning for some teacher centered reads lately (ironically, since school is getting out around now for the elementary school kids in my area). And what is my luck that Kelley Kaye has an awesome mystery series that’s full of teachers, silly antics and loads of thrills!

Our lead Emma working at a new school and meets Leslie, the current head of the English department. While being introduced to her new life as the high school English teacher, she discovers a murder! Leslie, Emma and a band of jolly characters must work together to find out who killed a beloved janitor and all of the secrets he held behind the scenes in his life.

The book is FULL of quotes – Star Wars and Shakespeare just to name a couple! I loved all of the silly references that I understood, and the ones I didn’t I got to look up and find MORE books to add to my never ending to-be-read pile! Add in the comedy that Kelley Kaye is clearly an expert at providing, and you’ve got yourself a fun time! Work your way through this book and try to solve the mystery, or just enjoy the giggles you’ll get from the wacky one liners!

For me as a reader, I couldn’t find much wrong with this book. It was short enough to binge it but long enough to feel fulfilling. It was also packed with everything I love – silly comments, epic quotes and fun characters. There’s drama, a splash of flirtiness and romance, gossip, thrills and chills. It hits all the notes I want in a sweet novel!

I would say this book is for 16+, due to some of the adult comments used in the book. That being said, if you’ve got a mature teen they will have no problem reading this book! It’s not R rated, it just has adult comments that you might not want to read to your children.

Five out of five stars! It was a fun ride that I definitely want more of! I’ll be searching for Kelley Kaye’s books on every bookshelf I can!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Kelley Kaye in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:

 

Check out the first bo on:

Goodreads – Death by Diploma

Youtube – Book Trailer – Death by Diploma

Amazon.com – Death by Diploma

Amazon.ca – Death by Diploma

Find out more about Kelley Kaye on:

Goodreads – Kelley Kaye or Goodreads – Kelley Kaye #2

YouTube – Kelley Kaye

http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/

Twitter – @KelKay1202

Facebook – Kelley Kaye

 

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter! @ReviewAlholic

And comment below! What books do you find “cozy”?