Book Review: The Girl in the Corner by Amanda Prowse

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley and the review below is my honest opinion.

About the Book:

The Girl in the Corner

From bestselling author Amanda Prowse comes the poignant tale of a woman who has always been there for her family. But will they be there for her?

Rae-Valentine and Howard were childhood sweethearts. They’ve shared twenty-five peaceful years since they were brought together by Dolly, Howard’s larger-than-life sister. But now, on the night of their wedding anniversary, Howard reveals a shocking betrayal that leaves Rae reeling.

Heartbroken, she takes Dolly on her would-be anniversary trip to Antigua and the two women drink and dance and talk like they haven’t in years. But in the break from real life, Rae realises her choices have always been made for her, and suddenly she’s questioning not only her fragile marriage but also her one-sided friendships. Is she really the pushover everyone else sees?

When Howard comes looking for reconciliation, Rae has a choice to make: keep the peace, as she always has, or put herself first for once and find out who she really is.

My thoughts:

The Girl in the Corner follows Rae-Valentine’s life and journey towards self-discovery. The entire first half of the story gives us a taste of her seemingly perfect life, perfect friendship and perfect relationships. She married her childhood-sweetheart and they have been together for twenty-five years, bringing up their two children, spending time with family and just living life.

However, when Howard reveals the truth of an affair, Rae-Valentine is forced to reassess her life and the decisions which led her to where she is today. As she tries to reconcile the facts in her head, she is forced to deal with her issues with her sister and she starts to question her friendship with Dolly, Howard’s sister. With time away, a lot of introspection mixed with Dolly’s persistent attempts to push her opinion on her friend, Rae-Valentine starts to realize that a lot of her life decisions seem to have been made for her. Things just fell into place and she never questioned them. She changed her goals based on her family’s ideas, then her life moved to revolve around Howard and her children. In the end, she starts to question which decision was really hers and where she is going with her life.

As everything comes crashing down, she realizes that sometimes you just have to seize the moment and do things for yourself, otherwise you get lost in the chaos of other people’s choices. When the betrayal strikes hard, it brings things into perspective and cause her to re-evaluate her life. The crux of the story is in her decisions and how she handles things in the end. Will she forgive Howard or will she move on from him after being together for so long?

At times the story seems slow and some parts repetitive in the thought, but overall, this is an interesting read with a pertinent message for all.

Book Review: Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

About the Book:

Legendary (Caraval, #2)

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

My Thoughts:

Legendary is the second book in the series and follows the story just after Caraval has finished. In fact, it is wonderful that this story takes up from the next day! The story follows Donatella, the younger sister as she moves forward from one Caraval game to the next. In the first, she was just a prop while her older sister Scarlett had to play to find her. Moving on from this, the two sisters are free and can try to start their lives again, but Tella has a debt to pay. As the magic and adventure unravel, the reader is once again drawn into the depths of a story where nothing is at it seems or maybe, for once, everything is as real as it seems.

Is it just a game or is it reality? These questions plague not only the characters in the book, but also the reader. The journey to discover Caraval Master Legend’s true name is also a journey of bravery, and love. Tella has many choices to make, even though her path seems clear and in the end, she has to make the ultimate sacrifice for the ones that she loves.

Though Legendary is very well-written and a wonderful sequel, it is not as thrilling as the first book. It is a little slower with more focus on the characters and their identities. We meet a lot of new characters as well and are introduced to the sisters’ past, their family and learn many  truths about many of the people! As Scarlett struggles to find her footing between the one she loves and the one she was arranged to be married to, Tella navigates the game of Caraval again trying to find the answers she seeks. The characters are compelling, you’ll love some, you’ll hate some and there are those that fall in between.

The story is definitely worth the read and the hype and is a fitting sequel to the first, clearing up many things and giving the reader much more in the form of love and friendship. The cliffhanger at the end leaves us wanting for more and will definitely force the reader to pick up the third and final book in the series, Finale!

 

Book Review: Inebriated by Katey Taylor

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Xpresso Book Tours as a part of the Blog tour for this book. Unfortunately I was not able to read and review this book in time for the Blog tour. So read on to know my thoughts!

About the Book:

Inebriated

Barely seventeen and as pretty as can be: the summer is their playground. Cait and her best friends Steph and Allie take on San Francisco’s party scene with fake IDs and short dresses.

When Cait meets Adrien Cross, the charismatic lead singer of her favorite indie band, she’s introduced to a hedonistic world of liquor and lust that she never wants to leave.

But then that world spirals out of control and the harsh realities of reckless living take a toll on Cait and the ones she loves.
What will be left when the makeup masks wash off, the bottles are empty, and Cait begins to lose her grip on everything?

Katey Taylor’s heart-wrenching debut novel will have you strapped into the intense rollercoaster ride of Cait’s life and one chaotic summer that will change it all.

My Thoughts:

Review : 3 stars

Note: This story has many incidents that could act as triggers. So be careful while picking it up to read.

Inebriated follows the life of Cait and her best friends as they tackle their summer holidays with partying and romance. The story is a typical one with teenagers trying to have fun and enjoy themselves. It is predictable for the most part, but there are a few unexpected twists. I like the way the author has described and handled the friendship between the girls. It is quite beautiful. It also helped to understand their backgrounds and the reason behind the bonds they had. Their acceptance of each other and the way they looked at the world is well written. The characters are not wholly relatable. It was not easy to empathize with them completely nor to understand some of the reasons behind their actions.

Some parts of the story just seemed abrupt and the entire focus of the story was on partying and drugs. Cait is focused on trying to handle her relationship with Adrien Cross, lead singer of her favorite indie band. While their relationship is intense, it pulls her away from focusing on her friends and their lives. This leads to so many consequences as she tries to navigate a world of sudden and intense love, family ties and breaking bonds. When tragedy strikes, noone is even close to ready for it and the author handles the emotions in this part of the story very well.

An overall intensely emotional read, even though I did not fully enjoy the book, the parts that I did, prompt me to recommend it!

Book Review: Dragon Connection (The Stone Crown #1) by Ava Richardson

I received a free copy of the book from NetGalley! Read on to know my honest opinion of the book!

About the Book:

Dragon Connection (The Stone Crown, #1)

One crown can unite them—or destroy them all.

The three kingdoms lie splintered, their aging dragon riders content with stories of glorious battle victories. But a new evil creeps across the land. Inyene, a powerful noblewoman of the Northern Kingdom, plunders valuable resources to power mechanical dragons in her quest to gain a foothold in the Middle Kingdom. From there she will ascend the High Throne, once again uniting the realms under a single crown.

For the wearer of the Stone Crown can wield unlimited power—if it can be found.

Narissea has spent a quarter of her sixteen years slaving away in the mines, accused of a crime she didn’t commit. When word reaches her of the horrors assailing her village, Narissea knows she must act despite the risk. Already her arm is scarred with four brands signifying previous escape attempts. If she’s unsuccessful in her fifth, it will mean death.

But her life forever changes when she stumbles upon an injured dragon, discovers an ancient shrine, and learns the true purpose behind Lady Inyene’s mechanical abominations.

Now, Narissea has only one choice: gain Inyene’s trust and find a way to thwart her plans, even if it means sacrificing that which she desires most of all.

Her freedom.

This book contains violence.

My Thoughts:

Dragon Connection is the first book in the Stone Crown series by author Ava Richardson. It is a well-written, fast paced, YA fantasy fiction novel that follows the life of Narissea as she navigates the mines as a slave and later embarks on a journey to find the Stone Crown. Nari is a strong willed girl, set to work in the mines as a slave along with many of her people, trapped into this situation based on falsified debts that are owed to Lady Inyene.

I particularly enjoyed how the author does not waste time building up the story, but throws the reader right into the middle of it. The author later on takes her time to explain some of the setting and give us a sense of the background of the people and the reason for their current predicament. Most of the things that happen in this book come as a pleasant surprise though some parts are a little predictable.

With a strong desire to thwart Lady Inyene’s plans, Nari embarks on a journey that involves an injured dragon, the Lady’s brother and a mage. Add to this mix some magic and we have the perfect recipe for an enjoyable read! I truly cannot wait to pick up the next book and find out what happens!

Book Review: Just After Midnight by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I was offered a chance to review this book via Lake Union Publishing and thus received a copy via NetGalley. I had planned to finish reading the book before it’s release in early December, but due to my busy work schedules, I have not been able to devote a lot of time to my book reviews.

Nevertheless, I managed to read this wonderful book, and you can read my review below.

About the Book:

Just After Midnight

From the New York Times bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes an uplifting and poignant novel about friendship, trust, and facing your fears.

No longer tolerating her husband’s borderline abuse, Faith escapes to her parents’ California beach house to plan her next move. She never dreamed her new chapter would involve befriending Sarah, a fourteen-year-old on the run from her father and reeling from her mother’s sudden and suspicious death.

While Sarah’s grandmother scrambles to get custody, Faith is charged with spiriting the girl away on a journey that will restore her hope: Sarah implores Faith to take her to Falkner’s Midnight Sun, the prized black mare that her father sold out from under her. Sarah shares an unbreakable bond with Midnight and can’t bear to be apart from her. Throughout the sweltering summer, as they follow Midnight from show to show, Sarah comes to terms with what she witnessed on the terrible night her mother died.

But the journey is far from over. Faith must learn the value of trusting her instincts—and realize that the key to her future, and Sarah’s, is in her hands.

My Thoughts:

Just After Midnight tells us the story of two women, one who is running away from an abusive marriage and the other of a fourteen year old girl, running away from her father. The story follows their journey from when they meet, showing us how a bond forms between them and how they lean on each other to sort through all their emotions. This story follows Faith and Sarah as they go on a journey together. Faith is charged with taking care of Sarah by her grandmother who is fighting for custody of the child. Sarah’s mother is dead and she is on the run from her father. While spending time with each other, Faith learns to trust again thanks to Sarah and Sarah learns to open up and enjoy as a child again.

The two main protagonists go on a journey to find Sarah’s prized black mare, with whom Sarah shares a very strong bond. As they find their way there, the journey turns into one of self discovery and understanding of the other. They are forced to navigate through the layers of their emotions and slowly, Sarah reveals the truth behind her mother’s death and what she witnessed. With the bond between these two stronger than ever, Faith reaches the point where she chooses to stand up to her husband as well as defend and protect Sarah.

A very well-written story, this book will take the reader on an emotional roller-coaster ride. Be prepared to be amazed at the bond Faith shares with her horse, the love, care and mutual adoration. The author has beautifully described this bond and this will make the reader love the characters even more. They are real, believable and relatable. The problems they face and the hurdles they encounter will pull you in and keep you there until the very end.

This griping novel is well worth the read!

Book Review: A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

About the Book:

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (The Cursebreaker Series)

Find the heir, win the crown.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.

Harper has freed Prince Rhen from the curse that almost destroyed his kingdom. But all is not well; rumours are rife that there is a rival heir with a stronger claim to the throne and that ‘Princess’ Harper of Disi is nothing but a fraud.

Grey has fled the castle carrying a terrible secret. When he is discovered by soldiers and returned to Ironrose by force, Grey’s allegiances begin to shift. And as he grows closer to an enemy princess, he is forced to decide whether he will stand against Rhen for the crown he never wanted …

My Thoughts:

Brigid Kemmerer brings to us a well-written, action-packed sequel that follows Grey’s journey as he deals with the truth about who he is. All secrets come to light at some point, and it is the same in this story. When the truth about Grey comes to light, he is seen as a threat to the kingdom. Rhen, now freed from the curse is not ready to see reason or understand. All he sees is betrayal.

The author weaves together a rather complicated set of emotions spread among all the chaaracters, all layered one on top of the other. To get to them, we have to peel back each layer and deal with what is revealed. With so many rumours about Harper and the rival heir about, Rhen is at his wits end to keep everything together. This story mainly focuses on Grey’s journey, his actions and decisions and his interaction with the enemy princess and kingdom. We see how he grows, how he learns to become a prince in his own right and how he interacts with the people around him. There is a stark contrast to Grey’s personality and Rhen’s which is beautifully brought out in this book.

This story is a wonderful sequel to the first, showing us a different aspect of the plot and story and culminating in a cliff hanger, leaving the reader wanting for more! I am sure that every cursebreaker is impatiently waiting for the next book to know what happens!

Book Review: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

About the Book:

The Priory of the Orange Tree

A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

My Thoughts:

I found this book while browsing through Instagram. There was a lot of posts about it and so much of praise. I knew that I had to read the book. It was the best decision I made.

Samantha Shannon weaves a world of fantasy, magic and dragons, that makes for a very compelling read. The story follows a great number of characters across various parts of the globe, mainly referred to based on the directions of North, South, East and West. Each direction has it’s own set of countries, rulers and stories. The author weaves them all together slowly, unraveling parts of the mystery and introducing us to many people.

As the story progresses, the reader has no choice but to keep going on. It is so well written, that the reader can imagine the scenes with ease. This helps to connect with the people and their surroundings. The story is filled with intrigue, mystery, love and magic. There is also some betrayal, a lot of hope, a strong sense of duty and bonds that grows among people from being united against a common enemy.

The story follows the lives of Ead, Sabran and Tané. Each have their own stories, their own secrets and a big role to play in this narrative. In addition, we have a lot of supporting characters who play pivotal roles in shaping the happenings in the story. The characters are strong and well crafted making it easy for the reader to connect with them and understand them. Each of the characters are tested when their faith comes into question, as well as when they are forced to take decisions that would change the course of their lives forever. This has been very beautifully depicted and the companionship between some of the characters is heart-warming.

I absolutely loved this book and the journey I took with the characters as they navigated their lives and finally moved towards the fight with an ancient enemy. I strongly recommend this book to all the readers out there! This is worth the read!

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

About the Book:

Fangirl

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair anymore – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.

Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s learning that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible.

My Thoughts:

A well-written coming of age novel, Fangirl follows Cath’s journey as she navigates the world of university and discovers her identity separate from that of her twin. Lost completely in a fictional fantasy world, Cath spends most of her time writing fan-fiction revolving around the fictional characters of Simon Snow and his arch enemy Baz. Having grown up as a twin, Cath is more dependent on Wren, seemingly always in her shadow. The abandonment she feels when her mother leaves them, pushes her towards becoming more of an introvert.

This story not only brings out the contrast between the two girls, but it shows us that the world has a lot to offer if we only let it. Cath learns to find her way, forming a weird bond with her roommate, finding love and facing betrayal from a classmate. Dealing with all this makes her stronger and she learns to open up more. We are shown how the girls are quite similar yet different and the reader will come to love all the characters.

The characters are relatable and quite real, making it easy for the reader to understand them. The emotions are real and the events in the story are such that they could easily happen to any of us. On the whole this story is about getting out of one’s comfort zone and learning to live. Even though the focus is on Cath, we get a glimpse into who her twin is, how their father is coping with life and how they deal with college and growing up.

A wonderful book in the YA genre, Fangirl is worth picking up and giving in to.

Book Review: Heaven Adjacent by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I was provided with an advance reader’s copy of the book via NetGalley by Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a bittersweet novel about healing old wounds and finding a new place to call home…

Roseanna Chaldecott spent her life as a high-powered lawyer in Manhattan. But when her best friend and law partner dies suddenly, something snaps. Unsure of her future, Roseanna heads upstate on one tank of gas and with no plans to return.

In the foothills of the Adirondacks, Roseanna discovers the perfect hideout in a ramshackle farm. Its seventy-six acres are rich with possibilities and full of surprises, including a mother and daughter squatting on the property. Although company is the last thing Roseanna wants, she reluctantly lets them stay.

Roseanna and the young girl begin sculpting junk found around the farm into zoo animals, drawing more newcomers—including her estranged son, Lance. He pleads with Roseanna to return to the city, but she’s finally discovered where she belongs. It may not provide the solitude she originally sought, but her heart has found room for much more.

My Thoughts:

I am thankful to once again have been given the chance to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s next upcoming novel! Heaven Adjacent teaches us to appreciate the small things in life. It teaches us that it is okay to be scared, everyone is scared, but, there is no need to run from it. It teaches us to trust those around us, to open ourselves up to people and to just be happy with the things we have.

Roseanna, our protagonist, makes the sudden split-second decision to just up and run. She wakes up one morning with the urge to get away from the city, her world and the life she leads. Part of her is grieving due to the loss of her best friend/ law partner and the other part of her is trying to reconcile with the fact that life is too short to waste away without enjoying it. As she drives away in her fancy car without a specific destination in mind, Roseanna lands up somewhere near the Adirondacks where she finds a perfectly acceptable farm.

As she settles and tries to make a home here, she allows a mother and daughter to stay on the premises. Slowly, a few more people happen upon her place, all seemingly in search of paradise or peace. At first Roseanna is irritated by the presence of other people, but as time passes, she starts to accept them. This seems to bug her son when he finally finds out where she is, through a news article about her animals sculpted from the junk around, and comes to convince her to go back. He does not understand her sudden decision and as he starts to spend some time with his mother, the two of them discover things about the other that they never knew or understood before. Talking about their lives, their relationships and who they are, a knew sense of peace and acceptance develops.

This story is one of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Roseanna finds a new kind of peace, a new hobby, and learns to accept the people around her. They all have something to teach her about life and her relationship with her son. This is a heart-warming story that is very well-written and pushes the reader towards introspection. It helps the reader understand that it is okay to want to escape, but don’t be rash about it, and be sure to let in the ones you love. It will make a world of difference. Be open about your thoughts and don’t be afraid to speak up. This is how a person can learn and grow into a better human being.

One again, this new and upcoming novel by author Catherine Ryan Hyde is a must read as it touches upon relevant and relatable topics!

Book Review: Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

About the Book:

Before I Let You Go

Your sister needs you. But her child needs you more…

As children, Lexie and Annie were incredibly close. Bonded by the death of their beloved father and their mother’s swift remarriage, they weathered the storms of life together. When Lexie leaves home to follow her dream, Annie is forced to turn to her leather-bound journal as the only place she can confide her deepest secrets and fears…

As adults, sisters Lexie and Annie could not be more different. Lexie is a doctor, successful in her practice and happily engaged. Annie is addicted to heroin – a thief, a liar, and unable to remain clean despite the fact that she is pregnant. When Annie’s newborn baby is in danger of being placed in foster care, Annie picks up the phone to beg her sister for help. Will Lexie agree to help and take in her young niece? And how will Annie survive, losing the only thing in her life worth living for?

My Thoughts:

 Before I Let You Go is a story that brings out the bond between family and sisters. There is a strong message of togetherness and trust, the effects of secrets and the power of love. The story mainly follows Lexie and Annie, giving us a glimpse into each of their minds and lives, sisters, who are so different in adulthood and who have drifted apart. Brought together by the death of their father, the girls forge a stronger bond with each other, but as time passes, they drift apart. The author weaves a strong plot of lies, secrets and things left untold which form the basis of the sisters’ relationship.

The story is well-written except for a few times when some points are repeated, driving in the difference in life styles of the sisters. When Annie seeks Lexie out for help and support, she is pregnant and still unable to avoid her drug addiction. Lexie has never been understand how or why her sister changed and when the addiction took over. In spite of this, she rushes to help her sister and agrees to take care of the baby in the time that it takes for her sister to attend rehab again. What follows is a confusing journey filled with strong emotions of anger, love, and togetherness.

As the story unfolds, the reader, along with Lexie, starts to learn a lot about the girls’ past, some of which Lexie had blocked out of her mind and some of it being the truth about her sister’s life that she never knew of. A lot of things bring people closer, but sharing secrets that were buried deep inside and telling the truth to someone you love, helps both of you to grow. That is exactly what happens with Lexie and Annie, during the process of the court-ordered rehab. It is also wonderful to read about Lexie’s fiance who as a supporting character adds more value to this story. However, the build up to the end leads to some unexpected twists that will both surprise and shock the reader, while also being realistic enough that they can understand the situations.

Overall an emotional page-turner, I particularly enjoyed how the author carried forward the plot and the depth of the characters and their emotions. The story may or may not end the way the reader may expect, but there is a lot to take away from this book which makes it worth the read!