June 29, 2017

Suped Up: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Series: Standalone
Format: eGalley
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Atria
Source: Publisher

Genre: Women's Lit | Literary Fiction

From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

And it's a 2-0 for Taylor Jenkins Reid. Though not as wrenching as My First Two Loves, THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO drew me in and had me lost in Hollywood Icon Evelyn Hugo's desultory love life. Suffice to say that this was almost impossible to put down. It's subtle, very straightforward, and unintentionally romantic. Evelyn Hugo is an anti-heroine and she's quick to vilify herself, stressing that she's a calculating bitch who'll do what she has to do to get what she wants regardless of the means. 

And for all of Evelyn's awe inspiring life and love story, I also felt an overwhelming sadness, and at times anger towards her and on her behalf. TJReid didn't romanticize Hugo's flaws nor hid it behind the convenience of glamour of her status as a Hollywood icon, Evelyn is as human as you could possibly imagine, you could almost see her bleed through the pages. 

This novel is raw and emotionally grating, I felt challenged to find some redemptive quality of Hugo's to absolve her in the end. I could go wax poetic over how fantastic THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO is but where's the fun in that?! Aside from me boring you, I'd rather you read this for yourself and experience the magic that is Evelyn Hugo.

Talk Supe

June 27, 2017

Shelley Loved: Song of the Lioness Books 1 & 2 by Tamora Pierce

Series: Song of the Lioness 1
Format: Hardcover, 260 pages
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy

From Tamora Pierce, the first book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet, honored with the Margaret A. Edwards Award.

“From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.”

In a time when girls are forbidden to be warriors, Alanna of Trebond wants nothing more than to be a knight of the realm of Tortall. So she finds a way to switch places with her twin brother, Thom. Disguised as a boy, Alanna begins her training as a page at the palace of King Roald. But the road to knighthood, as she discovers, is not an easy one. Alanna must master weapons, combat, and magic, as well as polite behavior, her temper, and even her own heart.

Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna’s first adventure begins—one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and make her a legend in the land

ALANNA: THE FIRST ADVENTURE is the first installment in author Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness series. This is a series that was originally released nearly 30 years ago. The book I borrowed from my library was released in 2014. Set in the realm of Tortall, Alanna of Trebold is the main character. Alanna is a girl who wants to become a knight, while her twin brother Thom, wants to become a sorcerer. 

In this world, girls are sent to a convent called Daughters of the Goddess, while boys are sent to the King's court to learn how to be nobles of the Kingdom. This includes being trained as a page, squire, and later becoming a Knight of the Realm if they pass the grueling tests. When the story starts, Alanna is (8) years away from taking the challenge to become a Knight of the Realm. At the end of this story, Alanna has become a good student, who is fairly proficient with weapons, and can hold her own against almost anyone. 

June 23, 2017

Shelley Liked: If I'm Found by Terri Blackstock

Series: If I Run 2
Format: Hardcover | 384 pages
Release Date: March 21st 2017
Publisher: Zondervan
Source: Library
Genre: Thriller | Mystery

In this riveting sequel to the USA TODAY bestseller If I Run, evil lurks, drawing Casey out of the shadows . . . but there is light shining in the darkness.

Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily.

As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail cell.

IF I'M FOUND is the second installment in author Terri Blackstock's If I Run trilogy. Picking up right where If I Run left off, Casey Cox is still on the run knowing full well that she is the key suspect in the murder of her best friend. With her DNA at the crime scene, the murder weapon found in her car, Casey knows that she is being set up by some very bad people, namely cops. After risking exposure to find a kidnapped girl, and barely walking away unscathed in If I Run, Casey is on the move. 

After changing her alias, again, Casey ends up investigating some really horrible people after an innocent man is accused of a very sick crime. Casey also ends up following a lead to the doorstep of a certain corrupt cops mistress and to the corrupt cop himself. One of the things that has been at the top of my list of things to like about this series, is Casey's determination to save others at the expense of being caught by the corrupt cops who continue to run her down. So, where does this lead Casey? To more trouble, to more people who need her help, to Dylan who has opened up Casey's eyes to faith, and to trusting that he is on her side without hesitation, or reservations.

June 19, 2017

Suped Up: Crown of Stars by Sophie Jaff

Series: Nightsong Trilogy 2
Format: eGalley via Edelweiss
Release Date:  June 7, 2017
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Source: Publisher
Recommended By: Books of Love
Genre: Dark Fantasy | Horror

Rumors of witchcraft have haunted Margaret ever since she was born. A strange, dark-eyed child, she was feared and then shunned by her medieval English village after her mother’s brutal murder. When her father remarries, Margaret—now a young woman—realizes that she must leave the village for good.

Hundreds of years later, as fall comes to Manhattan, Katherine Emerson prays her horrific summer is over. She survived a killer’s attack, but her roommate Andrea was not so lucky and now Katherine is raising Andrea’s son, Lucas. However, the rest of her world is in ruins: the man she loves has left her and she’s pregnant with his child. She accepts she’ll be a single mother—until he insists on doing “the right thing”, which means taking her and Lucas with him to London for his new job. Katherine hopes that maybe she too can start over.

But starting over doesn’t mean that the disturbing and dangerous encounters with strangers will end. As Katherine begins to fall apart, Margaret’s fight to survive in a hostile world reveals she has inherited her mother’s extraordinary gifts—but will she use them for good or evil? Can Margaret change the destiny of Katherine and her unborn child? And what will happen if she succeeds?

Nightsong Trilogy by Sophie Jaff is one of those series that deserves more attention and readership. I know a lot of you here are dark fantasy fans like me, we love myths that delve into the supernatural occult adorned with rich backstories, an interesting cast of characters, and a plot set in unassuming familiar places. Nightsong Trilogy touches on witchcraft, biblical myths, reincarnation, and serial killer themes that make for an unusual yet totally enthralling story. 

June 15, 2017

Shelley Loved: Badlands by Melissa Lenhardt

Series: Laura Elliston 3
Format: E-Galley
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Redhook-Orbit
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Fiction | Historical | Western

Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in the conclusion to Melissa Lenhardt's fast-paced historical series

Laura's worst fears have been realized: Kindle has been taken into custody and she is once again on the run. The noose awaits her in New York, but Laura is realizing that there are some things worse than death. Finally running out of places to hide, it may be time for Dr. Catherine Bennett to face her past.

BADLANDS is the third and final installment in author Melissa Lenhardt's Laura Elliston trilogy. If you've read my first two reviews of Sawbones and Badlands, you know that this trilogy is centered around Dr. Catherine Bennett aka Laura Elliston. Bennett was accused of murdering a very well off patient at the start of this trilogy. Facing the distinct possibility of being hanged on sight because the deck was stacked against her by rich and powerful men, she chose to flee to Texas and later changed her name to Laura Elliston. Laura's journey has been anything but easy. 

June 6, 2017

Suped Up: The Party by Robyn Harding

Series: Standalone (?)
Format: eGalley
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary | Literary Fiction

Librarian's note: An alternate cover edition can be found here

In this stunning and provocative domestic drama about a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry, a wealthy family in San Francisco finds their picture-perfect life unraveling, their darkest secrets revealed, and their friends turned to enemies.

One invitation. A lifetime of regrets.

Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?

But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed.

Harkening to Herman Koch’s The Dinner, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, The Party takes us behind the fa├žade of the picture-perfect family, exposing the lies, betrayals, and moral lapses that neighbors don’t see—and the secrets that children and parents keep from themselves and each other.

THE PARTY by Robyn Harding took me by surprise. After reading the first few chapters I though I'll be witness to yet another entertaining suburban melodrama featuring a bored housewife and her seemingly perfect family. 

Well I did get that, but what I wasn't expecting is how THE PARTY got me by the balls from the get-go. Things did indeed take such a horrific turn after an accident happened in an otherwise wholesome and harmless Sweet Sixteen sleepover. 

June 5, 2017

Shelley Loved: Blood Oath by Melissa Lenhardt

Series: Laura Elliston 2
Format: E-Galley | 368 pages
Release Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: Redhook | Orbit
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Historical | Western

Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in this action-packed follow up to Sawbones.

Laura Elliston and William Kindle are on the run -- from the Army and from every miscreant in the West eager to claim the $500 bounty for Laura's capture as their own. But the danger isn't just from those pursuing them. Laura and Kindle have demons of their own and a past that won't stay dead. Exhausted, scared, scarred and surrounded by enemies, neither realize the greatest danger is yet to come.

BLOOD OATH is the second installment in author Melissa Lenhardt's Laura Elliston series. As you may have learned from reading my review for Sawbones, Lenhardt doesn't go easy on her characters. She doesn't give them easy ways out. She knows that the late 19th century was filled with unhappy Confederate soldiers, uncouth and unsavory bounty hunters looking to make their fortunes, and renegade Indians who massacred Whites, and Whites who in turn, massacred Indians.