Friday, August 26, 2016

Review: Unraveled by Jennifer Estep (Elemental Assassin #15)

After the incidents in Bitter Bite (Elemental Assassin #14), Finn finds out that he has inherited a wild west theme park complete with a luxury hotel. He talks Bria, Owen, and Gin into accompanying him to check it out.Considering her last vacation was a little disastrous, Gin is skeptical about going, but gives in. She has her own motives for the trip: finding out more about her mother and the Circle -  a group that is supposed to secretly control all the illegal goings-on in Ashland.

It's not long before they find out that there is more to the park than meets the eye. Hugh Tucker, a member of the Circle, is there and has henchmen in key positions around the park. One thing leads to another and the bullets and knives start to fly.

Jennifer Estep mixes things up a bit this time around in a couple of ways. The setting is outside the usual Ashland. The supporting characters are a slightly different group. And there is an interesting dwarf named Ira who has been working in the park for a long time. Also, the bad guys are relatively new and different as Gin looks into the mysterious Circle. I think the Circle will continue as her nemesis into the next book and maybe beyond.

I liked that Gin remembers more about her mother and her past in this book. And the cast of characters worked well together - both the white hats (Gin and her friends) and the black hats (Hugh and his henchmen).

It was fast paced as all the other books in the series that I've read have been. And Estep makes you want to know what will happen next. I ended up reading it in just 3 days which is pretty quick for me.

If you like urban fantasy with plenty of action, then you will like this series. There is also a little romance, but it is not overwhelming. And there is character development. You could probably read it on its own, but you will enjoy it more if you've read a couple of the earlier books especially, perhaps, Bitter Bite. I give Unraveled 4 out of 5 stars.

Unraveled by Jennifer Estep is due out August 30, 2016 from Pocket Books. An excerpt can be read on the author's website.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #152: Unf*ck Your Habitat by Rachel Hoffman


"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating. 


This week's choice is a nonfiction title about a popular topic - decluttering.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Finally, a housekeeping and organizational system developed for those of us who'd describe our current living situation as a “f*cking mess” that desperately needs fixing. Unf*ck Your Habitat is for anyone who has been left behind by traditional aspirational systems. The ones that ignore single people with full-time jobs; people without kids but living with roommates; and people with mental illnesses or physical limitations. Most organizational books are aimed at stay-at-home moms, DIYers, and people who seem to have unimaginable amounts of free time. They assume we all iron our sheets, have linen napkins to match our table runners, and can keep plants alive for longer than a week. Basically, they ignore most of us living here in the real world.

Interspersed with lists and challenges, this practical, no-nonsense advice relies on a 20/10 system (20 minutes of cleaning followed by a 10-minute break; no marathon cleaning allowed) to help you develop lifelong habits. It motivates you to embrace a new lifestyle in manageable sections so you can actually start applying the tactics as you progress. For everyone stuck between The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Adulting, this philosophy is decidedly more realistic than aspirational, but the goal is the same: not everyone will have a showcase of a home, but whatever your habitat, you deserve for it to bring you happiness, not stress.

Why am I waiting on this book? I like that it includes people with roommates and people with mental illness or physical limitations. And that it is not a marathon cleaning book really endears it to me, even sight unseen. And: "not everyone will have a showcase of a home, but whatever your habitat, you deserve for it to bring you happiness, not stress." Expected publication is January 3, 2017, from St. Martin's Press.

What book are you waiting on this week? Please share the title or a link in the comments so we can check it out and maybe add it to our ever-growing TBR list. Thanks for coming by! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: Unraveled by Jennifer Estep


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
 Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
 BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Expected publication:
August 30th 2016 by Pocket Books
But Finn kept right on bellowing along to the music, singing about horses and beer and other cowboy things. I was the only one who seemed to notice how strained his smiles were and how forced and fake his over-the-top, giddyap cheer really was. Finn seemed determined to have a good time and forget all about his problems back in Ashland, at least for the weekend.

I admired his determination, if not his singing.
21% through on my Kindle
The quote is from an ARC and may appear differently in the final version. Unraveled by Jennifer Estep is due out August 30, 2016 from Pocket Books.
What's your teaser? Share it or a link in the comments so we can check it out and maybe add it to our ever-growing TBR piles. Happy Reading!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena is a domestic thriller. Anne and Marco Conti decide to go ahead with their dinner plans at the next door neighbor's house even though the babysitter has canceled. They leave the baby at home in her crib and take the monitor with them. They check up on the baby every half hour. And yet, when they go home, the front door is ajar. The crib is empty. Where has little Cora gone? This starts the thriller off.

"What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family—a chilling tale of  deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist."(Goodreads.com)

There are lots of twists. Some of them you can predict. Others you can't. I didn't totally expect the ending. 

The use of the third person point of view to tell the story made me feel distanced some from the characters. And I found that I lacked much sympathy for them other than that I was sorry that their baby had disappeared. I wondered if the author deliberately created the distance I felt for the characters as a way for the readers to experience some of the dissociation that Anne Conti felt.

Still, the book drew me on. I wanted to know what happened next. And I found myself reading quickly to find out. The pace of the book was slow in a few spots, but overall moved at a good rate. 

The book was good, but it put me off that I felt little for the characters. I gave it 3 stars out of 5.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: Halloween by David J. Skal

Halloween: The History of America's Darkest Holiday by David J. Skal is an interesting nonfiction account of the history of Halloween. It is a re-release. It was out of print for about 10 years before being released in this edition.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Acclaimed cultural critic David J. Skal explores one of America's most perplexingly popular holidays in this original mix of personal anecdotes and social analysis. Skal traces Halloween's evolution from its dark Celtic history and quaint, small-scale celebrations to its emergence as a mammoth seasonal marketing event.
Skal takes readers on a cross-country survey that covers remarkably divergent perspectives, from the merchants who welcome a money-making opportunity that's second only to Christmas to fundamentalists who decry Halloween a form of blasphemy and practicing witches who embrace it as a holy day. He also profiles individuals who revel in this once-a-year occasion to participate in elaborate fantasies. Their narratives, combined with the author's cultural analysis, offer a revealing look at an intriguing aspect of our national psyche.

My thoughts on this book:"You can't kill the bogeyman. But does anyone really want to?" (Halloween: Homecoming film) By the end of the book, it seems that this is precisely what many people are seeking to do in the guise of political correctness or religion.

I found parts of the book to be very interesting. In other parts, it seemed to drag a little. I found myself skipping parts of some sections like in the one about the gay Halloween parades in New York City. And sadly, I found myself skimming a little even in the sections I really liked, for example: the one about haunted houses, and the one about movies. I was glad that the author pointed out more than once that Halloween had nothing to do with Satanism. And that he got the cultural origins of the holiday right.

Generally speaking, I really enjoy books about Halloween. This one, not so much. It was still a good book overall. It just wasn't a great one. I give it 3 stars out of 5.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Waiting on Wednesday #151: Chasing Embers by James Bennett


"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.: 


 Synopsis from Goodreads

There's nothing special about Ben Garston. He's just a guy with an attitude in a beat-up leather jacket, drowning his sorrows in a downtown bar. Or so he'd have you believe.

What Ben Garston can't let you know is that he was once known as Red Ben. That the world of myth and legend isn't just a fantasy, as we've been led to believe. And he certainly can't let you know the secret of what's hiding just beneath his skin...

But not even Ben knows what kind of hell is about to break loose. A centuries-old rivalry has just resurfaced, and the delicate balance between his world and ours is about to be shattered.



Why am I waiting on this book? Sounds like an interesting urban fantasy title. And it is number one in a series. So, if I like it, I know there will be more to come. This book is expected to be published September 6, 2016 from Orbit.

What book are you waiting on this week? Please share the title or a link in the comments so we can check it out and maybe add it to our ever-growing TBR list. Thanks for coming by! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
 Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
 BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Expected publication: August 23rd 2016
by Pamela Dorman Books 
There are a lot of reporters on the sidewalk, spilling over onto the street.
She is living in a fishbowl, everyone tapping on the glass.
32% through on my Kindle
The Couple Next Door has been described as domestic suspense. The couple has their baby stolen and the book is about what follows as they discover they have been keeping secrets from each other and as their relationship falls apart. 
Harlan Coben says: “Meticulously crafted and razor-sharp.  THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR lingers long after you turn the final page.” I'm about a third of the way through the book right now. I am still ambivalent about it. 
The above teaser is from an ARC and may appear differently in the final edition.
What's your teaser this week? Share it or a link in the comments so we can check it out. Thanks for coming by!