Thursday, February 20, 2020

Release Blitz & Review: When We Crash - Cynthia A. Rodriguez

When We Crash
Duet: The Souls Duet #1
by Cynthia A. Rodriguez
Genre: YA/NA Contemporary Romance
Release: February 20, 2020

Two lost souls, bound by love, unable to let go.

Given a second chance to find his soulmate after a horrific accident takes their lives, a young man returns as a teenager named Dexter Andrews.

But there are rules:

She won’t remember him and he’ll have to rely on fragmented memories of the life he once knew.

Finding her is one thing; loving her and her self-destructive ways is another.



Review
5 Stars
Dexter is the anti-alpha, as a high school senior with a serious case of amnesia his only real goal is to find the woman he can't stop thinking of. He doesn't know her name, he doesn't know her voice, but he knows she's out there. He'll shed his previous, popular skin for a chance with her. Noa isn't looking for anyone and she doesn't want anyone to look for her, but she can't deny the changed Dexter. Their first touch lights a spark in both of them, but not even a love like that of soulmates can fix the history that makes up Noa. He knows she must be it, but she's a beautiful mess who hasn't yet learned to even love her own self. When We Crash is the story of two souls and the repeated chances they get through the course of time.

"I didn't know who she was anymore. But what I did know was that there was an ache in my chest where she'd been."

Cynthia A. Rodriguez gives us more than just an angsty romance, it is clear she has poured her own heart and emotions into this book and it is clear from this rambling review that I am completely enamored with this read. When We Crash is a story of heartbreak, loss, forgiveness, addiction, and time...more than anything, it's about time. Dexter and Noa are given time, time to find one another, but time doesn't always fix everything. Time brings distance, changes, new love, loss, death, and life. Though they've been given this chance it is up to them to take advantage and sometimes two souls crash together and even time can't stop the wreck. It's a raw story, completely unpredictable with the pages filled with love so intense, but no secure place for it to hold onto.

"Except...I love you. There it was. The voice that belonged to the person I'd loved in my last life."

I loved the youthful feel of the romance between Dexter and Noa, as well as the centuries old feeling of soulmates that spills from them. It's such a heartbreaking read, but somehow Cynthia still filled it with hope. There's the promise of soulmates, of love transcending time, but the truth is that finding your other half isn't all it takes, especially when one is so naive and insecure about their place in the world. My word does reading this book hurt, the what ifs these two explore are so painful and so powerful, and yet When We Crash is infused with magic. I cried, of course, I smiled a lot, and I fell in love with the souls inside of Dexter and Noa. I can't imagine what is to come in the next novel in this stunning debut, but here Cynthia, here's my heart do with it what you will.



Cynthia hates writing her own bio. In her down-time, you can find her watching movies, ranging anywhere from classic to action flicks (she has a weakness for Marvel adaptations), and reading any novel she can get her hands on.


She loves hearing from her readers! You can reach Cynthia at cynthia.a.rodriguez6@gmail.com. Both her Twitter and Instagram handles are @thecynrodriguez.


HOSTED BY:


Review: The Other Mrs. - Mary Kubica

The Other Mrs.
by Mary Kubica
Published February 18th 2020 by Park Row

Propulsive and addictive, The Other Mrs. is the twisty new psychological thriller from Mary Kubica, the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl.

She tried to run, but she can’t escape the other Mrs.

Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie.

But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. And as the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of what really happened that dark and deadly night. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.

Purchase Now
Review
5 Stars

Lately all the thrillers have felt like predictable let downs, but The Other Mrs. had me reading through the night unable to stop turning the pages. I couldn't figure this one out and man, when the reveal comes, it shocked me. It felt like that first clap of thunder in the sky that spooks you and thrills you all at the same time.

Sadie and her husband, Will, along with their two children and dogs are making the move to dreary Maine. Her husband's sister, Alice, has recently passed, leaving behind a grieving sixteen-year-old daughter. Sadie doesn't feel good about the house, about taking care of Alice's daughter, about using this to escape Will's transgressions. The eerie home and busybody community are things she thinks she can handle, handling the mundane doctor's appointments might be a welcome reprieve, but when a murder occurs in their new neighborhood Sadie is far more shaken up than anyone else. The murder marks a change, nothing is as it seems anymore, and Sadie doesn't know who she can trust. Certainly not her son Otto, a victim of bullying, not her disturbed niece Imogen, and definitely none of the neighbors who seem so convinced she was fighting with the now late Mrs. Baines.

The blurb covers the basics and it sounded like your pretty typical suburban drama, but Mary Kubica has more for you. Lurking under the surface of what seems like standard thriller fare is an unpredictable story told from the perspective of three quite unreliable narrators. Sure, it seems like it's Sadie's story, but the other woman, Camilla, and a young child only known as Mouse have other plans for The Other Mrs. The Other Mrs. doesn't take place just in Maine though, Camilla grants us a glimpse into the past, into the Sadie and Will they are not anymore. From their jobs to their old walk-up condo we get an idea that things between Sadie and Will have perhaps always been a bit off kilter, but what at all does that have to do with the murder of their neighbor? Through the three narrators eyes we see that Sadie is slowly losing time, to the point that she begins to even question if the murderer isn't someone unknown at all, but instead someone in her own home.

Unreliable characters, a heaping pile of lies, and Mary Kubica's excellent writing gave me just the right sense of foreboding, my anxiety upped with every turned page. While I never could pinpoint just what I thought was happening, the reveal was so grand and made so much sense to me that the entire story just clicked. It's suspenseful, thrilling, and completely unique. If you're looking for your next sure-win read, The Other Mrs. is the book to grab.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Review: Saint X - Alexis Schaitkin

Saint X
by Alexis Schaitkin
Published February 18th 2020 by Celadon Books

Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men – employees at the resort - are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.

Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth - not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.

As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.

Available Now
Review
4 Stars

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin was THE book for me, the one I heard about and then sort of pined after, like a crush, until I finally got my hands on it. 2020 has a lot of promising new releases, Saint X is one of them and after reading it, after anticipating it and joining in on all the hype for it, I can say it is well deserved. Far more literary than I anticipated, Saint X is a lush, atmospheric suspense novel that will have you wondering if the truth will ever be known.

"The island is a lovely nowhere suspense in gin-clear water."

From the perspective of several narrators, Saint X takes readers on a journey to the Caribbeans where beautiful, 18-year-old Alison disappears, leaving behind her much younger sister Claire. We follow the sisters on their vacation, young Claire as she grows, older Claire as she goes from missing Alison to obsessing over her, and several of the secondary characters that were also impacted by the disastrous events of Alison's death. I hated Claire and yet I understood her plight, her desperate need to know more. She derails her life for answers, willing to forego the fine, easy lifestyle she maintained for the truth. The characters, though certainly not all likable, are in many ways relatable. I could feel their emotions from the pages; Schaitkin really created an incredible complex set of narrators.

Okay, yes, I got bored reading. 50%-70% are just...hard chapters to get through. I didn't connect to the characters, there were a lot of words, and it didn't feel like we were getting anywhere. It was the slowest downward spiral for a character I had ever read, but I still couldn't stop reading. The story I couldn't put down was still there and I had to have my answers. Like the synopsis promises, Saint X is engrossing, the slow parts are certainly slow, but the mystery is so unique, the location so beautiful, that you must keep up with it.

"Don't you understand? My sister was an innocent, blameless in her horrific fate. And it was all her fault."

Well-written and fascinating, Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin is an interesting dive into the perception people have of themselves and of others. There is a magnifying glass in this book, highlighting the impact that race and privilege ultimately played in Alison's life before her death and after. I found myself thinking while reading, both about my experience and my perception of others, how often a story I see on the news is tainted by those perceptions. Far more than just a book of life and loss, Schaitkin doesn't shy away from exploring themes of race, sexuality, and class in her debut novel, Saint X.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Review: Good Girls Lie - J.T. Ellison

Good Girls Lie
by J.T. Ellison
Published December 31st 2019 by MIRA

Goode girls don’t lie…

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond.

But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder.

When a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.


"There are truths, and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened, which is where you and I will meet."

Review
4 Stars

A boarding school for the daughters of the wealthy and elite, secret societies that can make or break your future, and a new girl that seems to be catching everyone's attention. Good Girls Lie takes readers into The Goode School, a private prep school shrouded in mystery that offers its all female student body a path to success. The girls follow a strict honor code, but that doesn't mean secrets and lies aren't spilling from their sugary-sweet smiles. This school year is unlike any other year, there's some rumors that can't be ignored and there's the truth simmering under the surface, just waiting to bubble up.

"We're connected now, over this lie. We both know it. Accept it. These are the social niceties of a modern civilization."

Good Girls Lie had everything I could want in a thriller; secret societies, murder, and a seductive storyline. The setting, a school known as a Silent Ivy in the small, forested town of Marchburg, Virginia, promised haunting tales and the perfect location for secret societies to run amok. More than the gothic setting, the novel opens with death, a student has been found dead and the rumors behind her death have nothing on the truth. The sweet Goode girls have grown up with wealth, privilege, and have plenty of experience in lying; it creates a culture, one that the younger and new students have no power against.

"She looks so young, so pretty. I belong to her now. I am her Swallow. She's chosen me."

Like all teenage girls, the Goode girls have dreams, but unlike your normal teens, these girls will cheat, lie, steal, and push you until you'll consider what your life is worth. With one main character to follow, our narrator Ash, J.T. Ellison takes readers on a journey into The Goode School, a place where even the Dean has secrets she'd do anything to keep buried. Ash is the sort of character you can't spoil for other readers, you'll just have to meet her for yourself. Good Girls Lie is a complex tale filled with intriguing characters and a fast-paced storyline that'll have you turning the pages as quickly as you can. The cult-like atmosphere and twisted events makes for one fantastic, sinister thriller.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Review: What Kind of Girl - Alyssa B. Sheinmel

What Kind of Girl
by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Published: February 4, 2020 by Sourcebooks Fire

Girl In Pieces meets Moxie in this unflinching exploration of the many forms of abuse society inflicts upon women, and the strength it takes to rise above it all to claim your worth.

The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker's girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal's office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions. Why did she go to the principal and not the police? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it's true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true?

Some girls want to rally for his expulsion—and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.


“Doing something when you’re scared is braver than doing something when you’re not.”

Review
4 1/2 Stars

A young adult aged novel that explores themes of substance abuse, domestic violence, self harm, and sexuality. Written in a clever way, What Kind of Girl follows teen girls as they face societal expectations in the fast-paced, gossipy high school atmosphere. With no names, only self-given titles, we follow The Bulimic, The Popular Girl, The Pothead, The Abused Girlfriend. We see their interactions with family, friends, their abuser. We are given access to their emotions, to their decision making, to the truth. We know what others are whispering and thinking, we know how it's making them feel, but until the very end we don't know everything. There is a grand reveal, one I certainly didn't expect, that really tied this book together and made it jump above four stars for me. You see, we all take what society thinks of us and allow it to impact how we dress, act, feel, and Alyssa B. Sheinmel captures that in this book perfectly.

Written in a format that allows you to really step into the narrators shoes, What Kind of Girl is a heavy novel that forces readers to recognize that the hardships we'd like to pretend do not touch teens still do regardless of our pretending. It's emotional and raw, presenting readers with a relatable story that reminded me what it was like to not have a single version of myself at that age; I had no idea who I wanted to become or what I wanted others to see of me yet. The narrator(s) question their own opinions of themselves, we see them work through the beliefs they think others will have of them, we see them hide the truth from their parents afraid to speak up. The societal expectations the girls in this book feel are accurate, they're felt by women of all ages, and Sheinmel delivers a powerful story about those expectations and the harm they can do to us, both from our own actions and others.

I really enjoyed What Kind of Girl quite a lot, it's written with a punch, leaving an impact on me even as a reader well above the age group for the novel. It's a story about judgement and acceptance, about discovering oneself and the support needed when those expectations all become too much. I'd call it a coming-of-age story that is more up-to-date on the times than the romances we all like to believe in.

About the Author
Alyssa Sheinmel is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels for young adults, including A Danger to Herself and Others and Faceless. She is the co-author of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl and its sequel, The Awakening of Sunshine Girl. Alyssa grew up in Northern California and New York, and currently lives and writes in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @alyssasheinmel and Twitter @AlyssaSheinmel or visit her online at www.alyssasheinmel.com.

© Carlene Inspired. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.