First line: By the time Alex managed to get the blood out of her good wool coat, it was too warm to wear it.
Galaxy “Alex” stern is a freshman at Yale. She grew up in California
but got in with a rough crowd as a teenager. She dropped out of school,
took drugs and lived with her drug dealing boyfriend. Until one night
everyone in her apartment is found dead except for her. She is
approached during her hospital stay with the offer of a lifetime, a full
ride scholarship to Yale.
However, when she arrives at the
prestigious college she learns that her role here is not just academic.
Alex is now a part of a society that is tasked with monitoring the
activities of the universities secret societies. With her ability to see
ghosts she is charged with helping keep the spirits and the rituals in
When a local girl is found murdered around the campus
Alex believes that the societies may have something to do with it. As
she continues to search for more clues to the mysterious death her she
finds herself being attacked by the ghosts the walk the town of New
My Thoughts: I have been looking forward to reading
this book ever since I heard about it. I really enjoyed her young adult
series. Bardugo is a master at world building and wit. But as the
release day got closer I saw several reviewers I follow giving it low
ratings or not finishing the book at all. This started to scare me. Even
though there were these negative reviews with lots of trigger warnings I
decided to ignore them and judge it for myself. And I am so glad I did!
started the book as an audio. I liked it and continued listening to it
but alternating between it and the physical book. However, I wish that I
had read the first few chapters where much of the world building
information was. There are eight secret societies with different
rituals. There are lots of characters and also time jumps between
characters. This got a little confusing. Once I started to read more it
smoothed out and got to be quite enjoyable. I found it hard to put down.
Alex gives us a glimpse back into her life before Yale and what led her
to this point. Darlington shows us what the first few months are like
with Alex as the new Virgil.
I believe that my favorite part was
when Alex interacted with the ghosts. Some are very listless but others
can be very malevolent. I hope that Bardugo gives us more of this in the
upcoming books. Even though the main mystery was who killed Tara there
is an underlying and more interesting mystery. What happened to
Darlington?! Is he alive? Where did he go? Is he coming back? We get
left with quite a cliffhanger so I really hope that the next book is not
several years in the future!
First line: It is hot and airless on the 7.42 from Greenwich to Cannon Street.
Mudlarker Lara Maiklem spends hours walking miles along the riverbank
of the Thames in London. In her wanderings she finds little trinkets
that give us a look into the English past. She has found items ranging
from the Romans to modern day trash.
My Thoughts: I absolutely devoured this book. I first heard about it on a podcast, Talking Tudors, hosted by Natalie Grueninger. In one of her recent releases she talked with Lara about her upcoming book and the Tudor related finds she has discovered in the mud of the river. Immediately after listening to it I had to find a copy to read. Thank goodness Netgalley had it available.
I really enjoyed how the author laid
out the book. She started at one end of the Thames and worked her way
to the sea. As she described her finds she also delved into her past,
experiences on the foreshore and other mudlarks and their finds. I loved
learning about the items she found. I was constantly on the internet
looking for pictures of these items and reading more history behind
them. I am really jealous of the items she has in her curio cabinet. I
am seriously thinking about getting a day pass to mudlark the next time I
am in London. Or can I mudlark in Kansas?
FYI: Lara Maiklem is on Facebook and Instagram. If you want to see her finds and hear more about mudlarking then check them out.
First line: It would be inaccurate to say that my childhood was normal before they came.
When Libby Jones turned twenty-five she receives and envelope telling
her that she has inherited a house from the estate of her dead parents.
She never knew who she was or where she came from but the answers are
finally being revealed.
Twenty-four years before the police were
summoned to a mansion along the Thames. Inside were the three dead
bodies and a baby girl in a crib. It appears to be a suicide pact as
part of a cult ritual. But neighbors reported seeing older children in
the house but none are found on the night in question. What happened at
16 Cheyne Walk that fateful night?
My Thoughts: I love
Lisa Jewell! Every book I have read by her has been a lot of fun. This
one is no exception. I really considered giving it a 5 star rating. It
flipped between three characters. Libby, the baby, who recently
inherited the house. Henry, who is telling the story of what happened in
the house. And Lucy, who is struggling to keep her family afloat while
living abroad in France.
Henry was by far my favorite chapters
because we got to see how life at 16 Cheyne Walk changed over time. His
story is told chronologically from the beginning to the end. It fills in
the gaps that Libby is trying to uncover. But his narrative is much
darker and more sinister than the others.
I struggled to
understand that point behind Lucy’s chapters. It seemed like they were
filler or a separate story. She lives in France with her children and is
trying to find a way to get back to England. It just did not seem to
fit with everything else.
But the ending. It literally gave me
goosebumps and sent a chill down my spine. What a way to close a book.
Great job again Ms. Jewell!
FYI: Perfect for fans of Shari Lapena and Gillian Flynn.
Week three of the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon is behind us and I still have 4 books to finish! Up until this week I was able to finish three books a week but this week had a really long book. It is taking me longer than anticipated. How is everyone else coming along?
Of the two books I finished I really enjoyed both of them. Below I attached my review for the new Elton John autobiography, Me. But I also read Carrie by Stephen King. I have never seen the movie but I had a basic understanding of the story line. I was shocked by how much I liked it. If you want to read my review sign up for our monthly newsletter. It will be in the November 2019 issue.
First line: I was onstage at the Latino club in South Shields when I realized I couldn’t take it anymore.
Summary: In his autobiography, Elton John takes us through his life from his childhood as Reginald Dwight to his life with his husband David. He gives us a look into the world of a rock star. He is very honest about his drug usage and other addictions. He discusses his friendships with other musical legends like John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and even Lady Gaga. After years of pain and loneliness he decides that he has had enough of the rock ‘n roll lifestyle and enters rehab and starts his own charities for AIDS relief.
My Thoughts: I loved this book! And look at that cover! Gorgeous. First of all I listened to the audio book version which is read by Taron Egerton, who played Elton in the biopic, Rocketman, released earlier this year .
found Elton’s life to be unbelievable. He knows everyone. He has done
so much. I loved how honest he was about his struggles. He took every
drug known to man. He tried to commit suicide several times. I cannot
imagine living his life and coming out of it okay. He does though. He
survived stuff that would have ruined many others and did. But he is
still standing. He has met the love of his life, has two beautiful boys
and tries to help others around the world.
I learned a lot about
him. And I found him even more interesting than I did before. He is
currently doing his final tour and I wish that I could see him in
concert. My parents did in 1984 in Tacoma, Washington. I am super
jealous. Oh well I will just watch concerts on Youtube and rewatch Rocketman again.
FYI: I highly recommend the audio version but also grab a copy of the book so you can see the pictures!
First line: Cilka stares at the soldier standing in front of her, part of the army that has entered the camp.
Sixteen year old Cilka Klein was sent to Auschwitz along with her
family. One of the head SS officers of the camp notices her and moves
her away from the other women. Over the three years she is kept in
barracks 25 until the day the camp is liberated by the Russian forces.
Upon their arrival she is arrested and charged with collaborating with
the enemy. She is sentenced to fifteen years in a Siberian gulag.
she arrives at the prison she finds a world that she has unfortunately
become very familiar with. The forced labor and brutal conditions of the
camp are not new to her. She makes friends with several of her fellow
inmates but when she catches the attention of the female doctor her luck
begins to change. With her work in the hospital she finds a way to make
amends for the guilt about her past and maybe even start to feel love
My Thoughts:The Tattooist of Auschwitz was such a heartbreaking story. But I was beyond shocked by the story of Cilka. She was forced into a Russian prison after suffering for years in a concentration camp because she was raped for three years. It makes no sense. The poor girl is stronger than I can imagine I could ever be. I really cared about what happened to Cilka while reading her story. She did so much good in a terrible place. If only there were more people like her.
I never even considered that things like this happened
to some of the survivors. It is sad that the “liberators” were nearly as
cruel as the Nazis. Her time in the gulag is unbelievable. I know that
the author did lots of research and she does a great job of bringing it
to life. People need to know these things in order to try and stop them
from happening again.
I felt like this was much better put together than the first book. It was not nearly as choppy.
FYI: This is a sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz.
First line: A bitter wind sheared through the darkness, biting into my exposed flesh and lashing my hair across my face.
Sadie Keller is determined to find out what happened to her brother on
the night he died. She does not believe the story told to her by his
wife, Crystle. But the police do not believe that there is enough
evidence to allow them to look deeper into the events.
hoping to escape from her small Kansas town. Her family are involved in
some dangerous activities and she wants to leave before she is sucked
My Thoughts: I loved the author’s previous book Arrowood. It was thrilling. This was sold to be a thriller but it really fell flat. I was hoping for more but it took almost 60% of the book to get to the more interesting pieces. The beginning was about the town, its people and the life in small town Kansas. This made it easy to connect with at least, as a girl from a small town in Kansas.
I liked the characters
but they needed something more. We got glimpses into Sadie’s past with
her brother. I would have liked more of that. Henley seemed like a
filler character. She did reveal some information that lead to big
reveal but her story was blah.
First line: The church was grey against a light grey sky, the bell tower, like a watchtower, dark against the darker clouds.
It is 1648 in England. The country is in turmoil. Alinor is a poor
woman living on Sealsea Island with two children. Her husband
disappeared several months before and left his family with nothing. One
night while Alinor is holding vigil at the local church she stumbles
upon a man hiding in the churchyard. He asks for her help to guide him
to the home of the local land owner. She learns that he is a priest who
is working as a spy for the imprisoned King Charles I.
silence about the mysterious visitor she earns the respect of the
Peachey family. As she gains favor from her landlord she also draws the
suspicions of her neighbors. In this time of witchcraft and
superstition, Alinor is in danger of being accused of using spells to
bewitch them to advance her ambitions.
My Thoughts: I
absolutely loved this book. It is a beautiful story. The descriptions of
the land are as vivid as a picture. It is easy to imagine the small
island village in the south of England where life is controlled by the
Alinor is a poor simple woman but she stands out from all
the other people on her island. She is knowledgeable about herbs, she
can read and write. Gregory does an amazing job writing about strong and
interesting women. Alinor has been abandoned by her husband but she is
able to continue to survive using her own gifts.
The time of
Charles I is not one that I am very familiar with. Wikipedia is one of
my best friends while reading about a new era in history. I have heard
of the English Civil War and the Oliver Cromwell but I have never spent
much time reading about it. Gregory did extensive research in order to
bring the turbulent time to life. The fear of witches, the hatred of the
king and the devastating poverty are just a few issues she covers. It
was a time of great change.
Throughout the novel I was
constantly worried for Alinor. She is a wise woman. Many of her
neighbors come to her for help in delivering babies or curing a
sickness. But it is easy for people of the time to turn on women like
her. I kept waiting for something to happen her. I was completely
invested in her life. As I read the last few pages I was praying that it
would not end. I want to know what will happen next for Alinor and her
Last week I was lucky enough to get to travel to Denver and meet Philippa Gregory. My cousin, Alaina, accompanied me to the event. It was a on my bucket list to meet and have a signed copy of one of her books. I was beyond excited to meet her. She was absolutely lovely to listen to. She did several readings from Tidelands and answered audience questions. I love attending author events. For me it is like meeting a movie star. I was literally shaking and nervous. I am so happy that I made the eight hour drive to Denver to meet her. It was surreal.
First line: It was Miguel who called 911 at 4:07 a.m. on an icy Sunday morning.
Vincent and his financial team from Stanhope and Sons is told to attend
a team building exercise on a Friday night. When they arrive they enter
an elevator that takes them up several floors where it stops and the
clues begin. As the team tries to figure out how to get out of the
escape room they realize that the clues are very specific. However, as
the clock clicks on they are not let out of the room. Tension begins to
mount and the team begins to let their fears and secrets come to the
surface. Will they survive the escape room?
Following a popular trend with thrillers now we have a book split into a
two part narrative. We meet Sara Hall, a young business school graduate
who is looking for a job. She lands the job of her dreams at Stanhope
and Sons in New York City. She works on big accounts and makes tons of
money. But the hours are long, the work is grueling and the people are
not very nice.
The other side is the team in the elevator. It is
a group of very unlikeable people stuck in a very tight space together.
I really enjoyed these scenes as their true personalities came to the
forefront. We find out what secrets they have and how truly terrible
they are. I could honestly say that I did not care for any of them but I
was very interested to see where their story ended.
Even though the ending was rather predictable it was loads of fun! Our staff did an escape room for our Christmas party last year. We had a great time. There are tons of clues and just a short amount of time to put them together. If you have a chance to try one you should but maybe not in an elevator. 😉
FYI: Great for fans of Ruth Ware and Shari Lapena.
First line: In the dead of night, during the dreary month of March, the Chelsea Hotel is a quiet place.
Hazel Ridley is from a stage family. Her father spent years on
Broadway, her mother as his manager and her brother was an aspiring
actor but Hazel has never been able to find her big break. She decides
to sign up for the USO tour. When she arrives in Italy she meets Maxine
the leading lady of the troupe and they quickly become close friends.
Hazel’s return to New York City she finds an apartment at the Chelsea
Hotel in order to work on her idea for a play based on her time in the
war. With Maxine as the leading lady it appears that the show is going
to be a hit until her name appears on the list of suspected Communists.
As the Red Scare begins to take over the country, Hazel is worried that
her show and life may not be what she once believed it would be.
Like Davis’ other works, this centers around a New York City landmark,
the Chelsea Hotel. It plays just as much of a role as the characters. It
is the home of creative types during the twentieth century including
Mark Twain, Andy Warhol and Arthur Miller. The hotel has a fascinating
history. As with other historical novels I love to look at pictures. It
is a gorgeous old building.
I learned more about McCarthyism and the Red Scare while reading The Chelsea Girls.
It seems like a scary time. The Cold War is going on. You do not know
who you can trust. Neighbors are turning in neighbors. This brought it
more to life than many of the history textbooks I have read throughout
my school years.
I was rather disappointed in The Chelsea Girls.
In her previous novels there is a dual narrative with one being in the
past (usually the 1920s) and one being modern. It was not so in this
case. It did switch between the two main women but it did not seem to
have the same magic as her others do. I liked it but it is probably my
First line: You’re having that dream again, the one where you and Tim are in Jaipur for Diwali.
When Abbie wakes up in a hospital bed she has no memory of how she got
there. There is a man who tells her she is his wife and that something
terrible happened to her five years before. And through his
determination and technological advancements he was able to bring her
back. She is the prototype for a new technology called CoBots.
Abbie acclimates to her new life she starts to wonder what happen to
the real Abbie. Using Abbie’s memories, old text messages and the built
in intuition she follows the clues to find out how and why Abbie
My Thoughts: This was a lot of fun. It was
modern day science fiction thriller. At the beginning there is a
separate narrative by an unknown character who gives us a look into the
past and the real Abbie. I was constantly trying to figure out who it
was and I never would have guessed. I like the idea of being able to
“bring back” someone who has died but it is also a little sad. I know
that there is one person I would love to “see” again but this may make
it harder too.
So many different scenarios were flying through
my head while trying to figure out the ending. There were lots of twists
and turns which make it a great psychological thriller.