ARC Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

*Thank you to Netgalley for giving me a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

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Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 352

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 5/5

The Family Upstairs is about a woman, Libby, who recently turned 25 and discovers that her birth parents have left her a house in a trust that she is now eligible to receive. Upon seeing the house she decides that she needs to know the history of who she is and what exactly happened at the house 25 years ago that left her an orphan. Libby’s story of trying to figure this mystery out is also interspersed with two other narrators who help to give us the full spectrum of what exactly happened at the house.  One narrator is giving us the full story of what led to the events of Libby’s parent dying starting from the beginning and the other is Lucy, who is a present day narrator, and currently in a bad spot in her life and knows that the baby from the house is now 25.

I loved this book! It was so enthralling and dark that I was hooked from the beginning. I read the majority of this book in one sitting because I couldn’t wait to find out how all the different perspectives connected together. The way Jewell pieced this story together with all three different narratives was perfection. Sometimes the stories would weave together and other times they would build on each other to keep the momentum of the story racing forward. Obviously I loved the pacing of the story and there were enough twists, turns and reveals to keep me captivated the whole way through.

A big aspect of this story (and probably the reason I love it so much) was the cult aspect. I am so fascinated by cults and the story behind them. I have watched countless documentaries and read a fair share of non fiction (and fiction) books about them because I am so intrigued about how people get involved with and stay with cults. This book definitely has a layer of that going throughout it and I couldn’t get enough.

If you are someone who doesn’t find cults as appealing as me then you might not like this book as much as I did. However, this is one of my top books of this year so if you are in the mood for a thriller then I highly suggest this one.

~Cassie

 

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

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Publication Date: July 30, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 352

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Rating: 3/5

*Thank you to Netgalley for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

The Escape Room is a dual storyline book following four colleagues who are trapped in an elevator (“escape room”) and also Sara Hall who used to work with them. For me this is an average thriller that really suffers from the escape room idea this book is titled after and so I’m assuming it is also based on. However, if this book cut out all the “escape room” aspects of this story than it would have worked so much better. Also, I keep putting escape room in quotations because this is NOT an escape room in any way. It is basically a book about four people who are trapped in an elevator by a nefarious someone. That should have been the synopsis and then just give the book a different title and most of my issues with this book would be gone.

All that aside I did really enjoy this book. The story starts out high stakes because these people are trapped and they are in a terrible position and we are going along trying to figure out everything that led up to them being in the elevator. I thoroughly enjoyed Sara Hall’s story so much and the journey her character goes on. I connected so much with Sara that she kept me wanting to read to find out what was going to happen next. This is another book that I flew through in a couple of days purely because I wanted to know where the story was going. I definitely would have rated this book at least one star higher if this had just been a trapped elevator story.

Most of the ending was really good and I loved how the author, Goldin, laid it all out. It was pretty well thought out and I feel like she told a well rounded story. There is a part of the ending that I think is lacking but I don’t want to spoil anything so I will just say that I wish there was one little thing that had been added in.

While this is a fast paced thriller that I think a lot of people would enjoy, I do want to recommend a movie if you are looking for something that is an actual escape room. Escape Room (2019) is a movie that I recently watched and highly enjoyed the first half of. The second half lost a lot of the suspense but it definitely is an escape room setting. Also, like I said in my previous review, locked room mysteries are my favorite thing so when I pick a book because I think it’s going to have that trope and it doesn’t I’m pretty disappointed. So, if you don’t have the same hang ups about this specific trope then you will probably enjoy this book more than me.

~Cassie

ARC Review: The Dinner Party by R.J. Parker

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

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Publication Date: October 18, 2019

Publisher: Harper Impulse and Killer Reads

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Pages: 400

Rating: 4/5

The Dinner Party is about a group of eight friends (four couples) who meet for dinner one night and take part in what they think is a harmless trust exercise to help strengthen their relationships. Of course this exercise ends up ruffling some feathers and by the next day two people at the dinner party are dead and things have just started to go bad for the rest of the group.

This was an extremely fast paced thriller that I flew through in a day. I went into this with the preconceived notion that the whole book was going to take place at the dinner party from hell but really the dinner party just sets things in motion for the rest of the story. So while that was slightly disappointing (locked room mysteries are my favorite thing ever!) it was still a fun ride with short chapters and a lot of action and reveals.

The book is told from the perspective of Ted who hosted the dinner along with his wife, Juliette, and I really feel like this helped to add to the suspense of the book because we are trying to figure out what is going on at the same time as Ted. This is one of the rare books where the reader is given all the clues so it is possible to put it all together along with Ted. I had most of the story figured out but I forgot about some little details that were added in so I didn’t completely figure it out. The ending was a bit melodramatic and over the top but honestly isn’t that part of the fun?

~Cassie

ARC Review: Dreams of 18 by Saffron Kent

Thank you to the author Saffron Kent and Give Me Books Promotions for sending me a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Publication Date: October 10, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Dreams of 18 by Saffron Kent

Dreams of 18 is a forbidden age gap romance with an 18 year old girl and her best friends dad. Violet has had a crush on Graham since he moved in next door on her 16th birthday. On her 18 birthday Graham finds her in his rose garden late at night and she decides that she wants to kiss him (since she has dreamed about it for two years) but they are immediately caught by his son and her sister. This causes a huge scandal with devastating effects on both of them and after almost a year has passed Violet decides that she wants to find him and apologize.

This book is the angsty slow burn romance that I was looking for and Graham is the dark swoon worthy love interest I love to read about. I loved “watching” the romance unfold and how much they were both there for each other. Violet and Graham have such a strong connection and I liked that the author, Kent, really built that aspect of their relationship up. I also really appreciated that when the smutty scenes were happening that Kent put an emphasis on how important the emotional connection between them was as well as the physical. That things are so good between them not only because of the physical things happening but also the things they are saying to each other and the way they are looking at each other.

I do think that some of the scenes in this book went on for a little too long and I wish some of it had been edited down but for the most part this was a very enjoyable read. Also, there was a few instances where Violet would be telling the reader something and then be like “well it happened” and then we would have a flashback. It felt a little disjointed to me and took me out of the story a bit.

Also, if you are a fan of light romance and/or smut then I would caution you that some of the sexy scenes in this are more erotica than smut. If forbidden romances are your favorite trope (like me) then I highly recommend this book to you. It was so good and I devoured this book in about a day because I couldn’t put it down.

 

PURCHASE LINKS

US: https://amzn.to/2omE3RQ
UK: https://amzn.to/2oSnsWf
CA: https://amzn.to/2LRggm1
AU: https://amzn.to/2MbEdDu

Free in Kindle Unlimited

AUTHOR BIO

Saffron A. Kent is a Top 100 Amazon Bestselling author of Contemporary and New Adult romance. More often than not, her love stories are edgy, forbidden and passionate. Her work has been featured in Huffington Post, New York Daily News and USA Today’s Happy Ever After.

She lives in New York City with her nerdy and supportive husband, and a million and one books.

AUTHOR LINKS

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheSaffronKent
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesaffronkent
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thesaffronkent
Website: http://www.saffronkent.com
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Ybw47r
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/saffron-a-kent
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16192760.Saffron_A_Kent

~Cassie

Preorder Sale: Dreams of 18 by Saffron Kent

*Thank you to Give Me Books Pr and the author Saffron Kent for allowing me to promote this book and read an early copy of this book to review.*

 

 

 

 

 

Attention all my romance lovers out there: you will want to read this book! I just finished this (look for my review this Thursday) and it is the edgy, sexy forbidden romance that we have been craving! I devoured this book because I could not get enough of Violet and Graham. 99 cents is a steal for this book but if I haven’t sold you then keep scrolling for the link to read the first two chapters.

Title: Dreams of 18
Author: Saffron A. Kent
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 10, 2019

BLURB

Violet Moore is in love with a man who hates her.

Well, to be fair, she kinda deserves it.

On her eighteenth birthday, she got drunk and threw herself at him, causing a huge scandal in their sleepy suburban town.

Now everyone thinks she’s a slut and he has disappeared. Rumor has it that he’s been living up in the mountains of Colorado, all alone and in isolation.

But Violet is going to make it right.

She’s going to find him and bring him back.

No matter how cruel and mean he is, how much he hurts her with his cold-hearted and abrasive ways, she won’t give up.

And neither will she think about his tempting lips or his sculpted muscles or his strong hands. The hands that she wants on her body, touching her, feeling her skin…

The hands that make her want to forget everything and kiss Graham Edwards – Mr. Edwards, actually – again.

Because you don’t go around kissing your best friend’s dad, do you?

Even though that’s all you ever dream about.

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41830260-dreams-of-18

Read the first two chapters: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/u4pkhek9mt

PRE-ORDER LINKS – 99c pre-order price!

US: https://amzn.to/2omE3RQ
UK: https://amzn.to/2oSnsWf
CA: https://amzn.to/2LRggm1
AU: https://amzn.to/2MbEdDu

AUTHOR BIO

Saffron A. Kent is a Top 100 Amazon Bestselling author of Contemporary and New Adult romance. More often than not, her love stories are edgy, forbidden and passionate. Her work has been featured in Huffington Post, New York Daily News and USA Today’s Happy Ever After.

She lives in New York City with her nerdy and supportive husband, and a million and one books.

AUTHOR LINKS

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheSaffronKent
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesaffronkent
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thesaffronkent
Website: http://www.saffronkent.com
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Ybw47r
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/saffron-a-kent
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16192760.Saffron_A_Kent

ARC Review: The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

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The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill

Publication Date: September 17, 2019

Publisher: Oni Press

Pages: 136

Genre: Children’s graphic novel

Rating: 5/5

This is the sequel to The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill and I loved this just as much as I loved the first one. This story primarily follows along with Rinn and Aedhan, who is a real dragon, and their friendship. Rinn has grown up with tea dragons but she has never met a real dragon before until the day she stumbles upon Aedhan who has been sleeping for a long time. Hesekiel and Erik from The Tea Dragon Society are also in this book and I really enjoyed getting to see more of them.

This series is the cutest graphic novel series that I have ever read. I absolutely love all the characters. There is so much diversity and all the characters have such pure good hearts that I can’t help but love them all. There was also different tea dragons introduced into this book and I seriously wish they were a real thing.

The message behind this book was of friendship and really being intentional about helping our friends through their troubles. I can’t say it enough about how loving and sweet all the characters in this book are. Also, the illustrations in this book are simply stunning. The colors, the style, the details, it is all simply so perfect.

I recommend this book to everyone. You absolutely cannot go wrong with this heartwarming graphic novel series.

~Cassie

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

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The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

Pages: 72

Publisher: Oni Press

Publication Date: October 18, 2017

Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel

Rating: 5/5

This is the sweetest graphic novel I have ever read. I am seriously in love with everything about this book. From the art, to the diverse characters, to the colors and the tea dragon handbook at the end. Everything is perfection. This book follows Greta, who rescues a tea dragon, and when she gives the dragon back she is invited by Hesekiel and Erik to learn how to take care of them. There is also another character, Minette and I loved her back story and her friendship with Greta. This is a short graphic novel so I don’t want to give too much away. Just know that it is a beautiful story. The message behind this book brought me to tears because it deals with what we pass on to future generations (like memories, stories, a craft) and the importance of doing so.  I think for anyone who has lost someone important to them this story will touch your heart in a beautiful healing way.

~Cassie

Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie

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Title: Ordeal By Innocence

Author: Agatha Christie

Pages: 198 (The edition shown above has 288 pages. The book I read has a plain hardcover and I thought the show tie in version was more appealing.)

Publisher: Bantam Books

Publication Date: November 3, 1958 (first published)

Genre: Mystery

Rating: 4.5/5

Accused of bludgeoning his mother to death with a poker, Jacko Argyle had maintained his innocence throughout his trial, claiming he was hitchhiking on the night of the murder and had been picked up by a middle-aged man in a dark car. The police were never able to locate this mystery man—until he shows up a year later. But Dr. Arthur Calgary arrives too late to substantiate Jacko’s alibi. For after serving just six months of his life sentence, Jacko dies behind bars following a bout of pneumonia.

Feeling a sense of duty to the Argyles, Calgary is surprised when his revelations reopen old wounds in the family, leaving him to wonder if one of them is the real murderer….  

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Every time I read an Agatha Christie novel I am blown away by how well she could weave a story together. She wrote such interesting characters and such compelling plots. I read this book in two days because I was so engrossed in the mystery. I was slightly disappointed with this one though because this is the first Christie novel that I have read where I figured out the killer pretty early on. The journey to the reveal was so good though and I was constantly second guessing myself. I didn’t see the motive coming at all either so that was still surprising.

This book was written in the late 1950’s so a lot of the thinking on certain topics is pretty outdated. The main two being how a mixed race character was talked about/described and also adoption. If you are someone who stays away from classics that don’t age well (aka problematic) then I would suggest you try a different Christie novel. If you can look past it, this is a well done mystery that any fan of the genre will enjoy. Also, there is a miniseries based on this book on Amazon Prime. I haven’t had a chance to watch it but I plan to do so soon.

~Cassie

Book of the Month

A couple people that I watch on Booktube have recently shared their Book of the Month collections and I thought it would fun to share mine today. Not only am I an avid reader but I am a book collector and I take pride in my little library. (My oldest was doing a project about himself a few months ago and his fun fact about himself was that his mom has her own library *insert heart eye emojis here*).

Just to give some background, Book of the Month, is a monthly subscription box where for $14.99 you get to choose one book from five new releases for that month. For an additional $9.99 you can add a second book to your box. You can also add a third for another $9.99. Which is pretty freaking great in my book (ha) since they are hardcover copies and most of them have a Book of the Month emblem on the spine so they look so nice all shelved together. You also get a bookmark with every order and it is free shipping. The only downside is that is a U.S. only service but hopefully one day that will change. They recently adopted a reward system once you get your 12th box which is exciting because I’m only one box away!

Already Read

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Circe by Madeline Miller

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

#FashionVictim

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Killer Across the Table by John Edward Douglas, Mark Olshaker

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak

Bought Used

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Goodreads

I love this book service so much and I highly recommend it to anyone living in America to give it a try. I am going to leave my referral link below if you want to use it to sign up for Book of the Month. You get a free book for using the link and I get a free book as well. Or if you are interested but want to support a favorite American booktuber that uses Book of the Month they almost always have their referral link in their description boxes. (I signed up using ChelseaDollingReads code.) Or you could just go to the website and sign up that way if you want to.

Book of the Month referral link

~Cassie

 

Do I Still Want to Read it?

Currently on my want to read shelf on Goodreads I have 651 books. What??! That is a ridiculous amount of books especially since I can’t even think of what half the books on there could be. So I thought it would fun to periodically go through that shelf with you and see what I actually want to read and what I am no longer interested in.

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11/22/63 by Stephen King

Yes, I very much still want to read this! My plan for the past few years is to read it during the month of November so maybe this year will finally be the year 🙂

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Deception Point by Dan Brown

I’m going to leave this one on here because I physically own it and it does have an interesting synopsis. I have been putting this one off because there are so many other books that I would rather read first but I definitely plan to read this sometime. In the vague future. So perhaps this is a maybe?

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The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice

I have quite a few Anne Rice books on this shelf but I plan on removing all of them. I no longer have any interest in the stories so I am happy to let them go.

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The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

I used to love Philippa Gregory’s books but for whatever reason I haven’t read one in years. I do still want to read this. Her Tudor books are my absolute favorite and she is how I discovered my love of historical fiction.

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If Looks Could Kill by Kate White

I had totally forgot that this book even exists but I reread the synopsis and I still want to read this one. It sounds like such a fun chick lit mystery and I am a total sucker for a mystery.

The only books that I took of my TBR shelf were the Anne Rice ones so maybe there really are close to 600 books that I want to read! I also rediscovered a couple of books that I had forgot about so I would say that this was pretty successful.

~Cassie