Sunday, August 27, 2017

Book Review: Unraveling Oliver

Title Unraveling Oliver
Author Liz Nugent
Release Date August 22, 2017

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”

So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.

I was mistaken when I thought this book would focus more on Oliver and Alice's relationship. You should take the title literally. This book is all about Oliver and what makes him tick. This isn't a bad thing, just something that I wasn't expecting really.

Unraveling Oliver is told through multiple points of view (none of which are Alice, in case you're wondering). Though there are numerous points of view, each feels distinct. They all flow together nicely and pain a vivid picture of who Oliver is.

As for the story, it was overall enjoyable. While I was able to figure out some of Oliver before it was revealed in the story, other parts were still a surprise. I'm also thoroughly impressed that the story was told without any graphic scenes of abuse. The reason for four stars instead of five was the ending. It didn't feel true to Oliver's character after everything we've found out about him.

In general, Unraveling Oliver was an interesting psychological character study. Though short, it packed a sizable punch.


* This book was received from Gallery/Scout Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (#29)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on...

Title Without Merit
Author Colleen Hoover
Release Date October 3, 2017

“Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines, when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

Poignant and powerful, Without Merit explores the layers of lies that tie a family together and the power of love and truth.

* What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Share your links in the comments below and I'll be sure to drop by! *

Friday, August 18, 2017

Book Review: Watermark

Title Watermark
Author Marti Ziegler
Release Date August 5, 2017

Whom could you trust if you were stranded fifteen hundred miles from home?

Misfortune has plagued Juno Brock for months. Recently widowed, a chance encounter with a dangerous criminal in St. Louis exposes her to information that can see her branded. Or worse, hanged. When a pirate attack on the Mississippi River maroons her in the wilds of Michigan Territory, she has but one choice: use her wits to secure passage on a boat traveling downriver and reunite with her family fifteen hundred miles away.

An arrogant mistake in his youth has set flatboat pilot Malcolm Moreau on a forked path of redemption and revenge. His successful livelihood transporting goods to New Orleans revolves around cargo, not passengers, but Juno’s recent encounter with his longtime enemy makes her the exception. A bargain is struck: safe passage to Natchez, Mississippi, in exchange for the information she unwittingly discovered.

What follows is a month-long journey where mistrust and resentment unfolds into an unexpected friendship filled with secret confidences and before long, attraction. Sometimes dangerous, often humorous, their voyage down America’s most infamous river and the outlandish characters they meet along the way will ultimately inspire a destination neither expected: love.

I previously read and loved the author's first book, Clingstone, so I had pretty high hopes for Watermark. Unsurprisingly, this book far exceeded any expectations I had when I started it. Even though I've only read two of her books, this one is without a doubt my favorite (for now).

Marti Ziegler is a brilliant historical romance author. While I may not read much historical romance, I can attest that this is a fantastic book, no matter the genre.

Both the aspects of life on the Mississippi River during the late 1820s and the lovely deep connection between our two main characters, Juno and Malcolm, are told in a beautiful prose that I just couldn't get enough of. I loved both Juno and Malcolm and I adored them together. Also, I really enjoyed the story line about Malcolm and Joliange and everything that entailed. It added another depth to the book that I liked. Overall, there's not a single thing I would have changed.

I said before that I was looking forward to seeing more from the author. That remains true still. Her writing is exactly what I needed during a reading slump.


* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *

Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Review: Atheists Who Kneel and Pray

Title Atheists Who Kneel and Pray
Author Tarryn Fisher
Release Date July 13, 2017

Yara Phillips is a wandering muse.

She dates men who need her, but always moves on to something new, never staying in one place for very long.

David Lisey is in need of a muse.

A talented musician lacking lyrical inspiration. When he first sees her, he knows he's found what he's been looking for.

Yara believes she can give David exactly what he needs to reach his full potential:
A broken heart.

David’s religion is love.

Yara’s religion is heartache.

Neither is willing to surrender, but religion always requires sacrifice.

Atheists Who Kneel and Pray feels different from other Tarryn Fisher books I've read. Don't get me wrong, it's still Tarryn Fisher. The words are beautiful and they make you feel things, deep and aching things. So the way the story is told feels much the same as her other books, but the heart of the story feels different.

I didn't feel as gutted and emotionally raw after reading Atheists Who Kneel and Pray. This felt like a more soothing and sweet love story than what I might have normally expected from Tarryn. I loved seeing this from her. I know that she can craft a story that will tear you down before building you up, so it was nice to see something a little more tame.

When I finished this book, I instantly wanted to rate it five stars. I loved this book. It touched me in ways that I needed. That being said, I'm only rating it four stars now that I've had a bit to digest the story and think it over. Here's what I had some issues with...

1. Why didn't David search for Yara after she left? She left after six weeks of being married. He didn't start searching for her until their second anniversary had passed. Like, what? How can you go so long without searching for the woman you love?

2. How in the ever living hell could David get with Petra after Yara left? Yes, I understand that Yara left David. I understand she moved on. I understand that he moved on. I understand all of that. But why Petra? Why HER of all people? He claimed to still be in love with Yara after all that time, but yet he started a relationship and became engaged to the one woman that caused such anguish for his wife. I do not understand.

3. The ending was abrupt. I loved that David and Yara reconciled. I wanted them to be together. Because of that, I needed more. I needed to see them come together in love again. We see that for a brief period before the book ends, but I need more to believe in their happily ever after. I feel like Yara and David have a rough road ahead of them to get to their HEA and I wanted to see more of that. That real and raw pain it takes to get to the HEA is what makes it so much sweeter. I definitely missed it here.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Book Review: (It Happened) One Friday

Title (It Happened) One Friday
Author Lori L. Otto
Release Date July 25, 2017

He did it. After everything they'd been through, Callen McNare crossed the line into a territory from which there was no coming back. Max Scott was always patient and loyal, but he's not quick to forgive or forget.

And for Zaina Mishra, she finally got her wish. Trey Holland did it. They did it–after two and a half years of waiting. It was all that she wanted, but maybe not all she'd really hoped for in the end.

They were four friends from high school on a trip to paradise after graduation. They were two couples in love.

There was always a possibility that everything would change some day.

It happened one Friday.

I loved this novella! It was exactly what was needed between Love Will and In the Wake of Wanting.

Lori Otto has created such a rich world within her books. They're full of well developed characters with relatable and realistic lives. And I just adore that her books are all connected and the story continues throughout each one.

I can't wait for more from Lori. Her books are some of my absolute favorites.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (#28)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on...

Title Girls Made of Snow and Glass
Author Melissa Bashardoust
Release Date September 5, 2017

At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

* What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Share your links in the comments below and I'll be sure to drop by! *