Off the Shelf: A Review of Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Let me start by saying that I picked this book as my selection for July’s Book of the Month box. When selecting one of five book selections, subscribers see a genre, brief descriptions about the book, and a synopsis. I typically always pick the thriller selection. However, I had already read July’s thriller (The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager), and upon reading through each book’s synopsis, found myself really drawn to Ghosted. It confused me that the genre said “Romance” while the synopsis sounded fairly more like a mystery, but I figured – why not? Even if it had a bit more romance than what I normally read, it may be a welcome change to try something different. While I’m sure there will be plenty of people raving over Ghosted, having finished the book, I find myself feeling rather ho-hum and like the romantic bits were the only parts that kept me away from a DNF.

 

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Summary (via Goodreads)

Seven perfect days. Then he disappeared. A love story with a secret at its heart.

When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.

Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened–there must be an explanation.

Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.

 

Things I Liked:

Like I said, the romantic bits did keep me reading. It may be because I just kept picturing Eddie as Colin Firth, and Colin Firth is charming enough to make anything better. I actually didn’t hate the insta-love for once, and Sarah and Eddie’s scenes together truly worked for me…the key word there though is “together”. Most of those are told through flashbacks. The way the story is broken up doesn’t really lend itself well to establishing the depth of the relationship in a timely enough fashion to make the reader care about why Sarah is this level of brokenhearted over being ghosted after one week.

The reveal of why Sarah was ghosted was an excellent twist, and it answered many of the questions that had been building. It kept me guessing, and even though I thought I had it figured out, I didn’t. It definitely goes deeper than what you may expect.

I enjoyed most elements of Walsh’s writing style. The characters were interesting, and she kept the story feeling like it straddled the line between romance and mystery. I read through it in just a few hours, mostly in one sitting, and I really found myself enjoying Walsh’s use of dialogue and tension. While this was touted as a debut book, it’s actually described on the jacket as Walsh’s “American debut”. She has several other titles under the pseudonym Lucy Robinson, and I would be fairly interested to try some reading one of those in the future.

Things I Didn’t Like:

I had a really tough time finding Sarah believable. While being “ghosted” after such an emotional connection with someone would surely be nerve-wracking and spur some kind of obsession, there are some moments when I felt like she was an over-the-top teenager rather than an adult woman nearing 40. Her antics are a bit too angsty for my taste, especially when she borders on being a real stalker.

The story is spliced with flashbacks, letters, and emails which go a long way in showing us that there’s something more going on than what we might think. However, the structure and pacing of how these unfold often distracts from the momentum of the main story. Many parts felt repetitive, unnecessary, or occasionally eyeroll-inducing.

While the original twist of why Sarah was ghosted worked well for me and was mostly unexpected, the twists that take place after that point in the story fell incredibly flat. I felt they were pretty obvious choices to tie the story together, and the two I’m thinking of in particular were entirely predictable. I think I wanted the ending to be a bit darker rather than being packaged up so nice and neat, but I have to remind myself that this was meant to be a romance.

 

Overall Rating:

3/5. It was a very quick read and parts of it were fabulously written, but overall I found myself pushing to get through it. Didn’t love it, but didn’t hate it. Like I said before, I’m sure there will be plenty of people that love this book, so if you’re looking for a romantic story with a slow burn, give this one a try.

Add Ghosted by Rosie Walsh to your To Be Read Shelf on Goodreads

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Waiting on Wednesday: Toil & Trouble

Waiting on Wednesdays spotlights highly anticipated upcoming releases, and was originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Since Jill is no longer hosting, I’m now joining up with Can’t Wait Wednesday at Wishful Endings. Check it out, and leave a link to your “can’t wait” book of the week!

This week for Waiting on Wednesday, I’m doing something I haven’t done before – I’m highlighting an anthology! Anthologies aren’t usually my go-to reading material because if I really enjoy a story, I want to live in it for so much longer than a short story. However, there are plenty of reasons to look forward to this exceptional young adult collection…

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RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 28, 2018

Summary (via Goodreads)

A young adult fiction anthology of 15 stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

Glinda the Good Witch. Elphaba the Wicked Witch. Willow. Sabrina. Gemma Doyle. The Mayfair Witches. Ursula the Sea Witch. Morgan le Fey. The three weird sisters from Macbeth.

History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.

Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.

A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.

From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely–has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored.

 

Why I’m Waiting:

Like many other women, I really enjoy stories about witches. Whether it’s Hermione Granger or the Sanderson Sisters, I’m all about magical and mystical characters. From those just discovering their powers to those who wield power like a sword, these women are intriguing, complex, and they reject the ordinary. I can remember reading and rereading Roald Dahl’s The Witches as a child, and instead of rooting for the main character as he took on an entire gathering of witches, I just wanted to figure out how I too could become a witch and turn boys into mice.

Witches tend to be very strong, female characters, and an entire collection of diverse stories that delve into their myth and legend sounds right up my alley. Luckily, I was just granted an ARC copy from the publisher, so if you’re looking forward to this one as much as I am, go ahead and subscribe to Among the Authors (at the top of this page on the right) so that you’ll be updated when I post my review a little closer to publication time. I can’t wait to get started reading it!

Waiting on Wednesday: Smoke & Iron

Waiting on Wednesdays spotlights highly anticipated upcoming releases, and was originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Since Jill is no longer hosting, I’m now joining up with Can’t Wait Wednesday at Wishful Endings. Check it out, and leave a link to your “can’t wait” book of the week!

If you’ve been a follower of my blog, you probably know by now that I’m a huge fan of the Great Library series by Rachel Caine. I even have a signed poster of the series hanging over my desk as I type this. If you’re not familiar with the series by now, it starts with Ink & Bone, then its sequel Paper & Fire, and then what many people thought would be the end (it wasn’t!) Ash & Quill. It gives me great joy knowing that we are now less than a month away from the release of book four, Smoke & Iron (and even more joy knowing that an ARC copy just arrived in my inbox). I’ve heard that there will be five books total in the series, but I for one have my fingers crossed that the story won’t end there.

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RELEASE DATE: JULY 3, 2018

Summary (via Goodreads)

“The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouse with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making…if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies”

 

Why I’m Waiting:

It seems like every time a new book in this series is about to be released, I’m in a reading slump. While I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m in one right now (as evidenced by my current marathoning of the Shades of Magic series), I am definitely in one in regards to the young adult genre. YA is usually my go-to genre, and I’ve uncovered so many incredible titles that have found a forever home on my shelves.

But lately? Not so much. I’ve combed through pages and pages of upcoming releases in the YA genre, and there aren’t many titles that stand out to me. I want something different. I want a story that really grabs me. I’ve struggled to find that in many of the descriptions.

That’s why I’m so thankful that it won’t be long before I’ll be rejoining Jess Brightwell and friends. Each book has been fresh and unique. The world is so finely crafted and the characters so well developed that even when you finish the last page, the story stays with you. The Great Library always revives my faith in the genre, and it tells a story that’s exciting for all ages.

If you haven’t started the series, now’s the time! Happy reading!

Check out my reviews of the rest of the series:
Ink & Bone
Paper & Fire
Ash & Quill

Add Smoke & Iron to your To Be Read List on Goodreads

Waiting on Wednesday: The Cabin at the End of the World

Waiting on Wednesdays spotlights highly anticipated upcoming releases, and was originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Since Jill is no longer hosting, I’m now joining up with Can’t Wait Wednesday at Wishful Endings. Check it out, and leave a link to your “can’t wait” book of the week!

I read Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts last year and walked around for days afterward with the ultimate book hangover. It was incredibly suspenseful, twisted, and I just couldn’t stop talking about it to everyone I knew (or to total strangers). Seriously, if you haven’t read it yet, GET ON IT. You won’t be disappointed. Tremblay has a delightfully dark writing style that I’m hoping will also be present in his June release, The Cabin at the End of the World.

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RELEASE DATE: June 26, 2018

Summary (via Goodreads)

The Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Head Full of Ghosts adds an inventive twist to the home invasion horror story in a heart-palpitating novel of psychological suspense that recalls Stephen King’s Misery, Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood, and Jack Ketchum’s cult hit The Girl Next Door.

Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.

One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.”

 

Why I’m Waiting

Tremblay has a habit of taking the played out horror tropes and reinventing them in new and creative ways. In A Head Full of Ghosts he took the idea of possession and combined it with the scary world of reality television. Now, in The Cabin at the End of the World, he pulls the suspense from a home invasion story and ups the tension by making it also a story of an apocalypse. I am really looking forward to seeing how those stories meld together in The Cabin at the End of the World. If it’s half as good as A Head Full of Ghosts, I can already picture myself reading Tremblay’s entire collection of work.

 

Click Here to add The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay to your To Be Read Shelf on Goodreads.

Off the Shelf: A Review of The Life & Death Parade by Eliza Wass

Two years ago, I discovered Eliza Wass through her debut YA novel, The Cresswell Plot. While the book didn’t necessarily hit one out of the park for me, its author did, and I became somewhat entranced by Eliza and her story. She grew up in a strict, religious community and didn’t meet anyone outside of that religion until she interned at Disney at the age of 22. She talks more about that part of her background in this article from the Guardian, and it’s clear where her inspiration for The Cresswell Plot (here titled In the Dark, In the Woods) came from. Her bio claims “she has thousands of friends, all of whom either arrive inside dust jackets or post obsessively on Twitter”, and following her on Twitter gave me a deeper look into her writing, her whimsical personality, and her devotion to her late husband, Alan Wass of Alan Wass and the Tourniquet.

So, when I spotted the beautiful cover of The Life and Death Parade while I was at PLA, I had to snatch it up. It became one of my first must-read ARCs in a massive book haul, and it delivered the type of hauntingly eerie story that I’ve come to expect from Eliza Wass.

 

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Release Date: July 12, 2018

Summary (via Goodreads)

One year ago, Kitty’s boyfriend Nikki Bramley visited a psychic who told him he had no future. Now, he’s dead.

With the Bramley family grieving in separate corners of their home, Kitty sets out to find the psychic who read Nikki his fate. Instead she finds Roan, an enigmatic boy posing as a medium who belongs to the Life and Death Parade–a group of supposed charlatans that explore, and exploit, the thin veil between this world and the next. A group whose members include the psychic… and Kitty’s late mother.

Desperate to learn more about the group and their connection to Nikki, Kitty convinces Roan to return to the Bramley house with her and secures a position for him within the household. Roan quickly ingratiates himself with the Bramleys, and soon enough it seems like everyone is ready to move on. Kitty, however, increasingly suspects Roan knows more about Nikki than he’s letting on. And when they finally locate the Life and Death Parade, and the psychic who made that fateful prophecy to Nikki, Kitty uncovers a secret about Roan that changes everything.

 

What I Liked:

Eliza Wass has a beautiful and delicate way of tackling topics like death and grief. She has a way with words, particularly her rich imagery that paints her settings. I longed to know more about the characters, Nikki especially, because he has such a fun persona that steals every scene.

At the beginning of each chapter are featured lines from the author’s late husband, which help to set the tragic tone as Kitty searches for answers to what happened to her boyfriend and how the psychic’s prediction of his death came to pass. A variety of different relationships are explored, each shedding a little more light on how each character grieves, and I was glad that the romantic elements weren’t your typical sugar-coated YA romance tropes. The loss of Nikki haunts the entire story, and in turn the reader aches along with each of the characters in the family.

It’s a quick, enjoyable read that you can finish in just a few short hours, but it can be said that the story will end well before you want it to.

 

What I Didn’t Like:

About halfway through, I started feeling like I was missing something. Specifically, I felt as if this book had been over-edited and scenes that would have helped me to better connect with the characters and their stories had been cut. Looking back at my review of The Cresswell Plot, I wasn’t surprised to see that I’d felt similarly about that title. The Life and Death Parade is a very short, quick read, but the fast pacing will have you wishing there were slower moments to help the story build. I’m beginning to wonder if this is just Wass’s writing style or if she has an editor that prefers it this way. Either way, I wish we got to know the characters a little bit better because they seem so quirky, unique, and mysterious.

 

Overall Rating:

I was torn on how to rate this book, but I ultimately decided on 3.5/5 stars. The premise has so much potential and the cast of characters were eccentric and wonderful, but the plot falls victim to an overly fast pace. I still have so many questions and things that I want to know, which makes me wish there were at least another fifty pages or so to tell the full story. Eliza Wass continues to be an author to watch for me, and I look forward to seeing what comes next from her.

 

Waiting on Wednesday: The Perfect Mother

Waiting on Wednesdays spotlights highly anticipated upcoming releases, and was originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Since Jill is no longer hosting, I’m now joining up with Can’t Wait Wednesday at Wishful Endings. Check it out, and leave a link to your “can’t wait” book of the week!

I’ve only recently discovered my deep love of thrillers, and I’m starting to think I can’t get enough of them. The darker, the better. When I saw the summary for The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy, I knew immediately that it would fit the bill. Even better, there’s a short wait for this one, as it’s releasing in just six days.

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RELEASE DATE: May 1, 2018

Summary (via Goodreads)
An addictive psychological thriller about a group of women whose lives become unexpectedly connected when one of their newborns goes missing.

They call themselves the May Mothers—a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives.

When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is abducted from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media.

Though none of the other members in the group are close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days that follow, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.

 

Why I’m Waiting

 

The reviews coming out for this book tout it as a perfect binge read for the summer. Forget summer, I want to binge read it right now! The summary does make me wonder if it will be something like Jessica Strawser’s Not That I Could Tell (which I’ll eventually finish, but has sat on my nightstand for a few weeks now). Even though The Perfect Mother isn’t out yet, it’s already becoming a movie starring Kerry Washington, leading to more hype for this new release. Now, normally I don’t follow the hype, but I might have to for this one because I can’t help but judge a book by that gorgeous cover!

What are you waiting on this week? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

 

Click here to add The Perfect Mother to your To Be Read Shelf on Goodreads!

Off the Shelf: A Review of The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

I have other reviews that I should be writing – BUT STOP THE PRESSES! We need to discuss The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager RIGHT. NOW.

It doesn’t come out until July, but I was fortunate enough to meet Riley Sager while attending PLA, and I snagged myself a signed ARC copy of The Last Time I Lied. His debut, The Final Girls, has sat on my to-read shelf since its publication. I’m wary of overhyped books though, so its initial popularity right out of the gate scared me off picking it up. Trust me, I will soon be correcting that mistake.

As I’ve been dealing with some health issues recently, I’ve had plenty of time to read, but any book I’ve picked up, I’ve struggled to get into. Either it’s not interesting at all, interesting but just not that great, or definitely interesting but not the kind of book that’s going to hold my interest right now. It’s been disappointment after disappointment.

I wanted NEEDED a page turner. So, I went to my to-read shelf, selected one book at random, and decided to see if the first line would hook me.

Enter: The Last Time I Lied.

And that’s how I found myself unable to put it down until I’d finished reading the very last line.

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Summary (via Goodreads)

RELEASE DATE:  JULY 10, 2018

“Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.”

 

Things I Liked:

HOLY ROLLER COASTER RIDE, BATMAN! The number of twists packed into this plot left me dizzy. Just when I would think I was on the right track, this cart would jump the rails. It kept me guessing the whole way through, and the ending is one you will not see coming. When you think it’s over, it’s most definitely not.

I was never a summer camp kid. I don’t know if there just weren’t many camps around or if my parents didn’t want me out of their sight for that long, but either way, a sleep away summer camp is something that I’ve only ever read about. Goosebumps set me up from a young age to think of summer camps as inherently creepy (thanks very much, Welcome to Camp Nightmare, The Curse of Camp Cold Lake, The Horror at Camp Jellyjam, etc.), so Camp Nightingale really meets the mark for dark, spooky camps – haunting campfire stories, suspicious counselors, and s’mores! Pack this book on vacation, maybe take it camping…because I can guarantee it’s going to be one of the biggest books of the summer. I found myself falling in love with Sager’s writing style, and how much description was packed in to every last word. I could picture Camp Nightingale, particularly Lake Midnight and the ghost stories of its past, so clearly. Beautiful work.

I’ve said it time and time again, but if you give me a good, believable, unreliable narrator, that will sell the story for me every time. And boy, is Emma good. There were a few moments where I found myself annoyed with her, but overall, I found myself absorbed in her interactions with those at Camp Nightingale, past and present, particularly Vivian. Vivian and Emma bonded quickly when they first met at Camp Nightingale, and there a several moments in their conversations where they go beyond your typical “Mean Girls” teen girl interactions and Vivian delves into the true psyche of her behaviors to teach the life lessons she believes Emma needs. She’s twisted, enigmatic, and her motivations add to the mystery of her disappearance.

Things I Didn’t Like:

I don’t have much to report in the way of things that I didn’t like about The Last Time I Lied. There were times, like I said, that I found Emma annoying – she wouldn’t ask the questions that I thought would be natural to ask given the scenarios she was facing or she may say too much in parts where I felt it would be natural to hold back. Overall though, she was an interesting character and the story kept me guessing as to whether I should trust her or not.

I believe there was one red herring that got thrown out (and there are quite a few in this story that will have you wondering what the truth will really be), but was never resolved. However, this is a story I plan on rereading (it was THAT good) to see if perhaps I missed its resolution somewhere along the way. The story follows a crooked path, so it can be easy to get lost in the woods with all of the possibilities.

 

Overall Rating:

Without a doubt, this book is a 5/5 stars for me. It was everything that I needed it to be and more, and I couldn’t get enough. I raced through it in a matter of hours, and days later, I still can’t stop thinking about it. Go ahead and preorder it from your favorite bookstore or online retailer, because you are going to want to get your hands on this title the moment it hits the shelves. While you’re waiting, check out Sager’s debut novel, Final Girls.

Two Truths and a Lie:
1. I will definitely be picking up Final Girls in hopes that it’s even half as good as The Last Time I Lied.
2. The Last Time I Lied is one of the best books that I’ve read so far this year.
3. When I’m camping this summer, I doubt that this story will cross my mind.

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Click here to add The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager to your To Be Read Shelf on Goodreads.