Categories
Review

The Ringmaster’s Daughter

The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Carly Schabowski

Thanks to Bookouture for providing an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: July 7, 2020 ~ Genre: Historical fiction, romance

Synopsis:

Paris, 1940. Twenty-year-old Michel Bonnet lives on the edge of the law, finding work where he can breaking in horses on the outskirts of the city. But when the Nazis invade, Michel takes refuge as a stowaway on a rickety train bound for the rural south. It’s a journey that will change his life forever.

The train is property of Le Cirque Neumann – a travelling circus owned by the troubled and irritable showman Werner Neumann. Neumann offers Michel a job caring for the company’s horses – a lucky break, but with an unusual condition attached. Michel must keep to himself and never speak of what he sees behind the glittering curtain of the big top.

But as Michel finds himself pulled into the strange and wondrous world of the great spectacular it becomes more difficult to keep his promise. Why does the man with the performing monkey never speak, and the sword swallower turn his face away? Who are the silent, shadowy figures who flit like moths between the wagons when the sun is down? It’s clear that Neumann is keeping his performers hidden away… but why? And how can Michel win the love of the beautiful and exotic trapeze artist Freida – the graceful, green-eyed star of Neuman’s spectacular – when he’s been forbidden to even meet her gaze?

An emotional and uplifting wartime novel – perfect for fans of Water for Elephants, The Nightingale and The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Thoughts:

1940’s France, the backdrop of WW2, Michel finds himself packed up and fleeing a Paris that’s expecting the imminent arrival of the Nazis. Inadvertently thrown in with a circus troupe, Michel eventually is allowed to stay, care for,  and train horses for the performance. Michel, though various obstacles are thrown in his way, becomes close to many of the performers. Michel learns backstories of the close-nit group of outcasts and finds himself identifying and caring for them. 

I struggled with this story, as it carries such a promising premise but I just didn’t feel that it completely lived up to it’s potential. I love the WW2 backdrop and the circus atmosphere piqued my interest immediately.  Who doesn’t love a good circus story and make that circus shadowy and mysterious? Yes, please! However, I felt this story ultimately just wasn’t for me. 

The characters didn’t feel well rounded, nor did they develop as the story progressed. Though we were given the backstory to some of the characters I never felt connected to them in any way.  It was disappointing because I found myself wanting more from a character or a scene and just not getting it. 

What I did like most was how Michel worked with the horses, as well as the descriptive scenes of the cities and country side.  But when we get further into the romantic aspect, the horses fell by the wayside. When Michel joined the circus, events began to happen a bit too conveniently. Michel identifies two women he regards as attractive upon first stepping foot onto the train and eventually, both become his romantic partners in rather awkward ways.  I found the romance to be very insta-lovey. 

Overall, I enjoyed the descriptiveness and ambiance of this story but it did fall a bit short for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Categories
Review

The Shadows

The Shadows by Alex North

Publication Date: July 7th 2020 ~ Genre: Thriller-Mystery, Horror

I won an ARC copy of this book via bookishfirst.com

Synopsis:

You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat.

Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree–and his victim–were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and senile, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Reading the news, Paul learns another copycat has struck. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again…

Thoughts:

Reading on, beware of spoilers!

Picking up The Shadows is returning to the ominous world of the Whisper man. Detective Amanda Beck is called to duty again to solve a gruesome murder, eerily resembling the murder of a teen 20 years ago. These are not typical murders, however, these murders more accurately resemble sacrifices. 

Paul is the POV the reader is introduced to in the beginning of the book. We follow him through his early teen years and the events of the first murder. In those early years, Paul finds himself thrown into the delusions of a teenage boy, Charlie. Only a fierce loyalty to his friend, James, keeps Paul involved in Charlie’s plot to bring his world of imagination terrifyingly to life. Though James can’t seem to remove himself from the group of found friends, Paul is eventually pushed too far and leaves the group and his friend for good. 

In adulthood, Paul is still running from the trauma experienced in his childhood. All Paul could hope for is to wipe his memory clean of the murder and the events leading to the murder. Paul returns to his hometown to visit his dying mother, as she is admitted to hospice. Everything comes flooding back and Paul must choose how involved he wishes to become as he learns even his mother was connected.

One drawback I experienced while reading this book is an absent connection to the characters. I wished the characters were a bit more developed but I understand the possibility of an unreliable main character may have clouded the process. Also, this book can be confusing. I got to a certain point, learned something new and then was like, wait, how did those previous events occur? I had to go back and reread chapters but I still feel confused. I’m interested to see what others think of these chapters. Please click the little comment icon at the beginning of this review to tell me about your experience with this book. I’d love to chat about it.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Shadows. Alex North never fails to set a suspenseful tone in his books, which propels the reader through the chapters. His descriptions of the environment and how it affects the characters causes the reader to sit on the edge of their seat while reading, absolutely sure something heinous is about to occur at any moment and that’s usually the case.  😉

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Categories
New Release

New June Releases

Half the fun of reading books is the discovery!

At least, this is true for me. I don’t know about you but nothing is quite as satisfying as learning about a new book that sounds like it was written just for me and then preordering it. Anytime my favorite youtubers upload videos featuring new releases, I’m one of the first to watch. So, of course, I want to start a regular blog post featuring my most anticipated new releases for the coming month.

Agnes at the end of the World

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: June 9, 2020


Agnes must choose between the only life she’s ever known, living inside a cult at the whim of a madman, or on the outside where a deadly virus is killing the population at an alarming rate.

The synopsis compares this book to The Handmaids Tale and Wilder Girls. Thus far, the goodreads reviews are really promising. I think this book may be a five star for me.

My Calamity Jane (The Lady Janies #3)

Publisher: Harper Teen

Publication Date: June 2, 2020


This book is likely on many readers most anticipated lists. This is the third book in the saga of “Jane.” The previous two books being, My Lady Jane and My Plain Jane. In this latest edition of Jane, we follow Calamity Jane through her trials and tribulations, which will no doubt be absolutely hilarious in the best of ways.

The Obsidian Tower

Publisher: Orbit

Publication Date: June 4, 2020


Destined to one day rule the kingdom, Ryx must solve the mystery of her unstable powers and save her family from destruction.

I don’t have to know anymore than that. I’m here for all the fantasy escapism right now. Bring it on!

Mexican Gothic

Publisher: Del Rey

Publication Date: June 30, 2020


Silvia Moreno-Garcia also wrote Gods of Jade and Shadow which I still need to read. (It’s on my TBR shortlist) Mexican Gothic sounds equally if not more intriguing. Set in 1950s Mexico, our main protagonist Noemi travels to a mysterious mansion, which is also the home of her newly-wed cousin, in an attempt to save her from a perplexing threat. Not all is as it seems.

Mysterious mansion, eerie atmosphere, creepy side characters — this is right up my alley! Fingers crossed it’s a book of the month pick!

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians

Publisher: Redhook

Publication Date: June 23, 2020


I don’t have much to say about this one, I mean, it involves magic! What more needs to be said?

Historical fiction and fantasy combine in this alternate take on history. I’m always up for a little magic and excited to dive into this immersive story. Early reviews look promising!


This list could go on and on so I better stop here. What are some new release books you’re excited to read in June? I’m sure I missed some so please comment down below with your most anticipate books. I’d love to add more to my list! 🙂

Categories
Review

The Guest List

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Release: June 2, 2020 ~ Genre: Mystery Thriller ~ Book acquired through Book of the Month early release.

Synopsis

A wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller reminiscent of Agatha Christie from the author of The Hunting Party.

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why? 

Review

I struggled putting together a review for this one. As a mystery/thriller, I feel like most info can be considered a spoiler. However, here are my non-spoilery thoughts. 
I find it difficult to read books when I don’t like any of the characters and I hesitated picking this up because I heard all the characters in this book were unlike-able. Happily, I found this not to be true. I did like two of the characters especially and found myself rooting for them throughout the twists and turns of this story. I think many readers may find they identify with some aspect of these two characters, seemingly on the outskirts of the friend group, and will hang on perilously with them while hoping for a gratifying ending.
For me, the pacing of this book was slow to start but built quickly and became very exciting and unputdownable towards the end. I didn’t find the major twists predictable and I liked the buildup to the finale. 

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I did have a couple of issues with the plot but overall, really enjoyed this one! It was a fun ride.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Categories
Review

The Deep

The Deep by Alma Katsu

The presence grew larger and larger, and whiter. Until there was no mistaking what was coming at him, what had emerged from the clouds hovering just over the surface of the ocean. 

As tall as any building in London. And as massive. 

An iceberg.

Alma Katsu, The Deep

Release: 3/10/2020 ~ Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy-Paranormal, Horror

Synopsis

This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner’s illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers – including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher – are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .

Review

I enjoyed this story so much! 

I’m one of those people who became fascinated by the story of the Titanic after watching the 1997 film. Today it looms large in my mind as such an awe inspiring work of modern innovation for the early 1900s that came to such a devastatingly tragic end. How did the passengers feel boarding that great and powerful ship? What did they experience? Did they truly believe the ship was unsinkable? 

~

Alma Katsu provides an immersive narrative of what life was like for those aboard both the Titanic and its sister ship, the Britannic, with a paranormal twist. We are allowed to experience the perspectives of numerous infamous individuals who really experienced living in first class aboard the Titanic as well as a couple voices from those housed below. Our main protagonist, Annie, we quickly learn, is unreliable but she endeared herself to me as she seemed to only want the best for others, even if she went about it in a misguided way. Annie’s perspective is both fascinating and mystifying. One never feels on level ground with Annie but her character arc builds to bring together the loose ends and concludes in a satisfying way. The paranormal aspect added a little something extra to the story and contributed to the overall ominous undertone.

I don’t say this very often this is a book I will reread and I’m definitely passing it along to everyone. You there, amazing person reading this right now, you should pick this up!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫