Review: Horrorstör

Horrorstör: A Novel, Grady Hendrix

Amanda

To be published: September 23rd 2014 by Quirk Books

Paperback, 240 pages

Source: Quirk Books

16030470

Horror is not a genre that I’m drawn to typically, but when I saw the cover and the concept for the Horrorstör book I knew I had to read this.  First-the physical book itself.  Its a large paperback that looks at first like a catalog from a giant Swedish superstore that shall remain nameless.  Then you look at the cover again and catch the framed photos- intriguing right?  I wanted to read this for the cleverness of the concept alone. Each chapter begins with a product sketch and description.  You’ll notice they start to turn much more sinister as the book progresses, so even as you’re getting drawn into this story because its getting darker you’re still laughing at the book.

Now the story, the Orsk store in Cleveland, Ohio is having problems.  Orsk is a furniture superstore built as an American knock-off of the Swedish giant.  Every morning when the store is opened a new problem is discovered; problems that were not there when the store was closed the day before.  Foul substances on sofas, glassware shattered or wardrobes broken-something strange is going on.  Basil, an eager mid-level manager, bribes a few unwilling employees to spend the night in the store to help him catch the culprits before the store can be investigated by the corporate office.  Basil’s crack team includes Amy, a snarky college drop-out who goes along with the plan just to keep her job.  I loved Amy and her attitude in balance with Basil’s devotion to Orsk.  What could possibly go wrong with Basil’s plan to flush out the troublemakers overnight?

I admit as Basil and his helpers set foot into the darkened store that I put this book down rather than read too late at night.  Yes, I’m a weenie and that was maybe unnecessary.  The action got a bit gross, a bit scary, but mostly came off like a fabulously campy horror movie rather than a traumatic ghost story.  Despite the camp I was surprised at how introspective our characters became during the night at Orsk. I was really pulling for them all to dig deep and help themselves get out alive.  This book had me engrossed up until the last page-and then laughing again at the final drawings. If you’re looking for a different kind of read you should absolutely check this out.  I have to go shopping this weekend and I feel a bit afraid to head to a big blue building lest I stray off the Bright and Shining Path and meet one of Hendrix’s creations!

Questions?  Just Orsk! Ha!

5 stars!!

Thank you Quirk Books for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Make it Right

Make it Right (Bowler University #2), Megan Erickson

Amanda

Published September 9th 2014 by William Morrow Impulse

Ebook 384 pages

Source: Edelweiss

Thank you for joining us on the Make it Right blog tour today! I hope you enjoy Max and Lea’s story as much as I did!

From Goodreads….

unnamed (1)

Max Payton lives by two rules:

Size and strength win any fight, and never show weakness.

When a rash of assaults sends Bowler University for a tail spin, Max volunteers to help teach a self-defense class. One of the other instructors is the beautiful pixie-faced girl he keeps butting heads with…and who challenges everything he thought he knew.

Lea Travers avoids guys like Max – cocky jocks who assume she’s fragile because of a disability caused by a childhood accident. She likes to be in control, and something about being with Max makes her feel anything but. But during the moments he lets his guard down, Lea sees a soul as broken inside as she is outside. Trusting him is a whole other problem…

When the assaults ramp up and hit close to home, Lea and Max must learn, before it’s too late, that true strength can come from vulnerability…and giving in to trust is sometimes the only way to make things right.

Oh Max and Lea.  I reviewed Megan Erickson’s Make it Count here and I have to tell you that Make it Right was even more fun.   When we met Max in MiC he was the not-so-great boyfriend of our heroine Kat.  He was meathead and honestly a jerk.  You had to root against him and for Kat and Alec.   I was not really sure how Erickson was going to turn Max into a character who I wanted to see fall in love and win the girl in the end, but she definitely did!

I knew that I was starting to fall for Max when he began searching for recipes to make gourmet cat treats for the stray he took in-who wouldn’t love a guy like that?  We learn how Max learned to build up the walls around his heart and you have to let your heart soften towards him.  And wow- the date he plans when Lea gives him a chance -swoon!  Max may have made some mistakes along the way, but I knew he was going to make it when he went through so much to plan the perfect night for Lea.

Then we have Lea.  Lea is not a fan of Max at the start because she is friends with Kat, but she starts to realize the sparks flying between them are more than just Max being a jerk.  Lea has had a hard path to get to Bowler University and she has walls of her own built up.  Lea may look frail, but she teaches Max that his strength is not the only kind that counts.  The banter between Max and Lea cracked me up and I think this is one of Erickson’s strengths; her characters are just funny together!  I knew this was a book for me when I caught a Dirty Dancing reference early on.

Lea and Max give each other chances when others might not have done so.   They teach each other about vulnerability and forgiveness, as well as when to stand your ground and fight and when to accept help.  I am so glad Erickson gave Max a book to come back from Make it Count and I loved him with Lea.

Also, let me just say-damn-Megan Erickson can write some sexy, sexy scenes.  I cannot wait to see what she comes up with for Bowler University #3 next year!  Give Max and Lea a chance and let me know what you think of this pair!

4 stars !

You can enter a Rafflecopter giveaway to win your own copy of Make it Right!

Purchase:
About Megan:

Megan Erickson grew up in a family that averages 5’5” on a good day and started writing to create characters who could reach the top kitchen shelf.

She’s got a couple of tattoos, has a thing for gladiators and has been called a crazy cat lady. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. And no, she still can’t reach the stupid top shelf.

Thank you edelweiss and William Morrow for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Hosted by Good Choice Reading Blog Tours

 

Review: Barracuda

Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas

Amanda

Published September 9th 2014 by Crown Publishing

Hardcover, 448 pages

Source: NetGalley

20174441

Fourteen-year-old Daniel Kelly is special. Despite his upbringing in working-class Melbourne, he knows that his astonishing ability in the swimming pool has the potential to transform his life, silence the rich boys at the private school to which he has won a sports scholarship, and take him far beyond his neighborhood, possibly to international stardom and an Olympic medal. Everything Danny has ever done, every sacrifice his family has ever made, has been in pursuit of this dream. But what happens when the talent that makes you special fails you? When the goal that you’ve been pursuing for as long as you can remember ends in humiliation and loss?

Twenty years later, Dan is in Scotland, terrified to tell his partner about his past, afraid that revealing what he has done will make him unlovable. When he is called upon to return home to his family, the moment of violence in the wake of his defeat that changed his life forever comes back to him in terrifying detail, and he struggles to believe that he’ll be able to make amends. Haunted by shame, Dan relives the intervening years he spent in prison, where the optimism of his childhood was completely foreign.

Tender, savage, and blazingly brilliant, Barracuda is a novel about dreams and disillusionment, friendship and family, class, identity, and the cost of success. As Daniel loses everything, he learns what it means to be a good person—and what it takes to become one.

I’ll be honest and say I had a moment or two where I almost put Barracuda down, however, in the end I’m really glad that I chose not to.  Once I started to get into this book I nearly couldn’t step away, despite the fact that it was an uncomfortable read at times.  The language is harsh, the sexual descriptions graphic and the writing powerful.  My heart ached for Danny and his family, and for his coach.

Barracuda takes us back and forth in time, beginning with Dan as an adult and then flashing back to Danny in the pool and as a young man.  I liked the changes in time, though honestly I could have done without the scenes from his time in prison.  I felt like Tsiolkas made the points of what Dan got out of his time in prison clear without my having to read those scenes.

Danny thinks-no he knows that he’s the best in the world.  His vision of the future is all about the swimming and where it will take him in life.  When he fails as a swimmer he becomes completely unmoored and adult Dan continues to suffer as a result.  I kind of wanted to reach into the book and shake him at times to say: Find a focus! Find a life outside the pool!  Whether he’s Dan or Danny, he’s an angry young man and I think that was part of my struggle reading this book.  Danny hates the rich students at the school giving him a scholarship, he hates the “golden boys” that swim against him, much as he loves his family and friends he seems to hate them at times too.  The anger becomes focused in Danny’s violence later and in the sex scenes felt really brutal to me.

Danny was driven and focused and I was captivated by the scenes with him in the water.  Even when he is not winning the writing was beautiful:

The water would not love him as it had during the race; tomorrow it would once more be a force to battle, to master, to defeat.

I feel like it was the water that pulled me through Barracuda.  The descriptions of his swimming were wonderful.  I was carried along hoping for Dan’s redemption and for him to find peace from his shame.   I walked away with a lighter heart than I expected at the conclusion for which I’m thankful.

Also, I know we have such an idealistic Australia that we picture as Americans but it was really good to read about a “real” Australia.  It was important to read about class struggles, immigration and race and more than going to the beach and drinking beer in hostels.  So for those reasons too this was an eye opening book for me.  This was a hard read, but I am glad I saw it through as I am definitely still thinking about it.

4 stars!

All quotes were taken from an uncorrected galley proof subject to change in the final edition

Thank you NetGalley and Crown Publishing for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Back to School Review-The Pout Pout Fish

The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School, Deborah Diesen, Dan Hanna

Amanda and Babycakes

Published June 24th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Younger Readers

Hardcover, 32 pages

Source: Purchased for First Day of School!

17803326

If you have a little one and you don’t know Mr. Fish then get yourself to the book store!  We love The Pout Pout Fish so much at my house.  The story is sweet, the illustrations make us laugh and I love any book that gives me chances to smooch my daughter’s cheeks while reading.  

The Pout Pout Fish Goes to School arrived just in time on my daughter’s first day of school.  We had sit down and read it immediately and then read it again at bedtime.  This book totally lives up to the first two stories about Mr. Fish! Poor Mr. Fish has been dropped off at school for the very first time and becomes lost on his way to his classroom.  He becomes overwhelmed when he can’t write his name, draw a rhombus or start doing math and is ready to swim on home.  I loved Mr. Fish’s teacher and her easy message about learning and not giving up.  The pictures cracked me up as always, they’re bright and cheerful and just silly enough. Babycakes also points out the funny details and is “reading” along with me.  The rhyming makes this fun to read and easy for her to remember which is perfect.

We’re going to be reading this a lot over the school year and I definitely think you should check it out if you’ve just brought little kids to school!

5 stars!

Review: One of Us

One of Us, Tawni O’Dell

Amanda

Published August 19th 2014 by Gallery Books

Hardcover, 304 pages

From Goodreads…

18775231

Dr. Sheridan Doyle, a fastidiously groomed and TV-friendly forensic psychologist, is the go-to shrink for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office whenever a twisted killer’s mind eludes other experts. But beneath his Armani pinstripes, he’s still Danny Doyle, the awkward, terrified, bullied boy from a blue-collar mining family, plagued by panic attacks and haunted by the tragic death of his little sister and mental unraveling of his mother years ago.

Returning to a hometown grappling with its own ghosts, Danny finds a dead body at the infamous Lost Creek gallows where a band of rebellious Irish miners was once executed. Strangely, the body is connected to the wealthy family responsible for the miners’ deaths. Teaming up with veteran detective Rafe, a father-like figure from his youth, Danny, in pursuit of a killer, comes dangerously close to startling truths about his family, his past, and himself.

Forensic psychologist Dr. Sheridan Doyle tries to be nothing like Danny Doyle, the kid who grew up in the town of Lost Creek. Danny was the odd, but super smart kid at school. His mother is a convicted murderer – of his own sister – and his father a hard-drinking and abusive coal miner.   Coal is king in Lost Creek with the family that owns the mines ruling over the town for generations.  Nearly the only bright spot in Danny’s childhood was his grandfather Tommy.  Now Tommy is in his 90s and has fallen ill and Danny (a.k.a. Sheridan) needs to return to Lost Creek to care for him.

Lost Creek is a town with gallows hanging in the center of town. Yes, really gallows.  These have been left hanging as a memorial to a group of Irish miners who tried to fight for better working conditions and were hanged by the Dawes family who own the mines.  Nearly every resident of Lost Creek is a descendant of these executed miners and the history weighs heavily over the town.  The dead miners seem almost like active participants in the day to day town life still.  As Danny passes by the gallows on his first day in town he finds a dead body.

At first, Danny is much more concerned with his high fashion label wardrobe than the body he finds, but as the body count grows and Danny’s psychological expertise comes into play, he becomes drawn into the mystery.  I did not see the twists coming in this book-nor did I expect to be so entertained by a team of ghost hunters looking to find proof of the doomed miners haunting Lost Creek.  While there was a lot of sadness in this book, it was still a really entertaining and suspenseful thriller.  I really liked the glimpses into Danny’s career as a forensic psychologist and I would have liked more about his cases.  My biggest complaint-the label dropping.  There was no need to list every designer known!  That made the characters even more shallow in the end for me. Aside from that this was a really good read, I might have predicted some of ending details but that did not take away from the book for me.

4 stars!

Thank you Gallery Books for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Cover Reveal: Everly After by Rebecca Paula

Cover Reveal: Everly After by Rebecca Paula

Amanda

The description of this upcoming NA book has me intrigued and I love the cover! Check out Everly After!

Book Cover - Everly After v4

Synopsis:
All truths burn bright and clear. I’m still waiting in the dark.

Everly Monteith has traded her life of glitter, parties, and self-destruction for waiting tables in busy a Parisian café after college graduation. She’s put the tragedy that sent her across the Atlantic behind her—until her toxic ex shows up and sends her reeling once more. Her delicate grip on a future begins slipping away, before a smug British war correspondent crashes her party and refuses to let her live hiding behind oversized sunglasses. But falling for Beckett means letting down her guard, something that might pull them both into the dark. 

There are beautiful lies in this world, and it takes me being chased through a hallway at a rave to decide this girl is one of them. But even the most beautiful lies aren’t worth chasing.

Twenty-five year-old Beckett Reid is forced into sabbatical after he’s kidnapped while on assignment in Afghanistan. Back in Paris and struggling with PTSD, he locks himself away to work on a novel while recovering and save his budding journalism career. But when he meets an enigmatic American heiress, his plans of laying low are quickly forgotten. He craves the energy and danger of war zones and realizes Everly is the perfect replacement, even if she does leave glitter on everything he owns. Reckless and wild, she runs through life making more mistakes than anyone he’s met, but Beckett is determined to fight for her, even if he must face the messy truth that to do so means fighting for himself first.

*This New Adult romance is recommended for readers 18+ due to mature content.*

 
Who doesn’t want romance under the Eiffel Tower?  You can enter to win Everly After right here
 
About Rebecca :
It began with a boy who survived a plane crash in the wilderness.
I discovered my love of writing during a fifth grade writing assignment for Hatchet. After that, I knew I wanted to be a writer. 
 
Always the hopeless romantic, I write late Victorian and Edwardian historical romances as well as contemporary New Adult romances.
I am a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), as well as the New Hampshire chapter (NHRWA) and the New England chapter (NECRWA). I contribute regularly to the Modern Belles of History blog, a site dedicated to writing, reading, and researching 20th century women’s historical fiction. 
When I’m not writing, I’m most likely reading or daydreaming about my next travel adventure. I live in New Hampshire with my husband and our cat, Bella.
 
 

ARC August Wrap-Up

ARC-August-2015

I decided to participate in ARC August hosted by Octavia at Read, Sleep, Repeat  to get through the many, many books on my kindle.  I posted at the end of July with my list of 8 ARC goals including:

These specific books:

Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay DONE! Trying to find words for the review-great book!  

Lucky Us, Amy Bloom DONE!

House of the Four Winds, Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory  DONE!

Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healy  DONE!

The Arsonist, Sue Miller  Oops, not done.

And 3 others that I’d pick as I went, which were:

The Quick

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

Henna House

One of Us (review to come!)

Added into that list also was some angsty teenage vampire reading with Silver Shadows and an attempt to read a Arthurian retelling that I just could not get into.  All in all I’d say August was pretty good to me reading wise!  

So September reading will be The Arsonist!  I admit, I hated the ending of Sue Miller’s previous book The Senator’s Wife. However, I thought it was extremely well written so I really do want to read this new book.  I just apparently need to be in the mood to start it.

How did you do with ARC August if you were part of the challenge?