C.B.H. ARC Review: “Dead Girls Can’t Lie” By Carys Jones

C.B.H. ARC Review: “Dead Girls Can’t Lie” By Carys Jones

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Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads
Publisher: Aria
Release Date: August 15th, 2017

 

**Disclaimer – I received this book via NetGalley and Aria in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review whatsoever.

 

 

If you awoke from sleep to discover your best friend committed suicide, what would you do? What if the circumstances surrounding the suicide left more questions than answers to you? What if the events leading to the suicide made no sense whatsoever…..maybe even set off alarms in your head that it may not be a suicide after all….but a murder?

North Stone loses her best friend Kelly in what the local authorities rule out to be a suicide. Deep in her gut, North believes this is all wrong. She’s known Kelly her whole life and the events surrounding her death were the direct opposite to how Kelly would act. North begins to go down a rabbit hole filled with self discovery, a mysterious pregnancy, and answers she may not like.

My Review

North is one of those characters you truly sympathize with on some levels. She lost her parents at an early age where normal kids were discovering who they were. Instead, she never truly grasps who she is which is where Kelly comes in. Kelly is a stubborn, attention-grabbing girl who seems to always get her way with anything and anyone. Fast forward to when they are adults and Kelly all of a sudden commits suicide.

Because North practically spent her time attached to the hip with Kelly except for the last three months of her life, North immediately becomes suspicious. Now as much as I can understand her reaction, her and Kelly’s relationship almost feels kind of toxic in some ways. North does not know how to survive without Kelly making decisions for her and whisking her off from what adventure to another. A few land them in trouble where North takes the fall for Kelly’s actions.

We are given flashbacks to various occasions when the girls were growing up where we get the feeling of the girl’s personalities through their lives. We see Kelly is this “free-spirit” who wanted to make sure everyone knew her while North hung back as Kelly’s shadow most of the time. After Kelly’s death, we see North struggle with finding her footing as a person and even taking on Kelly’s personality at times in order to engage with people around her during her investigation into Kelly’s death.

In the end, this book needed a bit of work. Was it engaging? Yes. However, it was predictable. There were tropes in this novel that have been used repeatedly in mystery/thrillers both in print, films, and television shows I’ve seen over the years.

The unhealthy relationship between North and Kelly was a turn off as well. How can you continue to be friends with someone who causes you to lose your own identity and prevent your growth due to your dependence upon them? I get it if you are best friends, but there is a line between being controlled and being friends because of a connection. I wish North grew more in the novel, I honestly did. She had potential to be more than an obsessed “friend” who had concern over a friend’s mysterious death….

 

Rating 6

 

Happy Reading!

 

~C.C.

 

Quick ARC Review: “Quinsey Wolf’s Glass Vault” By Candace Robinson

Quick ARC Review: “Quinsey Wolf’s Glass Vault” By Candace Robinson

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Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

 

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. This does not effect my review whatsoever.*

 

Goodreads Description

People in the town of Deer Park, Texas are vanishing. There is a strange museum, known as Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, that appears overnight. Perrie Madeline’s best friend and ex-boyfriend are among the missing. Perrie, along with her friend August, go on a pursuit to search for them in the mysterious museum. Could the elusive Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault have anything to do with their disappearances?”

 

My Review

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This book, where to begin, it felt like a mashup of quite a few things I’m nostalgic about. It felt like it could have been an addition to R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series despite having nothing to do with the street mashed up with one of my favorite 80s horror films, Waxworks, starring Zach Galligan from Gremlins. It follows a similar plot as to if you go into a mysterious museum, no one hears from you ever again.

Unlike other reviewers, I actually had an issue with the way the main character, Perrie, point of view. Many of her sentences were slight, quips, and often short in a way that made no sense to the plot and there were times where they were often not needed. The writing structure in general needed work. It maybe since the copy I was sent was un unpolished draft, but the writing was weird at times and I’m not even discussing the plot.

The plot itself is genius and executed in such a way, you can’t help but keep reading. The thing is, you have to get past Perrie’s delivery. The images, other characters, and even the secrets hiding in the dark gave me chills as I continued to read on. It kept me hooked to say the least and the twist was very unexpected.

If you are a horror fan or looking for a quick thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat, then this is the book for you. I would be happy to read a sequel to this, but I’m strongly hoping Candace Robinson puts more work into how her characters speak and describe settings.

 

My Rating

Rating 7

 

Happy Reading,

 

~C.C.

Double Review: “The Book of Ivy” and “The Evolution of Ivy” By Amy Engel

Double Review: “The Book of Ivy” and “The Evolution of Ivy” By Amy Engel

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Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

 

The Book of Ivy Premise

America fell under the brutality of a massive nuclear war, destroying the whole nation. The remaining survivors split into two factions led by two families: The Westfalls and The Lattimers. Their feud expanded to new heights over the years till The Westfalls finally lost and them and their followers fell under the rule of The Lattimers. Fifty years have come and gone and the only way peace is kept between the two factions is by the Westfalls former followers’ daughters are paired up to be married to the sons from the Lattimer faction.

Now, it has come down to the marriage between Ivy Westfall, granddaughter to the original leader of the Westfalls and President Lattimer’s son Bishop. Unbeknownst to the Lattimers, Ivy has a secret plan. A plan she was raised upon to execute when the time came: to kill the President’s son. Ivy’s personal rage stems not from the original feud, but over the death of her mother. According to her father, Ivy’s mother was ordered to by murdered by President Lattimer under suspicious circumstances. Her along with her sister are raised to be ready to fight to overthrow the man who ordered the murder of their mother.

Does Ivy have what it takes to avenge her mother and murder her new husband?

 

My Review

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I originally purchased the first book from Book Outlet a few months ago and it had been resting on my shelf collecting dust. I finally gave in and devoured the whole book in less than a day. It’s not too long, but the right length. But right when it ended, it felt like the book was truly at a turning point and I couldn’t wait to read the sequel.

Our main character Ivy is not what you’d call a killer. Throughout the whole book she struggles under the weight of having to find ways to get secret information to weapons to her family and figure out a way to murder Bishop. Bishop, though, proved to be a challenge and not in ways you’d suspect.

Bishop is a complete sweetheart and gentleman towards Ivy. Not going to lie, I absolutely loved him. Ivy believed since being the president’s son, he’d be a rude, selfish guy who’d only use her for breeding purposes much like what marriage is mostly about in their community. Spousal abuse was brought up in the novel by Bishop and Ivy’s neighbors. Keep in mind, these couples are only sixteen-eighteen when they are married, practically still kids and immature.

Ivy witnesses the abuse firsthand and in the end Bishop steps in and pushes the husband off the roof in a fit of rage after the husband doesn’t agree to annul the marriage. Despite everything and the husband agreeing to annul the marriage, the wife immediately chastises Bishop and Ivy for sticking their nose into their business. Ivy constantly brings up this is a huge reason why teenagers should not be forced to get married let alone to people they do not know. In a way, we see what Bishop and Ivy’s marriage could have been, making Ivy’s “purpose” even more unsettling.

Minor Spoiler Alert!

Ivy does not kill Bishop. And rightfully so! She’s betrayed by her family and set up in order to get her thrown out of the community and “outside of the fence” to face the elements. We are left at the end of the book wondering if Ivy would survive and if her family would succeed in their deadly endeavors….

 

Goodreads Description of The Revolution of Ivy

“Ivy Westfall is beyond the fence and she is alone. Abandoned by her family and separated from Bishop Lattimer, Ivy must find a way to survive on her own in a land filled with countless dangers, both human and natural. She has traded a more civilized type of cruelty–forced marriages and murder plots–for the bare-knuckled brutality required to survive outside Westfall’s borders.

But there is hope beyond the fence, as well. And when Bishop reappears in Ivy’s life, she must decide if returning to Westfall to take a final stand for what she believes is right is worth losing everything she’s fought for.”

My Review

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The second book is not nearly as good as the first one. I sped through the second one faster than the first, but it didn’t have as much character development or growth as the first book did. We watched Ivy mature in the first book while I saw no growth whatsoever. Yeah the ends were tied up in a neat little bow but it felt rushed and not thoroughly thought through.

I must admit, I cried when Bishop showed back up to look for Ivy and stood up to his family. Yes, anyone knew it would happen, but come on….the way Bishop loves Ivy is a love I have not seen in male characters in quite awhile. Needless to say, if you do read the first one, be prepared because the sequel is quite predictable to say the least. Good short, sweet dystopian series overall though.

 

My Rating

 

Book 1:

 

Rating 8

Book 2:

 

Rating 5

 

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

May Book Haul (More to Come)!

May Book Haul (More to Come)!



I’m waiting for my package from Book Outlet so that unboxing will come soon! This does not include my library hauls. I’ve been speeding through them and returning them, but reviews are coming on those books.

Have you read any of these?

What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

C.B.H. Reviews: “Spelled” By Betsy Schow

C.B.H. Reviews: “Spelled” By Betsy Schow

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Title: Spelled (Spelled #1)
Author: Betsy Schow
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date:June 2, 2015
Originally Received by Netgalley
Re-read: May 2017

Goodreads Description

Fairy Tale Survival Rule #32: If you find yourself at the mercy of a wicked witch, sing a romantic ballad and wait for your Prince Charming to save the day.

Yeah, no thanks. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the brooding prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Talk about unhappily ever after.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving the kingdom in chaos and her parents stuck in some place called “Kansas.” Now it’s up to Dorthea and her pixed off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse…before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.”

My Review

I originally read this novel back in 2015 before I had this lovely blog and added my reviews outside of Amazon and Goodreads. Back then, re-told fairy tale stories were not as big as they currently are today. Now, we are beginning to see a higher increase in the re-told fairy tale/fantasy category with the Court of Thorns and Roses series, Lunar Chronicles seriesTwists Tale series, Huntedand many more now that we want to see more takes of our beloved fairy tale characters.

Spelled by Betsy Schow, though, is not your average fairy tale re-telling. It’s more like a parody cluster of fairy tale characters overlaying cliches, overlaid by over the top action in this book. Our main character is Dorothy who is a spoiled brat princess who is restricted to her castle because the females of her family are cursed and foretold to destroy the world with fire. Call back to Sleeping Beauty, the kingdom is rid of devices that can create fire and the only way the curse be prevented is the cursed princess be rescued by a prince.

Going back to Dorothy, she despises any of the princes her parents attempt to being to her attention. Dorothy would rather spend money acquiring the latest Glenda fashions and Hans Christian heel collections. Her parents decide enough is enough and set up an arranged marriage between her and prince Kato. You want to see a spoiled little princess have a temper tantrum and basically destroying her kingdom over a wish? It’s not pretty. To be honest, I almost stopped reading because of Dorothy’s immaturity. I get you are trying to change the average fairy tale princess, but if it causes pain for your readers to read about her then you need to tone it down.

The story is filled with hilarious comebacks, changes, and gives a better appreciation for the original material. It contains easter eggs you have to pay extra close attention to unless you’d miss them. Do I recommend this? Yes, but I do not suggest you place it next to your other fairy tale retellings. I believe books like this deserve a category all of their own.

 

Rating 6

 

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

ARC Review: “The Marriage Pact” By Michelle Richmond

ARC Review: “The Marriage Pact” By Michelle Richmond

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Release Date: July 25, 2017

Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion whatsoever.

 

NetGalley Synopsis

In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?
  
Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
           
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .
           
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
           
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
           
And then one of them breaks the rules.
           
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
           
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.”

My Review

Marriage. It’s a chilling subject for me these days. Reaching the age where most of your friends are running off, getting married, having kids is frightening to me. This book did not settle my inner fears in the least. In fact, they increased!

Jeremy and Alice are in their late 30s, successful, and have somewhat good heads on their shoulders. Told through Jeremy’s perspective, he admits in the beginning that the subject of marriage was his idea. Alice, mourning the loss of her father, sparked one of the most important questions any man/woman/etc. could ever ask someone. “Will you marry Me?”

The moment Alice agrees, a chain of events begin starting with their wedding announcement. Alice’s best client in her firm, Finnegan, receives word of the couple’s plans and invites Jeremy and Alice to join him in the secret society known as, “The Pact”. A wooden box arrives on their doorstep with instructions to which they are prohibited to open the box until after their honeymoon. Fast forward, one of Finnegan’s contacts the leaders of “The Pact” and they send a woman by the name of Vivianne to be the couple’s “Host” as she leads Jeremy and Alice into the society.

“The Pact” in it of itself has their own manual the couples need to memorize and live by. If they break the rules, they receive various punishments ranging from silly to severe. And when I say severe, I mean torture, electric shock, unremovable metal braces placed around women’s necks in order to keep them straight, and more. Jeremy and Alice start their journey into this cult, plunging themselves into a world filled with terror and nowhere to run and no way out.

This novel freaked me out in the worst way. If you follow me on Goodreads, read my notes on the book! One moment, I believed Jeremy was falling for the insane punishments “The Pact” was putting his wife through. Then it was as if Alice and Jeremy switched personalities pertaining to the cult! The ending, though, did not live up to the expectations of the novel. It felt rushed and dry, leaving me to wonder what happened to Alice and Jeremy next. As far as I know, this is a standalone novel so I guess we’ll all wonder if they survive……

For a psychological thriller, it’ll keep you on your toes for sure. The writing is solid, but the characters backstories were a bit wonky at times. One moment, you are giving the impression you needed to feel sorry for them while the next you were told they were independent. But, learning from this novel, never accept a wooden box from an Irishman who claims to want the best for your marriage.

 

Rating 7

 

Happy Reading,

~C.C.

 

 

C.H.B. ARC REVIEWS: “Birthright” By Jessica Ruddick (The Legacy Series B.1)

C.H.B. ARC REVIEWS: “Birthright” By Jessica Ruddick (The Legacy Series B.1)

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Available: Amazon/B&N/Goodreads

**Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy courtesy of NetGalley and Penguin House in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review whatsoever.**

 

Goodreads Description

How do you live with yourself when you decide who dies?

Ava Parks would have killed for an iPod for her sixteenth birthday. Anything would have been better than coming into her birthright of being a seeker for the Grim Reaper, an arrangement made by her fallen angel ancestor in exchange for his re-admittance to heaven. And she isn’t just any seeker—she finds souls that have the potential for becoming angels and sentences them to death. A year and two souls into her role as a seeker with her conscience overflowing with guilt, Ava comes up with a plan to thwart the system. When it goes awry, she is forced to submit the name of a classmate, Cole Fowler, an ornery, rough around the edges guy who always seems to come to her rescue, whether she likes it or not. Her feelings for Cole prompt her to intervene, and she saves him from death, upsetting the Grim Reaper’s agenda.

While Ava schemes to find a way to save Cole, she learns he has some secrets of his own. She lets him believe he is protecting her, and not the other way around, until a final showdown with the Grim Reaper forces Ava to make choices Cole may never forgive.”

 

Author Jessica Ruddick gives us a different take on the normal Grim Reaper story. Normally, we are led to believe the Grim Reaper works alone, collecting souls of the dead to transport them to heaven or hell. In this version, the Grim Reaper (actually multiple reapers) have seekers searching for specific people to choose for certain tasks.

 

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For Ava, she determines the most innocent of souls for the Grim Reaper to collect in order to create Heaven’s heavenly angel army. Her and her mother come from a long line of seekers who are sent to different locations in order to pick out the innocents for the Grim Reapers. Ava doesn’t wish to continue this heavy burden any longer and is willing to do anything she can in order to back out of her duties. One of which, was an attempt to take her own life only to discover, hah, she can not die! Yeah, this girl along with her mother are practically immortal until Death decides her time is up. Also she has what I like to call a “Crowley” in her life who gives her assignments and is practically the major authority who has the ability to punish her if deemed necessary.

 

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I call him “Crowley” because, well, if you watch the show Supernatural, he practically IS him!

But now Ava runs into a bit of a problem in the new town her and her mother has moved into. A love interest in the form of Cole Fowler saves her life, foiling her suicide attempt and ends up moving to the forefront in our little tale.  I’ll admit, he’s a breath of fresh air compared to the most recent YA male love interest tropes of today. He owns the bad boy air about him but carries his own without being overbearing, whiny, or pushy. He’s the kind of character who does not have to be a love interest but even a brother-like character if need be. Personally, I’d choose him to be the brotherly kind due to the fact he is not the average love interest.

The story brings a pleasant twist to the average Grim Reaper story, adds a new kick to the YA paranormal genre, and gives girls a reliable female protagonist who fights for what she wants instead of merely talking about it. I believe this new series will spark a new brand of followers to the YA community, and I am thrilled I had the honor to read this story. I happily look forward to the second chapter in The Legacy Series.

My Rating: 9 out of 10 Book Charms!

 

Happy Reading!

~C.C.