Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Woman In The Window by AJ Finn

The Woman In The Window by AJ Finn
Release Date - January 2, 2018
Publisher Website - Harper Collins Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  427 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times--and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, and their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.
The thriller genre is a strong and steady source of buzz worthy books. The Woman In The Window is one of the newest to capture a lot of interest so I was eager to dive in. It's an addictive, if at times predictable, read that I felt had a much stronger back half when compared to its beginning.

Anna is the queen of unreliable narrators. Her use of alcohol, medications, and her overall mental state make her version of events untrustworthy. This is something that we, as a reader, know about her almost immediately. The most important thing, with a story like this one, is that we connect with Anna. We need to want to follow her on her journey, and the novel succeeded. I felt invested enough in her that I wanted to keep reading. I did, at times, find myself jarred out of the story by decisions Anna would make that seemed out of character. I also, at times, felt like Anna was a female character written in the male gaze. It made it so that I wasn't able to fall completely into the story, but it something I predict many people will not even notice.

The use of old movies, especially older thrillers, is done masterfully. It's a natural fit for this genre, and this particular story. Read Window is so obviously an influence, but you can see the love for these classic films throughout the entire narrative. It will make you immediately want to have a movie marathon, and also ensures that this novel reads in a very cinematic way. It's all too easy to picture the movie that would be made out of the novel, and I think that is part of what makes it work. It is the literary equivalent of this big summer popcorn movies and that made the movie references work all the more.

As this novel feels familiar to those who are fans of this genre there are plenty of reveals and twists that are easy to see coming. I predicted a majority of them, but there was a moment that I did not see coming and that made the ending for me. I felt the ending was incredibly strong as a result. It's was a satisfying payoff to the story that felt like a nod to all the classic thrillers Ann was a fan of.

The mystery element is made all the more rich by having the dual mystery unravel at the same time. We have the events that lead to Anna's agoraphobia, but we also have the mystery of what Anna sees through the window. These truths are revealed in small chunks as the story progresses. The pacing of two compliment each other as it ensure that there is a sense of urgency in the reader, and I think it was smart to include the dual mysteries because they work together to hold up the novel.

Ultimately The Woman In The Window will feel similar to other books in the genre. If these books are akin to comfort food to you than The Woman In The Window will be exactly what you're looking for. It may not offer anything new or unique, but there is something to be said for getting exactly what you expect from a book. It's an enjoyable enough mystery that I predict will generate quite a bit of buzz. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

New To My Book Closet

It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews)

A few exciting titles made their way into my mailbox this week.

First up is a book I borrowed from the library after seeing it all over my Twitter feed over the holidays. I hear it is a cute fluffy read and I am excited to start it once I have a chance.

Prince In Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm (goodreads

A huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada (specifically HCC Frenzy) for this package of awesome. I am so excited about both of these titles and cannot wait to read them.

These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch (goodreads)
Puddin' by Julie Murphy (goodreads)

What bookish goodies made their way into your mailbox this week? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Weekly Obsessions

The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

Lots of exciting things to share this week! It's been a fun week of me flailing with my friends about a wide variety of stuff, but the biggest freak out definitely happened because of Zac Efron.


Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile begins production 

Zac Efron shared this photo on his Instagram account and basically caused me to have a bunch of discussions about it with my friends. We all had a lot to say about this photo.

copyright @ Zac Efron (linked from his Instagram)

Zac is, of course, playing Ted Bundy (if the 'Meet Ted' caption didn't already clue you in). This offers up the first look of him in character. The movie started shooting this past Thursday according to the director (and what I assume Zac was acknowledging with this photo).


Porcelain Wolf Bath Bombs

I recently stumbled upon this bath bomb company that makes these amazing sounding horror movie inspired bath bombs. I pretty much want to try all of them. It's such a unique premise and offers up some pretty interesting sounding bath bombs.

Here are a few of my favourites from the website:

Prom Queen (inspired by Carrie)

According to the website it smells like Caramel Apple and will turn your water a blood red as it dissolves. The dark red part on top is a 'coconut glycerine soap'.

JAWSome (inspired by Jaws)

This one has a scent called  Lathyrus Odoratus Beach Breeze and it comes with a cute little Life Savers candy attached to the box. It starts off turning your water a pretty blue colour until the dark red inside starts to seep out giving the 'shark attack' effect. I was able to get one at Hot Topic and am fully in love with these bath bombs now that I have used it. It's a creepy (yet fun) effect and perfect for those who are horror movie fans. 

The Oogie Man (inspired by The Nightmare Before Christmas)

The scent listed for this one is Gummy Worms which I am guessing is fruity and sweet. It also apparently comes with a pack of gummy worms candy for you to eat while enjoying this bath bomb. I really love the fun little touches (like the lights around the box) to the packaging for these.

The Nightmare (inspired by Nightmare On Elm Street)

The scent listed for this one is Cotton Candy and it turns your bath a blood red colour. The bomb itself is made to look like Freddy Kruger's sweater and the slashes on the packaging are a nice touch.

I am hoping that Hot Topic gets more of these in as I only saw JAWSome and Arachnophobia while I was there. These seem to be harder to ship to Canada, so I may have to enlist the help of a friend to get some of these.

New York Magazine's Best Performers Shot Horror Film series

I stumbled across this purely by accident. I noticed a link to New York Magazine's list of the Ten Best Performers of 2017. They celebrated by shooting some horror inspired shorts with the actors on the list. 

Actors like Timothee Chalamet, Nicole Kidman, Saoirse Ronan, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Daniel Kaluuya (just to name a few) made the list and offer up chilling performances in videos entitled things like "The Vampire", "The Cannibal", and "The Psycho Killer" (so most of them are playing off horror movie tropes).  

Timothee Chalamet as The Cannibal

They all are excellent and worth a watch if you're at all interested. You can see all of the videos by visiting the New York Times website (the videos will auto play). They are only a few minutes each (at most) each offers up their own brand of chills.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Key To Everything by Paula Stokes

The Key To Everything by Paula Stokes
Release Date - January 9, 2018
Publisher Website - self published 
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  328 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
College senior Oakland Fuller has always believed in signs and soulmates, so when both a therapist and a fortuneteller say that her repeated relationship failures are due to unresolved feelings for her high school boyfriend, Seth, Oakland tries desperately to get back in touch with him. Problem: Seth isn’t responding to her online messages.

To rescue Oakland from a pathetic Christmas break of sitting in front of the computer, her best friend Morgan books the two of them on a guided excursion of Thailand. When the girls meet a pair of American soldiers in Bangkok, Oakland takes Morgan’s advice and engages in a little harmless holiday hooking up. Sergeant Tyson Banks is the perfect mix of sexy and fun. Two weeks with him might just turn out to be the best relationship Oakland has ever had.

Until the day she spots someone familiar across a crowded temple complex—it’s Seth! Somehow the boy she’s been trying to reconnect with is in Bangkok too. If that’s not a sign, then what is?

Filed with friendship, romance, and gorgeous faraway settings, The Key to Everything is a book for anyone who's ever dreamed of finding love when (or where) they least expected it.

Contains explicit content. Recommended for ages 16 and up. 
Paula Stokes has more than proven herself capable of writing within various genres so I was intrigued when I heard she'd be writing her first New Adult novel. The Key To Everything ended up being a read that, along with being sexy, ignites your travel lust. It also showcases Paula's versatility as an author along with being a quick, fun read.

The travel parts of the novel are incredibly appealing. They read as more realistic than some of the other novels that have I've read with travel elements in them. The characters have to use frequent travel points, more economic means of travel, and stay in more modest accommodations in order to make their travel plans happen. It made the story feel more relatable, and made the travel seem more accessible than it has in previous novels I've read. There is still that element of wanderlust and wish fulfillment but it is painted in a more accessible way. I wish the culture and history would have been explored more, but it just entices me to do some of my own research on the locations mentioned.

The romance is both a huge part of the character development that Oakland goes through and smoking hot. There is scorching chemistry between the characters that is evident in every interaction they share. Those who read the synopsis may think that there is a bit of a triangle, but it really is not one. At least, not in the way you might think or expect. It's really more about Oakland's character arc and how she grows as a person due to the experiences she is having. The connection between the characters is just a cute bonus that adds to the novels charm.

The friendship in this novel between Oakland and Morgan is just as important as the romance. Morgan and Oakland balance each other and push each other in a lot of ways. Oakland's journey would not have been complete without Morgan. Even when there was friction in the friendship, I always felt like they would be there for each other. It was nice to see this kind of friendship and have it take such a vital role in a New Adult novel.

The real heart of this novel is Oakland's journey. She has to reconcile some things about herself and have some self discovery while on this trip. She becomes so fixated on what she thinks she should want that she ignores what is right in front of her. This fixation makes her act recklessly but I think the fact that she wouldn't make my choices is what I loved most about this novel. They choices she makes on her journey felt right for the character and that, for me, made all the difference.

I hope that this is just the beginning of Paula Stokes writing New Adult novels as I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I highly recommend The Key Of Everything for anyone who wants a New Adult read with a strong character arc. It's a perfect book for those wanting a little New Adult sexiness but still want a great plot that focuses on the characters.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday .... Stay Sweet

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pick is Stay Swee by Siobhan Vivian

Here is the Goodreads synopsis 
From the author of The Last Boy and Girl in the World and The List comes a bold and sweet summer read about first love, feminism, and ice cream.

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best for friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…
This sounds like a perfect summer read to enjoy with some ice cream. It's got female friendships, potential for romance, and a synopsis that invokes summer so easily.

I am excited to read this because it seems like it really focuses on female empowerment and love that the ice cream shop has always been owned and ran by local girls.

Expected release date - April 24, 2018

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Release Date - January 16, 2017
Publisher Website - Harper Collins Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  432 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.
Disappearances, murder, boarding schools, and romance. Truly Devious has all the makings of a great YA mystery read. It starts with a intense first chapter and quickly sets up what is an intriguing mystery. That is, however, all this book really does - it sets up the next two installments in this series..

This is the type of book that is really a small piece of a larger story arc. This installment doesn't wrap up any plot points in a nice little bow. It doesn't have a conclusion by the end of the novel. It's not a novel that could stand on its own. It does, however, set up the next two books in this series rather well. This means that the overarching plot is only moved forward a bit, and that pacing may feel slower to some people as a result. It's a story that involves patience to reach the payoff, but the potential is there for it to be worth the investment..

Stevie Bell is pretty much anyone who is interested in true crime. She listens to true crime podcasts. She analyzes and categorizes her surroundings. She's smart and a little awkward. You'll pretty much love her immediately. She uses her mind to work out problems, and get out of situations. I am eager to see that continue to grow and her have a battle of wills with "Truly, Devious" as the story progresses.

Part of what makes the mystery element of this novel work is the setting. Ellingham Academy is filled with tunnels, hidden rooms, and a feeling of isolation. Locked room mysteries (aka mysteries where the suspect cannot be an outsider) are some of my favourites and this one has that feel. The remoteness of the school, mixed with the overall creepy atmosphere make the logical suspects those within the school. It creates an instant case of unease because one of the characters we're getting to know is, obviously, hiding something. This element of the story is done incredibly well with the tone being perfectly captured.

The two interconnected mysteries compliment each other seamlessly, and increases the chance for a least one of them to pull off a genuine surprise twist. I liked the 'flashback' chapters filling in the older mystery while we saw the pieces to this new mystery start to fall into place. It's done well and helps add to the atmosphere of the novel.

Mystery fans will delight in having two puzzles to unravel and eagerly theorize possible suspects until the next book is released. I think this series might be one to binge read in one sitting, but fans eager for another novel from Maureen will not be disappointed.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

New To My Book Closet

It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews)

Only one book to share with you this week and it is one I borrowed from my local library. I decided to read it because of Rebecca Serle's recommendation to check out this book.

Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson (goodreads)

What bookish goodies made their way into your mailbox this week? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

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