ARC Reviews – June 2015

This month, half of my ARCs had a musician love interest, which is funny, but also says a lot about me personally.

  • Grunge Gods and Graveyards – Kimberly G. Giarratano: “I was intrigued by the cover, and I’m automatically drawn to books where the love interest is a musician (it was an bonus that he also happened to be a ghost), so I figured I’d give this one a shot. I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would!” (4 interrobangs)
  • The Lady in Blue – Kimberly G. Giarratano: “..since I was intrigued by the Lady in Blue in [Grunge Gods and Graveyards], I was more than happy to find out a little bit more about Lana Bloom.This self-published sequel came out a couple of months ago and it does a fine job of filling in the gaps.” (5 interrobangs)
  • Devil’s Daughter – Hope Schenk-de Michele and Paul Marquez: “It had a great plot and some interesting moments but, while it had an open ending, I’m not tearing down the house in anticipating for the sequel. Definitely a good change from most of the other angel-based YA out there, though.” (3.5 interrobangs)
  • Fractured Dream – K.M. Randall: “It wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read ever, but I couldn’t really get into it (despite finishing it!). I’m certain there are people who will devour this, but I just couldn’t connect with anyone enough to care what happened to them.” (2.5 interrobangs)
  • Date with a Rockstar – Sarah Gagnon: “This was one of those books where part of me was going “wow, this is cheesy/dramatic/over-the-top” and another part of me was going “I LOVE EVERYTHING THAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW”.” (4 interrobangs)
  • The Heartbreakers – Ali Novak: “If you’re in the mood for a fluffy fanfic, then this will be your jam. There are some serious moments (Cara does have cancer, after all), but it veers around truly emotional territories.” (2.5 interrobangs)

Overall, it was an interesting month for ARCs, with a nice mix of hits and misses. What have you read this month?

ARC Review: The Lady in Blue – Kimberly G. Giarratano

The Lady in Blue – Kimberly G. Giarratano

25465559The Lady in Blue stole a car and fled Ash.
Out on Devlin Road she emerged from a crash.
She wandered the woods with her head dripping blood.
Then drowned in the river in water and mud.

All her life criminology student Liz Bloom has heard this rhyme, meant to scare young campers. When she’s about to take on her first cold case, Liz learns the eerie song is about her great aunt Lana. Liz isn’t big on studying, but she does have one advantage most criminologists don’t — she can speak to the dead.
In 1955, Lana Bloom was an eighteen-year-old beauty with Hollywood dreams who fell in love with a stranger. When Lana died in a bloody car crash, all signs pointed to the mysterious man who was never seen again.
As Lana unravels the details surrounding her last week of life, the tale she weaves for Liz is one of desire, betrayal, and murder. But if Lana can’t identify her killer, not only will a murderer escape punishment, but her ghostly form will cease to exist. And Liz will have failed the most important assignment of all – family.

Release Date: April 30th, 2015

First of all, a huge thank you to the author, Kimberly G. Giarratano for sending me a copy of this book! I read (and really enjoyed!) the “prequel”, Grunge Gods and Graveyards, and, since I was intrigued by the Lady in Blue in that story, I was more than happy to find out a little bit more about Lana Bloom.

This self-published sequel came out a couple of months ago and it does a fine job of filling in the gaps.

What I liked: 

-the plot (I feel like there’s a pun there, since the majority of the book technically takes place in a graveyard…). As the synopsis mentions, Liz interviews her ghostly great-aunt in order to get to the bottom of her decades-old murder. Lana’s memories are interspersed with present-day interactions with Liz. I found it funny that Liz’s reactions – which occasionally included swearing – often startled Lana who was not used to girls talking like that.

-I suspected something was off with Andrew right away, but that didn’t stop me from completely falling for their relationship. The setting – the 1950s – was perfect for their old-school romance and it made the epilogue that much more sweet.

-the culprit. I didn’t guess who it was until the very last clue. I wanted to blame a particular character because he was horrible, but I was satisfied with how everything tied together. It made sense for this person to be the murderer and I loved how Lana got her revenge in the end.

-the writing. It’s smooth and draws you in. There aren’t too many unnecessary details and you always end up liking the characters – or at least rooting for them. I finished the first book in a day, and with this being so short, it didn’t feel like any time at all.

What I didn’t like:

-I can’t think of anything in particular that bothered me. Maybe the length, because I really liked Liz and wouldn’t have minded hanging out with her for a bit longer, but since it was Lana’s story, it made sense that Liz had (relatively) limited screen time.

If you’re looking for a short ghost story, I recommend this one – but I’d definitely read Grunge Gods and Graveyards first!

Rating:

5 interrobangs

Fiction Friday Round-Up – June 5th, 2015

This was a pretty busy week; among other things, Jane and I launched our new pop culture website, Mind the Gap (which you should totally check out because we have a lot of great content!). But I also managed to completely catch up on the Flavia de Luce series, and finished a couple of ARCs. As always, please click the titles for the full review!

  • As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust – Alan Bradley: “The series is no longer simply a collection of unrelated mysteries; it started to hint at the bigger picture and Flavia’s role within that larger narrative.”
  • Devil’s Daughter – Hope Schenk de-Michele and Paul Marquez: “It had a great plot and some interesting moments but, while it had an open ending, I’m not tearing down the house in anticipating for the sequel. Definitely a good change from most of the other angel-based YA out there, though.”
  • Grunge Gods and Graveyards – Kimberly G. Giarratano: “If I was trying to pitch this book, I’d say it was a combination of Melissa Marr’s Made for You and Elizabeth Chandler’s Kissed by an Angel but with more ghosts and, well, grunge (those are all good things, by the way).”

Last week, I read a truly disappointing ARC:

  • Beyond Clueless – Linas Alsenas: “I’m sure there’s an audience for it, but this is one of those rare cases where I feel too old to read this and I think it would be better received by readers aged 12-14”.

But I also read a great female-centric comic book, so it sort of evened out!

  • Rat Queens Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery – Kurtis J. Wiebe: “There are also light, funny moments in between all the fighting; whether it’s Betty packing candy and drugs for dinner again or Dee being anti-social i.e. reading a book at a party, you get a good glimpse at the queens’ personalities.”

ARC Review: Grunge Gods and Graveyards – Kimberly G. Giarratano

Grunge Gods and Graveyards – Kimberly G. Giarratano

20887429Lainey Bloom’s high school senior year is a complete disaster. The popular clique, led by mean girl Wynter Woods, bullies her constantly. The principal threatens not to let her graduate with the class of 1997 unless she completes a major research project. And everyone blames her for the death of Wynter’s boyfriend, Danny Obregon.

Danny, a gorgeous musician, stole Lainey’s heart when he stole a kiss at a concert. But a week later, he was run down on a dangerous stretch of road. When he dies in her arms, she fears she’ll never know if he really would have broken up with Wynter to be with her.

Then his ghost shows up, begging her to solve his murder. Horrified by the dismal fate that awaits him if he never crosses over, Lainey seeks the dark truth amidst small town secrets, family strife, and divided loyalties. But every step she takes toward discovering what really happened the night Danny died pulls her further away from the beautiful boy she can never touch again.

Release Date: May 31st, 2014

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I was intrigued by the cover, and I’m automatically drawn to books where the love interest is a musician (it was an bonus that he also happened to be a ghost), so I figured I’d give this one a shot. I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would!

What I liked:

-the fact that it takes place in the nineties. Admittedly, I would have been 7 when this story takes place, so my memories of the early nineties are pretty fuzzy, but, as a music fan, it was interesting to see what songs/bands were mentioned and how the different bands separated the different groups of people (i.e. mean girl Wynter is a Spice Girls fan, while Danny is all about the Afghan Whigs).

-the characters. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of them, but they ended up growing on me to the point that I was actually invested in their story. When I started, I got The Hollow (Jessica Verday) vibes, and since that’s one of those books where I loved the concept but hated everything else (especially the characters), I was a little worried.

It worked out, though, and, even though I didn’t love Lainey’s best friend Wilder to begin with, once I hit a certain point, I started to understand her more. Plus, you actually feel sad when Lainey and Danny interact because they literally – physically – can’t be together (or can they?) since he’s, you know, dead. As tragic as their story is, I liked that he was logical enough to try to convince her to move on so that she wouldn’t waste her life on a ghost. Which is more than can be said for the love interest in The Hollow.

-the mystery. Eventually, it becomes pretty obvious who was behind everything, but the story was woven together nicely and there were very few (if any) moments where you felt like the author was just pulling plot points out of thin air. Everything connected and was believable within the novel’s world.

-the Lady in Blue. She had a great back story and I wanted to know more about her, but the ending set up the second book (something I both like and don’t like).

What I didn’t like:

-Ghost Danny doesn’t show up until 30% of the way through. By that point, I was getting impatient, but I don’t think his “late” appearance really affected the way the rest of the book played out.

-Wynter was such a stereotypical mean girl. She served her purpose, but that didn’t mean I had to like her.

If I was trying to pitch this book, I’d say it was a combination of Melissa Marr’s Made for You and Elizabeth Chandler’s Kissed by an Angel but with more ghosts and, well, grunge (those are all good things, by the way).

Rating:

4 interrobangs