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The Butterfly Garden – Book Review

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

I am not even sure where to begin on this one. Having just read a psychological thriller I enjoyed so much I wanted to kind of stay within the same genre. Thtbfgis one kept popping up in my recommendations on Amazon. The cover is so simple and creepy that I finally gave it a go. Boy was I not disappointed.

Kidnapped girls, marked with butterfly tattoos and hidden away in a secret garden. This book is so completely disturbing because it could actually happen. Or could be happening right now and nobody would be the wiser.

The girls are taken and the kidnapper who is known by the girls as the Gardener tattoos them and makes them live in his Butterfly Garden. They are literally living inside a greenhouse within another greenhouse on his estate. The story is told by one of the survivors after the Garden is discovered. It alternates briefly between her and the FBI agent. Even though the content was disturbing, I was captivated. I couldn’t put it down. Reading about these girls and the bonds they had together when they had no choice but to live their lives out in this garden was fascinating. I couldn’t help putting myself in their shoes (or wings). The Gardener was obviously sick and twisted but it was hard to hate him, he cherished them and wanted to preserve their beauty. It was depraved and intriguing. Definitely a must read. 4 stars!

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Exhume – Book Review

Exhume by Danielle Girard (Dr. Schwartzman , #1) exhume

Psychological Thrillers are hit or miss with me usually. I either hate them or love them. This one, I loved. I’ve never read this author before. This was my choice for the August 2016 Kindle First read.

The one thing I can say that bothered me was the fact that Dr. Schwartzman was mostly referred to as “Schwartzman” through most of the novel. I am not even sure why it bothered me but it did. I found myself calling her Anna a lot of the time.

Anna is the ME in San Francisco where she ended up after leaving a psycho husband. Sort of Sleeping With the Enemyish but without the fake death. She is called to investigate a murder of a woman that’s her spitting image. This is the start of a series of events and I had no idea how the story was going to end up. I kept guessing and kept getting it wrong.

Anna or ok, fine, Schwartzman, was a very likable woman and you couldn’t help but root for her. She was strong and cautious and at times didn’t always make the right choices, however, I think that made her more real. The ex-husband. Wow a total and complete narcissistic psychopath.

Overall this book was enjoyable and fast paced, I had to know what happened and read every chance I could get. 4 stars on this one.

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Harry Potter and The Cursed Child – Book Review (or Book Rambling, you decide)

Do not read this if you do not wish to read spoilers. I don’t intend to spoil the storyhpcc but I am going to mention something specifically and it will confuse you.

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by John Tiffany & Jack Thorne Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling

I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this. I am not fond of plays. I find them lacking in setting up a scene. I want to know the curtain colors, the smells in the room, the color of hair, and all the other things plays scripts seem (in my humble opinion) to lack. I want it all, not just a brief description of the scene. I was in denial about reading it and it took all of two days of it being out for me to hop on Amazon and order it. I had to know.

About 15 pages in and I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t care about the play form at all after that. I found for this book it helped me read it faster because the dialogue was quick. To be back in the world of HP was wonderful. I missed them so much, it was like not seeing family members for years. I loved that Ron, Hermoine, Harry, and Ginny were older and that it included some aspects about getting older within it at one point Ron jokes about sitting and it was easy to connect with the older versions of them. Though I have to admit I still pictured them in my head as the younger versions of themselves.

I was nicely surprised that it wasn’t all just a spoof or fluff. The relationship strain between Harry and Albus is something that I believe any parent can relate with. As a parent, I don’t always know what the right thing to say is and often times say the complete opposite of what I intended. Harry does this quite a lot and it felt very real. It was also great to see Ginny and Harry’s relationship as sort of the same just more grown up. Ginny always was a no BS kind of character.

The use of the time turner and Albus wanting to go back and change history and bring Cedric back was not something I would have dreamed up. Scorpius Malfoy and Albus Potter being best friends in Slytherin was kind of predictable but it was nice to see a Potter and a Malfoy sort of switch roles. Scorpius being the bookworm, think first kid and Albus being sort of spontaneous and not thinking about consequences until later. I also enjoyed that Draco and Harry had to join forces to help their sons.

Reading about Snape again was fantastic. He was still the most wretched, brave, and noble character as before. The alternate reality aspect was different and helped make the story more unique.

I am glad I took the plunge and read it even though it didn’t feel quite the same as the original Harry Potter series, I don’t think anything would ever be the same.

 

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The One and Only Ivan – Book Review

The-One-and-Only-IvanThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is not a book I would have chosen on my own. It’s not that I’m opposed to reading children’s books, but I hadn’t even heard of it until my 3rd grader brought it home for his book report book. Something about the cover art drew me in. I hate to admit it but I judge books by their covers. I don’t know what it was about this cover, the spotlight on Ivan and Ruby just made me want to read it.

The cover pulled me in and then the story was icing on the cake. The chapters ranged from two sentences to a few pages and this is something I happen to love. It makes me want to keep reading. Ivan is a gorilla living in an enclosure at a roadside big top in a mall. His life is all about his simple art and TV. He has animal friends, one of which is a mangy dog that sleeps on his big belly. A human named Julia sits and does her homework and draws with Ivan, while her dad cleans. Ivan is content in his world until a baby elephant named Ruby is brought to the Big Top Mall. Once Ruby enters the picture, Ivan starts remembering where he came from and uses his art with the hope that the future will be better for them all. one-and-only-ivan-w-ruby

The story is interesting, sad, happy, and hopeful. I am so happy I picked it up and you won’t regret this wonderful story. Patricia Castelao is the illustrator and there is something so real about her illustrations. Every time I turned the page and saw one of them, it was exactly what I pictured in my mind. Real, right down to Julia’s socks. Ivan 2

My 9 year old loved this book as much as I did. He was completely engaged in the story and even as we were working on his book report, he referred back to the book so I could read passages with him. This is a great middle grade book but adults will love it too. I think what my son loved the most was that this was based on a real gorilla. I think I will be adding some more Katherine Applegate to my to-be-read list.

 

 

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A Thousand Boy Kisses – Book Review

A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole

I have been staring at this blog post in my drafts box for almost a week. I thought I was going to be over the moon about this one and I wasn’t. I was disappointed however, the more I think on the story the more I didn’t hate it. I would say it’s more of a 3.5 star book rather than a 3 star book. ATBK

This story is about Poppy & Rune. At the age of 5 Rune moves in next door in the room opposite Poppy’s and they are best friends instantly. Poppy then receives a boy kiss jar from her Mamaw (thank goodness I watch Raising Hope or I’d have had no idea how to pronounce that) at the age of 8. The kiss jar is filled with paper hearts that she’s supposed to write down all the super special boy kisses in. The reasoning behind the jar is Mamaw’s fondest memories of Poppy’s Pawpaw are all his kisses they shared together and how much the ones where her “heart almost burst” meant to her. She wanted to share that with her granddaughter. I thought this was incredibly endearing and original.

Here’s where I start to get iffy. At the same young age of 8 Rune gives Poppy her first boy kiss. The kiss itself didn’t bother me, having an 9 year old boy, I know girls is something that he thinks about it, however, i know he doesn’t think “forever always” when he thinks about them. After that kiss and for the rest of the book they are so in love. They are kids and it seemed a little to unrealistic.

Poppy & Rune grow to age 15 and then Rune has to move back to Oslo, Norway. They are both heartbroken. Rune vows to hate his Pappa and Poppy throws herself into her schooling until she cuts of all contact with Rune for two years with no explanation as to why. Two years later Rune moves back with a whole new rebel without a cause attitude and is trying to unravel what went wrong. He’s definitely not my dream guy, long blonde hair, all black clothing, skinny jeans, boots, way to emo for me. And Poppy really seemed like she was stuck in her 8 year old self. She was constantly wearing giant bows in her hair. Maybe I’ve been in the 2000’s for too long but teenagers, especially seniors do not do that. It’s way too much innocence in this day and age. Unrealistic.

 

I very much enjoy descriptive writing. I like to know what colors, smells, and sounds the characters are seeing, smelling, and hearing. I like to know everything. It’s what attracts me to reading in the first place. I feel transported into that world for the time I’m reading. Ms. Cole’s descriptions of the world around them was wonderfully written. I wanted to be in that Blossom field. I could almost smell it and feel the sun and wind on my face. I loved the way she described Poppy playing the cello and the way Poppy felt while playing and what the music itself did to her.

(I actually looked up Bach’s Cello Suites to listen to while I read. Now it’s my go to music for when I’m at work and need to concentrate but would like music too.)

Overall I’d say it was a  good story, I just felt as if it was a little too much, “I love you so much forever and always” for me and I’m a sap. Like this quote

When you’re near, my heart doesn’t sigh, it soars.

What? I mean I just couldn’t get past it. It was lines like that over and over. It didn’t really seem believable.

I did cry but I didn’t cry those big fat ugly tears everyone keeps talking about. I also didn’t enjoy the epilogue. I love happily ever afters as much as the next reader but I don’t always feel the story has to go there. Sometimes stories end sad, it’s part of life. I felt this epilogue was a little to perfectly wrapped in a neat little bow. It annoyed me, a lot.

I’m definitely going to try another Tillie Cole book. I enjoyed her writing style and even though I wasn’t over the moon for Rune & Poppy and their journey, I did like them and I rooted for them. I feel like her writing is definitely worth another try.

 

 

 

 

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Never Never Series- Book Review

Never Never

Never Never by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

I blew through these and not only because they were novellas but because I could not put them down. I had to know.

I’m a girl who has a love hate relationship with suspense/mysteries. I love them because I love trying to piece things together and see what happens in the end. I hate them because I absolutely cannot stand the wait. I feel like I cannot read fast enough. I especially love them when I don’t see what’s coming.

Written in alternating point of views, we start of with Charlie in a classroom. She hasn’t a clue how she got there, who she is, or any immediate memories. Then we go to Silas and he cannot remember anything either. I will admit at first it was strange and I found myself being sort of annoyed. As if I wasn’t in on something. A few chapters later and I was past the point of no return.

We follow Silas and Charlie through their journey to find out who they are. Through their days in school and meeting their friends and families for the first time, you feel like you’re there with them. Their anxiety about who they are and why they don’t know is so real. I felt as if I was with them on Bourbon Street trying to figure things out.

There isn’t a whole lot I can say without spoiling. You just have to go for the ride yourself. Hoover is one of my favorite contemporary writers and this didn’t disappoint although I think I would have preferred one book but it was fun and the cover art on all the books is beautiful and sort of foreshadowing.

Destiny. Fate. They are real. I believe that.

 

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Darken the Stars – Book Review

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The Kricket Series Book#3 – Darken the Stars by Amy A. Bartol

The other books in this series are Book #1 Under Different Stars & Book #2 Sea of Stars.

Ok, so normally, I’d write a book review after I read each book in a series and then maybe if I had more to say I would reflect on the series as a whole.

This one is going to be different mainly because when I first read book 1 in January of 2014 I didn’t know it was a series and book 2 hadn’t been published yet. Then I read book 2 in April of 2015 and I didn’t re-read them before I read book 3. I should have. Or I shouldn’t have. I don’t know.

Quick synopsis – Kricket is a teen living in Chicago having been through the foster system. She’s longing for a home, somewhere she belongs. She finds out she is really from a planet called Ethar where her parents were from different houses of the five on Ethar. She has psychic abilities and can project herself to places and see futures. She is being hunted by two houses due to a prophecy.

I fell in love with this series. I loved books 1 and 2. And even though I hated how it wrapped up I did love this one too.

Kricket is a strong girl and I was instantly captured by her spirit and determination. A girl who can take care of herself gets an A+ in my book. The tension between her and Trey and her and Kyon was palpable and drew me in, I wanted to root for them and I did. They just made sense and I could feel the love they have for each other. The overall love and action in both books was refreshing because usually it’s one or the other in books. I did enjoy Ms. Bartol’s writing style. The descriptions of a planet that does not exist outside of these pages was amazing. I wanted to be there with them. I wanted to see these gorgeous but deadly flowers and play with all the technology.

Then here comes Darken the Stars and in reading I for sure thought I knew what was coming. I was wrong. This book left me so angry I wanted to chuck my Kindle across the room. Sigh. I hate it when that happens.

 

SPOILER below this point. 

I felt cheated. As if the author had a word quota she could not exceed and had gotten there before she realized it. It felt as though Kricket deserved better. This girl, this beautifully resilient girl, who saved an entire planet ended up alone. I’m sure the feminist inside me is screaming “are you insane” but some characters just deserve their happy ending. Who knows, maybe I had one too many hormones out of control when I was on the last few chapters of this book and couldn’t deal. Maybe I will feel differently the further I get away from it or maybe if I re-read them again I won’t hate the end so much, but not right now. Right now I’m furious.

And to be honest, I don’t even know which HEA I would have wanted for her. One with Kyon who although was broken and in need of revenge loved Kricket probably more than himself. Or one with Trey who was the soldier trying to always do right by everyone. I’m not sure. But I do know I feel like this didn’t get closure.

Rawr. I don’t know. If you read this, God bless you. I feel as though my head is spinning. I am putting this in the re-read column.

3.5-4 star book for me.