Review: Sea of Doubt by Jeremy D. Holden

seaofdoubtSea of Doubt: The Greatest Story Ever Sold by Jeremy D. Holden

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Mal Thomas Mystery Series

Date Published: October 2nd, 2016

Publisher: Clean Publishing

Pages: 252 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: After leaving behind a brilliant, but emotionally exhausting career in advertising, Mal Thomas wants nothing more than to enjoy the peace and serenity of the home he and his wife share in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. That serenity is interrupted when, seemingly out of nowhere, Mal gets a call that pulls him back into his old world, and on a path to undertaking an extraordinary assignment: Alfredo Baptiste, the world’s most powerful and mysterious industrialist wants Mal to promote the alleged second coming of the Messiah.  

As Mal and his team of cynical “Mad” men and women confront their own doubts about the validity of Baptiste’s seemingly ridiculous claim that his adopted son Sebastian is this new Messiah, they can’t resist the challenge, and find themselves thrust into a world of greed and revenge.

In a fast moving and often sardonic narrative that crisscrosses New York, North Carolina, Miami, and Buenos Aires, Sea of Doubt has its roots in our endless obsession with fame and pop-culture. As Mal’s team develops an unstoppable global campaign, a worldwide media feeding frenzy ensues, causing people to set aside all logic and reason, leading to tragic consequences.

Baptiste’s motivation is ultimately revealed in a twisted and unexpected ending as parallel worlds and a seismic conspiracy explode in an ending that will make you wonder how you didn’t see it coming earlier.

Sea of Doubt provides a window into human nature and media driven mass persuasion, forcing us to look at consequences of the choices we make. You will laugh out loud at the absurdity of the challenges that Mal and his team find themselves confronted with, while at the same time being forced to examine the role we all play in enabling the media to shape our thinking, and dictate our lives.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I had some hesitations going into this novel, as I was not sure it was quite the type of story that would really interest me. The idea of looking at advertising from a psychological perspective very much piqued my curiosity—I find it fascinating to see how certain media tactics are designed to affect us all both individually and as a society. On the other side of things, I am not typically a huge fan of novels that delve too deeply into the topic of religion, and I didn’t know what to expect in that area. It’s not that I am disinterested and much more that I feel religion is a very private subject, so I hoped it would not put me off.

However, I absolutely could not have predicted how much I would end up truly enjoying this novel. The synopsis does not even begin to cover all the unique aspects of this engrossing and fast-paced narrative. And with an incredibly unexpected twist in the final chapters, even though it felt a bit rushed into the plot, I was kept on the edge of my seat all the way through.

In this novel, we follow Mal Thomas—a retired advertising agent who gets roped back in to work on his craziest assignment yet. He is called in to collaborate with his former advertising company, CREATIF, by one of the world’s most powerful men, Alfredo Baptiste. Baptiste claims that his adopted son, Sebastian, is the Messiah, and requests Mal and his former CREATIF team’s help in introducing this topic to the world. Despite his personal doubts, Mal is taken by Baptiste’s sincerity and agrees to assist him, but not all is as it seems. Some people’s true motives are not clear, and this entire process leads to shocking and devastating consequences that no one saw coming.

Following a short initial hook, the novel starts out at a bit of a slow pace as Holden introduces us to the main characters and their backstories. This could have easily made it a bit harder to get into, but I felt he did a good job of not only carefully constructing and acquainting us with the characters, but also of immediately bringing them to life. And very briefly, after the introduction of the main plot line, the speed ramps up exponentially.

We are quickly swept up into the life of Mal Thomas and his colleagues as they tackle this controversial and seemingly impossible task of convincing the world that the second coming of the Messiah is indeed happening. Figuring out the psychology of marketing something as stunning as this is going to be the biggest challenge they have ever faced. Not only do they have to contend with the resistance and backlash that is sure to come from the public, they have to wrestle with their own personal doubts and skepticism.

I really enjoyed this peek at the behind-the-scenes workings of mass media and advertising, and the planning that goes into campaigns that are effective on the public. We get to see the sort of power these images have over all of us—whether we realize it or not—as well as the underlying purposes that these promotions and movements can have. As shown here in this story, there are both good and bad intentions floating around in this aspect of society. Sometimes, these movements can spark wonderful things, bringing people together as a community. At other times however, there are darker schemes at work, many times revolving around greed.

The best part of this novel, by far, are the characters—Holden does an absolutely brilliant job of creating interesting, three-dimensional characters that carry the story to new levels. As I mentioned before, he takes a good amount of time crafting the personalities and backstories of every single person, not allowing any of them to come across as insignificant or not fully fleshed out. And Mal is the most fantastic narrator—one of my new favorites. He is humorous, intelligent, and kind-hearted, such an easy character to fall in love with. Reading from his perspective is a joy.

As for the writing itself, I found Holden’s work to be very easy to fall into, and it flowed nicely from beginning to end. His talent in every aspect of storytelling is abundantly clear, as well as his background knowledge of advertising and the persuasiveness of media. He manages to produce an entertaining and at many times hilarious narrative, while also inserting information and serious circumstances that are very relevant in today’s world.

It is a quick and extremely fun read, while also having quite a surprising amount of depth to it. The only real complaint that I had was that there was far more telling than showing, which was not a huge detriment, but definitely slowed down the pace just a bit.

Overall, I am so glad that I took the chance and decided to give this book a try—it ended up being even better than I had hoped. Though it wasn’t absolutely perfect, it was certainly a page-turner, and one of the most unique plotlines I’ve come across recently. Skillfully plotted and unraveled at a fitting pace, Mal Thomas and his quirky personality will captivate readers from page one. I enjoyed experiencing all the twists and turns this story took, as well as spending time with some of my new favorite literary characters. I’ve already gone on and read the sequel, and I am looking forward to talking about that one soon as well.

4.0 TARDISes

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Mini Review: Vertigo: Of Love & Letting Go by Analog De Leon

vertigoVertigo: Of Love & Letting Go by Analog De Leon

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: November 21st, 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 176 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: In this modern epic poem, poet Analog de Leon (Chris Purifoy) offers an empowering message to anyone who has loved, lost, or yearned for freedom. 

Inspired by the life of Syrian Saint Simeon Stylites, a 4th-century Monk who lived for many years on a small platform atop a pillar, Vertigo encourages introspection, contemplation, and self-love.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I was intrigued by the description of this work when I first discovered it, but I also was not quite sure what to expect from it going in. The whole concept of a modern epic poem sounded very unique, and I was eager to see what a present day take on this classic form of literature would be like. I assumed I might end up being sort of skeptical and critical given not only my general pickiness when it comes to poetry, but also because of the unconventional nature of this particular work. However, I ended up enjoying every aspect of this far more than I could have anticipated—it definitely exceeded my expectations.

As this is an epic poem, it is all one connected story rather than a collection of individual poems. Because of this style, it is broken up into small, simple sections of text, punctuated by beautiful and surreal illustrations that work to enhance the overall atmosphere the poem gives off. Everything comes together to radiate the enormity of the world of human emotion, as well as the vast expanse of universe itself compared to us as humans. Each little piece is quite straightforward, and they slowly build on each other to create the journey of the narrator as he acknowledges the pain of loss and the great power of love. As a whole, there is so much depth and positivity to be found within the full message that this work conveys. Personally, the strength in the text and the accompanying imagery really made quite an impact on me.

One other extremely interesting and unique aspect of this poem is the online media that can be viewed in connection with it. The book provides links to a website that takes you on a virtual tour through the same emotions and message that the actual text does. With animations in the style of the illustrations in the poem and atmospheric music to listen to as you read, this becomes a very distinctive reading experience. Overall, this is the type of modern poetry that I have come to love—poetry that uses fairly simple and easily accessible language to express much deeper emotions and cause significant personal introspection. Everyone will have a truly personal journey with this poem.

4.0 TARDISes

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Mini Review: Cheer Up, Jay Ritchie by Jay Ritchie

cheerupjayritchieCheer Up, Jay Ritchie by Jay Ritchie

My Rating: 1/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: October 10th, 2017

Publisher: Coach House Books

Pages: 96 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: “Charming, funny, and often elegant. This is a formidable collection.” —Ben Fama 

With an alternating sense of wonder and detachment, Jay Ritchie’s first full-length collection of poetry grapples with death, disappointment, love, alienation, and emails—the large and small subjects of daily life. His unflagging sense of humor and aphoristic delivery create a work that is personable yet elevated, witty, and honest.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I’ve been reviewing a lot of poetry recently, so I will start off with my usual disclaimer—poetry is an incredibly personal experience that is unique to each reader, and it is extremely hard to review. What works for someone might not for another, and unfortunately, I happen to fall in the latter category for this particular collection. And from what I’ve been seeing, I have the less common feelings about this work, though I do believe that this is one of those very hit or miss type situations. Don’t get me wrong, I can definitely see the poetic talent of Ritchie, however, his choppy and random writing style did not flow very well with me.

To be honest—and this is a little embarrassing to admit—I had a hard and sometimes impossible time actually understanding just what Ritchie was writing about. His poems were somehow simultaneously humorous and fun to read, but also unintelligible. They were well written and interesting for what they were, but I failed to find much meaning in any of them, therefore making it very hard for me to connect with this collection. Again, this is just my personal experience with Ritchie’s poetry—it will not be the same as everyone’s, and my view on it may have been affected by many factors, including my mindset while reading it. It was a very quick read and, as always, I recommend giving it a go and experiencing his work for yourself.

1.0 TARDIS

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Top 10 Tuesday – December 12th, 2017

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is your top ten favorite books of 2017. Though I’ve definitely been struggling quite a bit with many things (mainly health-wise) through the course of this year and I haven’t been posting as much as I would like to, I’m fairly pleased with how much I actually ended up reading (64 books, hopefully 70 or so by the end of the month!). I have also had the opportunity to meet and work with some absolutely amazing authors this year, which has been a complete joy!

I’ve had quite a wide range of ratings—however, there are a few books that really stood out and stuck with me. These books, as well as their authors, have certainly become new favorites of mine!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

adarkershadeofmagic

For the most part, this list is in no particular order. However, I have to admit that this was definitely my absolute favorite read of the entire year! I can’t believe it has taken me so long to get around to reading this book. Victoria Schwab is already one of my favorite authors, and after only one book of this series, I am already completely obsessed. It’s filled with amazingly vivid worlds, expertly portrayed characters, an incredibly interesting magic system, and such a fun and captivating storyline. I can’t wait to read the rest of these books!

Click here to check out my full review!

The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz

thewingsnatchers

Sarah Jean Horwitz definitely makes it onto my list of new favorite authors! This is Sarah’s debut novel—the first in a series—and it was one of the most lovely and enchanting books I’ve ever read. It had this wonderful nostalgic feel to it, as it reminded me of the types of stories I grew up reading. This is the story of a young boy and a one-winged fairy who team up to save the fae realm and the city of Skemantis from a mad scientist. Mixing together magic, mystery, and steampunk-type technology means that this books was meant for me! I would recommend this modern fairytale to readers of absolutely any age—there is so much enjoyment to be found in it!

Click here to check out my full review!

Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

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Courtney Peppernell is another new favorite author of mine, and someone who I was lucky enough to have the chance to work with a few months back! She is a beautiful writer and an equally beautiful person. I read both of her poetry collections (Pillow Thoughts and The Road Between) and absolutely adored them. Her work is stunning and her poetry touched me in so many ways—it brought me some light during a very dark time. She has such talent not only in writing, but in packing so much depth and meaning into her words. I’m just about to start one of her full novels and I am really looking forward to it!

Click here to check out my full review! Click here to read Courtney’s guest post!

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

everyheartadoorway

The second I saw this novel for the first time, I purchased a copy immediately. This book was so beautifully written and crafted. I love anything that feels like a modern fairytale, and this definitely fits that category. It is an extremely unique take on fantasy and alternate worlds, dealing with how visitors to these worlds acclimate to reality once they return. It is a unique and haunting tale that I fell in love with right from the start.

Click here to check out my full review!

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

downamongthesticksandbones

This is the sequel (or technically the prequel) to Every Heart a Doorway, and I loved this novel even more! It addresses the lives of two characters from the first novel and their experiences in the other world they ended up in. The world was so dark and intriguing, vividly created, and I was completely wrapped up in this story from start to finish. I also loved getting to know these characters a bit better, and learning about where they came from. Another incredible read!

Click here to check out my full review!

Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles by J.M. Sullivan

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Retellings are some of my favorite types of novels to read, and Alice in Wonderland retellings have a particularly fond place in my heart. So of course, when I discovered this novel earlier in the year, I knew I had to give it a read. I was then presented with the opportunity to meet and work with the wonderful J.M. Sullivan, which made the whole experience even more amazing! I’ve loved getting to know her, and it was so interesting to learn about her writing process and the conception of this novel. Another new favorite book and new favorite author added to the list!

Click here to check out my full review! Click here to read J.M.’s guest post!

Paper Wishes by Spencer Hoshino

paperwishes

Paper Wishes is a novel that I am so incredibly glad I took a chance on! Those of you who have been around here for a while know that my reading tastes lean more toward sci-fi and fantasy rather than contemporary/contemporary romance. But when Spencer contacted me over the summer, she really hooked me, and I knew I had to check this story out—and I ended up loving it! It was such a fun, light, and enjoyable read, absolutely perfect for the summer. It is one of those novels that just fills you with so much positive energy and puts a smile on your face. That’s another incredibly talented writer added to my favorites list, as well as a wonderful new (Whovian) friend in my life!

Click here to check out my full review! Click here to read Spencer’s guest post!

Lost Boy by Christina Henry

lostboys

I discovered Christina Henry’s novels through my wonderful friend Heather from The Sassy Book Geek, and I’ve been completely obsessed with her work ever since! As we already know, I’m a huge fan of retellings in general, but I particularly love dark retellings—and oh boy, are her novels dark. This one focuses on the story of Peter Pan, except from Captain Hook’s (Jamie’s) perspective, taking place much earlier than the tale we all know. I read this as a buddy read with Heather, and I would highly, highly recommend this one!

Full review to come! Click here to check out Heather’s review!

If I Run by Terri Blackstock

ifirun

This was such an enjoyable, action-packed, and fast-paced read that was a perfect start to my reading year. I also read the second book in this trilogy as well and absolutely loved it. This novel follows an incredibly strong and intelligent young woman as she goes on the run from corrupt law enforcement agents, all while trying to prove her innocence in a crime she didn’t commit. It is such an easy story to get sucked into, and each chapter will leave you wanting more.

Click here to check out my full review!

Pretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid

pretendwearelovely

When I started out on this novel, I had absolutely no idea I would end up loving it as much as I did. This is one of those books that pulls you in quite slowly, but by the end, you find yourself heavily invested and interested in the lives of all the characters. It was also a story that grew on me the more I thought about it after I had finished. This is a beautiful and heartbreaking tale of a family of four’s mutual and individual journeys to find themselves, where they belong in the world, and how they fit together.

Click here to check out my full review!

What were some of the best books you read in 2017? Did you find any new favorite authors? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 5 Most Anticipated Releases of Winter 2017-2018

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Hey Everyone!

I don’t know about you guys, but I am SO excited for 2018 to begin! One of the main reasons for this is the fantastic collection of new releases that will be hitting shelves throughout the year. It was difficult narrowing down my most anticipated releases for these first few months, but I’ve finally managed to choose the ones I am dying to get my hands on! 🙂

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu (January 2nd, 2018)

batmannightwalker

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy. 
The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list. 
One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.
Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.
In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (January 9th, 2018)

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Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.
Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh (January 23rd, 2018)

reignofthefallen

Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.
A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (February 8th, 2018)

thesevendeathsofevelynhardcastle

A brilliantly original high concept murder mystery from a fantastic new talent: Gosford Park meets Inception, by way of Agatha Christie
‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’
It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.
But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot. 
The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

People Like Us by Dana Mele (February 27th, 2018)

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Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.
The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.

What new releases are you guys looking forward to this winter? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Top 10 Tuesday – November 28th, 2017

toptentuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is the top ten books on your winter TBR. Boy, was this a hard list to narrow down! I am feeling quite self-conscious about the size of my TBR pile! There are so many books on my list that I’m eager to read but I didn’t manage to get to this year, as well as plenty of 2018 ARCs to get started on. So here is a bit of my game plan for winter and the new year!

Keeping Long Island by Courtney Peppernell

keepinglongisland

Kayden is about to start her final year at college. And while she’s always been a good listener, she’s never been good at sharing. At the suggestion of her therapist, she finds a safe place for her secrets between the pages of a daily journal. Just when Kayden thinks things are finally back on track, her life takes an unexpected turn – a mysterious letter from someone named Alex.
Courtney Peppernell, the best-selling author of Pillow Thoughts, brings a world of intrigue, exploration, and the struggle for identity to life in Keeping Long Island. Kayden must make a choice – is she brave enough to share her secrets with Alex, or will the weight of her fears destroy everything she has been fighting for?

The Crooked Castle by Sarah Jean Horwitz

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Shortly after saving the faeries of Skemantis, magician’s apprentice Felix Carmer III and his faerie companion, Grit, head out to see the world. They soon come across a mysteriously magical flying circus. As they get to know the outlandish world of Rinka Tinka’s Roving Wonder Show, it becomes clear there’s something not quite normal about this circus or its inventor—and that recent airship disasters plaguing nearby Driftside City may have a sinister explanation. 
Fans of the Wildwood trilogy and Lockwood & Co. series will love the thrills and chills of The Crooked Castle as it takes readers up in the air with a flying circus, under the sea to the evil Unseelie kingdom, through a terrifying magical snowstorm, and on a chase with the menacing Wild Hunt.

The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos

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Macy’s school officially classifies her as “disturbed,” but Macy isn’t interested in how others define her. She’s got more pressing problems: her mom can’t move off the couch, her dad’s in prison, her brother’s been kidnapped by Child Protective Services, and now her best friend isn’t speaking to her. Writing in a dictionary format, Macy explains the world in her own terms—complete with gritty characters and outrageous endeavors. With an honesty that’s both hilarious and fearsome, slowly Macy reveals why she acts out, why she can’t tell her incarcerated father that her mom’s cheating on him, and why her best friend needs protection . . . the kind of protection that involves Macy’s machete.

Elizabeth and Zenobia by Jessica Miller

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Abandoned by her mother and neglected by her scientist father, timid Elizabeth Murmur has only her fearless friend, Zenobia, for company. And Zenobia’s company can be very trying! When Elizabeth’s father takes them to live in his family home, Witheringe House, Zenobia becomes obsessed with finding a ghost in the creepy old mansion and forces Elizabeth to hold séances and wander the rooms at night. With Zenobia’s constant pushing, Elizabeth investigates the history of the house and learns that it does hold a terrible secret: Her father’s younger sister disappeared from the grounds without a trace years ago. 
Elizabeth and Zenobia is a wonderfully compelling middle-grade story about friendship, courage, and the power of the imagination.

The Merciless by Danielle Vega

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Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned
Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned — from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren — an enigmatic artist and single mother — who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.  
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

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Meet Greta Helsing, fast-talking doctor to the undead. Keeping the supernatural community not-alive and well in London has been her family’s specialty for generations.
Greta Helsing inherited the family’s highly specialized, and highly peculiar, medical practice. In her consulting rooms, Dr. Helsing treats the undead for a host of ills – vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entropy in mummies. Although barely making ends meet, this is just the quiet, supernatural-adjacent life Greta’s been groomed for since childhood. 
Until a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead Londoners alike. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must use her unusual skills to stop the cult if she hopes to save her practice, and her life.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”
Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

The Elizas by Sara Shepard

theelizas

When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness. 
Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?
The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins.

Blink by Sasha Dawn

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When Chatham begins to understand more about a crime she witnessed a decade ago, she disappears . . . in a blink. Finding her means more than simply saving her. It could also be the key to the town’s longest unsolved mystery. Joshua’s in love with Chatham and he’s determined to find her and untangle the web of lies and mystery surrounding her. But who is Chatham really and what is her connection to the crime that was committed so long ago?

What books are on your winter TBR? What 2018 books are you most looking forward to picking up? Let me know in the comments!

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Mini Review: The Road Between by Courtney Peppernell

theroadbetweenThe Road Between by Courtney Peppernell

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 29th, 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 288 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: The Road Between is poetry well-lived.

Poetry for the soul that walks the fine line between losing yourself in the world and finding yourself again, often in the smallest of moments. Courtney Peppernell is the bestselling author of Pillow Thoughts, a collection of poetry and prose about heartbreak, love, and emotion.

Make a cup of tea, find your place, and lose yourself in the pages.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Courtney Peppernell has quickly become one of my new favorite authors. This was yet another beautiful collection that truly spoke to me. Peppernell has a great talent for creating short and deceptively simple poetry that has a much deeper underlying meaning. Her striking prose flows perfectly, and each line packs a strong emotional punch. This particular collection is about the journeys that life presents all of us. Specifically, these poems deal with the process of finding yourself again after becoming separated from it along the way—how we have to carefully piece ourselves back together until we feel whole.

The theme of finding oneself is something that, at this time in my life, really speaks to me. I’ve definitely been taking this exact journey over the last few years, feeling like I had lost touch with myself and trying to figure out who I am and what I need in my life. I’ve been feeling a deep need to settle into and truly come to terms with every aspect of myself. It’s this sort of work that I can connect to very easily—that makes me feel more confident in who I’ve discovered that I am and what love means to me. Peppernell’s words are wonderfully profound and they deeply touched me.

I always think it’s fantastic to see more LGBT+ work coming into the the literary world. Even though many of the poems that focus on love deal with a romance between two women, I believe these poems will speak to anyone, no matter their orientation and how they love. Love is love—it is a universal subject that can touch the hearts and souls of all of us. I’ve already gone ahead and purchased her two novels and I absolutely can’t wait to read more of her work.

5.0 TARDISes

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