Review: Jane Anonymous

Title: Jane Anonymous
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Bestselling author Laurie Faria Stolarz returns with Jane Anonymous, a gripping tale of a seventeen-year-old girl’s kidnapping and her struggle to fit back into her life after she escapes.

Then, “Jane” was just your typical 17-year-old in a typical New England suburb getting ready to start her senior year. She had a part-time job she enjoyed, an awesome best friend, overbearing but loving parents, and a crush on a boy who was taking her to see her favorite band. She never would’ve imagined that in her town where nothing ever happens, a series of small coincidences would lead to a devastating turn of events that would forever change her life.

Now, it’s been three months since “Jane” escaped captivity and returned home. Three months of being that girl who was kidnapped, the girl who was held by a “monster.” Three months of writing down everything she remembered from those seven months locked up in that stark white room. But, what if everything you thought you knew―everything you thought you experienced―turned out to be a lie?

Review:

This story was suspenseful and creepy!

The narrative alternated between “then,” when Jane was kidnapped and “now,” 10 months after she was kidnapped. Even though we know that she gets out, because she tells part of the story from her present perspective, it was still suspenseful. There were a lot of missing pieces that were revealed slowly throughout the book to keep up the mystery.

I figured out the mystery behind what was happening in the “warehouse” where Jane was being kept pretty quickly. It was creepy the way that she became brainwashed in a short amount of time. She took on a lot of behaviors that she learned while in captivity.

Even though the story was slowly revealed, I still had a lot of questions at the end. There were a couple of mysteries that weren’t fully solved, but perhaps that just reflects the reality of a situation like that.

I really enjoyed this suspenseful book!

Thank you Wednesday Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

Have you read Jane Anonymous? What did you think of it?

First Lines Friday – January 24

This is a weekly meme hosted by Wandering Words, where you give the first few lines of a book to hook your readers before introducing the book.

Here are my first lines:

“I’m dead set on living my one life right, but I can’t say the same for my brother. No one’s expecting Brighton to be full-grown when we turn eighteen at midnight but he needs to step it up.”

Do you recognize these first lines?

And the book is… Infinity Son (Infinity Cycle #1) by Adam Silvera.

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Goodreads synopsis:

Balancing epic and intensely personal stakes, bestselling author Adam Silvera’s Infinity Son is a gritty, fast-paced adventure about two brothers caught up in a magical war generations in the making.

Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.

Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.

Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.

Have you read Infinity Son? What did you think of it?

Review: Recipe for a Perfect Wife

Title: Recipe for a Perfect Wife
Author: Karma Brown
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Viking
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: December 31, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When Alice Hale reluctantly leaves a promising career in publicity, following her husband to the New York suburbs, she is unaccustomed to filling her days alone in a big, empty house. However, she is determined to become a writer–and to work hard to build the kind of life her husband dreams of, complete with children.

At first, the old house seems to resent Alice as much as she resents it, but when she finds an old cookbook buried in a box in the basement, she becomes captivated by the cookbook’s previous owner: 1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch. As Alice cooks her way through the past, she begins to settle into her new surroundings, even as her friends and family grow concerned that she has embraced them too fully: wearing vintage dresses and pearls like a 1950s housewife, making elaborate old-fashioned dishes like Baked Alaska, and drifting steadily away from her usual pursuits.

Alice justifies the changes merely as research for her novel…but when she discovers that Nellie left clues about her own life within the cookbook’s pages–and in a mysterious series of unsent letters penned to Nellie’s mother–she quickly realizes that the housewife’s secrets may have been anything but harmless. As she uncovers a more sinister side to Nellie’s marriage and with pressure mounting in her own relationship, Alice realizes that to protect herself she must harbour and hatch a few secrets of her own… 

Review:

This book was so good!

This story follows Alice in 2018 and Nellie in 1956. Alice has just purchased the house that Nellie lived in until her death. They both had private struggles in their lives as housewives. They had very different experiences, since the stories take place six decades apart, but there were some similarities. For example, they both had secret and creative ways of preventing themselves from having children.

The two storylines of Alice and Nellie reflect each other but they are separate. Sometimes characters in other books with mirroring lives, like these ones, end up having their stories blend together so they seem like one person. These two characters had similarities but they had very different stories.

There were also some very tense moments. I found myself holding my breath until the end because I didn’t know what would happen. There were some dramatic twists that I didn’t expect.

This was a great novel!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell

In This Moment by Karma Brown

Have you read Recipe for a Perfect Wife? What did you think of it?

TBR Thursday – January 23

TBR Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly Faye Reads, where you post a title from your shelf or e-reader and find out what others think about it.

My pick this week is The Wedding Date (The Wedding Date #1) by Jasmine Guillory.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other… 

They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want… 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Review: Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1)

Title: Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1)
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

Review:

This book is a great introduction to this new series.

This story started out as a type of Mulan story. Maia’s father is selected as a master tailor to go to the emperor, but he is unwell. Only him or his sons could go because women can’t be tailors. Maia dresses up as her brother and goes to the palace to compete in a competition to become a royal tailor. I thought this was going to be the whole story, so I was surprised when the competition ended so quickly. The rest of the story followed Maia on a journey to get special materials to create mythical dresses.

The only thing I didn’t really like about this book was the romance. It felt a little forced to me, because it seems like it can’t work out. I hope it works out better in the next book.

I’m curious to see what happens in the next book, because this story felt complete to me. I’m not sure where the plot is heading, but I’m excited for it to continue.

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Reflection by Elizabeth Lim

A Dress for the Wicked by Autumn Krause

Have you read Spin the Dawn? What did you think of it?

'Waiting on' Wednesday – January 22

This is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. In this post we highlight a book that’s highly anticipated.

The book that I’m waiting on this Wednesday is Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta’s Academy #1) by Sandhya Menon. The expected publication date is February 18, 2020.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi comes the first novel in a brand-new series set at an elite international boarding school, that’s a contemporary spin on Beauty and the Beast.

Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending. 

What books are you waiting on this week?

Review: Teddy Bear of the Year

Title: Teddy Bear of the Year
Author: Vikki VanSickle, Sydney Hanson
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 21, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The teddy bears’ picnic gets a modern twist in this warm and fuzzy picture book about a young teddy bear who learns that small acts of kindness can make a big difference.

Ollie is a regular bear with a regular job. He listens to his girl’s stories about her days, he snuggles her to sleep and he is there waiting when she gets home from school. Just your typical teddy bear stuff. So when he is whisked away to the annual teddy bears’ picnic, he feels insignificant compared to the other bears who do daring and daunting things: sleepovers, hospital stays–even a night in the lost and found!

After small talk with a regional stuffing manager, a department of cuddling official and a stitchery inspector; a stop at the snack table; and even some team building activities, it’s time for the teddy bear service awards . . . and Ollie feels even more small and unimportant. But he soon learns that it’s not just the big things that matter, it’s the little things too.

While parents will love the tongue-in-cheek office-party details, kids and parents alike will fall in love with Ollie: a sweet bear who discovers that his love for his girl makes him very special indeed.

Review:

In this story, Ollie is Amena’s teddy bear. One night, he is invited to a teddy bear picnic by the Teddy Bear Association. Various awards were handed out to the teddy bears for accomplishments they had done throughout the year.

This was an adorable story. It’s so cute to imagine all the teddy bears of the world gathering to have a picnic together. The teddy bears also have the rule of ABCs: Always Be Cuddling.

This story made me smile throughout it. It is such a sweet story. I loved it!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki VanSickle, Cale Atkinson

Have you read Teddy Bear of the Year? What did you think of it?