The Blind Contessa’s New Machine

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine

by Carey Wallace

TBCNM

An iridescent jewel of a novel that proves love is the mother of invention

In the early 1800s, a young Italian contessa, Carolina Fantoni, realizes she is going blind shortly before she marries the town’s most sought-after bachelor. Her parents don’t believe her, nor does her fiancé. The only one who understands is the eccentric local inventor and her longtime companion, Turri. When her eyesight dims forever, Carolina can no longer see her beloved lake or the rich hues of her own dresses. But as darkness erases her world, she discovers one place she can still see-in her dreams. Carolina creates a vivid dreaming life, in which she can not only see, but also fly, exploring lands she had never known.

Desperate to communicate with Carolina, Turri invents a peculiar machine for her: the world’s first typewriter. His gift ignites a passionate love affair that will change both of their lives forever.

Based on the true story of a nineteenth-century inventor and his innovative contraption, The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is an enchanting confection of love and the triumph of the imagination.

2018 has been so crazy so far! Thankfully I managed to get some reading in despite the reviews not got out at a consistent rate. We’re starting March off with an interesting historical fiction.

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine follow’s the story of Carolina, the blind woman who inspired the creation of the first typewriter. The story is written from her perspective as she grows from child to woman, deals with matters of the heart, and struggles as the world turns dark around her.

The story is good. I enjoyed Carolina. She is an interesting woman with a pleasant mixture of stereotypical teenage girl characteristics (having crushes and trying her hardest to be a mature adult) and a refreshing intelligence driven by the wonders of nature. Like Carolina, I find contentment in being outdoors alone. She was refreshing and find to read. I enjoyed her friendship with Turri, and her quick whit even when she struggled with depression.

Wallace’s setting is brilliant. You can taste the sugar coated lemons; you can see the lights of the lake cabin beckoning in the darkness. Turri’s experiment are intricate without being tedious; especially the typewriter.

I even enjoyed the tough aspects of the story; the affairs of both Carolina and Pietro, the condescending statements concerning her blindness, the constant underlying feeling of being trapped in a passionless relationship. Wallace handled each masterfully, easily invoking an emotional connection to the characters when I normally would struggle.

Here There Be Spoilers! I didn’t like the ending. I will admit that it was brilliantly written by Wallace, BUT it was too openended for me. Those that have read The Blind Contessa’s New Machine will argue, “but Lindsay, it couldn’t end any other way.” I KNOW. I still wanted answers. I wanted to know if Pietro intercepted Carolina’s letter. I wanted to know Turri’s last words to his love. I wanted to know why it didn’t end with the happily ever after knowing that it could never end that way. And I was so frustrated with Carolina’s pig headed refusal to read that letter! So while the ending was fantastic, I am still over here throwing my sucker in the dirt and pouting.

sad star trek GIF

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is a fantastic love story and an interesting fictionalization of the woman who inspired the creation of the typewriter. I wish there was more history available about the actual typewriter (history buffs may find this frustrating) but I still recommend it!

Have your read The Blind Contessa’s New Machine? Let me know what you think!

Lindsay

Advertisements

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen

by Victoria Alexander

 

 

Embark on the breathtaking romantic adventures of The Lady Travelers Society in the brand-new series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander

Really, it’s too much to expect any normal man to behave like a staid accountant in order to inherit the fortune he deserves to support the lifestyle of an earl. So when Derek Saunders’s favorite elderly aunt and her ill-conceived—and possibly fraudulent—Lady Travelers Society loses one of their members, what’s a man to do but step up to the challenge? Now he’s escorting the world’s most maddening woman to the world’s most romantic city to find her missing relative.

While India Prendergast only suspects his organization defrauds gullible travelers, she’s certain a man with as scandalous a reputation as Derek Saunders cannot be trusted any farther than the distance around his very broad shoulders. As she struggles not to be distracted by his wicked smile and the allure of Paris, instead of finding a lost lady traveler, India just may lose her head, her luggage and her heart.

I picked up The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen because the title promised a fun story. I didn’t even read the blurb on the back. I needed an audiobook…the one I came for was checked out…this title caught my eye as I was walking by. Thankfully, I didn’t once regret this impulse read!

Side Note: I initially though The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen was written by the same author as a book I had previously read. A book I will review later this week. I was wrong but you could understand my confusion: Tasha Alexander and Victoria Alexander as somewhat similar names.

I will start this review by saying that I only seem to enjoy reading romance around the holidays. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it is something about that time of year as I only seem to like Hallmark movies around the holidays. Who knows…. So, I may have slightly groaned when I finally realized The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen was a historical romance. I wasn’t really in a mood for a romance; however, I was in the mood for something funny, so I kept listening.

I didn’t stop laughing! Guys, I was laughing OUT LOUD on my morning drive to work. Any book that can make me laugh at 6:30 in the morning is worth its weight in gold! The characters were hilarious; kudos to Victoria Alexander! This book is full of well-rounded, colorful, and unapologetically human characters. I instantly connected with India as her brutal honesty, with both herself and everyone around her, is a trait we share. I also understood her frustration with the awkward self-growth she struggles with. I adored Derek, as his attempts to reign in his aunt’s fraudulent activities and attempts at subterfuge with India were endearing. The banter between Derek and Val had me in stitches every time! The characters are what made The Lady Traveler’s Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen such a wonderful read. I was invested in their journey, and their happiness. Plus, Alexander provides us with a unique lesson on love and acceptance.

So now for the negative points. I only have two to share. First: The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen starts SLOW. I attribute this to India’s rather abrasive personality. She is a hard character to like for the first quarter of the book, but don’t let that deter you. I promise it gets better. Second: the book blurb (once I finally read it) promised a mystery. The whole catalyst for the story is India’s search for her missing cousin, and I expected to read more about the actual search. We get a few details, but sadly the search is very limited, as neither India or Derek are expert investigators. I was slightly disappointed the mystery wasn’t a more prominent aspect of the story. I still enjoyed it! And I picked a mystery up once I had finished this audiobook.

Have I been converted into a romance fan? No. But I am now a fan of Victoria Alexander, and you bet I will be picking up the prequel novella, How to Stop a Wedding in Seven Days or Less, and the sequel, The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger. The sequel is scheduled for release December 2017 and I will have to beg my library to pick up the audiobook version! I anyone else a fan of Victoria Alexander? Have you read The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen? Let me know, and definitely pick up this one if you need a good laugh!

Lindsay

Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful Ruins

by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins

The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.

And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion—along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow.

Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

I’m not going to provide a summary as the synopsis is perfect and I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything. I will admit that I was quite hesitant about picking up Beautiful Ruins because it promised a story about flawed individuals. I am not a huge fan of fiction that doesn’t include some kind of mystery because it typically means spending 300-400 pages reading about barely likeable characters as they struggle to find meaning in their life. So I wasn’t going to read this at all but the cover just kept drawing me in. I’m a sucker for the picturesque coastal cliff towns that populate the Mediterranean. And lets be honest, I needed to push myself to read a different type of historical fiction. So, a story about Italy and old Hollywood wasn’t a bad place to start.

I didn’t necessarily dislike Beautiful Ruins, but even after finishing, I can definitely say that it is not my type of book. I probably wouldn’t have finished if I hadn’t picked up the audio version from my local library. I know what you’re thinking, because I have thought this about many a reviewer in the past: why in the world did this woman read this book if she knew she didn’t like contemporary fiction. Because I am trying to broaden my horizons as a reader! Sadly, this is still not going to be a genre I readily embrace.

But don’t hold that against Beautiful Ruins. Yes, there are a number of barely likeable characters. Yes, I found their parts of the story boring. And yes, it was a well written story, with complex characters, beautiful settings, and an ending that made the book worth reading. I adored the fluid imagery provided by Jess Walter, as I had no problem visualizing Pasquale’s quiet village, the maddening race across the United States, and the vibrant set of Cleopatra. The story is riddled with a snarky, subtle humor and I was honestly surprised to find myself chuckling a number of times during my daily commute. At the same time, I wasn’t surprised to find myself rolling my eyes in disgust when forced to focus my attention on characters that didn’t deserve it. And then I would read a brilliant scene,like the one about paintings on a bunker wall, and would be immediately drawn back in. I found Beautiful Ruins surprising in its ability to pull empathy from me, and yet strangely predictable when it came to character issues and life lessons.

Would I recommend Beautiful Ruins? I honestly don’t know. Yes, if you like these types of stories or are interested in a different historical fiction. No, if you want a lighthearted read or something to keep you on the edge of your seat. I have mixed feelings about Beautiful Ruins, but I’m not disappointed that I finished the story. 

Did you like Beautiful Ruins? Are there other Jess Walter books I need to check out? Let me know. 

Lindsay

Peril Under the Palms

Peril Under the Palms

by K.K. Beck

2157504

1920s Stanford co-ed Iris Cooper vacations in lush Honolulu with Aunt Hermione and solves a mystery for her friend Antoinette Caulfield, Hawaiian sugarcane heiress. Wisecracking newspaperman Jack Clancy is on the scoop, writing sensational headlines and digging up secrets.

Peril Under the Palms is the last novel in the Iris Cooper Mystery series. A Book Olive mentioned a concluding short story and I desperately need to find it! I will update y’all once I have that information but until then…on with the review!

Iris and Aunt Hermione are vacationing in Hawaii and celebrating the engagement of Antoinette, Iris’ college roommate and the heiress of a Hawaiian sugarcane family. Iris is determined to have a good time despite her annoyance at traveling with an engaged couple after recently being stood-up by her old partner in crime, snappy reporter Jack Clancy. Thankfully, bodies start dropping like flies, and Iris is pulled into solving multiple murders and unearthing dark secrets about Antoinette’s family. Good thing Jack Clancy shows up to help out!

Peril Under the Palms is my favorite of the series, and I am sad Beck didn’t continue writing Iris’ adventures. The Hawaiian setting is exquisite and the mystery is twisted enough to keep you guessing until the very last page. I’m so glad that Aunt Hermione is back! Her quick whit and insatiable curiosity was definitely missed in Murder in a Mummy Case. This trip finds Hermione working overtime helping with grief stricken old ladies and gathering intel at bridge games. Iris is once again everything I love in a snarky female detective! This story finds her participating in true ‘behind the scenes’ investigation as she sneaks around looking for clues. She is older, wiser, and just as stubborn, and this time Iris intentionally puts herself in danger in order to uncover the truth.

And what can I say about Jack Clancy? The chemistry between the reporter and novice detective is electric! And that’s all I’m going to say because…spoilers! Just know…the scene on the beach…I’m not much of a swooner but that scene was perfectly swoon worthy!

I am so sad this is the last book in the series. Despite the brevity of the stories, Beck did a wonderful job developing her characters and providing thrilling mysteries. I’m not ready to say goodbye; I want to know what happens to them! Hopefully, I’ll have a concluding short story to share in the near future. Thank you again Olive at A Book Olive! I would have never known about this series without you!

Please pick up the Iris Cooper stories! They are the perfect addition to a quiet summer day. And let me know what you think!

Lindsay

My Lady Jane

My Lady Jane

by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

22840421

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.

Sorry for the brief review hiatus everyone. I’ve been a little under the weather lately, which means much more reading and tv watching than reviewing. Anyways, I first heard about My Lady Jane from a number of BookTubers that I follow, and decided to give it a go for a couple of reasons: 1. historical fiction is a genere that is not often discussed on BookTube and I was surprised to see this novel keep popping up, and 2. everyone kept talking about how funny it was and I can’t say no to a good laugh!

So, a brief synopsis. My Lady Jane presents a very loosely historic recount of the life of Jane Grey and her limited term (9 days) as the queen of England. It’s definitely loosely historical as there is a magical element that definitely makes this a fantasy read as well. But don’t worry; the authors warn readers with a disclaimer on the very first page. 

Don’t let the fantasy element discourage you from reading My Lady Jane. The authors do a wonderful job of creating a detailed and engaging setting which left me feeling as I was running for my life along with the characters. The adventure is fast paced, but the love story of Jane and G progressed at a wonderfully realistic pace. No insta-love here folks, which I’m sure we will all find refreshing. And I absolutely adored our heroine, Jane. She is complicated, stubborn, passionate, awkward, and driven by her love of books. She is unapologetically herself! 

Now, I’ll reiterate that My Lady Jane is not historically accurate, but you are made aware of this point through out the story thanks to hilarious interjections by the narrator/authors. This gives it a fireside story telling atmosphere that more serious readers may not appreciate. I do also have to point out that many of the secondary characters and aspects of the plot felt a little under developed. This was  definitely evident when looking at G’s hobbies and the whole last quarter of the book. I would like to provide specific details, but I know y’all don’t like spoilers.

I heard a number of reviews describing this novel as hilarious. Did I find it hilarious? Yeah, it was pretty darn funny and had a delightfully honest tone that embraced teenage sexual awkwardness without all the tedious angst that is typical of young adult literature. It is fun, and very different which is why I recommend it for readers, especially those in need of a break from serious topics and prose.

Have you read My Lady Jane? Let me know what you thought!

Lindsay

Twenties Girl

Twenties Girl

by Sophie Kinsella

Twenties Girl

Lara Lington has always had an overactive imagination, but suddenly that imagination seems to be in overdrive.  Normal professional twenty-something young women don’t get visited by ghosts.  Or do they?

When the spirit of Lara’s great-aunt Sadie – a feisty, demanding girl with firm ideas about fashion, love, and the right way to dance – mysteriously appears, she has one request: Lara must find a missing necklace that had been in Sadie’s possession for more than seventy-five years, because Sadie cannot rest without it.

Lara and Sadie make a hilarious sparring duo, and at first it seems as though they have nothing in common.  But as the mission to find Sadie’s necklace leads to intrigue and a new romance for Lara, these very different “twenties” girls learn some surprising truths from and about each other.  Written with all the irrepressible charm and humor that have made Sophie Kinsella’s books beloved by millions, Twenties Girl is also a deeply moving testament to the transcendent bonds of friendship and family.

I tend to read novels that follow particular themes during certain months of the year.  October is usually reserved for supernatural and Halloween mysteries and I picked up Twenties Girl last October solely due to the ghostly mystery it promised.  October was not the right month for this book and it would have been a much more enjoyable read in the middle of summer on the beach.  So I thought now would be the perfect time to share my review!

I did not enjoy Twenties Girl for the first two-thirds of the novel.  This is the first Sophie Kinsella novel and I enjoy her writing style but both main characters, Lara and Sadie, were self-centered, obnoxious, whiny individuals that left me yelling at my cd player on multiple occasions.  Lara and Sadie are two selfish and stubborn women who must to respect each other which leaves readers struggling alongside them through pages of petty bickering.  I usually enjoy a flawed character but it was tough embracing Lara and Sadie.  I almost returned the book because I was so sick of Sadie’s demands and Lara constantly adding drama to her own life.

And then the last third of the book happened.  I was so glad I stuck it out because I completely forgot about the whining and bickering as Kinsella drew me along on the frantic search for the missing necklace.  The girls come together to right the wrongs of Sadie’s past and they finally start connecting with one another.  Sadie shows Lara the glamour of the 1920s and Lara gives Sadie a loving friendship.  Readers finally start learning the mystery behind Sadie’s demanding nature and the two women embrace and overcome their flaws to achieve success.  I even enjoyed Lara’s awkwardness in her budding relationship with Ed.

There is one scene that has stuck with me through the months and of course I cannot talk about it because of spoilers!  I find myself envisioning the details of the shock and joy experienced by both women and I delight in mentally reliving that moment over and over again.  That scene is why I truly enjoyed the book and I wish I could thank Kinsella for that one moment!

So who else has read Twenties Girl?

Lindsay

Fifth Grave Past the Light

Fifth Grave Past the Light

by Darynda Jones

Fifth Grave Past the Light (Charley Davidson, #5)

Never underestimate the power of a woman on a double espresso with a mocha latte chaser high.
– T-shirt

Charley Davidson isn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill grim reaper. She’s more of a paranormal private eye/grim reaper extraordinaire. However, she gets sidetracked when the sexy, sultry son of Satan, Reyes Farrow, moves in next door. To further complicate matters, Reyes is her main suspect in an arson case. Charley has vowed to stay away from him until she can find out the truth…but then dead women start appearing in her apartment, one after another, each lost, confused, and terrified beyond reason. When it becomes apparent that her own sister, Gemma is the serial killer’s next target, Charley has no choice but to ask for Reyes’s help. Arsonist or not, he’s the one man alive who could protect Gemma no matter who or what came at her. But he wants something in return. Charley. All of her, body and soul. And to keep her sister safe, it is a price she is willing to pay.

Charley Davidson is at it again in the sexy, suspenseful, and laugh-out-loud funny fifth installment of the New York Times best selling series.

Charley is back to her old self in Fifth Grave Past the Light. Yeah, Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet showed us the more human, and vulnerable, side of our heroine, but it was tough seeing her so scared. She’s back in full snark-mode and it’s wonderful!

The best thing about Fifth Grave Past the Light is the main mystery. I LOVE the mystery! Charley’s apartment is rapidly filling up with the spirits of tormented blonde haired women. They are all barely dressed, covered in mud, and unable to focus on our spunky grim reaper long enough to give out clues. Charley is forced to get her hands dirty and search out their fates. Also, there is an arsonist determined to torch all of Reyes’ childhood homes and Charley is pretty sure the Son of Satan is responsible. And if all that wasn’t enough, the sultry Reyes has moved in next door! (I know you can’t see me but I am totally fangirl giggling over here. This has to be my favorite in the series so far!)

The plot is obviously quite complex and Jones handles it masterfully. The pace is quick and everything ties in smoothly. The full cast of characters is back, including personal favorites Uncle Bob and Cookie. We get to see a more personable side of Reyes that will leave you swooning. And we get to see Charley delve in to the depths of her grim reaper powers.

Once again, the strained relationship between Charley and her father is the only thing worth complaining about. I’m just ready for some solid information instead of fighting with Charley’s determination to ignore her father. I am hoping answers come soon!

READ Five Grave Past the Light and let me know what you think! Happy beach reading!

Lindsay

Nightwalker

Nightwalker

by Heather Graham

5930637

Jessy Sparhawk has seen firsthand how gambling can ruin people’s lives. But one night, desperate for money, she places the bet that will change her life forever. Just as she’s collecting her winnings, a man stumbles through the crowd, a knife protruding from his back, and crashes into her, pinning her to the craps table. Hired to investigate the murder, private detective Dillon Wolf finds himself fascinated by the gorgeous redhead who’d been trapped beneath the victim–and by the single word the dying man had whispered in her ear. “Indigo.”

What neither of them realizes is that the nightmare is only just beginning. Because bodyguard Tanner Green may have been killed by that knife, but his angry ghost isn’t going anywhere–not without vengeance. Now, literally caught between the living and the dead, Dillon and Jessy have no choice but to forge ahead together. Their investigation will take them from the glitz of the Vegas strip into the dealings of casino magnate Emil Landon, the man who signs both their paychecks, and out into the desert to a ghost town called Indigo, where past and present come together in a search for gold.

Years ago, blood was shed on that very ground, and now it looks as if history is about to repeat itself, with the living and the dead facing off for possession of a fortune, and Dillon and Jessy fighting not only to stay alive but for the chance to build a future.

 Sometimes you just need to read something predictable; a good novel with a solid story, fun characters, and no surprises helps when you’re feeling a tad burned out. This is when I turn to Heather Graham. A Graham novel will always contain a headstrong heroine, a smart kind hero, an intriguing mystery, a steamy romance, and ghosts! All good things!

Nightwalker did not disappoint. It contained all the classic Heather Graham elements and made for an enjoyable read during my commute. Jessy is a casino entertainer in Las Vegas who kinda witnesses’ the murder of a well-known hired muscle. Dillon is a private investigator for Adam Harrison Investigations who decides to help Jessy. It’s a story of insta-love, snarky ghosts, and cowboy shoot-outs. What’s not to like!?

I love how personable Graham makes her ghosts. It’s hard to imagine them not being seen and it is one of the reasons I keep coming back to her novels. Ringo is an ex-Civil War soldier who helps Dillon with his investigations because of a debit owed to Dillon’s ancestor. Ringo maintains all his personality from his past life as well as a humorous outlook on his current decade. He can work the tv remote, let the dog out, and operates as a silent, unseen investigator for Dillon. I enjoyed reading Ringo, but he is not the only reason to pick up Nightwalker. The mystery was delightfully intricate. It spanned multiple generations, and involved hidden Native American gold and a classic salon shootout!

Now for the negative points…the story is predictable. Yep, I know that’s the reason why I decided to read Nightwalker but I also know that this may be annoying for some readers. And it is also the reason I will not read another Heather Graham novel for a few months. Now, do you know the insta-love that plagues YA? Expect plenty of that in Nightwalker. I actually caught myself rolling my eyes on multiple occasions. I get instant attraction. I believe in personal chemistry. I do not believe imagining a life with someone after 3 days of acquaintance is romantic. Just my opinion, and one of the other reasons Graham posts are few and far between.

Nightwalker is a fun read and the perfect novel for those in need of a light paranormal mystery. Any other Heather Graham fans? Which authors do you turn to for a ‘predictable’ read?

Lindsay

The Siren

The Siren

by Kiera Cass

The Siren

Love is a risk worth taking.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. And though she can’t talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny…and Kahlen doesn’t want to.

Falling in love with a human breaks all the Ocean’s rules, and if the Ocean discovers Kahlen’s feelings, she’ll be forced to leave Akinli for good. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.

The Siren is a young adult fantasy romance by Kiera Cass, best known for her Selection series. It was originally released in 2009 and has sense been edited and rereleased in 2016. The story follows Kahlen, a young woman who is dedicated to the Ocean as a siren for 100 years. Serve 100 years and get a brand new life at the end; disobey the rules and the Ocean takes all life away. Kahlen has spent her first 80 years following all the rules, until she meets her one true love.

Ok, ok. Before you start rolling your eyes, because I definitely did when writing that last line, just know that The Siren is definitely a YA romance. I was initially drawn to the book because, well sirens! No one writes about sirens! I managed to get the book for free on Audible, which was good because I honestly would have been irked if I paid full price for it. The Siren was ok, but just ok. 

I am going to start with some good points. I actually enjoyed the relationship between Kahlen and Akinli. Sure, it contained a healthy dose of the Insta-love that has become staple for Young Adult, but I like the relationship Cass develops. It was very grounded, despite the fact that Kahlen is a siren and doesn’t speak. Cass focuses on the simple yet wonderful aspects of a solid relationship built on friendship: days spent doing nothing, dancing, inside jokes, and happiness. I love how Akinli sees past Kahlen’s stunning exterior beauty and sees all the things that makes her who she is. It’s a sweet relationship. 

I also enjoyed the relationship Kahlen has with her sisters. Sirens are rarely covered in modern fiction, so this was a nice change. The life they share is awesome. I like how they are from all different walks of life, how they have each other’s back no matter what, and how they spend their years learning everything they can. Plus, Cass’ take on the Ocean was awesome!

Now time for the negative. EVERYTHING soured in the story as Kahlen’s heartbreak consumed her. I can hear your arguments: Lindsay, heartbreak does that to the best of us and it was a pretty realistic representation. True points, but that doesn’t make it any easier to read and this is the main reason I have stepped away from YA. The Ocean became overwhelming, her sisters seemed so naggy, and Kahlen was all over the place. It just took the wind out my sails because The Siren really isn’t a bad story. Just, blah; whiny teen romance. Plus, I wish there was more siren lore and history.

The Siren was a good book. It’s the perfect choice to get you in the mood for the beach and it should be a pretty quick read. Have you read The Siren? Are you a Kiera Cass fan? 

Lindsay

Third Grave Dead Ahead

Third Grave Dead Ahead

by Darynda Jones

12043770

Paranormal private eye. Grim reaper extraordinaire. Whatever. Charley Davidson is back! And she’s drinking copious amounts of caffeine to stay awake because, every time she closes her eyes, she sees him: Reyes Farrow, the part-human, part-supermodel son of Satan. Yes, she did imprison him for all eternity, but come on. How is she supposed to solve a missing persons case, deal with an ego-driven doctor, calm her curmudgeonly dad, and take on a motorcycle gang hell-bent on murder when the devil’s son just won’t give up?

Last week I talked about needing a funny book to read because life was being annoying. So, I went down to the library that day and picked up a copy of Third Grave Dead Ahead. I’m so lucky to have friends who get my sense of humor. This series was recommended by two awesome women and I know Charley’s antics will leave me laughing every time.

I started this series last year and feel free to check out my reviews of First Grave on the Right and Second Grave on the Left. I decided to take a break after Second Grave because the character development and interactions just left me frustrated. So many reactions were just too knee-jerk and confusing. Third Grave Dead Ahead eliminated all of that for me.

Reyes is alive and back in prison. Cookie and Uncle Bob have started flirting! Garrett has fully embraced Charley’s roll as the Grim Reaper. And Charley isn’t sleeping…Third Grave Dead Ahead picks up mere weeks after Second Grave and Charley’s dreams are haunted by an angry Reyes.

I LOVED this story. I finally understand the friendship between Charley and Garrett and Jones provides two ‘on the edge of your seat’ mysteries for Charley to solve. Charley actually interacts with Reyes outside of her dreams and it is interesting! Plus, Jones introduces us to the biker gang that owns the old asylum. Third Grave was just a well developed, fast paced story. I actually connected with Charley, which I just didn’t have with the first two books.

My only complaint would be how Charley’s dad was portrayed. His brooding and abrasive responses just felt out of character. I could only see him as Charley saw him: an unfair man who was slowly turning in to her enemy. I have a feeling this will be resolved in the next book.

I definitely recommend Third Grave Dead Ahead and the Charley Davidson series. It is the perfect series to read when you need a good dose of snark and a reason to laugh!

Lindsay