Review: “Polaris Rising” by Jessie Mihalik

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Title: Polaris Rising
Series: Consortium Rebellion #1
Author: Jessie Mihalik
Publisher: HarperVoyager/HarperCollins
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

 

A princess on the run from a political marriage strikes an unlikely alliance with the universe’s most wanted man in this action-filled space opera.

In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.

Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.

When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.

But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .

As much as I love the genre, I admit that I haven’t read a lot of adult sci-fi. Maybe because I’ve always found it intimidating with those thick-spined volumes. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always felt like it’s a man’s world having grown up to names like Ray Brabury and George Orwell , whose books as good as they were, felt distant to me because I couldn’t identify with and cheer for their characters. So, picking up Polaris Rising I was both excited and wary, not really knowing what to expect or what I’m even getting myself into.

I shouldn’t have worried.

Polaris Rising had me from the very first blaster fire. It was fast-paced, filled with all the daring action my heart desired and, as an added kick, it has real steamy, swoon-worthy romance. Needless to say, I loved it!

The story centers on Ada von Hasenberg, the fifth of six children of House von Hasenberg, one of the three most powerful families of the Royal Consortium. Groomed from childhood to wade the intricate and precarious relationships between three High Houses, Ada knows that her destiny is to be married off to a rival house so she could spy on her husband and his family. But it’s not the life she wants for herself, fate or not, so she escapes before her engagement with Richard Rockhurst could be formally made. For two years Ada eludes capture but, eventually, her luck runs out and she gets taken by a group of mercenaries eager to get their hands on the bounty her father put up for her supposed safe return. This is where Polaris Rising officially starts.

I had tons of fun reading this book. The first page immediately hooked me with its fast-paced action. The plot was also easy to get with, and none of my fears about not understanding the whole tech that runs the world of the story were realized. No info dumps here! Instead, Mihalik breaks it down bit by bit, inserting technical stuff about the world she created into the story and her characters’ dialogues, which was effective and efficient.

But what I really loved about this book was its characters.

Ada and Loch both drive this story – it moves when they do, follows the path they’ve chosen to traverse. It was a treat to trail after their adventures (and misadventures!) I immediately liked Ada, while Loch grew on me as I continued reading. The two of them are similar in a lot of ways – they’re both resourceful, smart and can kick some serious ass. They don’t trust as easily as other people would, which kind of work against them at the beginning since they needed to trust each other enough to form an alliance no matter how tenuous or temporary it was.

Ada and Loch’s romance was also another I unabashedly loved about Polaris Rising. These two got me all heart eyes and swoony for most of the book. The attraction between them were palpable right from the very beginning. Their reluctance to pursue one another only added to the thrill of the chase. And when they finally got together, it lighted up fireworks. It was perfect – the whole hook, line and sinker deal!

I also loved how Mihalik drew her secondary characters. They are all colorful on their own account: there is Rhys, the successful black market dealer who shares Loch’s past, and Veronica, the fence with a secret of her own that could get her in trouble with one of the high houses; then there’s Bianca, Ada’s older sister who’s kind of a master in gathering information and Ian Bishop, House von Hasenberg’s director of security who may or may not (this is just a hunch) know Loch more than he lets on. All these help Ada and Loch providing them with something only they could give and helping the two main character reach their end goal.

While some parts of the story were outlandish, I didn’t much mind because I was having loads of fun reading the book. It was so easy to turn off the skeptical part of my brain. Overall, Polaris Rising was an excellent, entertaining space opera. I’m sure many readers will enjoying this book. I know I did! I’m already so excited for the series’ next book, releasing this October, Aurora Blazing which will be focusing on Bianca and Ian’s story.

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About the Author:

jessie_mihalik_squareJESSIE MIHALIK has a degree in Computer Science and a love of all things geeky. A software engineer by trade, Jessie now writes full time from her home in Texas. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing co-op video games with her husband, trying out new board games, or reading books pulled from her overflowing bookshelves.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

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First Line Fridays: “The Warrior Maiden” by Melanie Dickerson

First Line Fridays (feature photo)

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hording Books.


Happy Friday! I hope all of you are doing well. Today I’m going to be featuring the first couple of lines from a book I recently finished.

The Warrior Maiden - Melanie Dickerson

Galloping her horse past the big oak tree, Mulan pulled the bowstring with one eye closed and sent the arrow flying toward the target. It struck the tree but missed the knothole.


“Don’t shoot behind you!” Andrei flailed his skinny arms. “Keep the target in front of you.” Shooting from a moving horse was much more difficult than when standing still, but she was improving. At least she’d escaped, for the moment, the cooking and cleaning chores. And practicing war skills kept her from facing the uncertain future – and her mother’s grief. Her stomach churned.

 

I enjoyed this Mulan re-telling and how the author incorporated it into her Hagenheim series. This is my first Melanie Dickerson book and I must admit it piqued my interest, makes me want to check out the rest of the books from this series.

The Warrior Maiden releases on February 5. I’m part of The Fantastic Flying Book Club‘s blog tour for this lovely book. Check out the blog schedule below and check out the rest of the participating book bloggers.

The Warrior Maiden blog tour banner

January 30th

January 31st

A Backwards Story – Review
Book Briefs – Review

February 1st

Nay’s Pink Bookshelf – Review + Favourite Quotes
Mythical Books – Review
Susan Heim on Writing – Promotional Post

February 2nd

Curiouser & Curiouser – Interview
Life at 17 – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Reading Corner for All – Review + Dream Cast + Playlist
808bookdr – Review + Favourite Quotes

February 3rd

The Book Raven – Review + Dream Cast + Favourite Quotes
Heidi Reads… – Review
Savings in Seconds – Review + Favourite Quotes
Confessions of a YA Reader – Promotional Post

February 4th

Fyrekatz Blog – Review
Hauntedbybook – Review + Favourite Quotes
100 Pages A Day – Review

February 5th

Oh Hey! Books. – Guest Post
In Between Book Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes
the Bibliophagist – Review + Favourite Quotes
🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂
Stay safe and keep yourselves healthy!

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

Come and join in the fun. Visit Hoarding Books to see what other FLF bloggers has to share.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “Bid My Soul Farewell” by Beth Revis

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted Tressa at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted Jill at Breaking the Spine.


I have tremendously enjoyed Beth Revis’ Give the Dark My Love last year. (Here’s the link to my review for the book.) Nedra was a compelling antiheroine. She has certainly done a lot of questionable things but, underneath it all, she has good intentions.

I have been itching to have the sequel in my hands since the day I’ve finished Give the Dark My Love, especially with the way the last book ended (if you get what I mean.)

And now it’s here.

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Title: Bid My Soul Farewell
Series: Give the Dark My Love #1
Author: Beth Revis
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin Young Readers
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Pre-order: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

Alchemy student turned necromancer Nedra Brysstain has made a life-changing decision to embrace the darkness–but can the boy who loves her bring her back to the light before she pays the ultimate price?
Lunar Island is trying to heal. The necromantic plague that ravaged the land has been eradicated, and Emperor Auguste, the young and charming leader of the Allyrian Empire, has a plan: rid the island of necromancy once and for all. Though Greggori “Grey” Astor wants what’s best for his people, he knows that allying himself with Auguste threatens the one person he loves most: necromancer Nedra Brysstain. Feeling like he already failed to save Nedra once, Grey becomes determined to help the Emperor rebuild Lunar Island while still keeping Nedra safe from harm.

Back at the quarantine hospital, Nedra’s army of revenants are growing increasingly inhuman by the day. Wracked with guilt for imprisoning their souls, Nedra vows to discover a way to free the dead while still keeping her sister by her side.

But, still reeling from the trauma of the plague, the people of Lunar Island are looking for someone to blame, and Grey can only protect Nedra for so long. And when Nedra and Grey are thrust into a battle with an even more terrifying adversary, Nedra will be pushed to the darkest depths of her necromantic powers. But can Grey let her go that far?

Beth Revis revealed Bid My Soul Farewell‘s cover in her latest newsletter. I wanted to do a cover reveal post, but wasn’t sure if that’s allowed, so I opted to feature it for this week’s CWW instead.

I’m really excited for this one. Give the Dark My Love left a lot of unanswered questions and a host of possibilities. I wonder what Nedra will do next. Will she go darker, or will be able to save herself? And what about Grey, what will he need to do to help Nedra? It’s still a few more months, but I’m both excited and scared for this duology to end.

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

What book/s are you excited for this week?

 

Music Mondays: “The Ecstatics” by Explosions in the Sky

Music Mondays

Music Mondays is a book meme where you share a song you really like. It is hosted by The Tattoed Book Geek.


Hey! Lookie there, it’s Monday!

And I’m at home, wrapped up in my blanket typing a quick post for today because I’ve been feeling guilty for not checking on my blog for a handful of days. Also, I’m sick.

A particularly stubborn and virulent bug has been making its rounds around my workplace for the last couple of weeks. Already, many of our employees have caught it and had to take a couple sick days to rest and recover. I thought my body would be able to fend the sickness off, but I gave myself too much credit (or tempted fate too many times). Needless to say, I’m down for the count for a couple of days at least.

The whole clogged nose (yuck!) constant coughing and fever may not be nice, but it does give me a lot of reason to stay in bed. I’ve been making the most of it by catching up on my reading. I finished Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik today, and it was amazing! I still don’t know what book I’ll pick up next, but I’m sure reading and listening to music is all I’ll be doing for the next few days while I shake this bug off.

Anyway, let me share a song that’s currently on my playlist. This one is from Explosions in the Sky. If you’re going to listen to it, don’t expect words. It’s the reason why they’re on my reading playlist (same with Sigur Ros, but only because I don’t understand their songs – the lyrics are Icelandic). As much as I love music, songs with lyrics distracts me. I always end up singing or searching for lyrics on my phone because it triggered a story idea, which is nice but always counterproductive.

Alright, well, I think I babbled enough. I’m not even sure if what I wrote above even makes sense. I’m sure they’re not linear because I’m just writing whatever comes to my fogged up brain right now.

Til next time. Remember to take your vitamins, drink loads of water, always wash your hands, and, for the love of all things good in this world, cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze and cough!

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

What are you listening to today?

Review: “The Gilded Wolves” by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded WolvesTitle: The Gilded Wolves
Series: The Gilded Wolves #1
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Wednesday Books/Macmillan
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Rating: ⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

ARC provided by the publisher as part of the PH Blog Tour hosted by The Royal Polar Bear Reads & Wanderer in Neverland.

A group of outcasts, mysterious, powerful relics, and a treasure hunt – Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves takes readers on an adventure through the dark and dangerous side of Paris.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

Have you ever delayed finishing a book? Deliberately read slower, stop after each chapter?

I have with The Gilded Wolves.

It’s so rare for me to intentionally delay finishing a book. Usually, I keep on turning the pages because I can’t wait to find out what happens next. Even for my most loved books, I just keep on turning until I get to the end. But, with The Gilded Wolves, it was different.

Readers will find a lot of things to love about this fresh new series. I will have to warn you, this review may easily turn into me just raving about how wonderful The Gilded Wolves was. So, to rein in my excitement and be as objective as I can I’ll try to list down all things I loved about this book and why, if you haven’t read it yet, you totally should!

  • Strong writing that lures you in.

The writing was so lush, you could almost taste it, feel it – both soft and romantic, sharp and cutting when and where it needed to. Roshani Chokshi created this dark, glamorous albeit dangerous magical world, and I just wanted to jump into the pages and spend some more time within it.

While the first part is loaded with information, it did not weigh down the story. It was necessary world-building, and if it weren’t put there, I think I would have been lost. I admit that it took me some time to fully grasp the rules of Forging, described in the book as a power of creation rivaled only by the work of God. Once I got my head wrapped around it though everything went down smoothly for me and I, once again, got lost inside Roshani’s world.

  • Historical facts that blend well with fiction

You know, I’m a history geek. I mean, how else would I explain the number of historical fiction books on my TBR? But the downside to this is that, like whenever anything medical is included in the story, I get a little bit picky. Creative license could only create so much leeway for you, and it is the author’s job to blend these two contrasting elements – fact and fiction – seamlessly.

Roshani does just that.

Yes, she took liberties here and there with dates and places (La Solidaridad was published in Barcelona & the Ilustrados were also there by 1889) but you know what got me? It was all still believable. Why? The rendering was natural, it just flowed.

I know some of you will say, but history doesn’t play a big role in the story. I’ll give you that, but it is where it was set and that influences the way characters move and act through their world. Also, if you decide to include a bit of history into your story, you might as well do it right.

This was an important element for me, and I’m very happy with what I got from this book. Plus, all those historical tidbits – the Exposition Universelle de 1889, the human zoos (sad and angering, but nevertheless true,) & all the other stuff Enrique throws in the whole length of the book – were simply delectable to this history geek.

  • Explores and challenges some really heavy topics

It’s may not be overtly stated, but, sprinkled throughout the pages of this book are some really important topics – gender identity and sexual orientation, racism, privilege, subjugation and colonialism. All of these were treated with utmost sensitivity and were challenged every time.

  • A diverse, fully-realized cast of characters

Now, I saved this for last because it is, I daresay, the best part of The Gilded Wolves. I fell in love with this band of misfits right from the very first page that by the time the book ended with that cliffhanger (!!!) I’m so into deep I swear I’ll adopt them if they ever come out of the pages.

Roshani Chokshi put together a group of characters from different backgrounds – all well-intentioned and flawed and so utterly human – but still find in themselves a family. It was so easy to love all of them, and good luck with picking favorites because you’ll find a little bit of yourself in each of these wonderful characters.

🍂 Séverin – The obvious leader of the pack. He’s bi-racial – an Algerian mother and French father – and it was implied in that this played a part in him being losing his title as heir of House Vanth. A rich hotelier, he gathered together his crew to help him reclaim his birthright. Sure it may have started like that, but he so obviously care for this little pack he’d made and will keep them safe for as long as he can.

🍂 Laila – Baker, the person behind sought-after L’Énigme – she’s the “mom” friend of the group. She came from India to France in search of a mysterious book that could hold the answers to her existence. With her ability to read objects just by touching them, she’s an invaluable member of the group. There’s also this thing between her and Séverin, though they are both, for reasons you’ll find out once you read the book, holding back.

🍂 Tristan – Séverin’s brother in all but blood. Tristan and Séverin grew up together being bounced from one foster family to another. He’s a softie, loves his pet tarantula Goliath maybe a little too much (we don’t mind) and, with his Forging affinity, is a master botanis. Tristan is also behind some of the group’s weapons, concocting stuff from the plants he cultivates.

🍂 Zofia – The engineer, Zofia’s Forging affinity allows her to bend any kind of metal to her will. She came to France from Poland, leaving her sister there, to study, but she was kicked out of university because of an accident. She’s hoping that, with this big mission Séverin sets them on, she’ll get enough money to get her sister to France and fund her education so she could study Medicine.

🍂 Hypnos – Patriarch of House Nyx, he was a friend of Séverin’s when they were younger, but drifted of when the latter’s claim to his own House was forfeited. He’s unashamedly queer, flirtatious, and has this big personality that just fills whatever room he is in. I was suspicious of him at the start of the book, but as I read more I felt that he sincerely wanted to have Séverin assert his claim so he could also be in the Council with him because, even if Hypnos is already a patriarch, he is still an outsider because of his heritage.

🍂 Enrique – As the resident historian, Enrique guides and helps solve puzzles for the group. I may sound biased, but Enrique has a special place in my heart. He’s funny, making jokes especially when the group is in a tensed situation, but, while he does try to lighten things for everyone, he also hides behind humor and sarcasm. But deep inside he’s just trying to look for his place in the world.

Filipino and Spanish, Enrique straddles the line between two race and culture. He has joined the Ilustrados, a group of Euro-educated Filipinos lobbying for reform for their Spanish-controlled motherland. He also submits articles to La Solidaridad. Still, he can’t break into the group’s inner circle.

“It wasn’t his intellect that made him unwanted.
It was his face.”

I’m a full-blooded Filipino, but this still hits home. It’s hard to see printed within the pages of a book, but we have to admit that even within our group there are divisions. We may or may not be aware, but we judge each other and consider one person superior over another just by the way they look, and that only creates even more discord and harm.

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There, I’ve listed down the things I loved most about The Gilded Wolves. I’m sure I could find more things to love about this book once I finish reading again. Captivating writing, diverse and nuanced characters, thrilling adventures, this book has everything I want and more. Thinking that this is only the beginning of what promises to be an amazing series only excites me more to get my hands on TGW#2. I cannot recommend it enough (I’ll probably be pushing this book to people the whole of 2019.) Doesn’t matter if you like Fantasy or not, I think there’s something in this book for everyone.

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About the Author:

SIC_0760-719x1024ROSHANI CHOKSHI is the New York Times bestselling author of Aru Shah and the End of TimeThe Star-Touched QueenA Crown of Wishes, and The Gilded Wolves. Her work has been nominated for the Locus and Nebula awards, and her books have appeared on Barnes and Nobles Best New Books of the Year and Buzzfeed Best Books of the Year lists. Chokshi lives in Georgia, but doesn’t have much of a Southern accent. Alas.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

 

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Also, check out the other stops of The Gilded Wolves PH Blog Tour hosted by Wanderer in Neverland and The Royal Polar Bear Reads.

The Gilded Wolves Blog Tour Banner

Tour Schedule

January 14, 2019

January 15, 2019

January 16, 2019

January 17, 2019

January 18, 2019

January 19, 2019

 

First Line Fridays: “The Gilded Wolves” by Roshani Chokshi

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hording Books.


Happy Friday! I hope you are all doing well. My week has been busy at work, but life at home has been good. We have three new puppies! All of them plus mama dog are doing fine, and we couldn’t be any happier. It’ll be another two to three weeks before their eyelids start to open, but I’m really excited to have them start seeing their new world, start to run and play around the house.

Book-wise it’s been slow. I was able to finish Emma Rous’ The Au Pair but haven’t yet started a new read. So, this week I’ll be sharing the first few lines of a recent read that’s coming out soon.

The Gilded Wolves

Fléctere si néqueo súperos Acheronta movebo.
If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.
– Virgil

Once, there were four Houses of France.
Like all the other Houses within the Order of Babel, the French faction swore to safeguard the location of their Babel Fragment, the source of all Forging power.
Forging was a power of creation rivaled only by the work of God.
But one House fell.
And another House’s line died without an heir. PNow all that is left is a secret.

 

I know I’ve said it before, but I am sooooo in love with The Gilded WolvesThis beauty’s coming out next week and I couldn’t be more excited. I already got the notification from Book Depository that my pre-order has been dispatched from their UK warehouse. I waited almost a year for this book and I’ll finally have this lovely next week.

The Gilded Wolves comes out January 15 published by Wednesday Books. You can still pre-order it. Trust me on this, you need this book!

Pre-order links:

IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

Another thing…

The Gilded Wolves Blog Tour Banner

The Gilded Wolves PH Blog Tour, hosted by Wanderer in Neverland and The Royal Polar Bear Reads, starts on January 14. My blog tour stop is on the 18th, but you can check out the other blog stops and read the raves of other awesome book bloggers for this book. You can see the blog tour schedule here.

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

Come and join in the fun. Visit Hoarding Books to see what other FLF bloggers has to share.

Review: “The Au Pair” by Emma Rous

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Title: The Au Pair
Author: Emma Rous
Publisher: Berkley/Penguin Publishing Group
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

ARC provided by publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest opinion.

 

Long-buried family secrets and one woman who knows it all, Emma Rous’ thriller of a debut makes one question Who am I if I’m not who I thought I was?

Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

Deliciously intriguing, atmospheric and oh so twisty!

That’s how I would describe The Au Pair should I be asked for a quick review of the book. With mentions of sprites, changelings and witches – not to mention being set in a large Norfolk estate – this story definitely exudes a certain gothic vibe. But behind pretty descriptions of coastal England is a legitimate domestic mystery both tautly and ingeniously plotted as it is entertaining.

I cannot tell you enough just how much I enjoyed this book. I gobbled it up, flying through pages and almost finishing it in one sitting. There’s a lot to love in this book. Quaint, charming setting? Check. Family drama? Chock-full. Plot twists? Bucket-loads! And good luck trying to untangle them! The Au Pair delivers all these and more.

These elements, while definitely factoring into the equation, aren’t what makes The Au Pair a veritable page-turner. It was, for me, the way Emma Rous told the story which really elevates this book.

Rous maximizes both of her narrators – Seraphine and Laura – and uses them to their fullest potential. Both protagonists move and dictates the pace of this book. The dual timeline, with Seraphine’s present day quest to uncover her family’s long-buried secrets and Laura’s time as Edwin’s au pair the summer Seraphine and her twin Danny were born 25 years ago, reveals just enough with perfectly placed hints that’ll surely tease readers to puzzle together the whole story.

The Au Pair, with the exception of that last plot twist that made me stop for a good hour because it came out of nowhere with little foreshadowing, is definitely an engrossing, compelling read. I’m happy to have this be the first book I finished this year. Fans of domestic thrillers and mystery will certainly find something to enjoy in this one. I recommend it!

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About the Author:

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EMMA ROUS grew up in England, Indonesia, Kuwait, Portugal and Fiji, and from a young age she had two ambitions: to write stories, and to look after animals. She studied veterinary medicine and zoology at the University of Cambridge, and worked as a veterinary surgeon for eighteen years before starting to write fiction. Emma lives in Cambridgeshire, England, with her husband and three sons.

The Au Pair is her first novel.

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Music Mondays: “The Ballad of Cleopatra” by The Lumineers

Music Mondays
Music Mondays is a book meme where you share a song you really like. It is hosted by The Tattoed Book Geek.


It’s the first Monday of 2019!

I know, I know…I’ve been counting all the firsts of this year. Can’t blame me, 2019 is still so shiny and new, and it’s so easy to be excited for it. Also, indulge a girl and let me count down days and stuff while I still can because by the time February comes around I’m pretty sure I’ll already be tired of saying how many Mondays or Fridays we’ve had.

Anyway, I’ve been contemplating what song I’ll share today because there’s A LOT! So I settled for not one but four songs all jammed in one music video that’s sure to make you cry.

The Lumineers is one of my most fave bands, and their album Cleopatra is my fave album of theirs. I love all the songs in that album, but these four tracks are among their best.

The Ballad of Cleopatra features the songs “Ophelia,” “Cleopatra,” “Sleep on the Floor,” “Angela/Patience,” and “My Eyes.” If you watched it, you could definitely see an interconnected story about a woman, Cleopatra, and throughout the almost 30-minute video you see her in different phases of her life. This hit me hard (and made me cry damn buckets) because it felt too real. I mean, it’s real and I could relate.

The whole video is about choices – its consequences, its outcomes and the inevitable what-ifs that follow each choice. It’s lovely and honest, and seriously, you should just watch this video because my explanation won’t do it justice. I just thought that this video and all the songs in it fit the time we’re in with the year still young and possibilities plenty, as we make new choices that’ll shape us and our lives.

That went deeper than I though it will. Any, I hope the year so far has been good for you. Mine is still hectic, but that’s just work for you. I was fortunate enough to carve some time for myself during my day-off and finish Emma Rous’ The Au Pair, which was awesome! That book comes out tomorrow so you better be in the look out for that.

Alright, here’s where I say bye for now. Til next time! Hanggang sa susunod! 😘

💗💗💗

Rachel

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What are you listening to today?

 

Year in Review (…and some plans going forward)

year in review

I wasn’t sure if I was going to still write this considering a week has already past since the start of this new year, but then again, I think I needed to write this for myself. I have made it known in this blog a number of times just how busy work has been the last couple of months. It continued to be up to the very end, even now I have work-related stuff I need to take care of. But if I’m being honest, it’s not the only reason why I  have decreased my blogging presence.

Truth is I’m feeling really discouraged right now and struggling to continue blogging. I know I shouldn’t compare my journey with other bloggers but it’s hard not to. My numbers have gone down – readership, followers – and I continuously questioned myself if it’s even smart to continue doing this if I don’t have an audience.

But I love reading, and writing about books is my way of expressing my love for this precious thing that has saved me countless of times. I have also met and interacted with really amazing people this past year – fellow bloggers, readers, writers and publishers – people I have met because of this blog. I just can’t leave it.

And that’s when it hit me.

The reason I created this blog was, when I look at it more closely, was me. Yes, I write to share my love for books, I write to get these stories I love and enjoyed to more hands so more people will love and enjoy them, but in the end, this blog is for me, my outlet. It may sound selfish, so be it.

2018 has been wonderful for my reading life. I have read a lot of books that made me feel a whole range of emotions – happy, sad, angry. I have beat my Goodreads challenge for the third year in a row, something I’m really happy about.

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I have enjoyed, even loved most of these books. Among those who stood out for me this year were Sadie (Courtney Summers), Darius the Great is Not Okay (Adib Khorram), The Deepest Roots (Miranda Asebedo), and This is What it Feels Like (Rebecca Barrow). I have also started and finished several book series last year: I finally read His Fair Assassin trilogy (Robin LaFevers) which has been on my TBR for the longest time; the Red Queen series (Victoria Aveyard) concluded this year with the publishing of War Storm, which I enjoyed a whole though it was bittersweet [I’m going to miss all those characters, especially Mare and Cal]; The Gilded Wolves (Roshani Chokshi) which is coming out mid-January, is a promising new series I’m really excited for and you can expect me to talk about it nonstop here on the blog and on Twitter.

I also participated in blog tours for the first time, and got the chance to interview some really awesome authors. My interview, though short, with Sarah Bird and writing duo Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz are some of the highlights of my blogging year.

All these may sound small, but these are achievements for me and I’m kind of proud of myself now that I’m seeing them all laid out like this. I’m not yet sure what this year, what 2019 has in store for me. I’m pretty excited to discover it myself, but rest assured I’m staying and will continue to write.

I’m planning to add a few more feature content just as soon as I think up a theme [or something]. I’m also going to put myself out there more, which scares the crap out of me because if you know me in real life you know that I can be awkward as hell. Requesting more author interviews [please let it work and don’t think I’m weird] and requesting books I really want from publishers are also in my agenda this year. Hey, maybe I’ll even go back to bookstragram, if perfecting and editing my shots won’t take to much of my time.

All these plans are still tentative, except the feature content thing because I’m already writing down ideas for that. I don’t know if they’ll pan out, it’s scary and exciting at the same time, but I think my keyword for this year is “Try” and that’s just what I’ll do. No pressure, whatsoever, just try to do what I intend to do because, after all, I wouldn’t know what’ll happen if I don’t and the guessing, the what-ifs will only end up making me more anxious which never does me any good.

So, anyway [because as usual I don’t know how to properly end a post AGAIN!] I’ll leave you with a song I love. It’s something I tell myself whenever I feel like the world’s crashing on me. Dramatic, yes, but that’s just how the last couple of months felt like for me.

💗💗💗

Rachel

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How was 2018 for you? Link up your year-in-review posts in the comment section so I can read them 🙂

 

First Line Fridays: “The Au Pair” by Emma Rous

First Line Fridays (feature photo)
First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hording Books.


Hey! Would you look at that. It’s already the first Friday of 2019, which means the first of First Line Fridays!

Today I’m going to be sharing the first line of my first read for this year.

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We have no photographs of our early days, Danny and I. A ix-month gap yawns in the Mayes family album after we were born. No first-day-at-school pictures for Edwin, no means of telling which of us two looked more like him at the beginning. An empty double page marks the overwhelming grief that followed our arrival.”

 

 

 

The Au Pair is a very interesting domestic mystery. I’m not yet sure if it’s a thriller because I’m only about 40% in, but it sure does puzzle a whole lot. I’ve practically written question after question, suspicion after suspicion after every chapter. I can’t wait to finally find out what’s what.

The Au Pair is Emma Rous’ debut novel. It comes out on January 8 published by Berkley Books.

💗💗💗

Rachel

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