Deputy by Merle Temple (Once Upon a Time in Mississippi Series, Prequel)

Abraham Lincoln once said “My Best Friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.” Merle Temple gave me 3, so y’all need to step it up, just sayin’ *grins*. I was fortunate enough to be given a copy of Deputy in exchange for an honest review and I honestly loved it. Merle has a talent for weaving a story line that hooks you from the first sentence and refuses to let go. His descriptions are incredible and I fell in love with his characters, well most of them. Some of them I hated. And James Streeter broke my heart!! Seriously, if you haven’t read Deputy, you really need to. I genuinely don’t understand how this book hasn’t received more attention than it has because it was an adventure all the way through and I can’t wait to read book 2

The Gaia Effect by Claire Buss

In City 42, Corporation takes care of everything for you. They protect you from the radiation outside of the wall. They also control the food, water, technology, and most importantly, who is privileged enough to be able to have children! Jed and his wife, Kira, are lucky enough to win collection and are given a beautiful baby girl. But, then, some of their friends become pregnant naturally. How long has Corporation been lying to them? Is it really toxic outside the walls or would it be safe for people to begin to live outside again? As the small group of friends begins to start looking for answers they find more questions but they also that there are powerful forces at work that are more powerful and ancient than the ones that are trying to keep them under control.
I was fortunate enough to be given a copy of The Gaia effect in exchange for an honest review and I really found the concept to be interesting. I particularly enjoyed the characters and their relationships with each other. I found it interesting that most of the group wanted to experience motherhood as naturally as possible, even Kira, who was got her baby through collection, instead of using all of the technological advances that could make things easier for them. My favorite character was definitely Martha and Kira and my favorite relationship was the one between Ingrid and Pete. He definitely knew how to draw Ingrid out of her shell. I hope there’s going to be a sequel that shows what happens next to this little group of friends and the rest of City 42. There’s so much potential here!

Thread and Spool by Holly Hook (A Twisted Fairy Tale book 1)

Brie has a special ability. She can weave thread into gold. And, oh, has she learned that she can’t trust anyone with this knowledge! Her parents only keep her around so they don’t have to work and they can gamble their money away and now her boyfriend is using her to supplement his allowance and grow his video game system collection. When she, somehow, gains the attention of King Henrik, an elf named Stilt comes to her rescue and helps her cross into the magical world of Fable, where everyone is a character in a fairy tale, in an effort to hide her from the king, at least long enough to keep her safe.
This was a very interesting reimagining of the Rumplestiltskin story and I really enjoyed it. It made me laugh a few times and I really enjoyed that the “bad” characters didn’t necessarily have to stay bad and that some of them were trying to overcome their stories. The entire concept was interesting to me and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

The Arrivals by Melissa Marr

Chloe walks into a bar, blowing 5 years of sobriety and the next thing she knows she finds herself waking up in a completely unfamiliar world. Where she fell asleep in the year 2013, she finds herself in something that can be only compared to the old west of American history. Here she meets a group of people from all times and places who have arrived at different times. There’s Kitty and Jack Reed, a brother & sister from the actual wild west; Edgar, a prohibition bootlegger; Francis, a one-time hippy; Melody, a mentally unstable housewife from the 1950’s; and Hector, a former carnival artist. None of them know why or how they’ve arrived there other or how they’ll make it home, if they ever do. But they’ve banned together to fight to survive against the creatures and the people that populate this strange new world filled with monsters, some of whom are the human kind.

The Arrivals once again showed the talent that Melissa Marr has in world creation. She managed to make you feel like you were actually there. She didn’t just create a world but managed to populate it with a variety of creatures, of both the human and nonhuman variety. The citizens of the towns managed to show the instinctual mistrust that many of us have of anyone that’s different and how much different can you be than someone that’s appeared out of nowhere dressed in the various time periods? I love the characters, even the ones that are evil. I particularly loved Garuda and enjoyed the scenes between him and Kitty. I enjoyed that unlike so many fantasy genre novels, there was no one that was completely evil (okay, Ajani came pretty close. He was seriously slimy) or completely good. They all have flaws. I loved the relationships between all of the Arrivals and the way they had each other’s backs, especially Kitty and Edgar, and of course Kitty and Jack, all while they gave each other crap. They were like a real family. I really loved watching the relationship between Chloe and Jack evolve. All in all, it was interesting seeing Melissa Marr’s foray into writing an adult novel but I really enjoyed it.

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

After being cast from her home due to becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby, sixteen year old Noa moves begins living in a small railway station. To earn her keep,she keeps it clean. One bitterly cold night, she hears a baby crying and discovers a boxcar filled with Jewish infants on their way to the concentration camps. Reminded of her own baby that she was forced to give up, Noa can’t help but to snatch one right off of the train car and run, a decision that will change the course of the rest of her life! As she stumbles through the snowy woods, she finds a German circus that takes her and the baby in. At first, she’s determined to stay long enough to get herself and the baby, whom she names Theo, warm and strong enough to run, but the circus offers to hide them and keep them safe. But, in exchange, Noa must learn to become an aerialist and fly on the trapeze, so that she can blend in undetected. This does not endear her to the other performers, especially the lead aerialist, Astrid. But as the two women train together a bond is formed and they have to decide if they can trust each other with the secrets that they are each hiding.
This story grabbed my heart and attention from the first sentence and didn’t let go until the end. I laughed and cried with Astrid and Noa as they went on their journey and loved everyone that crossed their path, even the ones I hated. There were very few who were completely evil, no flat characters in this story. Everyone had a backstory, something that made them what they are, except the very minor characters who you barely saw. And even they made an impact. The author is a very talented story teller and I can’t wait to read more. I can definitely tell that she did her research and she incorporated it seamlessly. I can’t wait to read more by this author!

Don’t Hold Back by Missy Johnson (Love Hurts #4)

Erin is a 24 year old brain cancer patient and, according to he best neurosurgeon in Australia, they’ve exhausted all options and there’s nothing that they can do. She decides that she’s going to live life on her own terms for her last few months and see the places that she’s always wanted to see. Erin decides to take a 2 month trip to Europe. The catch is she doesn’t want to take a friend or family member, she wants to take a stranger, who won’t coddle her or tell her she looks too tired, she wants someone who won’t let her miss out on living the last days of her life. So, she puts an ad on Craigslist for a traveling companion. Cade, due to areas of his own life that are, shall we say less than perfect, answers her ad and is the lucky guy chosen to be Erin’s traveling companion for her once in a lifetime adventure. I love Erin’s positive, giving heart, her zest for life and the way she doesn’t want to let her disease get in her way. I love Cade’s adventurous nature and the way he is so protective of Erin. I love the way the two of them interact and their sense of humor.
I received an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review and I’m so very thankful that I did! This was such such a sweet, heartbreaking, joyful, tearful adventure! It was an arc so it wasn’t edited but this didn’t detract from the story at all and it was a 5 star story all the way around!

Flicker by Melanie Hooyenga

Biz is a perfectly normal teenager except for the fact that she can use sunlight to “flicker” and jump back to yesterday. She uses it to retake trig tests that she didn’t do well on, fix fights with her boyfriend, or relive particularly good dates. The only drawback is that flickering makes her head feel like it’s going to explode from the inside. She’s managed to keep this ability to herself even though this puts a serious damper on her dating life. Guys don’t really stick around for too long because she won’t let them too close since she can’t risk them figuring out her secret. Then she starts dating her friend Cameron, and starts wondering if things could be different. All of a sudden she’s getting butterflies like she’s never gotten over any guy over her best friend! But all of a sudden little girls in the area are being kidnapped and the kidnappings are linked to Cameron’s sister, who disappeared years earlier. As the police search for clues, Biz photographs a man in the shadows and begins to think that she might be able to use her flickering to help more than herself. Maybe she can figure out what’s happening to these girls.
When I was offered the chance to read this book, I was intrigued. The concept was unique and I was glad to be one of the ones chosen to read and review. It’s definitely well written and kept my attention all the way through. I enjoyed all of the characters but particularly the relationships between Biz and Amelia, Biz and Cameron, and Biz and her dad. I even stayed up late last night because I couldn’t bear to stop reading! Great work, Melanie, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.