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Binding of Bindings #13: March Book Wrap-Up

Another Day, another Week, Another MONTH!
WOOOOO! Can you feel it?
Those Spring vibes!!!
Can you feel it in your bones?! Don’t you wanna just DANCE?!

New Books, new themes, new characters, NEW EVERYTHING!
BYE MARCH! It was nice knowin’ ya!
But we’re leaving you behind and dancing into April like…

But first, let’s recap.

 

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~ * ~ March Book Wrap-Up ~ * ~

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1. We Set the Dark on Fire (Book 1) by Tehlor Kay Mejia

We Set The Dark on Fire

So I’ll admit, March started off a little bit on the s****y side for me.

BUT, Bad Books + Forced Positive Outlooks = No F****s Given!

We Set the Dark on Fire is set in a world where girls are trained at a young age how best to serve men they are eventually purchased as a wife. In this world, each man has two wives, one for giving him children and the other to be his right hand. The story starts as our main character, Daniela, is approaching graduation and the start of her new life as a Primera, helping her husband and serving him in any way she can. But she has a past she is trying to keep hidden, and to keep her secret she is forced into making a deal with a rebel group. Basically the rest of the story is her acting as a spay…blah blah blah.

It’s not a bad book, I just didn’t really care for it. My mind kept wandering while reading, there was an exaggerated use of detail that took away from the story, and I didn’t connect with any of the characters.

Oh well.

(See my review here)

 

2. Yesterday I Was the Moon by Noor Unnahar

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This book of poetry will make your heart sing.

There are countless poems in here that EVERYONE can connect or relate to. It is a book of poetry for every soul, and it is just so damn beautiful.

Some are uplifting, some are heartbreaking, and some just make you want to do a little dance with hearts in your eyes.

These poems just make you feel GOOD.

Here is one of my favorites:

It only takes

a second or two

to look into their eyes

and decide

whether you’re home

or at just another

perfectly decorated house

 

Okay…one more.

 

You’re the moon

and the world is

a lonely wolf; it cries

at the sight of you

for you are glorious

and so out of reach

 

3. Bloodleaf (Book 1) by Crystal Smith

Bloodleaf

What a lovely beginning of March it was.

Like a roller coaster.

First it went down, then it went up.

And then, it went down again.

Bloodleaf is the retelling of “The Goose Girl” and has royals, magic, murder and…a pacing that is way too fast for a series.

It is about a young girl named Aurelia, who is the princess of Renalt. In Renalt, anyone who is suspected of wielding magic or being a witch is put to death. So when the secret comes out the Aurelia is…UH Oh…a witch, she is forced to leave. The destination? The kingdom of Achleva, where the prince she is betrothed to resides.

Along the way her traveling party turns against her, her “friend” takes her place as the princess, and they leave her for dead. The rest of the story is how she makes her way into Achleva, meets a mysterious guy named Zan, and they both try to save the kingdom.

For me, the story went WAY too fast considering it is supposed to be a series. I wanted the author to drag out scenes more, help me get to know the characters better, have a CONNECTION. But no such luck.

(See my review here)

 

4. As Directed (A Maggie O’Malley Mystery, Book 3) by Kathleen Valenti

As Directed

Oh s**t, we’re back in it!

Toss out EVERY one of those other Suspense Thrillers you have collecting dust on your over-stuffed shelves!

Allow Kathleen Valenti to come into your life, fill you with snarky characters, bask you in the sunlight of witty metaphors and countless twists and turns.

Obviously, this is the third book in this series. Did I read books 1 and 2? No, not yet. But was it necessary to read this WoNDERFUL book.

No.

It is the story of Maggie O’Malley as she starts her new career as a pharmacy technician. One day while walking down the aisles, she trips over an unconscious body, who eventually is pronounced dead. But it starts to get strange when two more bodies are found unconscious in an aisle. Soon the media leaks that there may be a series of poisonings affecting customers. The story continues with Maggie searching for clues as to who the culprit is, and finding some seriously scary stuff along the way.

It is FANTASTIC, please read it. Your inner sleuth begs you

(See my review here)

 

5. Girls with Sharp Stick (Book 1) by Suzanne Young

Girls with Sharp Sticks

My March just kept getting BETTER and BETTER!

My dreams came true, and Simon and Schuster sent me a physical ARC of Girls with Sharp Sticks for review…and let me just say…I almost died.

Of EXCITEMENT!

This book, was

It is set in a future that is basically the present, but…sort of the future.

At Innovations Academy, young women are bred for perfection. They are taught manners, to stay in top physical form, and above all else, to be obedient. The girls at Innovations Academy listen to EVERYTHING the men who run the academy tell them, because naturally, they know best. But when one of the girls starts to act out, it starts a chain reaction and many girls start to realize that what they see and know is only the surface of what is really going on.

I know that’s vague. But this book is anything but.

It touches on BIG issues that women face on a daily basis. It will hurt your soul to watch these characters be belittled and hurt, but you will have an overwhelming sense of empowerment by the end. 

(See my review here)

 

6. Alarum (Walking Shadows, Book 1) by Talis Jones

Alarum

Allow me to introduce you to the reason for my new obsession with Dystopian Westerns.

The U.S. has fallen, and in its wake is a lawless country. Children have been ripped from their families, pushed into Corrals, trained to be soldiers and slaves, and then sold to the highest bidder. This story follows a girl with many names, as she traverses this new world and tries to make sense of it.

It is EVERYTHING I could hope for in a Dystopian Western. As a lover of Mad Max, this story is just dripping in female badassery that closely embodies the goddess Imperator Furiosa.

I am currently Beta reading for book 2 in the series (YAY) and I cannot wait to finish it. This series is going to be addicting and so enjoyable to read!

(See my review here)

 

7. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

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I haven’t done my review for this yet, but SOON, I promise.

The Truth About About Alice should be required reading in every high school.

Each chapter switches back and forth between characters, who are all gossiping and talking about Alice. It is a story of rumors, of the cruelty that your peers can bestow on you, and the strength it takes to stand up against it.

I really loved reading this story, and can’t believe I waited this long to get to it!

 

8. White Rose by Kip Wilson

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You might want to cry, but don’t.

White Rose is a book of celebration.

White Rose is based on a true story and follows Sophie Scholl as she joins an anti-Nazi resistance group called, you guessed it, White Rose. It flips back and forth between the “before” and the “end” of her time in the group. With several other German University students, Sophie and the group created leaflets that spoke out against the tyranny and oppression of the Nazi regime and Adolf Hitler.

The group distributed the leaflets all over Germany, in the hopes that it would compel others who craved a Germany that embodied justice, to rise up. Though the story ends with the death of Sophie and Hans School, and Christoph Probst being convicted of treason and sentenced to death; it is a beautiful and inspiring story about young people who stood up when few others would. 

But the best aspect of this story, is that the entire book is in poems. It gives each scene and character an incredible voice, and it was SUCH a pleasure and gift to read.

(See my review here)

 

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I hope your March ended as wonderful as mine did!
But that’s in the past!
HELLO APRIL!!

Stay Witchy!! XoXo

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · JKS Communications · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: As Directed (A Maggie O’Malley Mystery #3) by Kathleen Valenti

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, JKS Communications, on behalf of the author, Kathleen Valenti, for an honest review.

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Plot: In the shadow of a past fraught with danger and tainted by loss, former pharmaceutical researcher Maggie O’Malley is rebuilding her life, trading test tubes for pill bottles as she embarks on a new career at the corner drugstore. But as she spreads her wings, things begin to go terribly wrong. A customer falls ill in the store. Followed by another. And then more. The specter of poisoning arises, conjuring old grudges, past sins, buried secrets and new suspicions from which no one is immune. As Maggie and her best friend Constantine begin to investigate, they discover that some of the deadliest doses come from the most unexpected places.

Opinion:

There I lay.

In my bottomless pit of book misery, with barely a flicker of light left to guide me out…barely a glimmer of hope simmering in my half-glass empty outlook.

A place where I succumbed to the endless flimsy writings of lackadaisical descriptions and characters. A position of easily hypothesized conclusions and plot directions.

A pungent prairie of bloodcurdling eye-rolls and overly dramatic sighs of “OH, COME ON!”.

BUT THEN

out of NOWHERE.

I was WRENCHED from my abyss of sorrow and boredom, dropped into the witty palms of Kathleen Valenti, and delivered to the pages of snarky writing and perfectly dramatic depictions.

AT LAST!

I have been brought forth from the book depths of hell!

I can finally go on.

Maggie O’Malley has just her career as a pharmacy technician at Petrosian’s Pillbox, but things aren’t starting out so well. Maggie literally trips over the unconscious body of a Petrosian’s customer in one of the drugstore aisles, with an assumed heart attack being the cause of his fall. But when two more customers are found unconscious, Maggie and the officials start to suspect foul play. When it leaks that there may be a string of poisonings affecting customers, the drugstore is shut down until further notice while an investigation is conducted. But Maggie decides to take matters into her own hands by searching for clues as to who may be cause. With a young girl with leukemia and her mother being some of the victims, and a seedy reporter with dubious intentions, Maggie must work quickly to find out what’s happening. But a blast from her past will only make things more difficult, and more dangerous.

Kathleen Valenti is my new favorite suspense/thriller writer.

This lady just GETS it.

Too many times have I been forced (forced is a strong word, but I live for the dramatics) to endure the blasé characters who were meant to be relatable, but were really just annoying and overly love-obsessed like a young Aphrodite in a Twilight spin-off. Too long, have I guessed the killer before half the book was read, or fell asleep before then! *Sigh*…too many times have I dreaded the reading of a mystery story for the fear that it would turn out more sex-driven, and less who-done-it.

As Directed, is none of those things. This book was FANTASTIC, kept me reading into the late hours of the night, and is the reason for my disheveled appearance today. It was so good that my copy of the book is filled with colorful tabs of witty conversations and descriptions that I just COULDN’T get enough of. As I started reading the prologue, I knew this story was going to be a gem. In fact, I knew it in the first four sentences.

“Claudia Warren took too long to die.

She should have been dead when her lungs stopped inflating, when her brain stopped communicating with the rest of her body. But her heart kept beating, even as her cells began to necrotize and the blood pooled in her muscles.

Claudia couldn’t even die right.”

I found myself smirking the entire time I read because of the cheekiness in this authors writing. She has a purely refreshing gift for the dramatics, and she writes with an eloquence that exudes a facetious banter that literally makes you snort with pleasure. She has such a comical and fresh way with words, and she turns every mediocre action of a character into a sentence of poetic bliss!

“Brock crossed the street and looked over his shoulder. Maggie sank against the doorway of an apartment building, melting into shadow guarded by two cement lions. She held her breath as Brock studied the dark, reading the gloom like tea leaves, then released a slow stream of carbon dioxide as he resumed his trek.”

The character of Maggie is incredibly relatable and a woman I wouldn’t mind stalking…in books, obviously. She has gusto, a formidable sense of right and wrong, and literally has NO FEARS when it comes to danger. This girl reminds me a nosy and sarcastic blonde we all know and love, Miss Veronica Mars.

BUT what Maggie lacks in constant witty one-liners, her fiancé Constantine MORE than makes up for it. His repertoire of clichés and metaphors like “birds of a felonious feather” or “strangers on the train in D Minor” are TO DIE FOR, but his constant state of happy-go-lucky is really what makes me adore his character.

“They didn’t need to make a plan. The didn’t need to discuss. Like twins separated at birth, Maggie and Constantine were tied by an invisible umbilicus that united mind and spirit, sensing what the other knew, experiencing what the other felt. It was a connection that had guided them through a baptism of fire. It also came in handy while playing Pictionary.

But maybe the BEST aspect of these two characters is the fact that their love isn’t being shoved down our throats and out our eye sockets. The author portrays moments of love and care between the two, gives evidence of their strong connection, but doesn’t drown the reader in too much lovey-dovey. This story focuses on the PLOT, not the LOVE…and I couldn’t be more thankful. I could tell their romance is a “friends first” type of love, and it really comes across strongly while reading.

But the real gem of this story, is the plot.

The author took me through a lengthy maze of suspects and clues, possible outcomes and plausible reasons for who the culprit could be. But as soon as I felt like I was on the scent, Kathleen snuck in a trail of Reese’s Pieces at the edge of the scene to distract me and lead me in a new direction! Very sneaky. What I appreciated most about this story though, was the countless layers that were created to mold this tale into a formidable thriller tale. It wasn’t just a one-dimensional story of a killer with a grudge. There were side-stories that added dramatic effect, and minor characters that had minor roles, but who played a major part in diverting attention and/or crafting a brilliant synopsis. I really couldn’t ask for more out of a suspense/mystery/thriller.

Did I mention that I haven’t even read the first two books in this series?

That’s right, I haven’t.

But the story flowed so well, and cleared up moments from Maggie’s past that I got by just fine without them. Though of course, now I’ve been hooked and MUST go back and read them! Sly Kathleen, very sly.

5-stars

 

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