Book 448: Daddy Dearest – Paul Southern

Southern, Paul - Daddy DearestI’m not going to lie. I am very surprised I made it all the way through this one. VERY surprised. If you’ve followed me for a while you’re aware I’m not the biggest fan of self-published works. I took a chance on this one, because the author reached out to me about a review copy*, but I was a bit overwhelmed at the time and asked him to check back in and he did so very politely. So I figured the least I could do would be to give the book a go.

The reason I don’t read self-published novels often is because they usually haven’t been through a full editing process. Some have had some sort of editing, but most haven’t had the full process (developmental, content, line, copy and proofreading). Unfortunately for this novel, if it did go through the full process, I couldn’t tell and that sucks because the story had a lot of potential and I could tell that as I forced myself to keep reading.

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Book 441: The Madwoman Upstairs – Catherine Lowell

Lowell, Catherine - The Madwoman UpstairsBack-to-back Brontë fan-fictions you say? Hell yes, I say! I honestly didn’t plan it this way, but both books were burning holes on my TBR pile and I wanted to read them before I headed out to China.

I really do need to up my game though, I had no idea this (or Jane Steele) were coming out this year. Unlike Jane Steele, this one doesn’t seem to be making as big of a splash. It could be because it’s a debut novel, or it could be because it’s by a smaller publisher, but I couldn’t tell you for sure what it is.

I know I stumbled across The Madwoman Upstairs after I finally got around to reading an article from The Daily Beast titled Life Lessons From the Brontë Sisters (article link). So of course I reached out to the publisher and they kindly sent a review copy*, which once I started reading I blazed through.

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Book 440: Jane Steele – Lyndsay Faye

Faye, Lyndsay - Jane SteeleThis was incredibly entertaining and fascinatingly fun to read, but it wasn’t at all what I expected. I think perhaps I’ve read too many Austen fan-fiction novels that fit into one of two molds: modern retelling or prequel/sequel. There are the occasional paranormal/sci-fi mash-ups but mostly they fit within those first two molds. This novel was completely different.

I knew it would be different because the Brontë’s are such different writers, but I wasn’t aware how different it would be in terms of fan-fiction. I’ve only read a few Brontë fan-fiction works, 50% or more of which made me want better stories or better writing. When I reached out to the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, for a review copy I didn’t quite know what I was getting into, but I’m definitely glad I requested it!*

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Book 436: Dragons in the Waters (O’Keefe Family #2) – Madeleine L’Engle

L'Engle, Madeleine - Dragons in the Water (O'Keefe Family #2)I am slowly making my way through the final books in the Kairos portion of L’Engle’s oeuvre. This is the sixth book in chronological story order and the fourth book published in the Murray-O’Keefe books (AKA Kairos). It takes place about six months after the action of The Arm of the Starfish and a few years (I think) before A House Like a Lotus which my response should be published later this week.

I’m glad I’ve expanded my L’Engle reading if only to fully finish the Murray-O’Keefe story line, which the more I dig into the less I think I have actually read because all of her works are intertwined, but I think I will be giving her a rest after I finish this Super-Series. With only A House Like a Lotus and An Acceptable Time left to go I think that would be both a reasonable and acceptable dive into L’Engle’s works.

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Book 433: Fool Me Once – Harlan Coben

Coben, Harlan - Fool Me OnceThis is one of those books where you have to wonder where people get their ideas from. I’ve read far creepier books and far more suspenseful books, but Coben’s way with slowly building up to a crescendo and crashing denouement is superb! I know how cliche it is but when I hear someone say they want to read a page turner this is the type of book I think of. I started this at lunch on Wednesday and finished Thursday afternoon, working two full eight-hour days!

As I said in my response to The Stranger, after receiving an advance copy of this from Dutton*, AND hearing my friends Hayley and Kennedy liked Coben, I bumped these up my list and they were totally worth it. I will most definitely be keeping an eye out for any of his other ridiculous number of novels next time I’m at the used book store or local library sale😀

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Book 432: The Stranger – Harlan Coben

Coben, Harlan - The StrangerWHOA. Like really WHOA. It’s books like this that make me think I should give up my list of all the books I want to read and juts read thrillers and mainstream fiction! Who needs literary fiction or classics right? The ONLY downside is authors, like Coben, are SOOOOOO prolific. Even if I wanted to read all of his works, I would feel bad not reading other books. In this book alone he already has 26 other books listed. That’s one more than I’ve already read this year! Too much.

When someone from Dutton* reached out to me about Fool Me Once (Coben’s most recent book released this week) and this novel, I was a bit hesitant at first. I don’t usually read a lot of thrillers unless they come highly recommended by friends and even then they usually languish on my shelf for a long time. The good news is I found out out-of-order that my friends Hayley and Kennedy LOVE Coben! So I bumped these up my list and thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into his world.

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Book 429: The Arm of the Starfish (O’Keefe Family #1) – Madeleine L’Engle

L'Engle, Madeleine - The Arm of the Star Fish (O'Keefe Family #1)I decided to go down the full L’Engle Murray/O’Keefe rabbit hole. It may take a while to finish with other books burning holes in my kindle/on my shelf, but I will finish them!

I wasn’t as sold on this book as quickly as I was with A Wrinkle in Time, but it grew on me. The final quarter of the book was really strong! (And she didn’t rush the ending, or perhaps she did and I’m just used to it now.)

It’s a bit confusing, but I think I have it sorted out as The Arm of the Starfish is the second book written in the Kairos super-series, the first book of the second generation O’Keefe Family series, and the fourth book chronologically in plot line. Looking at the publication dates, it looks like L’Engle bounced back and forth between the two series (and another one) while she was writing in the ’60s and ’70s.

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