Review: The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy

Review: The Possessions by Sara Flannery MurphyThe Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy
Published by Harper Collins February 7, 2017
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Amazon US
Goodreads

In this electrifying literary debut, a young woman who channels the dead for a living crosses a dangerous line when she falls in love with one of her clients, whose wife died under mysterious circumstances

In an unnamed city, Eurydice works for the Elysian Society, a private service that allows grieving clients to reconnect with lost loved ones. She and her fellow workers, known as “bodies“, wear the discarded belongings of the dead and swallow pills called lotuses to summon their spirits—numbing their own minds and losing themselves in the process. Edie has been a body at the Elysian Society for five years, an unusual record. Her success is the result of careful detachment: she seeks refuge in the lotuses’ anesthetic effects and distances herself from making personal connections with her clients.

But when Edie channels Sylvia, the dead wife of recent widower Patrick Braddock, she becomes obsessed with the glamorous couple. Despite the murky circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s drowning, Edie breaks her own rules and pursues Patrick, moving deeper into his life and summoning Sylvia outside the Elysian Society’s walls.

After years of hiding beneath the lotuses’ dulling effect, Edie discovers that the lines between her own desires and those of Sylvia have begun to blur, and takes increasing risks to keep Patrick within her grasp. Suddenly, she finds her quiet life unraveling as she grapples not only with Sylvia’s growing influence and the questions surrounding her death, but with her own long-buried secrets.

A tale of desire and obsession, deceit and dark secrets that defies easy categorization, The Possessions is a seductive, absorbing page-turner that builds to a shattering, unforgettable conclusion.

After I finished reading The Possessions, I had to use my Phone a Friend to discuss the genre labeling. I’ve seen some call it a romantic thriller, but I wouldn’t call it that. I’ve seen some call it a fantasy, it is in a sense, but that didn’t seem quite fitting either. We settled on psychological thriller. It’s absolutely got the psychological part down, the thriller part is there but slightly more understated.

In fact, so much of this book is written in an understated way. More on that in a minute, first let’s get to the housekeeping bit.

Edie spends her days as other people. She channels them for money, with the help of a little white pill. She never remembers the experiences, it’s as if she falls asleep for awhile as a deceased spirit takes over her body. Then she wakes as herself again. Herself, however, isn’t much of a person. She rarely socializes with others, she has more possessions belonging to dead people than she has of her own. She moves through her day always waiting to escape herself and become someone else. Someone dead.

She looks at me as if I’m the invading spirit in her child’s body.

Edie is very good at moving through her life in a systematic and cold way. She has to be in order to avoid a past she won’t discuss and does not want to remember. Patrick, a new client, makes that all the more difficult. He’s hired her to channel his wife who’s death is surrounded by questions. Edie immediately feels a connection, but that connection is more with Sylvia, the dead wife, than with Patrick – the man she believes she’s falling in love with.

The Possessions introduces an interesting and thought provoking plot. If you could, would you want to contact a deceased love one? To what end or purpose? Is it healing or does it draw out the process of grief? All of these things are touched on in this tale. But one other thing is, as well. If a spirit could inhabit your body for a short period of time, could they do it for longer? Would they ever want to leave it?

For a crooked second, Sylvia is in the room with me. A drowned specter, white skin peeling away like fruit rind, eyelids eaten into filigree by the fish.

For Edie and Sylvia, that’s the key question, as Sylvia becomes more and more a part of Edie and Edie is all too willing to let her stay. To be her. The more time she spends as Sylvia, with Patrick, the more she digs in to Sylvia’s life…and her death. A search that eventually uncovers everyone’s secrets, including her own. 

Back to that understated part. Murphy wrote this book with a slow pace that still keeps you excited enough to turn the page. It’s written with a creepiness that’s indirect, I guess would be the word for it. It’s not blatant on the page. You feel like you are reading normal, every day thoughts of a lonely and quiet woman, until she thinks of wanting to slide her fingernail under skin and peel it all away. Then it’s right back to a sense of quiet normalcy.

It’s a strange read, very different than anything I’ve read in quite a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did wish the end had been a bit stronger, but it felt genuine to Edie’s character, so I won’t give it too much flack. It’s a solid start to Murphy’s career and I’ll be watching for more from her. 

 


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Review: Anti Stepbrother by Tijan

Review: Anti Stepbrother by TijanAnti Stepbrother by Tijan
August 21, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 321
Format: Audio, eBook
Source: Purchased
Length: 10 hours 26 minutes

He told me to settle.
He asked what was wrong with me.
He called me an easy target.
That was within minutes when I first met Caden Banks.
I labeled him an *sshole, but he was more than that. Arrogant. Smug. Alpha.

He was also to-die-for gorgeous, and my stepbrother’s fraternity brother.

Okay, yes I was a little naive, a tad bit socially awkward, and the smallest amount of stalker-ish, but if Caden Banks thought he could tell me what to do, he had another thing coming.

I came to college with daydreams about being with my stepbrother, but what if I fell for the anti-stepbrother instead?

*Stand-alone novel

Where has CADEN BANKS been my entire life?!

Or more importantly why have I waited so long to read a title from TIJAN?!

I picked up AS shortly after its release in August for my reading preparation for the Mile High Author Event last year and I seriously FELL IN LOVE, madly in love with this book.  I’ve learned after quite a bit of trial and error that I love brooding heroes, quirky heroines, college romances, and somewhat realistic situations… Well this book had it all!  And I can’t go without mentioning that there was a Gilmore Girls’ reference which basically sealed the deal for me.

So with my growing obsession of audiobooks I seriously was on pins and needles waiting for the audio to release and it did not disappoint.  November 15th was marked on my calendar and as soon as the day came I listened all day and fell even more in love with Summer and Caden then I even thought possible.

Bailey Carr and Vikas Adam performed this story perfectly!

Summer Stoltz has this festering crush on her stepbrother Kevin and now that they are in college together she finally thinks its her chance… until she meets Caden Banks the big asshole.  But as time passes and her what begins as an accidental run in with Caden, who also happens to be Kevins fraternity brother, turns into a friendship that no one expected it becomes harder to see him as the  asshole she initially judged him as.

Summer and Caden develop this easy routine where they fall in line with one another and it felt like watching two magnets connect without any fuss.  I adored that so much of the book was spent exploring their friendship and adjusting to each others needs and then wanting to insert themselves into one anothers lives.

And once feelings are recognized is it only one sided?  What if the want for more than a friendship isn’t reciprocated?  All the unknowns surely can drive a person crazy.

Then the plot turned a bit more serious than I expected and for me this either goes one of two ways: it crashes and burns or it is the greatest thing to ever happen.  Since I want to give this book a million stars I am sure you can guess which direction it went.

Perfection, I don’t know what else to say about this book other than it was perfectly timed and executed.  In fear of ruining it with spoilers I will say whether you read the ebook, paperback, or listen to the audio the book translates well in any case!  One more thing, CHAPTER 35, chapter fucking 35.  Seriously I don’t want to admit how many times I’ve listened/read that specific chapter but I will say that it is in the double digits. 

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Behind the Cover Story: Rocked Up by Karina Halle & Scott Mackenzie

by Karina Halle
Also by this author: Dust to Dust

Behind the Cover Story is a cover reveal with an exclusive guest post from the author about said cover. Maybe, it’s an explanation of how they came up with the concept. Maybe, it’s how they found their model. Maybe, it’s more than that.

Rocked Up is a STANDALONE rockstar romantic comedy and the fun and sexy brainchild of New York Times bestselling author Karina Halle and her husband Scott Mackenzie.

I have been watching him since I was a child. 

He didn’t notice me back then and it didn’t matter. Brad Snyder, guitarist and singer for one of the world’s greatest bands, was my entire life.

My father, the CEO of Ramsey Records, takes credit for all of Brad’s success, trying to control him in the same way he’s controlled me.

But I finally get an opportunity to prove myself. 

To be wild. 

To be free.

Today I’m auditioning to be the replacement bass player for Brad’s band. If I get the job, I’ll go on tour and work with Brad every day, in very close proximity.

There’s only one rule: he’s not allowed to touch the boss’s daughter.

Remember when I said that Brad never used to notice little ol’ me?

Well, Brad’s noticing me now.

In a way that’s going to get us both in trouble.

My name is Lael Ramsey and we all know how this will turn out.




~ Guest Post~




Cover designer extraordinaire Hang Le and I have been working together for a long time. I think the first work she did for me were logos for The Artists Trilogy back in 2013! I’m talking old school.


This cover wasn’t that different from any of the others. It usually involves me contacting Hang with my next book, telling her my feelings about the cover and what the book is about and then she runs with it. She always reads my mind and if she doesn’t, it’s a much better version of what I envisioned.


For Rocked Up she surprised me. I mean, how hot is this guy on the cover? Where did she find this perfect sexy specimen? He was the perfect Brad Synder (the rockstar hero in the book)…not only that but it’s also classy and fun at the same time. Nothing wrong with a shirtless guy, but since I wrote this book with my husband, we wanted a cover he could be proud of. And there’s the fact that most of my covers in the past don’t have a man on it, so I wanted some kind of happy medium. I think this cover both showcases a sexy guy while still retaining a lot of mystery.


And of course there’s Hang’s fun touch with the pregnancy test logo! Yes, the book does contain the trope of an accidental pregnancy so it ties it all in and lets the reader know they are in for a read!

 

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About Karina Halle

Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of Where Sea Meets Sky, Racing the Sun, The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.


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Review: Unhinge by Calia Read

Review: Unhinge by Calia ReadUnhinge Published by Ballantine Books Genres: Romantic Suspense, Suspense
Pages: 401
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

Hold your breath and count to ten. Soon it will be over before it ever began.

No matter how many times Victoria Donovan repeats that phrase to herself, she’s still trapped behind the walls of a mental institution. Once upon a time, her life was like a fantasy: Wes, the handsome fiancé, followed by a storybook wedding and a white picket fence. But then a picture-perfect marriage twisted into something sinister. And as Victoria’s world warped from dream to nightmare, her husband’s obsessions pushed her beyond the breaking point.

At first Fairfax Mental Health Institute seems like a safe place for Victoria to heal with her baby, Evelyn, and to hide from Wes, presumed dead by everyone except Victoria. Her husband is still alive, she has no doubt: He slips into her room at night to torment and tempt her. One smoldering kiss and she’s powerless. Of course, no one believes her about these visits. When she meets a sexy, mysterious stranger intent on helping her recall her past, Victoria isn’t sure she can trust him. But deep in her heart, she also knows that the only way out of Fairfax is to remember the way she came in.

I finished Unhinge by Calia Read about two months ago and that woman knows how to fuck your mind a thousand ways till Sunday and leave you with your jaw hanging on the ground. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Okay this is only my second title from her but both times I have been completely flabbergasted!

Never am I ever able to predict anything that happens in her books, I drive myself half insane trying to come up with scenarios that all end up being wrong.

Pretend Mommy had me super intrigued since Unravel and whoa… whoa… whoa…

Victoria whether she be the villain or the victim her story is one that kept me on the edge of my seat! I’ve said this before but just to drive my point home, Calia Read is one of the most descriptive writers I have ever read from. She describes without over indulging in needless details but the picture she paints is vivid and vast. I can see everything playing out in my mind from the garden Victoria has grown to the master bedroom she shares with her husband.

Pretend Mommy, Victoria, is a character we were introduced to in Unravel as mentioned but we know from the start of her story she is already “crazy” seeing as she is in Fairfax to begin with. So with that knowledge it’s hard to believe that she really isn’t crazy and I mean her nickname is Pretend Mommy.  This is one of the reasons I am basically bald after reading Calia Reads books because for the life of me I cannot predict anything, she is just that damn good! 

Carrying on with Victoria she has no knowledge of how she ended up in a crazy facility or why she is there… her only memories are of her husband and even those are extra spotty. Wes seems to be the perfect husband who gives Victoria the entire world and they live this perfectly polished life until the subject of children is brought up.  It definitely adds in some kinks to what seems to perfect when they become reproductively challenged.  Their days become longer, nights turn colder, touches no longer linger and they can’t seem to find their way back to what once was.  

Then… it all makes sense and my mind is FUCKED! I had to keep reading the same parts over and over not because anything was wrong  with it but because I just couldn’t believe what happened like how did she pull all that off right under my nose.  Bam, bam, and bam freaking damn genius Calia Read is.  

If you like/love suspense you NEED to read this!~

 


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