The Phantom of the Opera

⭐⭐⭐⭐

US Publication – January 7, 2020

Description

Deep beneath the Paris Opera House, a masked man lives in silence…

Every night at the Palais Garnier, hundreds of guests sit on the edge of velvet-covered seats, waiting for prima donna La Carlotta to take the stage. But when her voice fails her, La Carlotta is replaced with unknown understudy Christine Daaé, a young soprano whose vibrant singing fills every corner of the house and wins her a slew of admirers, including an old childhood friend who soon professes his love for her. But unknown to Christine is another man, who lurks out of sight behind the heavy curtains of the opera, who can move about the building undetected, who will do anything to make sure Christine will keep singing just for him…

This curated edition of The Phantom of the Opera, based on the original 1911 English translation by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, brings an iconic story of love and obsession to today’s readers and illuminates the timeless appeal of Leroux’s masterpiece.

My Thoughts

The first Broadway show I saw was Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Phantom of the Opera. I’ve gotten tickets numerous times since, and love seeing new actors in the roles. For someone slightly obsessed with this show, you would think I’d have read the book. Alas, that was not the case until now, but having rectified that issue, I thoroughly enjoyed the differences and similarities between the show and the book.


Spending some quality reading time with the Phantom, Christine, Raoul, and all the supporting characters was time well spent. I look forward to purchasing a hard copy on publication day, as I imagine the book will be beautiful. If you’ve seen the show or movie, you should enjoy this book and if not, it is a great introduction to The Phantom of the Opera!
I received a DRC from Poisoned Pen Press through NetGalley.

You’re Not Listening

🌟🌟🌟🌟

US Publication – January 7, 2020

Description

When was the last time you listened to someone, or someone really listened to you?

“An essential book for our times.”
-Lori Gottlieb, New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

A captivating and enlightening book that provides readers with a road map on how to listen and why it is so important to how we connect, work, and life.”
– Kim Scott, New York Times bestselling author of Radical Candor

At work, we’re taught to lead the conversation.
On social media, we shape our personal narratives.
At parties, we talk over one another. So do our politicians.
We’re not listening.
And no one is listening to us.

Despite living in a world where technology allows constant digital communication and opportunities to connect, it seems no one is really listening or even knows how. And it’s making us lonelier, more isolated, and less tolerant than ever before. A listener by trade, New York Times contributor Kate Murphy wanted to know how we got here.

In this always illuminating and often humorous deep dive, Murphy explains why we’re not listening, what it’s doing to us, and how we can reverse the trend. She makes accessible the psychology, neuroscience, and sociology of listening while also introducing us to some of the best listeners out there (including a CIA agent, focus group moderator, bartender, radio producer, and top furniture salesman). Equal parts cultural observation, scientific exploration, and a rousing call to action that’s full of practical advice, You’re Not Listening is to listening what Susan Cain’s Quiet was to introversion. It’s time to stop talking and start listening.

 

My Thoughts

I had a job where our department’s motto was be here now. The kind of corporate-speak that had most people rolling their eyes and accepting they would have to deal with this new flavor of the year until the next flavor arrived. I had a demanding job where I often interacted with 100’s of people a day. Was I giving any one of them my full attention, or was I always multitasking, always thinking about the next crisis. The most crucial aspect, not just hearing, but listening.


The demands of everyday life have only gotten more challenging. You’re Not Listening is a great reminder or wake up call that we humans aren’t awesome multitaskers and our shortened attention spans harm our personal and professional interactions. The author covers so many topics that make you stop and think. Are your relationships rewarding? No, well maybe it is because you are seen as someone who wants to speak and be heard, but never listens in return.


I became a much happier and more productive person when I talked half as much as I listened. A book anyone would benefit from reading.

I received a DRC from Celadon Books through Edelweiss +.

The God Game

US Publication – January 7, 2020

🌟🌟🌟🌟

Description

“Smart, propulsive and gripping, THE GOD GAME is an ambitious thriller and a terrifying examination of what could–and probably already is–happening in the world of artificial intelligence.”—Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away

You are invited!
Come inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!
It’s fun!
But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

But then the threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?

And what of the game’s first promise: win, win big, lose, you die? Dying in a virtual world doesn’t really mean death in real life—does it?

As Charlie and his friends try to find a way out of the game, they realize they’ve been manipulated into a bigger web they can’t escape: an AI that learned its cruelty from watching us.

God is always watching, and He says when the game is done.

 

My Thoughts

Charlie, Peter, Alex, Kenny, and Vanhi are high-school students. Pegged as nerds, loners, and misfits, and all with something to hide. Family issues, college acceptance, unrequited love, and perhaps even a touch of madness. The one place where they feel accepted is in the Tech Lab at school. Here this group who calls themselves the Vindicators forge friendships and each is valued for their particular skill set.


Their teenage problems will soon become much less significant. An invitation to play a video game, the G.O.D.game proves to be initially intoxicating, thrilling, and quite addictive. Winning leads to cool prizes, but losing has consequences. Each of these Vindicators will discover the cost of this game and the threat of death might be more than an idle one.


This was my first read of 2020, and The God Game was a good choice. The chapters were short and fast-paced, and all of the characters were well written. If you were an outsider in high school(like me), you can relate to the lure of being asked to participate in something special, something that the cool kids don’t have. The ending was great, and not that this ends on a cliffhanger, but I could visualize, more chapters or another book!

I received a DRC from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley.

The Girls with No Names

US Publication – January 7, 2020

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Description

A beautiful tale of hope, courage, and sisterhood—inspired by the real House of Mercy and the girls confined there for daring to break the rules.

Growing up in New York City in the 1910s, Luella and Effie Tildon realize that even as wealthy young women, their freedoms come with limits. But when the sisters discover a shocking secret about their father, Luella, the brazen elder sister, becomes emboldened to do as she pleases. Her rebellion comes with consequences, and one morning Luella is mysteriously gone.

Effie suspects her father has sent Luella to the House of Mercy and hatches a plan to get herself committed to save her sister. But she made a miscalculation, and with no one to believe her story, Effie’s own escape seems impossible—unless she can trust an enigmatic girl named Mable. As their fates entwine, Mable and Effie must rely on their tenuous friendship to survive.

Home for Unwanted Girls meets The Dollhouse in this atmospheric, heartwarming story that explores not only the historical House of Mercy, but the lives—and secrets—of the girls who stayed there.

 

My Thoughts

The next time I am dwelling on something unfair that happened, I am going to remember to be grateful for not being born in the early 1900s. Women had no rights and it didn’t matter if you were rich or poor, step out of line, and you could be sent to a place like the House of Mercy. If you think that the people there spent time and effort trying to help these girls, you would be mistaken. The girls were treated horribly and often sent to this type of place for the egregious crime of just not conforming to a man’s expectation.


Effie and Luella are sisters from a wealthy family. They love their parents, but their father is often away, and their mother lives a mostly joyless life. Luella is the more adventurous sister and Effie, poor, sweet Effie, born with a heart condition that makes her grateful for every breath. When the sisters discover something unpleasant about their father, everything changes. Luella disappears and Effie is certain she has been sent to the House of Mercy. Effie will do anything to find and free the sister she loves. While entering the House of Mercy may be relatively easy, leaving will be a different story.


The story is told by Effie, her mother, Jeanne, and Mable, a girl Effie meets at the House of Mercy. Effie has no idea of the horrors waiting for her. Between the sheltered life she lived, her poor health, and the fact that Luella is not there, learning to trust Mabel may be her only salvation.


This is the kind of book I reach for when I just finished binging my way through a pile of psychological thrillers. The pace is slow, it’s character-driven, and it tells a story set in a time that I know about from history, but not well. It didn’t keep me up late, make me cancel plans, or abandon my commitments, but it was a perfect read on a cold day that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I received a DRC from Harlequin-Park Row through NetGalley.

Such A Fun Age

⭐⭐⭐⭐

US Publication – December 31, 2019

Description

A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown-up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

My Thoughts

Alix and Peter Chamberlain are an up and coming couple with all the benefits life have to offer. One night, they call their babysitter, Emira, and ask her to come over and take their daughter Briar to the store. This isn’t the norm, but something has happened at their home, and they do not want Briar upset. Emira and Briar head off the local upscale grocery, and before long a security guard gets involved, making a terrible assumption about Emira.


This event turns into a cause that Alix feels she can champion. It exposes truths and the many differences between these two women’s worlds. Alix, white and privileged, and Emira, black and trying to make ends meet while attempting to figure out her place in the world. But is Alix helping Emira or herself?


Told from both women’s perspectives, it is an easy read, but one that had me thinking quite a bit about our society of have and have nots, as well as the very real problems associated with race and gender. The writing is wonderful and the characters seemed so real, just flawed people living within the bounds of the life they know. Not an easy task with the subject matter, but the author did an amazing job crafting a timely tale.

I received a DRC from G.P. Putnam’s Sons through Edelweiss +.

Good Girls Lie

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

US Publication – December 30, 2019

Description

Goode girls don’t lie…

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions, and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

My Thoughts

Ash Carlisle has come to The Goode School, an elite boarding school. One day, she will inherit a large fortune, but for now, she is utterly alone in the world, both of her parents recently deceased. Ash is from England, though the differences between her and the other students make her seem more like an alien who has just landed on planet Earth. All she wants to do is keep her head down, avoid trouble, and get a good education. But the Goode girls have other ideas, as this institution values trust, honesty, and integrity, as long as those things don’t interfere with the senior girls who run the secret societies.

Told from multiple perspectives, we soon learn that not everyone values the truth. Add in a suicide, hazing, extreme privilege and wealth, and murder, and you have to wonder if Ash is an innocent victim or the one responsible for all the chaos. As the pages flew by, the suspense built, until this twisted tale ends with a satisfying, jaw-dropping moment. My guesses about whodunnit and why were solid( I thought), but ultimately, all wrong. An engaging read for a rainy fall day( or any kind of day)!

I received a DRC from Harlequin-Mira through NetGalley.

Good Girls Lie

goodgirlslie

4.5 stars

US Publication- 12/30/2019

Description

Goode girls don’t lie…

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

 

My Thoughts

Ash Carlisle has come to The Goode School, an elite boarding school. One day, she will inherit a large fortune, but for now, she is utterly alone in the world, both of her parents recently deceased. Ash is from England, though the differences between her and the other students make her seem more like an alien who has just landed on planet Earth. All she wants to do is keep her head down, avoid trouble, and get a good education. But the Goode girls have other ideas, as this institution values trust, honesty, and integrity, as long as those things don’t interfere with the senior girls who run the secret societies.

Told from multiple perspectives, we soon learn that not everyone values the truth. Add in a suicide, hazing, extreme privilege and wealth, and murder, and you have to wonder if Ash is an innocent victim or the one responsible for all the chaos. As the pages flew by, the suspense built, until this twisted tale ends with a satisfying, jaw-dropping moment. My guesses about whodunnit and why were solid( I thought), but ultimately, all wrong. An engaging read for a rainy fall day( or any kind of day)!