DISAPPEARING EARTH by Julia Phillips


Publisher: Knopf
Release Date: May 14, 2019

Guess I need to file this one under “you can’t love them all.” I feel bad for not liking this book, because it got so many five-star ratings on Goodreads. From the blurb and title, I was expecting DISAPPEARING EARTH to be a suspense/thriller, maybe somehow related to climate change? Not the case. (That last part about climate change was just my imagination.)

I was intrigued because the novel is set on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. I don’t know much about that area, and it sounds fascinating. The book begins with the kidnapping of two young girls, and if you’re only interested in the mystery of their disappearance, then just read the first and last chapter.

The in-between chapters are stand-alone short stories with new characters, and each story has some very loose connection to the kidnapping. For example, one story is about a girl whose best friend’s mother won’t let them go into the city alone anymore because stranger danger.

Overall, I thought the book was dull, and with such a huge cast in a fairly short book, the character development was lacking. Like I mentioned, most readers seemed to love DISAPPEARING EARTH, so please check out their reviews.

I do love the concept of taking a theme and weaving together a collection of related short stories. I read Alice Hoffman’s THE RED GARDEN and BLACKBIRD HOUSE a few years ago and really enjoyed them. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS by Susan Meissner


Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Release Date: February 2, 2021

THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS is a wonderful and absorbing story of survival, friendship, and motherhood. Set during the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, this work of historical fiction weaves together a bit of mystery and an emotional family drama with characters I won’t soon forget.

Sophie is an Irish immigrant who answers a mail-order bride ad placed by a man in San Francisco. It seems like widower Martin Hocking can provide her with the life she craves β€” a comfortable home far away from the slums in New York City, and a child to raise named Kat, the young daughter of Martin and his deceased wife.

Sophie’s relationship with her new husband is odd, and sometimes his behavior is unusual, but she has security and a family, and that’s what matters. That is, until a very pregnant woman named Belinda shows up at her house the night before the great earthquake. The lives Sophie, Kat, and Belinda have known are about to come crashing down figuratively & literally!

I won’t go further into the plot, but just know that if you’re a fan of 20th century historical fiction, I highly recommend THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS. Susan Meissner is a gifted story teller who creates complicated characters readers will understand and enjoy. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

“It is the nature of the earth to shift. It is the nature of fragile things to break. It is the nature of fire to burn.”

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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THE INITIAL INSULT by Mindy McGinnis


Series: The Initial Insult, #1
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: February 23, 2021

THE INITIAL INSULT gives a modern YA spin to the imagination of Edgar Allan Poe, taking inspiration from several of his classic tales of suspense. In Amontillado, Ohio, at the condemned Usher House, Tress Montor devises a sinister plan to get information out of her former best friend, Felicity Turnado.

Tress’s parents disappeared seven years ago, and the only witness was Felicity, though she’s buried any memories of that terrible night in her subconscious. So in The Cask of Amontillado style, Tress plans to wall up Felicity, brick by brick, in Usher House’s coal chute, unless she finally admits what happened to Mr. & Mrs. Montor.

This book was strange and dramatic, and gruesome at times. None of the characters were particularly likable, but I’m glad there was a dual narrative between Tress & Felicity, so at least we could hear where both were coming from. There was also a third POV from the character “Cat,” whose voice was confusing. I’m not sure that being inside Cat’s head was necessary.

Something to note: THE INITIAL INSULT is the first book in a duology, so it’s left open-ended in regards to the mystery of the missing parents and other points. There was A LOT of drama going on in this book (drug abuse, animal cruelty, bullying, class struggle, family secrets), so I’m assuming the second book will make sense out of everything, though we’ll have to wait until next year to see. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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SHIVER by Allie Reynolds


Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: January 19, 2021

If you’re needing a chilling winter thriller, SHIVER is it! This gripping locked-room mystery is set in a deserted ski resort in the French Alps, and Milla & four friends, all former snowboarding competitors, are invited to a reunion weekend there. The only one missing is the sixth member of their group who disappeared at that same location a decade ago and is presumed dead. (OK, right away, what a disturbing place for a reunion!)

I loved the frozen, desolate, and desperate atmosphere the author created. It may be off-season, but the weather is still bitterly cold and deep snow abounds. The friends quickly realize that something is wrong. Their phones go missing, the cable cars stop running, and there are no staff members to be found. Someone is clearly messing with them, and trying to remind them of Saskia, gone these past 10 years. Is it an outsider, or one of their own group?

Overall, this was a fantastic nail-biter that flipped back and forth between present day and ten years earlier, in the time leading up to Saskia’s disappearance. My only quibble was the large amount of snowboarding details, which slowed the pace down somewhat. If you enjoyed ONE BY ONE by Ruth Ware, you’d probably enjoy SHIVER β€” same atmosphere, yet its own unique mystery. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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ROOT MAGIC by Eden Royce


Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Release Date: January 5, 2021

Reading ROOT MAGIC was such a joy β€” can I give it more than five stars? The protagonist, 11-year old Jezebel Turner, is a mighty and memorable middle grade heroine. Set in South Carolina in 1963, the story follows Jezebel as she begins to study rootwork, a tradition passed down from her Gullah ancestors. Root magic is misunderstood by many to be something evil, but her Uncle Doc is teaching her the good ways it helps the community. She must use her newly developed powers to save herself and her family from malevolent forces threatening them, and not just otherworldly ones.

There’s so much I loved about this book, and Jezebel is such a relatable character. What stood out for me in particular was the message of friendship and discovering it in someone unexpected. The story was suspenseful and creepy at times, which kept me glued to the pages. The ending chapter was so moving, and of course, I was sad to see it end! I would love to read a sequel about Jezebel and her family, and find out what their futures hold. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

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