Book Review

Book Review: One of Us Is Next (One of Us Is Lying #2) by Karen M. McManus

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Mystery/Thriller
Length: 384 pages
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Delacorte Press for Young Readers
Release Date: January 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling thriller everyone is talking about, One of Us Is Lying! There’s a new mystery to solve at Bayview High, and there’s a whole new set of rules.

Come on, Bayview, you know you’ve missed this.

A ton of copycat gossip apps have popped up since Simon died, but in the year since the Bayview four were cleared of his shocking death, no one’s been able to fill the gossip void quite like he could. The problem is no one has the facts.

Until now.

This time it’s not an app, though—it’s a game.

Truth or Dare.

Phoebe’s the first target. If you choose not to play, it’s a truth. And hers is dark.

Then comes Maeve and she should know better—always choose the dare.

But by the time Knox is about to be tagged, things have gotten dangerous. The dares have become deadly, and if Maeve learned anything from Bronwyn last year, it’s that they can’t count on the police for help. Or protection.

Simon’s gone, but someone’s determined to keep his legacy at Bayview High alive. And this time, there’s a whole new set of rules.

ANOTHER GREAT READ BY THIS AUTHOR.

Oh guys. We all know I’m not a big thriller fan, but McManus continually sways me to that side with her compelling YA centered novels. I loved this second book and thought it wove the characters from One of Us is Lying seamlessly together to bring another book that kept me on edge.

I can’t be the only one that doesn’t love NOT knowing who’s the bad guy in mystery books? This one did a great job of keeping me in the dark until almost the reveal. I was super excited when I started whispering to myself, OH IT’S —- [redacted, of course]. One of Us Is Next always had a heightened sense of drama to it. It wasn’t a basic tale of why they were doing such things, but a deeper tale of grief and anger that can consume someone.

As a romance lover, I adored the tiny tidbits throughout for our characters. It never overshadowed the plot, but gave the characters another layer. Phoebe, Maeve and Knox each had a nuanced level of complexity and personal issues that made me love each one on their own and as a group of friends.

The story was twisted and had a good flair for theatrics. I was surprised by some of the details and secrets that came out. Plenty of tense moments and quick flipping pages to get to the bottom of the mystery!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult mystery/thriller
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: some kisses/make-outs, general discussion of sex life
  • Violence: murder, physical
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault (unwanted kissing/grabbing – Ch. 8), slut shaming, bullying

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Christian fiction
Length: 479 pages
Author: Francine Rivers
Publisher: Multnomah
Release Date: May 9th, 2005
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep. Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside. Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything, Michael Hosea obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation until, despite her resistance her frozen heart begins to thaw. But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she can no longer deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael Hosea does…the One who will never let her go. A life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.

A GOOD UNDERLYING MESSAGE.

I finally got this one off of my TBR. I did enjoy it, but it was also a lot darker than I thought it would be for a Christian fiction/romance.

My heart hurt this entire book for the main character, Sarah. What an awful and debilitating life of trials she has had to endure. At times I was just as angry and upset as I felt she was because the cards of life she had been dealt definitely seemed unfair. I liked Sarah’s character overall. She had a hardened exterior and a tough personality for a reason. Watching her slowly change and overcome what had happened to her was a strength all its own.

Michael is a saint y’all. I was impressed with how much of an enduring husband he became. I can’t even begin to imagine choosing to love someone everyday when they have yet to show you a single kindness. The allusions towards him and representing unfailing love and always having a home were clearly seen.

Some of the side characters were good and others enraged me. I especially did not like Paul whatsoever. Even when he came around at the end I was so over the way he had treated Sarah the entire book. I did love Miriam and thought she was the best kind of friend. She and her family truly welcomed Sarah and Michael into their lives and allowed Sarah to get a chance to see what a family can be like.

At times I did feel lit a got a bit preachy on its subject matter. I mostly thought it did a good job of showing how one kindness and a forgiving mindset can really change the course of someone’s life. I thought this book could have ended a handful of times before it actually did and it caused some chapters to drag. By the end I understood why Sarah had to make some decisions on her own two feet and it really brought her character home.

I will have this in my trigger warning section below, but please read this book at your digression. Some of the subject matter made for a very dark book with more mature themes.

Overall audience notes:

  • Christian fiction + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses, some fade to black scenes with no steam
  • Violence: physical; see next section for more
  • Trigger warnings: child prostitution, sexual assault, rape (including that of a child), thoughts of suicide, suicide ideation

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4) by Deanna Raybourn

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Mystery / Historical fiction
Length: 323 pages
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Publisher: Berkley / Penguin Random House
Release Date: March 12th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell is whisked off to a remote island off the tip of Cornwall when her natural historian colleague Stoker’s brother calls in a favor. On the pretext of wanting a companion to accompany him to Lord Malcolm Romilly’s house party, Tiberius persuades Veronica to pose as his fiancée—much to Stoker’s chagrin. But upon arriving, it becomes clear that the party is not as innocent as it had seemed. Every invited guest has a connection to Romilly’s wife, Rosamund, who disappeared on her wedding day three years ago, and a dramatic dinner proves she is very much on her husband’s mind.

As spectral figures, ghostly music, and mysterious threats begin to plague the partygoers, Veronica enlists Stoker’s help to discover the host’s true motivations. And as they investigate, it becomes clear that there are numerous mysteries surrounding the Romilly estate, and every person present has a motive to kill Rosamund.

A Curious Beginning | A Perilous Undertaking | A Treacherous Curse

AT LAST.

I’ve been given something to work with because hot dang I was about to burn this series alive. I love how well this held my attention and that there wasn’t much dragging in the story. Things kept moving and the curious moments were always around the corner.

If you haven’t been following along with these reviews (I’ve linked them above), I have been desperately waiting for Stoker and Veronica to get their feelings in check and FINALLY admit something to each other. Geez. That was a long time to wait. I’m still not wholly satisfied, but I’m grateful for the small part it did give. There wasn’t as much banter in this book, but Veronica and Stoker still kept things lively. I love their contrasting (yet similar) personalities and how they play off of each other.

This installment was leaps better than the previous book. I found the mystery much more intriguing and couldn’t put my finger on who the villain/villainess was. Until they came on the page with a gun in their hand I was wondering who it would be. There was a much appreciated setting change that threw more mystical lore into the mix. I liked meeting the new characters and the creepy vibes of being in a castle.

I liked the background information I got on Stoker’s brother, Tiberius. It really humanized his choices and personality from the previous books. I found myself really liking his character by the end and feeling sorry for his situation.

There was a definite set up for [what I believe] is the last book. I’m curious how it will all end because of the villain that will be at the forefront of A Murderous Relation.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + mystery
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: murder, poison, near drowning, guns; nothing extremely gory

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: My Very Own Hitman by Izi Miller

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 124 pages
Author: Izi Miller
Publisher: Village Lane Publishing
Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Jessica gets blackmailed into working for a gang boss, the last thing she expects to find is romance. She is certain her bucket list full of wishes- like learning to ice skate and kissing under the mistletoe- will never come true. When she tries to run for it, the boss sends a hitman after her. But when the hitman shows up looking more uncertain than murderous, she proposes a deal. If he’ll give her two weeks to complete her bucket list, she’ll let him take her out without a fight. It turns out a lot can happen in two weeks. Especially when kissing is on your bucket list and your hitman happens to be a handsome billionaire…

This new romantic comedy by Izi Miller will sweep you off your feet with action, adventure, suspense and romance. Hands-down the best clean romance you’ll find this year. Miller has crafted a novella perfect for summer beach reading, and equally well-suited for cozying up by the fire at Christmas. Fans of movies like Holiday in Handcuffs, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Knight and Day will love the hilarious situations the characters find themselves in!

I WOULD READ A FULL NOVEL LIKE THIS.

I saw this as a recommendation on Bookstagram as a light-hearted, entertaining, and a novella that’ll make you smile. And they were right!

This was a short and simple novella with a kinda dark background. Our MC has been wrapped up into gang work and when she tries to escape she runs into a cute stranger. Then said stranger is blackmailed into being her hitman. Y’all, what a plot line. I can’t say I’ve heard this before!

It was definitely a romantic comedy. As Jessica tries to accomplish things off of her bucket list, she drags her hit man off on her adventure. I smiled the whole time through these scenes. They were clever and provided good banter between the two. There’s no intense steam of anything. It’s all very clean and sweet.

I liked the chemistry between the two and how it all wrapped up. For a novella I thought the amount of background information was great and that the story actually had an end point. It’s also around Christmastime so this would be a great wintery novella as well.

Overall audience notes:

  • Rom-com contemporary novella
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: guns, murder, kidnapping

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 365 pages
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: December 10th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends with Us comes a poignant novel about family, first love, grief, and betrayal that will touch the hearts of both mothers and daughters.

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.

COHO WRECKS MY SOUL AGAIN.

I mean, is this a surprise to anyone? This is why I LOVE her books and can’t help but read them in hours because I must know that at some point all the crap subsides and I get my happy ending.

What’s better even and different from a lot of books is that the endings are yes, “happy,” but I feel more so, optimistic. A lot of drama and true human pain reins through Regretting You. It’s not meant to have some super fluffy, run off into the sunset ending. It’s meant to show the strength of a soul and the power it takes to move on when the hand you’ve been dealt is less than ideal.

I connected the most with Morgan. Being a mother myself it was so hard watching her try to shield Clara from the pain and also try to stand on her own two feet. Morgan wanted more from her life than being at home, but it took that home to give her something more. I loved her perseverance (even when she ran away from confrontation). Morgan gave into her wants and was a little bit selfish, in that, finally do something for yourself, kinda way.

Clara on the other hand, annoyed me at times. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her character too, but ooooo boy did she make some poor choices and have an awful attitude. The more I thought about this though, the more I understood Hoover’s intentions. This is a 16/17 year-old dealing with what might be the most traumatic thing she ever goes through and she’s in HIGH SCHOOL. I can’t imagine how hard that would be and I would probably have a lousy attitude for a bit myself. Now, I still am not happy with some of her choices, but I feel that’s my mom voice talking so I’m going to let it be.

My sweet Miller was such a great addition. The poor guy was stuck in the middle of more crap than I would have ever dealt with and did it so dang gracefully. I loved his tender nature and the strength of his own decisions. Miller is such a sweet cinnamon roll and I could gush about him all day.

I love the raw nature of this book and the traumatic instances it chose to dive deeper into. This is a tough subject to write a book about and I appreciated the way it was done. Was it hard to read at times? YEP. But that’s sometimes what makes the book even more fantastic.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult contemporary + romance
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: Kisses, make-outs with clothing removed, a few love scenes that are light/mild detailed
  • Violence: car wreck
  • Trigger warnings: loss of a loved one, cheating spouse/significant other

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Talon the Black (The Dragonwall Saga #1) by Melissa Mitchell

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy romance
Length: 715 pages
Author: Melissa Mitchell
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: February 28th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

What would you do if a dragon fell from the sky? Claire Evans is a small-towner from Indiana faced with this exact situation. When a dragon crash-lands in her corn field, she goes gallivanting off to find it.

This incident triggers a chain of events that sweep our heroine into a complicated plot to destroy a kingdom. At the heart of it is a powerful sorcerer whose only desire is to bring about a past long forgotten, a past that favors those of magical blood and condemns those who are not worthy, a past that would result in the annihilation of peace and the deaths of many.

Claire finds herself thrust into an old fashioned world liken to those she’s grown up reading about, one of fantasy and intrigue. There, she soon realizes that a lifetime of books hardly prepared her. She must face difficulties never before confronted, and in so doing, discover secrets about herself. All the while, there is one obstacle that ultimately stands in her way: The King of Dragonwall. And she needs him on her side if she is to succeed. Will such a thing be possible?

The King of Dragonwall is not like those before him. Troubled and temperamental, he is scarred by more than the events that shaped him. Worst of all, he is mateless. With no queen and no heir, his subjects are demanding he abandon tradition and marry into nobility. But with the rising threats upon his borders, goblin unrest to the east, and talk of an even darker terror to the north, he will soon have far greater problems than that of finding a wife.

Modern meets medieval in this first installment of The Dragonwall Saga, which is full of magical creatures and adventure. In addition, there are a variety of interesting characters, and even a dose of romance.

THE BONES WERE GOOD.

I read this because my sister had recommend it to me, and I love her dearly, but this wasn’t my favorite. Let me give you a quote that accurately describes my experience.

“Where was her plot? What was her purpose? Which path was she supposed to follow?”

I MEAN SAME GIRL. The MAIN CHARACTER, Claire said this. And that is the epitome of this story. Take out about 300 pages (no really, this massive thing is 700ish) and THEN we would’ve had a pretty decent book. The plot jumped allllll over the place. Random character POV chapters, with their own lines that I couldn’t bother to pay attention too. Claire herself was on some kind of adventure. Did I know exactly what that was? Not really. Save the land, be the “chosen one,” the typical stuff was all I gathered.

I was hoping for more romance as well. Nothing crazy, but our two love interests meeting after 350 pages? Not quite what I had in mind. There were some relationships between other characters on the side, but since I knew next to nothing about them I was confused as to why they even liked each other.

Y’all are clearly seeing my issues here. What I gathered from the book is that the bones of the story were good. I could see vaguely how this could honestly be a good book. I mean, there’s DRAGONS everywhere. That was a big reason I picked it up in the first place. I’m holding off on the second book right now, but you never know. I might pick it back up.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy + some romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: some small battles, physical, poison

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

ARC Book Review: Lakeshire Park by Megan Walker

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Regency romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Megan Walker
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: April 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Brighton, England 1820

Amelia Moore wants only one thing—to secure the future happiness of her younger sister, Clara. With their stepfather’s looming death, the two sisters will soon be on their own—without family, a home, or a penny to their names. When an invitation arrives to join a house party at Lakeshire Park, Amelia grasps at the chance. If she can encourage a match between Clara and their host, Sir Ronald, then at least her sister will be taken care of.

Little does she know that another guest, the arrogant and overconfident Mr. Peter Wood, is after the same goal for his own sister. Amelia and Peter begin a rivalry that Amelia has no choice but to win. But competing against Peter—and eventually playing by his rules—makes Amelia vulnerable to losing the only thing she has left to claim: her heart.

Thank you to the publisher, and Netgalley for the eARC in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own!

WELL THIS WAS PRECIOUS.

Thanks to a lucky moment seeing a friends post saying she read and loved this, a Netgalley request that went through, and a feeling for a clean and sweet regency romance and here we are! I adored this book and love this feel good romance.

What I noticed at times was the tiny tidbits I recognized from Pride and Prejudice (I am a BIG fan of that book/movie). This wasn’t a bad thing at all to me because the story was wholly it’s own. I enjoyed seeing these moments and the vibe of this plot was perfectly set up for England 1820.

I didn’t know how smitten I was going to be with the romance at first. I thought it felt at bit insta-ish and it took me a little to grasp onto it. Once I did though, oh. I was smitten with Peter. SO PRECIOUS. I loved the banter between them and the enemies to lovers moments were on point. Amelia and Peter were just the cutest pair you guys.

It was crafty to have this book set-up over a two week time span. I liked that each day was something different and unique for the characters to interact with. It didn’t feel stagnant keeping the location at essentially one home. There was even some drama that never felt over the top (okay, maybe a little, ONLY because this is a regency time period so things that are no big deal now were a big deal then). I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading more books from this author!

Overall audience notes:

  • Regency romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses

Instagram || Goodreads