Book Review

Book Review: The Cloisters by Katy Hays

Rating: ★★★
Genre: Mystery 
Length: 320 pages
Author: Katy Hays
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: November 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.

Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.

A haunting and magical blend of genres, The Cloisters is a gripping debut that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Thank you to Book Club Favorites and Simon & Schuster for the gifted copy.

BORING.

Goooood heavens. I thought I was getting one book and got another and I’m sad about that.

Things started off well, I liked the initial vibes and was curious about how all of this was going to go down, little did I know, how monotonous it would be.

Mostly it’s Ann going to work, hanging out with coworkers and occasionally finding something interesting. THEN SOMETHING EXCITING FINALLY HAPPENED, a murder! Who’s done it?! And while for a minute there I wasn’t sure, it became pretty clear, pretty quickly, who it was.

And then I spent the rest of the book trying to speed (3x audio) read through it.

The writing itself was good, it was the organization of plot and ideas that I found lacking. Parts of the ending had some tidbits that were interesting and at last gave the book the “dark” academia vibe I was told it had.

I just really needed more in many areas.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mystery
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: closed door
  • Violence: medium
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: murder, fatmisia, drug use and abuse, car accident

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun (Finlay Donovan #3) by Elle Cosimano

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Mystery
Length: 304 pages
Author: Elle Cosimano
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: January 31st, 2023
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Author and single mom Finlay Donovan has been in messes before―after all, she’s a pro at removing bloodstains for various unexpected reasons―but none quite like this. When Finlay and her nanny/partner-in-crime Vero accidentally destroyed a luxury car that they had “borrowed” in the process of saving the life of Finlay’s ex-husband, the Russian mob did her a favor and bought the car for her. And now Finlay owes them.

Mob boss Feliks is still running the show from behind bars, and he has a task for Finlay: find and identify a contract killer before the cops do. The problem is, the killer might be an officer themself.

Luckily, hot cop Nick has just been tasked with starting up a citizen’s police academy, and combined pressure from Finlay’s looming book deadline and Feliks is enough to convince Finlay and Vero to get involved. Through firearm training and forensic classes (and some hands-on research with a tempting detective), Finlay and Vero use their time in police academy to sleuth out the real contract killer to free themselves from the mob’s clutches―all the while dodging spies, confronting Vero’s past, and juggling the daily trials of parenthood.

From USA Today bestseller and Edgar-Award nominee Elle Cosimano, comes Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun—the highly anticipated, hilarious, and heart-pounding next installment in the beloved Finlay Donovan series…

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

NEW FAVORITE OF THE SERIES.

I really liked this one y’all!! I think with the second I was expecting a different kind of story, but with this one, I changed my mindset and enjoyed it all the more. This is very much like a cozy mystery but with pizazz. There’s a bit more drama, a bit more high stakes, and even a bit more romance. All things I am here for in the Finlay Donovan world.

This was another fun installment that had me bursting with laughter and definitely swooning. YES THE ROMANCE I’VE BEEN AFTER FINALLY MOVES SOMEWHERE. The slow burn has been real but I have known where my loyalties lie from day one and I am currently a happy camper.

I still don’t know if I like Vero? I don’t have any solid reasons why y’all. It remains to be seen if she’s a great friend and sidekick or someone I gotta watch out for.

There’s a bit of predictability with the plot, yet it’s an enjoyable comfort in the wildness that is the plot in general. I like the writing style and the quirky characters and many others things about this series. I look forward to seeing where Finlay ends up next!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Mystery
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: one fade to black
  • Violence: med-high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: murder, attempted murder, gun violence

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Book Review

Book Review: Girls of Salt and Sea by Natalia Macias Lucia

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
Genre: Thriller + Romance
Length: 484 pages
Author: Natalia Macias Lucia
Publisher: Lightkeeper Press LLC
Release Date: August 26th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

“Don’t go back to Halcyon Bay.”

24-year-old Dell Costa knows nothing of the island where she was born, nor of the distant family that calls it home. For years, she’s lived a world away from Halcyon Bay, fiercely protected from the secrets of her past. But when Dell receives notice that her estranged grandmother has died, and her mother falls into a sudden downward spiral, she is determined to figure out why.

Returning to the island one stormy night, Dell resides at her grandparents’ seaside estate over a long weekend of funeral proceedings, learning of her family’s tragic history and the strange local folklore concerning drowned girls. With the help of a captivating young fisherman, Dell discovers that her childhood home teems with dangers at every turn—some even lurk beneath the crashing waves.

Nothing on Halcyon Bay is as it seems on the surface, and when small town whispers prove to be more than hearsay, Dell finds herself at the center of a dangerous plot with deadly repercussions.

In Girls of Salt and Sea, debut author Natalia Macias Lucia weaves a sultry, atmospheric tale dripping with haunting secrets, electrifying romance, and dark loyalties. Readers will be swept away on a thrilling wave of suspense into a story as intoxicating and mysterious as the sea itself.

___

Note: Girls of Salt and Sea is a new adult contemporary fantasy with some dark content. Please refer to the author’s website for a list of content warnings. 

READ THIS.

I’m not generally a thriller gal. But a friend gave this such a good recommendation I couldn’t help but download it. I actually went in thinking it was a romance (whoops, though there is a romance!!), and after a few chapters and realizing my mistake I was loving it enough that I kept going and I’m glad I did!

The writing was incredible. A debut author who knows how to write and I love it. The only issue I had was some minor pacing things where I thought it slowed down a touch too much here and there.

I loved the murder mystery. It really kept me guessing. And even at the end I was looking like a fish out of water when even more things kept being brought to life. I LOVED IT. I love the way this story was woven. How you had to double check each character wondering who was on what side.

I enjoyed the romance too (and would have loved even more of them). I thought it fit well into the story and they were a couple I wanted to root for. Also meaning, I better get more of them in the next book!!

Any who, really loved this. Highly recommend.

Overall audience notes:

  • Thriller
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: brief/vague fade to black
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: drowning, suicide, mental illness, physical and weapons violence, physical and emotional abuse, brief remarks about a rumored sexual assault against a child, grief, alcohol and drug use, cults, murder

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Book Review

Book Review: The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

Rating: ★★★
Audience: Thriller
Length: 352 pages
Author: Simone St. James
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 15th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect–a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases–a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.

They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?

A true crime blogger gets more than she bargained for while interviewing the woman acquitted of two cold case slayings in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Sun Down Motel.

GREAT AUDIOBOOK.

I love a cast in an audio read and this hit the mark for me. I flew through it in that regard because I can’t get enough when the narration is on point.

Story wise, the first half was GREAT. I was perfectly spooked (because I like my thrillers on the mild side of scary). Very much intrigued by what was happening and how these two women’s stories were going to collide.

Buuuut, maybe I just have an issue with ghosts in books? I don’t know. When the ghost came out to play I found myself more detached from the novel. Or it could be that the second half was super predictable so it draaaagged a lot. This combination led to my disenchantment by the end.

I liked the extremely subtle romance and the back story behind the main character. This actually wove into the rest of the plot well as to why Shea was making certain decisions.

While a bit of miss for me, it was still a good read.

Overall audience notes:

  • Thriller
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: murder (with graphic descriptions), child sexual abuse, alcoholism, miscarriage mentioned, gun violence

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