Book Review

Book Review: A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Mystery
Length: 368 pages
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: December 7th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Hired by families as a last resort, he requires only a single object to find the person who has vanished. When he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—he’s led to a place many believed to be only a legend.

Called “Pastoral,” this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it… he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.

Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis’s abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there’s a risk of bringing a disease—rot—into Pastoral. Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister, Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove their perfect, isolated world isn’t as safe as they believed—and that darkness takes many forms.

Hauntingly beautiful, hypnotic, and bewitching, A History of Wild Places is a story about fairy tales, our fear of the dark, and losing yourself within the wilderness of your mind.

WELL THAT WAS TWISTED.

If you have the option, definitely go with the full cast audio book. I’ve read Ershaw’s young adult books and liked the atmosphere, but often felt they were slow. Reading with the audio book helped speed things up and I think this was an awesome adult debut.

This story was wiiiiild. And so trippy. Started off really creepy and dove into things I didn’t see coming. I was actually blindsided by the twist at the end. An interesting choice, but I thought worked well in the case for the plot. Which is fine, I’m good with that. I thought there were plenty of likable characters. All of the main characters were easy to read their stories, I wanted to cheer for them and help them get out.

Very much bewitching, I liked the tidbits of magical realism too. It made sense and completed the story better than without those extra pieces. I liked this one soooo much better than her young adult books. This hooked me enough that I’m back to wanting to read whatever Ernshaw writes next. Always great writing, spooky atmosphere, and a small dash of romance and whimsy.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mystery / Magical Realism
  • Language: little
  • Romance: multiple vague open-ish door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: suicide by overdose, grief/loss depiction, loss of a loved one, execution by hanging, physical altercations, manipulation and gaslighting

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Unknown Beloved by Amy Harmon

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: Historical Romance
Length: 413 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: April 19th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the bestselling author of Where the Lost Wander and What the Wind Knows comes the evocative story of two people whose paths collide against the backdrop of mystery, murder, and the Great Depression.

Chicago, 1923: Ten-year-old Dani Flanagan returns home to find police swarming the house, her parents dead. Michael Malone, the young patrolman assigned to the case, discovers there’s more to the situation—and to Dani Flanagan herself—than the authorities care to explore. Malone is told to shut his mouth, and Dani is sent away to live with her spinster aunts in Cleveland.

Fifteen years later, Michael Malone is summoned to Cleveland to investigate a series of murders that have everyone stumped, including his friend and famed Prohibition agent Eliot Ness, now Cleveland’s director of safety. There, in a city caught in the grip of a serial killer, Malone’s and Dani’s paths cross once again.

Malone is drawn to Dani and her affinity for the dead and compassion for the destitute. It doesn’t take long for him to realize that she could help him solve his case. As terror descends on the city and Malone and Dani confront the dark secrets that draw them together, it’s a race to find the killer or risk becoming his next victims.

Thank you to the author for an eARC.

ALL THE STARS.

I am forever attached to Harmon and her writing magnificence. The beauty and portrayal of the nuances of every aspect of her stories is immersing and impossible to turn away from. The moment this dropped onto my kindle I read it was quickly as I could as once again, I have nothing but good things to say.

AH THE ROMANCE. If you love a good age gap romance, this one is for you. I looooved the way that Dani and Michael came together. Through learning about each other’s backgrounds, to the slow forced proximity of their situations. And at last to the clashing of their souls has love took them under. It was everything subtly beautiful I love in a romance. I constantly needed more of them because each interaction pulled at my heart and while I loved Dani and Michael separately, I also loved the way they stood together.

The gritty murder mystery throughout was definitely hard to read in the dark at times. A bit gruesome and will keep you on your toes. I constantly was waiting for the other foot to drop and for the those final throw down scenes to ramp up my heartrate. Don’t worry, IT HAPPEEND. I liked the conclusions that were brought through to the end to tie up things for a book (even with the author’s note at the end explaining creative differences for the sake of the story).

This review is already a lot longer than my usual because I can’t STOP. I loved everything about this story. Amy Harmon writes historical romances like no other.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical Fiction Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: closed door
  • Violence: med/high blood and gore
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: kidnapping, gruesome depictions of murder, dismembering, gun violence, murder/suicide

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead (Finlay Donovan #2) by Elle Cosimano

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Mystery + Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Elle Cosimano
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: February 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From Edgar-Award nominee Elle Cosimano, comes Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead—the hilarious and heart-pounding follow-up to Finlay Donovan is Killing It.

“A funny and smart, twisty and surprising series.”—Megan Miranda

Finlay Donovan is—once again—struggling to finish her next novel and keep her head above water as a single mother of two. On the bright side, she has her live-in nanny and confidant Vero to rely on, and the only dead body she’s dealt with lately is that of her daughter’s pet goldfish.

On the not-so-bright side, someone out there wants her ex-husband, Steven, out of the picture. Permanently. Whatever else Steven may be, he’s a good father, but saving him will send her down a rabbit hole of soccer moms disguised as hit-women, and a little bit more involvement with the Russian mob than she’d like.

Meanwhile, Vero’s keeping secrets, and Detective Nick Anthony seems determined to get back into her life. He may be a hot cop, but Finlay’s first priority is preventing her family from sleeping with the fishes… and if that means bending a few laws then so be it.

With her next book’s deadline looming and an ex-husband to keep alive, Finlay is quickly coming to the end of her rope. She can only hope there isn’t a noose at the end of it.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

WILD RIDE.

Wow did I eat this up in a day. Even when I get frustrated with the story I can’t help but be charmed by the writing. It’s easy to consume and has a rollercoaster of events to keep things moving.

Finlay and Vero are at it again. Trying to solve the mystery of the hit put out on Steven. I couldn’t believe some of the things they were getting up to and some of the decisions being made. While I can’t fathom making some of them and have to suspend reality a bit (since it gets ridiculous at times) I still like how high stakes it feels. There’s many well timed moments and parts that I just couldn’t put the book down.

I don’t love Vero. Maybe it’s because I don’t fully trust her? I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop about her background and thank heavens all will be revealed [hopefully] in the next book because I NEED ANSWERS. Yes there’s more to come. A fact I didn’t know prior and want to state now.

I am alllllllll team Nick. ALL IN. This love triangle has also kept me intrigued and I like the push and pull from both sides. I want all the romance with him. I appreciate the many layers to this story and how deeper things keep going. It’s a bit twisted, with a good dash of humor and intense moments.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mystery + Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: heated make-outs & light innuendo
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: attempted murder, gun violence, murder, kidnapping, loss of a loved one, extortion

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Book Review

Book Review: The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult mystery
Length: 384 pages
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 1st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A Cinderella story with deadly stakes and thrilling twists, perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying and Knives Out.

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.

Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION.

Well this held my attention from the get-go.

How trippy to find out you’re all of a sudden an heiress because someone decided to give you all of their money? WhOa.

What a wild mansion. I loved that there was so much to the entire house. The random tunnels, hidden spaces, the amount of rooms, all of it. Without such a obscene amount of rooms to create this land there wouldn’t have been a story. It added many adrenaline pumping moments and times where I was taken by surprise.

The riddles were brilliant and well put together. I love when I can’t solve things right away because it really adds to the mystery and suspense of the novel.

Throw in a group of four brothers with hidden pasts and their own issues and we’ve got a ourselves some side characters. I loved these Hawthorne brothers!! What didn’t I love? That dang love triangle. Boooooo. It wasn’t too much of a distraction, but the stronger feelings became the more I was hoping things would go one way or another.

After that bomb drop of an ending I’m invested. I want to know how this sequel works out because I have twice the amount of questions.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult mystery/thriller
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: guns, physical, someone passing away from a heart condition

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