Review: The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz

The Dark GameThe Dark Game by Jonathan Janz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is the story…
…of 10 writers…
…picked to live in a mansion…
…and compete against each other…
…for one prize.

Find out what happens when people stop being polite…
…and start getting KILLED.

This was a fun little read!
I could definitely picture this as a movie and I actually think it may have worked better for me in that format.

As you may know from reading the synopsis for the book, 10 writers are selected to attend a summer-long writing retreat at a private estate property. Their host, Roderick Wells, is a renowned author himself who is eccentric and creepy AF.

We meet the 10 writers fairly rapidly at the beginning of the book and for me, I had a hard time distinguishing between some of the characters throughout; particularly the male characters.

We learn a bit about each of their pasts with particular focus on the personal demons haunting them. Some of these past reflections were definitely cringe-worthy. Something about the estate brings these pasts back to life to each character in vivid detail and with often horrific consequences.

The gruesome scenes were definitely that and well done in my opinion.
But again, I just had a hard time keeping track of the who and the what; it was a lot to take in.

The general story line was interesting AF. I loved the premise. I wanted a bit more from the atmosphere. I think it was so large in scope, as far as the estate and its grounds went, that it lost a bit in translation.

This is my second Janz novel and I would say I enjoyed my first, The Nightmare Girl more. This being said, I will absolutely continue to read his works.

If the premise of this one sounds interesting to you at all, pick it up! I would be interested to hear what other readers think of this one.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Flame Tree Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox, #1)Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book stole my heart.
My whole freaking heart!

I went into this knowing one thing: Japanese-inspired fantasy. Nothing else.
I was hooked from the very first chapter.
The tone of the writing, the lush world…

Anime brought to the page in the best way imaginable.

In the land of Iwagoto, the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, has the power to bring forth the Kami Dragon. The dragon is capable of granting the summoner a single wish. If they are pure of heart, theoretically, all goes well, if they are not, all hell breaks loose.

This has happened before and in order to protect the land, the scroll was divided and the separate parts hidden away to prevent such disastrous consequences from happening again. People are always in search of the parts, however, as combining them whole could grant the summoner unrivaled power.

Yumeko, has been raised in the Silent Winds Temple where one piece of the scroll has been hidden. When the Temple is attacked by demons, Yumeko is forced to flee, with the scroll. She promises the monks she will transport it to another hidden temple where she will receive further directions.

Trained her whole life to hide her Yokai nature, Yumeko, half kitsune/half human is a master of illusion and mischief. She is also the most sweet and sticky baby cinnamon roll I have ever read in my whole life and I just love her to the moon.

On the run, Yumeko meets up with Kage Tatsumi, a samurai of the mysterious Shadow Clan. Tatsumi has been sent out in search of the scroll. He finds Yumeko close by the now destroyed temple and promises to get her to her destination safely. Of course, he has no idea, she carries on her what he seeks.

They meet up with another character along the way, Okami, a ronin, basically a traveling samurai without a master. He begins to travel with them and quickly became my favorite character. A source of almost constant humor, I just cannot imagine this story without him.

One of my most loved tropes in literature is a quest. I heart a quest all day long. A ragtag group of characters trying to get from Point A to Point B, overcoming obstacles along the way, nothing keeps me turning pages faster.

This was a great set-up for a fantastic quest. The stakes, the secrets, the magic, the world, I fell head-over-heels for it all. And don’t even get me started on the hella SLOW-BURNING romance!

I am actually happy I didn’t read this right when it released because I would have been in agony waiting for the next book. Now I only have to wait two months…
Wait a minute, two months!!?!!?

That still feels like an extraordinarily long time.
Maybe I will have time to read this one again…

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Review: The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

The Lies We ToldThe Lies We Told by Camilla Way
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Clara’s boyfriend, Luke, doesn’t return home one night, she prays there is some sort of logical explanation. He had too much to drink and slept it off at a mate’s flat, or he worked too hard prepping for an interview and fell asleep at the office. But as the hours tick by, she begins to suspect something much darker may have happened to him.

Increasingly concerned about his whereabouts, she ends up contacting their old friend, Mac, as well as Luke’s parents. No one has seen or heard from him. After some prodding, she notifies the authorities and he is formally listed as a missing person.

After the police find CCTV footage of Luke getting into a mysterious van, Clara knows for sure, something sinister has happened to him but what?

Along with her good friend, Mac, Clara begins an investigation of her own and discovers Luke may not be the person she thought he was.

I had so much fun with this book. I flew through it, I couldn’t put it down!

There’s no boring domestic drama prattle here. This is a right and proper Adult Thriller.

The dual narrative kept the story flowing at such a sensational pace with reveals coming just when you needed them. I trusted no one. Everyone was a suspect in my eyes and that made it so exciting. The ending — chills. LOVED IT.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am only sorry I didn’t pick it up sooner.

If you are an Adult Thriller fan, and you have been sleeping on this one like I had been, just stop. Pick this up. I would be shocked if you were disappointed!

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Q1 2019: Best Books

The first quarter of 2019 has come and gone. Thus far this year, I have completed 55 books. This is amazing to me. I cannot even believe it! I am 26 books ahead of schedule to meet my Goodreads 2019 Reading Goal.

In addition to the sheer number, I have also been amazed by the quality of books I have been reading. I have given a lot of 5-star reviews so far this year. I am not sure if this is luck or if perhaps I know better what I like since I am reading so much and am just selecting better for myself. Who knows? Regardless, I have been very pleased with the outcome.

Some standouts for me during the first quarter (completed between January 1st and March 31st) are the following:

  1. An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen – This was actually the first book I completed this year and I was so impressed. What a great way to kick off a reading year. This is a fast-pace and suspenseful Adult Thriller examining what happens when the line between doctor and patient blurs. Highly recommend for Thriller Readers!
  2. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King  This short-story collection by the King was published in 2010 and is comprised of four stories, three of which have been adapted into Netflix movies. I was blown away by how much I loved this set as a whole. All four of these were 4.5-to-5 stars which is a rarity, in my opinion, among short-story collections. King knocks another one out of the park!
  3. Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage – This Adult Horror/Thriller novel uses the old ‘evil child’ trope to tell a wickedly delightful and horrifying tale. Man, I loved this. Hooked from the very first chapter, I absolutely flew through this one! For fans of The Omen and The Orphan horror movies but really, any horror fan should give this one a try!
  4. They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera – Set in a future world where you are told when you have 24-hours left to live, this story follows two boys who make a friendship on that last day and teach each other how to live. I laughed, I cried, I loved. This book. My heart. That is all.
  5. One Day in December by Josie SilverThis Adult Romance novel is the shock of the year for me. As you may know if you follow me, I’m not really a romance reader or a romantic person in general. I picked this book from my TBR jar and am infinitely glad that I did! This was funny and well-paced. It was messy and real and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminded me a lot of Bridget Jones Diary (the movies, I haven’t read the books) and I am so down for that ‘type’ of romance. I would definitely recommend this to any Adult reader; particularly if you cherish good humor in your books.
  6. The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley – This Adult Mystery/Thriller had all the plot points of a classic Christie work but wrapped with a nice, big modern bow. The characters were unlikable, the setting was brilliant, the whodunit was compelling and I was guessing right up to the very end. This book played on one of my favorite tropes, the ‘locked room’ mystery trope and I am here for that all day and all night. Definitely recommend for Mystery fans who do not need to ‘like’ their characters.

That’s it, guys. Those are my favorites for Q1. What are some of your favorites from the first part of the year? Tell me about them in the comments below or you can contact me through any of my social media.

For more information on any of the books I talk about in this post, just click the book covers pictured above!

Cheers & Happy Reading!


Final Thoughts: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

((Savage SCREAM))

That was SO GOOD.
Help me, I’m dying.

Wicked Saints is the first book in an all new YA Fantasy trilogy called, Something Dark and Holy. A more apt name for a trilogy has NEVER existed. This is so dark, so damn holy. ((clutches pearls))

This is a debut novel for this author and guys, WOW. If this is Duncan’s debut, she is definitely an author to watch.

I picked this up the day before release, as I was generously provided a copy by the publisher, Wednesday Books, in exchange for an honest review, and I am hella obsessed with this story.

The tone of this is very grimdark and we all know, I live for that. Basically, in this world, there is a holy war that has been raging for centuries between two kingdoms: Kalyazin and Tranavia. We follow three main characters: Nadya, Serefin and Malachiasz.

The world is vast and complex, yet feels like nothing to learn. Last week I reviewed another YA Fantasy book, I won’t name here, but I mentioned how I felt like I needed to be taking notes as the town the characters lived in was being explained.

That shook me out of the story and made it hard for me to connect. With this book, even though this is a vastly more complex world, I never felt that. Whilst reading Wicked Saints, I felt like I am living these events along with the characters. I never felt that I didn’t understand what was going on or how the world worked.

This, to me, is a sign of a great fantasy construct; well thought out and balanced. Even though this story takes place in a world that is being created from scratch, although clearly based on Russian/Eastern European lore, culture, etc., it never feels overwhelming and in my opinion, does not suffer at all from the dreaded ‘first book in a series’ syndrome.

Nadya, the main female protagonist, is the most fascinating to me. She was raised in a monastery in the mountains of Kalyazin where the clerics and others can commune with their pantheon of gods. Nadya is very special as she is able to commune with all the gods and she can gain magical powers from them.

Even more interesting is the fact that the gods talk back! She wears a necklace around her neck with a different bead representing each of the different gods. Depending on the situation, and what powers she may need, she holds that bead and asks that god for help. The gods are all developed with their own personality and they can offer up guidance, a friendly chat or just be silent.

I love this aspect! It makes me think of the Disney animated movie, Hercules, all the different gods you meet in that and their personalities; so much fun. It is a very unique element. I have never read anything quite like this in a YA Fantasy before.

So, due to circumstances I won’t get into here, Nadya is forced to flee the monastery, fearing for her life, and once on the road bumps into a traveling trio that includes another of our main characters, Malachiasz.

Now, Malachiasz is a complex character and one that would be a little difficult to explain without going into too much of the story. Let’s just say he was once part of a very dangerous and secretive order of powerful blood mages in the kingdom of Tranavia called the Vultures.

I know, right!? Doesn’t that sound creepy and ominous AF?

Yep. The Vultures are hella creepy masked guys and gals with the most murderous of intentions. They are so scary and powerful that they are referred to as ‘monsters’ by people outside the sect. Malachiasz is a defector from the sect. The only person known to have done so. He confesses this to Nadya and tells her he is essentially on the wrong side of the law in Tranavia.

Our final main character is Serefin, the crown Prince of Tranavia. He has been leading armies for the past few years in the never-ending war with Kalyazin but has recently been summoned home by his father, the King. Serefin is convinced his father has one goal in mind, to take him out. Is he just paranoid or does his father really want to kill him? It is clear the King isn’t playing with a full deck and he is quite volatile and secretive; whispering around with the Vultures.

When Nadya, Malachiasz and their traveling companions arrive in the capital city, set on stopping the war, whatever the cost, they come into contact with Serefin and begin to wonder, exactly whose side is he on?

The writing in this is so delicious. Dark and gothic from the very start! If you love that kind of story, set in a harsh and unforgiving world, you need to pick this book up.

I enjoyed this so much, I am already planning a reread — no joke. Most of all I am looking forward to discussing this with other readers. This is so compelling, I just know there is going to be a huge fandom for this story, this world, these characters and this author!

I am so excited to see where Duncan is going to go with this story. I just can’t even imagine what ultimately is going to happen. There are so many ways it could go, all of them bloody and brutal.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and will definitely be buying a finished copy for my collection!

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Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) by Seanan McGuire

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2)Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Hello, darkness, my old friend…

My goodness I am glad I gave this one a second chance. I started this last summer, put it down to participate in a readathon and just kept forgetting to pick it back up.

Now that I have completed it, I have such a strong urge to go back and read the 1st book again. This explains so much.

Jack and Jill.
Born Jacqueline and Jillian.
Jacqueline the perfect princess, prim and proper just as her mother wants.
Jillian, a tomboy, a diamond in the rough just as her father desires.
Their parents = deplorable.

Jack and Jill are 12-years old when the descend down the staircase to the Moors. Once there, they realize they each have a chance to reinvent themselves. They can live their lives as they see fit.

To live as the people they identify as. This is in complete opposition to who their parents wanted them to be; forced them to be.

One with a vampire, one with a mad scientist, what could go wrong? A lot but the truth is, the girls really enjoy their new lives and are beginning to find comfort in their true selves. Eventually tragedy strikes and they are forced back together and out of the Moors.

This story offers some great commentary on gender roles and societal expectations of children. Also, how much early parenting can affect a child’s feelings of self worth and identity.

I really enjoyed the lyrical quality to the writing and definitely plan to continue on with the series. I have a strong feeling that this story will continue to be my favorite. The world of the Moors, how it functioned and how it was described are just so totally my aesthetic. I loved it!

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Review: Ivon by Michael Aylwin

IvonIvon by Michael Aylwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A truly unique Adult Dystopian!

For fans of classics such as 1984 and Brave New World. Added bonus if you are a sports fan.

Set in a future London, now called a commune, where society is regimented down to the most minute details, individualism is dead. People are created and raised for what they can contribute to the commune.

The highest attribute is your propensity for sport. The best at sport are the most valued members of society and there is quite a caste system based on this.

This story follows two men: Dusty Noble, the batsman of a generation and one of the most respected and valued men in London, and Ivon, a Welshman raised outside of the commune.

You see, in Wales, they live by the old ways. People have families, homes and still play sport for fun and under their own volition. Considered no more than savages by the people of Perpetual Era London.

Ivon is the son of two high profile people who were forced to leave London after it was discovered that they had feelings for one another. Relationships are not allowed and having too much interest in another is definitely a red flag to authorities.

Growing up in Wales however, Ivon knows nothing about that life. He has an incredible aptitude for sport however, which doesn’t go unnoticed by Dusty when he takes a weekend holiday to Wales.

Ivon ends up heading back to London with Dusty and both of their lives are irreparably changed because of that. The repercussions of this one decision put both men on a path they never anticipated being on. In fact, the final portion of this book is depressing AF but so clever and well drawn out. I was really impressed with this. I thought the writing was excellent and the concept behind the world construction was original and well detailed.

Overall, I thought this is a great piece of dystopian literature. Thank you so much to the publisher, RedDoor Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m sorry it took me so long to get to it as it was a fun read!

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Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent PatientThe Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She tied her husband to a chair.
She shot him multiple times in the head.
She slit her own wrists.
She stood there and waited for the police to arrive.

…at least, that’s what THEY say she did.
Alicia Berenson isn’t SAYING anything.

When Theo Faber, criminal psychotherapist, takes a new job at The Grove, he is well aware of their most famous patient, Alicia Berenson. In fact, Theo’s goal is to work with her, to see if he can get her to reveal what really happened on the night her husband was killed.

Through Theo’s perspective, his investigation, and Alicia’s own diary entries, the reader is brought along on a hair-raising mystery that is not for the faint of heart.

Guys, I absolutely loved this book. This is the type of thriller that I really enjoy sinking my teeth into. The use of the diary entries, paired with Theo’s investigations, made for a perfectly paced reveal!

Michaelides is definitely an author to watch. I, for one, cannot wait to see what he comes up with next. Highly recommend!

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Review: In Another Life by C.C. Hunter

In Another Life: A NovelIn Another Life: A Novel by C.C. Hunter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


When Chloe Holden moves to Joyful, Texas, with her mother, her once perfect life is in shambles. Her mother is in remission from her cancer but still very sick. Her Dad, who she has always considered her super hero, has cheated on her mom and left her for a much younger woman. They’re not speaking at all and using Chloe as a go-between.

In spite of all of this, Chloe is doing her best to hold it all together. Her mom is in the throes of a terrible depression and most days, Chloe functions more as a parent than a child. With her mom’s utter lack of being able to get out of her own way, Chloe is left to deal with a lot of stressful things by herself.

When Chloe bumps into Cash Colton at a local convenience store, he has an unexpected and far from friendly reaction to her.

Cash believes Chloe is lurking in town to scam his foster parents, the Fullers. They had a baby girl who was kidnapped when she was three years old and Chloe looks exactly like an age progression photograph that has been used to scam them before.

This would seem ludicrous except for the fact that Chloe is actually adopted. She remembers nothing of her life prior to being surrendered by her bio parents. Well nothing except for one vague memory that his been haunting her: her 3-year old self in a princess dress, sitting on a dirty sofa, crying and having a scary man tell her, your momma and daddy don’t want you anymore.

As you can imagine, this memory frightens her so she does her best to suppress it. As her and Cash eventually strike up a friendship, then begin to grow closer, he confesses to her what he fears. As they begin to explore the idea that she could actually be the missing girl, Emily Fuller, Chloe begins to remember more details.

In Another Life is a solid YA Contemporary story. I had moments in the beginning that gave me pause but as the story continued, I felt myself drawn in more and more. Chloe and Cash’s relationship was enjoyable. It was interesting to me to have two main characters who were part of the adoptive/foster care system. Both Chloe and Cash are struggling with issues stemming from that, Chloe definitely less so, and I found those topics interesting to explore.

Cash’s back story was very interesting and when I would find myself getting frustrated at some of his choices and behaviors, I had to remind myself of how he perceived the world differently than myself.

I did have a slight issue with Chloe’s mom. She was annoying AF and I think we had a bit too much of her. Her constant issues sucked me out of the story by taking the focus off of Chloe and Cash. I found her distracting, TBH. Also, I wouldn’t classify this as a mystery/thriller. I have heard some people talking about it and I think if you go into this with that assumption, you will be disappointed — at least if you read a lot of thrillers, which I do.

Overall, I enjoyed my time reading this story and would definitely pick up more works by this author. Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity.

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Review: We Set the Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

We Set the Dark on FireWe Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At The Medio School for Girls, young women are trained for one of two roles: Primera or Segunda. Before you get too excited, these are not highly challenging professions these girls aspire too. No, they are societally designed ‘womanly roles’ within a man’s household. A Primera essentially runs the business aspects of a household, while the Segunda takes care of the more emotional sides, raising children, providing humor and relaxation for the husband.

This makes school a harsh competition, as your performance there affects your future placement within a household. At graduation you are basically selected by an upper class family to marry their son and so goes the rest of you life.

Daniela Vargas has sacrificed a lot to be a student at Medio. Her parents faked documents in order for her to attend. She comes from one of the poorest neighborhoods and her lineage definitely would not make her a desired match for any up-and-coming males.

Dani graduates top of her class and is chosen as Primera for a young man who is slated to soon be running Medio, she knows she has made it. As a member of the Garcia family, the whole world will now be open to her but Dani quickly discovers this assignment isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The Segunda of the Garcia household, Carmen, is a young lady who was very unkind to Dani at school but with no one else around, the two girls start to develop a relationship. Dani finds herself developing real feelings for Carmen but she isn’t sure if she can trust her. In her new life, she really isn’t sure if there is anyone she should trust.

Set in a wonderfully imagined LatinX dystopian world, providing timely commentary on societal roles, structure and function, this book was everything I wanted it to be. In fact, this book is everything I wanted other books to be that disappointed me.

I’m looking at you: The Belles.

I meshed really well with Mejia’s writing and upon reaching the end figured out, hey, this isn’t a standalone! Very excited for the next in the series.

With secrets and lies, rebellions and undercover agents, a female-female relationship, and so much more, I would definitely recommend this book to other YA Readers!

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