Buzzwordathon Round #5

Hello my beautifully bookish friends!

Round 5 of Buzzwordathon starts today! I had big plans but realistically, it’s just not going to happen. With this in mind, today I am going to tell you the books I have on my radar for the week but I am not going to declare a definitive TBR (to be read list).

First, let’s talk about what Buzzwordathon is, as some of you may not be aware. Buzzwordathon is a readathon created and hosted by the wonderfully creative Kayla @ BooksandLala channel on YouTube.

Basically she came up with this idea after noticing certain title trends in publishing. Each round she chooses a word, type of word or phrase, that seems to be used a lot in recent releases. The only challenge is to read books that contain the buzzword in the title. For Kayla’s Round 5 announcement, click below:

Buzzwordathon Round 5

Our buzzword this round is numbers. Any title that has a number in it counts. It can be 1, 1st, one, First, Two, Second, etc. Anything denoting a numerical value. After her announcement I went through my unread shelves and found quite a few books that would meet this criteria. Unfortunately, as well all know, there is always too many book and too little time.

This morning I started my first book for the readathon. It may be the only one I get to this week. You see, here is my problem generally with readathons. I read so many books at once that I am never in a good place to put everything on hold to start all new books for the readathon.

I am currently reading five really good books. I don’t want to put them on hold for an entire week while I read other stuff. It’s a dilemma, I’m so torn because I also want to participate.

So, I have decided to take it easy on myself and if I get to some number books, great. If not, so mote it be. The book I began this morning is the one I most wanted to get to. The Ancient Nine, by Ian K. Smith, was one of the first books I ever received from NetGalley, way back in early-2018. I still haven’t gotten to it yet and it’s haunting me. Following a young man gaining entrance into one of the secret societies as Harvard University, it sounds like something right up my alley. So far, so good.

Other books that I am hoping to get to this week but ya know…

include:

  •  Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr, a YA Fantasy that I purchased as a cover buy from Book Outlet close to 2-years ago. It’s read it now or unhaul it.
  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King, Adult SFF that I actually drove to a local book shop to purchase on its release day, November 8, 2011, and it has been sitting unread on my bookshelf ever since.
  • Odd One Out by Nic Stone, YA Contemporary.
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, YA/Adult Science Fiction. This was on of my first Book of the Month selections and I would love to finally get around to it.
  • The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring, new release YA Horror.
  • Five Midnights by Ann Davila Cardinal, new release YA Horror.

As I mentioned above, I am not going to have a lot of time this week to dedicate to this unfortunately. So, I am keeping my goal simple, two books. If I read three, I would be super happy! And with that out of the way, I am off to read!

Are you participating in the Buzzwordathon? If so, what are you reading? Have you read any of the books I have on my radar for the week? I want to know. Leave a comment here or contact me through any of my social media links!

Cheers & Happy Reading!

Review: The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Huston and Jonathan Snipes

The DeepThe Deep by Rivers Solomon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

What the heck did I just read?
This novella is so unique. The feeling.
Gah! I can’t even describe it.

When I first finished this book, I was blown away but also didn’t really understand what I had read. Overtime, the initial feeling of overwhelming joy has petered out.

In fact, I remember very little about this. Considering the fact that I completed it just 4-days ago, seems a bit of an issue to me.

While I respect the beautiful nature of this story, the question remains, what was this? Whilst reading, I was overwhelmed with feelings that I was being told some wise and ancient lore, unfortunately I think the true meaning of it sailed well over my head.

I do appreciate the creation of this story and I would even read it again someday, it’s just a hard one to grasp. Absolutely moving though, even if you don’t fully understand why it is slowly ripping your heart out of your chest.

In short, I would need to read this again before I can provide more thoughts. Something I would most definitely be willing to do. Thank you so much to the publisher, Saga Press, for sending me a copy to read and review. I truly appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

Gravemaidens (Gravemaidens, #1)Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars

In the walled-city of Alu, traditionally three maidens get chosen when the ruler dies to accompany him into the underworld. Essentially a death sentence, being chosen is nonetheless viewed as a great honor. When our story begins, the ruler is currently on the brink of death.

Kammani’s father is a great healer, although disgraced after a former royal patient’s death, he gets summoned to the kingdom to attend to the ruler. Unfortunately, he mysteriously disappears, never getting to tend the sick man.

Kammani has been training under her father’s tutelage for many years. She dreams of one day being the best healer in all the land.

When her sister gets chosen to be one of the ruler’s maidens, and her father cannot be found, Kammani takes it upon herself to get into the kingdom and prevent the ruler’s death. If she doesn’t, she could lose her sister as well; the only family she has left.

Once in the kingdom, Kammani feels like something sinister is going on. After a botched attempt on her life, she knows she must be close to the truth.

I truly enjoyed this world. I felt it was rich and well built. If I had to sum in up, I would say, in my head I was picturing Astapor, ‘the red city’, from Game of Thrones. A world sharply divided between haves and have-nots. It was brutal and dangerous with a healthy dose of palace intrigue.

I really loved these characters and how the story unfolded. There is a lot of beautiful writing in here on grief and sacrifice. The love of family is a strong theme throughout and some of the dialogue between Kammani and her slightly pouty younger sister, Nanaea, had me in tears.

I did get frustrated with Kammani now and again over some of her choices but overall, I understood her motivations and felt attached to her character. I think we left it at a perfect spot for the continuation and I look forward to the battle that I know will be taking place. It’s bound to be epic!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press and Random House Children’s, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. This is such an impressive debut with a lush, dangerous world, one I cannot wait to return to!

Well done, Kelly Coon. Well done!

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Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

The Family UpstairsThe Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Libby Jones turns 25 years old, she finally gets to open a letter she has been waiting for her whole life, for it contains the identification of her birth parents. Found at just 10-months old, at the scene of an apparent suicide pact, Libby was adopted out, never knowing her true identity.

Upon opening the letter she learns some startling news. Not just who her parents were but that she is inheriting their long-abandoned mansion in the swanky-Chelsea neighborhood in London; a house worth millions of pounds.

To Libby, working a mundane job designing kitchens, this is a blessed windfall. Unfortunately, due to the circumstances in which she was found at that very property, her windfall is also steeped in trepidation and fear.

Unknown to Libby, she really may have reason to be fearful, for others out there have been waiting for her 25th birthday as well, and they are planning a reunion. Lurking around the property, they await the baby’s return.

During the course of the book, we follow three different perspectives and both present and past timelines. I was definitely more intrigued by some sections of this book as opposed to others. This gave it a pacing issue for me personally and I felt the formatting was a bit wonky.

To be completely frank, I didn’t really find it interesting until about the 70% point and then I couldn’t put it down. Again, pacing issue. Unfortunately, that’s too much of a slow burn, even for me, the lover of slow burns, to give it a higher star rating.

There were entire portions at the beginning that I would have preferred to skip right over. Let’s say, anything set in France, I was bored to tears.

However, as mentioned above, the ending really did pick up and I think over all the story premise had a lot of promise, and for these reasons I bumped my rating up from around a 2.5 to a 3. This is a good book. I know a lot of readers will absolutely love it and I support that. It just wasn’t necessarily the perfect book for me.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves

The Long Call (Two Rivers, #1)The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Darkly evocative and smartly written!

My first Ann Cleeves did not disappoint. I consider myself already anxiously anticipating the next installment to this all new, Two Rivers, series.

I was so pleasantly impressed with this. By far the best traditional mystery I have read this year. It is obvious from the first pages that Cleeves is a skilled, veteran mystery writer.

Following Detective Matthew Venn and two of his junior colleagues, Jen and Ross, was an absolute delight. I felt like I was there with them, learning the evidence as they were. Matthew was just a lovely protagonist. Thoughtful and introverted, extremely smart and dedicated to the idea of truth and justice for all.

At the beginning of our tale, Matthew is attending his estranged Father’s funeral. Standing in the back he observes neighbors, and other locals, he might once have considered friends.

But he has left that part of his life far behind after the strict evangelical community his parents were a part of could not accept that he is gay. Basically excommunicated from the community, he hasn’t spoken with either of his parents in many years.

Upon quietly making his exit from the church, he receives a phone call from one of his colleagues. The body of a murdered man has just been found on a beach not far from his current location. He of course rushes to the scene and thus begins an investigation into the community of which he was once a part.

I loved the tone of this novel. From start to finish the writing was so intelligent and gripping. It gave me strong Broadchurch vibes whilst also reminding me of the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith. I would say if you enjoy the Cormoran books, you should DEFINITELY pick this one up.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I am in love with it and cannot wait to continue on with the series!!! Well done, Ms. Cleeves!!

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Review: The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising, #1)The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is a magic within her, a power, that even she doesn’t know the limits of.

In its opening pages, we find young Princess Guinevere arriving in Camelot for the first time. Sent there to marry King Arthur, all she knows of him are what the legends tell. For he is a great man, the greatest, the one to pull the sword from the stone.

While it is true, he is a great King, one who strives to make the kingdom a better place, there are those outside the kingdom who threaten his reign.

Unbeknownst to anyone but themselves, Guinevere hasn’t actually been sent from a royal family in the South to marry Arthur, she has been sent there to protect him.

You see, there is more to Guinevere than meets the eye, much more than a fragile Princess desiring a life of luxury. She holds secrets so dark they are even unclear to herself.

It has been a long time since I have consumed any media revolving around the Arthurian legend. I had a wonderful time reading this and thought it was splendidly done. I felt very connected to Guinevere’s character and enjoyed following her on her journey of self-discovery.

I think if you have any interest in the story of Arthur and Guinevere, you should definitely give this book a shot. I think it was a nice twist to hear the story from her perspective, which is much darker and more convoluted, in this case, than I anticipated. In fact, it was intense at times trying to piece it all together.

She is confused about a lot of things, her past, which she doesn’t remember, her purpose and her heart. I think she experienced a lot of growth over the course of the book and although not all of her choices were the best, I think she was doing the best she could.

The supporting cast of characters were also fantastic. I love Arthur and am hoping for a deeper connection between them for the second book. This left off in an incredible spot and I know the next book is going to take the story up a whole other notch!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press and Random House Children’s, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. This was a highly anticipated book for me and it did not disappoint. I look forward to continuing with this series!

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Review: The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams

The Babysitters Coven (The Babysitters Coven, #1)The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We all know babysitting comes with a lot of responsibility. You are literally responsible for maintaining the health and wellness of little humans. But did you also know that some babysitters are responsible for protecting the entire Earth from evil forces?

It’s true and when Esme Pearl formed her Babysitter’s Club, she didn’t know that either. Unfortunately for Esme, she’s about to find out the hard way.

I feel weird sort of giving that away but it’s nothing you won’t read in the synopsis of the book. Part Buffy the Vampire Slayer, part the good ole’ Babysitter’s Club series, this book brings horror comedy to a whole new level.

I was giggling to myself for over half of this novel. Apparently, the author and I share a brain and have exactly the same sense of humor.

Esme was such a fun character to read about and although parts of this were predictable, I had a great time reading it. The culminating scene does occur on Halloween as well, so perfect for the Fall Spooky season.

I loved all the pop culture references, the definite homage to Buffy and that fun teen horror atmosphere. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a fast and funny teen scream.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I look forward to seeing what this author comes up with next!!!

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Review: The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets

The Last Woman in the ForestThe Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How well do you really know the ones you love?

When Marian receives an opportunity to work as a dog handler for a biological study researching endangered species in the remote Northwest, she jumps at the opportunity. It is perfect for her. The freedom and beauty of the outdoors, working with dogs and ultimately being able to help the species they are studying.

Before she knows it, she is there, trying to fit in and adjust to her new lifestyle. Her mentor and trainer, Tate, is an attractive man with a strong personality, and as often happens they end up falling in love.

Assignments end up taking them in different directions however, and once separated, something terrible happens to Tate. He dies in a freak accident. Marian is devastated and wants to find out all she can about the circumstances leading up to his death.

Unfortunately, as she is looking into his past, she begins to discover startling inconsistencies about who he told her he was. She begins to harbor great suspicion that Tate may have been involved in the disappearances and murders of multiple women taking place in the area of their studies.

In fact, her feelings are so strong, she ends up contacting the now retired criminal profiler, Nick, who worked the unsolved cases. Between the two of them, the reality of Tate’s life and deeds are slowly pieced together for the reader.

Told in alternating perspectives between Marian, Nick and the killer’s victims, this slow-burn thriller captures perfectly the horror of one man’s deeds set against the beauty and ferocity of nature. I really enjoyed the setting of this and this nature of Marian’s work was also very interesting.

While the narrative was a bit slow, I think the story itself was very well pieced together. It was horrifying for poor Marian to realize how close she slept to death. I felt for her and ended up really enjoying her character as a person; Nick as well.

The scenes told from the victim’s perspectives are very dark and graphic but felt truthful and disturbingly real. The more I sit and think about this story, the stronger my appreciation for it grows.

Initially, I was thinking this would be a 3-star for me but after reading the Author’s Note and really thinking about what she had to say, and the courage it took to write it, I bumped it up to 4-stars. I did really enjoy this and would definitely read more from this author.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. As always, I appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

HexHex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

A town cursed by a witch or a woman cursed by a town?

This was an odd book that has certainly provided me with a lot to think about.

Welcome to Black Spring. A charming little village set in the Hudson River Valley. As picturesque as can be, an outsider would have a hard time imagining the horror that this town’s citizens endure every day.

The Black Rock Witch, a 17th-Century woman, murdered by her contemporaries after having her mouth and eyes sewn shut, lurks amidst the townsfolk to this day. Not a hazy apparition that only certainly people sense or see, she’s there, in the flesh. They can touch her and even harm her if they choose.

No one ever does though as they anticipate her vengeance would be swift and brutal. Why don’t they just move away, you wonder?

Well, that’s just it. They can’t. No one can. Once you are settled in the town and privy to its secrets, you can never leave. As in, a supernatural force literally blocks you from escape.

This was a really unique take on a haunting. I really enjoyed that aspect of it. I also really enjoyed the way the town dealt with it. They had developed, as town, a great system for tracking and monitoring the spirit. They used high tech surveillance to make sure all was well with her, but in turn, ending up tracking a lot of the citizen’s actions as well.

When some of the teenagers become frustrated with living under strict regulations they start acting out towards the spirit. Their cruel actions ultimately cause all hell to break loose.

Although, I was never able to fully sink into this one, I still decided to round up to 4-stars due to the unique nature of the overall story. Haunting stories have been done numerous times but this one did offer up something new in my opinion.

Also, I am wondering if the difficulty I had connecting to the story was more due to the fact that it is translated from the original Dutch than the actual story itself. The writing style seemed very blunt. I was always aware I was reading a book instead of being told a story, if that makes sense.

Overall though, I would definitely recommend this to horror lovers. Especially people who are looking for something out of the ordinary. This story is definitely worth giving a shot!

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November Reading Plans

Hello, my beautifully bookish friends!

Let’s chat about November reading plans. As many of you may know, beginning in August I started a themed reading month plan for a full year. Basically, I have a set theme per month and I try to read ten books within that month that match the theme.

Thus far, I have been successful two out of the three months. This month’s theme is: NEW RELEASES!!!!

I am classifying ‘new releases’ as anything published from January 1, 2019 forward. This will include books that haven’t yet released. I have a ton of books to choose from that will fit this theme so I am fully anticipating another successful month.

I am participating in one readathon this month, the Buzzword Readathon, but I will post more info on that, including my TBR, closer to the start date.

What are you planning to read this month? Do you have a theme or are you participating in any readathons or readalongs? I want to know. Drop a comment down below or contact me through any of my social media links!

Until we meet again, cheers & happy reading!