Blog Tour: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Hello my lovely book friends!

Let’s chat about Where Dreams Descend, shall we? This is the first book in Janella Angeles debut fantasy duology, Kingdom of Cards. Where Dreams Descend is releasing this Tuesday, August 25, 2020!

The publisher summarizes it as follows:

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

I am currently 50% through this story and I’m interested to see how it turns out. Hoping it starts to pick up a bit soon, as it has been a slow burn thus far.

I would recommend this novel to anyone trying to get into YA Fantasy, maybe someone who hasn’t read a lot of Fantasy series or duologies before. This could be a good place to start.

Also, if you love content involving magical circuses or performing magicians, this is definitely one you should check out!

I am planning to spend the majority of my day today continuing on with this story. I will definitely update you as I progress along and will be posting a full review when finished.

Be sure to look at your favorite local retailer or online bookstore for this gorgeous book!

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this magical tale to read and review. I appreciate it!

Blog Tour: When I Was You by Amber Garza

When I Was YouWhen I Was You by Amber Garza
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up **

Below is a line from the first paragraph of the synopsis for this book. I think it sums it up perfectly:

…this up-all-night psychological thriller about a lonely empty-nester’s growing obsession with a young mother who shares her name.

That statement certainly caught my attention and I’m super glad it did!

Kelly Medina is the empty-nester in question. Kelly Medina is also the young woman who arrives and shakes up her life.

The main Kelly, I will refer to her as ‘our Kelly’ from this point forward, is adjusting to life with her only son, Aaron, gone from home. Her husband, Raphael, is not around much either, as his job keeps him away during the week and even some weekends.

Because of this, our Kelly spends a lot of time alone and to be honest, she’s struggling.

Feeling increasingly lonely and isolated, one day she receives a phone call that will change everything.

The call is from Aaron’s pediatrician’s office, with a reminder of her upcoming well-baby appointment.

Kelly tries to laugh it off with the receptionist. Obviously, it’s a mistake, her son is in college.

The lady apologizes profusely. Apparently, there is another Kelly Medina in the area and their numbers must have gotten mixed up in the system.

Our Kelly is taken aback. Another woman, sharing her same name, in the same area, with a baby.

In the coming hours, it’s all she can think about. Imagining who this young woman is and what her life must be like. It all seems too strange.

The whole incident has shaken her. Arriving later at the gym to meet her best friend, Christine, for a yoga class, she has forgotten her membership card.

When the desk clerk looks her up in the system, she comments on how funny it is that another Kelly Medina was there that very morning for a workout.

Now the girl is even invading her gym space? Who is this person?

That’s all it takes for Kelly to become obsessed with finding out more about the other Kelly Medina.

After several attempts to discover who she is online, our Kelly realizes the best way to find her would be to go to that well-baby appointment.

That’s exactly what she does. The rest of the story goes from there and let me tell you, you are in for a WILD RIDE!!

I had so much fun reading When I Was You!

Once I got into the story, I could not put it down. I can definitely see why the publisher chose to describe it as an, up-all-night Psychological Thriller!

Garza added some epic twists. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. My goodness.

My jaw hit the floor so many times! It was a bloody fantastic.

I don’t think I have had this much fun reading a Thriller since the first B.A. Paris novel I read, Behind Closed Doors.

And like that novel, When I Was You, is not perfect. Personally though, I feel like any tiny flaws were completely made up for with the perfectly plotted story.

I hope that Amber Garza continues to write in this genre. I really look forward to getting more of this type of story from her.

This is wildly imaginative. It went some places, guys, I was shocked. Just when you think you have hit the crazy limit, another revelation comes to light!

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a twisty-turny, compulsively readable Psychological Thriller.

Once you pick it up, it will be hard to put it down, so clear your calendar!

Thank you so, so much to the publisher, Harlequin MIRA, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I had so, so, so much fun reading it!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Review: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)Winter by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A bittersweet conclusion to a fantastic YA-SciFi series. This is retelling GOLD!

Winter is the fourth, and concluding novel, in Marissa Meyer’s beloved, Lunar Chronicles series.

Coming in at over 800-pages, this hefty book provides the final stand-off between our intrepid heroes, their allies, and the wicked Lunar Queen.

There was a ton of action in this installment, some of it quite brutal, and I enjoyed learning a bit more about each of our main characters.

I can’t believe it is over. As some of you may know, I have a difficult time continuing with series. There was no problem with this one. I was that compelled to pick it up.

I love how Meyer built the world out. Each book, you gain more characters, more knowledge of the world and the stakes are steadily increased.

In this book, our newest character, per the title, is Winter, the Lunar Princess.

She was such a delight. Due to repressing the use of her glamour, her mind is a bit janky. She hallucinates and people in the kingdom think she is bit crazy, but love her nonetheless.

Again with this one, I appreciate so much the connections to the original fairy tales.

As a set of retellings, I think The Lunar Chronicles is top notch work. I would love to read further retellings from Meyer and definitely have boosted Heartless up by TBR.

I’m so happy that I finally took the time to pick this series up! I was enthralled the entire way through.

If you haven’t given this one a shot yet, and are a Sci-Fi fan, you should definitely check it out!

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Review: Dark Celebrations by Calvin Demmer

Dark CelebrationsDark Celebrations by Calvin Demmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dark Celebrations includes 12-short stories from one of my favorite Horror authors, Calvin Demmer.

Each of these tales is centered around a particular celebration or holiday around the world, which I felt was such a creative way to structure a short-story collection.

This book absolutely has something for everyone. Moving through, I couldn’t help but think this was a pure monster mash at its finest!

You have everything in here: zombies and vampires and mummies…

No matter what your favorite creature feature, you will find something to sink your teeth into.

Demmer’s writing is hella dark and quirky. The way he can set a tone and pack a punch within such a short number of pages just astounds me.

And, good news, after you pick up this stellar collection, you can then dive into The Sea Was a Fair Master, my favorite collection of 2018.

Basically, you have a lot of good reading ahead of you!

Thank you so much to the author, Calvin Demmer, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. If you know me, you know this has in no way swayed my review.

Demmer is so fire. That’s all there is too it. I look forward to picking up anything he writes!

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Review: Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

Little DisastersLittle Disasters by Sarah Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Liz, a pediatric doctor, is surprised when one of her closest friends, Jess, arrives at emergency services with her 10-month old baby, Betsey.

She is even more surprised when she discovers that Betsey has suffered severe head trauma causing a cranial fracture.

Making matters worse, Jess is very dodgy with her story, claiming she didn’t even know Betsey had hit her head that badly.

She claims that she was bringing Betsey in because she seemed unwell, having vomited in her crib.

Jess insists that Betsey has suffered no real trauma. Perhaps she just fell over as she was trying to pull herself upright, certainly nothing out of the norm for a baby who is increasing her mobility.

The severity of the injury seems to negate this explanation, however, and Liz cannot understand why her friend, who always seems like the most put together mom, could suddenly be so obtuse about her child’s condition.

Consulting with a senior doctor, Liz understands that the hospital must contact Social Services regarding Jess and Betsey. They have a duty to report if there is even a chance that a child is being harmed.

Jess’s weak explanation, paired with the skull fracture, is more than enough to bring in outside intervention.

Following multiple perspectives, over multiple timelines, Little Disasters is a thoughtful examination of modern motherhood.

The main bulk of the story is made up of Liz, Jess and Jess’s husband, Ed’s, perspectives, but there are a few others sprinkled in.

The Reader learns what Jess’s life as a stay-at-home mom to three busy children is really like.

While she may stay buttoned up outside of the home, amongst her friends and at the children’s activities, inside the home, things are far from perfect.

We also get a glimpse into Liz’s life and what her childhood was like; the events that pushed her into a career in pediatrics.

Finally, we get an examination of friendship, that of Liz and Jess, as well as the other women in their circle.

I enjoyed my time reading this novel quite a bit. My one concern is that people will go into this expecting a tense Thriller, and it’s really not.

I would classify this novel as a thought-provoking Domestic Drama with a hint of suspense. I think if you go into it expecting that, you will not be disappointed.

As far as content, I think this novel is poignant and important. I mentioned recently in my review for Megan Goldin’s, The Night Swim, that I love when this type of novel has something to say about hard-hitting real world issues.

This one definitely does. I think this would make an incredible book club read, as it could lead to a ton of great discussions involving motherhood, mental health and the societal expectations placed on women.

The writing is highly compelling and I flew through it. The short chapters and alternating perspectives kept me glued to the pages.

Overall, I think this will be enjoyed and appreciated by a lot of Readers. One of them should be you. Available now!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I appreciate the opportunity!

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Blog Tour: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

The Night SwimThe Night Swim by Megan Goldin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Megan Goldin does it again!!!

Rachel Krall is the creator and host of a hugely successful True Crime podcast.

During her first season, evidence she procured through her work was subsequently used to free an innocent man.

Now a household name, with a reputation as a tireless truth seeker, many people reach out to her with cases they think she should investigate next.

A lot of these people feel they have no other options when searching for justice for a friend or loved one; that the system has failed them and Rachel is their last resort.

These letters for help generally come in the form of email or through more traditional post. Therefore, Rachel is surprised when a letter ends up stuck under her windshield wiper at a remote rest stop.

How would someone even have recognized her? People generally know her voice, not her face?

When she receives the first mysterious note, Rachel is on her way to Neapolis, where a high profile rape case is currently dividing the small coastal town.

For the latest season of the podcast, Rachel will be looking into the case and attending the trial.

In the ultimate, her story versus his, the victim is the granddaughter of the police chief, and the accused perpetrator is a golden boy, local-celebrity champion swimmer.

As Rachel throws herself into her investigation, the mysterious letters continue to show up in unexpected places, including her hotel room.

The author of the letters, a young woman named Hannah, pleads with Rachel to look into the death of her sister, Jenny, 25-years earlier in Neapolis.

Rachel admittedly finds Jenny’s case interesting. A reported drowning, Hannah insists that foul play was involved.

Y’all, I loved this book! The format Goldin chose to tell this story was absolutely perfect.

We get multiple perspectives, past and present timelines, and full episodes of Rachel’s podcast!

The way that Goldin was able to weave these two mysteries together was flawless. I found myself so invested in both the current rape trial and the historical perspective of what actually happened to Jenny.

I was blessed enough to have received both an e-copy, and an audio copy, of this from the publisher to read and review. I started it off switching back and forth between the two, but ultimately stuck with the audiobook.

The audiobook is so well done. The podcast chapters are incredible!

I had to keep reminding myself I wasn’t actually listening to a podcast, that it was fictional. It’s that believable!

I was already a fan of Goldin after the release of The Escape Room last year, but this one, The Night Swim takes it to a whole new level.

Megan Goldin is for sure an autobuy author for me!

In addition to the fabulous presentation of this story, I was also impressed with the commentary regarding rape culture and the treatment of victims of rape and sexual assault.

I love when a Thriller can not only be surprising and immersive, but also when it has something to say on real world issues. I think it opens up so many great discussions that are important and impactful.

In short, if you have not picked up The Night Swim yet, please do so. I particularly recommend the audiobook, although the story is fantastic regardless of the medium.

A heartfelt thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with the opportunity to read this early. It will definitely be making my Favorites List for 2020!!!

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Review: The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarhenas

The Psychology of Time TravelThe Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I won’t drag this out. This book just did not work for me.

I was kindly sent a copy by the publisher to read and review, which I truly appreciate. I accepted the title because it sounded like something that would be right up my alley.

I went in, rightly or wrongly, with the following beliefs: the story was Science Fiction, that it followed a group of female scientists who discovered how to successfully travel through time, that a murder happens and they use said time travel abilities to solve it.

What I got was sort of that.

I would say this is a Literary Fiction novel with a few characters who happen to be scientists and where time travel is used as plot device to tie different parts of the story together.

Okay, fine. That’s great, so it wasn’t what I initially expected. I can usually get over that fairly quickly.

The execution of the story, however, for me, was not good.

I generally enjoy multiple perspectives, and even multiple timelines, but here, it jumped around so much, to so many different characters, none of whom felt distinctive in any way, I couldn’t remember who I was reading from or where I was in time.

The chapters were really short, so you were never in a particular perspective long enough for it to have a lasting impact.

On a lot of occasions, I find that short chapters help to increase the pace of the story and the rate in which you read it. Not so here. This was incredibly slow. It just never really went anywhere.

Then I get to the last page, the last paragraph and am left scratching my head. That’s it?

So, yeah, not for me, but it may be for you. This book has numerous positive reviews, so please do not take my word for it. Pick it up and find out for yourself. Will you or won’t you?

Thank you so much to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

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Review: Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

Who Did You Tell?Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Astrid is very much in the early days of sobriety.

Forced to move back in with her mother in a quiet, seaside town, she spends each day just trying to make it through without a drink.

Astrid is haunted by a lot of her past behaviors whilst under the influence.

Through her musings, the Reader is made aware of some of these things, including a toxic, though arguably, loving relationship with a man named, Simon.

With Simon gone, Astrid is left with so many regrets. She has begun to attend AA meetings and the process has caused a lot of old memories to come to the surface.

She knows she needs to make amends to a lot of people, but can anyone ever forgive her for the things she has done?

Astrid is trying, she truly is, but each and every day is a battle.

She begins to open up to a couple of women from meetings and even meets a new man and secures a small, temporary job working for his father on an art project.

As we all know, the past rarely stays buried forever though and soon Astrid is receiving mysterious messages and feels that she is being followed.

Her and Simon did have one truly bad night where they did something not just reprehensible, but criminal. Did he tell someone?

Who Did You Tell was such an interesting reading experience for me.

The beginning of the novel is very melancholy. Astrid, as mentioned above, is really struggling and as the Reader, you get a front-row seat to every moment of that.

Initially, I was apprehensive. Was I going to get into it?

Oh baby, did I! It’s such an intricate, beautifully told story of addiction, forgiveness and recovery. I became so attached to Astrid and invested in her.

With this being said, it is a subtle suspense and a slow burn.

I think if you go into this expecting a fast-paced Thriller, you may be disappointed. I would urge every Reader to give it a shot however, the pay off is worth it.

Towards the end, the suspense and action kicks way up. I loved the conclusion. I wouldn’t have wanted it to end any other way.

I definitely plan to go back and read Lesley Kara’s debut, The Rumour and will continue to pick up anything she writes moving forward.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

The Black KidsThe Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ashley Bennett is a Senior in high school. The year is 1992 and she lives in a posh L.A. neighborhood with her parents.

Attending a private school, Ashley has had a somewhat sheltered existence.

Her parents do everything they can to provide their girls with a less stressful upbringing than they had, which I think is something a lot of parents do.

But even her parents admit, for reasons you learn as the novel progresses, they may have sheltered them a little too much.

At her school, Ashley is one of only a handful of black kids in attendance. Regardless of the numbers, all of her friends are white.

Ashley doesn’t find it odd that she is the only black girl in her friend group. It has always been that way and even when her closest friends make racist comments, she shrugs it off. It’s just how it goes.

Her comfy existence is shaken, however, after a young black man, Rodney King, is beaten nearly to death by LAPD officers and the subsequent trial of those involved.

Even though there is video evidence of the heinous acts of violence, the policemen are acquitted and the city erupts in anger. Protests and riots sweep the city and the topic of race is on everyone’s lips.

Ashley’s sister, Jo, becomes involved in the protests and her Uncle’s store is threatened by looters. It becomes unsafe to leave the house and the smell of smoke and char lingers in the air.

These events force Ashley to examine her life and her position as a black woman in a way she never has before. She starts to learn more about her family and what it means to be black in America.

This book was a ride for me. I feel like my attachment to it evolved along with the story itself.

It was a difficult one for me to rate, as I was torn almost the entire way through about how I felt about it.

On the one hand, the content, real-world issues and personal growth, were A++, 5-stars. This story is extremely topical and definitely packs a punch.

On the other hand, there’s the style in which it is told. That is what was rough for me. The stream of consciousness narrative is always very hard for me to get into. It just does not vibe for me at all.

If I were rating this book based solely on that, I would have given it 3-stars. I decided on a 4-star rating as it is a fair way for me to express my overall experience with the story; style versus substance be damned.

Please note, my personal preference for not liking stream of consciousness narrative is in no way a reflection on this author. She is clearly very talented and I am sure she chose the format she felt best to tell Ashley’s experiences.

I loved the story behind the style. Does that make sense?

Additionally, I thought using a historical event to frame this discussion was such a smart choice. It made the whole story feel very real.

I was in the 8th-grade at the time the officers were originally acquitted and although I lived on the opposite-side of the country, the impact was felt like a shock wave. I have never read a fictionalized story framed around that time and really appreciated that context.

I also appreciated Ashley’s growth as a character. She truly transformed from start to finish and by the end, I was attached her.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this novel. It’s a hard-hitting Contemporary that everyone should read.

A huge thank you to the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I look forward to reading more from Christina Hammonds Reed in the future!

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Review: City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) by Cassandra Clare

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, #2)City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

City of Ashes, the second installment in Cassandra Clare’s beloved Mortal Instruments series has sealed the deal for me.

I am, in fact, a Shadowhunter fan.

In this second book, someone is murdering Downworlder children in New York City.

Clary and the crew fear that the evil Valentine, the Darth Vader of the Shadowhunter realm, may be behind the killings.

But how can they prove it, find him and most importantly, stop him?

I love how the world is continuing to be built out in this sequel. The stakes are higher and the action never stops.

There is so much drama, so much angst, wildly inappropriate relationships, or one in particular, witty banter, dark humor, Magnus Bane…what is there not to love about all that!?

I am so looking forward to continuing on with this series and the world overall!

My plan was to read the first three books of TMI, then all three TID, followed by the last three of TMI. Let me know below if you disagree with that reading order and why.

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