Review: Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

Little SecretsLittle Secrets by Jennifer Hillier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Marin Machado is a boss.

A successful business woman, owning upscale hair salons catering to the stars, she is confident and happy.

Her equally successful and handsome husband, Derek, is also a business owner and the couple has a little boy, Sebastian, who is the light of their lives.

Marin has it all.

That is until someone nabs Sebastian from a busy shopping center just prior to the Christmas holiday.

In the blink of an eye, Marin and Derek’s world shatters. Devastated by Sebastian’s disappearance, they both retreat into themselves to deal with their pain and grief.

When the police investigation goes nowhere, Marin hires a PI to continue the search.

Over a year later, the private investigator uncovers something, but it isn’t about her son. It’s about her husband.

As further secrets are revealed the lines between love and hate begin to blur. A woman spurned is a serious force to be reckoned with and Marin has nothing to lose.

Her best friend, Sal, and a grief support group she is a part of, are Marin’s only real connections anymore. She feels so distant from Derek.

But who can she trust?

I had so much fun reading this book. It was captivating from the very first chapter.

I loved Marin’s character. All of her flaws and grief. I found her to be complex, yet relatable.

While I did guess one of the reveals earlier than I expect the reader is supposed to, it didn’t diminsh my enjoyment level at all.

I thought going along with Marin on her journey, as she learns the truth of her husband’s betrayal and what happened to her son, was so satisfying.

Hillier really impressed me with this one. My favorite Thriller of the year so far, I would say.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I cannot wait to see what Jennifer Hillier dreams up next!

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May Reading Plans: Medieval-A-Thon!!!

Hello, book friends! Welcome to May and day 4,354 of social distancing…

Oh wait. I guess it hasn’t been quite that long, but some days it feels like it!

I know it has been a long time since I have posted anything but reviews. Fortunately, or unfortunately, however you want to look at it, I have spent every spare moment reading.

I’ve pretty much given up on writing wrap-ups. The last one I wrote was a seriously belated January wrap-up. I have planned on writing February and March, but now I would have to do April too!

I don’t know, what do you guys think? One option is do a Q1 Favorites & Least Favorites post, then do an April wrap-up and go from there. Any advice from anyone who can actually handle time management, let me know!

Anywho, May!!! I am so darn excited about May because Holly Knece, @hollyheartsbooks, is bringing back my favorite readathon of last year: Medieval-A-Thon. For a full description of Medieval-A-Thon, please click HERE and if it sounds fun (WHICH IS ABSOLUTELY IS) join us!!!

I am going to try to meet all of the prompts. I think I can do it. Although I am not setting a TBR, I will make my selections as I go, I will be sure to update you at the end of the month! That’s a promise!

What are you reading this month? Are you participating in any readathons or readalongs? I want to know! Leave a comment down below or contact me through any of my social media links.

That’s all for now! Cheers & Happy Reading~

Review: The Hunger by Alma Katsu

The HungerThe Hunger by Alma Katsu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Reimagining the true life events of the infamous Donner Party, Alma Katsu brings mega atmosphere to this Historical Horror novel.

I must say, the atmosphere was my favorite part of this story. The circumstances the wagon train found themselves in were dangerous and you could feel that.

It was like watching a movie that is dark for a large portion of the time. It leaves you squinting, trying to figure out what is coming next.

After a series of unfortunate events, rations become depleted, the weather is getting progressively worse and tempers flare.

Looking for someone to blame, whispers begin to circulate that a witch may be among them.

Tamsen Donner is used to being blamed and misunderstood. It certainly doesn’t stop her from going about her business; she’s a pro at ignoring others opinions.

Going into this, you know this party is doomed, but what will the ending bring?

I thought this was interesting, if a little slow. I wasn’t blown away by anything, but it was a solid book. I am happy to have crossed it off my TBR list.

I seriously do not have much more to say about it, I wish it di. It was good. I could have done with a bit more of the supernatural elements, but it was fine.

My biggest take away, regardless of what was lurking in the mountains, the biggest threats came from within the traveling party itself. Proving once again, man is the most dangerous monster of all.

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Review: The Last Astronaut by David Wellington

The Last AstronautThe Last Astronaut by David Wellington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When a large alien object is identified hurtling toward Earth, seemingly under its own propulsion, NASA quickly assembles a team to try to intercept it.

The object, apparently a space ship, dubbed 2I, is unresponsive to all attempts at communication, so the experts figure, they’ll get a little closer. What could go wrong?

Sally Jansen, a former NASA astronaut, who has been living a quiet life since a failed expedition to Mars, that left a fellow astronaut dead, is called upon to lead the mission to investigate 2I.

Jansen is not necessarily eager to answer NASA’s call, but she understands this could be her only hope for salvation, so she agrees to help.

The other members selected for the mission include Parminder Rao, an astrobiologist, Sunny Stevens, an astrophysicist and Windson Hawkins, a military pilot.

Jansen is the only one among them to have old-school astronaut training and experience. She’s the glue holding the hodge-podge team together.

Jansen and her team learn that a private-sector company, KSpace, has already sent a shuttle, the Wanderer, to 2I and beat NASA to the punch. Their team has already boarded the mysterious craft, thus making the official ‘first contact’.

When the NASA team tries to contact the individuals from the Wanderer, however, no one responds. Thus, Jansen and her team board 2I to investigate.

2I is an enormous space craft. A looming hulk of unknown machinery that functions in complete and utter darkness. Their only source of light, that which they bring with them on their suits.

The truth of 2I was NOT AT ALL what I expected. It flipped my idea of what I thought this first contact would be on its head. It is so gruesome and all-encompassing, I thought there is no way any person is getting out of this alive.

Wellington did a fantastic job of creating a constant feeling of tension with this story. You were always waiting for something to pop out of the dark.

It felt terrifying, even when not a lot was happening. There’s something about the vastness, darkness, silence and isolation of being in deep space that legit freaks me the f* out. But when you add in the terror of this alien craft, it really took it to the next level.

I had a lot of fun reading this. It’s a solid Scifi Horror! I definitely recommend for people who enjoy the genre.

Well done!

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Review: Master and Apprentice (Star Wars) by Claudia Gray

Master and Apprentice (Star Wars)Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

In anticipation of Star Wars: The High Republic releasing the first books this Fall, I have been in such a mood to just devour all of the current canon content I can.

I will tell you that reading Master and Apprentice hot on the heels of Dooku: Jedi Lost was so satisfying!!!

This novel follows Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The events of this book fall after the audiobook, Dooku: Jedi Lost, and prior to the film, The Phantom Menace.

Obi-Wan is Qui-Gon’s first Apprentice. Their relationship is examined closely, both Qui-Gon’s fears of failing his Padawan, and Obi-Wan’s frustrations with his Master who often seems unavailable.

After a secret is revealed, their relationship becomes more fractured and it seems, it may actually be coming to an end.

When Rael Averross contacts his old friend, Qui-Gon, to ask for his assistance with a political issue, Master and Apprentice travel together to the royal court of Pijal to see if they can help.

This may be their last mission together, so both men are silently dealing with a lot of emotions.

Even though Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan view their duties to the Jedi Council differently, each is at their heart battling for what they think is right.

There was quite a bit of political maneuverings in this one, as we see a bit more into how the Jedi Council interacts with the various planets, and governments, within the galaxy.

Prophecies were also revealed on multiple occasions. In short, there was a lot going on! Really great content as far as filling in the backstory of, and providing foundation for, the events in The Phantom Menace.

I could probably read this multiple times and still not pick up on everything.

That’s one great thing about the Star Wars Canon. It’s so vast. You can read, watch, review things over and over and over and the story just keeps on growing and expanding.

It’s like a gift that keeps on giving. Overall, super glad I read this. I think Claudia Gray is such a great author for these stories. You can feel her passion for the whole universe coming off the page.

Really well done. I am pumped to continue on with my 2020 Star Wars binge.

As a side note, also a really great time to have a Disney+ subscription.

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Review: Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

HorrorstörHorrorstör by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

I was so excited when my friend, Shannon, and I made a spur of the moment decision to buddy read Horrorstor!!!

I have owned a copy of this book since it was first released and have heard such great things. I would often stop, pick it up, flip through the pages and considering reading it, but for some reason never did.

I’m not sure why. The whole package of the book is unique and fun. Made to resemble an IKEA catalogue, each chapter begins with a picture of a specific furniture piece and its description.

It’s a really special book in regards to that creativity and for that reason alone, I would recommend people give it a shot to see what it’s all about.

Moving on from the engaging format, I was so pleased with the actual story!

Amy has been working at Orsk for a while, but she seems to be stuck in a rut. It’s so monotonous and honestly, it’s sucking the life out of her.

Additionally, her manager, Basil, is always after her. What’s his problem anyway? He’s such a stiff. She just needs him to let her do her thing, her way.

When mysterious things begin happening around the store, including damage to some of the product, the staff has reason to suspect someone is getting in after hours.

Basil approaches Amy and another employee, Ruth Ann, and asks them to work a dusk-til-dawn shift with him to hopefully catch the vandal.

Important people from corporate are arriving in the morning and he wants to have a handle on the issue prior to their arrival.

The two women agree and return to the store at the designated hour. Their plan, to patrol the showroom floor every hour to see if they can find anything.

On their first walk through the eerie, fun house scary showroom, with designated areas per room type, Amy and Ruth Ann stumble upon an unexpected surprise in Bedrooms.

Two fellow employees, Trinity and Matt, have snuck into the store to shoot footage for their prospective ghost hunting show.

They know of the mysterious happenings at Orsk and think supernatural forces may be at work!

The rest of the narrative follows these five employees, locked in the deserted super store for the night, as they discover the true root of the problem. And it is a serious problem.

I loved the set up for this. The brain-draining retail set-up was spectacular. I know they are not all that way, I have worked in multiple retail locations myself, but some are. The corporate speak and repetitive nature of some of the tasks, it rang real true.

I thought all of the characters were so well done. Even though they seem one dimensional to start, over the course of their time together, you learn much more about each of them. I personally began to feel quite attached.

The humor was also spot on for me. The satirical nature of the entire story, plus the witty banter between the characters, made this an absolute delight from beginning to end.

Added on to all of the great things mentioned above, the horror elements were a ton of fun. There were some yucky moments, cringe-worthy moments and creepy moments. It really offered a lot. I felt like the conclusion was a little rushed, but other than that one small thing, fantastic!

This is definitely Horror Comedy though, so if that is not your jam, you may want to steer clear.

This was my first Hendrix book and it seems like a solid place to start. I am glad to have buddy read this because it was fun to have someone to discuss it with while actually reading. I think it added to the overall experience.

I certainly will be picking up more books by Grady Hendrix in the future!

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Review: The New Husband by D.J. Palmer

The New HusbandThe New Husband by D.J. Palmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Close to two years after her husband, Glen, goes missing, Nina Garrity is doing her best to put her life back together. She feels betrayed that he would just ditch her and their two children, Connor and Maggie.

In spite of this, when Simon Fitch walks into her life, she is charmed by him and suddenly ready to try love again.

Not everyone is pleased with this development. Particularly, her daughter, Maggie, whose precocious perspective we get throughout the novel, alternating with Nina’s.

Maggie’s perspective was definitely my favorite to read from. Sure, she’s sassy, but she’s thirteen and wise beyond her years. I found her to be an astute judge of character and considering the circumstances, I cherished her defiance.

When Nina and Simon buy a house together, the living environment becomes quite tense. Connor, Maggie’s older brother, really likes Simon. He believes his Father is dead and he is looking to move on, just as Nina is.

However, Maggie believes her Father is still out there and doesn’t understand why her Mother would just give up on him. Allowing Simon into their family seems like a hasty decision, as far as she is concerned, not to mention the fact that the guy is a complete creep. As a result, she’s fairly combative.

As a reader, it doesn’t take long before you begin to notice that Maggie is on to something. Simon’s behavior is definitely far from normal.

He’s clearly manipulating Nina, gaslighting her and distancing her from her friends, but why? Not only are his behaviors bizarre, they’re also dangerous. You start to fear for everyone in that house.

Full of twists, I mean, absolutely full of twists, I really had a fun time with this book. I loved the perspective shifts and seeing the story be pieced together that way was so intense.

I’ll agree with some earlier reviewers that it was a bit far-fetched as far as some of the plot twists went, but who cares? It was a wild ride and a great way to escape from life for a while. That’s always what I am looking for in a book. I want to get swept up in it, and this definitely provided that.

While it wasn’t perfect for me, it was pretty darn close. I find Palmer’s writing to be super compelling. He absolutely knows how to pull you in.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it and look forward to reading more from this author!

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Review: Elysium Girls by Kate Pentecost

Elysium GirlsElysium Girls by Kate Pentecost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Ten years ago, the Goddesses of Life and Death decided to play a little game. Their game board, a settlement town called Elysium, set amidst a stark desert landscape.

The inhabitants, the game pieces, scurrying around like the ants in A Bug’s Life, trying to gather up enough sacrificial materials to please the Goddesses once the ten years are up.

Within the settlement, an elder witch, Mother Morvena, seeks her replacement. She is nearing the end of her life, and as the settlement’s unofficial leader, someone needs to take over her duties.

Sal Wilkerson has never quite fit in. She’s different than the other girls and has few friends. She lost her mother to the Dust Sickness and has found it hard trying to make it on her own.

She knows she is meant to be a leader, but getting others to see her as such will be a battle. Her recurring false visions of rain aren’t helping matters.

But when Mother Morvena selects Sal as her successor, things change. Sal begins to see how she can truly contribute and discovers her powers as a witch.

Her new found celebrity is dimmed, however, when a new man arrives in town.

A magician named, Asa, who happens to be a Daemon in disguise! All the townsfolk are completely enamored with him and constantly after him to perform tricks.

When a magical duel between Sal and Asa goes horribly wrong, the entire fate of the game has been ruined. Blamed for the catastrophic result, they face excommunication and Asa disappears.

Now alone, Sal is tossed outside the border wall and forced to survive in the desert, where cannibals are said to lurk.

When all hope seems to be lost, Sal finds her salvation. A badass group of girls, the leader of which was also kicked out of Elysium for bad behavior.

The group takes Sal in, along with Asa, who just couldn’t keep away from those darn humans. They form a beloved found family that was an absolute delight to read.

Together they plan to get back in the game and save all of Elysium from the clutches of Death.

Y’all this book was so much fun to read. Super unique and absolutely full of action. I loved the setting, a sort of magical Deadwood meets Mad Max: Fury Road, and if that isn’t reason enough to pick it up, I’m not sure what is.

I loved both Sal and Asa, as well as many of the side characters. They were full of grit and fun to follow. I really started rooting for this girl gang.

They were smart, tough and never afraid of a fight. The giant mechanical horse on the cover is in the story as well, so there’s that!

The whole way through I was so into it. Thinking all along, this is a 5-star read, but then, the last 20% sort of lost me.

I found it confusing, it was going so fast and there were multiple twists thrown in right at the end. I still don’t really understand the conclusion. I guess if I would have had more information on the world outside of Elysium, it may have solved some of the uncertainties.

With this being said, this is still a highly enjoyable read. One that I can treasure for its magical narrative and captivating setting.

I would urge anyone who finds the synopsis interesting to pick it up. I do not think you will be disappointed.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I had so much fun with it and look forward to seeing what Kate Pentecost dreams up next!

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Review: The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

The Vanished BirdsThe Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

This book went so far over my head, it’s in the thermosphere.

Let’s chat about it, shall we?

This is a GREAT book. The quality of the writing is delicious. Absolutely gorgeous storytelling, however, I have to rate the book based on my reading experience.

For me this was a good, to very good, reading experience. If I had the mental capacity to understand it more, I am sure my rating would have been higher.

I think what it boils down to is that this just isn’t my type of book. I am fast reader. Additionally, I am a polygamous reader. I read multiple books at the same time, quite quickly.

As annoying as this character trait is, it is the only way for me to do it. I have tried to take my time, or just read one book at a time, and it puts me into a reading slump.

Therefore, deep books steeped with a lot of philosophical meaning tend to be wasted on my brain.

I just don’t take the time to really sit back and assess the messages that the author is trying to convey. If wish I could. I envy those of you who are able to do that.

The Vanished Birds is a lyrical science fiction story of various relationships connected across space an time.

I think a lot of readers will be able to get so much out of this. Even I can tell that the quality of this story is far above average.

As a character piece, I think this holds a lot of value, and I’m not afraid to admit that it is beyond my comprehension.

I want to encourage everyone to read this synopsis and if it sounds intriguing to you, please pick it up. The synopsis is true to what is in the book, so I think it will draw in the appropriate readers.

With intelligent, subtle narrative, futuristic concepts and beautiful writing, for many scifi readers, I anticipate this being a 4-or 5-stars! Maybe that will be you!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Del Rey Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate it so much and look forward to seeing other reviews for this one!

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Review: Conceal, Don’t Feel (Twisted Tales #6) by Jen Calonita

Conceal, Don't Feel (Twisted Tale)Conceal, Don’t Feel by Jen Calonita
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Meg’s ratings for The Twisted Tale series:

1. Reflection (Mulan): 4-stars
2. As Old As Time (Beauty & the Beast): 3.5-stars rounded up
3. Mirror, Mirror (Snow White): 3.5-stars rounded up
4. Conceal, Don’t Feel (Frozen): 3.5-stars
5. A Whole New World (Aladdin): 3-stars
6. Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid): 2-stars

I was greatly anticipating the release of Conceal, Don’t Feel, the Frozen retelling of my dreams!

I love the story of Anna and Elsa. There’s so much about being true to yourself and being who you are no matter what others think.

The loads and loads of humor and fantastic side characters is another strong selling point for this story.

In this installment of Disney’s Twisted Tale series, we are proposed the twist of Anna and Elsa never knowing one another.

In this version, after Elsa’s magic harms Anna, their parents give Anna away to a family in the village to raise her. The girl’s memories are wiped and they grow up with no knowledge that they even have a sister.

It started out a little slow for me, but did pick up towards the middle and the conclusion was lovely.

Although slightly underwhelming, most likely because I had hyped it up so much for myself, this is still a good book. It was fun to spend some time with all of these dynamic characters again.

After this though, I am very happy the girls grew up the way they did in the movie and not some other version. That was sad enough!

Am I right?!

If you enjoyed the movie version of Frozen, you should definitely give this one a shot! Let Anna, Elsa, Olaf and all the rest, take your mind off the world for a while.

You won’t regret it!

I love the whole concept behind this series. I am always checking to see what tale Disney is going to twist next!

I am looking forward to continuing on with the rest of the books!

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