Review: Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall by Alex Segura

Poe Dameron: Free FallPoe Dameron: Free Fall by Alex Segura
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Teenager, Poe Dameron, wants adventure and freedom. On his home planet of Yavin 4, he feels smothered by a father he views as overbearing.

He doesn’t want to take over the family farm, he wants more. Why can’t his father understand that?

His father, Kes Dameron, was a sergeant in the battle against the Galactic Empire. Along with his wife and Poe’s mother, Shara Bey, a renowned Rebel pilot, the two lived the sort of adventurous life Poe dreams of.

His mother taught him how to pilot his own craft and it’s well-known that he is gifted behind the controls; well exceeding his peers.

Since his mother’s tragic death, Poe and his father have had a difficult time connecting and it seems her death has made his father even more protective over him.

Considering Poe is really all Kes has left, it is no surprise he may be holding on a bit too tightly. Poe doesn’t see the reasoning behind it, however. He’s young and just wants to be able to choose his own path.

When an opportunity arises for him to flee Yavin 4, he jumps on it without too much consideration.

His means of escape just so happens to be piloting a ship full of Spice Runners. The Spice Runners of Kijimi, to be exact, one of the deadliest crime syndicates in the galaxy.

The Spice Runners needed a new pilot, after the demise of their own, and Poe just so happens to be in the right place at the right time.

He jumps on his chance and off they go. Of the crew he now finds himself with, Poe bonds quickly with young, Zorii Wynn, a human female, a native of Kijimi and an all-around badass.

They become quite close. It’s no surprise, considering they’re the same age and they continue to rise up the ranks together.

Their relationship has moments of romance, but mostly is built on a mutual respect. Zorii has grown up in the Spice Runners and Poe learns a lot from her regarding their lifestyle and practices.

Ultimately, Zorii is hardcore, she has loyalties that go much deeper than any Poe could ever feel for the criminal organization.

When the two begin to be at odds about what the future holds for them, tough decisions must be made, pushing both of them to their limits.

Y’all, I really enjoyed this. As an origin story for a character I love, I thought this was fantastically presented.

I really felt for Poe. It can be so hard to be a kid who feels like you were made for great things, but you don’t feel supported in pursuing those things.

I love that he had the boldness of character to set out on his own. Even though the way he went about that was reckless, it ultimately made his life what it is.

I think he needed that experience with the Spice Runners to truly understand what he was meant to do; his destiny.

Overall, this is a great addition to the Disney Canon. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to read it.

Finding out the details behind Poe’s early life and his relationship with Zorii, a relationship that shaped them both, it was just so satisfying.

As far as the Canon timeline goes, this novel falls after The Mandalorian and prior to the novel, Bloodline.

If you have watched the new trilogy movies, you are probably familiar with Poe Dameron’s character and if you enjoy him, as I do, you should definitely check this book out. It’s a heck of a good time!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney LucasFilms Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I was so happy to have the opportunity to get my hands on it early and provide my thoughts. Available everywhere in the galaxy, Tuesday, August 4, 2020!!!

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Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican GothicMexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

When Neomi Taboada’s father asks her to go check on her recently married cousin, Catalina, she really doesn’t want to. Why her? She’s got so much going on in the city.

Catalina currently resides at a remote manor home, known as High Place, with her husband, Virgil’s, family.

As posh as that sounds, according to Catalina’s desperate letters, the home is a desolate wasteland where she is currently very unwell, or else is in incredible danger.

Neomi’s father urges her to go and check on Catalina’s health and living conditions. When urging doesn’t work, he bribes her.

Neomi wants nothing more than to attend University, so that’s exactly the carrot he dangles in front of her.

Before you know it, Neomi is packing her bag and heading to High Place.

Once there, Neomi immediately feels at odds with Virgil’s stuffy, overly proper family. She is a modern, society-girl, who is used to having her own way, or at least being able to have a conversation over dinner.

In addition to the regimented, claustrophobic feel of the house itself, Neomi begins feeling spooked out by her surroundings and dreaming frightening things. Something is definitely going on here.

Her interactions with Virgil and his family get more disturbing as the days go by, until Neomi doesn’t fear just for Catalina’s well-being, but also her own.

Y’all, I was highly anticipating this novel. I have really enjoyed previous works from Moreno-Garcia and the gothic vibes of this are totally my jam.

While there is no denying that Moreno-Garcia’s writing is lush and captivating, something about the pace of this was off for me.

The premise is super intriguing, the atmosphere was top notch, but for me, the characters were not as well developed as I would of liked. I feel like I should have been attached to Neomi, but I just wasn’t.

The horror elements were interesting. I found the ideas behind that aspect intriguing for sure.

There were also scenes that legit grossed me out. I may even have gagged once or twice. I am telling you, Uncle Howard. The descriptions. I had to take a shower after.

Overall, this is a good book, bordering on really good for me. I think if this pace wasn’t so variant from lull to extreme intensity, I could have enjoyed it more.

I hope that Moreno-Garcia continues in this lane though. This gothic horror is fantastic for her writing style. I’m on board for anything else she writes, believe that.

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Blog Tour: Someone’s Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass

Someone's ListeningSomeone’s Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

     NOW AVAILABLE!!!

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Self-Help guru, Faith Finley, has suffered a lot of trauma in her life. Luckily enough, she has been able to spin these negative events and use them for good.

Those horrifying personal experiences help her better relate to the individuals she counsels and she feels like it makes her advice more credible.

Just when her career is starting to take off, with a successful book published and regular radio and television spots, a sex scandal hits the news waves and her reputation is instantly shattered.

A past patient has come forward and made some pretty damning allegations against her. Since her main area of interest is abusive or toxic relationships, this patient’s claim seems particularly ironic.

She can’t believe it. She had such a good relationship with him. Why would he do this to her?

Faith doesn’t take the scrutiny well, relying on pills and drink to get her through.

Her loving husband, Liam, claims to believe her, but still, their relationship begins to feel the strain as well.

After a mysterious accident, Liam disappears. Faith is desperate to find him, or at least find out what happened to him.

Is it a case of a man fleeing an unhappy marriage or did something more sinister happen to him? When Faith ends up a suspect in his disappearance, she becomes even more determined to find out the truth.

With her own mental health spiraling, it’s hard to determine how much Faith actually knows.

Y’all know, I love a unreliable narrator and Faith Finley fits that description to a T. In addition to the fantastic use of an unreliable narrator trope, you also have Faith working a bit as an amateur sleuth in order to determine what happened to Liam.

Having two of my favorite tropes, it is no surprise that I really enjoyed Someone’s Listening.

I found it easy to become completely immersed within the story. Faith has a lot of flaws, but I think they are flaws that many readers will be able to relate to.

She’s not claiming to be perfect and I think after everything she has gone through, you can’t help but root for her to finally get some peace.

There are so many twists and turns and exciting leads that Faith follows during her investigation. Red herrings are plentiful and really well executed, in my opinion.

The only thing I was a little disappointed about was that, for some reason, I thought there was going to be a radio show involved in the story and there’s not.

Admittedly, that’s my own fault, but I just wish we could have got a little more of her in action in her career, but that isn’t a part of it at all.

Overall, I think this is a fun, fast Domestic Suspense novel that a lot of Readers will enjoy!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Graydon House, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review, and for including me in the Blog Tour for the book release.

I definitely hope to read more from Seraphina Nova Glass in the future!

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Review: Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones

Night of the MannequinsNight of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delightfully brutal and mentally horrific.

Jumping into this Stephen Graham Jones novella, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

To be honest, I never even read the synopsis. I see his name and immediately pick books up. It’s a compulsion.

Night of the Mannequins follows Sawyer and his group of childhood friends when a prank goes horribly wrong.

Disguising a discarded mall mannequin as a patron at the local movie theater seemed like the perfect way to get back at the stuffy assistant manager, who happened to recently punish the friend group for sneaking into a movie unpaid.

What starts off as a fairly innocent prank, however, turns more deadly than this group of teens could have ever imagined and it seems Sawyer is the only one with a plan to limit the destruction.

First, let me just swoon for a bit over how much I love SGJ’s writing. I promise not to let it go on for too long.

The style is edgy AF, yet feels like classic horror all the same. I love the humor and witty dialogue that he is able to bring to such dark tales.

Also, his books always go there, all the way to the deepest, darkest crevices of the human mind. It’s weird. It’s powerful. It’s freaking disturbing.

With this being said, I was really into this novella, loving everything about it until about the 70% mark.

Then I started feeling lost. While I understand the ending, some of the choices of events leading up to the ending didn’t seem to fit. It made the ending seem a little abrupt and disjointed for me.

Overall though, this novella is fantastic. You cannot deny the level of creativity it takes to write a story like this.

One that leads you in one direction, flips that on its head and then smacks you in the face with a healthy dose of depressing reality.

Sawyer is a very special protagonist. One whose inner thoughts will stick with me for a while.

I would highly recommend this to any horror fan or any person who just enjoys a bizarre tale.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I was really looking forward to more SGJ and this did NOT disappoint!

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Review: His & Hers by Alice Feeney

His & HersHis & Hers by Alice Feeney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first Alice Feeney novel!!!

And, yeah, I can definitely see what all the fuss is about.

This gripping, Adult Thriller, follows three perspectives: his, hers and a mystery individual, that could be him, it could be her or it could be some completely unrelated individual.

Intrigued yet?

Here is what I can tell you, the her of this equation is BBC-television reporter, Anna Andrews.

Anna was such an interesting character. I loved reading from her perspective. She’s far from perfect and she’s pretty honest about all of that with the reader.

The him is none other than Anna’s ex-husband, intrepid-Blackdown DCI, Jack Harper.

Jack also was a great perspective to read from. You can tell he is a man with a lot of wounds just trying to do his best anyway he can. You can also tell he still carries a spark for Anna.

When Anna gets sent to Blackdown to report on a recent homicide, Jack is surprised to spot her on his crime scene.

Until very recently, Anna had been working in-studio, reporting the mid-day news, not trotting around in the field. Unfortunately for Anna, that cushy position was nabbed back by her colleague returning from maternity leave.

Their brief reunion doesn’t go well. Jack is much closer to this case than he’s letting on and the last thing he needs is his ex digging around.

Thinking this is an isolated incident, Jack is hoping Anna will just return to London, but the killer has other plans.

Soon, more bodies are dropping and Anna seems to have a connection with all of the victims. Could she be next?

The alternating perspectives were such a great way to watch this story unfold. My mind was spinning trying to piece together what was happening and who the mystery perspective was.

I thought that was super clever. There were moments when I thought that mystery perspective was every single character I had met thus far.

My earliest inclination of who it was, was incorrect and I was glad. Feeney played me and I love that!

There were a couple of plot points I found to be slightly confusing and one of the red herrings I thought was implausible and unnecessary, but a lot of other readers may disagree with me.

My slight criticisms are totally personal preference and nothing to do with the author, or her skill at weaving an intriguing tale.

As you learn more about the victims, and their connections with Anna, that was my favorite part.

Some truly terrible things had happened in Anna’s village and I definitely think she was in the right to leave it far behind. Regrettably, we all know buried secrets seldom stay buried.

If you are looking for an intense, fast-paced read to pick up this summer, you should definitely give His & Hers a shot! I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Flatiron Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I had a blast and really appreciate getting to it early.

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Review: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good IndiansThe Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brutal. Haunting. Visceral.

Ten years ago, Lewis, Ricky, Gabe and Cass, did something on the last day of hunting season that they will ultimately live to regret.

They knew it was technically wrong, felt it at the time, but spurred on by each other and the adrenaline of the hunt, went against their better judgement anyway.

Close to the ten year anniversary of the event that came to be known as the Thanksgiving Classic, Lewis, now living far from the reservation, begins to be haunted by images of that day.

When a new work colleague, a Crow woman, reaches out to him and a loose friendship begins, Lewis confides in her, thinking she’ll understand.

From there, sh*t hits the proverbial haunted ceiling fan pretty quickly.

This is my first novel by Stephen Graham Jones and to say I was impressed would be putting it very mildly.

His writing has such a texture and grit. Oftentimes you are waiting for a novel to take it all the way and it never does. This one goes the distance.

It is bloody, brutal, fast-paced, genuine and horrifying. The nature of the storytelling feels so classic and traditional whilst also being cutting edge.

The only issue I had while reading it, which is completely a personal taste issue and nothing to do with the quality of the writing or story, was a lot of the animal content was hard for me to make it through.

While this is a personal taste issue, I still rate books I read based upon my reading experience and I had to be honest that those scenes did bother me.

With this being said, I will mention that I do not think in anyway that the author threw those scenes in recklessly. They definitely served a purpose in the narrative. I get it.

Overall, I think this is a purposeful, creative and engaging horror story. I will absolutely be picking up anything else SGJ writes.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Gallery / Saga Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. It will haunt me for a long time to come!

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Review: Shadow Garden by Alexandra Burt

Shadow GardenShadow Garden by Alexandra Burt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

A compulsively readable novel of Domestic Suspense!

This novel begins with Donna Pryor introducing us to the mysterious Shadow Garden property. A place her estranged husband has chosen for her to live.

A living community that feels more like a fortress where wealthy people go when no one else wants them. Donna feels abandoned by her family and confused at how she ended up at this point.

Her husband Edward, although they are not divorced, is no longer taking her calls and she hasn’t heard from her adult daughter, Penelope, in months.

She does have her dedicated housekeeper, Marleen, but that’s a small conciliation prize when one is missing their family.

Donna begins to feel like something isn’t right at Shadow Garden. What are these pills Marleen keeps giving her? Why won’t Edward or Penelope talk to her?

She feels like maybe they are mad at her, but she can’t recall why. Her life feels like a giant black hole of distant memories, one she is slowly sinking into.

Following three different perspectives: Donna, Edward and Penelope, this novel pieces together the story of their life and their downfall.

I found this story so addicting. While not the most believable plot, there was still something about it that kept me glued to the pages.

It sort of felt like reading a Lifetime movie. It’s not going to win any awards, but it’s definitely an entertaining way to spend an afternoon!

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

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Review: The Safe Place by Anna Downes

The Safe PlaceThe Safe Place by Anna Downes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A strong debut Thriller, engrossing and intense!

Emily is down on her luck, wishing for rescue, as a white knight comes charging through to save her.

By white knight, I mean a very wealthy man, Scott Denny, Emily’s former boss, who offers her an unusual opportunity she cannot turn down.

Before she knows it, Em is being whisked off to the coast of France to live in a Guest Cottage at the Denny’s secluded waterfront estate, Querencia.

Scott’s mysterious wife, Nina, lives there with their young daughter, Aurelia. While the job description is foggy, Emily assumes she is part-housekeeper, part-nanny.

And while she does perform a large amount of upkeep and renovation projects, as the days pass, it begins to seem she is more of a companion for Nina than anything else.

They sit by the pool, drink wine, play with Aurelia. It’s a dream job. Until it’s not.

This book really intrigued me. For the first 60%, I could not figure out where it was going. Obviously, something was amiss, it’s a Thriller, but what was it?

Was Scott up to something? Was Nina? Aurelia seemed a little strange, was she possessed? What about Emily? An unreliable narrator if ever there was one, right?

Then at 60%, there was one sentence, one sentence that made every single puzzle piece fall into place for me. It was so glaringly obvious to me after that what was actually going on.

While I don’t believe that is where I was suppose to figure it all out, as looking back, it was a fairly mundane sentence, I did and it sort of sucked a little of the joy out of it for me.

But, just a little. Overall, I did have a ton of fun reading this. It was quite intense towards the end.

Even though the characters might not have made the choices I would have made, I was satisfied with the conclusion. It felt complete.

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

I definitely think it will end up being one of the hottest Thrillers of the summer. Available now!!!

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Review: Wonderland by Zoje Stage

WonderlandWonderland by Zoje Stage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Upon her retirement from a professional ballet company in New York City, Orla is ready to settle in to care for her two sensitive children, Eleanor Queen and Tycho, while her artist husband gets his chance to focus on his work.

Her husband, Shaw, has handled most of the child-rearing up to this point, as Orla’s career required long hours outside of the home.

The couple decide to move to Northern New York, an area closer to where Shaw grew up.

They are thinking the open space and slower lifestyle will be good for the children. Plus, the beauty of nature is really what Shaw wants to encapsulate with his art.

They decide on a beautiful old farmhouse with plenty of acreage, far from neighbors, or even a town. It’s already the holiday season and snow covers the ground, giving the children something exciting to focus on.

It seems to be exactly what they wanted, until it’s not.

The seclusion quickly gets to them and mysterious events start occurring on the property, like the appearance of the Aurora Borealis, 10-feet of snow falling in one night, and the trees seem to be creeping closer to the house.

Additionally, Shaw and Eleanor Queen both seem to be channeling some sort energy from the woods. It’s all a bit overwhelming.

When things turn dangerous, Orla must do whatever she can to protect her family from the entity trying to trap them.

Dark and dangerous, this book explores some weighty and thought-provoking subjects.

Wonderland is a slow burn and one that you need some time to think about. I think the longer I sit with this, the more I will grow to appreciate it.

The quality of Stage’s writing, cannot be denied. I love it, but also realize this book will not be for everyone.

I do feel the end dragged on a bit more than it needed too and began to feel monotonous because of that.

Overall though, I think this is a wildly creative and thoughtful story. I will keep coming back for anything she writes.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Mulholland Books, for providing me a copy to read and review. I genuinely appreciate it!

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Review: The Shadows by Alex North

The ShadowsThe Shadows by Alex North
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Paul Adams was a teenager, a classmate of his was quite brutally murdered. Paul was arrested and accused of the murder.

His mother, who knew her son was innocent, fought like a dog to regain his freedom. Paul was innocent, but who were the real culprits?

It turns out that two of Paul’s one-time friends, Billy and Charlie Crabtree, were the killers. Of the two, Charlie was definitely the leader. Billy went to prison and Charlie, subsequently, disappeared into the local woods, known as The Shadows.

Having suffered enough in the public spotlight of his village, Paul moves away as soon as he can, leaving his mother behind. He doesn’t return for 25-years.

He only returns after receiving word that his mother, who is in poor health and suffering from dementia, has taken a fall and is now being kept in a nursing facility.

As you can imagine, returning to the village he fled so many years before, stirs up a lot of memories and emotions. Making matters worse, a copycat crime has been committed, bringing the brutal violence of the past to a whole new generation.

As with, The Whisper Man, I really enjoyed North’s writing and the way he chose to format the story.

We follow a couple different perspectives, as well as past and present timelines. I just feel like he makes such clever choices with his storytelling and I’m down for it.

There were definitely moments I didn’t see coming, as well as some solid red herrings.

I wasn’t crazy about the conclusion to some of the mysteries held within the story, but that is purely personal preference. It is no way a reflection on the skill of the writing or the book itself. There were just a couple of things, I personally wish would have wrapped-up differently.

Overall, this is a fun, creepy read. I love the is it paranormal, is it not paranormal feel that North brings to his work. That’s how I live my life and I love it.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Celadon Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. It was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint!

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