Review: Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters

Ghost Wood SongGhost Wood Song by Erica Waters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Mood. This book is a mood and I loved it!!

Shady Grove is a fiddle-playing high school girl, who has been struggling a bit since her father’s untimely death.

Her mother has since remarried and her step-dad, Jim, has a contentious relationship with Shady’s older brother, Jesse. This makes life at home far from peaceful.

Shady finds respite practicing her fiddle in the woods surrounding their trailer. At least for a while.

She’s also in a band with her best friends, Sarah and Orlando. While Shady enjoys playing with them, she really wants to play just bluegrass, the music she was raised on, but they have a different opinion; especially Sarah.

Making matters worse is the fact that Shady and Sarah were an almost couple. It never ended up happening and now it feels like there is a giant elephant in the room every time they are together.

When they compete in an open mic night and a boy in a rival band catches Shady’s eye, it seems like things may finally explode with Sarah.

Shady hardly has time to focus on that however, when something much more serious happens.

Her brother, Jesse, gets arrested; accused of murder.

Shady recognizes her brother has a temper and he admittedly, hasn’t been in the best place mentally as of late, but she also knows he could never do this.

Remembering the stories her father used to tell her, how he could channel spirits by playing his fiddle, Shady decides there’s only one thing for her to do.

She needs to find her Dad’s old fiddle and raise the spirit of the person Jesse is said to have killed. That way she can ask him what happened to him and use that knowledge to help free Jesse. Sounds fairly simple, right?

This novel has so many elements that I traditionally love.

There’s the storyline featuring music and musicians, a murder, a haunted old farmhouse, long-buried family secrets, a beautifully-constructed love triangle for our bi-girl protagonist and a haunting, gritty setting.

Tie all of this together with Erica Waters exceptional writing, how could I not absolutely love this story?

I was drawn in from the very start. Some of her descriptions of music, what it is like playing music, the way it can overtake your body; gahhhhhh, it was so well done.

The murder mystery was interesting and just added another level to an already intriguing tale.

Additionally, I loved how Waters weaved in the lore surrounding Shady’s family and their obviously haunted property. Shady’s Aunt Ena was one of my favorite characters.

Then there’s the overriding grief that permeates this entire story. It’s morose, it’s lyrical, it’s so many wonderful things.

I do recognize this story will not be for everyone, but for me and my tastes, it was close to perfection. I would respectfully and lovingly refer to this as a type of Hillbilly Noir. It’s enchanting and I can’t get enough of it.

I cannot wait to check out more of this author’s work! If I love any of it half as much as this one, I will be a happy girl.

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Review: Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

Harrow LakeHarrow Lake by Kat Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes the truth is scarier than the nightmare.

When Lola Nox was just 5-years old, her Mom ran off, abandoning Lola to be raised by her famous, Horror movie director father, Nolan.

They have a strange, strained relationship. Lola often feels like a bird in a cage; a pet, for Nolan to trot out to impress industry people and the press.

As Lola becomes a teenager, she begins to battle more against Nolan’s strict control over her life.

Their relationship is contentious, but when Lola returns to their NYC apartment one evening and finds Nolan bleeding out after a brutal attack, she is devastated.

She needs him to be okay. He’s all she has. Adding to her stress, Larry, her Father’s long-time assistant tells her it would be best for her to go stay with her maternal grandmother while Nolan is in the hospital recovering.

Lola can’t believe it. She’s never even met her Grandmother; she doesn’t want to go stay with her, but Larry is insistent that it is what Nolan would want. And Nolan gets what he wants.

Thus, Lola is shipped off to Harrow Lake, her Mom, Lorelei’s, hometown.

It also happens to be the town where her parents met. The town where her father shot his most iconic slasher film, Nightjar, in which her Mom played the starring role of Littlebird.

Immediately upon arrival at her Grandmother’s, the story transforms in vibe into an atmospheric, suspenseful and eerie tale.

I was constantly on edge, waiting for the truth of Harrow Lake and Lorelei to be revealed.

This felt like a classic-80s Horror flick. It had one of my favorite tropes, with the main character ending up in a small town where everyone is acting strangely and they are stuck there.

The town lore and traditions were super messed up, but nobody but Lola seemed to notice. Even the friends she made there seemed untrustworthy.

But is Lola trustworthy? I was scratching my head the entire way, definitely anxious for the conclusion.

I liked this a lot. It was fun and had some pulse-pounding, creepy as heck moments. I can see that this story won’t be for everyone, but I think die hard fans of this genre will have a good time with it.

I definitely plan to pick up more books by Kat Ellis! Well done.

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Review: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Legendborn (Legendborn, #1)Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hot dang!!! That’s how you write a Fantasy!

Believe the hype. Legendborn is next level. I am so impressed with Tracy Deonn and cannot wait for the second book.

Go into this knowing as little as possible, just let the story wash over you. It’s complex and layered. The characters are wonderful and the magic system is incredibly creative.

It’s everything I look for in a modern urban fantasy!!!

The mystery of it kept me completely engaged. I couldn’t put Legendborn down once I started.

With the heavy fangirling out of the way, let’s get to the most serious question…

WHEN DOES THE SECOND BOOK RELEASE!?

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Review: Love & Olives (Love & Gelato #3) by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & Olives (Love & Gelato, #3)Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jenna Evans Welch has done it again. I absolutely loved my time spent reading Love & Olives.

This brought back the tone, humor, heart and gut-punching familial relationships of Love & Gelato. I’m so happy.

Liv Varanakis is surprised when she receives a postcard from her father asking her to travel to Greece to stay with him. He needs her help with a mystery project; something involving the lost city of Atlantis.

Honestly, Liv has been trying to forget her Dad. She has had little, to no, contact with him since he left when she was only 8-years old.

He returned to his native-country, Greece, and her and her mom were forced to make ends meet without him. It wasn’t always easy, but her mom has since remarried and she even has a half-brother now, who she adores.

She has to go though. Her Mom is making her go. It’ll be fine. Even though she has to miss her boyfriend’s Senior Trip; it’ll be fine.

Arriving on the beautiful island of Santorini, Liv’s nerves begin to get the best of her. She has no idea what to expect. Will she and her Dad even get along?

Things get off to a bit of a rocky start when a strange boy shows up in her Dad’s place to pick her up from the airport. Should she even trust this person?

He claims his name is Theo and that he works for her father. It’s like something out of a movie. She’s pretty sure she shouldn’t just go with him. She’s seen, Taken.

This story is an absolute delight. The Reader gets to follow along as Liv and her father try to repair their broken relationship. She gets to live in his book shop, with Theo, and their relationship blossoms as well.

Central to the story is the mystery of the lost city of Atlantis and the documentary film her father is making on the subject. Liv, an artist, is put in charge filming, a task she excels at.

The story is told through Liv’s perspective and it is full of humor. She has such a sarcastic, honest view of the events; it’s hilarious to read.

I loved the interactions between characters and how Welch incorporated some heavier topics throughout. Liv really grows over the course of the story. Watching her relationship with her father change, as she learns more about him, and about herself, was really lovely.

I have read some reviews where people commented on the length of the story; that it is too long. It is long, over 500-pages for a YA Contemporary, but looking back on it, I cannot think of one scene that I would have removed.

For me, every detail was needed in order to become as attached to Liv and her story as I did. Personally, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Ultimately, I am so glad I picked this up. I didn’t have the greatest experience with Love & Luck, but I knew what Welch was capable of because of Love & Gelato.

I actually think this story is my favorite out of the three. Liv is my favorite protagonist, combined with the Atlantis lore and the documentary aspect, makes this a near perfect book for me.

As one of my favorite BookTubers always says, 10 out of 10, recommend! Let Greece sweep you away!

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Review: Ten Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan

Ten Rules for Faking ItTen Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

Everly Dean is a producer of a radio show, working alongside her best friend, Stacey, the DJ.

On Everly’s 30th-birthday, she catches her boyfriend, Simon, with another woman. Not a great way to start a day.

Arriving at work, she proceeds to rant to Stacey about it. Unfortunately, the microphone was on and now all of their listeners know of the problems with Everly’s love life.

Trying to spin a negative into a positive, Everly agrees to participate in a Bachelorette-style dating show hosted by the station. Their numbers have been struggling and it may boost their ratings just enough to keep them going.

This is a really tough sell for Everly. She suffers from severe social anxiety, so even the thought of going out on a series of random dates with a bunch of strangers causes her to hyperventilate.

Her cute boss, Chris, the one who doesn’t seem to like her at all, thinks it is a great idea though; as does Stacey. She’ll give it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen?

As it turns out, the dates aren’t too bad, but Everly can’t stop thinking about her boss.

Alternating between Chris and Everly’s perspective, the Reader gets a front row seat to all of their pinings, doubts and insecurities, as an adorable friendship develops.

The first half of this book, I was pretty into it. I liked the characters and although not super romance heavy, I enjoyed reading about their friendships and issues.

Everly’s anxieties were relatable and I thought she was doing a great job getting outside of her comfort zone and working at lowering her walls.

I really liked Chris as well. He was in a difficult position. His father owns the radio station, but he didn’t want any of the employees to know. He wanted to be judged on his own merit, not because of the fact that his father is super rich.

Chis has a huge crush on Everly, but doesn’t feel like he is in a position to make a move considering he is her boss. That makes sense. I get that.

Everything was going along nicely, but then somewhere around the 80% mark, it just went off the rails for me.

It got beyond frustrating. I actually started to get angry with the characters and the way things were going. I was yelling at them. Literally exclaiming things randomly while reading.

Everly ended up turning into one of my least favorite characters ever. She was so rigid. Holding everyone to these impossibly high standards. It was so freaking aggravating.

It was like she had never made a mistake before. She’s a 30-year old woman, judging people based upon decisions they made when they were 20-freaking years old.

I don’t know, something about that just rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn’t get over that distaste once it was in my head and the rest of the story suffered for it.

I rounded up to 3-stars, because I feel like this has the workings to be a good story, and if you don’t have the same issues with Everly that I did, this could work for you. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a great fit for me.

I did adore Chris though. He deserves better, in my opinion, than the end of this book.

Also, although this didn’t have an impact on my rating, I know for a lot of Romance Readers it might, there is zero steam in this story. There is more steam in a Hallmark movie than in this book, so if that is what you are looking for, look elsewhere.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I do appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

While this didn’t knock it out of the park for me, I would definitely try more from Sophie Sullivan.

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Review: Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young

Fable (Fable, #1)Fable by Adrienne Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Four years ago, 17-year old, Fable, was abandoned by her Father on a notorious island full of dangers and thieves. Her mother had just died, the victim of a terrible storm, and Fable was truly alone.

All her Father left her with were the parting words, you’re not cut out for a life on the sea. Fable disagrees, however, and has spent her time in the proceeding years trying to figure out a way back to him and into her rightful place on his crew.

She finally secures her means of escape with a companion she has met through trading, a young man named, West.

Him and his crew allow Fable to come aboard their ship, the Marigold, for the journey across The Narrows. As we all expect with a sea-faring tale, dangers lurk around every corner and the crew must band together in order to survive.

Fable is definitely a slow burn. It’s quite character-driven, but I did enjoy my time learning about Fable, West and the other characters on the Marigold. There’s a nice found-family element to it that I liked quite a bit as well.

This reminded me a lot of Daughter of the Pirate King. There’s actually more than a few similarities, although I do feel this story feels a bit more mature than that one. I do think if you enjoyed that book, you’ll enjoy this one too.

There are some light magical elements to this that I hope are built out a bit more in the second book. Fable’s ability at reading gems is unique and I want to know more.

This left off on such a great cliffhanger. I have already picked up the second book, Namesake and am excited to see how Fable’s story concludes. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys an adventure on the high seas!

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

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Review: When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

When No One is WatchingWhen No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Needing a distraction from her life, Sydney Green, decides to take one of the over-priced historic walking tours of her Brooklyn neighborhood.

She’s a history buff and is curious to find out what the tour guide will cover. While on the tour she quickly realizes that the community she has lived in her whole life isn’t being represented.

It’s hard to understand the history of a place while simultaneously ignoring the people who have lived there for generations.

Sydney decides to create her own, truly historic, walking tour of the neighborhood. With encouragement from her neighbors and friends, she begins to research the events and people she would like to cover.

It’s a big task, however, and she can’t do it all alone. Help comes in the form of a most unlikely source. A new neighbor, Theo, who just moved into the brownstone across from Sydney’s offers to be her assistant.

She’s hesitant to accept help from Theo at first. She doesn’t really trust him, or understand what his motives may be. As Sydney sees it, him and his Lululemon-loving live-in girlfriend are part of the problem.

Gentrification, they call it. Wealthy people swooping in and taking over urban neighborhoods; raising home prices, tax assessments and rents for all, thus displacing the long-term residents in the process.

Sydney can see it happening around her, changing everything. Theo’s persistent though and in a sort of dorky, yet charming way, he works his way through Sydney’s defenses and into her life.

Before she knows it, the two of them are working together on a daily basis. Also, as it turns out, the girl Sydney assumed to be Theo’s girlfriend, is actually his ex; it’s complicated.

As they dive into their research, events in the neighborhood are beginning to snowball. People are disappearing and both Sydney and Theo encounter strange things happening in the night.

It appears that something more sinister is going on than Sydney initially assumed, but who is going to believe her? Is she just paranoid, or is someone, or something, actually behind her neighbors mysterious disappearances?

I loved this story! I started out reading the paperback, but ended up switching to the audiobook and loved the narrators.

When No One is Watching has a lot of layers. It is a rare type of Thriller that I would actually read again.

I’ve noticed the reviews are mixed and I totally get that. The narrative heads in a direction that won’t be for everyone.

It definitely toes the line of Horror. I would comp this to Get Out meets Lock Every Door. If you loved either of those, I think you will enjoy this just as much!

Additionally, this story played to one of my biggest fears; knowing the truth about something and having no one believe you.

I guess it boils down to a feeling of helplessness. I love how Sydney fought back and how Theo supported her. Their relationship was great to read.

Overall, I found this to be a fast-paced, mind-reeling, horrifying modern-day Thriller and I loved every minute of it. Crossing my fingers this gets adapted into a film. It would be fantastic!!

Highly recommend!

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Review: Girl Gone Viral (Modern Love #2) by Alisha Rai

Girl Gone Viral (Modern Love, #2)Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Girl Gone Viral is the second book in Alisha Rai’s, Modern Love series. This is an Adult Romance series with just the right level of steaminess for me.

In this installment we follow Katrina King, who many of you may remember as Rhiannon’s silent partner and roommate from The Right Swipe.

Katrina is a kind-hearted, super wealthy, ex-model with extreme anxiety and panic disorder.

After years of seclusion, she has just recently made a commitment to start reengaging with the outside world. She has a couple of places she feels safe at, one being a local coffee shop she has come to love.

It is on one of her visits to this shop, on a busy day, that a man asks if he can sit at her table. She says yes and they chat amicably for a short while.

When he asks her for a date, however, she turns him down and that is the end of the encounter. At least as far as Kat is concerned.

Unfortunately, another patron watched the whole thing and posted it online. Thus, a viral #meetcute was born.

To Kat’s horror, the man involved comes forward and acts like they are now in a relationship. This is way too much attention and Kat’s worst fears and anxieties are triggered.

She needs an escape and luckily, her hot bodyguard and friend, Jas Singh, is right there to save her.

Upon Kat’s request, he whisks her away to his family’s peach farm to stay in a little house he owns, yet rarely visits. They plan to hide out there until this whole mess blows over.

This book was so stinking cute. I loved both Kat and Jas. Watching their relationship evolve; it was everything.

I thought Rai wrote Samson, from The Right Swipe, as irresistible, but I actually loved Jas, and his quiet protective presence, even more!!!

Again there was quite a bit of serious subject matter included, with Kat’s anxiety and family issues, as well as Jas’s PTSD and equally troublesome family issues.

I like that Rai includes that. Her characters are always working through something. They’re not perfect, they have flaws just like the rest of us and I think that makes these stories extra relatable.

I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, which follows Kat and Rhiannon’s new roommate, Jia.

I actually hope Rai continues on with this series. As long as she writes them, I’ll be reading them!

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Review: Dear Child by Romy Hausmann

Dear ChildDear Child by Romy Hausmann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Dear Child is a taut Psychological Thriller that will leave you scratching your head until the very end.

It immediately drops you into this puzzle. It can take some time to get your bearings, but once the narrative begins to unfold, it’s completely intriguing.

The story is told from three main perspectives: a kidnapped woman, known as Lena, who has just escaped her captor; her daughter, Hannah; and Lena’s father, Matthias, who has been searching for his daughter for thirteen years.

From Lena and Hannah’s perspectives, the scope of the hell they, along with Hannah’s brother, Jonathan, have lived through begins to take shape. A cabin in the woods, the ‘father’ who controlled their every move and their utter isolation.

After her dramatic escape, Lena is hit by a car and immediately transported to the hospital, with Hannah in tow. It is there that the true depth of the mystery is exposed.

Is this woman really Lena? And if she’s not, then who is she?

This story is dark, twisted, sick, and intricate. Progressing through this story is like peeling back the layers of an onion; something stinks and at times you want to cry.

I thought this was so cleverly plotted. I had so many theories, my head was spinning. It did not end how I expected and I really enjoyed the journey.

There were moments in the beginning where I was almost too confused, but once the puzzle started to come together, wow. It was chef’s kiss.

The Epilogue was the delicious icing on the cake. It gave me that evil grin I love to have at the end of a story.

The most disturbing part of this was that it could really happen. There is nothing far-fetched about it. A cabin in the woods isn’t suspicious in and of itself. You can really do anything you want behind those doors.

I highly recommend this for people who love tense and twisted stories. I believe this is the first Thriller this author has written and obviously it shows incredible promise.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Flatiron Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am definitely anxious to pick up more from Hausmann!

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Review: None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney

None Shall SleepNone Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Emma Lewis is a rare survivor of a serial killer. She was actually held hostage by him for days prior to her escape.

Travis Bell is a U.S. Marshall candidate, whose father lost his life in the line of duty at the hands of a serial killer.

In addition to these odd circumstances, they are also both extremely intelligent. It’s because of all of this, the FBI decides to recruit Emma and Bell to interview juvenile killers and provide insight on cold cases.

The theory is that teen killers will be more willing to open up to other teens, as opposed to stiff old, fuddy-duddy FBI agents.

Both Bell and Emma agree to the assignment within the Behavioral Sciences Unit and move into the dorms at Quantico. They begin training with other recruits and start their teen killer interviews.

The first interview ends up going better than expected. The killer does seem to be more receptive to them and opens up about his crimes and motivations.

Concurrently, the BSU is working on an active, high-profile serial killer case where all of the victims are teenagers.

Trying to get to the bottom of this case, and catch the killer before another teen is killed, the BSU decides to turn to infamous teen killer, Simon Gutmunsson, for help.

Emma ends up interviewing Simon alone and this is where the strong The Silence of the Lambs vibes begin.

Emma and Simon’s relationship is very Clarice and Hannibal. The more they talk, the more Simon is able to draw out of Emma. Details she should not be confessing to him under any circumstances.

Simon is a masterful manipulator, who could strike with zero provocation.

Simon is revealing a lot to Emma as well and it begins to seem that he has a connection to the current case, but how?

This story was super intriguing from the very first chapter. Emma and Bell were both great characters to get to know.

Because of their history of trauma, they were both working through the effects of that; deciding how they wanted their lives to go. Channeling their pain into potential good for others, instead of letting it hold them back.

They hit it off right away and bonded quickly. I thought that made sense. They were the only people in that position, going through the same things. They had no one else.

Watching their relationship evolve over the course of the book seemed so natural. I am attached to them now and genuinely hope this is not the last we see of their characters.

I also loved all the scenes with Simon. He was chilling, much like Hannibal Lecter before him. The audiobook had incredibly creepy narration for his portions, so highly recommend that.

The cat-and-mouse interactions between Simon and Emma were so well-written. Additionally, Simon has a family member who plays a role in this story and their relationship was equally disturbing.

Overall, I thought this was an exceptionally tense and well-plotted YA Thriller.

Highly recommend to anyone who enjoys shows like Criminal Minds, or Mindhunter, as well as The Silence of the Lambs!!

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