Review: Fevered Star (Between Earth & Sky #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky, #2)Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Fevered Star is the second book in Rebecca Roanhorse’s epic Adult Fantasy series, Between Earth and Sky. I believe this is slated to be a trilogy, but holy smokes, would I take more.

As this is the second book of the series, I really don’t want to delve into the finer points of the plot in too much detail.

I definitely wouldn’t want to spoil anything about this wonderful story for anyone; so I will stick mainly to what you can discover via the publisher’s synopsis.

We do continue to follow our four mains from the first book, who are all scrambling to figure out the directions their lives are to take after the fall of the great city of Tova.

Serepio and Naranpa have both risen to a higher state of being, now the living embodiments of Gods at odds with one another. Even though they realize this is their fate, they both struggle to hold onto their humanity.

Xiala, my favorite character, has been swept up in the tide of change as well. True to her nature, she’s on the move, but everything in her being is still tied to the strange and enchanting boy she befriended on her last journey, Serepio. Is he lost to her forever?

You know the opening credits of Game of Thrones, where you are flying over a map of all the different areas in the world and watching cities rise, gears turning, an evolution of an empire happening before your eyes?

That’s what this book is like. The game pieces are moving and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the characters I have come to know and love.

This is such an impressive work of fiction. I love how Roanhorse has incorporated indigenous myths and Pre-Columbian culture into this story. It’s like nothing I have ever read before.

The world is beautifully displayed within these pages and continues to be built out in epic proportions. I definitely recommend the audibooks. I have listen to both and have been completely swept up in the narrative both times; absolutely transported.

I’m really looking forward to the third book in this series and may actually reread the first two just prior to its release. I love them both that much. It would be a piece of cake.

If you love Epic Fantasy stories with intricate world-building and tons of political maneuverings, I would definitely recommend picking this series up!

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Review: The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan

The Long WeekendThe Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A book with a synopsis that promises me a perfectly isolated retreat, a friend’s group weekend getaway, a relaxing break turning to horror, three couples, two bodies, one secret, is a book I am going to read.

The Long Weekend has been screaming at me to pick it up since it released in March of this year. I’ve been waiting for an audiobook copy from my library for months.

Alas, it came through and I immediately downloaded it. While I was able to finish it in less than 24-hours, this was not it.

It started with a wee bit of promise. The women were actually heading out on their weekend retreat, but nothing else connected with me. Literally zero things.

Once the women arrived at Dark Fell Barn, they proceeded to do nothing that would equate to the intent to have a fun weekend holiday. They were all so wrapped up in their own heads; just miserable. Why even bother?

Additionally, do I need the perspectives of the property owners? I hated the inclusion of them and their lives into my friend’s weekend getaway. It was such a waste of words.

Imagine my surprise then when the said weekend getaway lasts less than 24-hours. There goes any hope of our isolated retreat vibes because we’re returning to the city.

This has to be the lamest weekend getaway of all time. Further where it goes from there, not what I signed up for. I’m so glad this is over.

Moving on…

As always though, let me leave you with this: just because this book did not work for me, does not mean it will not work for you. It just didn’t suit my personal tastes and wasn’t what I was looking for when I picked it up.

I know that many, many Readers are going to have a lot of fun with this, so please don’t let my disappointment sway you from picking it up if it sounds interesting to you.

What the heck do I know, anyway!?

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Review: Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

Our Crooked HeartsOur Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On the eve of Ivy’s summer break, while her boyfriend is driving her home from a party, a mysterious figure darts into the road in front of them causing her boyfriend to swerve in order to avoid it.

There’s a minor accident as a result and Ivy’s face gets a little banged up. More concerning to Ivy however is the figure that caused them to go off the road in the first place. What was that?

They stop and pursue the figure into the woods. It’s a young woman and she seems out of place. The whole event is very strange, leaving Ivy feeling haunted.

Nevertheless, they return to the car and her boyfriend drives her home, where she proceeds to break up with him. Not the best start to summer break.

Making matters worse, she actually gets in trouble with her parents because of the accident.

As the hits keep on coming, she’s now grounded. This is going to be a great summer.

((Insert dramatic teen eye roll here.))

Soon Ivy is going to be wishing her lack of freedom were her largest problem as she starts being plagued by a series of increasingly unsettling events. The figure in the woods isn’t done with her. She doesn’t know how she knows this, she just does. It’s all connected.

That’s our present perspective. We also get a past perspective following Ivy’s Mom, Dana.

When Dana was a teen, she and a couple of friends had a real The Craft-moment happening. I’m not going to say one of them was Nancy, but one of them had some Nancy-leanings.

If you know, you know.

As the Reader it is very easy to become immersed in both of these timelines. Equally interesting is how they are connected and watching the two of them eventually bleed into one another.

I thought Albert did a great job telling this story. There were a couple of aspects that lost me a bit, some scenes towards the end had a fever dream-type quality to them and that’s not necessarily my favorite to see in a narrative.

With this being said, overall I found this story to be intriguing as heck.

The moody, dark atmosphere was definitely a plus for me. I loved how full of magic it was. Witchy vibes for the win!

Also, I really enjoyed the relationship between Ivy and her Mom. It’s complicated for a number of different reasons and watching Dana come to accept her daughter’s strength and power was beautiful to me.

Even though I didn’t agree with quite a few of Dana’s choices as a mother, I could definitely sympathize with her. I feel like Albert built her character out enough that it was easy to understand her motivations.

This was a highly anticipated release for me and it did not disappoint. I definitely recommend it to all who enjoy a dark, magical story with a bit of a mystery.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. The audiobook is fantastically done!

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Review: Dark Circles by Caite Dolan-Leach

Dark CirclesDark Circles by Caite Dolan-Leach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Olivia Reed is a fairly successful actress on the brink of middle age. When she has a very public meltdown in Manhattan, captured by the paparazzi of course, her manager, Jess, suggests some R&R.

Jess picks out a Wellness Center in the Finger Lakes region of New York for Liv to attend. A Wellness Retreat sounding more palatable than Rehab, Liv agrees to go.

Thus, leaving her sweet little dog, Richard, with Jess for the time being, Liv heads off to the House of Light. How bad can it be, anyway?

Liv is unsettled when not long after her arrival, a body is discovered in the water near the House of Light. After some discussions with another retreat member, Ava, Liv learns that this isn’t the first young woman to have been found in similar circumstances near this location.

In fact, young woman with connections to the House of Light seem to ‘commit suicide’ with shocking regularity.

No one seems to believe the House of Light is connected with these mysterious deaths, but Ava does. After hearing all of the evidence Ava presents to her, Liv is not so sure.

Liv decides to investigate on her own and start a new project, a podcast that will look into these deaths, all of which happen to fall on pagan holidays. Coincidence or not?

This book follows Liv’s time at the Center, as well as her investigation into the women’s deaths and the production of her podcast, Vultures. Full podcast episodes are also included.

I’ll admit to being a little nervous going into this one. From what I had read, it was receiving mixed reviews and even though the synopsis contained a lot of buzzwords for me, it’s always hard to tell which side of the fence you are going to fall on. Hit or miss?

Luckily for me, this was a hit. I really enjoyed my time with this story. I was totally invested with Liv. Loved her as a main character.

Even though the narrative is a slow burn that never quite hit bonfire proportions, I was completely captivated!!

I did actually end up listening to the audiobook and loved it as a medium to take in this story. The podcast sections were freaking fantastic. Completely realistic and fascinating.

Additionally, I loved Liv. I know that some Readers will not be into her, but I like this type of main character. What can I say? I like characters that are flawed. Maybe they drink too much, maybe they’re a little selfish or rude, but they’re always interesting and they have a lot of room to grow.

The House of Light, or HoL, as Liv calls it, has a very distinct cult-like vibe. This was super interesting. I always think I am going to enjoy books revolving around a cult and I often am disappointed.

This one was probably one of the most interesting books that I have read involving fictional cult-like activities. Many of the aspects of HoL reminded me a lot of Scientology, which was even mentioned in the book; the fact that the two were similar.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It’s the type of story that is going to sit with me too. Very well done by, Dolan-Leach. A little long-winded, but a super fun journey nevertheless.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am looking forward to picking up more from this author!

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Review: Never Coming Home by Kate Williams

Never Coming HomeNever Coming Home by Kate Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Unknown Island made its presence known via social media, it hit hard. An isolated, luxurious island vacation destination where young people, of a certain caliber and follower count, will get to stay free for a week at a time.

The claim is that an angel investor is funding the exclusive destination as a way for the best young minds to come together and share ideas. It’s invite only and no one over 21-years old will be included.

The initial marketing push is strong and everyone wants to be involved. If they can’t go in person, they’ll be watching it unfold via social media.

Who wouldn’t want a free vacation that the whole world is watching? The potential for publicity is off the charts. For some young influencers, this could be the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s so good, they can taste it.

After the First Ten are selected, the chosen ones slowly and complicatedly make their way to the remote island location.

Once they arrive, they quickly discover something is off. The scene they find is not what the promotional materials advertised. What the heck is going on?!

It’s soon exposed that these fresh-faced travelers weren’t invited to Unknown Island because of their individual follower counts. They were invited for the terrible secrets they hold. Someone knows and is looking to expose them.

Worse than that, it seems whoever is behind Unknown Island is hellbent on revenge. Will any of them be able to make it home alive?

I really like what Williams did with Never Coming Home. She gave me a classic-feeling mysterious slasher set on an abandoned island with a plucky group of diverse and unlikable characters.

That’s exactly the vibe I wanted going in and it’s exactly what I got. There were a few places when it dragged a little for me, but overall it’s a super fun Summer Chiller!

In addition to the fabulous horror elements, I enjoyed the underlining modern themes running through this one. It’s social media taken to the extreme, but it was interesting to think about.

Of course I couldn’t help but think of Fyre Festival with the set-up of this one. It definitely gives off that same sort of skeevy feeling. These poor kids was what I was initially thinking, but once the bodies started dropping, I stopped caring as much.

Williams kills were creative and a few definitely left me picking my chin up off the ground. She held nothing back!

This is the perfect quick read for a Summer Scare. I would definitely recommend it to people who love a good old fashion slasher. It checked all those boxes for me.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had a lot of fun with this one and hope that Williams continues in this lane with her future work!

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Review: Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Weather GirlWeather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ari Abrams has been fascinated by the weather for as long as she can remember. She grew up in Seattle watching Torrance Hale, the local meteorologist, and idolizing her the way other kids idolize sports stars or other celebrities.

As an adult, Ari is so close to achieving all her dreams. Torrance Hale is now her boss and while Ari loves her job, she wishes she were allocated more responsibility and more challenging stories.

Half the problem is that Torrance is too distracted by her turbulent relationship with her ex-husband, Seth, the station’s news director. It seems most days she barely notices Ari at all.

Ari is growing increasingly frustrated and finds someone to confide in at the office. Russell Barringer, a sports reporter, is also frustrated with the toxic atmosphere at the station created by Torrance and Seth’s constant fighting.

In the aftermath of a calamitous office Christmas party, Ari and Russ come up with a plan to get Torrance and Seth back together. The Parent Trap is referenced, so you get the deal.

From that point on, Ari and Russ spend progressively more time together as they plot and scheme to get the ex-couple reunited.

Weather Girl is really touching. Much like the weather, this story has both dark and light aspects. I enjoyed all the characters so much and it felt particularly good watching Ari and Russ open up to one another.

Rachel Lynn Solomon is such a gifted writer. I will continue to pick up every single thing she ever offers; YA or Adult, it doesn’t matter, it’s all incredible.

I know a lot of people have mentioned in their reviews that this one wasn’t as light-hearted as they were expecting and that may have decreased their enjoyment level a bit.

Ari does suffer from depression and works through a lot of issues relating to that. I thought it was handled really well though. One thing I always enjoy about RLS’s work is her inclusion of mental health issues.

I feel like having her characters mentally working through those types of things makes them more believable and relatable. I can understand how some Readers may not want so much of it included in a book they are expecting to be a light Rom-Com though.

For me, I found Ari to be extremely realistic. She recently went through a break-up from a long-term relationship and is still processing that dissolution.

Ari’s mother also has battled depression for decades and wasn’t always there for her children. As you can imagine, that has had a lot of impact on Ari’s life.

Russell has his own insecurities that he is working through. I enjoyed learning about his life. Russ isn’t your stereotypical leading man and I loved him all the more for it.

The banter between the two, in RLS’s signature style, is witty and engaging. I was rooting for the two of them from the start. They had such a sweet dynamic.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. The mix of serious and fun was compelling, thought-provoking and heart-warming. While this isn’t my favorite of Solomon’s work, it’s still wonderfully done.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I look forward to Solomon’s next release!!

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Review: The Clackity by Lora Senf

The ClackityThe Clackity by Lora Senf
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

After a childhood tragedy, Evie Von Rathe moves to the town of Blight Harbor, the 7th-most haunted town in America, to live with her Aunt Desdemona, the local paranormal expert.

When we meet Evie, she is a happy little girl, on the cusp of her summer holiday. She enjoys working at the local library with her Aunt’s best friend, Lily, and has a fantastic relationship with her Aunt Des. These things help her deal with the pain of her earlier trauma.

Additionally, Evie is quite interested in paranormal goings-on and the fact that this is her Aunt’s line of work excites her to no end. Frankly, I get it. Desdemona is intriguing.

One rule Des has always had is to not hang around the local abandoned slaughterhouse. Makes sense to me. Apparently, once upon a time, a local serial killer John Jeffrey Pope worked there. It’s not giving off good vibes.

When Evie discovers her Aunt is exploring the old slaughterhouse for work, she wants in on it and promptly follows Des there.

Over the course of their investigation into the slaughterhouse and it’s sordid history, Aunt Des disappears and shortly thereafter Evie meets the Clackity.

The Clackity tells Evie that Des has been transported into a dangerously magical other realm and only Evie has the power to save her.

It offers up a deal, saying if Evie retrieves the spirit of serial killer John Jeffery Pope for it, Aunt Des will be saved. The killer is also in this magical other realm, putting Aunt Des in terrible danger. The clock is ticking.

Even though it is quite clear that the Clackity isn’t something you want to be making any sort of a deal with, what choice does she have? That’s right, none.

Thus, Evie begins her dangerous quest to save Aunt Des, meeting challenges, obstacles and scary beings head on. Evie is one strong and determined little girl. We love to see it!

The Clackity is such a fun Middle Grade story; non-stop spooky goodness from beginning to end. It channeled heavy Neil Gaiman vibes for me and I was eating it up.

Quests are one of my favorite tropes and I would argue this fits the bill perfectly. Add in the level of eeriness carried throughout and you pretty much have a perfect story for me.

I loved how the quest was presented. There were different steps, or challenges, Evie had to pass before moving on to the next. It was simple and easy to understand, while also being ridiculously well-imagined and described.

This story absolutely filled my heart. I loved the characters, relationships, humor and horror-filled imagery so much. It’s incredibly dark and creepy, the perfect example of why I love this subgenre of Middle Grade with my whole being.

I definitely recommend this one to anyone who enjoys a classic-feeling Spooky Middle Grade story. The Clackity is an absolute gem.

Thank you so very much to the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review. It was an true delight.

The Clackity releases this coming Tuesday, June 28, 2022.

🦇❤️🖤💀❤️🖤🦇❤️🖤💀❤️🖤🦇❤️🖤💀❤️🖤🦇❤️🖤

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Review: The Dinner Guests by Kiersten Modglin

The Dinner GuestsThe Dinner Guests by Kiersten Modglin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Piper, Beth and Lakynn have been best friends since childhood. They now all live on the same quiet street and enjoy spending a lot of time together.

Since the neighborhood is so quiet, when anything changes it’s a big deal. For example, when the most luxurious home on their street sells, they can’t help but spy on the new neighbors. Who are they? What’s their story?

When the ladies traditional methods of reaching out to the new neighbors fail, they’re at a loss. Are these people intentionally ignoring them?

Then the construction begins; a ginormous concrete wall quickly goes up surrounding the property. And the cameras! What the actual heck?

Weeks later, out of the blue, the friends receive very formal invitations to a dinner party at the now fortified mansion. Even though the invitations arrive last minute, they can’t say no. They’ve been itching to get into that house.

Thus, that Friday night Beth and her husband Leo, Lakynn and her husband Henry, along with Piper and her love interest Shane, all walk together to the mystery dinner.

After introductions, it is clear this isn’t going to be a normal evening. The couple is strange, the discussion topics are strange, the atmosphere is strange. It’s a whole thing.

As the dinner portion of the evening draws to a close, the friends discover there’s no way out. They’re forced to play a game, hoping if they win, they’ll be set free.

How do I best explain the experience that I had reading The Dinner Guests?

Let’s just say it was like being served a well drink when you are used to drinking top shelf.

It just was not for me; at all. I had never read anything by this author before, but have heard a lot of positive reviews for her previous works. I was fully expecting to enjoy this, maybe even love it.

I was actually surprised at how bad this turned out to be for me. It just seemed ridiculous. I could not get behind anything that was happening.

Let it be known that I frequently enjoy books that you have to suspend belief in certain areas, so it’s not that. It was everything else, the writing, the characters, the reveals, the ending…

I think maybe Modglin’s work just isn’t for me. I am glad I gave it a shot, but will most likely not pick up anything further from this author.

If this synopsis sounds fun to you though, you should definitely try it. Reading is completely subjective and just because something didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.

Thank you to the publisher, Dreamscape Media, for providing me with an audio-copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: Beneath Cruel Waters by Jon Bassoff

Beneath Cruel WatersBeneath Cruel Waters by Jon Bassoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holt Davidson essentially fled his hometown of Thompsonville, Colorado, as soon as he was old enough.

After he receives news that his estranged mother has committed suicide, he decides it has to be done; he has to go back for the first time in over twenty-years.

The dread he is feeling about returning is substantial, but he’s also hoping to maybe fill in some pieces of his murky childhood memories. He wants to finally be able to make peace with it all and put it behind him.

Until this point, Holt has been haunted by his past, but it’s actually unclear as to why.

Once he returns to Thompsonville, he even stays at his mother’s home in his old bedroom. Alone in the house, he begins exploring, searching for clues from the past.

Instead of your typical nostalgic childhood items, however, Holt discovers a gun, a mysterious love letter and a picture of a dead man lying in his own blood.

These aren’t the type of things you can ignore, so Holt begins an investigation. He’s determined to discover the secrets of his past, whether he’s going to like it or not.

He enlists the help of his mother’s oldest, dearest friend and gains a lot of useful information from her, including insight into his sister who has been institutionalized since she was a teen. It’s not long before Holt’s own traumatic memories begin to resurface.

One of my favorite tropes in a Thriller is when a main character returns to their hometown after an extended absence, so in theory this was the perfect set-up for me.

Luckily, the theory was proven correct in this case. I enjoyed this one a lot. Once I started I didn’t want to put it down.

I found Bassoff’s writing to be highly readable. It was fast-paced and smooth, with just the right amount of details. I love the POVs coming from both past and present to help to piece the truth together.

I thought the reveals were well handled. Although predictable, it still managed to keep me fully captivated so it didn’t really influence my opinion of the overall story.

I was really surprised by this one and definitely recommend it to fans of Crime Thrillers, especially if you enjoy the use of both past and present perspectives together.

Thank you to the publisher, Blackstone Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m looking forward to reading more from Bassoff!

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Review: Only a Monster (Monsters #1) by Vanessa Len

Only a Monster (Monsters, #1)Only a Monster by Vanessa Len
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Only a Monster is an engaging start to an all-new YA SFF trilogy. Admittedly, the first thing to attract my attention to this book was the gorgeous cover.

I’ve definitely fallen victim to the infamous cover buy on more than one occasion. Sometimes that works out and other times, not so much. I am happy to report, in this case, the content is just as fun as the cover.

This story follows 16-year old, Joan, who recently moved to London to live with her late-mother’s family, which includes an eccentric Grandmother and cousins.

Joan has secured a job she likes and has even managed to make a few friends. One of those friends is a handsome boy, Nick, who she happens to work with. When Nick asks Joan out on a date she’s so excited and nervous.

She’s been crushing on him for a while, so is elated that her feelings may be reciprocated.

As the date approaches, however, a wild and crazy thing happens to Joan, causing her to miss her date. That’s devastating, but worse than that, this event reveals the secret truth surrounding her family.

They’re monsters with hidden powers.

Part of their power is the ability to travel through time, which really throws Joan for a loop. It’s hard to wrap your mind around something like that out of nowhere.

Joan’s Grandmother had mentioned before that they were monsters, but Joan never took that seriously. She can’t believe it. Her world has been flipped upside down.

As the plot escalates, Joan finds herself under attack from a monster hunter, who happens to be the cute guy, Nick. Just her luck, am I right?

Joan is forced to pair up with Aaron, a boy from a rival monster family, to try to stop Nick and avenge their families.

I really enjoyed the world Len created here and am excited to see this narrative expanded upon in the next book. It was fast paced and ended up drawing me in a lot quicker than I anticipated.

I found the monster aspect of her family fascinating. They are never given a specific name, they are simply called monsters throughout, and I liked that obscurity.

Once you put a label on something, like zombie, werewolf or vampire, you put certain parameters around what those monsters can do. We all know what those creatures are supposed to be like, so to me it made sense for Len to write Joan’s family the way she did.

If I had to compare them to anything, I would say vampires would be the closest, but using time versus blood. If you’ve read Doctor Sleep this won’t be a foreign concept to you.

I did think the time travel element was done well. It was very interesting. There’s a lot covered in this book and I think it was a good foundation.

I definitely think there is still a lot of room to grow with this story and I am looking forward to seeing where Len goes with it.

I would recommend this to YA Readers, particularly if you like time travel, or a darker tone to your stories.

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