Review: Spells Like Teen Spirit (Babysitter Coven #3) by Kate Williams

Spells Like Teen SpiritSpells Like Teen Spirit by Kate Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Spells Like Teen Spirit is the third, and purportedly final book, in Kate Williams’ Babysitter Coven series.

This entire series is a ridiculous ball of laughs that is part Buffy the Vampire Slayer and part Adventures in Babysitting.

Although, I will say, as the series progressed, the whole babysitting angle sort of dropped off a cliff. Luckily, the rest of it more than made up for that slight change.

In this installment, we again follow teen witches, Esme and Cassandra, as they continue their fight against the forces of evil and try to discover a way to end Esme’s Mom’s curse, all while protecting the town from an evil rock band.

While I didn’t have quite as much fun with this one as I did with the second book, it was still cute and hilarious. Nothing could really beat the chickens in the hotel room from For Better Or Cursed.

I really enjoyed being back with this group of characters, especially the girls we were introduced to in the second book and a certain four-legged companion.

The audiobooks for this series are so well narrated; I definitely recommend them as a medium if you choose to check out these stories.

Williams has a consistently good sense of humor. Her 90s vibe and references gave me life throughout this series.

While I can see this as an ending, I sort of wish it weren’t. I think there is so much left to explore for Esme and the rest of this fun-loving group of characters. I mean, there are still demons out there, who is going to defeat them if not Esme and Cassandra?

I’m not ready for it to be over. C’mon, Kate Williams, I know you have more in you!!

View all my reviews

Review: That Weekend by Kara Thomas

That WeekendThat Weekend by Kara Thomas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the hospital, Claire is scared and confused. What day is it? What happened to her?

The last thing she remembers was the Friday night she spent at her best friend Kat’s family lake house. Kat’s boyfriend, and Claire’s other BFF, Jesse, was there as well. They were skipping prom.

Initially, Claire’s boyfriend was supposed to be there too. The group had planned to go hiking on Saturday. It was going to be a whole thing, but then they broke up.

As you can tell, things are not going well for Claire. Well, they’re about to get worse.

As mentioned above, Claire has no memories of the hiking trip on Saturday, or how she got injured. She was found bloodied on a mountain trail by a lone hiker; he was able to get her to safety.

Unfortunately, no one has heard from Kat and Jesse. They’re missing and the last known person to see them was Claire. The police consider her to be a suspect.

She’s shocked, but what could the explanation be? Why would she have ever left them and headed down the mountain alone? Did they get in a fight?

That Weekend was one of my most anticipated YA Mysteries of 2021. I mean, it’s by the Queen, Kara Thomas. Who wouldn’t be excited?

I finished this over a week ago and I’m still not confident on my feelings about it. I love the premise, I love the setting and the initial set-up of the mystery.

For me though, the mystery itself, what was actually happening, the root of it all, I just wasn’t sold.

Don’t get me wrong, I generally love wild, over-the-top plot twists, but this just was not fun for me. I didn’t buy it. I didn’t like the twists and overall, I was disappointed, as I truly expected to love this.

I also found Claire’s perspective to be very, very bland. As a protagonist, she bored me. Just being honest, she did.

I feel like I would have preferred to be following anyone else; towards the end, you do get some of that, so that was a nice perspective shift.

With this being said, just because this wasn’t quite as great as I was expecting, don’t let that sway you from reading it.

I had incredibly high expectations for this one going in and honestly, I may have set myself up for disappointment.

This is still a good story, well written and fast-paced. I know a lot of Readers will love this one.

As far as Kara Thomas goes, she’s fantastic; super talented. My opinion matters not at all in comparison to all she has achieved. I love her ideas, style and creativity. I will absolutely continue to pick up anything else she writes. Trust!

View all my reviews

Review: Star Wars The High Republic: Mission to Disaster by Justina Ireland

Star Wars The High Republic: Mission to DisasterStar Wars The High Republic: Mission to Disaster by Justina Ireland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Mission to Disaster is a Junior Star Wars novel set in the era of the High Republic. Releasing on March 1, 2022, this novel is part of the second wave of HR materials set to be published by Disney and LucasFilms Press.

The events in this novel follow those of the 2021-HR releases, but still 200-years prior to The Phantom Menace.

After the startling events of the Republic Fair, the galaxy has been put on alert. The Nihil are much more of a threat than the Jedi initially anticipated.

They’re cunning and calculated, seeming to have influence everywhere.

Kicking off this novel, I was quickly reunited with one of my favorite new characters from the HR releases, Avon Starros.

Avon, the daughter of a Senator, is gifted in science and invention. She’s currently stationed at Port Haileap, due to her mother’s wishes, but is finally getting the opportunity to research kyber crystals, so that’s a win.

Avon hopes to discover new ways to harness the power of the crystals in a way that will help everyone; think clean energy research. She finds herself in her lab on the day the spaceport comes under attack.

After receiving an alert call from Port Haileap, Jedi Vernestra Rwoh and her Padawan, Imri Cantaros, get sent to investigate.

Arriving to Avon’s lab, Vernestra and Imri are able to discover a survivor of the attack, but she tells them Avon is gone, perhaps captured by the Nihil!

Following clues discovered during their investigation, Vernestra and Imri find themselves on Dalna in the Outer Rim Territories; a known area of operation for the Nihil.

There they work with the government and people of Dalna to the best of their ability, to find Avon and any other children the Nihil may have captured. They face some difficulties there, as the people of Dalna aren’t too fond of the Jedis.

Avon, for her part, is in fact a hostage of the Nihil. Even worse, she is made to aid the Nihil’s version of an evil scientist, Dr. Mkampa, in assembling horrifying weapons.

It’s a race against time, as the Jedi try to help the people of Dalna and hopefully defeat the evil Nihil organization once and for all. Will they be able to rescue everyone before true disaster strikes?

I had such a great time reading this story. I actually listened to the audiobook and as is known with Star Wars audios, the production was magnificent. All of the sound effects really make you feel like you are part of the action!

I was excited to get another HR novel from Justina Ireland. She puts a lot of heart into her stories. The characters are so well developed. I loved being reunited with many characters from this era. I feel like I am really getting to know them.

Following the Great Disaster, the galaxy has become unstable and these young characters have had a lot to deal with. I feel like they’ve shown incredible growth in these stories, now rivaling the maturity level of the adults around them.

This was super fast-paced and exciting. There was never a dull moment. Additionally, I loved learning more about the mysterious Nihil. The full picture is really starting to become clear as far as they are concerned.

I’m really looking forward to continuing on with the High Republic era. This was a quick one, but don’t let the length of this novel fool you. There is a ton of stellar content packed in here!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney and LucasFilms Press, for providing me with the audiobook to listen to. It was such a treat!

View all my reviews

Review: Feather and Flame by Livia Blackburne

Feather and Flame (The Queen's Council, #2)Feather and Flame by Livia Blackburne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Feather and Flame is the second book is Disney’s The Queen Council series.

If you are unaware, this series imagines what happened post-happily ever after for some of our favorite Disney Princesses. Each book is the story of a different heroine written by a different author.

This story follows Mulan after her victory on the battlefield at the end of the animated film.

As the story begins, Mulan is living a quiet life at home. Well, quiet if you consider training her own female militia quiet. But China is at peace and it is a good feeling.

When Shang arrives with an invitation to the Imperial City, Mulan has no idea that her entire life is about to be flipped on its head. Again.

Once there, Mulan is treated to a private counsel with the ailing Emperor. He tells her he has a plan for his succession and it is her. She will be named his heir to the throne.

Unfortunately, the transition occurs more quickly than Mulan would have preferred. She is terrified, but must do what she can to rule her country to the best of her abilities.

With enemies lurking around every corner and the Huns sensing weakness, will Mulan’s reign be doomed from the start?

Mulan is filled with doubt and she’s scared. She feels alone. What if she can’t do this? There’s so much at stake.

Luckily, the Queen’s Council is there to help Mulan find her true destiny. What is the Queen’s Council, you may be asking?

I don’t want to give anything away, so let’s just call it Mulan’s Spirit Advisor. Not spiritual advisor, mind you, SPIRIT advisor.

I had a lot of fun reading this story. It was great to be back with Mulan and to get an extension of her story that I think was greatly needed.

I have always loved Mulan as a character. She has such a quiet grace about her. She is humble, strong and determined in the face of danger. I was so happy to see that she kept all of these wonderful characteristics throughout this story.

This is a highly political story, so for those of you who maybe don’t enjoy a lot of political maneuverings in your stories, you have been forewarned.

For me, I love political fantasy, so this worked for me. I would have been happy with a bit more depth, but overall, I was quite pleased with this one!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Books. I look forward to getting the next installment of this series!

View all my reviews

Review: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Eight Perfect MurdersEight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Years ago, when he first started working at a local bookstore, Malcolm Kershaw, running the store’s online presence, wrote a blog post titled, Eight Perfect Murders.

The mystery aficionado made of a list of what he considered to be the genre’s most unsolvable murders. Little did he know that one seemingly inconsequential post would come back to haunt him.

Presently, Malcolm owns his own Boston bookstore and while he still loves books, he hasn’t been reading as many mysteries as he used to.

After suffering the loss of his wife, a lot in Malcolm’s world changed.

On the day of a terrible snow storm, Mal is in his shop alone when an FBI agent arrives. According to her, she’s investigating a serial killer who appears to be using Mal’s list to commit his crimes.

Mal’s shocked to hear this. How would the killer have even found that old post?

When it starts to appear that the killer not only found the list, but is keeping an eye on Mal as well, Mal begins to think it’s personal. So, he takes matters into his own hands and starts to look for suspects.

Y’all know I love an amateur sleuth trope, and a book seller main character! What a fantastic set-up for a Mystery!

I listened to this audiobook on my drive home from Christmas holiday and it kept me thoroughly entertained. It was a great way to pass the hours.

I loved the narration. It had a sort of film noir quality to it that I felt really fit this story. I would definitely recommend the audio if you are planning to read this yourself.

This was my first Swanson novel and I appreciated how he didn’t hold back. This was completely wild and over-the-top. It was full of unbelievable things, but that’s what made it so fun.

I would definitely be interested in reading more of his work. I know this one had some mixed reviews, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. I think Swanson and I could turn out to have a beautiful friendship.

View all my reviews

Review: Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Sometimes I LieSometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Waking in a hospital bed, Amber Reynolds quickly realizes that she cannot move, she cannot speak, she cannot even open her eyes.

She can hear everything going on around her, but has no way to make her consciousness known.

She can let the Reader know three things, however: 1. Her name is Amber Reynolds, 2. Her husband doesn’t love her anymore, and 3. Sometimes she lies.

Somtimes I Lie is a taut Psychological Thriller that kept me entranced from beginning to end. This was Alice Feeney’s debut novel. Stunning.

First, I can’t believe it took me this long to pick it up. Second, I can definitely see why there has been buzz about Feeney from the very start. This was such a well-executed debut.

The narrative is broken into three perspectives: Amber’s thoughts whilst in her coma, her remembrances of the events leading up to the accident that put her in the hospital, and diary entries from 1992.

Along the way, you meet the various players in Amber’s life: her husband, sister, an ex-boyfriend, work colleagues, etc. No matter how many people I met, or how much information I seemed to be getting, it took a long time for the fog to begin to clear.

The portions where Amber is in her coma are genuinely terrifying. Just the thought of being in her shoes in those moments, it made me feel claustrophobic.

Additionally, her memories seem so muddled. I felt like I was squinting trying to see past the hazy details. It reminded me of watching a movie where the scenes are mostly dark and your just trying to see what’s there.

The pace continued to increase, as well as the intensity, as more and more about Amber’s past is revealed. There were some truly shocking moments.

I listened to this audiobook while traveling over Christmas holiday and honestly, I don’t think I could have chosen a better way to pass the time. It was fantastic.

I was so pleasantly surprised when I discovered that this story is actually set during Christmas time. That small detail just gave it a little something extra that I needed during my long and slightly stressful journey!

A little boost if you will.

I’m so glad I took the time to pick this one up. If you haven’t picked this up yet and have been enjoying Feeney’s newer releases, like I have, you should definitely give this one a shot.

Highly recommend, particularly the audiobook!

View all my reviews

Review: Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells

Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries, #4)Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Exit Strategy is the fourth novella in Martha Wells’ beloved Sci-Fi series, The Murderbot Diaries.

I have really enjoyed my time with this series so far. It’s hard to believe how attached I have become to the unconventional protagonist, an antisocial SecUnit, Murderbot.

I have read all of the novellas in this series via audiobook. Part of the reason for that is because they’re narrated by Kevin R. Free, who is the absolute perfect narrator for this series. He is Murderbot in my mind.

In this installment, we reunite with Murderbot, who continues on their galaxy-wide quest to find answers regarding their past, all while gathering info on the mysterious and sinister GrayCris Corporation.

After Milu, Murderbot chooses to return to HaveRatton Station, which may turn out to be a big mistake. It hopes to meet with Dr. Mensah, but it looks like Dr. Mensah may be in a bit of trouble.

Experiencing something that could be defined as a feeling ((yuck, says Murderbot)), it decides it will do what it needs to in order to help save Dr. Mensah; pairing up with some old acquaintances in the process.

I was pleased with this novella, although I feel like it didn’t quite capture my attention in the same way that the previous three have. I think for me, it felt like it wasn’t quite as humorous as the earlier books.

Perhaps, that’s because Murderbot didn’t have the same lovable AI characters to exchange witty banter with. Yeah, that is probably it.

I am loving how Murderbot continues to evolve, as far as its relationships with humans go. I am particularly into whatever is happening with Mensah; it’s quite intriguing.

The next book in the series, Network Effect, is the first full-length novel in this series, coming in at 350-pages. I am super excited to get into that one!

I highly recommend this to Readers who enjoy action-packed, light-hearted, often hilarious Sci-Fi stories. Look no further, Murderbot is where it’s at.

View all my reviews

Review: In Every Generation by Kendare Blake

In Every GenerationIn Every Generation by Kendare Blake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A new Slayer for a new generation…

I’ll admit, like a publisher’s dream, that tagline got me. As soon as I read it, I knew that I needed to pick up this book.

The Buffy television series premiered when I was in college and quickly became part of my weekly routine. My best friend and I absolutely loved the show and would always watch it together.

Therefore, the series holds a lot of nostalgia for us. Sarah Michelle Gellar was our Queen. Those were good times.

In Every Generation follows Willow’s daughter, Frankie, who is a Sophomore at New Sunnydale High School.

Willow has been slowly introducing Frankie to magic, as long as Frankie promises always to use it for good. Frankie, it seems, is all for that, being quite ecologically-minded.

Willow’s dark times still haunt her and she doesn’t want her daughter to have to go through the nightmarish things that she did as a young adult. We all want better for our kids, Witches or not.

When Vi’s younger sister Hailey shows up in Sunnydale, she comes bearing bad news. It appears the annual Slayer convention has been attacked and all the Slayers in attendance, including Buffy, Faith and Vi, may be dead.

This leaves a major Slayer vacancy and therefore a new Slayer must be called. Hello, Frankie.

Frankie would be the first ever Slayer-Witch, but first she needs to learn to control her powers in order to be effective.

Unfortunately for Frankie, she is a little pressed for time, what with the hellmouth threatening to be reopened.

Together with a whole new group of Scoobies, Frankie must try to figure out what happened to the old Slayers, as well as defeat the forces of evil before it is too late.

Y’all, I had so much fun listening to this audiobook. I’m not going to lie, I was laughing my foolish head off while listening to this.

The narrator has great comedic timing and I feel like Blake definitely nailed, or should I say staked, that classic Buffy-humor.

While I know this won’t be for every Reader, for me it held just the perfect blend of old with new. It doffed its cap at the original series without going into copycat territory.

Also, I feel like Blake did a great job creating new characters to care about and root for. This fulfilled my hopes for a nostalgic read, but still felt fresh and modern. I would love to read more adventures with this cast of characters.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney-Hyperion and Disney Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review.

In Every Generation releases on January 4th and would be a great way to kick off a new year of reading!!

View all my reviews

Review: City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5) by Cassandra Clare

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

**3.5-stars rounded up**

City of Lost Souls is the 5th-installment of Cassie Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. With this in mind, some minor spoilers may lay ahead in this review.

I actually have no idea what I am going to write yet, but just understand, it’s a possibility.

It’s been a minute since I have picked up any Shadowhunter books. I actually finished Clockwork Prince in February and had planned to continue on right away, however, I got distracted. New releases. You know how it is.

Luckily, Shadowhunter characters are like old friends. No matter how long you’ve been apart, once reunited, it’s like no time has passed at all.

In this installment, the main narrative revolves around the fact that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound Jace to Clary’s psychotic brother, Sebastian, who has full control in their newly formed relationship.

Meanwhile, the clave is still on the hunt for Sebastian, but there is no way he can be taken out without killing Jace as well.

As bleak as it sounds, Clary refuses to give up on Jace. She must figure out how to get him back, no matter the risk.

Clary isn’t the only one determined to save Jace, although she may be willing to go the furthest in order to do so. Alec, Simon, Magnus and Isabelle are also scrambling, trying to find out any way to break the bond of Lilith’s magic.

As Clary and Jace are reunited, it’s clear, he’s not the same boy she fell in love with, but can she trust this new Jace? Is he still worth risking her life for?

I will admit, my interest in this installment fluctuated throughout. Jace and Clary’s relationship isn’t my favorite and was a big focus in this one, obviously. With this being said, Clare definitely pulled it off in the end.

I love how she continues to build out this world. It’s really quite impressive. I’m super excited to finally be able to pick up Clockwork Princess next.

I think for me, I enjoy the The Infernal Devices just a bit more than this series, so I tend to kind of breeze through these ones in order the be able to return to Victorian London.

I’m still enjoying this series a lot, don’t get me wrong. It is a solid series, complex and fast-paced. The way this one leaves off, I am super excited to see what happens in City of Heavenly Fire.

Also, just as a side note, I was incredibly happy to get a bit more Magnus Bane in this one; quickly becoming my favorite character.

View all my reviews

Review: Shiver by Allie Reynolds

ShiverShiver by Allie Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shiver brings the chills and the thrills!

πŸ’™πŸ–€πŸ₯Άβ„πŸ’™πŸ–€πŸ₯Άβ„πŸ’™πŸ–€πŸ₯Άβ„πŸ’™πŸ–€πŸ₯Άβ„πŸ’™πŸ–€πŸ₯Άβ„πŸ’™

When Milla receives an invitation to Le Rocher, a ski resort in the French Alps, to reunite with her old friends, nearly all former pro-snowboarders, she’s anxious to go.

It has been 10-years since they were all together and they hadn’t parted under the best of circumstances.

That final winter, they were staying at Le Rocher and fiercely training for a snowboard competition.

It was the winter that Milla’s frenemy, Saskia, disappeared, presumed dead. Lost to the brutal forces of the mountain.

Upon arrival, things are a little awkward. There’s a lot left unsaid. One can easily tell there is a giant elephant joining the friends on this weekend getaway.

Awkwardness aside, it doesn’t take long before the five friends realize that something sinister may be in the works.

The resort is completely deserted and as soon as they are deposited there, the cable cars that brought them stop working, their cell phones disappear and the game begins.

It’s an ice breaker game aimed at drawing out everyone’s secrets. Disturbingly, everything about this scenario is making them think of Saskia.

Who would do this? Who would want to reunite them, strand them and then bring up such a terrible tragedy? They’re all just trying to move on, aren’t they?

The thing is, they’re the only guests, so one of the five friends must be behind it, right?

As more and more frightening things begin to occur, and with a serious snowstorm on the way, Milla realizes they are well and truly stuck.

Escaping from the resort, down the mountain, could prove just as dangerous as what, or who, has brought them there.

This was a really entertaining locked-room mystery with a final line that gave me chills.

One of my favorite tropes is when a group of people get stranded somewhere remote due to inclement weather. Reynolds not only included that within this story, she excelled at it.

I felt the stress and pressure these characters were under, particularly Milla. It felt claustrophobic. I swear, I wanted to get out of there as much as they did.

I also had fun with the past timeline, as we learn more about what happened the winter they were training together for the competition. Saskia was a vibrant character. You could see why she had such an impact on everyone around her.

As past and present begin to merge, the truth edges closer and closer to being exposed. I felt Reynolds pulled off that merge, and the subsequent reveals, very well.

It kept me at the edge of my seat and I absolutely flew through this one. I really wanted to know what had happened. Everyone was a suspect.

Overall, I was really impressed with this as a debut. I loved that it included the character’s sport, training and competition elements. It seems, as an athlete herself, that may be a theme Reynolds continues to incorporate into her stories.

I am really looking forward to her next release, The Bay, set to release in Summer 2022!!

View all my reviews