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: #Murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil

#Murdertrending (MurderTrending, #1)#Murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Gretchen McNeil’s futuristic YA Dystopian novel #Murdertrending drops you straight into a world where the federal government has privatized part of the prison system.

After that decision was made the Postman app was launched.

Essentially the app turns capital punishment into a lucrative business by broadcasting death row as the ultimate reality show. Survivor has nothing on this, trust.

In addition to following the inmates, viewers can also follow their favorite executioners, collectively known as the Painiacs. There’s fandoms involved. It’s a whole thing.

The executions are also broadcast, with each executioner coming up with their own creatively brutally ways of taking someone out.

We follow Dee, who after being convicted of killing her step-sister is sent to Alcatraz 2.0, the most famous prison island, to serve out the last of her term. She is set to be executed, but you never know when it will happen.

That’s half the fun, am I right?

The inmates in Alcatraz 2.0 live fairly freely on the island itself. They have jobs and can socialize with one another. Because of this, Dee ends up making some friends.

The friend group is dubbed DRBC, the Death Row Breakfast Club, through social media. Since they all claim to have been wrongfully convicted, they desire to uncover the truth behind Alcatraz 2.0.

But what is the truth?

#Murdertrending is a unique and interesting read. I enjoyed the themes explored regarding the criminal justice system and social media’s effect on society.

It did take me a wee bit to get my bearings with this one because you are literally plopped down in the middle of Dee’s world. I just had to relax into it and trust that McNeil would ultimately reveal everything I needed to know about the world and she did.

I enjoyed learning about the inmates and executioners. The executioners all had special names that reminded me of the type of punny names people use in roller derby, which added to the air of over-the-topness. It was fun.

I also enjoyed the mystery surrounding the Postman app. You can tell there is some sort of conspiracy happening, but how far does it reach? I tend to enjoy evil corporation vibes and this one definitely channeled that.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t crazy about the final reveals. I really wish it had gone in another direction, but that is simply personal taste.

With this being said, even though it lost me a bit in the end, I am so happy that I finally made time for this one. I don’t think that I will be continuing on with this series, but am still happy to have read this one.

Thank you to the publisher, Freeform, who actually provided me of a copy to read and review back in 2018. My apologies for not getting to it before now. I should have because honestly, I had a lot of fun with it!

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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: Below Zero (The STEMinist Novella #3) by Ali Hazelwood

Below Zero (The STEMinist Novellas, #3)Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Below Zero is the second of the STEMinist Novellas from Miss Ali Hazelwood that I have read.

Being aware that this is technically the third in the series, it interested me the most, so I was super pumped when my audiobook hold came through from my local library. I couldn’t put it off. I had to dive in right away!

Throughout this trilogy we follow the stories of a trio of girlfriends: Mara, Sadie and Hannah. This is Hannah’s story.

Out of the three, Hannah has the most difficulty letting people in. She is fairly guarded by nature and even found it uncomfortable at first getting close with Mara and Sadie. She has her reasons.

Fresh out of graduate school Hannah finds herself new in her career as a NASA aerospace engineer. Some may say she got there via some helpful tips from a man named, Ian, but she would never say that. He’s irrelevant.

Although if we’re being honest, Ian is never far from her mind. Ian is her rival, her nemesis and the man who haunts her most lurid dreams.

When Hannah finds herself on the brink of disaster, injured and stranded at an Arctic research station, Ian is the one who risks everything to save her. Hannah’s so confused. Why would he do this?

He legitimately tried to stop her research and sabotage her career. What could be his motivations now and why does her stomach feel so queasy anytime he’s around?

This novella bounces around a little as the different stages of Hannah and Ian’s relationship is pieced together. I enjoyed it so much. Watching the blanks be filled in and their connection grow.

I related a lot to Hannah. I found her to be such a convincing main. I liked that she was the type of person who didn’t let people in easily. It made you really recognize how special those people she has chosen to be in her life are.

This had some steamy scenes. In the novellas there aren’t a ton, it’s only 124-pages, so obviously there’s not going to be that much. However, what is there is top notch stuff.

Hazelwood can get your motor running, that’s for sure.

I’m really looking forward to getting to the final novella, Stuck on You, soon. I’m sure it won’t disappoint!

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Review: A Mirror Mended (Fractured Fables #2) by Alix E. Harrow

A Mirror Mended (Fractured Fables #2)A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Mirror Mended is the second installment to Alix E. Harrow’s fairy tale-based novella series, Fractured Fables.

The first in the series, A Spindle Splintered, was such a delightful surprise for me when I picked it up last fall.

In that story we meet our protagonist, Zinnia Gray, who due to an industrial accident is left with a rare fatal condition. She’s told she won’t live to see her 22nd-birthday. In spite of this, or maybe because of this, Zinnia tries to live her life to the fullest.

Her best friend Charm, knowing this about her, decides on her 21st-birthday to throw Zinnia a Sleeping Beauty-themed party. It’s at that party, at the stroke of midnight, that Zinnia pierces her finger on a spinning wheel and first gets transported into another world.

It happens to be the world in which the real Briar Rose lives and the two women work together to try to halt their doomed fates.

In this installment, we find Zinnia still fixing fairly tales. She has traveled throughout the fairy tale multiverse always seeming to find herself in her comfort zone; Sleeping Beauty.

That’s why Zinnia is beyond shocked when she looks into the mirror one day and sees a face looking back at her. A beautiful, slightly evil face.

It seems Zinnia may be on to a whole new story, which just so happens to be one of my favorites, Snow White.

The Evil Queen has come seeking Zinnia’s help. She’s found out how her story ends and she is desperate for a better ending. Zinnia’s intrigued.

Not only is the Evil Queen beautiful, but as Zinnia gets to know her, she feels like maybe the Queen is a bit misunderstood. Zinnia wants to help, but will she be able too before the story ends for them both?

This installment was just as much fun as the first. I forgot how incredibly smart and witty the writing is. It hooked me in from the start.

I’m seriously obsessed with this series. I’m not sure exactly how long this series is slated to be, but I am hoping for many, many more. Zinnia Gray is life.

I would definitely recommend the audiobook format as well. The narrator really brings spirit to the story and breaths life into Zinnia. It’s completely immersive and fun.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I can’t wait for whatever comes next!!

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Review: Under One Roof (STEMist Novellas #1) by Ali Hazelwood

Under One Roof (The STEMinist Novellas, #1)Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Perfection in 112-pages!!!

Ali Hazelwood taught me something last year. A very important something. If you’ve read The Love Hypothesis, you may know exactly what I am talking about.

Essentially, Hazelwood taught me that steamy STEM romances are definitely something I am into!

Luckily for me and others like me, while patiently awaiting Hazelwood’s 2022-full length release Love on the Brain, there are three all new STEM novellas to enjoy.

Under One Roof is technically the first of these novellas, but after reading this one, I would say that they can really be read in any order.

In this one we follow Mara, an environmental engineer, who moves to D.C. post-graduate school after inheriting half of a house from her academic mentor.

The other half of the house is owned by said mentor’s extremely dreamy nephew Liam, who just so happens to be an attorney for big-oil.

Liam expresses from the start, with all the swagger he can muster, that he is not down for a random roommate.

Unfortunately for him, Mara is not taking no for an answer. She really doesn’t have the option to say no with her new job in D.C. starting soon and she literally hasn’t the money to find another place. Plus, she has just as much legal right to the premises as he does.

After they move in together, anger and annoyance eventually leads to sparks. You know the drill.

Y’all, how did Hazelwood make me feel so invested in only 112-pages?! Seriously, how?!

I did listen to the audiobook for this one and the narration was straight-up fabulous. Loved, loved, loved. I cannot wait to get to the other two novellas!!

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Review: Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega

WitchlingsWitchlings by Claribel A. Ortega
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading Ghost Squad in 2020 I knew I wanted more from Ortega. I had so much fun with that book.

The characters, the relationships, the humor, the heart; it was such a fantastically pure Middle Grade story. The perfect start for future Horror Readers like myself.

In Witchlings, Ortega is able to bring a classic feel to a modern Fantasy story.

Set in a magical town called Ravenskill, we follow 12-year old Seven Salazar, who on the night of her Black Moon Ceremony gets a result she wasn’t expecting.

For context purposes you can picture the Black Moon Ceremony as a kind of sorting hat process. Young witchlings are essentially sorted into covens based on their skills and abilities.

Seven and her best friend have always dreamed of being in the same coven. They want it so much that the girls actually begin to take it as a foregone conclusion.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works out and Seven ends up as a Spare. A witchling who doesn’t get placed into one of the five covens.

Spares, if we are being honest, are sort of looked down on by the whole town. It’s not the greatest fate and disappointing for Seven, but she’s not alone. Two other witchlings become Spares during that ceremony, Thorn and Valley.

Making matters worse, when the three witchlings try to seal their circle, forging their bond as sisters, it doesn’t work. Now they’ll be doomed to a life without magic, except there’s a catch and Seven knows it.

She invokes their right to perform an impossible task. If they are able to complete it, their coven will be sealed and they will be able to gain full power.

If they fail they risk being turned into toads. No pressure.

Thus the three witchlings, who initially believed they had nothing in common, learn to work together and rely on one another to accomplish their goals. Friendship truly is magic.

Witchlings is so engaging from the very start. Seven, as well as Thorn and Valley, are all very well fleshed out and super relatable.

I love how pure their friendship is and the evolution of their relationship is so natural. I am sure young readers will be able to see a bit of themselves in at least one of these main characters.

The witchlings uncover a bit of a mystery involving their town during the course of their impossible task and even in the face of dangerous odds, they forge ahead to reveal the truth.

I loved that bit of mystery and intrigue. It was surprising and fun. You can tell that Ortega poured her whole heart into this one and I would definitely recommend reading the Author’s Note at the end.

Hearing a bit of Ortega’s inspiration behind this story really helped me to appreciate all she brought to the page.

I cannot recommend this one highly enough to both Middle Grade Readers and Fantasy Readers in general. Additionally, the audiobook is superb.

I am super stoked for the sequel to this. Yes, there is one coming and I cannot wait!!!

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