Review: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

The Right Swipe (Modern Love, #1)The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rhiannon Hunter is a successful business woman with one thing on her mind. Her career.

Rhiannon is the founder, creator and CEO of a successful dating app, but she is looking to expand.

She has her sights set on a rival company whose just lost one of their founders. The remaining owner, Annabelle, seems like she could be persuaded to sell, if Rhi could come up with just the right pitch.

Samson Lima is a former pro-football player, who happens to be the nephew of Annabelle.

He also happens to be the hot guy that Rhi hooked up with one magical night. He subsequently ghosted her.

So when Rhi spots him at an industry event, she runs. This is the last person she ever wants to see again!

When Samson and Rhi are forced to work together, however, sparks begin to fly once again. Privately, of course. Neither one of them is about to communicate what they are feeling.

In the beginning, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to connect with this. Rhi felt too rigid, but once I learned more about her character, her behavior began to make a lot of sense.

In fact, she became relatable and by the end, I absolutely adored her.

Samson, I loved right from the start, but I think Rai made him fairly irresistible. His relationship with his Aunt was so fun to read.

Actually, all of his relationships were pretty great. His friend group is definitely goals. So cute.

As with many Adult Romances, the drama mainly revolves around miscommunications and misconnections, which I know for a lot of people can be frustrating.

I think Rai did a great job though of resolving things in a timely manner. I never felt like I wanted to beat my head against a wall, so that’s a plus.

Also, can we all agree that verbalizing desires and consent is sexy AF?

The steamy scenes were great. There were just enough to add that extra-pearl clutching factor without diminishing the other serious subplots.

I love football, so thought it was nice to see the issue of CTE, and the league’s initial reaction to it, spotlighted here. Samson’s life was filled with individuals impacted by the degenerative brain disease and I thought that was displayed so well.

I also love business, so Rhi’s issues were equally as interesting to me. Overall, I felt it was a very well-rounded story.

I’m so excited to continue on with Rai’s, Modern Love series. This definitely exceeded my expectations.

I believe the next story follows Rhi’s silent partner, and sometimes roommate, Katrina. I’m looking forward to it!!

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Review: Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar

Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass IncidentDead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dead Mountain is an eerie recounting of the Dyatlov Pass Incident exceptionally well-told by Donnie Eichar.

I find this to be one of the most haunting unsolved mysteries of all-time.

In February of 1959, nine experienced hikers set out on a challenging back-packing expedition in the Russian Ural Mountains. One hiker survived and only because he departed early due to medical complications.

The young people involved were all college age, with the exception of one, and were members of a hiking club at their university.

Led by Igor Dyatlov, their goal for this particular hike was to receive a Grade III hiking certification, because of this the mountaineers kept copious notes and took photo documentation of their journey.

When they didn’t return home on the date expected, people naturally assumed they must have run into complications that delayed them, but they would arrive any day.

That day never came. A search party is sent out and what they find is extremely shocking and mysterious, spurring numerous theories as to what caused the hiker’s demise.

I won’t go into the horrific details of the discovery of the bodies, just know everything from government conspiracies, armed men, chemical attacks to aliens, were considered.

Donnie Eichar became interested in the case, like many of us, after hearing of the mystery by chance. As a documentary filmmaker, his natural instincts are to do whatever it takes to learn more.

Eichar connects with individuals inside Russia still interested in the case, travels there, pours over the old travel diaries and photos, interviews people involved, including the sole survivor and even hikes the same path the group took.

With the book, we alternate between Eichar’s historical retelling of the incident as he understands it, and his journey over the course of his investigation.

Even though I had read and watched quite a few videos on this incident, I found Eichar’s theory behind the mystery to be wholly unique, interesting and quite possible. While there is no way to say this is definitely what lead to their deaths, it is a very strong theory.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys learning about unsolved mysteries; bonus if you are a hiker, mountaineer or rock climber. Eichar’s writing is engaging and he truly presents this tale with respect and grace.

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Review: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

The Bazaar of Bad DreamsThe Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams turned out to be a really superb collection. I absolutely loved my time spent reading this.

Honestly though, am I surprised?

Included are 20-short stories, most never published before, that span a wide gamut of topics and provide plenty of food for thought.

I really enjoyed how varied the stories in this collection were. Going from one to the next, I was always surprised with where I ended up.

I found it to be unpredictable in the best way. One moment you are reading about savage cars, the next, names written in the sand, dueling fireworks shows, all the way to the literal end.

My favorite aspect of this book, however, was the short introductions, where King would give insight into his inspirations or personal connections to each story.

Those sections really helped to set the tone going into each story and for me, I think I took a lot more from each one because of that.

I highly recommend this collection, particularly if you are already a King fan and are familiar with his style and humor.

Even if you are new to King, however, I think you will really enjoy this one. It’s just a darn good time!

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Review: Perfect (Flawed #2) by Cecelia Ahern

Perfect (Flawed, #2)Perfect by Cecelia Ahern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

After the culminating events of Flawed, the first book in Cecelia Ahern’s YA Dystopian Duology, Celestine North is on the run.

The most wanted individual within the society, Celestine has evidence that could bring down not just Judge Crevan, the man responsible for her being branded as flawed, but the entire Guild.

Hiding from the Whistleblowers, Celestine, along with her trusted companion, Carrick, need to figure out their next steps for exposing Crevan’s misdeeds.

Even prior to Celestine’s case, there were dissidents who wanted to see the end of the system they view as cruel and inhumane. Now Celestine has become a figurehead for their cause.

This novel, like the first, was fast-paced and engaging the entire way through. Ahern has no problem kicking her stories off with a bang and maintaining that pace.

It has been over a year since I read the first book and I appreciated how Ahern refreshed my memory without regurgitating the entire plot.

The dystopian setting is particularly well done, with corrupt leaders and an interesting system for maintaining the obedience of the masses.

I couldn’t help but compare Celestine to Katniss; how they both begrudgingly become leaders of such large causes. They’re both strong and brave; characters who are easy to stand behind.

I would recommend this for anyone who loves interesting Dystopian stories.

This one isn’t too far off from our world, which adds a touch of a frightening element to it. One of those, oh shit, this could really happen feelings.

Overall, I’m really happy that I finally picked this one up and finished this duology. It was really good. I’m actually surprised I haven’t heard more people talking about it.

Another successful backlist bump!!!

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Review: The Haunted by Danielle Vega

The Haunted (The Haunted, #1)The Haunted by Danielle Vega
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up **

Hendricks and her family move to Drearford to escape a dark chapter in her young life.

Her parents purchase a dilapidated old house to renovate and for her part, Hendricks is hoping to lay low and heal her scarred heart.

Unfortunately, Steel House, their new home, has other things in mind.

Unbeknownst to them, they have inadvertently moved into the most infamous house in Drearford, with a frighteningly violent history.

While at school, Hendricks is quickly accepted into the popular crowd, even catching the eye of a local heartthrob, at home she is harassed and terrified.

It doesn’t take long for the house, and the spirits trapped there, to express their deep-seeded need for vengeance.

This is a classic haunted house story, with a well-executed Teen Scream element.

I enjoyed Hendricks as a character, as well as her new friends. They were all fun to get to know, especially Eddie, but we’ll get to him later.

I was pleasantly surprised, and impressed, by the imagery of the horror elements. I was seeing everything Hendricks was seeing and I’ll tell you, some of it really creeped me out.

Even though it seems initially that the major site of the paranormal activity is located in the cellar, eventually it permeates through the entire house. Nowhere Hendricks goes is safe. I was genuinely afraid along with her.

Hendricks knows she has to get to the bottom of the haunting, or else risk the lives of everyone in her family.

Along with her brooding neighbor, Eddie, who has his own dark ties to Steel House, the two band together to try to exorcise it of its demons.

It all builds up to an epic showdown that kept me glued to the pages.

There were a couple of details towards the end that I wish hadn’t been included. They sort of pushed it pass the line of solid paranormal into eyeroll territory.

With this being said, however, I did enjoy this enough that as soon as I finished it, I ordered the second book.

I need to know what happens to Hendricks next. I want so much more time with her character. Well played, Danielle Vega. Well played.

Original:

Synopsis:
YA’s answer to Stephen King…

That’s a fairly lofty statement, but I’ll bite.
Plus, my 80s-loving heart feels the vibe of this cover.

Let’s do this.

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Review: Insomnia by Stephen King

InsomniaInsomnia by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am so in LOVE with this story!!!

It’s hard for me to fathom now that I was ever intimidated by Insomnia. Legit for years, I was too scared to pick it up.

Honestly, I don’t even think I ever read the synopsis, so it had nothing to do with that.

I tend not to for King’s books, as I know I am going to pick them up regardless of what it says.

After reading this, I would recommend it to any Constant Reader. If you have been putting this one off, maybe intimidated by its size like I was, please don’t be.

Insomnia is charming, captivating, heart-warming and spine-chilling, with Kingverse connections galore.

As always, King’s character work is just phenomenal; definitely my favorite aspect.

Our protagonist is Ralph Roberts, who after losing his wife gradually develops severe insomnia. Not the low-key aggravating-kind, the continuous, question what you’re seeing while awake-kind.

We follow Ralph, a resident of Derry, as he grapples with his new reality and tries to navigate the world with unrested eyes.

It was so great to be in Derry. There’s a lot happening in that special little town town and Ralph ends up in the middle of it all. Along with his closest companion, Lois, they battle terrifying forces wrecking havoc amongst their friends and neighbors.

There are numerous Dark Tower references, as well as tidbits connecting to the greater King-created world in general. I eat that up. Easter Eggs all day, baby. I can’t get enough of them.

While I recommend this book whole-heartedly to the Constant Readers out there…

I’m not sure it would be as impactful, or feel as extraordinary, to a reader without the background to make the connections.

I could be wrong though, as there is a lot going on in this story outside of all that. There’s social commentary, frightening villains and some intense action scenes; obviously a fantastic setting and believable, well-thought out characters.

I cannot say much more about it. I really can’t say anything about the plot without spoiling things, so we’ll leave it at this:

I loved it, I will read it again and I recommend it to any Stephen King fan!

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Review: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife Between UsThe Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

A Husband, a Wife and a Mistress. What could go wrong?

The Wife Between Us is a fast-moving, deliciously twisted suspense novel. The more I sit and think about it, the more I grow to appreciate what these authors did with this one.

I love when I feel like I have been tricked while reading a story. That initial sense of surprise when a storyline gets flipped on its head.

In this case, shocked would be the more apt description. Hendricks and Pekkanen got me good.

That first initial twist, after that, I was HOOKED.

I wouldn’t say this is a perfect book, but I loved how it took conventional assumptions and shook them up a bit.

That was a very pleasant surprise. One I think every fan of the genre should experience. I would definitely recommend this one to someone looking for an Adult Thriller.

I wish I would have read this when it first released in 2018, so I could have been in on the discussions and hype at the time.

I have had it since and just never picked it up!

I feel like I would have enjoyed it even more if I would have been participating in that initial excitement. I probably even would have ended up rounding up to 5-stars.

However, with this being said, I still did really enjoy this one. It is a heck of a good time. If you are like me and have been putting this one off, wait no longer!! It’s worth a read.

Another successful BACKLIST BUMP!!!

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Review: The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn

The ShudderingThe Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What’s not to enjoy about a classically-constructed gore fest with horrifying monsters!?

The Shuddering follows a group of friends on a snowboarding holiday in the unforgiving Colorado mountains.

The Adler twins, Ryan and Jane, spent a lot of their childhood at their parent’s posh ski cabin. Now that their parents are no longer together, their father has decided to sell the memorable property.

Ryan, who has just accepted a job overseas, decides to plan one final weekend at the home with his twin and his best friend, Sawyer.

Jane, recently divorced, decides to bring along her best friend, Lauren and Sawyer brings his gloomy girlfriend, April. Jane, who dated Sawyer in high school and really never got over him, isn’t exactly excited about April’s presence.

As the weekend gets underway, it’s clear tension is going to be the name of the game. Unfortunately, for the Adler party, that’s soon to be the least of their worries.

There’s something lurking in the woods, observing them, coming closer and closer to the cabin and it’s hungry.

Oona, Ryan’s beloved husky, is the first to notice something is amiss.

Her strange behavior leads Ryan to believe that a wolf pack may be hunting in the area.

When a blizzard hits, they become snowed in and the agitation reaches a new peak. The group ends up separating as April and Sawyer try to depart the property.

It doesn’t end well.

From there the intensity and action never stops. As you learn the truth of what pursues the group of weekend travelers, the desperation of their circumstances becomes more and more clear.

I love how Ahlborn built this out. It’s a classic set-up for a horror story and that was exactly the vibe that I was looking for when I picked it up.

I was stressed about the dog, of course. If you have ever read any of my reviews, you probably could have guessed that was coming, so that did have a slight effect on my enjoyment level.

Also, some the decisions made by the characters were questionable, but at the same time, I think that is half the fun. I mean, is a Horror movie even enjoyable if you aren’t yelling at the screen half the time?

The gore and violence were very well done. It was disgusting, it was bloody, it was stomach-churning and it was unrelenting.

I would definitely recommend this to any fan of the horror genre; particularly, if you, like me, enjoy horror stories set in Winter. This is the perfect book for that vibe!

I was a fan of Ahlborn’s work prior to this, but this definitely seals the deal. I will read anything she writes!

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Review: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Broken ThingsBroken Things by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Five years ago, Summer Marks was brutally murdered and left in the woods of her hometown.

The belief is that she was killed by her two best friends, Mia and Brynn, in a horrific, ritualistic style.

The girls were obsessed with a fantasy book called, The Way Into Lovelorn, and apparently, something found within those pages whipped them into a murderous frenzy. The thing is though, they didn’t do it.

Broken Things begins with Brynn finally being forced to leave the rehab center she has been residing in. She’s really never lived on the outside since Summer’s death.

Mia has continued living with her Mom in her childhood home, now packed to the gills due to her Mother’s hoarding habits.

During an effort to do a major clean out, Mia finds the old copy of The Way Into Lovelorn under a mass of garbage. This discovery hacks open old wounds and reinvigorates Mia’s desire to find out the truth of what happened to Summer.

Since they were separated during their police interviews, Mia and Brynn have not spoken. As Brynn is released, they are suddenly and unexpectedly reunited.

Rejoining is cold at first. It’s hard for them to communicate, but as time passes, they begin to open up with one another and it becomes clear they both have information about Summer’s death that they’ve never revealed before.

I was so immersed in this novel. The toxic friendship, the mystery, the side characters and the exploration of sexuality were all so well done. I read it incredibly quickly. Once I started, I could not put it down.

I was getting heavy Slender Man vibes, which was great. The way the girls backstory was told, it sort of gave this is this supernatural, is it not feeling; especially in the beginning. I dig that vibe.

Additionally, I loved the book-within-a-book portions in regards to the Lovelorn content.

There were portions from the original book, as well as excerpts from the fanfic sequel the girls were writing together. It was clear Summer was the most passionate about their project and she sort of steamrolled the other girls to get her way.

It’s funny, although we never met her in the current timeline, and she was the murder victim, to me, Summer was the least likable character.

Watching Brynn and Mia struggle through years of abuse in the public because of something they were accused of doing, but were innocent of, also made me feel protective of, and attached to them in a weird way.

I thought the mystery of Summer’s murder was intriguing.

Of course, Oliver also incorporated one of my favorite tropes, amateur sleuthing, as the girls, Mia and Brynn, try to piece together what actually happened on the day Summer died.

For a backlist book I never hear anyone talking about, I was really impressed with this. I thought it was engaging the entire way through and I enjoyed the overall way the story was told.

I will definitely be picking up more from Lauren Oliver in the future!

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Flashback Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

AllegedlyAllegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Hello, my lovely book friends! Today I thought I would bring you a Flashback review. I originally read and reviewed this novel back in September 2018.

Why am I bringing it up again, you may be wondering?

That’s easy. Because I love this book and still think about it to this day. Also, this novel introduced me to one of my FAVORITE YA Contemporary authors. Tiffany D. Jackson’s writing takes me places and I love every minute of it. Read my full thoughts below and I hope, if you haven’t already, you’ll seriously consider picking up some of Jackson’s work!

Allegedly was Tiffany D. Jackson’s debut novel!?

Yeah, think on that for a while. This. Is. A. Debut.

I am still reeling from this book. It’s one of those stories that sticks with you long after you turn the final page.

Following teenage protagonist, Mary Addison, after she is released from ‘Baby Jail.‘, she now resides in a group home and is trying to adapt to surroundings.

Mary Addison entered Baby Jail after being accused, and prosecuted, for killing a baby that she was helping her mother take care of.

Allegedly.

The majority of the book is stream of consciousness narrative, which generally is hit or miss for me. This is a definite hit and how it should be done.

It was incredibly moving to hear Mary’s remembrances of various parts of her childhood, her challenging relationship with her mentally ill mother, and of her alleged crime.

The rest of the book cleverly fills in the blanks with an excellent assortment of mixed media sources, such as police interviews and court transcripts.

I thought the blending of these two styles together was executed perfectly to reveal the truth at the heart of the story.

The thing I appreciated most about this book was the way it reflected upon the juvenile justice system. Shining a much needed light on the hopelessness and desperation these kids experience, not to mention the general systematic failures.

Behind every case number, inmate number and statistic, is a story. This is just one.

Mary Addison is a whip-smart, mixed race girl, who struggles with low feelings of self-worth and faces a boatload of obstacles.

Her codependency with her mother and her mental illness was so raw. I truly felt for this girl. I was drawn into her story. It was such a struggle to get through some sections, but completely worth it.

It was so well done that at times, I would be so wrapped up, I had to remind myself that Mary Addison is FICTION. Sadly, for a lot of kids out there, too many kids, this story is all too real.

I did listen to the audiobook for this and DAMN, Bahni Turpin can make you feel all the feels. She is so talented and truly brought the story to life for me. I was listening to Mary as far as I was concerned. I could not recommend this audiobook highly enough.

Loved it, loved it, loved it!

Tiffany D. Jackson is one hell of a writer!

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