Review: Everless by Sara Holland

Everless (Everless, #1)Everless by Sara Holland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a world where the old adage, time is money, is more than just a saying, Jules Ember is watching her dear Father slowly waste away.

His remaining time is quickly being drained for things as simple as rent and sustenance. He won’t allow Jules to help but she refuses to stand idly by while his time slips through their fingers.

When an opportunity presents itself for Jules to make a lot of time relatively quickly, she jumps on it, even though it means returning to the kingdom they were forced to flee 10-years earlier.

The Gerling boy, Roan, is due to marry the Queen’s adopted daughter, so obviously they will need all hands on deck for a royal wedding.

Jules gets selected to be a part of the preparation crew and once inside the kingdom all sorts of memories begin to flood back to her. Jules once played with Roan in these very halls and upon seeing him again, a spark rekindles.

The past becomes clear as more and more pieces are revealed and Jules discovers her life is not at all what she thought. Buried secrets come to light that shake her to her core. Soon, Jules finds herself in a fight for her life and the sanctity of the kingdom, gaining unexpected allies along the way.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a pleasant surprise for me as I had heard some not great reviews.

Yes, I have watched the movie In Time with Justin Timberlake. No, it did not affect my enjoyment of this book in anyway whatsoever.

I feel like the concept of time as currency is not something that was first dreamed up with that movie. I feel like that concept, with the wealthy being at a startling advantage over the poor, is something that has been explored in various forms in the science-fiction genre for a while. I could be wrong though.

In all seriousness, I did enjoy this a lot. I thought it was fun to read and the writing kept me engaged throughout. I very much enjoyed the legends of the Alchemist and Sorceress at the heart of the story. Who else would love a prequel based on those legends?

I do have the second book, Evermore, gracing my bookshelves at home and plan to pick it up soon. I am interested to see where this story goes from here!

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Review: Listen To Your Heart by Kasie West

Listen to Your HeartListen to Your Heart by Kasie West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When summer comes to an end, Kate Bailey is bummed she has to return to spending her days in a classroom instead of on the lake at her parent’s marina. Kate is a lake girl through and through and struggles to see herself anywhere else.

This year, however, is going to be all about getting Kate out of her comfort zone.

At the behest of her best friend, Alana, Kate has signed up for a podcasting class where she ends up becoming a cohost of an advice show of her creation.

Being such a private person, Kate prefers to fly under the radar, but she soon finds herself taking on a sort of celebrity persona around school.

Alana gets to be in marketing and we meet a few other kids in the class as well. Victoria, Kate’s cohost, is an absolute doll and her rival, Frank, adds a slightly sinister, bad boy element.

Stealing the storyline however is Alana’s crush, Diego.

Cute, cute, cute — this boy is even grabbing Kate’s attention. But Alana is her best friend and it’s totally against girl code to go after your BFF’s crush.

I mainly picked this book up because I had been told there was a strong podcast storyline in it. That is a big selling point for me.

I have never read a Kasie West but figured, why not? It sounded so cute and fun and it’s summer! The perfect time to pick up a book like this.

I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed listening to this story. Sure, it’s cutesy and sugary sweet but that is exactly what it marketed itself as and that is what I got!

There was miscommunication, drama, funny characters, a cook-off, great family dynamics — the list goes on and on.

I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a quick, adorable YA Contemporary read. I can also see people of all ages enjoying it. I will absolutely be picking up more of Kasie West’s books this summer. Really good stuff!

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Review: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

The ProposalThe Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Awwww, that was so fun.

In The Wedding Date we meet Carlos Ibarra as the fun and supportive best friend of Dr. Drew Nichols. We really get to know him on the day that he helps Dr. Drew by picking Alexa up at the airport when Drew gets called into the hospital on an emergency. At the time I was reading that, I thought to myself, this Carlos seems like quite a catch!

In this novel, Carlos takes on the role of leading man and I wasn’t wrong about him!

When Carlos watches the botched proposal made to Nikole Paterson on the jumbotron at a Dodgers game, he feels so bad. This poor girl is obviously have a super embarrassing moment and the paparazzi are in full force!

In order to rescue her, Carlos swoops in and pretends to be a long-lost friend, escorting Nik out of the stadium and away from prying eyes. He offers her a ride home and ends up bringing her to a bar to meet up with some of her friends.

Nik and Carlos really hit it off and the sweetest little friendship develops. But is more than friendship in the cards for them?

They both swear they are not looking for more but then things get physical.

Throughout this story we get a lot more of Carlos and Nik’s lives apart from one another. Carlos spends a lot of his time taking care of the women in his family. He feels an obligation to help them all so much. We also get to learn about Nik’s super tight friend group and the truly warm and supportive circle that provides her with.

One plot point I truly enjoyed was Nik and her friend group attending a women’s boxing class in order to learn how to protect themselves. It was a way of reclaiming her power after she was emotionally traumatized by her ex and his horrible proposal. In the aftermath of that, Nik really struggled with feeling safe. She is such a private person and to have her life exposed like that was really hard for her. I appreciated this and have taken boxing classes so know how empowering they can be.

I would say in comparison to The Wedding Date, this one differed by offering the reader more insight into our protagonists lives outside of one another. They both had really strong support systems and that was refreshing to see.

Overall, I thought this was really sweet. Although it didn’t have as much drama or steam as the first book, it was still a very fun read! I would definitely recommend this to people looking for a fun, easy summer read. Beach season is almost upon us and this would be a good one to take with you.

I am very much looking forward to starting the next companion book in this series, The Wedding Party which releases in July!!

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Review: Just One Bite (Timothy Blake #2) by Jack Heath

Just One Bite (Timothy Blake #2)Just One Bite by Jack Heath
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My favorite cannibal returns to the page in this second installment of the Timothy Blake series!

Timothy Blake is brilliant. He’s also as morally grey as you can get. Working as a civilian consultant for the FBI, Blake contributes a lot to the investigations he works, as it is easy for him to get into the mind of a killer.

In this second book, Blake is moonlighting as a ‘body disposal expert’ for a local crime lord and during the course of that work, stumbles across a naked corpse in the woods, which he promptly brings home. As you do.

Unfortunately, the next case he gets called in on to help the FBI with is to look for that missing man. The man now currently residing in his freezer. How is Blake going to solve the crime and get away with hiding the body?

Guys, I am so into Jack Heath’s writing. It is so good. It draws you in. It is easy to read, never overwrought. It is dark, grisly, disturbingnot for the faint of heartmorbidly humorous…all these things and more!!!

If you are sleeping on this series and you like dark, original stories, you need to make time for this. Hangman, the first book in the series, was one of my favorite police procedural thrillers of 2018. It really stuck with me. I was so psyched to be getting a second book with Timothy Blake. Now, where this one leaves off, there DEFINITELY needs to be a third book!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Hanover Square Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I am so in love with this series and I will never stop recommending it to readers who enjoy darker content. I am highly anticipating the next book!

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Review: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Little DarlingsLittle Darlings by Melanie Golding
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A delightfully creepy story!

Lauren Tranter has just become a first-time mother of twin boys, Riley and Morgan. While still in hospital she begins to struggle with new motherhood. A terrible hemorrhage post-birth provides an additional trauma. She now finds herself in pain, alone and questioning her ability to be able to handle all of this.

Making matters worse, one night an intruder in her room, a very scary, ragged woman, tries to take her babies; trys to take them and exchange them with her own evil little monsters. Luckily, Lauren is able to fight her off. Hiding in the bathroom of her hospital room, she calls for help.

Unfortunately, no one believes her. No hospital staff report seeing anyone. How could an intruder have gotten past the surveillance cameras without being seen? Lauren must be hallucinating, suffering from some sort of postpartum psychosis.

Detective Jo Harper isn’t convinced that Lauren was imagining the incident however and she begins to investigate further, contrary to her superiors wishes.

Once back home with the boys, Lauren’s struggles continue. Her asshole husband, Patrick…

…is about as supportive as a dead jellyfish, so without any relief, she really begins to sink toward rock bottom. She never leaves the house, doesn’t socialize and lives in constant fear that the would-be kidnapper from the hospital will return.

In fact, one evening, she sees the woman outside the house, staring in at her. As Patrick begrudgingly goes to investigate, Lauren decides to call the sympathetic officer who spoke to her while she was in the hospital, Detective Harper.

This book has an absolutely wicked, ominous feel throughout. I don’t think I have ever read a thriller that bordered on the supernaturally horrific as much as this one did.

The idea of changelings is closely examined in this work and I loved how many chapters began with little excerpts from various fairy tales focused on that topic. Lauren is truly terrified for the majority of this book and that really got under my skin. The writing was so strong, I was definitely swept up in her thoughts and equally as much into Detective Harper’s investigation.

I loved so much about this book. There is a lot of the plot I am not even going to mention here as it is best to be taken off guard by it.

Immediately after finishing I was thinking I would give it a 4.5-star rating. There were a couple of plot points that I wished had been expanded on or moved around in the context of the story, but upon further reflection, to hell with that. This is a great freaking book. I loved it and would definitely recommend it to any reader who likes dark, slightly scary, content!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, for providing me with an ARC copy to read and review. I will most likely read it again someday as I enjoyed it that much. Until then I will be loaning out my copy to all friends and family who will take it. I genuinely cannot wait to see what is next for this author!

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Review: Your Life is Mine by Nathan Ripley

Your Life Is MineYour Life Is Mine by Nathan Ripley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of my most anticipated thrillers of the year!

Blanche Potter (nee Varner) is a documentary filmmaker with one true friend, a surrogate mother and a horrifying past. Her long-dead father, Chuck Varner, is an infamous spree killer who also was the leader of a death cult. Preaching a philosophy he termed, Your Life Is Mine, Chuck raised his daughter like she would someday become the cult’s leader.

Blanche distanced herself as much as she could from that life but as we all know, the past never stays buried.

When she hears that her estranged mother has been shot, she believes there is more to the story than the cops are presenting to her. She believes Chuck Varner’s cult members are making a resurgence and the death of her biological mother is just step one in a plan that will ultimately end in another mass killing.

Traveling back to her hometown, Blanche begins an investigation of her own which leads her to some startling conclusions!

Nathan Ripley (aka. Naben Ruthnum) is a talented writer. There is an edginess to his writing that is visceral. He does not shy away from dark subject matter and it is on page. He doesn’t keep you in the shadows or sugarcoat anything for his readers.

I was so impressed with his debut, Find You in the Dark, last year. It was such a gripping read for me. I was glued to the pages and flew through it and immediately knew I would read whatever he had coming out next!

While I felt Your Life Is Mine had the same tone and grittiness, I was not sold on the subject matter. The cult philosophy was disjointed and I never really understood what the point of it was. Blanche, as a character, was sort of like a dead fish. I felt nothing from her and nothing for her.

Part of the fun of Find You In The Dark, at least for me, was the perfectly crafted game of cat and mouse between the protagonist, Martin Reese, and police detective, Sandra Whittal. They were perfectly matched and I found myself rooting for both of them.

In this story, no one was likable and honestly, I didn’t care one way or another who killed Blanche’s mother or why. The second half of the book did pick up the pace a bit but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was either thrilling or mysterious. Overall, it was a good book but it didn’t live up to the quality and excitement of his debut.

Thank you, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. As always, I appreciate the opportunity and I will continue to read anything that Ripley writes. As I mentioned, I love his writing, I definitely think this was more of a content issue than a writing issue for me.

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Review: Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

MiddlegameMiddlegame by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mind Melt Alert!!

What is Middlegame?
Admittedly, I stared at the wall for a good 20-minutes once I had finished.

I don’t even think I can begin to attempt a synopsis.
Can I just say, what an achievement for Seanan McGuire?!

A tour de force of science fiction. Expertly crafted from start to finish in order to make you feel like the secrets of the universe are being exposed to you.

There are so many intriguing concepts in here and the narrative is so vast, following our two main characters, Roger and Dodger, from the time they are children up through adulthood.

I can’t lie. It’s a challenging read but so worth the effort. You shouldn’t be multi-tasking whilst reading this. It needs deserves your full attention.

This gave me Dark Tower vibes a bit, a huge positive for me, in how prodigious and all-consuming the narrative was. I absolutely adore McGuire’s writing. Each and every word seems to have been carefully selected and placed where it would be most effective.

I am really excited for more people to read this. I am so interested to see what others think. I know it will not be for everyone but I know a lot of people are going to be just as impressed as I was.

At this point, I will read anything, ANYTHING, that Seanan McGuire writes. She is a gift.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor, for providing me with an early copy to read and review. I certainly feel blessed to have received it. I appreciate the opportunity and know it will be a huge success!

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Review: The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta

The Lost CoastThe Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Danny and her mom move to Tempest, California after Danny picks it out on a map. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the choice but what is drawing her there?

The Grays, a group of high school girls, who happen to be queer witches, also live in Tempest. One of their group, Imogen, has recently turned up without her personality and with sea glass eyes. What happened to her?

Then she wanders into the woods and doesn’t come back out. She’s their Regina George, so obviously this is upsetting to the rest of the Grays.

They basically recruit Danny into their group and discover she has a power for ‘finding’ things. They begin a quest to get Imogen back. All of her; mind, body and spirit.

I love this cover.
I love the representation.
I am intrigued by the premise.

The format did not work for me.
I was as lost as Imogen most of the time.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I had to start a chapter over because my mind was wandering and I had no idea what was going on. There were so many perspective jumps and time jumps. I normally do not mind that at all but this just was all over the place.

The writing is pretty but is it possible to be too pretty?

In my opinion, the substance of the plot got buried under all the whimsy. I am sure there will be many readers who will absolutely adore this story. I just unfortunately was not one of them.

If it weren’t for the great rep and lush atmosphere, I most likely would have given this two stars. It hurts my heart to write this as I have been greatly anticipating this release. Alas, there is a reader for every book and I am just not the reader for this one.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Candlewick Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion on new releases.

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Review: On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

On the Come UpOn the Come Up by Angie Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ANGIE THOMAS!!!

I am so in love with your words.
Damn, she’s good.

This story follows, Bri Jackson, who also lives in Garden Heights like Starr from THUG. But that is pretty much where the similarities end.

Bri lives with her mother and her older brother. Her father, a once successful rapper, was gunned down in the streets, a victim of gang violence. Bri’s mother is a recovering addict who is doing her best to be able to provide for her children alone.

Bri has plans to follow in her father’s footsteps but she definitely wants to do it her own way and struggles to find her identity apart from him.

She is a super talented rapper and spends most of her time thinking of rhymes and putting together lyrics. She is singularly focused on finding success in order to better the living conditions of herself and her family. To make them ‘good’.

Bri is a great kid but she does have a short fuse. She puts a lot of pressure on herself and I enjoyed getting some insight into her thought process and how she sees the world around her. There is always something that seems to be going wrong in her world. It’s tough. Troubles at school, troubles with bills, being behind in rent and she feels compelled to do something to make it different.

I loved this story. The incorporation of Bri’s lyrics gave the story such depth. I loved that angle, seeing her try to make it and channel her talents for good. Learning to stand her ground and be true to herself. I love stories with music or musicians and this one utilized that trope so well.

I have read some reviews where readers commented on not enjoying this story as much as THUG. That doesn’t surprise me at all but for me, I sort of feel the opposite. I think I actually enjoyed this one more. While Bri, as a character, may seem contentious, to me, she was perfect.

As a 16-year old, many aspects of your life can be extremely frustrating. You can feel like you aren’t being heard, like your desires are pushed aside or seen as not important, and that may cause you to act out in socially unacceptable ways. I get that. Bri was struggling with some heavy shit and she let it get the best of her sometimes but that happens when you are a kid.

I liked how this book focused on a variety of hard-hitting issues that can often be brushed over or ignored. The reality of living in poverty is something that millions of Americans, and people around the world, deal with on a daily basis, and while it isn’t pretty, it is important to shine light on and discuss.

Examples: the fact that Bri’s mom was a recovering addict. The fact of the limits that places on her options to provide for her family. The way Bri, and other black and brown kids, were treated at her school. The lifestyle Bri’s aunt lives and how that affects her entire family. Bri’s brother’s options for a job after college.

All of these things are tough issues. I appreciated how much substance Thomas put into this. This was far from a one issue story. This was the whole cake and I was eating every bite!

I can see why this format may not sit well with everyone. It punches the whole way through but it is an exceptionally told story.

Thomas is a true wordsmith. Her writing leaps off the page with realness…is that a word? Realness?

You know what I’m saying.

As you can tell, I loved this. I want everyone to read it and seriously, I am on the EDGE of my seat until Angie Thomas puts out another book. I am really hoping for another story set in Garden Heights!!!

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Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red, White & Royal BlueRed, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alex Claremont-Diaz is the FSOTUS (First Son of the United States). His Mom, the first female president of the United States, is a hard-fighting Texas woman who knows how to get things done.

Alex is making his way through college and planning to sky rocket into politics straight out of school. He already has years of experience working on various campaigns and it is truly where he sees his life going.

We all know I love politics and political strategy in books, so right off the bat, I’m all like…

But Alex still has some growing up to do. As he should, he’s in his early-20s y’all! Give the boy a break. So he still parties a bit to hard and feuds with foreign dignitaries…

Oh yes, Prince Henry. Prince Henry is all sorts of swoony but Alex sees him as a bore and his #1 enemy. When an incident occurs at the Prince’s brother’s wedding, toppling over the super expensive wedding cake, the boys are forced to pretend to be friends in order to save face.

Alex would rather do pretty much anything else. Unfortunately, his wants are fairly inconsequential at this point, and so begins the relationship that is: Alex + Henry.

If you are reading this, I am sure you already know what this book entails. It is getting so much hype right now and for good reason. A mainstream title that is humorous and steamy New Adult romance, featuring a male/male, enemies-to-lovers relationship? What’s not to love?!

I personally was swept away from the very first pages. It is so fun. Pure fun on the page but also thoughtful in its presentation. I truly feel this is ground-breaking and we will all be talking about it for years to come.

McQuiston did such a great job of making this so contemporary without feeling forced in any way. The dialogue was super believable and the storyline provided a lot of food for thought.

I have heard a few people mention that it is too optimistic?? To me, I didn’t really think so. It is a happy story overall but our characters have struggles just like real people. As Alex and Henry both grapple with their sexuality and what that means in terms of their lives, what their family’s response will be, what the world’s response will be…they really struggled with that. They had hard decisions to make, just like in real life.

I applaud Casey for writing this. I think this will mean a heck of a lot to a lot of people and McQuiston is definitely on my list of autobuy authors after this spectacular debut! Bravo!

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity. I think this will be making a lot of reader’s ‘Best of 2019’ lists!

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