Review: Come With Me by Ronald Malfi

Come With MeCome With Me by Ronald Malfi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Aaron and Allison Decker are happily married. They’re a great match. Life is good.

One December morning, as Allison heads out to a local shopping mall, she says to her husband, “come with me.” Aaron, feeling a little too comfortable lounging around, declines her offer.

That’s the last time he sees his wife.

Allison’s senseless death brings Aaron’s world crashing down around him. Overwhelmed with grief, he tries to take it one day at a time, but even basic things are taxing. He’s drowning.

Sifting through some of Allison’s belongings, Aaron discovers a motel receipt from North Carolina, paid in cash with Allison’s name on it.

They live in Maryland. He has no idea why she would have been at the motel for a two night stay; two nights that happen to coincide with a time Aaron was out of town on business. He’s sure Allison never told him she left home.

Aaron’s mind immediately goes to where yours may have when you read that last paragraph.

He wonders if Allison was possibly having an affair. Immediately he feels guilty. That couldn’t possibly be true. Allison wasn’t like that, was she?

The receipt gives Aaron something to focus on. He’s also insanely curious, thus he sets out on a journey to discover why Allison would have gone there. What exactly was she doing?

Y’all, I think this is my favorite book that I have read so far this year!!!

The more I think about, the more I appreciate just how incredibly well-crafted this story is.

Every moment of Aaron’s journey brings darker discoveries and new information that will ultimately lead him to the truth behind Allison’s secret life.

I was constantly floored by what was happening. The reveals, the connections, the red herrings; they just kept coming. Aaron becomes completely obsessed with his task, risking life and limb in order to solve it.

I love how Malfi beautifully wove together the exploration of grief, the supernatural and a tense and brutal mystery. Yes, it’s a legit mystery, which I had no idea when I started.

I had barely heard anything about this one, Malfi’s name is what made me pick it up and I’m so happy that I did.

I will be shouting from the rooftops about this for a long time to come. It’s incredible. Come With Me releases next Tuesday, July 20th, so make sure you add it to you TBR!

Thank you so, so much to the publisher, Titan Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to read it early and provide my thoughts.

All the stars in the universe!!!

View all my reviews

Review: The Sky Weaver (Iskari #3) by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Sky Weaver (Iskari, #3)The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sky Weaver is the third, and sadly, the final installment of companion novels within Kristen Ciccarelli’s Iskari series.

I started this series on a whim earlier this year and immediately fell in love with it. It’s so underrated.

In this edition we get to follow a character who has intrigued me from the very first book. Safire, a soldier and cousin to the new King, Dax, and his sister, the Last Namsara, Asha.

We also follow a new character, a pirate, Eris, known as the Death Dancer, who has the power to travel between worlds, thus making her next to impossible to catch.

When important items begin to be stolen from the kingdom, Safire, commander of the King’s forces, determines the Death Dancer may be plaguing them.

She’s correct and in fact, Eris has taken a special interest in the beautiful commander.

The two play cat and mouse for a bit, which only piques their interests more.

As their fates are pushed further together, both seeking Asha, albeit for different reasons, the two women build a tentative alliance, learning more about one another and about their greater world in general.

I loved this story so much. My favorite of the series. It was action-packed, full of reveals, high stakes and swoon-worthy pining.

An Enemies-to-Lovers trope set in a dragon Fantasy world, with beautifully told lore for the world sprinkled throughout. What is not to love?

Additionally, I enjoyed how the three storylines all really came together in this one. Ciccarelli wrapped it up nicely, although I will say, if she ever chooses to write more in this world, I will be the first one to line up to buy it.

One of my favorite aspects of this series, was the lush and lyrical legends Ciccarelli created as a base for this world. Those sections are included in all three books and are connected to Gods, Goddesses, Myths and Lore of the world of Iskari.

It connected so well with the main storyline and characters; absolutely seamless.

If you have had this series on your radar for a while, you should definitely check it out. I am so happy that I did and now consider it to be one of my favorite YA Fantasy series!!

View all my reviews

Thoughts on The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)The Gunslinger by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

3/20/21: 5-stars yet again!!! Who is surprised?

Now the question is, do I continue to read the entire series and actually read the final book this time? If ka says it is so, it will be done.

3/15/21: It’s been almost a year. I guess I should pick up The Gunslinger again. Why not!?

I only have 1,100 other books I want to read.

Picking up for the 4th time! 🖤

6/3/2020: ALL HAIL THE KING!!!

Five mind-blowing stars, again.

In contrast to the rest of the books in this series, The Gunslinger, is like the black and white portion of The Wizard of Oz.

By the time you enter The Drawing of Three, you’re in Technicolor, baby!!

Earlier

Reread number three.

Also, buddy reading with my dear friend, Shannon. It’s her first trip to the Tower and I am so excited to join her at the start of her adventure!

Original Review:

Every once in a while, a reread will come along that completely changes your outlook and opinion on a story.

This was absolutely the case for me and my reread of The Gunslinger.

Originally, I read it in my early 20’s, just out of undergraduate school and to be honest:

I didn’t get it.
I didn’t like it.

I didn’t like the atmosphere.
I didn’t like the strange dialogue.
I didn’t like the ending for one of my favorite characters.

I had read a lot of King books and this was so different for me. Rereading it now, on the cusp of 40:

I loved it.
I love the atmosphere.
I love Roland.

I understand where this is going.

The palaver between Roland and Walter at the end left me in absolute chills. Where once I gave this 3-stars, I now give it a very solid 5.

I put it down and immediately went to my bookshelf and grabbed The Drawing of Three: The Dark Tower II and started reading it, staying up way past my bedtime in order to do so.

Now this thought consumes me:

I need to get to this damn tower!

View all my reviews

Review: Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3)Obsidio by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am over the moon in love with The Illuminae Files. I certainly consider it to be ground-breaking and if this doesn’t gain Classic status, the world will suffer for it.

I’m sure AIDAN would see to that.

As Obsidio is the third and concluding book in the series, some mild spoilers are ahead. I will not be hiding them.

You have been warned.

After Hanna, Nik, Kady and Ezra, survive the attacks on the Heimdall Station, they find themselves crammed aboard the Mao, with 2,000 other desperate refugees.

The only choice for those aboard the Mao is to return to Kerenza, the site of the initial BeiTech assault. They’re not really sure what they’ll find there, but it has to be better than drifting through deep space, eventually running out of supplies, including oxygen.

On Kerenza, Kady’s cousin, Asha, has survived and joined the underground resistance, fighting against BeiTech’s continued presence on the small mining planet.

When her ex-boyfriend shows up, among the ranks of the enemy, she cannot believe her eyes, but perhaps she can use their prior relationship to their advantage.

The narrative alternates back and forth between the situation on the Mao and that on the ground of Kerenza. There is a lot of drama and a whole lot of action!

I loved how this brought everything together, including the style of the Files themselves. It all becomes clear and frankly, is just brilliant storytelling.

It’s hard not to fall in love with these characters, as you are with them through every step of the battle. I became so connected to each and every one of them.

There were moments when I had to step away. The ending got pretty hairy. I knew Kaufman and Kristoff weren’t looking to spare my feelings, so absolutely anything could happen to any one of our heroes at any time! It was intense, to say the least!

I’m so happy that I finally saw this series through to the end. I even read Gemina twice, which turned out to be my favorite book in the series upon reread.

Of course I am a little sad that it is done, but feel like it is a story I could revisit. For now, Hanna, Nik, Ezra, Kady, Ella and AIDAN, will live on in my heart; strong, funny, fearless and smart, just as they’re meant to be.

I highly recommend this series to everyone in the Universe!!!

View all my reviews

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!

View all my reviews

Review: Queen of Volts (The Shadow Game #3) by Amanda Foody

Queen of Volts (The Shadow Game, #3)Queen of Volts by Amanda Foody
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Welcome to New Reynes, self-proclaimed City of Sin, and one of the most interesting worlds in YA literature.

Queen of Volts is the final installment of The Shadow Game trilogy and therefore, was destined to break my heart.

I dragged out my time reading this. Literally, tried to make it last as long as possible.

Picking up where King of Fools left off, this third book finds Levi and Enne forced to play the most dangerous game yet.

Levi, who is being drawn to the straight life of politics, and Enne, who must figure out how to navigate with her true nature exposed, grapple with their feelings for one another.

Should they play the game as allies or enemies?

I mean, that was my vote.

If you know nothing about this series, I urge you to go read about Ace of Shades. These books are full of intrigue, plotting, scheming, backstabbing and compelling ambitions.

There are street gangs, crime lords, corrupt politicians, gambling dens and magic.

Legends come to life. It’s a dangerous, seedy world and I loved every minute of it. Such a vibe.

I could go on and on about the many things I loved about this series, but honestly, you just need to try it for yourself.

I will say the story truly matured along the way, so perhaps if you picked up Ace of Shades and it was just okay for you, I would urge you to give the second book a shot.

This is one of my favorite YA trilogies of all time. I love the low key MacBeth vibes that I picked up throughout.

It’s just everything. I love it. Amazing job, Amanda Foody. I can’t wait to binge read the series in its entirety someday.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Inkyard Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

This was absolutely one of my most anticipated books of the year, so I truly appreciate it!

View all my reviews

Review: Revival by Stephen King

RevivalRevival by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In 1962, while playing in his yard, 6-year old, Jamie Morton, suddenly has a shadow fall upon him. He looks up to find a statuesque man in church garb standing over him.

The man introduces himself as Charles Jacobs, he’s the new reverend, just arrived in town.

Jacobs, the Rev, is young, vibrant and successful at filling pews; breathing life back into the somewhat stale local church.

He also develops strong relationships with a lot of the young people, Jamie included, who actually is a favorite of sorts for Jacobs.

After an unexpected tragedy strikes, Jacobs is prompted to move on. That’s not the last time Jamie will come across him however; not by a long shot.

From there the narrative progresses with a classic coming-of-age feel and ultimately, ends up spanning five decades.

We follow Jamie as he discovers his gift for music, finds first love, moves from home, struggles with addiction and encounters Jacobs again and again.

Jacobs is the shadow that falls over his entire life.

I didn’t come up with that. That’s from the book, but definitely captures Jacobs presence in this story.

I loved the way King built this one up and progressed the narrative. As Jamie begins to realize the depths to which Jacobs has gone with his electrical obsession, and subsequent pursuit of its potential healing powers, the intensity continues to grow and grow and grow.

The interactions between Jamie and Jacobs begin to feel more dangerous every time they meet.

Jacobs electrical work and experiments were so interesting, but most interesting of all to me, were his healings. The revival-tent displays of power. It had a real mad scientist energy that had me more charged than Frankenstein’s monster.

Revival is a stunning example of King’s status as master storyteller.

From beginning to end, I was entranced. There is so much substance to be found within these pages; so many lines I wish I could recall at will. It’s exceptional. I feel like I will carry this story with me for a long time to come.

The ending is horrifying. Emotionally, philosophically, theologically; there’s a lot to unpack.

We’re talking full blown existential crisis upon reading the last 40-or so pages. I would love to read this again and annotate it. I definitely think it is worthy of that care.

Thank you to all my Constant Reader friends who finally pushed me to pick this one up. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

View all my reviews

Review: Don’t Look for Me by Wendy Walker

Don't Look for MeDon’t Look for Me by Wendy Walker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, hello, my new favorite Suspense novel of 2020.

I have always enjoyed Wendy Walker’s novels, but Don’t Look for Me takes it to a whole new level. Her best work yet!

It is clear from the very first pages that Molly Clarke is struggling in her life.

After a family tragedy, the remaining family members have drifted apart. Each consumed with grief and guilt, they rarely communicate and certainly not positively.

Molly’s daughter Nicole has told her she hates her, her husband won’t even look her in the eyes and her son publicly shuns her.

One night on a solo road trip, she becomes consumed with thoughts of leaving it all behind. The way she sees it, her family would be better off without her, happier.

With this storm of negative thoughts swirling in her head, she runs into a real life storm, literally. Just when it seems things can’t get any worse, they do. She runs out of gas.

Molly doesn’t return home.

Nicole, Molly’s daughter, has been spiraling out of control. She knows it. Hell, everyone knows it. Between the drinking, one-night stands and explosions at her mother, she’s not proud of herself.

After her Mom goes missing, Nicole is desperate to find her. The things she said to her on the very morning she disappeared. She can’t live with it. She has to make amends, and she can’t until her Mother is found.

The authorities seem to think that Molly walked away, but Nicole knows better than that. Her Mom would never leave her family, would she?

Nicole returns to Hastings, the place where her Mother’s car and belongings were found, to begin her own investigation. She will never give up on her Mom.

If the police won’t continue the search, she will. Even if Molly doesn’t want to be found.

This novel alternates perspectives between Molly and Nicole, starting off on different timelines and ultimately merging into one.

In Walker’s signature style, the chapters are short, with each one ending on a revelation or mini-cliffhanger, making this the epitome of a one-more-chapter type of story.

I thought this was brilliantly plotted the entire way through. From the very first chapter, I was hooked.

There are extremely intense moments, eerie moments, heart-breaking moments; this truly had it all.

In addition to being extremely suspenseful, I was so impressed with the examination of grief, guilt and depression.

The way in which Walker incorporated a family trauma into this story, and was able to tactfully explore how that one event had lasting, and unique repercussions, for each of the family members, was just so well done.

If you are a Reader who likes your Thrillers to have some substance, this one definitely fits the bill.

I loved both Nicole and Molly. Watching their stories unfold, learning the how and why of their circumstances, was just so powerful.

This will definitely make my Favorites List for 2020! Will it be on yours?

Don’t Look for Me is available tomorrow, Tuesday, September 15th, where ever books are sold. This may sound like a pitch, but really, I’m just trying to bring joy to your life.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I truly appreciate it and of course, cannot wait to see what Walker comes up with next!!!

View all my reviews

Blog Tour: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

The Night SwimThe Night Swim by Megan Goldin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Megan Goldin does it again!!!

Rachel Krall is the creator and host of a hugely successful True Crime podcast.

During her first season, evidence she procured through her work was subsequently used to free an innocent man.

Now a household name, with a reputation as a tireless truth seeker, many people reach out to her with cases they think she should investigate next.

A lot of these people feel they have no other options when searching for justice for a friend or loved one; that the system has failed them and Rachel is their last resort.

These letters for help generally come in the form of email or through more traditional post. Therefore, Rachel is surprised when a letter ends up stuck under her windshield wiper at a remote rest stop.

How would someone even have recognized her? People generally know her voice, not her face?

When she receives the first mysterious note, Rachel is on her way to Neapolis, where a high profile rape case is currently dividing the small coastal town.

For the latest season of the podcast, Rachel will be looking into the case and attending the trial.

In the ultimate, her story versus his, the victim is the granddaughter of the police chief, and the accused perpetrator is a golden boy, local-celebrity champion swimmer.

As Rachel throws herself into her investigation, the mysterious letters continue to show up in unexpected places, including her hotel room.

The author of the letters, a young woman named Hannah, pleads with Rachel to look into the death of her sister, Jenny, 25-years earlier in Neapolis.

Rachel admittedly finds Jenny’s case interesting. A reported drowning, Hannah insists that foul play was involved.

Y’all, I loved this book! The format Goldin chose to tell this story was absolutely perfect.

We get multiple perspectives, past and present timelines, and full episodes of Rachel’s podcast!

The way that Goldin was able to weave these two mysteries together was flawless. I found myself so invested in both the current rape trial and the historical perspective of what actually happened to Jenny.

I was blessed enough to have received both an e-copy, and an audio copy, of this from the publisher to read and review. I started it off switching back and forth between the two, but ultimately stuck with the audiobook.

The audiobook is so well done. The podcast chapters are incredible!

I had to keep reminding myself I wasn’t actually listening to a podcast, that it was fictional. It’s that believable!

I was already a fan of Goldin after the release of The Escape Room last year, but this one, The Night Swim takes it to a whole new level.

Megan Goldin is for sure an autobuy author for me!

In addition to the fabulous presentation of this story, I was also impressed with the commentary regarding rape culture and the treatment of victims of rape and sexual assault.

I love when a Thriller can not only be surprising and immersive, but also when it has something to say on real world issues. I think it opens up so many great discussions that are important and impactful.

In short, if you have not picked up The Night Swim yet, please do so. I particularly recommend the audiobook, although the story is fantastic regardless of the medium.

A heartfelt thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with the opportunity to read this early. It will definitely be making my Favorites List for 2020!!!

View all my reviews

Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Home Before DarkHome Before Dark by Riley Sager
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

RILEY SAGER!!!

He has done it again, and actually, I think this is his best work yet!!!

Loved. Loved. Loved.

Perhaps I should throw together some coherent thoughts? Yeah, let’s try.

Upon the death of her father, Maggie Holt, is shocked to discover she has just inherited Baneberry Hall, the allegedly haunted mansion her and her parents abandoned some 25-years earlier.

Quite literally fleeing in the middle of the night, her parents refused to ever return to the property. Her father then published a best-selling non-fiction account of their time there. As you do.

For Maggie’s part, she remembers nothing of her time at Baneberry. Of course, she was just 5-years old and apparently her little mind wiped the slate clean after they departed.

She has read her father’s book, House of Horrors, numerous times, but doesn’t believe a word of it. Her parents, whose relationship didn’t survive the Book, wouldn’t tell her anything, even though she pleaded with them frequently to do so.

Returning all these years later, Maggie hopes to piece together a bit of the truth while she is renovating the home for sale.

As soon as she steps foot on the Baneberry property, however, she’s knows it is not going to be as easy as she had hoped.

Alternating between Maggie’s current perspective and full chapters from House of Horrors was an absolutely delightful way to read this story. I loved how Sager set that up.

The pacing was perfection!

I was so engaged with this throughout. It got into my mind.

I was racing towards the conclusion trying to discover how much of House of Horrors was the truth.

Baneberry Hall was such a presence in the story. It was ominous and creepy AF.

I can’t imagine being Maggie and actually staying there on my own!

Home Before Dark is without a doubt going to be on my top books of the year list!

If you haven’t read anything by Sager yet and are wondering where to start, I highly recommend giving this one a shot. I think it is a perfect example of his style.

If you have read Sager before, and are a fan, what are you waiting for!?

I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next!

View all my reviews