Review: Well, That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Well, That Was UnexpectedWell, That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q. Sutanto
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’œ

After Sharlot Citra’s mother walks in on her clumsily exploring her sexuality, her mother freaks out. Things are going to change around here!

After George Clooney Tanuwijaya’s father walks in on him clumsily exploring his sexuality, his father freaks out. Things are going to change around here!

For Sharlot, this change includes leaving her life in California behind, getting dragged onto an international flight, and flying to her mother’s native Indonesia where they will remain for the rest of the Summer.

For George, the change isn’t quite as shocking to the system. As a member of one of the wealthiest and most prominent families in Indonesia, George isn’t going anywhere, but he will have his family meddling a lot more into his social life.

Unbeknownst to both teens, Sharlot’s mom and George’s dad have begun quests to find appropriate romantic partners for their children. They cannot sit by and let their teens deviant behaviors progress any further.

Thus, they do what any good parent would do and they both begin cat-fishing potential love interests via social media.

And that’s how Sharlot and George ultimately end up on the most uncomfortable date ever, in one of the most beautiful coffee shops ever, struggling to live up to whatever ridiculous things their parents invented about them.

For example, Sharlot’s fake hobbies include cooking strong bone broth and hopefully one day being a good wife, while George’s hobbies include math and someday taking over the family empire.

As the teens are forced to continue the charade for a number of different reasons, they begin to get to know one other on their own terms.

Will they like what they find? And if so, how will they ever clear the air about the truth behind their meeting in the first place? What other terrible things could go wrong?!

With these two families, literally anything and everything.

Y’all, I loved this with my whole heart and soul. I was so invested in these characters. Sharlot and George have to be two of my favorite characters ever.

Well, That Was Unexpected got unexpectedly under my skin. While the humor kept me giggling throughout, certain emotional aspects got me deep in my feels. It was everything I wanted and more.

I knew going into this that Sutanto’s sense of humor meshes really well with my own. I love how realistically she writes her characters thoughts, which are always so darn on point and witty.

This story is told via alternating perspectives from Sharlot and George. It was so fun seeing both of their sides to this unbelievable situation they found themselves in. I also liked being able to see both of their thoughts involving the evolution of their feelings towards one another.

100% satisfying start-to-finish!!

This is definitely my favorite Romantic Comedy of the year and in fact, is one of my favorites ever.

I would fall on a sword for it. I would shout from a rooftop for it. I would fly to Jakarta to defend its honor…and might as well get some delicious coffee whilst I’m there… ๐Ÿ˜‹โ˜•๏ธ

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me a copy to read and review.

I am a Jesse Q. Sutanto stan and this novel is the perfect example as to why. I can’t wait to pick up whatever she serves up next!!

View all my reviews

Review: Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

Black MouthBlack Mouth by Ronald Malfi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jamie Warren left Sutton’s Quay, West Virginia, as soon as he was old enough, unfortunately leaving his disabled brother, Dennis, behind.

Jamie was running from a lot of things, but no matter where he goes or how much time passes, the memories of his traumatic childhood continue to haunt him.

When he receives a call that his Mother has passed, he has mixed feelings. In spite of Jamie’s complicated relationship with his Mom, he knows he has to go back.

The property will need to be dealt with. Dennis can’t do it himself, so Black Mouth here he comes.

Upon returning to the family farmhouse, Jamie is shocked by the state of it. He can’t believe that his brother and mother had been living in these conditions.

Additionally, his brother has been picked up by the police. Dennis had been walking along the highway, clearly distressed. Sadly, that’s how they’re reunited.

While all this is happening, states away, Jamie’s best friends from childhood, Mia and Clay, are also experiencing things that are drawing their attention back to Black Mouth; the name of the area on the outskirts of Sutton’s Quay where they all grew up.

The trio are pulled back into each other’s lives like moths to a flame, and like many close friends, once they’re back together it’s like no time has passed at all.

Together with Dennis, the three begin to investigate a mysterious man who had a huge impact on their lives all those years ago.

A man who lived in the woods and showed them magical and disturbing things.

Through past and present perspectives you’re drawn into an exceptionally twisted story with horrors great and small. Everything about this was mesmerizing to me. The writing is lush, the imagery is distinct and the atmosphere is intense.

Black Mouth took me for a ride and ultimately left me with tears in my eyes, wondering how long it would be before I read it again. It’s that good.

I’m so glad I preordered a copy of this because I need it gracing my shelves. The story is incredibly detailed and I’m sure there are little things that I missed as I rushed towards the conclusion. It will be an absolute joy to revisit.

There are so many aspects that I loved about this book, but first and foremost would be the phenomenal quality of the storytelling. It’s delicious.

As a King Constant Reader, I couldn’t help but notice things that reminded me of some of my favorite King works. I don’t know anything about Ronald Malfi, but just for me, I liked having all these little reminders of King’s work.

I honestly don’t know if any of it was intentional, like if it was a doffing of the cap, but I sort of hope it was. All the elements brought together was magic for my mind.

Without saying too much, it was in the details, like Dennis reminding me of Duddits, Mia’s name, the carnival vibe, a group of outcast kids fighting evil, even some of the supernatural aspects reminding me of the Bill Hodges trilogy.

Please note, I am not saying this in a negative way. I hope I am explaining myself appropriately. I don’t intend any shade toward Malfi by making these comparisons. I was beyond impressed by Come with Me, my favorite book of 2021, and over the moon excited about this one.

I highly, highly, highly recommend this story for fans of coming of age horror novels. This is absolutely exceptional.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Titan Books and Tantor Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. This could potentially end up as my favorite book of 2022. It’s certainly in the lead for now!

View all my reviews

Review: Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher

Nettle & BoneNettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A hearty hello to one of my new favorite books. Seriously, Nettle & Bone was the EASIEST FIVE STAR RATING I’VE GIVEN ALL YEAR!!!

I absolutely adored this story from the very first moments. T. Kingfisher positively swept me up into the humorous, enchanting fantasy quest of my dreams.

Nettle & Bone follows Princess Marra of the Harbor Kingdom on a quest to save her sister. Marra is the third-born daughter in her family. The first born was married to a particular Prince. It didn’t end well.

Now the second-born daughter, Kania, is married to that very same Prince and Marra suspects that he is hurting her. Vorling, the Prince in question, has his sights set on a male heir. If this second sister can’t produce one for him, guess who is next in line?

Marra! This isn’t her main concern though. I mean, yes, that would be absolutely terrible. This guy is basically Joffrey Baratheon reborn.

Regardless, Marra’s only concern is getting Kania out of danger. She is literally willing to do anything in order to free her, including commit murder.

Unsure how to even begin, Marra enlists the help of a Dust Wife. I won’t go into what exactly a Dust Wife is, just trust, this one is one of the coolest characters ever written!

The Dust Wife asks Marra to complete three impossible tasks and then she will help her. Before long, the two set off on the road to the Northern Kingdom, along with the Dust Wife’s hen, who happens to be possessed by a demon.

Thus it begins, the most perfect quest. They gather traveling companions along the way, such as a former, and arguably sexy, knight, as well as a Fairy Godmother.

It’s safe to say that I love this story with the same passion, and frankly, for the same reasons, that I love The Princess Bride. Kingfisher is delivering all the classic Fantasy Quest tropes I adore, while glazing the entire tale with a healthy layer of humor.

Additionally, I enjoyed how she was able to mix real-life themes into this story. For example, partner abuse, which we all know is very real, the way that was explored in this fantastical setting was quite interesting.

As I mentioned earlier, from the very start I was hooked on this story. Previously, I have only picked up Horror stories from Kingfisher, but this proves her talents know no bounds. She crushes any genre she writes in.

I am so happy to have found a new book to add to my all-time Favorites list. I will definitely be picking up a hard copy of this and rereading it at some point in the near future.

As an aside, I did listen to the audiobook and highly recommend that format. The narration was fantastic and kept me dialed in the entire way through.

Thank you so very much to the publisher, Tor and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copies to read and review.

It was such an enjoyable reading experience and the good news is, this isn’t it from Kingfisher in 2022. I’m so excited to check out What Moves the Dead very soon!!

View all my reviews

Review: Cackle by Rachel Harrison

CackleCackle by Rachel Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ•ท๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ•ท๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ•ท๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ•ท๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ•ท๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ•ท๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ•ท๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ•ท๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ•ท๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ•ท๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ•ท๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ•ท๐Ÿ–ค

After Annie’s live-in boyfriend, Sam, breaks up with her, she’s devastated. Sure, she figures maybe they have gotten a little too comfortable lately, but she cannot imagine ever being with anyone else.

As a school teacher, she knows she can’t afford to live on her own in Manhattan, and at 30-years old, she’s too old to get a roommate. Sam is keeping their apartment and Annie agrees she’ll move on.

She applies for a teaching position in a small town in Upstate New York and when it is offered to her, she accepts.

After that, things begin to fall into place rather quickly. She ends up finding the perfect apartment, minus the tiny spider infestation, and the entire town seems warm and inviting.

Unfortunately, as Annie tries to settle into her new life, she is still just as heartbroken as the day she left the city and her old life behind. She can’t stop thinking about Sam and running endless what-if scenerios through her head.

Then she meets Sophie, a confident and mysterious local woman, who seems to have the entire town in the palm of her hand.

Intrigued from the start, Annie begins to spend a lot of time with Sophie; pretty much every spare moment. The good news is, Sophie is great at helping her take her mind off of Sam and her aching heart.

But when Annie can no longer ignore mysterious traits about Sophie, her circumstances begin to tip a toe into the ominous unknown.

I absolutely loved this story with my whole heart. It truly has such a powerful message. I think it will resonate with a lot of Readers.

It’s for anyone who has ever had a broken heart and found themselves on the other side, or anyone who needs to find the other side, pick this book up. You’re stronger than you know!

The way Harrison wrote Annie, what she was going through after the dissolution of her long-term relationship, it was extremely relatable. I was feeling every emotion she was feeling.

After she met Sophie, it was indeed distracting. I was equally intrigued by Sophie. What was going on with her? She was completely enchanting, mysterious, sexy, addicting; I wanted to know everything about her. I think I would have fallen for her as quickly as Annie did.

The small town, spooky vibes are on point throughout this story. It’s one of those stories where small town citizens act a little strangely around the new girl and you want to know why!

This is the perfect book for Autumnal vibes for someone who maybe doesn’t want to get too scary. Although, I will say, there were at least a couple of scenes in here that gave me legit chills.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I finished this at the end of August and it is still fresh in my mind.

I have no doubt this will be on my Favorites list for the year. Cackle is releasing on Tuesday, October 5th, so be sure to add it to your Spooktober TBR!!

View all my reviews

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! ๐Ÿ–ค

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