Review: Second Chances by P.D. Cacek

Second ChancesSecond Chances by P.D. Cacek
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Second Chances is the follow-up to P.D. Cacek’s 2019 release, Second Lives, which I read and reviewed last year.

In that novel, we learn of a global phenomenon where souls, in some cases, a long time dead, are reincarnated in a sense, into the bodies of recently deceased humans.

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the bizarre occurrences, but the newly matched souls with bodies are known as Travelers, mostly accepted within society and protected under the law.

In some cases, the families of the recently deceased people, now inhabited by the souls of other people, agree to take these Travelers in and basically absorb them into their families.

It’s an odd concept, but definitely creative and also quite interesting to think about.

In this installment, we are mainly following twins, Jessie and Abbie, whose father is the leader of a religious movement known as, True Borns.

Daddy’s main area of focus happens to be preaching hate against the Travelers, or Imposters, as they call them. Otherwise known as imps.

We also follow a mentally unstable teen boy and his equally unstable mother, as well as a few other people related to the Traveler phenomenon.

I’m not sure how I feel about this one, y’all. It hurts my heart, but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first novel.

It was definitely interesting, particularly the overall picture of what is going on in this world. If you think about the ramifications of what our world would be like if this actually happened, it’s creepy AF.

With this being said, there were also large portions, or storylines, of this book that just didn’t sit right with me. Frankly, they made me uncomfortable.

Particularly, Jessie’s storyline as a trans character, but also the treatment of mental health for Curtis and his mother. I would definitely be interested in seeing OWN voices reviews on those two representations here, should they come up.

Overall, I just don’t think it was a solid match for my tastes.

It is a good book though, don’t get me wrong. I would recommend picking it up, especially if you really enjoyed the first book.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Flame Tree Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity!

There is a reader for every book, and a book for every reader.

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Review: The Nesting by C.J. Cooke

The NestingThe Nesting by C.J. Cooke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Lexi is at rock bottom. Her life has never been easy, but at this point, she has days where she would rather not be alive.

After her long-term relationship ends and her best friend basically tells her that she has become too much too deal with, Lexi knows she must find a way to make a new life for herself.

Riding a train one day, she overhears a conversation that provides her the opportunity to do just that.

Stealing a woman named Sophie’s identity, Lexi applies for a position as a nanny for a wealthy widower and his two young daughters. The best part is, the post is in the beautiful country of Norway.

She’s astounded to learn that she has been hired on. Obviously, she’s also nervous. She has a lot to pull off.

Lexi, now Sophie, knows absolutely nothing about home-schooling, infants or any other general duties of being a nanny.

From the very first day, she’s quickly swept up into the lives of the other staff members, Derry, Clive and Maron; the two children, Gaia and Coco, and the handsome widower, Tom.

The house itself, is a drafty, historic home that the family resides in temporarily while Tom and Clive construct the main event: Aurelia’s Nest.

As her days inside the house go on, Sophie begins to hear and see strange things.

She also starts to learn about Tom’s deceased wife, Aurelia, and the days leading up to her apparent suicide.

Interspersed throughout the story, we do get some chapters told from Aurelia’s perspective.

Sophie also stumbles across a diary that appears to be Aurelia’s, so she gets a little bit of glimpse into her life as well, which causes her to come to some startling conclusions regarding Tom and Aurelia’s marriage.

I enjoyed my time with this novel. The beginning felt very An Anonymous Girl meets Turn of the Key, but once the narrative arrives in Norway, it really takes on a life of its own.

Cooke excels at setting the atmosphere; a perfect Autumnal read. This entire novel is dripping with a cold, dark, ominous feeling throughout.

Part ghost story, part domestic drama, part ecological horror story, there’s also a lovely sprinkling of Norwegian folklore to sink your teeth into.

While I enjoyed many aspects of this story, I also felt like there were a few too many plot holes, as well as aspects that felt too much like other stories I have read recently.

However, with this being said, overall, this is a captivating book. I would absolutely read anything else C.J. Cooke writes. She definitely has a style I am interested in watching grow.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. As always, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

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Review: Hood by Jenny Elder Moke

HoodHood by Jenny Elder Moke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

What happened after Robin Hood and Maid Marian rode off into the sunset together?

They had a daughter, Isabelle. This is her story.

Finding herself on the wrong side of the law, Isabelle is forced to flee the village of Kirklees and the priory where her mother, Marian, is Prioress.

With her mother’s aide, she sets out with a destination in mind, where dwells one of her mother’s old friends who can help her hide from the King’s men.

After a fearful journey, over many days, she reaches the Inn her mother advised her to go to.

It’s there she joins up with the Merry Men, learns the truth of her parentage and grows ever closer to meeting the infamous, Robin Hood.

This was an action-packed, super fun story, full of adventure and close calls.

I enjoyed where Moke took this, finding out how Robin and Marian’s ‘happily ever after’ went.

While I had fun reading this, it was quick and light, I wasn’t necessarily blown away by anything here.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a good story, and if you are a fan of the Disney animated version, you should definitely check it out, but I can’t help but wish it would have been built out further.

Moke has a very pleasing writing style and all the bones were here, but I just wanted more.

I believe this is a standalone, but I sort of wish it was going to be a duology. I started to feel very connected with Isabelle towards the end, and the rest of the Merry Men. Personally, I would really enjoy following them on further adventures.

While I wasn’t crazy about some of the content of the conclusion to this tale, I do believe there is a lot more story to tell and Moke is the perfect person to tell it.

Give me more Isabelle. She is just starting to come into her own!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to reading more from Jenny Elder Moke!

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Review: The Passengers by John Marrs

The PassengersThe Passengers by John Marrs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A nonstop thrill ride from beginning to end. A Techno-Thriller to beat all Techno-Thrillers!

My first John Marrs novel gets two very solid thumbs up.

The premise of The Passengers intrigued me from the start.

It sounds like it will be The Purge but set in a Tesla.

Surprisingly enough, it is actually more like The Hunger Games but set in a Tesla and I was so down for that!

In a near-future U.K., Level 5 autonomous vehicles are now the law of land. Said to make personal travel completely safe, that isn’t necessarily the case.

Situations are still going to arise where an accident is imminent, but without a human to control the vehicle, what will happen if you are to say, hit a grandmother crossing the street, versus crash head on into another vehicle carrying the country’s most loved football star?

The vehicle, or more accurately, the computer controlling the vehicle will have to come to a decision. A sort of cost-benefit analysis for the greater good of society.

We meet eight individuals, all with one thing in common: they are getting into their autonomous cars around the same time, on the same day.

After settled in, the doors lock and a mysterious voice pumps through the car speakers telling them, their plans have changed and in just a few hours, they will all be dead.

Their collective plight is broadcast across all media outlets nationwide. The citizens of the country get to vote for one passenger to be the sole survivor.

Who will it be?

This whole story was so interesting. The commentary on our future with tech, the moral issues our dependence upon such technologies will bring about, as well as the potentially harmful nature of social media, was all spectacularly done.

There was never a moment while reading this that I felt bored, or that details were inconsequential to the story. It was so well crafted.

This may be my first John Marrs, but it certainly will not be my last!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and had a wonderful time with it.

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Review: Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

Little SecretsLittle Secrets by Jennifer Hillier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Marin Machado is a boss.

A successful business woman, owning upscale hair salons catering to the stars, she is confident and happy.

Her equally successful and handsome husband, Derek, is also a business owner and the couple has a little boy, Sebastian, who is the light of their lives.

Marin has it all.

That is until someone nabs Sebastian from a busy shopping center just prior to the Christmas holiday.

In the blink of an eye, Marin and Derek’s world shatters. Devastated by Sebastian’s disappearance, they both retreat into themselves to deal with their pain and grief.

When the police investigation goes nowhere, Marin hires a PI to continue the search.

Over a year later, the private investigator uncovers something, but it isn’t about her son. It’s about her husband.

As further secrets are revealed the lines between love and hate begin to blur. A woman spurned is a serious force to be reckoned with and Marin has nothing to lose.

Her best friend, Sal, and a grief support group she is a part of, are Marin’s only real connections anymore. She feels so distant from Derek.

But who can she trust?

I had so much fun reading this book. It was captivating from the very first chapter.

I loved Marin’s character. All of her flaws and grief. I found her to be complex, yet relatable.

While I did guess one of the reveals earlier than I expect the reader is supposed to, it didn’t diminsh my enjoyment level at all.

I thought going along with Marin on her journey, as she learns the truth of her husband’s betrayal and what happened to her son, was so satisfying.

Hillier really impressed me with this one. My favorite Thriller of the year so far, I would say.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I cannot wait to see what Jennifer Hillier dreams up next!

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Review: The New Husband by D.J. Palmer

The New HusbandThe New Husband by D.J. Palmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Close to two years after her husband, Glen, goes missing, Nina Garrity is doing her best to put her life back together. She feels betrayed that he would just ditch her and their two children, Connor and Maggie.

In spite of this, when Simon Fitch walks into her life, she is charmed by him and suddenly ready to try love again.

Not everyone is pleased with this development. Particularly, her daughter, Maggie, whose precocious perspective we get throughout the novel, alternating with Nina’s.

Maggie’s perspective was definitely my favorite to read from. Sure, she’s sassy, but she’s thirteen and wise beyond her years. I found her to be an astute judge of character and considering the circumstances, I cherished her defiance.

When Nina and Simon buy a house together, the living environment becomes quite tense. Connor, Maggie’s older brother, really likes Simon. He believes his Father is dead and he is looking to move on, just as Nina is.

However, Maggie believes her Father is still out there and doesn’t understand why her Mother would just give up on him. Allowing Simon into their family seems like a hasty decision, as far as she is concerned, not to mention the fact that the guy is a complete creep. As a result, she’s fairly combative.

As a reader, it doesn’t take long before you begin to notice that Maggie is on to something. Simon’s behavior is definitely far from normal.

He’s clearly manipulating Nina, gaslighting her and distancing her from her friends, but why? Not only are his behaviors bizarre, they’re also dangerous. You start to fear for everyone in that house.

Full of twists, I mean, absolutely full of twists, I really had a fun time with this book. I loved the perspective shifts and seeing the story be pieced together that way was so intense.

I’ll agree with some earlier reviewers that it was a bit far-fetched as far as some of the plot twists went, but who cares? It was a wild ride and a great way to escape from life for a while. That’s always what I am looking for in a book. I want to get swept up in it, and this definitely provided that.

While it wasn’t perfect for me, it was pretty darn close. I find Palmer’s writing to be super compelling. He absolutely knows how to pull you in.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it and look forward to reading more from this author!

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Review: The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

The Vanished BirdsThe Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

This book went so far over my head, it’s in the thermosphere.

Let’s chat about it, shall we?

This is a GREAT book. The quality of the writing is delicious. Absolutely gorgeous storytelling, however, I have to rate the book based on my reading experience.

For me this was a good, to very good, reading experience. If I had the mental capacity to understand it more, I am sure my rating would have been higher.

I think what it boils down to is that this just isn’t my type of book. I am fast reader. Additionally, I am a polygamous reader. I read multiple books at the same time, quite quickly.

As annoying as this character trait is, it is the only way for me to do it. I have tried to take my time, or just read one book at a time, and it puts me into a reading slump.

Therefore, deep books steeped with a lot of philosophical meaning tend to be wasted on my brain.

I just don’t take the time to really sit back and assess the messages that the author is trying to convey. If wish I could. I envy those of you who are able to do that.

The Vanished Birds is a lyrical science fiction story of various relationships connected across space an time.

I think a lot of readers will be able to get so much out of this. Even I can tell that the quality of this story is far above average.

As a character piece, I think this holds a lot of value, and I’m not afraid to admit that it is beyond my comprehension.

I want to encourage everyone to read this synopsis and if it sounds intriguing to you, please pick it up. The synopsis is true to what is in the book, so I think it will draw in the appropriate readers.

With intelligent, subtle narrative, futuristic concepts and beautiful writing, for many scifi readers, I anticipate this being a 4-or 5-stars! Maybe that will be you!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Del Rey Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate it so much and look forward to seeing other reviews for this one!

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Review: You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

You Are Not AloneYou Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shay Miller is a 30-something data researcher living in New York City. Estranged from her family, with few friends, she spends a good portion of her time on her own.

Sharing an apartment with a cute guy she has an unrequited crush on seems to be the highlight of her existence. That is until he gets a new girlfriend, Jody, who is slowly pushing Shay out.

Shay knows her days in that apartment are numbered, so like her numerous temp jobs, even her living situation is unstable.

As her life seemingly drifts out of her control, Shay witnesses a horrific event on a subway platform that unknowingly sets her on a new course.

Witnessing a young woman’s suicide, Shay is understandably shaken. She feels like she could have done something to stop it.

Compelled to learn more about this tragic girl, she discovers her identity, Amanda Evinger, and ends up attending her memorial service.

Once there, surrounded by Amanda’s friends and loved ones, Shay tries to blend in as well as she can. She makes up a loose acquaintance to Amanda for her cover story.

Everyone is so nice to her, including the glamorous Moore sisters, Cassandra and Jane. Despite herself, Shay gets caught up in the warmth of the service and begins to let her guard down.

After the Moore sisters come into her orbit, things begin to fall into place for Shay. She suddenly finds herself with an alternative living arrangement, a better job, and a potential love life.

When things seem too good too be true, however, they often are.

What happens next is a wild ride through the streets of New York as Shay slowly pieces together the truth of the Moore sisters.

Who is friend? Who is foe? If you don’t read this book, you’ll never know!

Much like previous works by Hendricks and Pekkanen, You Are Not Alone does a great job of building suspense throughout.

Alternating perspectives help to amp up your sense of dread as you rush towards the final conclusion. I was biting my nails, for sure!

It was definitely tense. I really enjoyed Shay and was feeling everything she was feeling.

This is a solid suspense story and it kept me entertained all the way through. At first, I had no clue what was happening and as it was revealed, I thought, how clever.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and will continue to read anything this dynamic duo writes!

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Review: The Deck of Omens (The Devouring Gray #2) by Christine Lynn Herman

The Deck of Omens (The Devouring Gray, #2)The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

With the events of The Devouring Gray behind them, and the Beast seemingly subdued, May, Justin, Harper, Violet and Isaac, are left to lick their wounds and repair their relationships.

Old anxieties remain and as the teens move forward, they find themselves continuing to seek solace in one another as the town at large feels hostile, especially for Justin.

Things are far from over, however, as a mysterious corruption beings to seep from the Gray, infecting those citizens it comes in contact with.

The Founder’s children seem to be immune, so again it is up to them to save the fate of Four Paths.

May seems especially tuned in to the changes around her as she continues working on her powers dealing with the Deck of Omens.

As her relationship with her mother, Augusta, remains hella strained, she reaches out to her estranged father for guidance.

Obviously her mother is less than pleased when he arrives, thus deepening the hole May is already in with her.

Speaking of people returning to town, Isaac’s older brother, Gabriel, makes a sudden appearance as well. Thus forcing the Sullivan boys to have it out once and for all.

As the Gray continues to destabilize and the corruption begins to get out of control, the town leaders have no choice. They must evacuate the town’s citizens for their own safety.

The Founding Families remain, preparing themselves for the ultimate showdown.

This second book of The Devouring Gray duology continues the themes of long buried secrets and heartbreaking deceptions.

The truth about the Gray and its early beginnings are revealed and it flips everything you thought you knew on its head.

You may think the most dangerous thing in Four Paths is the Beast, or the Gray, but you’re wrong!

Guys, I enjoyed this story so, so much! Once I started, I absolutely could not put it down.

While with the first book, I felt that a lot of the plot got bogged down in the details, I didn’t feel that at all with this one.

The town of Four Paths has a complex history and there is a lot to learn in regards to the Founding families, their powers, the Gray and the Beast.

I think, for me, I let myself get too caught up with all the details in the first book and it ended up losing some of its fun.

With The Deck of Omens I went in with that foundation and was just able to relax into the story.

I loved the relationships and how they grew and changed as the teens gained more knowledge about their own family histories. At this point, I am so attached to these characters, I can’t believe it is over.

I am so satisfied with the conclusion. If it has to end, I am happy with this result.

The ultimate showdown was pure nail-biting fun, which is another strong selling point, it was fast-paced the WHOLE way through! There was never a lull in the action.

I am beyond happy that I continued on with this duology and send a very hearty thank you to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing with a copy to read and review.

It’s so far one of my favorite reads of the year! Well done, Christine Lynn Herman!

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Review: The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

The Familiar DarkThe Familiar Dark by Amy Engel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the birth of her first and only child, a girl named Junie, Eve Taggert vows to do a better job than her own mother did.

She spends the next 12-years putting her past far behind her. She never introduces Junie to her Grandmother and tries her best to make sure Junie always feels safe and loved, a luxury she never had.

When Junie is murdered, along with her best friend, Izzy, on a snowy day at an abandoned playground, Eve is shattered with grief.

Her girl was her entire world, her entire purpose, but now she has a new purpose, getting justice for Junie and she may have to go back to her roots in order to get it.

We’re talking some real hillbilly justice.

It’s clear the police, her brother Cal included, are not getting anywhere in their investigation. At least if they are, they aren’t sharing it with her.

So, Eve decides to do a bit of investigating of her own.

One of her first stops is her Mama’s house. A warm reunion it is not, but Eve feels oddly supported for the first time.

Maybe her Mama’s lessons are going to pay off after all.

This book is aptly titled, as it got dark real quick and stayed there. The overall feeling is desperate and depressing, but it worked.

I thought Eve’s character was written so well. I could feel what she was feeling, it hurt and kept me engaged the whole way through.

Coming in at under 300-pages, it is a pretty quick read, but definitely packs a punch.

If you like gritty Crime Fiction with the perfect touch of Hillbilly Noir, you should definitely give this one a shot!

I feel like this is Engel’s wheelhouse; it definitely suits her writing style well. Atmospheric and DARK, just how I like ’em.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Dutton Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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