Review: The Last by Hanna Jameson

The LastThe Last by Hanna Jameson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Jon Keller is attending an academic conference at the L’Hotel Sixieme in Switzerland on the day the bombs fall. Nuclear war has broken out and cities all over the world have been decimated. Through early news alerts he learns hundreds of thousands of people have been killed.

Jon’s wife and two children are home in San Francisco but he can’t really worry about that now, he needs to focus on his own survival. Jon and twenty other survivors hunker down in the relative safety of the hotel and that’s truly where our story begins.

A historian by trade, Jon takes it upon himself to begin writing the account of the survivors and that is how the narrative is told. For me, this worked so well as a way to tell this story. I loved the feel of it and how we were able to learn not just what was going on currently but also a bit of the survivor’s back stories, as well as some of the history of the hotel itself.

While opening up the top of some water tanks in an effort to start catching rain water, they find the body of a dead girl. It is clear she ended up in the tank by nefarious circumstances and Jon becomes obsessed with finding out who killed her. He starts a legit investigation and that is how he focuses most of his energy.

Tensions are running high and the survivors begin to form alliances and develop a social system unto themselves. When supplies begin to dwindle and winter is approaching the survivors start to send out mini-expeditions in search of food and other supplies. As you can imagine, these are dangerous undertakings and add quite a bit of tension to the plot.

I had a great time reading this book. I was absolutely entertained the whole time. I felt there was just the right level of tension the whole way through to keep you on the edge of your seat. I loved the exploration of people pushed to their limits and how they would organize themselves in order to function with some baseline of decency.

The last little bit seemed a little rushed to me but I wasn’t disappointed with how it ultimately turned out. I would recommend this one to anyone who likes post-apocalyptic stories. This is nice and modern and fitting for our times. Very well done!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to reading more by Jameson in the future!

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Review: The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

The Lies We ToldThe Lies We Told by Camilla Way
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Clara’s boyfriend, Luke, doesn’t return home one night, she prays there is some sort of logical explanation. He had too much to drink and slept it off at a mate’s flat, or he worked too hard prepping for an interview and fell asleep at the office. But as the hours tick by, she begins to suspect something much darker may have happened to him.

Increasingly concerned about his whereabouts, she ends up contacting their old friend, Mac, as well as Luke’s parents. No one has seen or heard from him. After some prodding, she notifies the authorities and he is formally listed as a missing person.

After the police find CCTV footage of Luke getting into a mysterious van, Clara knows for sure, something sinister has happened to him but what?

Along with her good friend, Mac, Clara begins an investigation of her own and discovers Luke may not be the person she thought he was.

I had so much fun with this book. I flew through it, I couldn’t put it down!

There’s no boring domestic drama prattle here. This is a right and proper Adult Thriller.

The dual narrative kept the story flowing at such a sensational pace with reveals coming just when you needed them. I trusted no one. Everyone was a suspect in my eyes and that made it so exciting. The ending — chills. LOVED IT.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am only sorry I didn’t pick it up sooner.

If you are an Adult Thriller fan, and you have been sleeping on this one like I had been, just stop. Pick this up. I would be shocked if you were disappointed!

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Review: Ivon by Michael Aylwin

IvonIvon by Michael Aylwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A truly unique Adult Dystopian!

For fans of classics such as 1984 and Brave New World. Added bonus if you are a sports fan.

Set in a future London, now called a commune, where society is regimented down to the most minute details, individualism is dead. People are created and raised for what they can contribute to the commune.

The highest attribute is your propensity for sport. The best at sport are the most valued members of society and there is quite a caste system based on this.

This story follows two men: Dusty Noble, the batsman of a generation and one of the most respected and valued men in London, and Ivon, a Welshman raised outside of the commune.

You see, in Wales, they live by the old ways. People have families, homes and still play sport for fun and under their own volition. Considered no more than savages by the people of Perpetual Era London.

Ivon is the son of two high profile people who were forced to leave London after it was discovered that they had feelings for one another. Relationships are not allowed and having too much interest in another is definitely a red flag to authorities.

Growing up in Wales however, Ivon knows nothing about that life. He has an incredible aptitude for sport however, which doesn’t go unnoticed by Dusty when he takes a weekend holiday to Wales.

Ivon ends up heading back to London with Dusty and both of their lives are irreparably changed because of that. The repercussions of this one decision put both men on a path they never anticipated being on. In fact, the final portion of this book is depressing AF but so clever and well drawn out. I was really impressed with this. I thought the writing was excellent and the concept behind the world construction was original and well detailed.

Overall, I thought this is a great piece of dystopian literature. Thank you so much to the publisher, RedDoor Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m sorry it took me so long to get to it as it was a fun read!

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Review: In Another Life by C.C. Hunter

In Another Life: A NovelIn Another Life: A Novel by C.C. Hunter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

When Chloe Holden moves to Joyful, Texas, with her mother, her once perfect life is in shambles. Her mother is in remission from her cancer but still very sick. Her Dad, who she has always considered her super hero, has cheated on her mom and left her for a much younger woman. They’re not speaking at all and using Chloe as a go-between.

In spite of all of this, Chloe is doing her best to hold it all together. Her mom is in the throes of a terrible depression and most days, Chloe functions more as a parent than a child. With her mom’s utter lack of being able to get out of her own way, Chloe is left to deal with a lot of stressful things by herself.

When Chloe bumps into Cash Colton at a local convenience store, he has an unexpected and far from friendly reaction to her.

Cash believes Chloe is lurking in town to scam his foster parents, the Fullers. They had a baby girl who was kidnapped when she was three years old and Chloe looks exactly like an age progression photograph that has been used to scam them before.

This would seem ludicrous except for the fact that Chloe is actually adopted. She remembers nothing of her life prior to being surrendered by her bio parents. Well nothing except for one vague memory that his been haunting her: her 3-year old self in a princess dress, sitting on a dirty sofa, crying and having a scary man tell her, your momma and daddy don’t want you anymore.

As you can imagine, this memory frightens her so she does her best to suppress it. As her and Cash eventually strike up a friendship, then begin to grow closer, he confesses to her what he fears. As they begin to explore the idea that she could actually be the missing girl, Emily Fuller, Chloe begins to remember more details.

In Another Life is a solid YA Contemporary story. I had moments in the beginning that gave me pause but as the story continued, I felt myself drawn in more and more. Chloe and Cash’s relationship was enjoyable. It was interesting to me to have two main characters who were part of the adoptive/foster care system. Both Chloe and Cash are struggling with issues stemming from that, Chloe definitely less so, and I found those topics interesting to explore.

Cash’s back story was very interesting and when I would find myself getting frustrated at some of his choices and behaviors, I had to remind myself of how he perceived the world differently than myself.

I did have a slight issue with Chloe’s mom. She was annoying AF and I think we had a bit too much of her. Her constant issues sucked me out of the story by taking the focus off of Chloe and Cash. I found her distracting, TBH. Also, I wouldn’t classify this as a mystery/thriller. I have heard some people talking about it and I think if you go into this with that assumption, you will be disappointed — at least if you read a lot of thrillers, which I do.

Overall, I enjoyed my time reading this story and would definitely pick up more works by this author. Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity.

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Review: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

The Devouring GrayThe Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**


Sawkill Girls meets Strange Grace…

BRANCHES, STONES, DAGGERS, BONES…

Welcome to Four Paths, New York, are words Violet Saunders could have done without. Riddled with grief after the loss of her sister, Rosie, Violet is forced to move to Four Paths at the start of her senior year. Not great.

It quickly becomes clear that Violet’s mom, Juniper, has a very strong connection to Four Paths. In fact, she is a member of one of the founding families. The founders are treated like royalty in town — quite literally worshipped as deities.

Why, you may ask?
Because they were the ones to capture the monster, trap it in the gray and continue to protect the townsfolk from it.

There are a lot of details that go into this story. The history of the town, the history of the founding families, the rituals, the powers, the secrets, the betrayals. It’s a lot.

Basically, the monster trapped in ‘the gray’ is no longer as dormant as he used to be and teens that are each a part of one of the four founding families come together to fight back. There are familial and friendship dramas, secrets and investigations, love gone awry — all the stuff. It’s in here.

At times, I felt like I should have been taking notes, which decreased my ability to relax into the story. Additionally, there were a lot of rapid perspective shifts that tended to knock me out of it as well. While the content was quite interesting, the flow seemed a little off for me.

It was definitely dark, which is one of my favorite things, and the characters and history of the town were compelling. I loved the ending. It gave me chills and I will definitely read the next book in the duology.

I even feel that I could reread this one. It may be easier the second time round as I have a better handle on what is going on.
For a debut, this is impressive and I hope a lot of readers pick it up!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to hearing what other readers think of this one.

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Review: Mirror, Mirror (A Twisted Tale) by Jen Calonita

Mirror, Mirror (Twisted Tales, #6)Mirror, Mirror by Jen Calonita
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Ahhhh, Snow White. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for this story but let’s be honest, we all know my favorite character is the Evil Queen.

Jen Calonita’s retelling is perfect for Snow White fans, no matter your favorite character, as it is told from alternating perspectives of Snow and the Evil Queen, named within these pages, Ingrid.

There are multiple small twists to the Disney version, most of us are familiar with, and it was just enough to give it a new and exciting feel. While paying homage to the original story, you still feel compelled to keep turning the pages to find out what is going to happen.

There is nothing super ground-breaking about this but I think if you go into it just looking for a fun, quick read — an escape from the world — you can have a heck of an enjoyable time with Mirror, Mirror. That was what I was hoping for when I picked this up and I got it.

I would have liked a bit more depth to the characters, Snow and the Evil Queen both, but I do think they had enough nuance to keep you engaged with them. I also feel like this reads more on the younger end of the YA-spectrum, maybe even verging on Middle Grade, so just know that going in.

Overall, I would recommend this to any Disney fan, especially people who like to get the villains perspective every once in a while. This is the second book I have read in the Twisted Tales series and you better believe I am going to keep reading them as long as they are putting them out!

Thank you to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me a copy to read and review! As always, I appreciate the opportunity and am excited to discuss this with other readers.

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Review: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Sal and Gabi Break the UniverseSal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sal Vidon is a magician. A young magician who has just lost his Mami, moved to a new school and is having a hard time fitting in.

Recently relocated to Miami, Sal quickly finds himself on the wrong side of the school bully, Yasmany.

To escape this run-in, Sal performs his trickiest of tricks yet. He makes a raw chicken appear in the bully’s locker! Take that!

Unfortunately, such antics have the opposite effect he is looking for when accused of being a brujo, the other kids at school become afraid of him. Of him! Sal Vidon, one of the kindest, most gentlest human beings in the world.

While pleading his case in the Principal’s office (again), Sal meets Gabi Real for the first time. Gabi swoops in like a hurricane. Smart, determined and funny, Sal thinks, this is somebody I could work with.

Over the course of the rest of the story, we get to watch Sal and Gabi’s relationship grow as they reveal more and more about themselves to each other and come to rely on one another for support. Sal is still struggling with the grief of losing his Mami and Gabi has an infant brother fighting for his life at a local NICU.

I was so impressed with this book. The writing style is fantastic, very fluid and easy to read. I LOVED the characters. Sal is one of the sweetest characters in any book EVER and Gabi is a true force to be reckoned with!

As a middle grade novel, I feel that this is an excellent introduction to the science-fiction genre. This explores the idea of multiple dimensions and travel between them. I loved that aspect of the story and thought it was really well done. There was just enough of that scifi feel without being overwhelming for readers who may be new to the genre.

My favorite aspect of this story: the humor!!
I was laughing out loud from the very beginning and never let up. The characters are so witty and fun. Very well done by Hernandez.

Another piece of this I really appreciated was the presence of such strong adult characters. I feel like often in YA or Middle Grade stories, the adults are either absent or not very nice people. All of the adults in this were really great, supportive influences in the kid’s lives and that was nice to see for a change. I think it sets a good example, not just for young readers, but for adults reading this as well.

This being said, even though this is a Middle Grade book and I am far from that, this has been one of my most enjoyable reads of the year. Keep in mind people,
there is no age limit on fun!
Everyone needs to read this. Go ahead, now…

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group and Rick Riordan Presents, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and was truly impressed with this one!

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Review: Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Daughter of Moloka'i (Moloka'i, #2)Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One moment while I put the pieces of my heart back together…

Daughter of Moloka’i is a follow-up novel to Brennert’s 2004 Book Club sensation, Moloka’i. This is a sequel I never knew I needed, until I did.
After reading it, I cannot imagine not knowing the conclusion to Rachel’s story.

This book.
I have never cried so much while reading a book.
Ever.

It never let up. That may sound like a negative, but it was cathartic, man.

This story follows, Ruth, the girl that Rachel was forced to give up for adoption just hours after she was born. We start with Ruth’s life in a Home For Girls and follow her all the way through into her adulthood. Moving from Hawaii to California with her adoptive Japanese family, Ruth, lives through some challenging times, including her family’s incarceration in a Japanese Interment Camp following the events at Pearl Harbor.

As with other disgraceful pieces of history, this type of atrocious event is not one you find often in modern fiction. I knew these interment camps existed but reading about it from Ruth’s perspective was heart-wrenching. To consider the types of injustices that were suffered upon so many innocent people, it was hard. I applaud Brennert for his research efforts which were evident.

I was asked a while back if you had to read the first book in order to read this one. While I believe that you can read this as a stand-alone, your reading experience can only be enhanced by reading Moloka’i first. Add to this the fact that Moloka’i stands strong as one of the most beautiful books I have ever read, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

If you like sweeping historical fiction that explores what it means to live and the strength of family, both blood and found, this is a duology you do not want to miss. While it broke my heart a million times, I am grateful to have read it.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Also, thank you to Alan Brennert for writing such a remarkable story. I will be thinking about Rachel and Ruth for years to come.

Original:

I wanted this ARC sooooo much!

This is the companion novel to Alan Brennert’s 2004 novel, Moloka’i which follows Rachel Kalama, a young Hawaiian girl who is separated from her family and sent to live in a leprosy colony.

This novel follows Rachel’s daughter, Ruth, who as a baby was taken from her care.

Mokoka’i is one of the most beautiful and moving historical fiction novels I have EVER read and I am absolutely beside myself that we are getting a second book in this ‘world’. If it is anything like this first one, I am in for a very special treat! Yayeeeeeeee!!!!

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Review: The Everlasting Rose (The Belles #2) by Dhonielle Clayton

The Everlasting Rose (The Belles, #2)The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5 stars rounded up**

We can’t expect one person — or even two — to take the entire burden of resisting on their shoulders. We all have to stand up and say no.


Attention:
If you have not read The Belles this review may provide little tid-bits that could possibly spoil you for some of the events in that book. Proceed with caution.

The evil Princess Sophia is set to rise to the throne. She claims her sister, Charlotte, is dead. She has sinister plans in mind for all the Belles and the future of beauty work throughout Orleans.

Camellia, the once favorite, is on the run. Forced to flee the kingdom, she now finds herself on the outside looking in. Pairing up with some old favorites from Book 1, including handsome savior, Remy, Camellia begins to set her sights on taking Sophia down. The task is made more difficult however since Sophia wants her found, making her the ‘most wanted’ person in all the land.

Discovering an underground movement of rebels also planning to revolutionize the kingdom, Camellia finds a place were she feels she can be of good use. But can she trust them?

This book picks up directly where Book 1 leaves off. There is a lot more action in the plot as the world has previously been built for you, we spend less time on those details. However, although there is more action, I still felt the pacing was a bit off for me.

There were times when I was really enjoying it, speeding along, and other times where I had to force myself to pick it up. This being said, Clayton’s writing feels lovely to me. Each word she chooses seems to add beauty to the text but at the same time, things can become very one dimensional.

I liked the scifi bits that were sprinkled through here. The way the Belles are ‘grown’ and Sophia’s plans for them seemed something more out of a dystopian novel than a fantasy. I did enjoy those elements and personally, I wish there had been a bit more of them.

That may seem odd but I couldn’t help but wish those ideas would have been expanded upon more. The origin of the Belles. We heard the mythological tale of where they came from but how much of that was true?

I did also enjoy the commentary about standing up to old-fashioned systems that need to be changed. Systems that take advantage of, literally USE, some individuals for the sheer pleasure of the better off within the society. This was an interesting examination of the concept of beauty, as well, and the negative effects of a strong societal emphasis on beauty.

The Everlasting Rose leaves off in a very interesting place. Is there going to be another book? I would definitely be interested in continuing on in this world. The events that take place at the end of this leaves a lot to be explored. I am crossing my fingers for a Book 3!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy to read and review. As always, I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to hearing other reader’s thoughts on this one!

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Review: For Better And Worst by Margot Hunt

For Better and WorseFor Better and Worse by Margot Hunt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

What would you do if someone hurt your child?

Unfortunately for Will and Natalie Clarke, they find out after their son, Charlie, makes a horrifying admission to them in this adult revenge thriller.

Alternating perspectives between Nat and Will, we follow them on a dangerous road to vengeance. Natalie, a criminal defense attorney, and Will, a civil attorney, met in law school. In fact, on their very first date they discuss how they have all the information necessary to get away with murder.

But talking about murder versus the act of murder are two extraordinarily different animals.

Full of domestic strife, Nat and Will eventually learn to work together and to reassess what is important in their marriage and their life. They are both highly unlikable characters, in my opinion. Nat is an demanding and overly organized twat while Will is an adulterer and a whiner.

I personally never felt like I really connected to the story and the end felt too rushed and too convenient. It explored some interesting topics, which is why I rounded up to three stars, but overall nothing really blew me away here, or even really kept me interested.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Harlequin – MIRA, for the advanced copy to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity to provide my honest opinion on the books I am lucky enough to read. Although this book didn’t work real well for me, I am sure there are many people out there who will enjoy it a lot!

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