Review: The Furies by Katie Lowe

The FuriesThe Furies by Katie Lowe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

A girl found dead on the grounds of a prestigious, all-girls private school. So, the mystery begins.

As a reader, you do not know the identity of the girl. Fun, right? Then begins out protagonist, Violet, telling of her days at the school and the events leading up to the mysterious death.

You grab your popcorn and settle in for what is sure to be an intense murder mystery and then it’s not.

There was so much about this book that should have worked for me. It was described as being set at a private school in a sleepy, coastal town. YES! Give me that.

I love that type of atmosphere and literally seek it out in books. I live on an island out in the middle of the ocean for goodness sake! My life is a sleepy, coastal town. I never really felt that sense of place though while reading this. The atmosphere just wasn’t there for me. It could have been anywhere.

Violet, the new girl at the school, is odd and unsure and desperate to fit in. When Robin befriends her, she is smitten right away. Robin seems dangerous and way more mature than Violet. Two other girls, Alex and Grace, ultimately make up their group of four. This set-up was very reminiscent of The Craft which also should have worked for me as that is one of my favorite movies, EVER.

Again, it just fell flat for me. The relationships were never intriguing or captivating enough. I didn’t believe it. The girls are in sort of a secret group that is headed up by one of their teachers. She teaches them about the classics and the history of the school itself, which was once the setting for witch trials and executions.

Okay, great. That all sounds interesting as well but the school stuff was just so boring to me. Perhaps if I was a bigger fan of the classics in question, of myths and legends, such as ‘the furies’ I would have been more into that aspect. Sadly, I am just not so fear it went heinously over my head.

Then the girls beginning dabbling in occult practices trying to harness magic for themselves. As expected they push it way too far with dire consequences. This was the one aspect of the book that kept me reading but even this, used in their eyes for revenge, I ended up feeling lost amidst all the details.

I’m not sure if it was the format that put me off or the fact that the writing, although using intelligent topics, words, structure, etc., it just felt so technical. It lacked heart. I am not sure if I am expressing this correctly or not, I just felt the entire story lacked emotion. I never, ever connected with it.

I know a lot of people are going to enjoy this as all the basic elements are in place for a solid story. Just personally, it wasn’t for me.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with an opportunity to read and review this book. I know this is a debut for this author and I would be interested in reading whatever she releases next.

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Review: One By One by D.W. Gillespie

One by OneOne by One by D.W. Gillespie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

When the Easton family moves into a decrepit old house they are divided as to whether it is a good thing. Alice, the youngest, and her father, Frank, are excited to learn the secrets of the old house, while older brother, Dean, and mother, Debra, are less enthused.

Frank insists the fixer-upper is exactly what the family needs. A project to draw them closer together. As they start to settle in, Alice, discovers a child’s drawing under some tattered wallpaper. She calls the rest of the family to look and after the entirety of the drawing is revealed it becomes clear it is a drawing of a family. A family exactly like theirs.

When the family pet in the drawing is mysteriously drawn over with a giant black X and their aloof cat, Baxter, disappears, you are hit with the reality that something is very wrong with this house.

As with any horror story, the Easton family doesn’t initially react to this as you would expect them too. They each suspect that someone in the family has done it as a sort of misguided trick. However when the X appears over Dean, they start to take things a little more seriously.

This story has a nice, eerie intensity running throughout, making it a perfect read for Spooktober. There is a found diary element to this that I also really enjoyed. You learn a bit about the mysterious family that lived in the house prior to the Eastons. As that is filled it, the horrific truth is finally revealed to the reader and it was pretty disturbing!

The Epilogue really tied everything together and I loved that the author chose to include that portion of the story. It was a really satisfying conclusion. This was my first Gillespie book and I definitely look forward to reading more from him in the future.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Flame Tree Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. If you are looking for a quick spine-chiller to round out your October TBR, you should definitely check this one out!

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Review: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

10 Blind Dates10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think I have an new favorite YA Contemporary!!

This is the most adorable, sweetest book about family and self-discovery that I have EVER read.

It’s so true, guys! I loved this with my whole heart and soul.
This book is a blessing, Ashley Elston is a blessing.
I am even having a hard time forming legitimate sentences right now.

This precious story follows Sophie, who on the eve of Christmas break, is looking forward to nothing more than spending some quality time with her boyfriend, Griffin. Her parents are traveling to stay with her older sister, Margot, who is pregnant with her first child and having a slightly complicated pregnancy.

The stated plan is that Sophie will be traveling to her Grandparent’s house to stay with them for the entirety of her holiday.

Secretly, she hopes to sneak back home as much as she can to be with Griffin. Unfortunately, when she overhears Griffin tell one of his friends that he wants a break from Sophie, the only thing broken is her heart.

Later that same night, when her Grandmother, Nonna, finds Sophie crying outside her house, she hatches a scheme to get Sophie’s mind of stupid-ole’ Griffin. Her plan: have family members set poor Sophie up on 10 blind dates to keep her busy each night of her Christmas break.

I know this book sounds like the perfect plot for a romantic comedy and it definitely is. At the same time however, my biggest take away from this was the power of a supportive family. At the heart of this, it is about ties that bind that go way deeper than any high school relationship ever could.

Sophie has a LARGE dramatic Sicilian family and I ABSOLUTELY loved the positive family dynamic. There were Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Mom, Dad and her Sister involved. All rooting for Sophie’s happiness and she was such a good sport about everything that was thrown at her.

The dates were all unique and a little wacky. I looked forward to reading each on as they unfolded. It was such a fun and creative format. Elston’s storytelling is just top-notch, there is no denying that.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I loved this so, so much!

Ashley Elston is an auto-buy author for me and obviously that’s not changing any time soon. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!

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Review: The Fire Keeper (The Storm Runner #2) by J.C. Cervantes

The Fire Keeper (The Storm Runner #2)The Fire Keeper by J.C. Cervantes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Prophecy of Fire was only the beginning.

After the tumultuous events of the first book, The Storm Runner, our young protagonist, Zane Obispo, is living a fairly cushy life on a private island with his closest companions. All should be good from here on out but unfortunately, as life often goes, it’s not.

He discovers that the book he recently wrote, detailing his time with the Mayan Gods, has endangered other Godborns. They are being kidnapped at an alarming rate and being spirited away to the Gods don’t even know where!

Making matters worse, his own father, Hurakan, the Mayan God of wind, storm and fire, is set to be executed for reasons I won’t go into here.

Zane sets out to save them all. A quest is no fun alone however, so he brings along his hellhound, Rosie, a new friend, fellow Godborn, Ren, and an old enemy. As to be expected severe hijinks ensue.

As with the first book, The Fire Keeper keeps up the action-packed adventure we have come to expect from Zane and the crew. I love this group. They are caring, loyal, funny and fearless.

Zane’s Uncle Hondo is one of my favorite characters. I just find his energy so charming but Zane himself is the true hero. He is just the sweetest boy and I am enjoying watching him grow. He has been put through so much but always faces what is in front of him with optimism and spunk!

This is a really great Middle Grade series. I am going to be impatiently waiting for the third book to release in the Fall of 2020. It sounds like we are going to have some sort of training for the Godborns, which y’all know, is one of my all time favorite tropes.

Bring it on!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group and Rick Riordan Presents, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. As always, I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to more from J.C. Cervantes!

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Review: The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

The Lady RogueThe Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Darkly glorious!!!

A bit Stalking Jack the Ripper, mixed with A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, I loved this fast-paced, historical romp with every fiber of my being.

Theo and Huck make a great team and following them on their mystery-filled, rescue mission through the rustic Carpathian Mountains was hella entertaining!

Theodora’s father is a treasure hunter, hired by a mysterious aristocrat to track down the legendary war ring of Vlad the Impaler. Along with his assistant, Huck Gallagher, also Theo’s former beau, he begins his search discovering new clues and following-up on leads.

Poor Theo gets left behind in a hotel, as she usually does, and is more than frustrated with that turn of events. She wants adventure too and is very good at solving puzzles. She just cannot understand why her father wouldn’t want to utilize her talents.

When Huck arrives back at the hotel, without her father, he has no clue as to where he went but he does have his cryptic travel journal. Theo’s mind is put to the test as she tries to decode his writings and figure out where he could be. Did he go willingly or was foul play involved?

I loved so much about this. The mystery, the intrigue, the dark historical connections, the partnership between Theo and Huck, the setting, it was all very up my alley.

I have never read a Jenn Bennett book before but I know this is a new genre for her. I thought she did a fantastic job. Although some of the paranormal things were a little wonky, I was having so much fun with the story, I didn’t even care.

Further, I am not sure if this is slated to be a standalone or a series, but I really, really hope this is not the last we see of this courageous duo!!!

The characters mention at the end of this book a location they may be traveling to next…I’m looking at you, Scotland…and I really NEED that to happen.

Who do I contact about that? Let’s do this, Bennett! I know you have it in you!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon Pulse, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity but extra love when I discover a new favorite!

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Review: The Perfect Son by Lauren North

The Perfect SonThe Perfect Son by Lauren North
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Upon waking in the hospital, Tess Clarke, has one thought on her mind: she must find her son! Something happened on the day of his birthday party. She can’t recall exactly what but it ended with her being stabbed and Jamie being gone.

The format was interesting. We have excerpts of interviews between Tess and her doctor, interviews with two individuals tied to the incident, and the bulk of the story told through flashbacks of the days leading up to the big event.

We discover that Tess had been struggling the past few months with extreme grief. Her husband had recently passed in a terrible accident and she was having a very difficult time with every day life. You come to understand fairly quickly that Tess is an unreliable narrator at best.

A grief counselor, hired by her family, arrives at her cottage one day and begins to aid Tess with her healing. The two quickly form a close bond and before you know it, Shelly, seems more of a friend that a professional service provider.

Tess also has her brother-in-law, Ian, sniffing about, seemingly obsessed with his brother’s estate. He claims that her husband owed him a bunch of money but Tess can find no evidence of that in their finances.

She begins to suspect him of some suspicious activities going on at the house that are really scaring her. What is he after really?

While I did enjoy the format and the pacing was nice and steady, I was completely bummed that I knew the twist to this 35% in. It definitely had an affect on my opinion of this story. The writing was good, just really predictable for me.

It hurts my heart as I was looking forward to this so much!

^^^Literally me upon completion: drinking my whiskey, sadly let down by the whole experience.

This being said, while the overall plot and reveal didn’t work for me, I did see a lot of promise in North’s writing and I would absolutely pick up future works by her. I look forward to it actually!

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

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Review: The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

The Perfect GirlfriendThe Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

DISCLAIMER:

The following thoughts are based solely upon my personal reading experience of this book. If you like, really like, or even love this, I am truly happy for you. This review is in no way a reflection of my opinion of you or your experience.

Okay. With that out of the way, let’s proceed, shall we?

I will try to keep this short. I did not enjoy this at all. By the end I was legit pushing myself to complete it. I did not care to sit in the front row to this woman’s mental delirium any longer.

OVER IT.

The writing didn’t work for me. The format didn’t work for me. I found it to be repetitive and banal. The protagonist is obviously mentally disturbed, I get it.

Is there anything else going on here or are we just beating the dead horse of the fact that Lilly, Elizabeth, Juliet, whatever the f* her name is, is insane?

There was no point. She was obsessed (view spoiler). I am not sure if that was the reveal people are talking about? It seemed so obvious, I cannot imagine that was the reveal but I am unclear as to what else would be?

The most interesting part of this was her work as part of a flight crew for an airline and even that was fairly boring.

I am all for devious plotting, scheming, long-game revenge planning but this…I didn’t get the ultimate goal. It wasn’t even revenge, she wanted to be a part of these people’s lives; she wanted their lives. It was bizarre and yeah, just ultimately, not to my taste at all.

As I always say, there is a reader for every book and this book already has a ton of praise and fans. Sadly, it just was not my cuppa tea!

Thank you, Graydon House Books, for the ARC. I appreciate the opportunity and wish this would have worked for me. It hurts my heart to write negative reviews but I must always call it as I feel it.

On to the next!

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Review: Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Dark Shores (Dark Shores, #1)Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a world divided in two, East and West, where neither side knows the true existence of the other, one people, the Maarin, control the in-between.

The Maarin are a seafaring people who recover lost and stolen goods and trade along the coasts. They are the only people living who not only know the existence of both East and West, they are also the only people who know how to navigate the savage seas between the two.

Living under the mandate of, East must never meet West, all this goes astray when young Teriana, heir to the Maarin people, exposes deeply held secrets to her dear friend, a part of the Celendor Empire, Lydia.

Now higher-ups in the Celendor Empire have conquest on their mind and they will do whatever it takes to discover the route of the Dark Shores. Taking Maarin and her crew prisoner, she is now forced to show them the way or risk all of her people’s lives.

Strong armed by Marcus, Commander of the 37th, a legionnaire for the Celendor Empire, she does the only thing she can do; she shows them the way. Not all is smooth sailing on their voyage however and Teriana and Marcus end up forging an unlikely alliance in order to make it through.

I thought this was such an interesting story. You can definitely feel the ancient Roman inspiration for the Celendor Empire and I love the mystery of the Dark Shores themselves. The relationship between Teriana and Marcus is good, although a little instalovey, not too bad.

In addition to a bit of romance, there is quite a bit of political intrigue in here which I am always down for. There’s nothing better than good ole-fashioned blackmail for political gain to keep a plot progressing!

I had a lot of fun reading this and definitely plan to pick up the next book. This one left off in a great spot with a horrible villain still on the loose. I’m not sure how long this series will end up being but I am seriously hoping for at least three.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Teen, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I had so much fun reading this and really would like to hear more people chatting it up. If you like ocean-related content, Roman-inspired worlds, unlikely alliances, political backstabbing and meddling gods, pick this one up!!!

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Final Review: The Last Hope (The Raging Ones 2) by Krista and Becca Ritchie

The Last Hope (The Raging Ones, #2)The Last Hope by Krista Ritchie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

It’s hard to believe this one is over. There are still so many ways this story could go but I am quite pleased with the ending. It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to characters I enjoy so much.

If you are unaware, The Last Hope is the concluding book in The Raging Ones duology, written by sister-writing duo, Krista and Becca Ritchie. This YA SciFi Romance is one of my most anticipated sequels of the year. The first book, The Raging Ones, was release in August of 2018 and I was so impressed with it! I had never read anything by either one of the Ritchie sisters so wasn’t sure what to expect.

It really kept me engaged the whole way through and the world-building was excellent! The end of had a HUGE reveal and cliffhanger ending. Our young protagonists discovered something that shook their world to its foundations. When I finished that last page my jaw was legit on the floor!!!

How the heck was I going to wait a year before getting my hands on the second book?

Well, lucky for me, I didn’t have to wait a full year. I was blessed to receive an early copy of the second book,┬áThe Last Hope, from the publisher, Wednesday Books. I very hearty thank you to them and guys, guess what!?

I loved this so much! It starts off with our main three literally in a fight for their lives. Rescued by a cast of new characters they board a starship from Earth, where they begin to learn all things Earthling. It is at this time that they are made aware of the fact that the fate of planet Earth is on the line and they are amongst the only people who can do something about it.

Now on a quest against time, with the future of the universe on the line, Franny, Court and Mykal have to push past their limits and fight against all odds until the ultimate finale. As with the first book, this second is highly unique and wonderfully written. It again kept me engaged from start to finish and I seriously did not want it to be over. It hurts my heart.

There were some intense scifi twists at the end that at first had me scratching my head. Were they brilliant or were they there out of convenience? Overall, I don’t really care. The story ended great. Was it perfect? No. The pacing was a little off for me in this one. The middle dragged a wee bit and the end seemed a tad rushed but in its entirety, this is a great story.

This duology will continue to hold a special place in my heart and I recommend it to YA SciFi and Fomance fans. If you weren’t aware, there is quite a bit of romance in these books, mainly between Mykal and Court.

The romance elements were quite well done, in my opinion. Both Krista and Becca are experienced romance writers so that makes perfect sense. This being said, although there is romance, it definitely does not over shade the scifi elements.

At its core this is a scifi story that I feel is accessible to all levels of science-fiction readers. So, whether you are new to the genre, or an old hat like myself, I think everyone can enjoy this!

I hope the authors produce more in this genre as I really think they did an excellent job with this duology. They should be very proud of their efforts. Now that the completed pair is on the shelves, this is the perfect time to head to your local bookseller, or favorite online retailer and pick them both up for a binge session!

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Review: The Wedding Party (The Wedding Date #3) by Jasmine Guillory

The Wedding Party (The Wedding Date, #3)The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Maddie Forest first meets Theo Stephens, she thinks he is an uptight, over-organized, spreadsheet-creating jerk.

When Theo Stephens first meets Maddie Forest, he thinks she is a shallow, image-obsessed prima donna with her head in the clouds and no real ambitions.

After their mutual best friend, Alexa, becomes engaged, she asks them both to be in her wedding party. Initially chagrined that they will have to spend so much time together during the course of the wedding planning and event, they both agree with good grace and vow to get through it.

But as often happens, through their mutual distaste of one another comes a spark that soon grows into a full-blown FLAME!

They know they have to keep their relationship a secret. They cannot give Alexa the satisfaction of knowing they actually like each other and so begins their secret affair.

As you are probably aware, this is the third installment in Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date companion novels. I have read all of the books in this series and this one is actually my favorite.

Although it has a similar structure to the previous novels, I enjoyed Maddie and Theo and their hidden romance the most out of all the plots. I felt I could personally relate more to this story than the others and that kept me invested.

One thing I did notice was this one seemed less steamy than the others so if that is what you are looking for, you may be disappointed. We really focused here a lot on both Maddie and Theo’s careers and self-growth. I enjoyed following along with them as they navigated difficult situations in their lives and grew to depend on one another for support and insight.

I do enjoy this series a lot. I’ll admit that it isn’t perfect but it’s addicting and it keeps me coming back. I will definitely continue to pick them up for as long as Ms. Guillory chooses to write them!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. Now…who do I speak to about an early copy of Royal Holiday???

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