Review: The Clinic by Cate Quinn

The ClinicThe Clinic by Cate Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Cate Quinn’s recent Thriller, The Clinic, the Reader is transported to the Pacific Northwest coast, where a remote Addictions Treatment Center caters to the rich and famous.

One of the perspectives we follow is Meg, whose estranged sister, Haley, a famous actress, has been receiving in-patient care there. When Meg hears the news that her sister has overdosed while in treatment, and rumors swirl it was possibly suicide, Meg doesn’t believe it.

As in, she really thinks there is no way in heck her sister would have overdosed, let alone on purpose. Meg suspects foul play and decides to go undercover at the Clinic to try to figure out what really happened to Haley.

We also follow a woman employed at the Clinic, Cara. She’s relatively new and as she begins to settle in and get to know everyone around her, she too suspects something may be off.

As the narrative shifts back and forth, it offers the Reader an inside glimpse into the Clinic from both a worker’s and a patient’s perspective. It’s through that dual view that the truth is able to come to light.

Y’all, this is a very basic way of summing up all that is going on in this story, but I don’t want to risk giving anything else away. It’s best to go into this knowing as little as possible.

I enjoyed the set-up of this one a lot, as well as the setting. It hooked me from the very start. I felt like the opening scene really set the stage for all that was about to play out.

I really loved Meg as a main character. Her perspective just fit my tastes so well. She’s tough, smart and no-nonsense, but also flawed and struggling with a lot of things in her life; including her own addiction to painkillers and alcohol.

I liked learning about her, the events in her past that had propelled her to her current state. I felt like Quinn did an incredible job of bringing Meg to life, breathing humanity into her and making her actions and motivations understandable. Honestly, I became very attached to her.

That’s unsurprising though, as I love flawed characters. If characters are too perfect, I don’t like ’em. No one is perfect, why would I want my fictional characters to be?

I was excited to go undercover with Meg and investigate the Clinic. It seemed shady as all get out from the start and I liked meeting all the various players within that setting.

It also felt very claustrophobic; like once Meg was in there, it felt like there was seriously no turning back. The fact that she was also grappling with her own addictions issues, and that her mind wasn’t in top form through that, added to the sense of being trapped and desperate.

I feel like Quinn really succeeded in that regard.

I wasn’t as sold on the other perspective, Cara, but I do understand and appreciate why it was necessary for the overall story. For things to ultimately play out the way they did, both women were needed.

This definitely went in an unexpected direction for me and I thought it was so much fun. It gets pretty wild and I loved being with Meg as she tried to navigate through all the chaos. Some of her choices, oh baby, were they intense.

I would definitely recommend this to Readers who enjoy tense, suspenseful Thrillers with flawed MCs and questionable organizations. This had a lot of action and a full cast of unlikable side characters as well. It’s engaging and a bit OTT. Overall, a great read!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I cannot wait to read more from Cate Quinn!!!

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Review: First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston

First Lie WinsFirst Lie Wins by Ashley Elston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ashley Elston is a beloved author of YA-Mystery/Thriller and Contemporary stories. She’s one of my favorites actually.

I’ve picked up all of her releases since I first discovered her top-notch writing on full display in This Is Our Story, published in 2016.

That one kept me guessing until the very end. I loved the pace of it and the investigatory elements woven throughout. I was stoked to have a new author to swoon over.

With First Lie Wins, Elston delivers us her first work in the Adult space. I’m happy to report, she’s entering the fairly-saturated Thriller market with a banger.

This story was completely engrossing and intriguing, with well-fleshed out characters. It grabbed a hold of my from the very beginning and never let up.

Normally, I would summarize a bit of the plot, but I don’t want to here. I want you to go in knowing little to nothing about this story. That’s the best way to experience it, IMO.

I’m not sure that I ever read the synopsis. Elston’s name on the cover was enough.

This story does feature action, high-stakes and shady underground networks. I would say it is on trend with such recent releases as Zero Days and Before She Finds Me.

If you enjoyed either of those two books, you should absolutely pick this one up. I would also recommend this to anyone who enjoys a long-game; IYKYK.

Elston’s writing is so fluid and engaging, it’s clear she would be successful in whatever genre she chooses to write in. Personally though, I am hoping for a lot more in this space. This was fascinating and well-structured.

An exciting Adult Thriller.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Pamela Dorman Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

This was a great way to kick off my 2024-reading journey!

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Review: Amari and the Great Game (Supernatural Investigations #2) by B.B. Alston

Amari and the Great Game (Supernatural Investigations, #2)Amari and the Great Game by B.B. Alston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amari and the Great Game is the 2nd-book in B.B. Alston’s Middle Grade Fantasy series, Supernatural Investigations.

The 1st-book in the series, Amari and the Night Brothers, completely stole my heart when I read it in 2021. It was one of those spectacular cases where the story meets the hype. It was just as great as I had anticipated.

It was one of the most engaging Middle Grade stories I had read in a while and I was excited for more!

Amari and the Great Game released in August of 2022 and because I had listened to, and enjoyed, the audiobook for the 1st-book, I wanted to continue with that format moving forward with the series.

Y’all, the library loan wait was real. She was long.

It finally came through at a time when I could utilize it; my annual Thanksgiving solo-road trip. Perfection.

The well-narrated audio was a great way to pass the hours, and the miles. I was swept up again into this world and loved the new aspects and feel that Alston delivered.

This story follows Amari after the tumultuous events of the 1st-book. Her life has completely changed and she finds all sorts of new responsibilities and worries on her plate.

We deal a lot in this one with magicians and the sort of negative associations many in the Bureau have of them. We also get treated to the Great Game, a magical competition, that puts all competitors at risk.

I will say, for me, this did have a different feel than the first book. I think mainly because of the nature of the story. Amari has grown up so much since the 1st-book and she’s now a fairly confident and astute young practitioner, who knows how to fight the good fight. It’s bittersweet.

In the 1st-book, her character was more the kind that you want to shelter and protect. She was like a baby bird, who has now grown so much, she’s ready to leave the nest.

Because of that, I don’t think I was able to form the same emotional attachment to the story. Hence the 4-star rating here, versus the glowing 5-stars of that 1st-book.

Also, middle book syndrome being what it is, this did feel like we were building a lot towards something. With this being said, I am really looking forward to the 3rd-book, which I expect to be absolutely epic.

Regardless of my slight, and I do mean very slight, diminished enjoyment, this is still hands-down one of the best Middle Grade Fantasy series on the market currently. If you haven’t started it yet, and love this genre, you need to.

Alston knows how to bring the action and the world-building is so well done. This is sure to have you at the edge of your seat, cheering for the heroes and wishing you were there alongside them.

I can’t wait to see where Amari’s story goes from here. She’s an absolute forced to be reckoned with and I know at the end of the day, she’s going to make me, and her family, proud!

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Review: The Gilded Ones (Deathless #1) by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones (Deathless, #1)The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**


The Gilded Ones follows 16-year old, Deka, a girl who has never felt like she belonged in her Northern community. She looks different than everyone else, due to her Mother’s Southern ancestry, but it’s more than that.

Deka also has elevated intuition that sets her apart. On the day of the blood ceremony, she is filled with fear and dread. Will her blood run red like it is supposed to?

If her blood runs red, she will finally be an accepted part of her community. If not, the end result could be deadly.

Unfortunately, luck is not on her side. Deka’s blood runs gold, the color of impurity and everyone sees. There is no hiding now. Subjected to torturous consequences after the ceremony, Deka feels helpless and more alone than ever.

At the height of her despair, a mysterious woman offers her the opportunity to change her life; to join an army of girls with gold blood, just like her.

She will be trained and ultimately will fight for the emperor with this group, the alaki. It’s an enticing offer and honestly, she has no choice. It’s not like she has other offers coming in. It’s this, or continued pain and torture…

Traveling to the walled city, Deka’s eyes are opened to a whole new world. There’s a lot to learn, but Deka feels up to the task. She’s encouraged by having others around her who may be considered her equals.

She begins to make friends and to understand more about her powers and history. As Deka grows in strength and confidence, the danger she faces grows as well, but not all is as it appears and Deka is determined to get to the truth.

I purchased this book when it was released and then never picked it up. I’m so glad that I finally took the time to read it. It is an incredible YA Fantasy story.

The reason I didn’t pick it up initially is because I was intimidated. It sounded complex and I was concerned that I wouldn’t understand the world, or magic system.

Now having experienced Forna’s skilled writing, those thoughts seem silly. I loved this world and it is complex, not going to lie about that, but it unfolds on the page in a stunning and accessible manner.

Deka is a character that you can easily empathize with from the start. The emotions she is feeling as she enters her blood-letting ceremony, it was so easy to feel that and subsequently, to feel for her. What she goes through in the aftermath of that ceremony, my word.

Forna does not pull punches. This story is violent and unapologetically-so, which I respect. Deka goes through so much and it really shapes her character, her strength and determination are hard-earned.

I loved how quickly the events in this book kick off. There’s not a ton of build-up, you’re dropped into Deka’s life and it’s off to the races from there.

The world is harsh, but so intriguing. Watching Deka and other strong women navigate the patriarchy was impressive. The political aspects of this were quite interesting as well. It’s more than magic and action, there’s plotting and planning; something I tend to enjoy.

The highlight of this story for me though was the relationships that Deka was able to develop. Her friend, Britta, is a fantastic character. She’s the perfect companion for Deka. Their love and support of one another was so pure.

There are many other things I loved about this, I could literally go on for paragraphs and paragraphs, but I won’t. I will say though, that Deathshrieks and White Hands are two of the most interesting things/characters that I have read about this year. Fascinating.

This story felt dangerous, intense and high-stakes, while also being emotional and gut-wrenching in its unflinching look at violence and the horrors of war/conflict zones. Two thumbs way up.

In summation, LOL, this book is BADASS!! I am so excited to continue on with the series. I am hoping to pick up the sequel next month!

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Review: Five Survive by Holly Jackson

Five SurviveFive Survive by Holly Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Five Survive is the latest release from beloved author, Holly Jackson, well known for her hugely-successful A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series.

While Five Survive has a completely different feel than AGGG, it still showcases Jackson’s fluid and engaging writing style. This story is a YA-Action Thriller that takes place over the course of a single night.

It’s Spring Break and 18-year old, Red, and her five friends, Maddy, Oliver, Reyna, Arthur and Simon, are traveling from Pennsylvania to the Gulf Coast of Florida in an RV.

You can tell from the start that Red is recovering from a trauma that has happened in her life. Since she can’t afford to fly anywhere for break, her best friend, Maddy, actually suggests the RV trip. Good-naturedly, everyone else agrees.

It will be fun. It’ll be a real adventure.

And you know, it does start out that way. People are in good spirits. They’re excited for the trip to get underway, but then they get lost.

It sucks getting lost in a 31-foot vehicle. It’s not always easy to navigate smaller roads, let alone turn around. When your tires are shot out, it gets especially challenging.

That’s right. There’s a sniper out there lurking in the dark and they have their sights set on our six friends, who are now trapped in their disabled vehicle. There’s no cell service. They’re far from help. What can they do?

Once they begin communicating with the individual holding them hostage, it becomes clear, this person knows them. How did they end up here? Was this entire thing planned? This can’t be a coincidence.

Things become chaotic. The mood is panic, as you would expect. The sniper claims one of them has a secret that can save them all, but who!?

As the tension climbs, the people inside the RV begin turning on each other. Will they all be able to make it out of this alive, or will only five survive?

I liked this one. I really had no expectations going in, Action stories can be hit or miss for me. I personally felt this was a compelling, though very-OTT, Action Thriller.

I seem to be stumbling across quite a few of these lately and this one was pretty fun in comparison to some others. At times I was rolling my eyes, but at other times I was absolutely glued to the pages.

The audiobook was super solid. It kept me going, wanting to know the answers. There were a lot of reveals I wasn’t expecting and some super unlikable characters, which are always fun for me.

Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know how long this one will reside in my brain, but it was a good time. A solid weekend read. Super quick, highly improbable circumstances, but engaging nonetheless.

I definitely recommend this to YA Readers who enjoy tense, claustrophobic Action Thrillers. I will certainly continue to pick up anything Holly Jackson writes!

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Review: What Have We Done by Alex Finlay

What Have We DoneWhat Have We Done by Alex Finlay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twenty-five years ago, when Ben, Art, Jenna, Donny and Nico, were kids, they all lived together in a group home called Savior House. As is sometimes the case, their time there was fraught with abuse and neglect.

Unsurprisingly, through the hardship, they bonded. They were best friends. Their bond took on an even more ominous tone, however, after a particularly traumatic incident occurred in which they all played a part.

In spite of their early traumas, they all grew up to lead fairly successful lives. Forging their own paths, in a variety of different fields, far away from one another.

As our story begins, these kids are now adults. We follow Jenna, Donny and Nico as crazy things start happening to them. Someone is trying to take them out, but why? Could this be linked to their shared past?

We follow them as they start to reconnect and put together what is happening to them, all while on the run, trying to stay two steps ahead from their would-be killers.

In addition to the current action, we also get a past timeline that reveals a lot of the truth behind their time at Savior House, and the event that would ultimately lead to the pickle they find themselves in today.

From the beginning, I was fascinated by this group of characters. Each of them felt unique and compelling. I particularly enjoyed Jenna’s and Donny’s perspectives. They really got this story off on the right foot for me.

I totally understand that this might not work for everyone, but it was so different from other Thrillers I’ve read lately, it honestly felt like a breath of fresh air.

Admittedly, I’m a huge fan of the trope that is like a group of individuals who grew up together, who had something happen many years ago, who reunite as adults to investigate, or put to bed some sort of issue that has plagued them since they were kids.

So, out of the box, this was most likely going to work for me. I just love that vibe. It was giving me It, or even Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi, except for instead of supernatural forces we’re tackling, we have a full-fledged Action Thriller.

Is this OTT? Absolutely, it is, but I didn’t mind at all. I felt like the characters and the backstory were so well done that the OTT-narrative didn’t make me flinch for even a moment.

I listened to the audiobook and would recommend that format. The narration was fabulous and kept me 100%-focused the whole way through.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes action-packed Thrillers. If you enjoyed things like Adrian McKinty’s, The Island, or Falling by T.J. Newman, you should absolutely check this one out.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I was really looking forward to this and it didn’t disappoint.

I feel like all of Finlay’s books have been so different. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he serves us next!

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Review: The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

The Writing RetreatThe Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Picture it: you’re an aspiring writer, you’re maybe down on your luck, you’re stuck in a dead end job and then you get offered the opportunity of a lifetime.

Your favorite author, we’re talking a person whose words you have read since childhood, who has had a lasting impact on your life…

…oh, sorry. I got too much into my own head there for a moment. Anyway, this author, a ground-breaking author of feminist horror, is hosting a writing retreat for five up-and-coming female authors.

Thousands have applied. Few are chosen. You are chosen. Sure, it’s due to a technicality, but you’ll take it!

This is amazing. You get to travel to her mansion in a remote location and do nothing but write for an entire month. It’s the chance to finish a novel and be published.

Rein in your expectations though, this is a competition and every other writer there wants it as much as you do. It’s going to be a cut-throat endeavor.

Do you have what it takes to survive The Writing Retreat?

Y’all, The Writing Retreat was a journey for me and not necessarily a great one. Starting out I was intrigued by the set-up. I liked how quickly Bartz got us to the retreat, which is the focus of the story after all.

I liked meeting all of the women involved, including the infamous author, Roza Vallo. The setting is lovely. I definitely could picture it and felt the isolation and claustrophobic, creepy feel in my gut.

It’s fairly clear from the start that not all is going to go as expected for these women. This isn’t a casual, write when we feel like it, sort of place. Roza is intense as heck and has certain expectations of the women she has extended this opportunity to.

I liked how the author built the tension. I was suspicious of everyone. There were so many different occurrences that quite literally got under my skin, however, over time I began to fall out of love with all that was happening here.

I expected the interpersonal drama, which will always happen with a group of unrelated women living together under one roof, and frankly, I was living for that. The topics explored definitely went in directions I wasn’t expecting. This got darker than I anticipated, but I do love dark fiction.

I guess where I started to disconnect from the novel was jarring plot twist after plot twist after plot twist. Each one crazier and more OTT than the last. Unfortunately, each consecutive twist brought it farther and farther away from the realm of likability for me.

Let it be known, and if you’ve followed my reviews for any amount of time you know, I am generally a fan of OTT. This toed the line of, dare I say, ridiculous though for me.

I applaud the author for taking risks, that takes a lot of daring. I enjoyed the writing style very much, as well as the initial set-up, atmosphere and character work, but the plot just wasn’t for me

With this being said, my personal opinion should not keep you from picking this up. There are a ton of rave reviews and you could be one of them. If the synopsis sounds intriguing to you, absolutely give it a go.

Further, I really did enjoy the writing style and construction of this story. I will definitely be picking up Bartz’s next novel. I am sure it will be equally as surprising and creative.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I definitely recommend this one to fans of claustrophobic feeling, OTT-Thrillers!

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Review: A Ruinous Fate (Heartless Fates #1) by Kaylie Smith

A Ruinous Fate (Heartless Fates, #1)A Ruinous Fate by Kaylie Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me choose my own fate. Or ruin myself trying…

Calla Rosewood is a young witch essentially trying to outrun her fate. Due to a dangerous curse, Calla left her coven 4-years ago and has been living a life of secrecy with her best friends, Hannah and Delphine, ever since.

It’s a complicated history, but in addition to her curse Calla has marks on her skin that display her past rolls of the Witch’s Dice. These marks indicate Calla is very close to fulfilling the legend of becoming the last Blood Warrior.

After a horrendous night where she is betrayed by her ex, Ezra, Calla finds herself one-step closer to fulfilling her fate. Then she meets someone who offers her the chance to erase her previous rolls for good.

Of course she’s suspicious. She thought she was the only one with rolls this bad, but according to this guy, he has the same rolls. He’s heard of a spell that can be performed by the notorious Witch Eater that can erase their marks and clear the slate.

Gideon, the man with the enticing offer, needs Calla’s help gathering the ingredients needed to perform the spell.

He asks her to enter the deadly Neverending Forest with him on the mission. This is where the Witch Eater lives and unfortunately the only way they can complete their task.

We’ve got ourselves a quest, one of my all-time favorite Fantasy tropes. All aboard!!

Joining strong and sexy, Gideon and Calla, on their quest will be Calla’s charming ex-Ezra, as well as Hannah and Delphine. They can’t let Calla risk her life alone. They really are good friends.

The group enters the Neverending Forest and quickly realize this is not to be a simple journey. Nothing in the forest is as it appears, with the forest constantly changing and rearranging.

Luckily, Delphine, a siren, has magic that allows her to see past some of the forest’s trickery, but will it be enough to get them through to the end of their mission successfully?

I’m probably doing a horrendous job summarizing this complicated plot, but hopefully you get the general idea. For me, this story got progressively stronger as it went along.

Initially, you are thrown into this world and I was definitely floundering. There’s not a lot of explanation as far as the world goes. You’re just sort of dropped into it in a way that, honestly, felt jarring.

Eventually though, it does settle down and I ended up becoming extremely invested in these characters, their journey and the ultimate outcome.

I loved the darkly-magical forest atmosphere. It was the perfect backdrop for our protagonist’s quest. It gave a certain Alice in Wonderland feel with danger at every turn.

I liked learning about Calla and her friends, although I’m still not sure I grasp all of the nuance behind the magic system. There was a lot that I am hoping will be explored further in the second book; including the difference between the kinds of witches.

There is romance, including a tense love triangle. I liked the triangle, but I’m that way. I know a lot of people aren’t into it, so I will toss the caution flag here. In my opinion, this one had great drama. It was scandalous and I was here for it.

Additionally, there was a ton of action and as it got closer to the conclusion, I was definitely at the edge of my seat. I cannot believe how this left off. There were some events I didn’t see coming.

How long until the next book?

Overall, even though the beginning felt a bit chaotic, and I still have some questions about the world and magic system as a whole, I did truly enjoy this.

Seriously, the ending, oh my word, how am I going to wait!? So much went down and it was simultaneously badass, intense and heartbreaking.

I cannot wait to return to this world and group of characters. Yikes, there is so much story left to tell. This was well done by Kaylie Smith. I’m sold.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I ended up having a ton of fun with this and definitely recommend it to fans of angst-filled YA Fantasy.

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Review: The Island by Adrian McKinty

The IslandThe Island by Adrian McKinty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

The Island follows a newly-formed family as they go on their first big vacation together.

When Tom Baxter, a doctor, announces that he needs to travel to Australia for a work event, his new wife Heather suggests the whole family go as a way to bond and spend some quality time together.

Tom, a widower, married the much younger Heather after meeting her at a yoga studio. Needless to say, his two children, 12-year old Owen and 14-year old Olivia, are less than enthused about this new arrangement.

For the most part, the kids are downright hostile towards Heather. Regardless, Heather loves Tom and she’s willing to dig in to make this work; putting up with the children’s petty behavior all the while.

Unsurprisingly, their vacation isn’t a magic pill that suddenly transforms them into a happy family. It’s actually pretty miserable for all involved.

The kids want to see wildlife and are loudly bummed that they aren’t getting that opportunity. Thus, when a man they meet offers them a chance to explore a mostly uninhabited island full of the wildlife they’ve been looking for, Heather convinces Tom it’s a great idea.

I mean, seriously, what could go wrong?

A lot. We all know this. A lot can go wrong.

Through an exceedingly-excruciating list of bad choices and uncomfortable familial tension, the family has a bit of an accident. Ultimately ending with them having to make a terrible choice.

Either way you cut it, they’re screwed. These events leave Heather and Tom separated and Heather simply fighting to get her and the kids off the island alive.

Hold onto your butts, because this story gets violent, grimy, dehydrating and over-the-top. It’s quite fun.

The plot is interesting enough to keep you engaged the whole way through. There’s no time wasted. It’s definitely channeling Australian Horror movie vibes. In fact, I thought of Wolf Creek a lot and it was even mentioned in the story!

I did enjoy the main character, Heather. She was a fighter and clearly, underestimated by many. She never gave up and I can get behind that.

Initially, the characters, their dynamics and interactions turned me off completely. I found it more annoying than anything else, but I never really need to like characters in order to enjoy a story.

This one is action-packed and frankly, that’s what I was here for, the action.

The further I got into this story, the more I was able to see the positive characteristics of Heather. Even the kids started to come around for me.

Going through what they end up going through, it’s hard not to feel at least some sympathy for them. I think McKinty did provide a solid enough foundation for the characters that you are at least able to understand their choices and motivations.

I’ve ended up thinking about this book a lot more than I anticipated after I finished it. I thought it would go in my earholes and quickly out of my brain, but it hasn’t. This one has really stayed with me.

Apparently, The Island packed even more of a punch than I realized. This would make a fantastic movie, which is exactly what I thought after finishing McKinty’s The Chain.

He has easily digestible ideas that I think would translate well to the big screen. Here’s hoping.

I’m looking forward to reading more from this author in the future. I have no idea what it will be, but I have no doubt that it will be an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride!

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Review: Tristan Strong Keeps Punching (Tristan Strong #3) by Kwame Mbalia

Tristan Strong Keeps Punching (Tristan Strong #3)Tristan Strong Keeps Punching by Kwame Mbalia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Tristan Strong Keeps Punching is the third and final book in Kwame Mbalia’s courageous Middle Grade Adventure series.

This was my most anticipated Middle Grade novel of 2021 and unsurprisingly, Mbalia DID NOT DISAPPOINT!

In this installment, which I won’t get too far into because it is the third book in the series, we see all of our old favorite characters return, including the absolute star, Gum Baby.

Unfortunately for Tristan and friends, however, we also see the return of one of the most heinous villains to ever grace the pages of a Middle Grade novel, King Cotton.

Starting at a family reunion, heading to New Orleans, then up the mighty Mississippi all the way to Tristan’s hometown of Chicago, this story is never want for action!

In addition to great action, these books contain enormous amounts of heart and humor. Mbalia doesn’t shy away from exploring important societal issues as well, making this a great book for parents to discuss with their children.

Looking back at the series as a whole, I am so impressed with Tristan’s growth as a character. He seemed to have a lot more introspective moments in this finale and I think those moments will be highly relatable to a lot of young Readers.

Mbalia’s ability to blend the serious moments with laugh out loud humor is really unmatched. If you want a action-packed series that will make you laugh, make you bite your nails in anticipation and make you think, look no further, Tristan Strong is where it’s at.

While I am really sad this trilogy had to come to an end, I am so happy with how it turned out. The Epilogue filled my heart to bursting.

I highly recommend this series to Readers of all ages. It’s a ton of fun, but more than that, it provides a necessary voice and an equally important hero for our time!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Books and Rick Riordan Presents, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I am a huge fan of this series and will carry it in my heart for a long time to come!!

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