Category: book review

Book Review: The Red Labyrinth, by Meredith Tate

theredlabyrinth
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:  The Red Labyrinth
Author:  Meredith Tate
Genre:  YA, dystopian
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

As one of the unskilled, Zadie Kalver is treated like trash by the skilled. She wishes she had one tiny power—anything—to make people hater her less. Her small desert town lies in the shadow of the labyrinth—a massive maze built to protect the town—filled with death traps and enchantments, and a killer named Dax who snatches those who wander too close.

When Zadie’s best friend disappears and everyone forgets he even existed, she knows something is going on. And the only person who might be able to help her lives at the heart of the maze. Her only hope is an uneasy truce with the murdering Dex, the one person familiar with the labyrinth. They’ll have to avoid all the deadly traps inside—and keep from killing each other—if they are ever to get back the people they’re searching for.

I read this straight through in one sitting. The world, harsh as it was, fascinated me, and Zadie is a character I’d like to hang out with. I can’t imagine the strength it would take to survive what she’s been through, on top of being abused and treated like trash for being unskilled. She starts off a little naïve, but she grows quickly as a character, making this a riveting read.

Meredith Tate has a master’s degree in social work and now lives in Switzerland. The Red Labyrinth is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Flux via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: Montauk, by Nicola Harrison

montauk
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Montauk
Author:  Nicola Harrison
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

In 1938, Beatrice Bordeaux is looking forward to spending some time during the summer trying to repair her marriage with her husband, Harry. Instead, she realizes she’ll be spending the summer at Montauk, a fishing village turned playground for the wealthy where Harry wants her to foster relationships with the wives of wealthy men than can further his business dealings.

She wants to fix their marriage, but Harry is staying in the city—pursing other interests. And women. Beatrice has never felt at home with the other society wives. She was raised simply and has never gotten over the death of her brother. She just wants a baby, but after five years of marriage, it seems like she’s missed her chance at motherhood.

Bea befriends a laundress who works at the hotel and is drawn to her simple life and the community of the island. Then she meets a man who is her husband’s opposite in every way, and connected to her past, and realizes the life she has is not the life she wants.

Bea’s emotions come through so clearly in this novel. Her fears, her grief, her hopes and dreams. I loved her as a character and wanted a happy ending for her so badly. The society she lives in is so foreign it’s almost impossible for me to imagine, and Montauk is vividly realized, as are most of the characters. This was an engrossing read.

Nicola Harrison is from England but moved to California when she was 14. Montauk is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Time After Time, by Lisa Grunwald

time after time
Image belongs to Random House.

Title:  Time After Time
Author:  Lisa Grunwald
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

In the Great Depression, Joe Reynolds’s life revolves around Grand Central Terminal and his brother’s family. Joe lives and breathes Grand Central and his job there with the railroad, but one December morning, he meets Nora Lansing, a Manhattan socialite whose flapper clothing and talk of the Roaring Twenties just don’t make sense. When she vanishes as Joe tries to walk her home, he is intrigued—and determined to find her again.

And he does, on another cold December morning. Nora is an aspiring artist who wants to live her own life, and Joe is fascinated by her. When Nora realizes she’s somehow become trapped in Grand Central and its community, she’s determined to make the best of the life she’s been given. She and Joe create a life there in the terminal, their love making their world feel bigger than it actually is.

Until construction of another city landmark threatens their life, and Joe and Nora must decide to face the future or cling to the life they’ve created.

I have no idea what I was expecting from this book—but reading it was a surprise. I’ve always loved reading about the 20’s, so I loved that, and the idea of an entire civilization in Grand Central Terminal was fascinating. Seeing Joe and Nora grow as the years passed was beautiful—and heartbreaking. A lovely read!

Lisa Grunwald is an author and editor. Time After Time is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: A Pack of Vows and Tears, by Olivia Wildenstein

a pack of vows and tears
Image belongs to the author.

Title:  A Pack of Vows and Tears
Author:  Olivia Wildenstein
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

With Liam as the pack’s new Alpha, Ness thinks things will finally calm down. But August is back in town to pledge his loyalty to the new Alpha, and a mating bond manifests between August and Ness, meaning she finds everyone else unattractive—even Liam, her boyfriend. The bond will take months to fade, but Ness thinks her connection with Liam is strong enough to stand the test of time.

Until her cousin claims she helped him elude his death sentence, and Liam believes him and accuses her. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with the pack, but she can’t leave August behind while their bond is intact. When a new pack shows up in town and threatens her own pack, Ness must decide to leave them to their fate or to help the pack that has always treated her as an outsider.

I enjoyed this second book in the Boulder Wolves series, but some of the developments didn’t entirely surprise me. Liam flipping to become so controlling and accusatory—eh, not really a surprise, considering his background—although one revelation about him did surprise me. I liked August from the start of the first book, so I was happy to see him with a bigger role here. This is a solid read in an enjoyable series.

Olivia Wildenstein is a bestselling author. A Pack of Vows and Tears is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

The Best Books I Read in May (2019)

I read 17 books in May, bringing my total to 84 books read for the year.

My three favorite books I read in May were a paranormal, a historical fiction, and a YA.

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Storm Cursed, by Patricia Briggs. The newest novel in the Mercy Thompson series, which I love. Mercy is in trouble—again—but this time, there are miniature zombie goats to add to the fun.

the book woman

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson. This was an incredible read! I’d never heard anything about the Blue People in Kentucky or the Pack Horse Librarians…I have no idea how I’d never heard of these things, but there you go. Cussy Mary Carter is the last woman of the Blue People, and she’s a Pack Horse Librarian delivering books and news to the isolated people on her route. But some people are against her because of her coloring and she yearns for a normal life.

This was an incredible read!

two like me and you

Two Like Me and You, by Chad Alan Gibbs

Edwin Green’s ex-girlfriend is famous—really famous—and he’s not over her. He wants to get her back, and he knows if he gets famous, too, it will happen. Then he meets Parker Haddaway when they are assigned a history project together, and she introduces him to Garland Lennox, a WWII veteran who is still in love with a girl he met back then, and is determined to find her. So Parker and Edwin sneak Garland out of the nursing home and to France, and that’s where the fun really begins.

This book had me laughing so many times. Edwin’s voice is fantastic as he wrestles with what’s going on in his life and how it measures up to what he’s always known.

What I Read in May (2019)

Books Read in May: 17

Books Read for the Year: 84/175

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

The Next Right Thing, by Emily Freeman (non-fiction). Excellent read!

The Spider King’s Daughter, by Chibundu Onuzo (cultural). Eh. I can’t say I recommend this, although it was an interesting glimpse at a different culture.

The Thing with Feathers, by McCall Hoyle (TBR). I really enjoyed this sweet story of a girl who’s been home-schooled her whole life because of her severe epilepsy. She goes to public school and learns to spread her wings.

Kim, by Rudyard Kipling (classic). It was okay.

Real Love in an Angry World, by Rick Bezet (spiritual). I did enjoy this read.

For Review:

the book woman

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson. This was an incredible read about the last of the Blue People in Kentucky, and the Pack Horse Librarians.

how we disappeared

How We Disappeared, by Jing-Jing Lee. Historical fiction and secrets.

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This is Not a Love Scene, by S.C. Megale. Maeve has muscular dystrophy. All she wants to do is direct, but leading man Cole wouldn’t be bad either. I didn’t find Maeve terribly likable—she’s selfish, childish, and completely self-centered—but seeing how someone with MD lives was intriguing, and I loved that the main character in this was someone struggling with a disease like this.

southern side of paradise

The Southern Side of Paradise, by Kristy Woodson Harvey. I’m note even sure why I finished this. I love Southern fiction, but…I did not like these characters. Justifying your horrible behavior does not make you a good person.

bonavere howl

Bonavere Howl, by Caitlin Galway. I love the New Orleans setting, but…this felt a bit off. Like it wasn’t fully finished.

two like me and you

Two Like Me and You, by Alan Chad Gibbs. Loved this book! The crazy shenanigans and tall tales had me laughing.

the voice in my head

The Voice in My Head, by Dana L. Davis. Indigo’s identical twin sister, Violet, is terminally ill and plans to die by medically-assisted suicide…until Indigo hears a voice that claims to be God and tells her the entire family must hike The Wave in the desert.

smitten by the brit

Smitten by the Brit, by Meloni Johnson. Bonnie’s known her fiance her entire life, but when she discovers something unexpected about him and their engagement ends, she’s at a loss. Until she meets handsome and dashing Theo, a British man straight out of an Austen novel.

denali-in-hiding-cover-for-kindle

Denali in Hiding, by Caitlin Sinead. Denali has always tried to keep her psi abilities hidden, but now she’s able to learn to use them…except she’s forbidden from helping regular humans. When she learns about a bomb threat, will she follow the rules or help, risking life in prison.

A Pack of Vows and Tears, by Olivia Wildenstein. The second book in the Boulder Wolves series. This was a solid read, but the developments didn’t surprise mu much.

Just Because:

Storm Cursed, by Patricia Briggs. Because I love this series. And I loved this book! Zombie miniature goats and a zombie dragon? Wow.

Queen of Air and Darkness, by Cassandra Clare. I was a little apprehensive to read this, considering how the last one ended, but my fears were unfounded. There will clearly be more books set in this world, which makes me happy.

Left Unfinished:

Tears of the Trufflepig, by Fernando A. Flores. I read 10% of this and nothing happened, so I gave up.

Book Review: Denali in Hiding, by Caitlin Sinead

denali-in-hiding-cover-for-kindle
Image belongs to Caitlin Sinead.

Title:  Denali in Hiding
Author:  Caitlin Sinead
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Her whole life, Denali has struggled to keep her abilities a secret. If the American Psi Council found out she was telekinetic, her normal life with her mom and brother would end. When the Council does find out, Denali goes away to Nashquttin, an island where it’s safe for psis to use their power, and where Denali can learn to control hers.

Except the Council doesn’t know she’s also a viewer, and she saw a vision of a mysterious boy surrounded by bomb-making paraphernalia and knows he plans an attack in Washington, D.C. But the punishment for interference in the affairs of regular humans is severe—including a life sentence or death—and Denali doesn’t know what the right choice is. Should she risk everything she has—including the respect of her brooding trainer—to save a bunch of people she doesn’t know?

I enjoyed this read quite a bit. Denali is an excellent character:  she’s a teenager, with all a normal teen’s hopes and angst, but she also has an extra layer of conflict. Should she stop the bomb? Should she mind her own business and stay out of trouble? Tough call. And I feel there’s more going on with the Council than meets the eye. I’m interested in seeing where Denali goes next.

Caitlin Sinead has a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University. Denali in Hiding is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Smitten by the Brit, by Melonie Johnson

 

smitten by the brit
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Smitten by the Brit
Author:  Melonie Johnson
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Bonnie Blythe is an English professor with her life planned out:  her fiancé is about to finish grad school, so now they can start planning their wedding. If he’ll ever settle on a date, that is. So she helps her best friend plan her wedding and tries not to be bitter about her own lack of wedding planning. And she tries not to think about Theo, the handsome, dashing Brit she met last year, who’s straight out of an Austen novel.

Theo knew Bonnie was engaged when he met her, so he kept a polite, respectful distance, even when all he wanted was the fiery redhead. When Bonnie’s engagement ends badly and she takes a teaching position at Cambridge, only an hour away from Theo, he’s happy to be the friend she needs. Theo would like to be more than friends, but family duty—and a secret he’s keeping from Bonnie—make that impossible.

I love the lighthearted and fun voice of this series. Getting Hot with the Scot foreshadowed the attraction between Bonnie and Theo, and I love when series allow you to find out more about characters from previous books. Theo is handsome and charming, and Bonnie deserves better than her wishy-washy fiancé anyway, so this was an enjoyable read.

According to her website, Melonie Johnson is a “Redhead. Writer. Drama Mama.” Smitten by the Brit is the second book in her Sometimes in Love series.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Voice in My Head, by Dana L. Davis

the voice in my head
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN.

Title:  The Voice in My Head
Author:  Dana L. Davis
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Indigo can’t take it anymore. Her twin sister, Violet, is terminally ill and choosing to end her life by medically assisted suicide. Indigo doesn’t want to live without her twin, and she’s sure her family would rather have Violet, everyone’s favorite, than her. Before she can jump from a building, she hears a voice claiming to be God, who says if the entire family takes Violet to hike The Wave in the desert, she will live.

As if hearing voices isn’t enough, Indigo also must convince her mom, who never thought Indigo was good enough, her brother, who’s keeping secrets, and her annoying, bossy, know-it-all older sister. Not to mention the New Age pastor who was going to help Violet pass. She’s not sure she can do this, even with the help of the voice.

This book covers some deep subjects with respect and empathy. Indigo is a vibrant yet troubled character, and her voice shows her mental conflict, as well as her struggles in her family. I found the book flippant about religion, but everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I didn’t like the ending, but it was very fitting for the story.

Dana L. Davis is an actor, a motivational speaker, a screenwriter, and a violist. The Voice in My Head is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin TEEN via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Two Like Me and You, by Chad Alan Gibbs

two like me and you
Image belongs to Borne Back Books.

Title:  Two Like Me and You
Author:  Chad Alan Gibbs
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Edwin Green’s still not over his ex-girlfriend. She’s famous. Like, really famous, everyone-knows-her-name famous. They split up a year ago—on Black Saturday—and Edwin’s been plotting to get her back ever since. His plan:  to get famous, too. That’s not working out too well, so he’s stuck in high school, surrounded by idiots.

Until he ends up paired with mysterious new girl Parker Haddaway on a history project. She introduces him to Garland Lennox, a WWII veteran stuck in a nursing home. But Garland wants Edwin and Parker to sneak him out of the nursing home and to France, where he’s determined to find the love of his life, a girl he met during the war. Soon Edwin finds himself all over the news, but as the media is joined by the French police, he’s not sure being famous is all it’s cracked up to be.

I love the voice in this novel! Edwin grows a lot in this novel and realizes some things about himself—and his life—that he’s never considered before. He starts out as someone who lets life happen to him, but he learns to be an active participant in his own life along the way. He ends up in some hilarious predicaments, thanks to Garland and Parker, but it’s a thrilling, fun ride.

Chad Alan Gibbs lives in Alabama. Two Like Me and You is his first novel.

(Galley courtesy of Borne Back Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)