Tag: family

Book Review:   Kagen the Damned, by Jonathan Maberry

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:    Kagen the Damned
Author:    Jonathan Maberry
Genre:    Fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Sworn by Oath

Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, charged with protection the royal children of the Silver Empire. But one night, Kagen is drugged and the entire imperial family is killed, leaving the empire in ruins.

Abandoned by the Gods

Haunted and broken, Kagen is abandoned by his gods and damned forever. He becomes a wanderer, trying to take down as many of this enemies as possible while plotting to assassinate the usurper–the deadly Witch-king of Hakkia. While all around him magic–long banished from the world—returns in strange and terrifying ways.

Fueled by Rage

To find the royal children and exact his vengeance, Kagen must venture into strange lands, battle bizarre and terrifying creatures, and gather allies for a suicide mission into the heart of the Witch-king’s empire.

Kings and gods will fear him.

This book took me a long time to read. Like, two entire weeks. The different cultures were so vivid and realistic, and I very much enjoyed that part of the story. The first third or so seemed to drag on a bit, although I liked Kagen enough to keep reading. I liked Tuke and his colorful language the most, though. Kagen spent a solid amount of time drinking himself into oblivion and feeling sorry for himself, so he kind of got on my nerves at times. I’d definitely keep reading this series though, just to find out how it all plays out.

Jonathan Maberry is a bestselling author. Kaen the Damned is his newest novel.

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

Book Review:   The Kew Gardens Girls at War, by Posy Lovell

Image belongs to Penguin Group Putnam.

Title:    The Kew Gardens Girls at War
Author:    Posy Lovell
Genre:    Historical fiction
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

When Daisy Turner’s new husband joins the RAF to fight the Battle of Britain, she’s terrified she’s going to lose him. So when her mother Ivy suggests she joins the gardeners at Kew to keep busy, Daisy’s intrigued. After all, Ivy worked at Kew during the last war and made lifelong friends along the way.

Ivy’s friend, Louisa Armitage, is feeling old and useless at her Kent home, wishing she could return to Kew and do her bit for the war effort. Tensions are rising between Louisa and her pacifist husband, as they argue over their nephew Christopher, who’s enlisted. But Louisa’s not ready to hang up her gardening gloves yet, and she’s soon on her way to Kew with an idea that could really make a difference.

Meanwhile Beth Sanderson is furious after her father stops her applying to medical school. Angry and frustrated, she applies to a new wartime role at Kew Gardens, alongside her doctor friend Gus Campbell. But the committee is run by men and Beth is asked to take a job a gardener instead, running a demonstration allotment with new friend Daisy. As the bombs fall on a Blitz-stricken London she finds herself torn between Gus, and her boyfriend Paul. Can Gus and Beth overcome the racism of wartime Britain to be together?

When tragedy hits, the women are forced to come together to support each other through their darkest hours. But can the Kew Gardens Girls survive the horrors of war-torn London this time?

This is a wonderful novel! The first I’d read from this author, but hopefully not the last. I think Beth was my favorite character, but I truly liked all of them. Poor Daisy thought Beth was so much better than her because of her looks, but Daisy lent her own strength to the story. This was a lovely read.

Posy Lovell lives in London. The Kew Gardens Girls at War is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Penguin Group Putnam in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:   In a Garden Burning Gold, by Rory Power

Image belongs to Random House/Ballantine.

Title:    In a Garden Burning Gold
Author:    Rory Power
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating: 4.2 out of 5

Rhea and her twin brother, Lexos, have spent an eternity helping their father rule their small, unstable country, using their control over the seasons, tides, and stars to keep the people in line. For a hundred years, they’ve been each other’s only ally, defending each other and their younger siblings against their father’s increasingly unpredictable anger.

 Now, with an independence movement gaining ground and their father’s rule weakening, the twins must take matters into their own hands to keep their family—and their entire world—from crashing down around them. But other nations are jockeying for power, ready to cross and double cross, and if Rhea and Lexos aren’t careful, they’ll end up facing each other across the battlefield.

This was…I’m not sure how to describe it. It felt very different from anything I’d read before, and the setting and culture were fascinating to me. This family was pretty horrible, for the most part. Their sister was actually nice, but very sheltered, the dad was horrible, their emo-ish brother was a bit much. I didn’t care for either twin initially, but Rhea grew on me as she started to become an actual person instead of some automaton who did everything her father expected. I’m interested to see where the next book takes them.

Rory Power is a bestselling author. In a Garden Burning Gold is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House/Ballantine in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Suite Spot, by Trish Doller

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   The Suite Spot
Author:   Trish Doller
Genre:   Romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Rachel Beck has hit a brick wall. She’s a single mom, still living at home and trying to keep a dying relationship alive. Aside from her daughter, the one bright light in Rachel’s life is her job as the night reservations manager at a luxury hotel in Miami Beach—until the night she is fired for something she didn’t do.

 On impulse, Rachel inquires about a management position at a brewery hotel on an island in Lake Erie called Kelleys Island. When she’s offered the job, Rachel packs up her daughter and makes the cross country move.

 What she finds on Kelleys Island is Mason, a handsome, moody man who knows everything about brewing beer and nothing about running a hotel. Especially one that’s barely more than foundation and studs. It’s not the job Rachel was looking for, but Mason offers her a chance to help build a hotel—and rebuild her own life—from the ground up.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read! It was fun to get to see a bit more about Rachel’s sister from Float Plan (loved that, too!), but Rachel’s story was engrossing. I can’t even imagine having her original job catering to the rich and famous and their every whim, but life on Kelleys Island sounds so much more interesting.

I enjoyed how Rachel recognized her faults and made a concerted effort to change throughout the story, growing in her confidence in herself and making good choices. I loved Mason and his honesty about what he was dealing with, and watching these two get together was just pure fun.

Trish Doller was born in Germany but lives in Florida. The Suite Spot is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:  The Bright Side Running Club, by Josie Lloyd

Image belongs to Alcove Press

Title:   The Bright Side Running Club
Author:   Josie Lloyd
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

When Keira first receives her breast cancer diagnosis, she never expects to end up joining a running group with three women she’s only just met. Totally blind-sided, all she can think about is how she doesn’t want to tell her family or step back from work. Nor does she want to be part of a group of fellow cancer patients. Cancer is not her club.

 And yet it’s running – hot, sweaty, lycra-clad running in the company of brilliant, funny women all going through treatment – that unexpectedly gives Keira the hope she so urgently needs. Because Keira will not be defined by the C-word. And now, with the Bright Side Running Club cheering her on, she is going to reclaim everything: her family, her identity, and her life.

 One step at a time.

 I enjoyed this book so much! I loved Keira as a character, and I loved all the secondary characters as well (except her horrible coworkers). Her journey was both terrible and inspiring as she deals with a terrifying diagnosis and the treatment that isn’t much better. I loved how much she learned about herself and the people in her life, and I’ll admit the book brought me to tears a time or two. I highly recommend!

Josie Lloyd is from Brighton. The Bright Side Running Club is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Alcove Press in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Book Review:  Getting His Game Back, by Gia De Cadenet

Image belongs to Random House/Ballantine.

Title:   Getting His Game Back
Author:   Gia De Cadenet
Genre:   Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Khalil Sarda went through a rough patch last year, but now he’s nearly back to his old self. All he has to do is keep his “stuff” in the past. Real men don’t have depression and go to therapy–or, at least they don’t admit it. He’s ready to focus on his growing chain of barbershops, take care of his beloved Detroit community, and get back to being the ladies’ man his family and friends tease him for being. It’ll be easy . . . until Vanessa throws him completely off his game.

Vanessa Noble is too busy building a multimillion-dollar tech career as a Black woman before age thirty to be distracted by a relationship. Not to mention, she’s been burned before, still dealing with the lingering hurt of a past breakup. Besides, as her friends often remind her, she’ll never find a man who checks all the boxes on her famous List. Yet when she desperately needs a shape-up and happens upon one of Khalil’s barbershops, the Fade, he makes her reconsider everything. Khalil is charming, intelligent, sexy, and definitely seems like he’d treat a woman right . . . but he’s not Black.

 Vanessa may be willing to take a chance on Khalil, but a part of him is frustratingly closed off, just out of her reach. Will old patterns emerge to keep them apart? Or have they both finally found a connection worth throwing away the playbook for?

 I really enjoyed this read! The portrait of depression is sadly accurate (in my experience), and the author did a good job of drawing the reader into what Khalil was experiencing. I enjoyed his romance with Vanessa and how unsure they both were when they met and realized their attraction. The cover makes this look like it’s a romcom, but this story has depth.

Gia De Cadenet is from Florida but lives in France. Getting His Game Back is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House/Ballantine in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Storyteller, by Kathryn Williams

Image belongs to HarperCollins/HarperTeen.

Title:   The Storyteller
Author:   Kathryn Williams
Genre:   Historical fiction, YA, mystery/thriller
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

It’s not every day you discover you might be related to Anastasia…or that the tragic princess actually survived her assassination attempt and has been living as the woman you know as Aunt Anna.

 For Jess Morgan, who is growing tired of living her life to please everyone else, discovering her late aunt’s diaries shows her she’s not the only one struggling to hide who she really is. But was her aunt truly a Romanov princess? Or is this some elaborate hoax?

 With the help of a supremely dorky, but undeniably cute, local college student named Evan, Jess digs into the century-old mystery.

 But soon Jess realizes there’s another, bigger truth waiting to be revealed: Jess Morgan. Because if she’s learned anything from Aunt Anna, it’s that only you can write your own story.

I enjoyed this read! It was sweet and fun and I was completely engrossed in the mystery—and both Jess’s story and Aunt Anna’s kept me intrigued. I liked Jess’s friends…but I couldn’t stand her boyfriend. Evan was a lot more relatable and fun. This makes a good weekend binge-read.

Kathryn Williams lives in Maine. The Storyteller is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of HarperCollins Children’s Books, HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Dangers of an Ordinary Night, by Lynne Reeves

Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

Title:   The Dangers of an Ordinary Night
Author:   Lynne Reeves
Genre:   Mystery/thriller
Rating:  3.2 out of 5

On a chilly fall evening at the prestigious Performing Arts High School of Boston, best friends Tali Carrington and June Danforth go missing after auditioning for a play. They’re last seen in grainy, out-of-focus surveillance footage that shows them walking side-by-side. Two days later in a town south of Boston, Tali is found disoriented and traumatized by the ocean’s edge, while June is pronounced dead at the scene.

 Tali’s mother, Nell, is so bent on protecting her daughter from further emotional harm that she enlists the help of Cynthia Rawlins, a renowned therapist for families. Meanwhile, Detective Fitz Jameson is assigned to the investigation and dives into the lives of high-performing students who may be harboring dark secrets.

 As Nell, Cynthia, and Fitz confront their own contributions to the tragedies and scandals that beleaguer them, their lives turn out to be more deeply intertwined than they’d ever imagined. And they must decide what lengths they’re willing to go to protect the people they love while also saving themselves.

This wasn’t a bad book. However, it felt so distanced from the characters—all the characters—that I really didn’t care about them one way or the other. I felt like everyone was lying and hiding things, and some of the sub-plots—like Cyn and Fitz—seemed completely unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the story for me. On the whole, this just didn’t work for me. It was mainly about the characters, as the writing was solid, but the characters made this almost a chore to read.

(Galley courtesy of Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Three Sisters, by Heather Morris

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   Three Sisters
Author:   Heather Morris
Genre:   Historical fiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

When they are girls, Cibi, Magda and Livia make a promise to their father – that they will stay together, no matter what.

 Years later, at just 15 years old, Livia is ordered to Auschwitz by the Nazis. Cibi, only 19 herself, remembers their promise and follows Livia, determined to protect her sister, or die with her.

 In their hometown in Slovakia, 17-year-old Magda hides, desperate to evade the barbaric Nazi forces. But it is not long before she is captured and condemned to Auschwitz.

 In the horror of the death camp, these three beautiful sisters are reunited. Though traumatised by their experiences, they are together. 

They make another promise: that they will live. Their fight for survival takes them from the hell of Auschwitz, to a death march across war-torn Europe and eventually home to Slovakia, now under iron Communist rule. Determined to begin again, they embark on a voyage of renewal, to the new Jewish homeland, Israel.

This was an incredible read! I haven’t read any of the other books, but that isn’t necessary to enjoy this one. This story. It’s so unbelievable—and it’s true! The strength of these sisters is amazing and inspiring, and I was completely enthralled with what was happening to them. This is a powerful, moving story that showcases strength and determination, love and family.

Heather Morris is from New Zealand. Three Sisters is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:  Sankofa, by Chibundu Onuzo

Image belongs to Catapult.

Title:   Sankofa
Author:   Chibundu Onuzo
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Anna is at a stage of her life when she’s beginning to wonder who she really is. She has separated from her husband, her daughter is all grown up, and her mother—the only parent who raised her—is dead.

 Searching through her mother’s belongings one day, Anna finds clues about the African father she never knew. His student diaries chronicle his involvement in radical politics in 1970s London. Anna discovers that he eventually became the president—some would say dictator—of a small nation in West Africa. And he is still alive . . .

 When Anna decides to track her father down, a journey begins that is disarmingly moving, funny, and fascinating. Like the metaphorical bird that gives the novel its name, Sankofa expresses the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present to address universal questions of race and belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for a family’s hidden roots.

I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Anna has spent most of her life stagnating, so it was good to see her finally take some sort of action. But, Anna still lets life happen to her, going along with a lot of things instead of speaking up or standing up for herself. Her father was kind of awful, a far cry from the man she got to know from his diary.

Chibundu Onuzo is from Nigeria. Sankofa is her new novel.

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