Tag: reading

Book Review: Once Upon a Bad Boy, by Melonie Johnson

once upon a bad boy
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Once Upon a Bad Boy
Author:  Melonie Johnson
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Sadie Johnson has a reputation as a spoiled rich girl with connections, not talent. She just won a role in a blockbuster movie and can’t wait to prove to the world that she really does have what it takes. Until she sees stunt coordination Bo Ibarra, who broke her heart ten years ago.

Bo is determined to prove himself on this movie, but he’s not prepared for the distraction Sadie proves to be. He wants to put the past behind them and move forward, but when a secret from the past comes to light, he’s not sure it’s even worth the risk.

I’ve really enjoyed the Sometimes in Love series, and this book is no different. It’s great seeing familiar characters from the other books, as well as getting to know background characters from those books now front and center. I love stories with a past, and this read is no exception, as secrets from Sadie and Bo’s past threaten to destroy everything.

Melonie Johnson is the author of the Sometimes in Love series. Once Upon a Bad Boy is her newest novel.

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

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Book Review: A Family of Strangers, by Emilie Richards

 

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Image belongs to MIRA Books/Harlequin.

Title:  A Family of Strangers
Author:  Emilie Richards
Genre:  Family drama
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Ryan Gracey is a true crime podcaster who nearly lost her life after a fatal error in judgment years before. She knows she can’t compete with her perfect older sister, Wendy, so she stopped trying years ago and went after a life that made her happy. And she is happy, despite some regrets, when her sister calls her out of the blue and begs for her help.

She won’t tell Ryan much, just that there’s been a murder and she’s afraid she’ll be wrongfully accused, so Ryan moves back home to care for Wendy’s two daughters—and to try to prove Wendy’s innocence. But the more Ryan digs, the more secrets she uncovers, and soon Ryan realizes everything she’s ever thought about her big sister is a lie.

This was not what I was expecting at all. It’s marketed as women’s fiction, but I’d say it falls more into the murder mystery/crime investigation genre. I was just as surprised as Ryan at some of her discoveries, and this read takes family drama to a whole new level! I found it hard to put the book down.

Emilie Richards lives and writes—across a multitude of genres—in Florida. A Family of Strangers is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Nothing Within, by Andy Giesler

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Image belongs to Humble Quill LLC.

Title:   The Nothing Within
Author:   Andy Giesler
Genre:   Dystopian
Rating:   4 out of 5

In 2161, the world changed. The first chimera appeared, and a year later, twelve billion people were dead. Those that remained called it the Reckoning, and as they struggled to survive in their hostile new world—the World That Is—they became different. More withdrawn. Less tolerant of anyone who was different, anyone who might harbor the Nothing within themselves, bringing danger to all inside the walls that encircle their villages.

Root is the daughter of a Weaver—a village guardian—and her blindness isn’t the only thing that sets her apart. So does her curiosity, her questions about everything around her. For the tradition-bound people she knows, that is her worst offense. Until one day Root hears a voice no one else hears, and soon she’s on a journey to find out the truth about herself, her world, and what happened in the Reckoning that shapes who she is now.

It took me a little bit to get into The Nothing Within. Dystopian fiction set in Amish country? I’ve never even considered the idea, and it kept me hooked. The world here is so unique that it kept my attention, even when I was a bit confused early on. Root is a fascinating character. Her blindness doesn’t stop her, and even gives her more abilities than she’d otherwise have. This is a great read for anyone who just wants to settle into a longer story and get to know a new world.

Andy Giesler lives in Wisconsin. The Nothing Within is his debut novel.

(Galley provided by Humble Quill LLC in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Fireborn, by Katie MacAlister

Fireborn
Image belongs to Kensington Books/Rebel Base Books.

Title:  Fireborn
Author:  Katie MacAlister
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Deo was born to fulfill a prophecy and save the world. Allegria is supposed to be just a priestess. Hallow is just an apprentice without a master. That was before invaders appeared in the land of the Starborn, threatening the entire world.

Now Allegria has left the priesthood for a chance to battle the enemy and wield the power of the sun. Hallow becomes the leader he always dreamed of becoming. And Deo wrestles with the power of the invaders, a power he doesn’t understand. Together, the three of them are the only ones who stand a chance at defeating the enemy and saving their world.

I loved the characters in this novel! I empathized with all of them (except whiny, angsty young-Deo.) and loved watching their growth. This books has everything from romance to comedy to magic, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Katie MacAlister is a bestselling author. Fireborn is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Kensington Books/Rebel Base Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: A Long Way Down , by Randall Silvis

a long way down
Image belongs to Sourcebooks/Poisoned Pen Press.

Title:  A Long Way Down
Author:  Randall Silvis
Genre:  Mystery
Rating:  4 out of 5

Ryan DeMarco didn’t want to come home. But when his estranged wife tries to commit suicide, he’s the one they call. So he finds himself back where he grew up, a place he’s been trying to forget ever since he left. And an old classmate is now sheriff and needs help solving a murder case that might have ties to their high school days.

Ryan and Jayme, his new girlfriend, agree to help with the case, but neither of them has any idea where the case will lead. With the past haunting Ryan’s every step, and the future haunting Jayme’s, neither of them will survive the case unscathed.

It’s not necessary to have read the first two books in the Ryan DeMarco Mystery series to enjoy this book. I had read the first one, but not the second, and I had no problems keeping up. This is a solid read, and I didn’t figure out who the killer was ahead of time, but the characters and their problems are the real focus here, not the mystery.

Randall Silvis is an award-winning author. A Long Way Down is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks/Poisoned Pen Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Red Labyrinth, by Meredith Tate

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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.)

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.

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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!

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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.