Tag: reading

Book Review: A Pack of Blood and Lies, by Olivia Wildenstein

 

a pack of blood and lies
Image belongs to Twig Publishing.

Title:  A Pack of Blood and Lies
Author:  Olivia Wildenstein
Genre:  YA/New Adult, paranormal
Rating:  4 out of 5

Ness is almost 18 when she’s forced to return to Boulder. She intended to forget about what happened there, forget about what happened to her mom, and forget all the domineering men in the werewolf pack that had no room for a female. She was happy to think she’d escaped with only her memories.

But now she’s back in boulder and those memories are standing before her. One of them is a friend, but one of them is Liam Kolane, son of Heath, the cruelest man she’d ever imagined. Now Heath is dead, and no one dares challenge Liam for the right to rule the pack.

Except Ness, who isn’t going to let him win without a fight. A fight to the death—if she can convince her heart that’s an acceptable cost.

I found this pretty predictable in most ways, but I enjoyed the read. Lots of chauvinistic alpha males swaggering around, but there are some glimmers of redeeming qualities among them. Coming from a patriarchal society, it’s understandable, even if mildly infuriating.

Bestselling author Olivia Wildenstein lives in Switzerland. A Pack of Blood and Lies is her newest novel.

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

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Book Review: Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak, by Adi Alsaid

brief chronicles
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN.

Title:  Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak
Author:  Adi Alsaid
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Lu Charles is not having a good summer. Her boyfriend broke up with her, and now she’s got writer’s block. Which is a big deal for a relationship reporter—especially since her scholarship rides on the gig.

Then Lu meets Cal. He’s funny and smart, and she’s intrigued when she learns he and his long-term girlfriend Iris plan to break up at the end of the summer before they go away to college—just like her relationship. Soon Lu is hanging out with Cal and Iris, fascinated with their relationship and a love that seems strong enough to stand the strains ahead. How can two people just choose to give that up? Lu smells a story, one that will hopefully end her writer’s block for good.

Lu is an interesting character. She’s smart and observant, but so stuck inside her own head—and her own pain—that reality sometimes escapes her. Cal and Iris’s relationship is enviable and looks like magic to Lu, still hurting under the weight of her own broken heart. Getting to know them will give Lu insight into her own self—but it’s not an easy journey.

Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City. Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak is his newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Mother-in-law, by Sally Hepworth

the mother-in-law
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  The Mother-in-law
Author:  Sally Hepworth
Genre:  Domestic suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

When Lucy married Ollie ten years ago, she couldn’t wait to become part of his family. But his mother, Diana, had other plans. She kept Lucy at arm’s length, always said exactly the wrong thing and made Lucy feel never-good-enough, and prioritized her job aiding refugees. Who could compete with that? Not stay-at-home mom Lucy.

Now Diana has been found dead of an apparent suicide, a note beside her blaming advanced cancer. But the police aren’t so sure. There are traces of poison in her system—and no trace of cancer. Things aren’t adding up, and every member of the family is under scrutiny—especially Lucy, whose tumultuous relationship with Diana is no secret from anyone.

I was kind of on the fence about this one. I know every mother-in-law isn’t evil—they’re just typecast that way—and I wasn’t sure I wanted to read something predictable. This was not a predictable read. It’s told in alternating viewpoints—Lucy and Diana—then and now, gradually revealing the truth of the relationship between the two—and what drove someone to kill Diana.

Sally Hepworth is a bestselling author who lives in Australia. The Mother-in-law is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Redwoods and Whales: Becoming Who You Actually Are, by Phil Joel

 

redwoods and whales
Image belongs to Emanate Books/Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Redwoods and Whales: Becoming Who You Actually Are
Author: Phil Joel
Genre:  Spiritual, Christian
Rating:   5 out of 5

Redwoods and Whales offers a warning and a promise:

The warning: Don’t become that beached whale, trying to live in a foreign environment.

The promise: You will find freedom when your identity is centered under the safety of the Divine.

Life is tough. Depression, addiction, suicide, violence…they’re all commonplace in our society, and they make it hard to know where to turn. Despite the “connectedness” of our social media word, many people feel alone and adrift. But we have a choice:  we can choose to seek God and His true nature, and we can choose to live healthy, purpose-filled lives.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this book, but Redwoods and Whales brought inspiration and hope while acknowledging the sometimes-bleak world around us. The casual tone combined with the chatting-with-a-friend feel of the book makes it easier to soak in the deep message in this book.

Phil Joel is a musician and an artist. Redwoods and Whales:  Becoming Who You Actually Are is his debut book.

(Galley courtesy of Emanate Books/Thomas Nelson via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: One Summer in Paris, by Sarah Morgan

one summer in paris
Image belongs to Harlequin/HQN.

Title:  One Summer in Paris
Author:  Sarah Morgan
Genre:  Women’s fiction
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

Grace has been married for twenty-five years, and she has a surprise all planned out for her husband:  a romantic trip to Paris. But he has a surprise as well:  he wants a divorce. With her world in pieces, Grace decides to take the trip anyway and spend the summer in Paris—where memories of the one who got away haunt her.

Audrey has worked for years to get away from her alcoholic mother. A summer in Paris and a job at a bookstore is her way out, and she intends to enjoy every moment to the fullest. Now she’s in Paris, but doesn’t speak French, and has no money, so maybe she’ll be wandering the streets of Paris alone.

Then she meets Grace, and the unlikely pair form a bond that draws them together even as they help each other spread their wings.

One Summer in Paris made me want to visit the city…and I’ve never had the impulse to go there before. I would love to visit this bookstore—let alone work there—and the city came alive on the pages of this book. I’m more like Grace than like Audrey, but I thoroughly enjoyed this read!

Sarah Morgan is a bestselling author. One Summer in Paris is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green, by Erica Boyce

15 wonders
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

Title:  The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green
Author:  Erica Boyce
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

Daniel Green is a member of a secret organization. He travels the country making crop circles. He loves making art in secret, art that leaves people talking and wondering what if. Daniel is no stranger to being alone, but when a Vermont farmer’s dying wish brings him to a small farming town, Daniel finds himself involved in much more than making crop circles, as the lives of the farmer’s family erupt in struggles.

I know basically nothing about crop circles. Is this secret organization who makes them at people’s covert request based on the truth? No idea. But it’s a very cool concept, so I bought into it for this novel. The setting was so well-done that I could see this small farming town—unsettling, considering towns that small make me want to break out into hives—and its residents clearly. I enjoyed this book very much!

Erica Boyce is a member of the Massachusetts bar and an editor. The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green is her debut novel.

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

Book Review: Little Lovely Things, by Maureen Joyce Connolly

little lovely things
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

Title:  Little Lovely Things
Author:  Maureen Joyce Connolly
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Claire Rawlings can’t afford to get sick. Her two little girls are asleep in the back seat. She’s a medical resident. And she’s speeding down the highway. She doesn’t have time to get sick. But nausea and dizziness wait for no woman, so she exits the freeway to find a gas station, runs to the bathroom, and passes out.

When she wakes up a short while later, her car—and her two little girls—are gone. There are no witnesses, and the police struggle to find any leads. As the days pass, Claire struggles against her own guilt as her marriage crumbles under the strain.

The only lead they have—a witness who’s unreliable at best—only leads them to more devastation, but Claire is convinced there is still hope…if only she can hold things together and hang on.

Little Lovely Things is about a mother’s worst nightmare and is at turns horrific. The mystery over who took the girls haunts Claire’s every moment and even when it seems all hope is lost; she clings to the remnant. There’s some interesting—and depressing—bits about Traveler society, and overall, the book is dark with glimmers of hope and light.

Maureen Joyce Connolly is a poet, a foodie, and a dragon boat racer. Little Lovely Things is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Devouring Gray, by Christine Lynn Herman

the devouring gray
Image belongs to Disney-Hyperion.

Title:  The Devouring Gray
Author:  Christine Lynn Herman
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

When seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders’ twin sister died, her world ended. Her mom moving to the tiny town of Four Corner, New York was just the icing on the cake. Things are…odd in Four Corners. The town is mostly forest. People practically worship Justin Hawthorn and his sister, May. And everywhere you look are secrets.

Like the weird grey landscape Violet sometimes catches glimpses of from the corner of her eye. Or the flashes of her sister’s blue hair. Or the dead bodies found in the past few months. Not to mention the Beast.

Everything in Four Corners is about power:  who has it, who doesn’t, and doing anything necessary to keep what you’ve got. But there are even more secrets here than Violet suspects, as power in town is balanced on the tip of a knife, and where it falls will change everything.

This story is told from multiple points-of-view, which made it intriguing. The setting is dark and gloomy. The characters are dark and broody. The history of the town is—you guessed it—dark and troubled. And that absolutely works for this story. I loved this atmospheric read—but I have no desire to visit Four Corners.

Christine Lynn Herman was born in NYC but raised in Honk Kong and Japan. The Devouring Gray is her new novel.

(Galley courtesy of Disney-Hyperion via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Girl He Used to Know, by Tracey Garvis Graves

the girl he used to know
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  The Girl He Used to Know
Author:  Tracey Garvis Graves
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Annika Rose prefers books and chess over people. She doesn’t understand people—and they don’t understand her. When she meets Jonathan, who’s new to the college and to chess club, she thinks he’ll be just like everyone else. But he’s not. He understands her. He wants to get to know her. And he loves her unconditionally.

Ten years later, Annika runs into Jonathan again. She wants to show him how much she’s changed, but Jonathan is wary after Annika broke his heart all those years ago—with no explanation. She wants to try again, but he isn’t sure he wants to risk his heart a second time.

This novel was an intriguing look inside the head of someone who thinks just a little differently, who sees the world in slightly different shades. Annika is a fascinating character, and her journey is compelling. I found myself rooting for her all the way.

Tracey Garvis Graves is a bestselling author. The Girl He Used to Know is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Lovestruck, by Kate Watson

lovestruck
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:  Lovestruck
Author:  Kate Watson
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

Kali is sixteen and convinced the Fates control everything, so what’s the point of even trying? That’s not a good attitude for a cupid-in-training, but Kali wants to be a Muse, so she’s phoning it in anyway. Until she breaks the cardinal rule for cupids—don’t poke yourself with the arrow—and falls in love with Ben, her hot, mortal target.

The God of Love is going to kill her—even if he is her dad.

Desperate to escape her fate, Kali will do anything to reverse the unbreakable spell: sneak out to see the Oracle, defy the gods (and the big-G-Gods), help her mentor…all while dating the (mortal) love of her life and trying not to break her best friend Hector’s heart.

The Fates have nothing on her.

Lovestruck is a quick read, and I really enjoyed it. I love the idea of the gods of mythology having jobs and lives and interacting with humans, and the cupid set-up is great—and makes just as much sense as falling in love possibly can. Despite being the daughter of a big-G-God, Kali’s feelings and thoughts are entirely human—and entirely teenage. Why am I here? What’s the point of life? Is that a cute boy? I thoroughly enjoyed all the characters and would love to read more set in this world.

Kate Watson was born in Canada and now lives in Arizona. Lovestruck is her newest novel.

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