Review | Two Truths and a Lie by Sarah Pinkser

Stella thought she’d made up a lie on the spot, asking her childhood friend if he remembered the strange public broadcast TV show with the unsettling host she and all the neighborhood kids appeared on years ago. But he does remember. And so does her mom. So why doesn’t Stella? The more she investigates the show and the grip it has on her hometown, the eerier the mystery grows.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Most of this story I spent not really knowing where it was going, but I did enjoy how the different pieces fell into place. I didn’t quite feel the ending suited it, but I think that was the result of what often happens with short stories – you end up wanting more. Whether it be more background, more foundation or just more plot to the story. I would have liked to delve more into who the Uncle Bob character was and find out the why of how things were, but I understand the author’s motivation in leaving such things out. At its core this is a psychological story and some of the elements are left open for the reader’s interpretation.

Happy reading!

End of the Year Giveaway!

Hey everyone! It’s an understatement to say that this blog has been a safe haven for me in this year that we call 2020. It’s been a rough one and I know that in many aspects what I’ve dealt with is no where near what other people have dealt with. I know all of us have been tested and suffered our fair bits of depression, anxiety, worry and more throughout these last 12 months, so as the year is coming to a close I want to spread just a little bit of cheer – with a giveaway! Thank you all for following me on my journey, interacting with me and making me feel like my words have value.

I couldn’t resist that GIF, but if you don’t celebrate Christmas I hope you have a wonderful holiday season/end of year!

So here are the details, one person will win a book of their choice up to $15 from Book Depository. This is available internationally as long as book depository ships to you. For the blog giveaway there are a number of ways to enter, for which I’ve set up a rafflecopter.

Click Here to Enter!

Now for the twitter part – I’m holding a second giveaway (for the same prize) on twitter! You can enter both giveaways, but there will be two separate winners. You can enter the twitter giveaway by retweeting the giveaway tweet AND following me on twitter (if you already follow that counts of course).

Both giveaways will end on 12/28 and I will contact the winners at that point.

Thanks so much and happy reading!

2021 Writing Goals

I know I already posted about my overall goals for 2021 but I wanted to get a little more specific with my writing goals. These will of course be fluid since I’m not going to force myself to write if I’m not feeling it – that never ends up well. So here are just a few more specific goals.

Finish something – I have so many half finished stories, or even some that are near completion, but nothing really finished. This coming year I would really like to finish at least one of them and be able to put it to rest.

NaNoWriMo – This year was the first year I participated in the two Camp NaNoWriMo sessions in April and July and while I didn’t necessarily get a ton done, I enjoyed the process. I spent some time editing and proofing, but for me I came at it with a more relaxed approach. I would like to be able to participate in them again next year (and NaNo in November of course).

Start Something New – Now with so many unfinished things you may be asking why I would want to start something new – but hear me out. I would like to explore a genre that I don’t typically write in and see how it flows. A lot of my stuff is paranormal and fantasy based and I would really like to challenge myself to write outside of my comfort zone.

Do you have any specific writing goals?

Happy writing!

Top 5 Reads of 2020

Now I know what you are thinking, there are still two weeks left in the year, so how can I be absolutely sure there won’t be something else I read that breaks its way into my top 5? There might be and if there is, then I’ll admit that fact when the time comes, but I’m fairly sure that these are pretty set on being my top 5 books of the year, so let’s get into it!

Night of the Dragon by Julie KagawaI still haven’t forgiven Julie Kagawa for destroying me with this book, but her Shadow of the Fox trilogy has a distinguished place on my favorites shelf. I can easily see myself reading these books time and again as I loved the characters and world that she created. All three books ended up being 5 stars for me which is saying something when you are talking about a series. I was both scared and excited for the last book, and in the last 50 or so pages my boyfriend had to deal with me sobbing my eyes out and not knowing what was wrong. If you haven’t already, please read these books, they were amazing!

Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega – This was one of those books that I ended up being so mad at myself about, because I pre-ordered it and then didn’t read it for months! Once I read it I was kicking myself SO HARD because I loved it so much. Even though this was Ortega’s debut I will be checking out her future books based on this read alone. I loved the way she integrated culture, throwback references and her characters are rich and fully fledged. Plus – Chunk alone gets five stars (and all the Goonies references killed me). If you love spooky middle grades that are full of heart and humor, then you NEED to pick this one up.

The Wild Path by Sarah R. Baughman – Oh man, this book. This was another one that had me tearing up because there were definitely parts of it I could identify with. The mystery involving what Claire sees and finds out was a wonderful string to weave through the story and I again couldn’t help but fall in love with the characters and setting. When I originally signed on the the blog tour for this one it was because I was truly interested in the story, but I very quickly fell in love with it. This is another author whose other works I want to check out sooner rather than later not just because of the content, but because her writing style was also such a joy to read.

Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones – Ok, I’ll admit it, because I had enjoyed Mapping the Interior so much I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy this one as well – but I didn’t know how much. I really enjoy his writing style so it was easy to fall right into this one. I pretty quickly devoured it and was so happy I had decided to pick it up. It’s humorous and dark at the same time, with just enough psychological twist that I was really happy. I can’t wait to pick up more of his work and see if I like them just as much.

The books I’ve mentioned up until this point haven’t been in any kind of order, I haven’t assigned certain spots to them, but I can pretty confidently say which book is my absolute number one of 2020. So I’m going to actually include my full review of this one.

Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith – I was super excited about this book when I heard about it. Being a gamer myself I’m very aware of the toxicity that can be found in the gaming community, especially when it comes to female players, so having a book that tackles this head on was such a joy to see.

I was not disappointed at all and can easily say that Don’t Read the Comments will likely appear in my favorite books of the year list. It not only discussed the gaming community and how celebrities in that community are treated, but also addressed other issues in the gaming community, different family dynamics and issues and so much more. The discussion regarding how Divya guards her identity and information out of fear of being pursued or doxxed is something that is seen in a number of industries, not just the gaming community.

I fell in love with so many of the characters, even when they perhaps weren’t acting the best. They were all moving cogs within the story that contributed greatly to the plot. There were also wonderfully inserted moments of humor that not only lightened the events, but perfectly added a realness to the story. This was really such a wonderful read and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

So there you have it – my top 5 of 2020. What were your favorite books?

Happy reading!

Books High on my Christmas Wishlist

Let’s be honest, those in my life will typically ask me for a list because they don’t know what I have and don’t want to risk getting me something I already have, or something I have no interest in. I will usually give those who ask for it lists to work off of which contain the things that I really want, but I do always have a working wishlist of books that I want. Now, in writing this post I am not in any way asking people to buy me anything, I’m just sharing a few of the books that while not on my specific Christmas list, are still high up enough on the book wishlist that I may pick them up.

Vicious Spirits by Kat Cho – I won’t lie, I have Wicked Fox on my TBR still, but I have a feeling I would like to read both of them back to back, so I definitely want to pick up a copy of this one.

I’m not going to share a synopsis this one because I don’t want any spoilers, but it’s based on Korean mythology (or mythological creatures), and anyone who knows me knows that this is a buzzword for me. I will immediately want to read anything based in Asian folklore or mythology, especially Korean.

The World Between Blinks by Aime Kaufman & Ryan Graudin – As soon as I heard about this one I knew I wanted to pick it up, I even features it in a recent Can’t Wait Wednesday.

Whenever Jake and Marisol get together, adventure follows. They have their late Nana to thank for that. Her epic trips and treasure hunts were legendary.

With the whole family reuniting for one last summer vacation at Nana’s home, the cousins are prepared for an extraordinary trip of their own. Following a map Nana left behind, Jake and Marisol sneak out to a nearby lighthouse—then accidentally slip into another world! 

The World Between Blinks is a magical place, where all sorts of lost things and people wind up. Everywhere they turn, the cousins find real mysteries from history and a few they thought were just myths, from pilot Amelia Earhart to the fabled city of Atlantis.

But the man who holds the key to Jake and Marisol’s journey home doesn’t want to be found . . . and if the cousins don’t catch him fast, they could end up lost in this world forever.

Simmer Down by Sarah Smith – This one just sounded like fun to me and I thought it would be a great break between other genres.

Nikki DiMarco knew life wouldn’t be all sunshine and coconuts when she quit her dream job to help her mom serve up mouthwatering Filipino dishes to hungry beach goers, but she didn’t expect the Maui food truck scene to be so eat-or-be-eaten—or the competition to be so smoking hot.

But Tiva’s Filipina Kusina has faced bigger road bumps than the arrival of Callum James. Nikki doesn’t care how delectable the British food truck owner is—he rudely set up shop next to her coveted beach parking spot. He’s stealing her customers and fanning the flames of a public feud that makes her see sparks.

The solution? Let the upcoming Maui Food Festival decide their fate. Winner keeps the spot. Loser pounds sand. But the longer their rivalry simmers, the more Nikki starts to see a different side of Callum…a sweet, protective side. Is she brave enough to call a truce? Or will trusting Callum with her heart mean jumping from the frying pan into the fire?

What books are you looking forwards to getting?

Happy reading!

Can’t Wait Wednesday | 12/16

Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings based on the meme Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking the Spine. In this weekly post people share a book that they’re excited about being released.

I’ve enjoyed many of Rachel Hawkin’s YA books, so I’m excited for her first adult book. Add in the fact that it is a Jane Eyre retelling and I’m sold. This was one of Book of the Month’s December picks, so I’m excited to have already gotten it in my hands!

A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, Rachel Hawkins’s The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda.

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | Mine to Keep by Rhenna Morgan | Review

Bonnie Drummond is from the wrong side of the tracks, raised in a family of liars and criminals. No matter how hard she tries to stay on the straight and narrow, she always finds herself sucked back into the family drama, forced to sacrifice everything she’s earned to protect her family.

But this time they’ve gone too far—crossed the wrong people—and to save them she’ll have to put her life on the line.

Roman Kozlov, enforcer for a New Orleans mafiya family, is the poster child for the life Bonnie is struggling to escape. But he’s also as alluring as he is dangerous, and it doesn’t take long for their lives to begin to mesh.

With Roman, Bonnie finds the family she never had.

As their race for answers heats up, so too does the budding romance between them. And with danger nipping at her heels and love threatening her heart, Bonnie must come face-to-face with her past if she wants to have a future.

Buy Mine to Keep | Harlequin.com | IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | KoboGoogle

After reading Hers to Tame I was excited to get the chance to read more from Rhenna Morgan and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. I really enjoyed this story as well as the relationship between Roman and Bonnie. Bonnie of course was hesitant to some things because of her history with her family and Roman was definitely an alpha personality, but the way things came together was wonderful.

Though this one is part of a series you can definitely read it without reading the previous books. Morgan’s writing style is quick to read and has a ton of not only character development, but the plot is paced really well and constantly keeps you going forward.

A native Oklahoman, Rhenna Morgan is a certified romance junkie. Whether it’s contemporary, paranormal, or fantasy you’re after, Rhenna’s stories pack romantic escape full of new, exciting worlds, and strong, intuitive men who fight to keep the women they want. For advance release news and exclusive content, sign up for her newsletter at http://RhennaMorgan.com. You’ll also find all of her social links there, along with her smoking hot inspiration boards.

Connect with Rhenna Morgan | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Happy reading!

2021 Goals | Reading and Writing

Well, I don’t know about all of you, but I am glad 2020 is going to be in the rear view soon (I’m sure most of you agree). I’m hoping that things will start improving soon as this year comes to a close and we hopefully have somewhat of a clean slate. Hey, I can hope, right?

So since we are at the end of the year I have started thinking of what goals I want to have in 2021 regarding my reading and writing.

Reading Amount – This year my reading goal was set at 200 books, though I was anticipating something similar to last year where I hit 301 books (I listen to a lot of audio books when I’m in the office). While I have hit (so far) 242 books and I’m super happy with that, my audiobook listening took a steep decline when I started working from home in April (please don’t take this as me complaining about this, I’m forever grateful to my employer that they have allowed me to WFH). I would definitely like to read at least 200 books in 2021 to keep the streak going and would like to get back to listening to more audiobooks.

Reading Content – Next year I do want to do even better at getting more to my backlist of physical books and hopefully the TBR game I made for myself will help with that. Except for a couple prompts regarding NetGalley or Kindle books everything on my board is geared towards reading backlist physical books.

Blogging – I’ve had a pretty good streak going of posting something every single day and I want to keep that going. It’s been a good benchmark to hit even if some days I had to work to think of what I would post. I would like to succeed in getting more things pre-scheduled though.

Writing – I again want to participate in NaNoWriMo as well as the two Camp sessions in April and July. I’m not going to set a hard goal for myself (other than the 50k words in November) and just want to enjoy writing more. Maybe I will actually wrap up a story and consider it complete? I don’t know, but I definitely want to write just as much or more.

So what are some of your goals for 2021? Are you just as happy that 2020 is finally drawing to a close? I feel like this year both took an eternity and went by fast, it’s a weird feeling.

Happy reading!

Review | Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

Things I know about Harrow Lake:
1.It’s where my father shot his most disturbing slasher film.
2.There’s something not right about this town.

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker–she thinks nothing can scare her.

But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she’s quickly packed off to live with a grandmother she’s never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father’s most iconic horror movie was shot. The locals are weirdly obsessed with the film that put their town on the map–and there are strange disappearances, which the police seem determined to explain away.

And there’s someone–or something–stalking her every move.

The more Lola discovers about the town, the more terrifying it becomes. Because Lola’s got secrets of her own. And if she can’t find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Harrow Lake is a book that will definitely have you doubting who is reliable and which way is up. There was a good chunk of the book where I was waffling between three or four stars, but the last 100 pages definitely pushed it up to four stars for me. Psychological horror is absolutely my favorite kind of horror and at first I wasn’t sure if this was where it was going. There are definitely some supernatural aspects as well.

I did really enjoy the story once it really got going. So many of the different characters seem either unreliable or like they are clearly holding information back. This sometimes is frustrating as I did find myself wanting more revealed about the town of Harrow Lake and the superstitions/legends that the townspeople had.

A also really enjoyed that as the story continued we found out that Lola herself might not be a reliable narrator as we followed her journey. There’s that constant question of whether or not she’s imagining everything or if there really is something supernatural, and that carried on through the book in its entirety.

If you like psychological horror that slowly unfolds throughout the story, definitely check out this one.

Happy reading!

Review | Beyond the Dragon’s Gate by Yoon Ha Lee

Former Academician Anna Kims research into AI cost her everything. Now, years later, the military has need of her expertise in order to prevent the destruction of their AI-powered fleet.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into with this story, but I knew I wanted to check out some of Yoon Ha Lee’s writing. I loved how we got dumped right into the middle of the story, and got little snippets of information about the ongoing conflict in the world from the main character’s perspective. I would definitely read more from this specific character’s view, but I did finish the story wanting a little bit more. Maybe a little more backstory, a little more fleshing out – but for a snapshot of a single concept/issue, this was a great read.

Happy reading!