Review | The Book of Living Secrets by Madeleine Roux

Perfect for fans of The Hazel Wood, this genre-bending page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Madeleine Roux follows two girls who transport themselves into the world of their favorite book only to encounter the sinister alternate reality that awaits them.

No matter how different best friends Adelle and Connie are, one thing they’ve always had in common is their love of a little-known gothic romance novel called Moira. So when the girls are tempted by a mysterious stranger to enter the world of the book, they hardly suspect it will work. But suddenly they are in the world of Moira, living among characters they’ve obsessed about for years.

Except…all is not how they remembered it. The world has been turned upside down: The lavish balls and star-crossed love affairs are now interlaced with unspeakable horrors. The girls realize that something dark is lurking behind their foray into fiction—and they will have to rewrite their own arcs if they hope to escape this nightmare with their lives.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I was really into this book for a good chunk of it, I so enjoyed the banter and relationship between Adelle and Connie and the story seemed to be really moving along. When they get pulled into the book; however, there’s definitely some loss of momentum. I would have liked more solid worldbuilding and the story itself really slowed down.

That being said I loved how spooky it was and for the most part it was really fun. Being pulled into your favorite book is always a fun idea to give a spin, and when it concerns two best friends, that adds another layer to it. At times some of the events were a bit confusing which did detract from the reading experience. However, I did enjoy it overall and think with some slight tweaks it could easily be a five star read for me.

Happy reading!

Review | Extasia by Claire Legrand

From New York Times bestselling author Claire Legrand comes a new, bone-chilling YA horror novel about a girl who joins a coven to root out a vicious evil that’s stalking her village. Perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Grace Year.

Her name is unimportant.

All you must know is that today she will become one of the four saints of Haven. The elders will mark her and place the red hood on her head. With her sisters, she will stand against the evil power that lives beneath the black mountain–an evil which has already killed nine of her village’s men.

She will tell no one of the white-eyed beasts that follow her. Or the faceless gray women tall as houses. Or the girls she saw kissing in the elm grove.

Today she will be a saint of Haven. She will rid her family of her mother’s shame at last and save her people from destruction. She is not afraid. Are you?

This searing and lyrically written novel by the critically acclaimed author of Sawkill Girls beckons readers to follow its fierce heroine into a world filled with secrets and blood–where the truth is buried in lies and a devastating power waits, seething, for someone brave enough to use it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The beginning of this book immediately drew me in and started the book off super strong. The setting and world the book is set in is dark and much of the ways of this world are very twisted, especially towards women – as they are essentially punished for what has happened to the world.

The writing was super atmospheric and perfectly illustrated the world and characters. That being said, not everyone is going to like it. There are times that certain characters and their behavior don’t exactly match with their personalities, but it wasn’t quite enough to detract from the story itself.

Be aware that this story very much takes on themes of religion and misogyny. Women in some ways are treated as objects, nothing more and for many that may be hard to read.

If you’re looking for dark horror that has a touch of weird, this will definitely fit the bill.

Happy reading!

Review | Kirins: The Seer of Serone by James Priest

This is a novel, The Seer of Serone, by James Priest, telling of tiny magical beings dwelling the world over. They are kirins.

It is a quiet summer’s day in the domain of Yorl and Moger kirins, tree-dwellers in the central part of North America. Speckarin is magician to the Yorls, living on Rogalinon, a towering and majestic oak. His apartment is carved into one of its larger branches, his door opening onto the gathering platform.

But this story opens far from that idyllic setting, at Stonehenge, the hanging stones, the citadel of kirin magic. There Fairmean, a depraved magician, commits an act of pure and unadulterated vengeance, imperiling every kirin on Earth.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I really enjoyed the settings in this book, an Earth where magical being dwell among humans. The cast of characters are pretty across the board and varied. The different racies portrayed are well structured and come across in a very realistic way.

I would say that this book could be read by a number of age ranges, including some younger readers that were looking for a fun fantasy read that wasn’t too complicated in nature.

The pacing of this story was also really well done, never really getting to slow or things wrapping up too quickly. In all I think a lot of people looking for fantasy with a wide range of characters that is an easy read will really enjoy this one.

Happy reading!

Review | A Mystery at Lili Willa by Arathi Menon

Cousins Arj, Tam, and Mira are spending their summer vacation in Elathoor, a little village in Kerala when their family home, Lili Villa, is broken into and some jewelry is stolen. The Terrific Three set out to solve the mystery but soon discover that there is no shortage of suspects. Is it Pinching Kodavis or Dumdumchecchi, the milking lady? Is it the mean fisherwoman who starves the cat or the retired nurse who owns a luxury car? Or is it Mani with his upside-down Russian secret? Who could the thief possibly be?

In a throwback to unscheduled summer vacations, this cozy mystery will charm young readers with plenty of sibling sparring, some intrepid sleuthing, and an endless parade of mouth-watering snacks.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This middle grade mystery story was adorable! I really loved all the lush descriptions of the characters, locations, food and more. Each new character that gets introduced has a unique personality and story, which is endearing as the children investigate the mystery themselves.

The kids were the best part of the story (as they should be, but still) and had very believable actions, attitudes and lines of thought. Yes, they had arguments and disagreements, but they were realistic and suitable for their age.

The mystery itself was well thought out, and the secrets that different characters had led to wonderful scenes. Overall it was a really fun mystery filled with lots of vivid scenes and descriptions.

Happy reading!

Review | The Unforgettable Logan Foster by Shawn Peters

Packed with superheroes, supervillains, and epic showdowns between good and evil, The Unforgettable Logan Foster from debut author Shawn Peter shows that sometimes being a hero is just about being yourself.

Logan Foster has pretty much given up on the idea of ever being adopted. It could have something to with his awkward manner, his photographic memory, or his affection for reciting curious facts, but whatever the cause, Logan and his “PP’s” (prospective parents) have never clicked.

Then everything changes when Gil and Margie arrive. Although they aren’t exactly perfect themselves–Gil has the punniest sense of humor and Margie’s cooking would have anyone running for the hills–they genuinely seem to care.

But it doesn’t take Logan long to notice some very odd things about them. They are out at all hours, they never seem to eat, and there’s a part of the house that is protected by some pretty elaborate security.

No matter what Logan could have imagined, nothing prepared him for the truth: His PP’s are actually superheroes, and they’re being hunted down by dastardly forces. Logan’s found himself caught in the middle in a massive battle and the very fate of the world may hang in the balance. Will Logan be able to find a way to save the day and his new family?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book was a joy to read. As soon as it started I loved the writing style and Logan as a character. The way it is written means that the book moves along really quickly and there’s action pretty much from the get go. Logan is a unique character, being neurodivergent and always speaking his mind no matter what. His voice throughout the book is refreshing and immediately endears him to the reader.

The story itself is full of hijinks and action, full of humor and adventure. It definitely reads like a superhero movie or comic and constantly keeps you on your toes. I think it’s perfect for its target audience and think this will be a great series for young readers not only looking for adventure and laughs, but also looking to perhaps see themselves in someone like Logan.

Shawn Peters has spent more than two decades writing professionally for television and advertising. Married and a father of two kids, Shawn is by his own description a suburban-dad trope-fest. He enjoys coaching his kid’s teams, playing old-dude softball, and comparing IPAs with other dads. In his spare time, Shawn makes ultra-nerdy Dungeons and Dragons puns on Twitter under the handle @DnDadJokes. 

Social Links | Author Website | Twitter

The Unforgettable Logan Foster is out January 18th, If you want to know more about the author and read a Q&A with him, check the blog on release day!

Happy reading!

Review | The Ghoul Next Door by Cullen Bunn

Eleven-year-old Grey lives in the legend-haunted New England town of Ander’s Landing, and he can’t help but feel like a pair of eyes is watching his every move.

He discovers odd, gruesome bits and pieces from the graveyard that are left for him as gifts like art carved from bones or jewelry made from (hopefully not human) remains. Soon Grey is caught up in something bigger than he could ever have imagined.

He finds himself drawn into a strange mystery involving a race of reclusive subterranean creatures—ghouls, the eaters of the dead! Turns out, his secret admirer is a ghoul named Lavinia. An unlikely friendship forms between them. The only problem is, their friendship breaks traditions—and the punishment is a fate worse than death.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I went into this one based mostly on the title and cover, so I didn’t really know what was going to happen. We follow Grey as he experiences a number of mishaps and weird happenings after having an accident in the graveyard. From then on he gets introduced to the world of ghouls and their lore. The lore created in here about how ghouls came to be was really interesting and one of my favorite parts of the story. I would say if you have younger readers that might get disturbed by ghosts, ghouls and graveyards this one wouldn’t be for them, but it’s a fun story of unlikely friendships and adventure for those who enjoy the subject matter.

Happy reading!

Review | The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

Magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war. When magic runs out, four estranged royal siblings must find a new source before their country is swallowed by invading forces. The first in an Indian-inspired duology.

Vira is desperate to get out of her mother’s shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country’s only quarry running out of magic–a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict–she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they’ll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic.

Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumored to unlock a new source of magic. But in order to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve it, she must reunite with her siblings, torn apart by the different paths their lives have taken. Each of them has something to gain from finding the Ivory Key–and even more to lose if they fail. Ronak plans to sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for escape from his impending political marriage. Kaleb, falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani needs it to clear his name. And Riya, a runaway who cut all family ties, wants the Key to prove her loyalty to the rebels who want to strip the nobility of its power.

They must work together to survive the treacherous journey. But with each sibling harboring secrets and their own agendas, the very thing that brought them together could tear apart their family–and their world–for good.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I was really excited for this book as it sounded like a debut fantasy that included a fantastic quest, a good amount of angst and sent in Indian inspired fantasy world and for the most part that’s what I got. I really enjoyed the beginning and the set up and felt like real attention was paid to the worldbuilding and making sure that the characters were clearly defined and dynamic in their own right. Once you get past that initial set up however, I did feel the story and plot slow down a bit too much.

At about the halfway point it does start to pick up again and we really get into the meat of the story and characters. I did really like the different POVs and felt that once we got to the meat of the action it was non stop to the end. The slow section did drag down my enjoyment a bit, but the last half of the book was what I wanted out of it and would drive me to pick up the sequel.

Thanks so much to the publisher for sending me a digital copy through NetGalley. The Ivory Key comes out on January 4th, so make sure to pick it up if it sounds like something you will enjoy!

Happy reading!

Review | The Mermaid Atlas: Merfolk of the World by Anna Claybourne

Magical and mysterious, the merfolk of the world are notoriously elusive, but this enchanting compendium will reveal their secrets. Learn all about the beautiful selkies of the Scottish seas, the wily iara of Brazil who love to outwit travelers, and the fearful Ningyo of Japan who can give you eternal life. This captivating book features a mix of mermaid “facts” and short retellings of some of the most magical and enticing traditional merfolk tales.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’m always looking for books like these, especially when they concern mythical beings or myths/legends. This book is a wonderful cross between a picture book and a reference book and it was so fun to read. It was divided into the different areas of the world and the specific mermaid myths that are included in those areas. In between each area there are also pages with general lore or information about mermaids in general. This was a pleasure to read and provided clear and concise information on the different myths and beings in the mermaid realm and the art was a delightful compliment to the lore.

Happy reading!

TBR Card Challenge | Update

Hey everyone! As some of you may know, I draw cards each month to pick a TBR for myself from my existing TBR. There’s no punishment if I don’t complete the books as it is just something I’m doing to get to some of the forgotten books on my TBR and do something fun. I figured I would do an update to let you know how it’s been going and if it’s going to continue.

So we can pretty safely say that 2021 was a pretty hard fail for me, I do still have all of the books set aside and on a list to read, but I didn’t get to nearly as many as I hoped to. Let’s be real, the pandemic is not over, regardless of those who like to think it is (sorry, I have a compromised immune system, so this is a sore subject for me), and it’s still very damaging to mental health. That being said, there has been some slumping and some general lack of wanting to read those books.

So where do we go from here? I am going to continue pulling cards and selecting books, in fact January’s picks have already been made, which will be a future post. I am also going to work on catching up on previous picks as well and have made it one of my 2022 goals (also another post).

So be assured that this game is going to continue as I do really enjoy it, but again I’m not going to punish myself if I get behind. I am hoping I’ll be able to catch up with the previous book though. Wish me luck!

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | Christmas in Rose Bend by Naima Simone | Review

The holidays have never been her thing. But Christmas in Rose Bend has more than one surprise in store…

Grieving ER nurse Nessa Hunt is on a road trip with her sullen teen half sister, Ivy, and still reeling from her mother’s deathbed confession: Nessa’s dad wasn’t really her dad. Seeking answers, they arrive in Rose Bend to find a small town teeming with the kind of Christmas cheer Nessa usually avoids. But then she meets the innkeeper’s ruggedly sexy son, Wolfgang Dennison.

Wolf’s big, boisterous family is like a picture-perfect holiday card. Nessa has too much weighing on her to feel like she fits—even though the heat between her and Wolf is undeniable. And the merriment bringing an overdue smile to Ivy’s face is almost enough to make Nessa believe in the Christmas spirit. But with all her parental baggage, including lingering questions about her birth father, is there room in Nessa’s life for happy holidays and happily-ever-after?

Buy Links | BookShop.org | Harlequin  | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Books-A-Million | Powell’s

Rating: 4 out of 5.

First and foremost I really enjoy Naima Simone’s writing style,, it instantly sucks me into the story and she always seems to create a great setting. I haven’t read the first book in this series, but after having picked this one up I definitely want to. The characters are well crafted and I really liked the relationship between Nessa and Wolf. What did detract a bit from the romance and kept it from simply being a cute Christmas romance was the drama created by the relationship issues with Nessa and her sister as well as her search for her birth father. Still, it was a great romance and a wonderful Christmas story that hit the spot!

USA Today Bestselling author Naima Simone’s love of romance was first stirred by Johanna Lindsey and Nora Roberts years ago. Well not that many. She is only eighteen…ish. Published since 2009, she spends her days writing sizzling romances with heart, a touch of humor and snark.  She is wife to Superman–or his non-Kryptonian equivalent–and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern US.

Social Links | Author Website | Facebook: @naimasimoneauthor   | Instagram: @naimasimoneauthor | Twitter: @Naima_Simone | Goodreads

Happy reading!