Review: Call Down the Hawk (Maggie Stiefvater)

Call Down the Hawk
Series: Dreamer, #1
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQ+

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.

And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .


The first two chapter of Call Down the Hawk had me wondering if maybe I had outgrown this this author. I just wasn’t pulled in as I expected to be. Once I got to the first chapter that was actually Ronan, I was pulled back into his world. I became interested in the story and what was to come. I was glad I didn’t simply give up on this book because there was so much to love about it.

Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is as enchanting as always. Her dream world, while sometimes overly descriptive, is mesmerizing. I got bogged down a bit by all those descriptions and the almost 500 pages felt long at times, but the underlying story was so good that I didn’t care.

I loved being back with Ronan. I liked getting deeper into his thoughts and opinions. His world was more than I was expecting. I was happy we got to see some of the other Raven Cycle characters through his POV. (Though, not as many moments as I was hoping for.)

As for the other Lynch brothers… I loved them. Declan wasn’t my favorite character in the other series, but he opened my eyes in this book to the good parts of him. He ended up being one of my favorite characters. Matthew… Well, who doesn’t love Matthew?

There were a couple new main characters in Call Down the Hawk. At first meet, I was a little confused by Jordan Hennessy and Carmen Farooq-Lane. It took some time to build their stories, but I loved how they were woven into the Lynch brothers’.

When I got to the end of Call Down the Hawk, I had two feelings. I both wanted more and was relieved that it was over. It feels weird to say that, but I needed a break after so many pages. I’m very curious about where this story is taking us. I’m both relieved I have to wait a bit for the next book and chomping at the bit to find out what’s next. Weird, but true.

Review: The Wives (Tarryn Fisher)

The Wives
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Publication Date: December 30, 2019
Publisher: Graydon House
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Imagine that your husband has two other wives.

You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, and because of this unconventional arrangement, you can see your husband only one day a week. But you love him so much you don’t care. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself.

But one day, while you’re doing laundry, you find a scrap of paper in his pocket—an appointment reminder for a woman named Hannah, and you just know it’s another of the wives.

You thought you were fine with your arrangement, but you can’t help yourself: you track her down, and, under false pretenses, you strike up a friendship. Hannah has no idea who you really are. Then, Hannah starts showing up to your coffee dates with telltale bruises, and you realize she’s being abused by her husband. Who, of course, is also your husband. But you’ve never known him to be violent, ever.

Who exactly is your husband, and how far would you go to find the truth? Would you risk your own life?

And who is his mysterious third wife?


What. The. Heck. No, seriously. What the heck?

I’m exhausted from reading The Wives. It is a great example of why I love Tarryn Fisher’s writing. She’s so crafty in her delivery. It may start out in a sleepy thriller sort of way, but when things start to go down THEY GO DOWN. I was on edge for the entire second half of the book. Surprises were lurking behind every corner, people! Just when I thought I had finally figured freaking Thursday and the story out, BAM! I was proven wrong again… and again… and again. I want to say I loved every minute of this thriller, but I can’t — only because my stress level was way up there. My nerves are frayed in the best way.

Review: Regretting You (Colleen Hoover)

Regretting You
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publication Date: December 10, 2019
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends with Us comes a poignant novel about family, first love, grief, and betrayal that will touch the hearts of both mothers and daughters.

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.


I’m always curious as to what Colleen Hoover is going to write next. She always surprises me with the directions and choices she takes. I was excited to hear she was headed back to romance after Verity, but I was curious as to what type of romance she was going to give us. Even after reading Regretting You, I’m still not exactly sure how to describe it to you.

Regretting You is a book that’s hard to put into one book category. It’s kind of like an all-in-one Colleen Hover novel. One point of view is an adult contemporary romance with hints of women’s fiction character growth sprinkled in. The other straddles the line between YA and NA contemporary romance. There’s even a bit mystery involved. The overall effect is a great novel about… Well, a lot of stuff. Stuff you will have to read the book to find out about. 😉

What did I think of Regretting You? I had a lot of thoughts about it. Lame, I know. I just can’t share too many of them without giving too much away. I will say this:

  • Colleen Hoover’s writing always makes me feel something and think hard about the messages she’s giving. I felt a ton of emotions while reading Regretting You and I’m still processing them.
  • I was caught up in the story from the very beginning. There’s a lot of good stuff happening in it. Even when I found it predictable, I still enjoyed it.
  • The mother-teenage daughter dynamic was STRONG in this one, people. I’ve been a teenager and I’ve been a mother, and I can confirm that both POVs delivered were on point. That dynamic… Whew! It was so real and vibrant! Even when I wanted to give Clara or Morgan a good shake, I still loved them.
  • I liked how grief was depicted and dealt with.
  • The love stories were complicated, but easy to swoon over.
  • Like I said, I loved Clara and Morgan, but sometimes Miller, Jonah, and Miller’s grandpa stole the show. They just kind of added an extra something that made this book. Miller especially.
  • The end was one of my favorites I’ve read in a while. It was a great reward for all CoHo put me through while reading this book. After you read this book, I want to gush with you over it!
  • If you’re like me, you’re going to have a few unanswered questions at the end, but you will feel okay with that even though it drives you slightly nuts. LOL

So, yeah. I guess you could say I loved reading Regretting You.

 
Q&A with Author Colleen Hoover
 

You are ‘label-less’ in the fact that you write in several genres. Readers never know what to expect next. If someone asks, how do you label yourself?

When I self-published my first novel I had no idea what genre to put it in. I thought I had written a drama but it turns to that I had written a romance. I’ve learned a lot since then, but I still don’t put a lot of weight in genre when I write. When your best friend is begging you to read a book, it’s not going to matter what genre it is when someone you trust is passionate about the story.

To keep all of your stories and characters straight, you must be very organized.

I’m the most disorganized person you will ever meet! I have no schedule. I can’t wake up before nine in the morning. I probably don’t go to bed until like three in the morning. I usually work about 16 hours a day.

What happens if you get blocked when you are writing?

If I get stuck writing, I go for a drive and play music. Music really helps me plot. I love The Avett Brothers, X Ambassadors, Airborne Toxic Event…I could go on and on.

What can you tell readers about your latest release Regretting You?

I would spoil it if I told you about it! Most of my books are like that. I can’t say what they are about or it spoils it. But I can say that Regretting You is told from a dual point-of-view centered on the inner lives of both a teen and adult protagonist.


Sounds like lots of different types of readers will be interested!

Absolutely. I wanted to write a book that bridged the gap between young adult and contemporary romance so that mothers can read with their daughters. I think it’s exciting to see people sharing reading experiences. 

 
 

Author Biography
 
Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including the bestselling women’s fiction novel It Ends with Us and the bestselling psychological thriller Verity. She has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance three years in a row—for Confess (2015), It Ends with Us (2016), and Without Merit (2017). Confess was adapted into a seven-episode online series. In 2015, Hoover and her family founded the Bookworm Box, a bookstore and monthly subscription service that offers signed novels donated by authors. All profits go to various charities each month to help those in need. Hoover lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys. Visit www.colleenhoover.com.
 
Social Media Links
 
 
Rafflecopter Giveaway
 
 

Review: The How & the Why (Cynthia Hand)

The How & the Why
Author: Cynthia Hand
Narrators: Phoebe Strole, Erin Spencer
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Adoption

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…

Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.


I am not going to lie. This book made me a MESS. It emotionally impacted me from the minute I started listening to it. I know it probably won’t hit as many readers the way it did me, but man. I kind of wanted to bawl the entire time I was reading it.

The How & the Why (in simple terms) is the story of a teenager navigating life while dealing with feelings about her adoption and searching for her birth mother. Cass’s present day life and struggles are sandwiched by letters her birth mother wrote to her while pregnant.

So why was I so emotional while reading this? 1. I’m an adoptee from a closed adoption. While I have never searched for my birth parents or truly had the urge to, I could relate to and understand Cass’s feelings. I can remember being close to her age and having some of the same questions and feelings. 2. As a mother, I cannot imagine what giving up a child would feel like — whether you wanted to or not. 3. During the listening process, my daughter went through allergy testing due to hives she’s been having over the past few months and it freaks me out a bit that I can’t provide more health background for her. More than you wanted to know in a review, but it had me even more emotional while listening to this book.

Beside my feelings, what did I think of The How & the Why? It was a beautifully written story. If I hadn’t known from the beginning of the book, I probably would have been able to tell this had been written by an adoptee or someone who had been through an adoption in some form. Every emotion and thought that went through Cass’s head felt raw and real. The letters from her birth mom hit me in the heart. There was so much love and thought to this story. It was just really beautiful.

Honestly, parts of this book could have sucked or tanked and I wouldn’t have cared because of how important the entire story was to me. I haven’t felt like this about a book with adoption since I read Robin Benway’s Far From the Tree.

P.S.: The narration was fabulous. I can’t leave that out.

Reviews: Would Like to Meet (Rachel Winters)

Would Like to Meet
Author: Rachel Winters
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

In this charming, feel-good debut novel, a cynical assistant at a screenwriting agency must reenact the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedy movies in order to help her #1 client get his scriptwriting mojo back–but can a real-life meet-cute be in store for someone who doesn’t believe in happily ever after?

After seven years as an assistant, 29-year-old Evie Summers is ready to finally get the promotion she deserves. But now the TV and film agency she’s been running behind the scenes is in trouble, and Evie will lose her job unless she can convince the agency’s biggest and most arrogant client, Ezra Chester, to finish writing the script for a Hollywood romantic comedy.

The catch? Ezra is suffering from writer’s block–and he’ll only put pen to paper if singleton Evie can prove to him that you can fall in love like they do in the movies. With the future of the agency in jeopardy, Evie embarks on a mission to meet a man the way Sally met Harry or Hugh Grant met Julia Roberts.

But in the course of testing out the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedies IRL, not only will Evie encounter one humiliating situation after another, but she’ll have to confront the romantic past that soured her on love. In a novel as hilarious as it is heartwarming, debut author Rachel Winters proves that sometimes real life is better than the movies–and that the best kind of meet-cutes happen when you least expect them.


Would Like to Meet was a strange reading experience for me. I loved the opening scenes, but then I hit a weird patch where I wasn’t really into the book. I think I need to blame that on my mood. I was super tired. I set the book down for the day and when I came back to it, it picked up for me in a couple of chapters. I was into the story for pretty much the rest of the book.

What I liked about Would Like to Meet:

  • The meet-cutes. They were hilarious!
  • Ben. He was quiet and a little judge-y, but I totally identified with his judging. I was judging Evie in a similar way. Plus, he was the perfect love interest for the story.
  • Anette. She’s Ben’s daughter and involved in all the cuteness of the story. I loved the part she played in this romance.
  • Ezra/NOB. He was a great villain. I loved his ridiculousness.
  • All the awkward, horrible mistakes Evie made.
  • The writing was good for a début author.

Things I disliked:

  • The screenplay sections at the beginning of each chapter. They fit the story, I just wasn’t a fan of them. They bogged down my reading experience.
  • Evie. I wasn’t a fan of her. She drove me nuts because she was so oblivious. If I could see what was coming, why couldn’t she? It was that predictable.
  • It needed more Ben and Anette.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Would Like to Meet. It wasn’t my favorite book, but there were a lot of great things about it. I really loved all the awkward meet-cutes and the parts with Ben and Anette. It was a strong début novel, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for this author.

YA Mini Reviews: Eyes on Me & I Know You Remember

Eyes on Me
Author: Rachel Harris
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Published: Entangled: Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Look up the word “nerd” and you’ll find Lily Bailey’s picture. She’s got one goal: first stop valedictorian, next stop Harvard. Until a stint in the hospital from too much stress lands her in the last place a klutz like her ever expected to be: salsa dance lessons.

Look up the word “popular” and you’ll find Stone Torres’s picture. His life seems perfect—star of the football team, small-town hero, lots of friends. But his family is struggling to make ends meet, so if pitching in at his mom’s dance studio helps, he’ll do it.

When Lily’s dad offers Stone extra cash to volunteer as Lily’s permanent dance partner, he can’t refuse. But with each dip and turn, each moment her hand is in his, his side job starts to feel all too real. Lily shows Stone he’s more than his impressive football stats, and he introduces her to a world outside of studying. But with the lines blurred, can their relationship survive the secret he’s been hiding?

My thoughts:

I have had my eye on Eyes on Me since I read Lenore at Celebrity Reader’s review of it. It just sounded like such a fun and cute read. I am happy to report it totally was! There were so many great things about it. I loved the characters and their story. Lily and Stone were two very different, complex characters. They had issues like anxiety, stress, money problems, and living up to expectations. Despite those tough topics, the story was still able to be light and fun in the way I love YA contemporaries to be. My only little issue with it was that at one point it slowed down a bit for me. No worries, though. It picked right back up for a swoon worthy ending.

I Know You Remember
Author: Jennifer Donaldson
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Jennifer Donaldson is back with another twisted thriller perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying and Gone Girl.

Zahra Gaines is missing.

After three long years away, Ruthie Hayden arrives in her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska to this devastating news. Zahra was Ruthie’s best friend–the only person who ever really understood her–and she vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Zahra vanished from a party just days before Ruthie’s return, but the more people she talks to, the more she realizes that the Zahra she knew disappeared long before that fateful night. Gone is the whimsical, artistic girl who loved books and knew Ruthie’s every secret. In her place is an athlete, a partier, a girl with secrets of her own. Darker still are the rumors that something happened to Zahra while Ruthie was gone, something that changed her forever…

As Ruthie desperately tries to piece together the truth, she falls deeper and deeper into her friend’s new world, circling closer to a dangerous revelation about what Zahra experienced in the days before her disappearance–one that might be better off buried.

In her stunning follow-up to Lies You Never Told Me, Jennifer Donaldson once again delivers a propulsive thriller with a masterful twist, skillfully creating a world where nothing is quite as it seems.

My thoughts:

I loved Jennifer Donaldson’s début novel, Lies You Never Told Me, so I was super excited to read I Know You Remember. I Know You Remember was a great YA thriller. It was complex in the way that an adult thriller would be with twists, turns, and things to make me question if my ideas were right or wrong. Even the suspicions I had that were right still managed to throw me for a loop. Stuff happened that I wasn’t expecting and it was awesome. Overall, it was a great YA thriller.

Review: The Kingmaker (Kennedy Ryan)

The Kingmaker
Series: All the King’s Men Duet, #1
Author: Kennedy Ryan
Publication Date: October 28, 2019
Publisher: Scribechick Media, LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

𝙋𝙤𝙬𝙚𝙧. 𝙋𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣. 𝘽𝙚𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙮𝙖𝙡.

𝗥𝗜𝗧𝗔® 𝗔𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱-𝘄𝗶𝗻𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝘂𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗿 𝗞𝗲𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗱𝘆 𝗥𝘆𝗮𝗻 𝗱𝗲𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗲𝗽𝗶𝗰 𝗳𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗔𝗹𝗹 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗞𝗶𝗻𝗴’𝘀 𝗠𝗲𝗻 𝗗𝘂𝗲𝘁.

Raised to rule, bred to lead and weaned on a diet of ruthless ambition. In a world of haves and have nots, my family has it all, and I want nothing to do with it.

My path takes me far from home and paints me as the black sheep. At odds with my father, I’m determined to build my own empire. I have rules, but Lennix Hunter is the exception to every one of them. From the moment we meet, something sparks between us. But my family stole from hers and my father is the man she hates most. I lied to have her, and would do anything to keep her. Though she tries to hate me, too, the inexorable pull between us will not be denied.

𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘯𝘦𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘐.


The Kingmaker… Wow. Kennedy Ryan has done it again. The blurb pretty much says it all with powerful and passion. The journeys Lennix and Maxim went on… I’m just speechless. Kennedy Ryan is one of the best at mixing social commentary and romance, and she excelled at it in this book. I not only loved reading The Kingmaker, but I felt like I learned something.

What I loved most about The Kingmaker was Lennix. She was strong — so strong. Every part of her story was inspiring and interesting. Maxim was just kind of there when compared to Lennix. I honestly didn’t mind that either. I wanted more of her story than I did his.That’s not to say he wasn’t interesting or important. He was. He just wasn’t quite the force Lennix was.

My only issue with this book is actually in the romance of it. It was a little too insta-lovey for me. The week that tied Lennix and Maxim together wasn’t a long enough time for me to truly believe a lingering connection. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t love them together or how things played out. I just would have liked a little more time to build a lasting connection.

Wait. I lied. That wasn’t my only issue. I’m also angry with Kennedy Ryan for that freaking cliffhanger. It was brutal. One of the most brutal cliffhangers ever and she’s making us wait THREE WEEKS for the next book. At least I’ll have time to recover from everything she put me through in The Kingmaker, I guess.

Review: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things (Bryn Greenwood)

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
Author: Bryn Greenwood
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible “adult” around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.


I won a copy of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things from Kelly @ Here’s to Happy Endings YEARS ago. Years, people. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t immediately start reading it. To be honest, I was a little scared of it. I had been warned it wasn’t an easy book to stomach, but also told that it was really good. Both of those are correct. This was both a hard and easy book to read. Here’s my thoughts…

All the WONDERFUL things about this book:

  • Bryn Greenwood is a master storyteller. Her words put you right in the story with the characters. Her descriptions and characters are raw and almost too real. She was good at making me question my moral boundaries.
  • The story was told in multiple points of view. That gave more than one opinion and insight into what was going on. In some ways, that eased some of the sting I might have felt otherwise. It made me empathize and sympathize with the characters.
  • The baddest of the bad guys were so well written. I hated all the adults and even some of the kids. I don’t know that I truly liked any of them. Well, except maybe Amy.
  • This book is fascinating like an episode of Dateline is fascinating.

All the UGLY things about this book:

  • I felt uncomfortable the entire time I was reading All the Ugly and Wonderful Things because I was captivated by all the things that shouldn’t have been happening. The fact that it’s loosely based on some of the things that happened in Bryn Greenwood’s own childhood made it even more disturbing.
  • I hated where this book went even when it felt true to the characters and their story.
  • At the heart of this book is a love story between a child and a man. Wavy meets Kellan when she’s about 8. He’s 24. Kellan starts out as a protector — sort of friend but almost family. As Wavy gets older and becomes a teenager, their relationship takes a turn it shouldn’t. Their relationship becomes more boyfriend and girlfriend. I couldn’t stomach this.
  • While Greenwood is trying to push boundaries and make people take another look at consent and age, it’s still disturbing. I kept thinking there was something wrong in Wavy and Kellan’s heads.
  • The abuse some of the adults (not Kellan) doled out was horrifying.

All the things I was left thinking about after it was all over:

  • I feel like the author was trying to make the reader understand that in some cases a teenager can be mature enough to consent to a relationship with an adult. I’m just going to have to disagree on that for a lot of reasons.
  • This is not a romance and shouldn’t be categorized as one. Some readers have shipped Wavy and Kellan together. That feels wrong to me. It’s like shipping Mary Kay and Vili together. (If you don’t know who they are, you can Google their story. They’re infamous.)
  • I still can’t decide if I liked the end. It fit the book, but I almost wanted an ending that was even more devastating than the story already was.
  • I am glad I read another one of the author’s books before reading this one because I’m not sure if I would push myself to read another one if I read this one first. It gave me feelings like Tabitha’s Suzuma’s Forbidden gave me feelings. I feel relieved, disturbed, and a little gross after finishing it.

I could probably come up with a bunch more to put under each section, but I need to leave some things for people interested in reading this book. I guess what I would tell people who were interested in reading it would be to go in with an open mind, know your boundaries are going to be pushed, but hang in there for the ride. I probably would have rated All the Ugly and Wonderful Things higher based on the writing and storytelling ability, but I just couldn’t get past the ugliness of some of it.

Review: The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street (Karen White)

The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street
Series: Tradd Street, #6
Author: Karen White
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Publisher: Berkley Books
Genre: Holiday, Mystery, Paranormal, Fiction, Contemporary
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

The Christmas spirit is overtaking Tradd Street with a vengeance in this festive new novel in the New York Times bestselling series by Karen White.

Melanie Trenholm should be anticipating Christmas with nothing but joy–after all, it’s only the second Christmas she and her husband, Jack, will celebrate with their twin babies. But the ongoing excavation of the centuries-old cistern in the garden of her historic Tradd Street home has been a huge millstone, both financially and aesthetically. Local students are thrilled by the possibility of unearthing more Colonial-era artifacts at the cistern, but Melanie is concerned by the ghosts connected to the cistern that have suddenly invaded her life and her house–and at least one of them is definitely not filled with holiday cheer….

And these relics aren’t the only precious artifacts for which people are searching. A past adversary is convinced that there is a long-lost Revolutionary War treasure buried somewhere on the property that Melanie inherited–untold riches rumored to be brought over from France by the Marquis de Lafayette himself and intended to help the Colonial war effort. It’s a treasure literally fit for a king, and there have been whispers throughout history that many have already killed–and died–for it. And now someone will stop at nothing to possess it–even if it means destroying everything Melanie and Jack hold dear.


I’m always excited when I hear Karen White is releasing a new book. It’s even more exciting when that book is part of a series I have loved and has a holiday theme.

If you’re not familiar with Karen White or the Tradd Street series, it revolves around Melanie Trenholm and her ability to communicate with ghosts. Melanie lives in Charleston, South Carolina where the rich history of the area makes for some interesting paranormal interactions. There’s also some romance (Melanie & Jack), family relationships, and mystery to add to the fun. I will warn you that you can’t just see the words “Christmas Spirits” in the title and jump right into reading this book because you want holiday themes. While the mystery is new, the characters and their relationships are not. You would be completely lost. I have good news for you, though — the Tradd Street series is a fun read and you won’t be mad if you go back and read it from the start.

So, what did I think of The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street? I had some mixed feelings. I’m going to lay them out for you in a way that makes sense to me.

The writing: Karen White’s writing never fails to pull me in. It did have moments where things felt slow to me, but I think that’s because of some of the feelings I had for one of the characters. Otherwise, Karen White left me on the edge of my seat wondering how it was all going to turn out.

The characters: Melanie is same old Melanie. She’s quirky. In all of the other books that worked for me. In this one, it did and it didn’t. I just feel like her character needed to mature a bit. Melanie’s stayed stagnant throughout the entire series. Now, she’s married with children and her family and friends are still having to manipulate her to act like an adult at times. I did love how all of her relationships and the relationships around her have grown. It was fun to see how the gang reacted to her.

The mystery: This was my favorite part of the book. As always, I was enthralled with the mystery and how the ghosts related to it. It’s what kept me reading when Melanie was driving me nuts. I refuse to say more because I’m not giving anything away.

The end: I loved how the mystery wrapped up. It was perfection. All of the pieces of the puzzle revealed themselves in a great way and fit perfectly. What I didn’t love was how everything else ended. There was a cliffhanger that irritated me. I got it, but it wasn’t a fun way to end the book. Now I have to wait for the next book and I’m hoping it’s not going to be a long wait.

As you can see, there were some great things and some that drove me nuts. If you’re a fan of this series, you are going to want to read it no matter what.

Review: The Reckless Oath We Made (Bryn Greenwood)

The Reckless Oath We Made
Author: Bryn Greenwood
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Publisher: J.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

A provocative love story between a tough Kansas woman on a crooked path to redemption and the unlikeliest of champions, from the New York Times bestselling author of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things.

Zee is nobody’s fairy tale princess. Almost six-foot, with a redhead’s temper and a shattered hip, she has a long list of worries: never-ending bills, her beautiful, gullible sister, her five-year-old nephew, her housebound mother, and her drug-dealing boss.

Zee may not be a princess, but Gentry is an actual knight, complete with sword, armor, and a code of honor. Two years ago the voices he hears called him to be Zee’s champion. Both shy and autistic, he’s barely spoken to her since, but he has kept watch, ready to come to her aid.

When an abduction tears Zee’s family apart, she turns to the last person she ever imagined–Gentry–and sets in motion a chain of events that will not only change both of their lives, but bind them to one another forever.


I’ve been sitting here staring at the computer screen trying to figure out what to say about The Reckless Oath We Made. I keep thinking about the blurb and the “provocative romance” label. Those two words describe this book, but not in the way some might think. It was provocative in the causing a strong reaction way, not the deliberately sexy sort of way. It had a sweet but infuriating romance. I don’t know that I would place it firmly in the romance category, though. The Reckless Oath We made was more of a mystery in some ways. Zee’s sister LeReigne has gone missing. Zee is on a mission to find her without the help of the police. Instead, her stalker/self-appointed “champion” Gentry is going to help her. Despite being two incredibly different people, they fall in love along the way.

I was addicted to Bryn Greenwood’s writing from the moment I started The Reckless Oath We Made. There was such beauty in words that could be so ugly at times. The way she crafted and directed the story kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what was next. I loved the way she told this story through multiple points of view. Not only did we get Zee and Gentry’s POVs, but also several other characters’. All of those POVs gave a greater depth to this story and an even greater idea of who Zee and Gentry were and the things that happened.

Zee was a calculating, hard woman whose personal opinion of right and wrong is fluid. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to get her sister back. Some of the things she was willing to do did not sit right with me, but they made this book what it was. Gentry was an old soul with a strong sense of right and wrong who is determined to help his lady. He’s not only autistic, but schizophrenic. He speaks in Old English. (Even his POV is in Old English, which was a little frustrating at first.) Zee and Gentry were an odd combination that somehow worked in the most beautiful way. They saw each other in ways others missed. Their romance was inconceivable at first, yet totally understandable as things progressed.

The journey The Reckless Oath We Made took me on was not for the faint of heart. It was a beautifully ugly story. One that made both cringe and smile. It was weird and uncomfortable, yet totally enthralling. I really loved it. It reminded me of a Tarryn Fisher novel, which didn’t surprise me all that much since I decided to read this book based on Ms. Fisher’s recommendation of it on social media.