Blog Tour – Witch of Wild Things by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Blog Tour – Witch of Wild Things by Raquel Vasquez GillilandWitch of Wild Things by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
four-half-stars
Published by Berkley Romance on September 12, 2023
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

 

I started my spooky season reading with vampires and now it’s time to bring some witches into the mix. I chose Witch of Wild Things by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland as my first witchy read of the season, in part because of that gorgeous cover and also because it features elemental magic, which I love. It also features a romance that is complicated by secrets, as well as a family dynamic that is complicated by grief.  If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that all of those elements are like catnip for me!

At the center of this story are the women of the Flores family. Legend has it that many years ago a Flores woman offended the old gods and caused all of her female descendants to be cursed with magical powers.  Sage Flores is the protagonist of the story and her magical abilities are tied to plants. Nicknamed the “Plant Whisperer,” Sage can identify any plant and not only that but she can actually communicate with them.  Sage’s sister, Teal, has powers that tie her emotions to the weather — extreme emotions equal extreme weather conditions. Lastly, younger sister Sky’s magic allowed her to communicate with animals.

When the story opens, we meet Sage as she has just been fired from her job and is headed back to her hometown.  Sage is not looking forward to this because she has been estranged from Teal ever since the death of Sky eight years earlier.  Teal holds Sage responsible for their sister’s death and wants nothing to do with her.  What we also learn about Sage in these opening scenes is that Sky is actually haunting her, following her around and leaving her gifts of coffee.  Sky is trapped here and wants Sage to find a way to mend fences with Teal, in hopes that will allow her spirit to move on.  Needless to say, emotions run high between the two remaining sisters as they come face to face after so many years apart.

Sage isn’t just being haunted by her sister though. She’s also being haunted by her past, in the form of Tennessee Reyes, a boy she had a crush on in high school who broke her heart.  When Sage takes a job with the Cranberry Rose Company to hunt for unique plant specimens, she ends up partnered with Tennessee.  Being with Tennessee brings back so many memories for Sage and as she starts to grow closer to him all over again, she knows she has to tell him a secret that she has kept from him for nearly a decade.  I loved how the author has their relationship unfold, through the use of both present day scenes and through flashbacks from their high school days.

I really loved everything about this book.  The story grabbed my attention from the opening scenes and I flew through it in just a couple of sittings because I was so invested in Sage’s journey.  She’s a messy and flawed character, but she grows so much throughout the course of the book, both in terms of her relationship with her sister and her relationship with Tennessee.  The writing was also just so gorgeous. I loved all of the nature vibes and the descriptions of the magic.  It was truly an enchanting read!

Thanks so much to Kristin Cipolla and Berkley Romance for the opportunity to take part in the blog tour to promote Witch of Wild Things! It’s available now so be sure to pick up a copy!

 

 

 

four-half-stars

About Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is a Mexican American poet, novelist, and painter. She received an MFA in poetry from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 2017. She’s most inspired by fog and seeds and the lineages of all things. When not writing, Raquel tells stories to her plants and they tell her stories back. She lives in Tennessee with her beloved family and mountains. Raquel has published two books of poetry. Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything is her first novel.

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Trap & The Drowning Woman

 

Hi everyone! Sharon here and it is time for Thriller Thursday! This week I am excited to share my thoughts on Catherine Ryan Howard’s, The Trap and Robyn Harding’s, The Drowning Woman.

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Trap & The Drowning WomanThe Trap Goodreads

Author: Catherine Ryan Howard

Publication Date: August 1, 2023

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

The Trap by Catherine Ryan Howard was inspired by the unsolved disappearance of women in Ireland in the 1990’s. The story follows three different perspectives. Lucy, who has taken matters into her own hands as she tries to find out what happened to her sister, Nicki, who disappeared a year ago after leaving a pub in Dublin. Angela, who works in the missing person’s unit and desperately wants to be a full fledge member of An Garda Síochána, the Irish police force and is pulled into the cases of three women who have disappeared in the Dublin area. And then we have the unsub, driving through the night with his latest victim in the back of his car. He is telling her his story, from his home life, to what started him on this road to kidnapping women.

Out of the three POV’s, the Unsub’s was my favorite. I got the chills while reading his chapters and listening to his story, all the while knowing there is another victim in his car. I could just feel her terror, and I was getting claustrophobic imagining being her in the back of that car with no way out listening to this man tell his story.

I had a lot of sympathy for Lucy. I know if one of my sisters was missing and the police were not getting anywhere finding her, I would be doing anything and everything to find her, just as Lucy was. Yes, some of the things she was doing were dangerous, but she was determined to get answers.

Angela was a tough cookie. I really liked her determination to prove herself and finally getting on the police force. When she found herself pulled into the investigation of the missing women, she knew this could make or break her chances. Angela is working with Garda detective, Denise Pope, who does not always do things by the book. I really liked watching them work together to figure out what happened to the missing women.

Catherine Ryan Howard did a great job in creating these characters as well as bringing their storylines together.

The Trap was an edge of my seat, fast paced read, that kept me turning the pages. I could not wait to find out how everything was going to end. And OMG! what an ending it was. I so did not anticipate how this book was going to conclude. My jaw was literally hanging open. I have loved everything I have read by Catherine Ryan Howard. The Nothing Man was my favorite, but now that is my second favorite, and The Trap has jumped to the number one spot.  4 ½ stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Trap & The Drowning WomanThe Drowning Woman Goodreads

Author: Robyn Harding

Publication Date: June 13, 2023

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Robyn Harding’s The Drowning Woman is a twisty mystery that follows two women, Lee Gulliver and Hazel Laval, who are both trying to escape their past and they form an unlikely friendship. Lee is homeless and living in her car in Seattle. She never thought this would be her life, but after her restaurant went under during covid, Lee had to flee New York due to her owing money to a very unsavory character. Hazel is married to a wealthy criminal attorney, but her life is anything but roses. Hazel’s husband is abusive and will never let her leave of her own accord. Lee and Hazel meet when Hazel is trying to drown herself, but Lee pulls her out of the water and saves her. The women form a friendship and share their secrets with each other. Hazel then asks Lee to help her disappear. At first Lee is apprehensive, but after learning the abuse Hazel lives with, she agrees.  But Lee soon learns that Hazel may not be the friend she pretended to be and not everything is as it seems.

This story is broken up into four parts.  Parts one and three are from Lee’s POV and parts two and four are from Hazel’s POV.  I loved how Harding presented the book this way. Each part ended in a twist that had me craving to find out what was going to happen.

I felt closer to Lee than I did to Hazel. I think it is because of the fact that the book starts with Lee’s POV, and we learn more about her first. And when we get the twist at the end of that first part, I was like “Hazel you bitch!”  So, by the time I got to Hazel’s POV, I already didn’t like her. Lol! Though by the end of her part, I did warm to her some.

I liked how strong and resourceful Lee was. She was a bit too trusting at times though. The more Hazel was telling Lee about her plan and what she needed Lee to do, the alarm bells went off in my head. I wanted to scream “No Lee, do not do it!”

I did feel for Hazel, even though I did not like her much. Her husband was abusive and controlling, and the more I learned about her situation, I understood why she just couldn’t walk away from him. One main reason was that Hazel’s mother had Alzheimer’s and was living in a nursing home, which her husband was paying for and if she left him he would stop paying and her mother would have nowhere to go.  I just wish she went about things differently.

The Drowning Woman is full of twists and turns that kept me turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next.  4 stars

Book Tour Review – WHAT WOULD JANE AUSTEN DO? by Linda Corbett

Book Tour Review – WHAT WOULD JANE AUSTEN DO? by Linda CorbettWhat Would Jane Austen Do? by Linda Corbett
four-stars
Published by ‎HarperCollinsUK on June 16, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Pages: 384
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

 

MY REVIEW:

Linda Corbett’s new novel What Would Jane Austen Do? follows Maddy Shaw, a young journalist and Jane Austen fangirl who has been writing an advice column for a national paper.  When we first meet Maddy, she has just been told her column is cancelled and that she’ll have to find work elsewhere.  Maddy can barely make ends meet as it is so she knows she’s going to have to leave London to find more affordable housing.  Before leaving London, Maddy attends one final interview and it’s here that she meets a famous crime writer who is the grumpiest, most cynical person she has ever encountered.  He also has a very negative opinion about romance novels, which Maddy just isn’t having, and the two of them passionately debate the subject. I fell in love with Maddy during that encounter.  Her passionate defense of the romance genre was so moving and I agreed with every word she said.

Maddy’s life takes another unexpected turn and it is this turn that drives the plot of the novel.  She inherits a huge house in the English countryside from a cousin she never really knew. While Maddy would love to sell the house and get some much needed cash, the will stipulates that she must live in the house for twelve months first.  Reluctantly, Maddy moves into her new home, having no idea how truly life changing the entire experience will be.

I had such a fun time reading this book!  The village where Maddy has relocated is full of quirky, literature- loving neighbors who are committed to carrying on the literary festival that Maddy’s cousin had hosted for years.  Another stipulation of the will that no one told Maddy about was that she would follow in her cousin’s footsteps and plan the whole festival. Not only that, but when they hear she could really use a lodger to help with her financial situation, they find her a roommate, who of course turns out to be none other than her least favorite grumpy crime writer, whose name is Luke, and his adorable dog, Buster. Needless to say, there are plenty of laughs and shenanigans as Maddy awkwardly tries to navigate both the planning of the festival and how to live peacefully with Luke.

I will also say that while this is a romance, it is most definitely a slow burn one. Both characters are so well developed though that I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them, and I also enjoyed watching the dynamic between them shift as they got to know one another.  That slow burn was worth the wait!

What Would Jane Austen Do? is a fun and heartwarming contemporary romance.  It also pays homage to all things Jane Austen, which is sure to delight any Austen fan.  This book isn’t just for Austen fans though so no worries if you haven’t read her entire canon.

Thanks so much to Laurel Ann Nattress at Austenprose for inviting me to take part in this tour.

 

PRAISE FOR WHAT WOULD JANE AUSTEN DO?

  • “Witty, sharp and beautifully observed – I feel sure Jane would approve.”— Julie Caplin, author of The French Chateau
  • “Sparkling romance, secrets from the past…Witty and romantic, I couldn’t stop myself from turning the pages.”— Alison Sherlock, bestselling author of The Village of Lost and Found
  • “…sheer fun from beginning to end, beautifully written, and with a real touch of originality.”— Anne Williams, Being Anne
  • “What a lovely book! It also fills my need to see British colloquialisms on occasion. Yes! I highly recommend this book!”— Michelle, Tales Untangled 

 

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | HARPERCOLLINS | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB

 

 

four-stars

About Linda Corbett

Linda Corbett lives in Surrey with her husband Andrew and three permanently hungry guinea pigs. As well as being an author, Linda is treasurer and fundraiser for Shine Surrey – a volunteer-led charity that supports individuals and families living with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. For many years she also wrote a regular column for Link, a disability magazine, illustrating the humorous aspects of life with a complex disability and she is a passionate advocate of disability representation in fiction. Love You From A-Z was her first published novel.

Romance Reviews: THE LOVE PLOT & MY ROOMMATE IS A VAMPIRE

 

Happy Friday everyone!  Today I’m back to share my thoughts on two fantastic new releases from Berkley Romance.  Samantha Young is one of my favorite romance writers so I was thrilled to read her latest, and Jenna Levine is a debut author that I was excited to try after hearing her talk about her book at a recent Berkley event that showcased upcoming fall releases.

 

Romance Reviews:  THE LOVE PLOT & MY ROOMMATE IS A VAMPIREThe Love Plot Goodreads

Author: Samantha Young

Publication Date: August 29, 2023

Publisher: Berkley Romance

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley and a complimentary ALC from Penguin Random House Audio.  All opinions are my own.

 

Samantha Young is fast becoming one of my favorite romcom authors. I’ve loved everything I’ve read from her so far and her latest, The Love Plot, is my new favorite! It’s just the perfect combination of sexy, swoony, heartwarming fun and I loved every page of it.

The protagonist, Star Shine Meadows, as her name might suggest, is quite the free spirit. All Star wants to do is be happy and to do what she can to spread that happiness to others. When we meet her, she is working two jobs, one as a professional costume character actor who mainly attends kids’ birthday parties, and the other as a professional line sitter, where she waits in line for items her clients do not have the time to wait for. She meets Rafe, the sexy but grumpy male love interest, at his niece’s birthday party, & sparks fly.

Rafe is Star’s opposite in pretty much every way. He’s a broody, reserved veterinarian, and he doesn’t understand Star at all. She’s too cheerful, obnoxious & he doesn’t get why she works the jobs she works. Yet, there’s just something about her that gets under Rafe’s skin. Rafe is also desperate to get his family to stop playing matchmaker, so he offers Star money to be his fake girlfriend. She agrees & shenanigans ensue!

I had so much fun reading this one. Both Star and Rafe are just so adorable & they have sizzling chemistry. I loved their hilarious and snarky banter, as well as the more heartwarming moments when they realize they’ve caught feelings for one another. I also loved that there were some more serious moments, particularly when they talk about their families and the future.

I alternated between the physical book and the audio (thank you, @PRHAudio), and I loved both. Savannah Peachwood read the audio and she did a phenomenal job bringing these wonderful characters to life.

This is the perfect read for any fan of the fake dating, opposites attract or grumpy-sunshine tropes. The Love Plot is out 8/29 so be sure to pick up a copy!  4.5 STARS

 

Romance Reviews:  THE LOVE PLOT & MY ROOMMATE IS A VAMPIREMy Roommate Is a Vampire Goodreads

Author: Jenna Levine

Publication Date: August 29, 2023

Publisher:  Berkley Romance

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley and a complimentary ALC from Penguin Random House Audio.  All opinions are my own.

 

I’ve been enjoying the witchy rom com trend that has really taken off the past few years, so when I saw that Jenna Levine’s debut novel was a vampire romcom, I just had to read it! I’m so glad I do too because this was just such a charming book.

Cassie is an artist who is struggling to make ends meet, so much so that she’s being evicted from her apartment. When she comes across an ad for an apartment in a great neighborhood and the rent is only $200 a month, Cassie is of course suspicious because it sounds too good to be true, but she decides to take it because she really has no other viable option. Cassie is a fun character, a little messy and chaotic at times, but very likable.

I adored Frederick J. Fitzwilliam from the moment we first meet him. He may be a vampire but he looks and sounds like he stepped out of the pages of a Jane Austen novel and he is a cinnamon roll. We learn early on that Frederick was the victim of a prank (courtesy of his friend Reginald) that left him in a coma for 100 years. When Frederick woke, he had no idea how to function in such a modern society so he has been struggling to fit in.

While Cassie and Frederick rarely ever see one another, they exchange notes every day. The notes are super cute, filled with lots of flirty banter, and the two of them soon become friends.

When Cassie accidentally learns that Frederick is a vampire, after an initial freakout, she accepts Frederick’s offer to let her keep living there in exchange for her help in making a modern vampire out of him. I loved watching their relationship evolve as Cassie gives him a makeover. So cute & so hilarious! And even though their relationship is a slow burn, there is definitely some steam for those who enjoy that.

There was some drama near the end that I could have done without, but overall I just loved this delightful paranormal romance.

I alternated between the physical copy and the audio version (thank you, @PRHAudio) and thought both were excellent.  The narrator Gilli Messer did an especially fabulous job capturing Frederick’s personality and it was such a fun listening experience. 4 STARS

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Narrow & Dead of Winter

 

Sharon’s back with another edition of Thriller Thursday.  Spooky season is upon us and this week I have a couple of great books to kick the season off with. I have a not too scary ghost story in Kate Alice Marshall’s, The Narrow and a slasher/horror story in Darcy Coates’, Dead of Winter.  Both of these books were great and I loved them.

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Narrow & Dead of WinterThe Narrow Goodreads

Author: Kate Alice Marshall

Publication Date: August 1, 2023

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

The Narrow is a YA ghost story, and it is also a story of friendships and finding lost loves. This is my second read by Kate Alice Marshall, and I loved this just as much as What Lies in the Woods. 

Behind the Atwood School, a prestigious boarding school, is a river called the Narrow. The Narrow is only a few feet wide, but the water is deep and vicious. It is said that no one that has fallen into the Narrow has ever survived, what the Narrow takes it never gives back. But Eden White knows this is not true. Six years ago, Eden and her best friend Veronica saw Delphine Fournier fall into the Narrow and survive. Although now Delphine has to live on the school grounds in Abigail House. If she leaves the school grounds she becomes gravely ill. She also cannot come in contact with unpurified water, as a single drop could kill her. This year in exchange for her tuition, Eden has agreed to live at Abigail house with Delphine and keep her company as well as ensuring she stays safe. As Eden and Delphine get to know each other and begin to unravel each other’s secrets, Eden realizes something is haunting Delphine and now that something is coming for Eden as well. Eden hears rain on the windows, but the sky is clear, she has seen a ghostly silhouette in her doorway and wet footprints by her bed.  The school has been rumored to be haunted by the Drowning Girl. What does the Drowning Girl want with Delphine and Eden?

There was so much to love about this book. I loved the spooky ghost story and the tale of the Drowning Girl. I cannot say too much about her, but whenever she showed up all I could picture was the girl that crawled out of the TV in The Ring.

I really liked the friendship that Eden and Delphine formed. Eden was determined to figure out what was going on and help Delphine break whatever was haunting her. Eden was willing to risk her life for Delphine. Eden enlisted the help of her friends, Veronica, Zoya, and Ruth to help her uncover the mystery of The Drowning Girl. And what a mystery that was. As we were given bits of information on her, I thought I knew what was going on, but then a twist came and knock that out of the water (no pun intended lol).

I really loved Eden and the more we learned of her backstory, the more sympathy I had for her. She hides a lot about her home life from her friends and at times she would push them away because she did not want them to find out. But I liked it when she needed them they were there for her and had her back.

I think Kate Alice Marshall did a great job in weaving the ghost story, friendships, and lost loves aspect of this story together. If you are looking for a book to start off the spooky season that is not too scary, then I highly recommend The Narrow4 stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Narrow & Dead of WinterDead of Winter Goodreads

Author: Darcy Coates

Publication Date: July 11, 2023

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

I have never read anything by Darcy Coates before, but when Dead of Winter popped up as a suggestion from Goodreads, it sounded just like the kind of book I would like, and it definitely was. Dead of Winter follows a group of strangers stranded in the Rocky Mountains during a snowstorm. Oh! And one of them is a killer, picking the others off one by one.

Christa Bailey and her boyfriend Kiernan are on a bus with nine other people on their way to Blackstone Alpine Lodge in the Rocky Mountains. When the bus has to stop because of a large tree branch in the road, Christa and Kiernan decide to take in the mountain scenery while the others try to clear the road.  When a snowstorm comes in, Christa and Kiernan get separated from the group, as well as each other. Christa is able to find her way to an abandoned cabin, where the others from the bus have taken shelter from the storm. They promise Christa they will go looking for Kiernan in the morning, but come morning Brian, their tour guide, is also missing. When they go out to look for Brian, they find just his head and it is impaled on a tree branch. Terrified, the group does all they can to stay safe and wait out the storm, but one by one they are killed, and their heads are impaled on the tree with Brian’s.

Wow! I loved everything about this book.  The Story is told from the POV of Christa. I loved being in Christa’s head as she tries to figure out who can be trusted when it became obvious that one of the group was the killer.

We don’t get a lot of backstories on the rest of the group, but I think Coates did a great job of creating them and giving us just enough information, so that along with Christa we tried to figure out who was the killer.

I loved the snowy mountain and small cabin setting as well, that just added to the spookiness of the book. Darcy Coates did an amazing job of creating this setting, so that I could feel the coldness and could picture how claustrophobic that cabin must have been. You would think being in a small cabin they should be safe and they would be if they stayed together. But oh no, at one time or another someone would go off on their own and then sure enough their head was added to the tree.

I thought for sure I had things figured out and knew who the killer was, but when their body turned up, I was like “Damn! I was so sure!” I was totally clueless when the killer was revealed. So good job Darcy Coates on keeping me in the dark.

Dead of Winter was full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end.  This book would make one hell of a great slasher movie. Be forewarned though, this book is not for the weak of heart. So, I of course loved it. LOL! I definitely want to check out more from Darcy Coates.   4 ½ stars

YA Reviews: TILLY IN TECHNICOLOR & BRING ME YOUR MIDNIGHT

 

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a nice weekend.  Mine was pretty relaxing, and I got a lot of reading done, which is always nice.  Today I’m back to share my thoughts on two YA books that I’ve read recently.  I haven’t been reading much YA in recent years, but I’m always up for a new Rachel Griffin novel and I definitely could not resist Mazey Eddings’ YA debut since I’ve loved all of her adult romance novels.

 

YA Reviews: TILLY IN TECHNICOLOR & BRING ME YOUR MIDNIGHTTilly in Technicolor Goodreads

Author: Mazey Eddings

Publication Date: August 15, 2023

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

 

This is such a gem of a book, my favorite from Eddings yet!

After struggling throughout high school because of her ADHD, Tilly Twomley is ready for a fresh start. She’s not sure exactly what she wants to do, so in the meantime, her parents are paying to send her to Europe to work as a summer intern for her sister.

Unlike Tilly, Oliver Clark knows exactly what he wants. His autism has kept his world small, but he’s okay with that because of his passion for color theory and design. He is looking to build up his resume and lands a summer internship, which he is excited about, until he experiences the most horrendous international flight ever, courtesy of his cute but chaotic seat mate.

He can’t wait to get away from her, but to his dismay, she is also an intern at the same company and he’s stuck spending the summer with her. That seatmate/intern is of course, Tilly, and she’s equally mortified after having embarrassed herself repeatedly in front of Oliver on the plane.

I can’t express how much I enjoyed watching the relationship between Oliver and Tilly! They’re both just adorable together and their banter is top notch, but what I especially loved was how they “saw” each other. As they get to know each other, they recognize each other’s neurodiversity and really make an effort to be supportive of each other. I loved that connection between them!

Eddings also does a wonderful job of exploring how being neurdiverse can impact family relationships as well. Tilly’s mom is overprotective to the point of being hurtful, and it has strained their relationship. I thought Tilly’s journey of self-discovery was beautiful, not just because of what she learns about herself, but also because of how she proves herself both to her mom and sister.

With Tilly in Technicolor, Eddings does an incredible job of making neurodiverse individuals feel seen and understood.  4.5 STARS

 

YA Reviews: TILLY IN TECHNICOLOR & BRING ME YOUR MIDNIGHTBring Me Your Midnight Goodreads

Author: Rachel Griffin

Publication Date: August 1, 2023

Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

 

I don’t read much YA fiction these days, but I couldn’t resist a new YA witchy read from Rachel Griffin since I loved her first two books so much. Filled with the lush, atmospheric writing I’ve come to expect from Griffin, Bring Me Your Midnight did not disappoint either.

Set on a small island inhabited by witches, this story immediately drew me in as soon as we learn that Mortana Fairchild, a young witch and the protagonist of the story, is preparing to marry Landon, who is the governor’s son and who is also not a witch. It is an arranged marriage that is designed for forge an alliance between the island witches and the mortals who live on the mainland. Mortana is willing to go along with the marriage out of a sense of duty to her coven but she doesn’t have any real feelings for Landon.

Over the years Tana’s coven has alleviated the fears of those on the mainland by performing a ritual that releases most of their magic into the ocean during the full moon. When Mortana accidentally misses the ritual, she is afraid to tell her mother and so is at risk of dying, unless she can find someone to help her. That someone ends up being Wolfe, a handsome witch from a coven who practices forbidden magic. Mortana is not only physically attracted to Wolfe, but she’s also very attracted to his forbidden magic and how powerful and alive it makes her feel. Wolfe not only opens her eyes to this new magic, but he also reveals to her that most of her life she has been living a lie.

I loved the chemistry between Mortana and Wolfe and I was completely rapt by this storyline. I couldn’t stop turning the pages to find out how Mortana would react to her attraction to Wolfe and to this new knowledge that secrets and lies have colored her entire world.  Bring Me Your Midnight is perfect for fans of witchy reads, forbidden love, small town/island settings, and atmospheric writing.  4 STARS

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Mother & A Twisted Love Story

 

Happy Thriller Thursday! Sharon here and I hope everyone is having a good week and an enjoyable summer. Spooky season is right around the corner.  🙂   This week I am happy to share my thoughts on T.M. Logan’s, The Mother and Samantha Downing’s, A Twisted Love Story. I enjoyed both of these books very much.

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Mother & A Twisted Love StoryThe Mother Goodreads

Author: T.M. Logan

Publication Date: March 2, 2023

Publisher: Zaffre

I am always excited when I see that T.M. Logan has a new book out, I have loved everything of his I have read. When I read the synopsis for his new book, The Mother, I couldn’t wait to read it. The Mother follows Heather Vernon, who was convicted of killing her husband, Liam, ten years ago. Heather was sentenced to eighteen years in prison and has been paroled after nine years. Heather is determined to find out who really killed her husband and regain custody of her two sons, Theo who is now fourteen and Finn who is now thirteen.  But what Heather soon learns is that the person responsible for her husband’s murder will do anything to silence her.

Omg! I loved Heather so much. From the first chapter when she is hiding in the back of a church during her “funeral”, I was hooked and was team Heather all the way. I loved Heather’s determination in finding out the truth. I also feared for her safety often. The person responsible went to great lengths to frame Heather for Liam’s murder and it just made me so angry for her as we found out bits and pieces of evidence that was planted.  I really don’t want to say too much about Heather’s investigation and what info she finds, as I think this book is best to go in blind. But I will say that I flipped often on what I thought was going on. I also had a lot of sympathy for Heather as she was uncovering information, as she had to try and keep her emotions in check, which was hard to do because Heather truly loved Liam and some of the information she uncovered did not put Liam in the best light.

Heather has help in her search for the truth. She has hooked up with Owen Tanner, a reporter who does not believe that Heather is guilty of killing Liam. I was on the fence trusting Owen. Heather also formed a fast friendship with Jodie, who has also been recently released from prison and is living at the same boarding house as Heather. I loved their friendship; they had each other’s backs and formed such a strong friendship in a short time.  Rounding out Heather’s group is Liam’s sister Amy. I really enjoyed following along as they all worked to find out who was responsible for Liam’s murder. There were quite a few tense moments when each of them got into life-or-death trouble.

I wish I could say more about The Mother because I loved it so much. T.M. Logan did a great job in creating a story that flowed so smoothly and gradually increased the suspense and tension, that by the end of the book I was on the edge of my seat and could not read fast enough to find out how everything would end. And I hope I am not spoiling anything when I say, I so did not see that ending coming.    4 ½ stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Mother & A Twisted Love StoryA Twisted Love Story Goodreads

Author: Samantha Downing

Publication Date: July 18, 2023

Publisher: Berkley

Samantha Downing’s latest book, A Twisted Love Story, follows Wes Harman and Ivy Banks who have, you guessed it, a very twisted love story. Wes and Ivy have been dating on and off for ten years and when things are good, it’s great. But when their relationship hits a snag it can be an all-out war, with screaming matches and arrest warrants. This last break-up of theirs has lasted a few months. When someone starts stalking Ivy she reports it to the police and tells them she believes it is Wes. It is after the police talk to Wes that they end up back together. Told you they have a twisted love story. LOL!  But the detective, Karen Colglazier, that initially spoke with Wes does not like him and she is determined to put him in jail. She starts her own private investigation into Wes and what she uncovers could land both Wes and Ivy in jail. You see, seven years ago during one of their fights, someone ended up dead.

At first when Colglazier was looking into Wes she was just trying to get him arrested for stalking Ivy, but the more she dug she actually turned up bits of information that linked Ivy and Wes to the death of an eighteen-year-old. Once Colglazier got onto the scent she was now determined to have Wes arrested for murder. I didn’t really care for Colglazier at all. She had tunnel vision on Wes, and she did not follow the evidence to where it led. She twisted it and made it point to where she wanted it to go.

Once we were given some information on what happened seven years ago that resulted in the death of the eighteen-year-old, I was all over the place on who I thought was responsible, Wes or Ivy. I kept going back and forth on that.

Downing did a great job in creating this mystery, while also giving us an entertaining read into Wes and Ivy’s twisted relationship. Their banter back and forth and just how toxic they were with each other was fun to read. But even though these two had a volatile relationship they were actually good for each other. When things started to heat up in the investigation into the death of the eighteen-year-old, both Wes and Ivy had each others backs. By the end of the book things really were starting to hit the fan and Wes as well as Ivy could end up in jail. I couldn’t wait to find out if they were going to be able to get away with everything that was going on.

A Twisted Love Story was such an entertaining read, full of great characters. There were also a few smaller plots going on in the story and Downing did a fantastic job of weaving everything together. I also loved how the two main characters were the “villains” but were also just so likable.  4 stars

Reviews: THE AIR RAID BOOK CLUB & MRS. PORTER CALLING

 

Happy Monday! I hope everyone is doing well.  We’re still settling into a new year of school here so I’m posting a little later in the day than I usually do.  Today I’m sharing my thoughts on two new historical fiction releases that I requested for review this summer.  Both are new-to-me authors that I’ve been wanting to try so I’m excited to have finally had the chance to read them both.

 

Reviews: THE AIR RAID BOOK CLUB & MRS. PORTER CALLINGThe Air Raid Book Club Goodreads

Author: Annie Lyons

Publication Date: July 11, 2023

Publisher: William Morrow

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

 

I’m always drawn to WWII historical fiction anyway, but I especially couldn’t resist Annie Lyons’ latest novel when I saw that it centered on a book shop and book club.  Filled with both heartbreak and hope, The Air Raid Book Club was a brilliant read that I devoured in just a couple of sittings.

Set in London in 1938, the story follows Gertie Bingham. For years, Gertie ran Bingham Books with her beloved husband, Harry.  When Harry unexpectedly passes away, Gertie starts to feel out of sorts in the shop, too many memories of Harry surround her.  Lost in her grief, Gertie thinks about selling the shop and retiring.  She puts those plans on hold, however, when she learns that Jewish children are being evacuated from Germany.  Gertie agrees to take in a 15-year-old Jewish girl named Hedy Fischer.

Although they get off to a slightly rocky start, Gertie and Hedy soon become friends and a great comfort to one another. Gertie opens up to Hedy about how much she misses Harry, while Hedy is able to share her fears about the fate of the rest of her family who were unable to be evacuated from Germany. Hedy helps Gertie in the book shop and when the air raids start to increase, they create a shelter in the shop and invite everyone nearby to come to their shelter when the air raid sirens blare. They start a new book club while in the shelter so that they can pass the time and distract themselves from the danger by discussing books.

I adored everything about this book. The relationship between Gertie and Hedy was just so moving and beautiful. I adore a good found family story and the bond between these two truly warmed my heart. In addition to those beautiful found family moments, there was also so much wonderful bookish content. I thoroughly enjoyed those air raid book club meetings and loved how lively and thoughtful their discussions always were as well as the idea that books could provide these weary Londoners with an escape, however so brief, from the terrors of war. The entire cast of characters was wonderful and the writing was beautiful.

I highly recommend The Air Raid Book Club to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, books about books, found families, and especially to anyone who enjoys stories that explore how to move forward after experiencing loss and grief.  5 STARS

 

Reviews: THE AIR RAID BOOK CLUB & MRS. PORTER CALLINGMrs. Porter Calling (The Emmy Lake Chronicles, #3) Goodreads

Author: AJ Pearce

Publication Date: August 8, 2023

Publisher:  Scribner

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

 

Mrs. Porter Calling is the third installment in The Emmy Lake Chronicles series by A.J. Pearce.  Set in London during WWII, this series follows aspiring journalist, Emmy Lake, as she seeks to do her part for the war effort.

In Mrs. Porter Calling, Emmy is now in charge of writing “Yours Cheerfully” a popular advice column in Women’s Friend magazine.  With each column, Emmy seeks to help her readers cope with the increasing challenges they have all faced because of the war.  In fact, much of the magazine is dedicated to helping the average Londoner get by.  The readers love that everyone at the magazine is so devoted to their well being, and therefore Woman’s Friend is wildly successful even in such trying times. That is, until Mrs. Porter arrives on the scene.

I have to say that I struggled a little with this book.  First, I didn’t realize this was the third book in a series when I requested it, totally my fault for not paying attention, but that meant I didn’t have all the background on Emmy, her husband Charles, and the rest of her friends and coworkers. I was still easily able to follow along and get the gist of all their personalities and relationships and I enjoyed all of the series regulars, especially Emmy and her best friend Bunty, who are both just so plucky and fierce, but I felt like I would have connected even more with them if I had read the first two books.

My biggest struggle though was actually Mrs. Porter.  Mrs. Porter is a narcissistic socialite who inherits the magazine.  She doesn’t like anything sad or that relates to the war and so she comes in like a wrecking ball, dismantling everything good about the magazine and turning it into a ridiculous vanity project, without care or concern for what the readers want. Now I love a good villain – it’s fun to have a character that you love to hate.  The problem with Mrs. Porter is that I didn’t love to hate her. I just hated her and wanted to skip over the scenes she appeared in.  She was just too predictable and one dimensional.  I wanted her to do something that would surprise me and she unfortunately never did.

That said, what saved the book for me was Emmy and her fellow staff members.  They are appalled by Mrs. Porter and make it their mission to save their beloved magazine.  I loved watching this crew hatch schemes to try to undermine Mrs. Porter. Those scenes were a lot of fun to read and I found myself cheering them on all the way.  I also really enjoyed watching Emmy’s domestic life.  Since her husband is away at war and several of her friends are struggling, they all decide to move in together to save on expenses and share their rations.  When tragedy strikes, they all come together as a family and it was just beautiful to witness.

Even though I had some issues, I still enjoyed Mrs. Porter Calling and would definitely recommend it to historical fiction fans.  I would say to read the first two books in the series before you do though for the best overall reading experience.  3.5 STARS

Thriller Reviews: NONE OF THIS IS TRUE & DARK CORNERS

 

Happy Monday! I hope everyone is doing well.  I’m struggling to believe we’re already eight months into the year. My son actually goes back to school this week even though it seems like he just got out. He’ll be starting his junior year and hopefully driving soon, so it’s a busy and exciting time around here.  I’m still reading lots though and have started pivoting a bit to some thrillers as we march toward spooky season.  Don’t worry, I’ll still have plenty of romance reviews to share.  I’m just getting back into the headspace where I can read these darker reads too and I’m excited to finally be at that point. Today I’m sharing my thoughts on thrillers from two of my favorite authors. I love that they both featured podcasters in their latest novels.

 

Thriller Reviews: NONE OF THIS IS TRUE & DARK CORNERSNone of This Is True Goodreads

Author: Lisa Jewell

Publication Date: August 8, 2023

Publisher: Atria Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

 

I’m a huge fan of Lisa Jewell’s addictive psychological thrillers so I was beyond excited to get my hands on an advanced copy of her latest novel, None of This is True.  And wow, what a ride this book was. I think it may be her most twisty thriller yet!

The story follows Alix Summers, a popular podcaster who has shot to fame with her compelling interviews with women who have overcome tremendous odds to create new lives for themselves.  One night while she is out celebrating her 45th birthday, she runs into a woman named Josie Fair, who happens to be there celebrating her 45th birthday as well.  Birthday twins!  The two women spend a couple of minutes chatting and go back to their respective celebrations.  Alix thinks nothing else of it, but Josie becomes fixated on Alix and orchestrates a “chance” meeting with her at her kids’ school. Josie has decided that she would be a great candidate to be interviewed on Alix’s podcast and seeks to persuade Alix to her way of thinking. Once she convinces Alix that her story would really be great to take her podcast to the next level, Josie then begins to systematically insert herself into every aspect of Alix’s life. Who is Josie and what in the world is she up to?

Josie starts off as just this kind of sad, quirky character but the more we follow her and listen to the stories she tells Alix, the more disturbing and creepy I found her to be. I think I became as fixated on Josie as she was on Alix.  She made me super uncomfortable but at the same time, I was completely fascinated by her and wanted to know what she was really up to.

I love Jewell’s brand of storytelling anyway, but I felt like she really kicked this one up a notch and tried some new things with this book that really worked well for me.  I was an especially big fan of her use of excerpts from Alix’s podcast as well as the Netflix documentary that covered the whole experience.  I thought those elements provided the perfect teasers to entice the reader to keep turning those pages.  Jewell also brilliantly uses the unreliable narrator in this story. It was nearly impossible to distinguish fact from fiction, and the story kept me guessing until the very end.  The novel is aptly named, that’s for sure!

If you’re in the mood for an addictive psychological thriller that is like nothing you’ve read before, definitely check out None of This is True.  It was my favorite read in July and I’m sure it will be on my end of year favorites list as well.  5 STARS

 

Thriller Reviews: NONE OF THIS IS TRUE & DARK CORNERSDark Corners (Rachel Krall, #2) Goodreads

Author: Megan Goldin

Publication Date: August 8, 2023

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

 

Megan Goldin is an author I always know I can count on for an excellent read so I requested a review copy of her latest thriller, Dark Corners, without even reading the synopsis.  I was thrilled to start reading it and realized that it features Rachel Krall, the protagonist from The Night Swim, my favorite book from Goldin so far. Don’t worry if you haven’t read The Night Swim yet because Dark Corners works well as a standalone. That said, definitely go back and read it though because it’s fabulous!

Rachel Krall is a badass.  She is a true crime podcaster who has become a household name because even though she has no experience in law enforcement and is not a detective, she has been able to solve cases that law enforcement agencies have not. Her instinctive investigative skills and her no nonsense attitude have grudgingly earned her the respect of the various agencies, including the FBI who has called her in to assist on the case that is the focus of this book.

Following Rachel as she puts together the pieces of a case was the most riveting part of The Night Swim for me and this was also the case here.  It’s fascinating to see her mind at work and to follow her train of thought as she investigates.  This case, which focuses on a social media influencer who goes missing after paying a visit to a serial killer in prison, was especially interesting to follow as it takes Rachel into the world of influencers and even to an influencer convention, giving a sneak peek into that world and its narcissistic nature. Golden always weaves plenty of twists and turns in her novels to build suspense and when an unexpected twist actually puts a target on Rachel’s back, I couldn’t put the book down until I knew how that was going to play out.

I read the e-book and listened to the audio version of this book and highly recommend the audio since many excerpts from Rachel’s podcast are woven into the story.  While it was fine to read those excerpts on the page, the audiobook really enhanced my reading experience.

I don’t want to say anything else for fear of spoilers, but with Dark Corners, Megan Goldin has delivered another addictive and suspenseful read and I can’t wait to read more from her. I also hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Rachel Krall!  4 STARS

Pub Day Review: THE ROOMMATE PACT by Allison Ashley

Pub Day Review:  THE ROOMMATE PACT by Allison AshleyThe Roommate Pact by Allison Ashley
four-half-stars
Published by MIRA on August 1, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

I love a good friends to lovers story and Allison Ashley’s new novel The Roommate Pact, filled with lovable characters, flirty banter, and a heartwarming romance, was an absolute delight!

The story follows Claire, an ER nurse, and Graham, a firefighter.  Claire and Graham are good friends, roommates, and they’re both also hesitant when it comes to love and relationships.  They have a great time together though and one night make a slightly drunken pact that if they’re both still single with no prospects by the time they’re 40, they’ll become friends with benefits.  When Graham is seriously injured in a rock climbing accident, Claire becomes his caretaker while he recovers, which puts their friendship and any other feelings they may have to the test.

I adored both of these characters and their relationship with one another.  Even their chemistry as friends was just so much fun to read and you could tell they would be great together if they would take a chance.  They are both held back by traumatic experiences from their past and I was fully invested in the two of them finding their way past that.

As much as I loved Claire though, Graham is the only who really stole my heart.  This story becomes such a journey for him when his injuries sideline him from his usual active lifestyle.  He’s going stir crazy and Claire suggests that he try journaling as a way to work through his feelings. At first he scoffs at the idea, but once he tries it, he realizes it’s actually very helpful and he ends up learning so much about himself and about his true feelings for Claire. I loved this journey for him and that layer of vulnerability it added to his character.

This was my first time reading one of Ashley’s books and I can’t wait to read more from her. I loved her writing style and these characters she has created. I also loved how she handled the more emotional topics and blended them seamlessly with the more traditional rom com elements.  Just an all around delightful read!

Thanks so much to Grace from BookSparks for reaching out to me about reviewing this book!

four-half-stars

About Allison Ashley

Allison Ashley is a music-loving, coffee-drinking mom of two who loves love stories. She’s an oncology pharmacist and spends her days focused on helping patients through the hardest thing life can throw at them. Her escape has always been books—specifically reading books about happiness, love, and laughter—and it was inevitable that she’d eventually write her own. She promises to always write stories with deep romance, intense connection, and humor…but most of all, that coveted happy ever after.