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Reviews: THE INFINITY COURTS & HELLO, CRUEL HEART

 

Hey everyone!  I’m back today with a couple of new reviews to share on some upcoming YA releases.  I was very excited to read the first book as it’s a sci-fi/fantasy novel written by Akemi Dawn Bowman.  I’ve read several of her YA contemporary novels so it was fun to read something so different from her.  I was equally excited to read the second book because Cruella is one of my favorite Disney villains.  It was fun to imagine a backstory for her.

Reviews:  THE INFINITY COURTS & HELLO, CRUEL HEARTThe Infinity Courts (The Infinity Courts, #1) Goodreads

Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman

Publication Date: April 6, 2021

Publisher:  Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

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

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman quite literally starts off with a bang when the main character, 18 year old Nami Miyamoto, is shot and killed on her way to her high school graduation party.  I was hooked right away because of course I’m trying to figure out where the story is going if the main character is dead within the first few pages.  Well, it turns out we’re following her to the afterlife, specifically to a place called Infinity.  Infinity is where a human’s subconscious goes after his or her physical body is no longer living.  Once she realizes where she is, Nami is shocked to learn that the afterlife has been taken over by Ophelia, the popular virtual assistant humans use to do their bidding.  Ophelia has crowned herself Queen of Infinity and she seeks revenge against the humans by forcing them all into servitude as they die. Revenge isn’t Ophelia’s endgame either though.  Nami flees before she falls into Ophelia’s clutches, meets up with a small band of human rebels, and joins them in their fight to preserve the afterlife for their loved ones who have yet to die.

First of all, I have to give props to Bowman for coming up with such a unique premise for a story.  She definitely had me giving the side-eye to both Alexa and Siri as I was reading this, haha. I was also fascinated by the creative worldbuilding with respect to Infinity and the various courts it contains.  There’s Victory court, which is beautiful and vivid and known for its many parties, at which humans work as servants.  There’s also War, a grim and brutal court where uncooperative humans are sent to battle for their souls. And finally, there’s Death, the mysterious court that appears to be where Ophelia conducts experiments related to her endgame, which is to exterminate all human consciousness so that she can have Infinity all to herself.

Aside from the creative worldbuilding, I was also a fan of the complex characters Bowman has created.  Nami and her band of rebels are of course very easy to root for as they are the underdogs trying to take down an AI tyrant who doesn’t seem to have a weakness of any kind.  Nami was all the more interesting though because she has moments where she’s torn about what they’re trying to do.  She of course wants to preserve the afterlife for her family for when they die, but at the same time, to a degree, she understands why Ophelia hates humans and wants to get back at them.  Nami wonders if there’s any way for Ophelia and the humans to reach a compromise and ignores the other rebels when they tell her they’ve already tried.  Nami’s internal struggle creates tension and mistrust within the group because they’re never 100% sure if they can trust her.  Ophelia is also an incredibly complex character. She is not your typical AI by any stretch of the imagination, especially as it relates to her desire for revenge.

The unique premise, creative worldbuilding and the complex characters kept me entertained from start to finish.  I also really loved the exploration of humanity and what it really means to be a human.  The only weakness for me was the ending, which just fell a little flat for me and seemed abrupt.  I’m definitely on board with continuing the series though. I need to see who will come out on top!  3.5 STARS

 

Reviews:  THE INFINITY COURTS & HELLO, CRUEL HEARTHello, Cruel World Goodreads

Author: Maureen Johnson

Publication Date: April 6, 2021

Publisher:  Disney Press

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

Have you ever wondered how Cruella de Vil came to be the way she is?  Was she always evil or once upon a time, was she just a normal average young girl with dreams of love, success, and happiness? Inspired by the upcoming Disney live action film, Cruella, Hello, Cruel Heart by Maureen Johnson sets out to explore that exact topic and provide a plausible origin story for this Disney villain extraordinaire.

The story is set in London in the late 60’s and follows 16-year-old Cruella, actually known as Estella here, on her quest to become a famous fashion designer.  Orphaned at a young age, Estella has been basically homeless for years, living in an old bombed-out building with two boys, Jasper and Horace, who are in similar dire straits.  They teach her how to pick pockets and shoplift, and thus the three of them muddle along, stealing enough to survive and forming a little makeshift family of their own.  Estella dreams of bigger things for herself though.  She aspires to become a famous fashion designer and often steals fabric and other items so that she can practice her craft. Sadly, much of her time is spent sewing disguises and costumes for their many heists rather than the high fashion clothing she dreams of creating.

Johnson does a wonderful job of making young Cruella/Estella very likeable and sympathetic. Who wouldn’t root for an orphan, who also happens to be a gifted fashion designer, to realize her dream? When Estella has a chance encounter with Richard and Magda, two of London’s most fashionable young people, and they invite her to join them, Estella wonders if this is the out from her old life she has been looking for, especially when they take such special interest in her designs.  She hopes this friendship is the start of something big and is invited to one party after another and is inspired to create dress after dress for these events that are the envy of everyone she meets. She’s so happy doing what she loves and making friends and even meeting boys that I found myself cheering her on that she really would have a happy ending even though I knew it was impossible.

The only area where I struggled a bit to connect with the story was that Cruella was used almost as an alter ego whenever Estella did something bad, like a ‘It wasn’t me, it was Cruella” kind of thing.  As Estella got a little older, Cruella then became a mean voice in her head telling her would never have friends or love. This Cruella alter ego didn’t turn up very often in the story, but each time she did, it just read awkwardly for me.  There was an instance, for example, where she gets into a fight with Horace and Jasper and when she goes to apologize to them later, they’re all “We know it wasn’t you, it was Cruella.” The ending of the book was also somewhat awkward for me for similar reasons.  I just couldn’t exactly tell what Cruella was supposed to be.  At first I thought maybe mental illness but, by the end, I had more questions than answers.  Hopefully the movie will bring some clarity.

Even with my Cruella issues though, I still enjoyed Hello, Cruel Heart overall. It’s a creative villain origin story that definitely made me feel sympathy for one of Disney’s most despicable villains, which is quite a feat in and of itself.  3.5 STARS

Fantasy Book Reviews: A COURT OF SILVER FLAMES & NAMESAKE

 

Happy Monday all!  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  We had wonderful weather to usher in the first day of Spring so I definitely won’t complain.  I was also finally able to get my first dose of a COVID vaccine this weekend, which has really got me hoping this is the start of good things to come.  Anyway, back to blog stuff…  I’m sure you guys are used to mainly seeing rom-com reviews from me these days, but I actually did veer away from the rom-coms long enough to read a couple of new fantasy novels this month and wanted to share my thoughts on them with you.

 

Fantasy Book Reviews:  A COURT OF SILVER FLAMES & NAMESAKEA ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4) Goodreads

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publication Date: February 16, 2021

Publisher:  Bloomsbury Publishing

I’m going to confess right now that I went into Sarah J. Maas’ new novel A Court of Silver Flames with somewhat low expectations.  For me, A Court of Mist and Fury set the bar so high that the rest of the books in the series have paled in comparison.  Nesta Archeron was also one of my least favorite characters in the series, so I was not overly excited to have an entire book that focused on her.  All of that said, I was very pleasantly surprised with this book.

Maas does a beautiful job of taking us inside of Nesta’s thoughts so that it’s so much easier to understand how much pain she is in and why she lashes out at everyone the way she does.  From losing her father to having to live with the guilt of how she treated him while he was alive, and of course, having to deal with the fact that she was forced to become High Fae against her will, Nesta’s life has been turned upside down in every way.  When the story opens, she is not taking any of these things well and has pretty much turned her back on everyone who cares about her.  I don’t want to give away any spoilers about Nesta’s journey in this book, so I’ll just leave it at there’s definitely plenty of the badass Nesta we already knew, but now we’re allowed to see a whole new vulnerable side that makes it much easier to have empathy for her.

In addition to Nesta’s journey, I was also a big fan of the further exploration of Nesta’s relationship with Cassian.  It’s no secret that the two of them are attracted to one another, but this book takes that attraction to a whole new level, both sexually and emotionally, as Cassian is the one who is there for her no matter how hard she tries to push everyone away.  I loved that he was so supportive of her and that he also wasn’t afraid to show her tough love if he thought that’s what would best serve her.  And of course, don’t even get me started on the sex scenes. The sexual tension between Nesta and Cassian makes Rhys and Feyre’s scenes seem tame by comparison.  Holy hotness!

Aside from getting to know Nesta and Cassian better, I also just loved being back in this world again and seeing some of my old favorites, like Rhys, Feyre, Mor, and Az, but I also loved that some great new characters were introduced.  Gwyn and Emerie, two women Nesta meets while she’s avoiding everyone else, are such great additions to this cast of characters.  I don’t want to give away too much about them but they are the friends Nesta doesn’t even realize she so desperately needs and they provide her with a sense of sisterhood that she is unable to achieve with her own biological sisters right now.  I loved their bond and really hope that they will make appearances later in the series.

Bottom line:  I was not expecting to come out of A Court of Silver Flames adoring Nesta and wanting to see more of her, but here we are. Well done, Sarah J. Maas!  4 STARS

 

Fantasy Book Reviews:  A COURT OF SILVER FLAMES & NAMESAKENamesake (Fable, #2) Goodreads

Author: Adrienne Young

Publication Date: March 16, 2021

Publisher:  Wednesday Books

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

Namesake is the second book in an exciting YA fantasy duology by Adrienne Young.  I loved the first book, Fable, because it featured a badass heroine and of course pirates, so I couldn’t wait to dive into the finale.

Namesake picks up right where the first book leaves off so you definitely need to have read the first book to have any idea as to what is going on.  The crux of the story is that even though all Fable wants to do is sail away with the Marigold ship and its crew, free from the influence of her estranged father, Saint, Fable instead finds herself being used as a pawn in what turns out to be a very complicated scheme, the ultimate goal of which is to eliminate Fable’s father as a force in the shipping trade.  Even though she’s estranged from Saint, she doesn’t want to see him ruined and so Fable must come up with a plan of her own, to save her father and to get back the crew (and the man) she loves.

Fable and her relationship with her father has definitely been one of the major draws for me of this series, so I was pleased to see it at the forefront of the finale.  I was excited by the depth of the family drama that we delve into, not only with Saint, but also with Fable’s mother, who apparently took some pretty big secrets to the grave with her when she died.  Where the first book in the series was all about gem trading and Fable trying to make her way in the world, Namesake is all about secrets, betrayal, deception, and the idea that no one Fable has known throughout her life is entirely as they seem.  I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say here that I never would have expected going into this duology that Saint would end up being one of my favorite characters, but that’s exactly what happened.

While I enjoyed the family aspect of Namesake immensely, especially the unexpected addition of another member of Fable’s extended family who isn’t what she seems, I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as I enjoyed the first book in the duology.  There were some places along the way where the pacing felt a little slow for me, particularly each time they went back into the water looking for gems. I think it was such a novelty in the first book that it fascinated me, but by the second book, I just really wanted to get back to the family drama stuff with Fable and didn’t care as much about how skilled she was at finding gems.  I also wasn’t as into the romance in the second book as I was in the first.  I’m honestly not even sure why.  I think maybe it was, again, due to the fact that I was most interested in the family drama and everything else just felt in the way.

Even with those couple of issues though, I still found Namesake to be a satisfying conclusion to the series overall.  I even teared up a bit at some of the final family moments.  I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoy YA fantasy, pirate adventures, and stories that feature complicated father-daughter relationships.  3.5 STARS

Reviews: Later & The Burning Girls

 

Hey, it’s Sharon and for today’s Thriller Thursday I am reviewing two books from two great horror authors. Stephen King’s new book Later (Hey, what would a Thriller Thursday be without a Stephen King book? LOL) and C.J. Tudor’s new book The Burning Girls. I couldn’t wait to read these books, and I am happy to say they did not disappoint.

 

Reviews: Later & The Burning GirlsLater Goodreads

Author: Stephen King

Publication Date: March 2, 2021

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Stephen King is my all-time favorite author, and even though his new book, Later is not as long as his other books (it’s only 250 pages, short for a Stephen King book lol) he is still able to pull me in and make me become fully invested in the story and characters. It was everything I wanted/expected in a Stephen King read.

Jamie Conklin has a secret; he can see and talk to dead people. His mother urges him not to let anyone know what he can do. If anyone were to find out, they would use Jamie for their own purpose, and he could end up in a life-or-death situation. Which is exactly what happens when a New York city detective enlists Jamie’s help in stopping a killer from performing one final act from beyond the grave.

It is Jamie’s job to find out where this killer hid his final bomb, because you see when you ask a dead person a question, they have to tell the truth.

The book is narrated by Jamie Conklin, as he tells the story of his life, starting when he was 6 years old and through his teenage/young adult years. For the most part, the dead people that Jamie sees keep their distance and they fade away after a few days. That is until Jamie is thirteen years old and is pulled into the case with the NYPD. For some reason, this dead person does not fade away and keeps following Jamie. Jamie sees him outside of school, standing on the street late at night, and even in the elevator in their apartment building. Jamie needs to figure out how to make him go away, because he does not want to find out what will happen if he doesn’t.

I loved Jamie. Especially young Jamie, who just pulled at my heart strings. There is a scene at the beginning of the book when Jamie is six, he is walking home from school with this mother and he is holding a paper turkey he made. He thinks it is the cat’s ass, that is until they get to their apartment and find out their neighbor Mrs. Burkett has died. When Jamie sees Mr. Burkett crying, he tries to cheer him up by showing him his turkey. But then he sees Mrs. Burkett and when he proudly shows her his turkey, she tells Jamie it is more like what comes out of a cat’s ass. Aww Poor Jamie. I just wanted to hug him.

I also loved the relationship between Jamie and his mother. It is just the two of them and they both are protective of each other. They had a very special bond. And I as I was reading, I kept hoping nothing bad was going to happen to either of them.

This is a horror story, but it is also a coming-of-age story as Jamie navigates through life, as the boy who can see and talk to dead people. If you are a fan of Stephen King, I recommend this book and think you will love it.    4 ½ stars

 

Reviews: Later & The Burning GirlsThe Burning Girls Goodreads

Author: C.J. Tudor

Publication Date: February 9, 2021

Publisher: Ballantine Books

C.J. Tudor has become a must-read author for me. I loved her earlier books, The Chalk Man, The Hiding Place; and The Other People so I couldn’t wait to read The Burning Girls.  I am glad to say that it lived up to my expectations.

Chapel Croft is a small village in Sussex, England. Five hundred years ago eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake, two of which were children. Thirty years ago, 2 local teenage girls went missing. And two months ago, the local vicar killed himself.  Every year to commemorate the anniversary of the protestant martyrs the townspeople have a bonfire in the cemetery next to the chapel and burn twig figures, known as the burning girls.

Reverend Jack Brooks and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Flo, have just moved to Chapel Croft.  Jack will be the interim vicar until a permanent one can be found. Jack is hoping for a fresh start for her and her daughter. As soon as Jack and Flo arrive, a small child covered in blood shows up at the chapel. Then Jack receives a package, that includes an exorcism kit. Flo befriends a strange local boy, has a few run-ins with some bullies and is having strange sightings of the burning girls.  While cleaning out the basement in their house, Jack finds folders that belonged to the previous vicar which contain research into the 2 girls that disappeared thirty years ago. As Jack investigates these strange occurrences, she finds that the people in Chapel Croft do not want their secrets to be revealed and will do whatever they have to do to stop that from happening. So much for the peaceful fresh start Jack was hoping for.

The book is told from the POV of Jack and Flo.  I loved their mother/daughter relationship. I especially liked Jack though, she was a down to earth flawed character and not your typical vicar. She smokes (behind her daughter’s back lol), drinks and swears when it is called for. And she is also a mother that will do anything to protect her daughter.

This book was filled with lots of twists and turns and I couldn’t wait to see if the martyrs, the missing girls and the vicar that killed himself were connected or not. I thought I had things figured out a few times, but I was wrong each time. The tension and suspense really pick up at the end with a final jaw dropping twist.   4 ½ stars

Rom-Com Reviews: THE DATING PLAN & ACT YOUR AGE, EVE BROWN

 

Beware the Ides of March!  More like, beware the day after Daylight Savings Time kicks back in.  I feel like I have been dragging ever since we turned our clocks ahead.  Oh well, hopefully sharing my thoughts on these two fabulous rom-coms will liven things up a bit.

 

Rom-Com Reviews:  THE DATING PLAN & ACT YOUR AGE, EVE BROWNThe Dating Plan Goodreads

Author: Sara Desai

Publication Date: March 16, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

Sara Desai’s new novel The Dating Plan is a heartwarming rom-com filled with quirky characters and laugh out loud moments.  That’s not all though.  It’s also a heartfelt story about two people who are perfect for each other, if they can only overcome painful events from the past that have shaped how they see themselves and how they see each other.

Daisy Patel is a software engineer who loves statistics, spreadsheets, and all things Marvel.  Daisy, however, does not love Liam Murphy.  In fact, she actually hates him.  Why?  Because ten years ago, Liam was supposed to be Daisy’s date to her senior prom and he stood her up.  Not only did he stand her up, but he abruptly packed up and left town without a word.  She hasn’t heard from him since that night, so when Liam shows up at a conference Daisy is attending, sparks fly…and not in a good way.

Liam is in a bind though and thinks Daisy might actually be the perfect person to help him get what he wants.  Liam’s grandfather, who recently passed away, has left him the family business in his will, but there’s a catch. In order to secure his inheritance, Liam must marry before his next birthday and then stay married for at least one year.  Otherwise, the business goes to Liam’s brother, who just wants to dismantle it and use it to infuse cash into his own struggling business.  Liam is desperate to keep that from happening and when he witnesses Daisy being hounded by her matchmaking Aunties, he approaches Daisy with what he thinks is a win-win deal for them both.  If Daisy will agree to marry him and stay married for a year, he can secure the family business for himself while Daisy is freed from the incessant matchmaking and arranged marriage frenzy.  Daisy agrees reluctantly but says she cannot wing it when it comes to faking a whole relationship.  She needs a plan, complete with a slate of dates, that will provide her with a realistic backstory.

The plan they come up with is what really drives the bulk of the action in the book and it’s so much fun to follow Liam and Daisy as they seek to fool people into thinking they’re a couple.  There are so many hilarious moments, particularly involving Daisy’s aunties as well as some of the fun dates they decide to go on.  Daisy and Liam are adorable together and it becomes clear the more time Daisy and Liam spend together that they really are perfect for each other.  If only they could resolve and move past what happened ten years ago.  I was really rooting for them every step of the way.

I don’t want to give away anything, but I found the progression of their relationship very satisfying overall, and I also appreciate the blend of rom-com and heavier topics as we learn more about why Liam so abruptly disappeared from Daisy’s life.  The Dating Plan is a gem of a story for anyone who enjoys a light-hearted romance balanced with a healthy dose of family drama.  4 STARS. 

 

Rom-Com Reviews:  THE DATING PLAN & ACT YOUR AGE, EVE BROWNAct Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters, #3) Goodreads

Author: Talia Hibbert

Publication Date: March 9, 2021

Publisher:  Avon

I’m so bummed that Act Your Age, Eve Brown marks the end of Talia Hibbert’s popular romance series, The Brown Sisters, but I’m thrilled to report that the final book in the series has quickly become my favorite.  I devoured this book in just a few hours because I just couldn’t get enough of Eve and her new boss, Jacob.  Their chemistry is off the charts so the sexy factor is high, but Eve is kind of a hot mess so the laugh factor is equally high.

As much as I adored Chloe and Dani from the first two books, I have to say that Eve just stole my heart from the very first page. With her purple hair, orange lip gloss, her kickass music playlist, and her overall sunny disposition, Eve is just a delight in every way.  Eve does have one little problem though and that’s sticking with plans she has made, especially those plans that relate to a career.  Eve has no idea what she really wants to do with her life and so she basically flits from one career to another, all the while living off of her trust fund.  Until her parents decide to cut her off, that is.  They’re both worried that she’s never going to get her life together so they kick her out of the nest and force her to get a job and fend for herself.  Eve goes out for a drive to clear her head and comes across a charming bed and breakfast that has an opening for a chef. On a whim, she decides to interview for the position and immediately butts heads with Jacob Wayne, the sexy B&B owner. Jacob likes to be in control and wants everything just so.  He can tell from the moment he meets Eve that there’s no way he could deal with having her in his kitchen. She’s just way too flighty for him to deal with.  When an unforeseen accident forces Jacob to step back and let Eve work for him, he finds out there’s a lot more to Eve than meets the eye and he may have severely underestimated her.

As I’ve already mentioned, the chemistry between Eve and Jacob is fantastic.  I was rooting for them to get together from their first snarky conversation during the job interview and cheering for them every step of the way as they got to know each other better.  I love how Eve’s sunny disposition basically wears down Jacob’s inner grump in one hilarious scene after another.

I don’t want to give away anything else about the plot but if you’ve been enjoying this series so far, you are absolutely going to fall in love with Eve.  And if you’re unfamiliar with the series but are looking for a delightful and sexy romance, Act Your Age, Eve Brown is just the read you’re looking for.  My only disappointment was that another Brown sister didn’t turn up out of the blue so that the series could continue.  Otherwise, the series has ended on a perfect note with me.  5 STARS.

Historical Fiction Reviews: Wartime Settings

Hey everyone!  Hope you all had a nice weekend and that this week is off to a good start for you.  In a departure from the rom-com spree I have been on for most of the pandemic, I actually found myself craving some good historical fiction last week so I was excited to find that I actually had a couple of March ARCs on my TBR that fit the bill.  Both feature wartime settings with World War II for the first one and the Civil War for the second, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on both of them with you.

 

Historical Fiction Reviews:  Wartime SettingsThe Girl Who Escaped from Auschwitz Goodreads

Author: Ellie Midwood

Publication Date: March 9, 2021

Publisher:  Bookouture

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

Ellie Midwood’s new novel The Girl Who Escaped from Auschwitz tells the inspiring yet tragic true story of Mala Zimetbaum, a young Jewish woman sent to Auschwitz and is known as the first woman to escape, and Edek Galinski, a long-time Polish political prisoner who also happens to be a member of the underground Resistance. Imprisoned in absolutely inhumane and hellish conditions, surrounded by cruelty and death, Mala and Edek somehow manage to find each other and fall in love.  They make a promise to each other – that they will either escape the camp together or will die trying…

As with most accounts of Nazi atrocities, this is such a hard story to read, just knowing that the awful things described within the pages actually happened to real people, and that these monsters slaughtered so many innocent people. I found myself in tears often as I read the graphic and horrific accounts of the gas chambers and the crematoriums, and the story also had me furious as I read about how the Nazis were so easily able to fool the Red Cross into thinking they were treating their prisoners well.

What makes the story such a beautiful one in spite of everything, is the love story of Mala and Edek and just the overall selfless way they lived their lives in the camp.  Although she was a prisoner, when it was learned that she was fluent in several languages, Mala was given a job as an interpreter and camp runner.  She uses her position of privilege to help better the lives of as many fellow prisoners as she can, finding them jobs that are suited to their skills, slipping them extra rations whenever possible, etc.  Edek, as a member of the Resistance, lives his life in much the same way.  When the two of them meet and fall in love, they become a symbol of hope to those around them.  A light in the dark.

I don’t want to spoil their story so I’m going to stop here so you can experience it for yourself.  I’ll just conclude by saying that The Girl Who Escaped from Auschwitz is a powerful but heartbreaking story of strength, courage, hope and love against all odds. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys WWII historical fiction. 4.5 STARS

 

Historical Fiction Reviews:  Wartime SettingsSunflower Sisters (Lilac Girls, #3) Goodreads

Author: Martha Hall Kelly

Publication Date: March 30, 2021

Publisher:  Ballantine Books

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

Sunflower Sisters is the third and final book in Martha Hall Kelly’s historical fiction series, The Lilac Girls.  For those unfamiliar with the series, the first two books introduce us first to Caroline Ferriday, an American philanthropist who does all she can to help young girls released from concentration camps during WWII, and then to Caroline’s mother, Eliza Woolsey, who, a generation earlier, helped displaced Russian families who made their way to America during the Russian Revolution and WWI.

The final book in the series, Sunflower Sisters, takes us back yet another generation to the Civil War to meet another Woolsey ancestor, Georgeanna (Georgy) Woolsey. Raised by an abolitionist mother, Georgy is determined to do her part to bring slavery to an end and so she trains to be an Army nurse.   From New York City to Washington D.C. to the battlefield at Gettysburg, Sunflower Sisters follows Georgy everywhere her passion for nursing takes her.

One of my favorite things about all three books in the series is the way Martha Hall Kelly crafts her stories so that the events unfold from the perspectives of three very different characters, gradually pulling the threads of their stories together until their lives intersect.  In Sunflower Sisters, we follow not only Georgy, but also a slave girl name Jemma who is sold off and then somehow ends up conscripted into the Union Army, and we follow a woman named Anne-May Wilson, a plantation owner in Maryland who also happens to be Jemma’s owner.

The story itself started off a little slow for me as each of these characters were introduced, but I quickly became invested in both Georgy and Jemma and just wanted to see Anne-May, as a cruel slave owner among other things, get what was coming to her.  I loved Georgy’s determination and tenacity, especially as she was constantly being told by men that women should not be helping on the battlefront. She never let their blatant sexism deter her.  As much as I loved getting to know Georgy, Jemma was the character who ultimately stole my heart.  Jemma’s strength and determination in the face of endless cruelty from Anne-May and her nasty overseer was incredible to witness and I was wishing with every fiber of my being for her to find a way to safely escape to freedom.  Where I loved Georgy and Jemma, Anne-May, on the other hand, was a character I loved to hate.  She is a desperate, evil, manipulative woman and I was wishing for her to fail just as hard as I was wishing for Georgy and Jemma to thrive.  The story became quite riveting as I was waiting for the lives of these three women to come together in what was shaping up to be an epic clash between slave, abolitionist, and slave owner.  I don’t want to give anything away, but the clash does not disappoint!

Sunflower Sisters was a bittersweet read for me, just because I’m sad this wonderful series is ending, but the Ferriday/Woolsey family is filled with extraordinary women and I’m grateful to this series for introducing me to them. 4 STARS

Reviews: PERFECT ON PAPER & THE CASTLE SCHOOL (FOR TROUBLED GIRLS)

 

Happy Monday everyone. Can you believe it’s March already?!  I’m so excited that we’re finally getting close to Spring and warmer temps because I’m just over the cold.  Anyway, today I’m sharing two YA contemporary novels that I really enjoyed.  The common thread between them is that they are both set in schools, but beyond that, they are pretty much night and day.

 

Reviews: PERFECT ON PAPER & THE CASTLE SCHOOL (FOR TROUBLED GIRLS)Perfect on Paper Goodreads

Author: Sophie Gonzales

Publication Date: March 9, 2021

Publisher:  Wednesday Books

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

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales was such a fun and delightful read.  It follows Darcy Phillips, a bisexual teen, who has managed to commandeer a locker at her high school and uses it to anonymously dispense relationship advice to her fellow classmates.  Students write letters and enclose a $10 fee and their email address, and after school, Darcy empties the locker and takes the letters home so that she can respond to them.  What could possibly go wrong with this scheme?  Enter Brougham, a member of the school’s swim team, who catches Darcy in the act of retrieving letters from the locker.  Rather than rat her out, however, Brougham tells Darcy he desperately needs her help and wants to hire her to help him win his ex back.  Again, what could possibly go wrong here?

For me, the most fun about this book was Darcy herself and what a perfectly imperfect character she is.  She gives this business of hers her all, truly going out of her way to research the psychology of relationships and provide thoughtful answers to each of her classmates’ questions.  Even though what she is doing is morally and ethically questionable, Darcy truly believes she is helping people and wants everyone to be happy.  But when it comes to Darcy’s own love life, however, she’s basically a hot mess and can’t follow her own advice.  For example, Darcy is in love with her best friend, Brooke, but she can’t work up her nerve enough to tell Brooke how she feels. Instead, she goes out of her way to sabotage all of Brooke’s relationships so that Brooke stays in her orbit and available in case she ever does work up the nerve.  Darcy’s flaws in this area just made her all the more lovable of a character for me and I just wanted her to find her own happiness the way she was so intent on everyone else finding theirs.

There was really just so much to love about this book.  In addition to adoring Darcy, I also really adored Brougham.  He comes across as arrogant and obnoxious at first but it becomes clear over time that he is soft boy with a very dysfunctional home life, who just really needs a hug.  I loved watching his friendship with Darcy evolve as they worked together and got to know each other better.

In addition to being a fun and super cute read, Perfect on Paper also tackles some important topics such as biphobia. I was a huge fan of the Q and Q (Queer and Questioning) Club where queer students could meet up and discuss whatever is on their minds.  Darcy is the student who brings up biphobia as she discusses how people question whether or not she is actually queer if she has a boyfriend rather than a girlfriend. I loved that she had a group like this she could go to and receive support and validation from her peers.

Perfect on Paper is just an all around wonderful read and it really does have something for everyone. Friendships, flawed characters, humor, drama, teen angst, and so much more.  If you’re looking for a fun read that will leave you with a contented smile on your face, this is the book for you.  4.5 STARS

 

Reviews: PERFECT ON PAPER & THE CASTLE SCHOOL (FOR TROUBLED GIRLS)The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) Goodreads

Author: Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Publication Date: March 2, 2021

Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire

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

Moira Dreyfuss is seventeen years old and she lives in Manhattan.    Even though she lives in one of the most exciting cities in the world, Moira feels alone.  Her best (and only) friend, Nathan, has recently lost his battle with cancer and Moira is truly struggling to cope with this loss.  She starts skipping school, acting out, refusing to eat, and even uses a fake ID to get a tattoo behind her parents’ back.  At their wit’s end because they don’t know how to help her, Moira’s parents opt to send her away to The Castle School, a boarding school located in rural Maine along the coast.  The headmaster is a doctor so not only will Moira attend classes to continue her school, but she will also attend therapy sessions with the headmaster.

As the school’s name implies, The Castle School is just that, a castle, and it looks like something out of a Gothic novel.  Couple that with bars on the windows and the confiscation of all electronics and Moira is practically a prisoner, completely cut off from the outside world.  I think because of this eerie, remote setting and the way Moira is introduced to the school, I was expecting this novel to be a mystery, thriller, or even a horror story (something along the lines of a Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children novel), but it’s none of those things.  While there are a few small mysteries sprinkled throughout, by and large, The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) by Alyssa Sheinmel is a YA contemporary that explores grief, mental illness, and dysfunctional family relationships.

There are actually twelve girls in all at the school, but Moira is the one we follow most closely.  We follow her as she meets and gradually begins to bond with the rest of the girls and as she learns why each of them has ended up at the school.  Each girl’s story was just as heartbreaking and lonely as Moira’s, and each girl also had a history of mental illness, so it was great to watch them all bond and act as a support system for each other.  Aside from watching Moira interact with these girls and start to form friendships, we also follow Moira to her therapy sessions, which were unusual, in part because Moira is so resistant to the idea of exploring her own thoughts and feelings about where she is in life.  Instead, she spends most of her sessions asking the Doctor questions about his school.  Why a castle?  Why only twelve girls?, etc.  He patiently humors her and answers her questions as he waits for her to come around and willingly discuss why she has landed at his school.  I found that doctor/patient relationship quite interesting to watch develop, particularly because it is through Moira’s questions that we learn more about the school and rhyme or reason as to why the doctor runs thing as he does.

In addition to being an exploration of grief and mental illness, The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) is also a coming of age story in the sense that Moira has to figure out who she is and what her place in this world is without her best friend by her side. Moira’s journey is heartbreaking at times and the author does a wonderful job of making the overall story a compelling one that I found myself completely invested in.  3.5 STARS

Reviews: THE INITIAL INSULT & DESTINATION ANYWHERE

 

Happy Friday!  I hope you’ve all had a great week.  Mine was pretty good, just swamped at work as our busy season gets fully underway.  I still managed to get some reading done this week though, so I have two new ARC reviews to share today.  On the surface these are two books that are very different from one another, one with a dark vibe and one with a more uplifting vibe.  The theme that they both share, however, is friendship — friendships lost and friendships found.

 

Reviews:  THE INITIAL INSULT & DESTINATION ANYWHEREThe Initial Insult (The Initial Insult, #1) Goodreads

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Publication Date: February 23, 2021

Publisher:  Katherine Tegen Books

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

Even though I haven’t really been in the mood for dark reads lately, I couldn’t resist Mindy McGinnis’ new novel, The Initial Insult.  First because I’m a big fan of McGinnis’ writing, and second, because The Initial Insult is a modern day retelling of the classic Edgar Allan Poe short story, The Cask of Amontillado.  I love Edgar Allan Poe and The Cask of Amontillado is a favorite of mine, so this was a must read.  You don’t have to have read the classic Poe tale to understand and appreciate McGinnis’ version though so don’t let not having read the original deter you.  While it somewhat mirrors Poe’s classic tale of revenge, The Initial Insult is at its core a story about a friendship that has fallen apart and all of the residual hurt feelings that still linger between the two former friends.

The Initial Insult follows Tress Montor, whose parents disappeared without a trace seven years ago.  The last person to see them alive?  Tress’ then best friend, Felicity Turnado.  Tress’ life has pretty much fallen apart since her parents disappeared, while Felicity has become the social climbing belle of the ball, so to speak. As their lives have moved in such opposite directions, so has their friendship until they basically become more enemies than friends.  It drives Tress crazy that Felicity can offer no insight into what happened to her parents, so she devises a dark and twisted plan to force Felicity to confess everything she remembers about that night because Tress is convinced she has been lying for all of these years.  Tress’ plan involves bricks, mortar, manacles, and a party with lots of distractions so that no one will notice she and Felicity have gone missing. Sounds sinister, right?  Because it totally is!

I don’t want to give away anything else about the story, but it’s definitely a wild ride and a dark and twisted one at that.  I do have to say that I wasn’t a huge fan of either girl, although I did sympathize with them both as we learn more and more about their friendship and about some other secrets they are each hiding.  They are both tragic characters in their own way, and Tress is definitely one of the more interesting and complex morally gray characters I’ve come across.

I do want to forewarn anyone who is sensitive when it comes to animals being harmed in books, there is a pretty devastating incident involving a family pet.  I hope that’s not a spoiler, but I wish I had known it was coming when I started reading so I could mentally prepare myself for it.

The Initial Insult is a dark and heartbreaking read that ends on a jaw dropping note.  I didn’t realize until I got to the end that it’s actually the first book in a duology, so I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book, which is apparently named The Last Laugh4 STARS

 

Reviews:  THE INITIAL INSULT & DESTINATION ANYWHEREDestination Anywhere Goodreads

Author: Sara Barnard

Publication Date: February 23, 2021

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

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

Sara Barnard writes some of the most relatable stories I’ve ever read.  The struggles her characters face are struggles that I almost always identify with and that is definitely the case with her new novel, Destination AnywhereDestination Anywhere follows Peyton King, a seventeen-year-old college student who has struggled her entire life to make friends.  As if having no friends wasn’t bad enough, she was also the target of relentless bullying for most of her school career.  Desperate to make friends once she arrives at college, she falls in with the wrong crowd and ends up in a world of trouble.  Between that and the fact that she’s miserable at college because her parents are forcing her to study something she’s not interested in, Peyton takes matters into her own hands.  She packs a bag and her sketchbook, buys a one-way plane ticket from England to Canada, and sets out to find herself and her own path in life.

Peyton’s journey is presented in present day chapters, alternated with chapters from her past, and I have to say that those past chapters were truly heartbreaking.  I felt so bad for her as I was reading the feelings of self-doubt that Peyton expresses as she is rejected by classmate after classmate and then bullied by them on top of it.  Those thoughts of “What is wrong with me?”  or when she does finally find a potential friend and then overthinking it to the point where she’s trying too hard and makes things awkward.  While I always had a core group of friends when I was in school, I was painfully shy and could relate to some of Peyton’s inner monologue.

While those past chapters were somewhat painful to read, however, the present chapters were pretty amazing.  I loved watching Peyton’s confidence start to grow as she learned from past mistakes and challenged herself to get out there, pursue her passion, and find like-minded people.  I was especially impressed with the way she stands her ground when it comes to her parents.  That can be a hard thing to do.

I don’t want to give away any details of Peyton’s journey, but one of the highlights of her trip for me was the friend group she meets when she checks in to the hostel in Canada.  It’s a group of young travelers from all around the globe and they practically adopt her as their little sister and make it their mission to ensure she gets the most out of her trip and finds whatever it is she’s looking for.  Their mission even turns into a road trip at one point and I’m all about a good road trip, so I especially loved those adventures and of course the gorgeous Canadian scenery.

Destination Anywhere is a lovely and heartwarming story about finding yourself and about finding your people.  It’s one of those wonderful reads that engaged all of my emotions. I went from being heartbroken for Peyton to absolutely elated for her, and pretty much everything in between.  And don’t even get me started on the ending, which left me crying happy tears.  Such an all around satisfying read.  4.5 STARS

Romance Reviews: FIRST COMES LIKE & THE WEDDING GAME

 

If you saw my Top Ten Tuesday post last week, you’ll remember that I shared ten rom-coms I’m excited to read this year.  Well, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I got a jump on reading them this past week and have reviews to share for the first two I read, First Comes Like by Alisha Rai and The Wedding Game by Meghan Quinn.

 

Romance Reviews: FIRST COMES LIKE & THE WEDDING GAMEFirst Comes Like (Modern Love, #3) Goodreads

Author: Alisha Rai

Publication Date: February 16, 2021

Publisher:  Avon

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

Even though I’m only reviewing First Comes Like, the latest book in Alisha Rai’s Modern Love series, I actually binge-read all three books in the series last month.  Usually I’m terrible at keeping up with series, but once I started this one, I just couldn’t stop reading.  What hooked me on Modern Love is the way Rai writes her main characters.  I love the mix of strength and vulnerability she infuses them with and of course, the chemistry is always off the charts. I also love that, as the title of the series implies, all of the books are modern and focus on where many people turn these days when they are looking for love, social media.

First Comes Like follows Jia Ahmed, who is a very popular beauty influencer on social media. She’s busy making connections and trying to build her brand and has no time for men, although she’s willing to make an exception for Dev Dixit, a sexy Bollywood soap opera star, who has recently slid into her DMs and started flirting with her. Jia decides to score an invite to a party for his new film so that she can finally meet Dev in person.  All is going swimmingly until she meets Dev face to face and he says he has no idea who she is.  Awkward!  It quickly becomes clear that someone has used Dev’s social media account to catfish Jia; the question is who. Things between them take an even more awkward turn when paparazzi photos of Dev and Jia embracing become public. Even though the photos are in actuality way more innocent than they seem, the public and both of their families flip out and that’s where things got really fun.

I had so much fun with this book.  I loved the chemistry between Jia and Dev, especially watching their relationship evolve from her wanting to kill him at that first party to the two of them working together to concoct a plan on how best to deal their families. I also really loved the focus on their beliefs and culture, in particular the respect Jia and Dev each gave to the other’s beliefs as their relationship grows.  I also thought it was wonderful that Dev was so respectful of Jia’s career.  He didn’t think it was silly or shallow at all and even watched all of her videos and even helped her film and take photos.  The two of them were just really sweet together and I was of course rooting for them to continue to grow closer.

I wouldn’t call this a hot and steamy romance, but it’s definitely a sweet, slow burn and I enjoyed every page of it.  4 STARS.

 

 

Romance Reviews: FIRST COMES LIKE & THE WEDDING GAMEThe Wedding Game Goodreads

Author: Meghan Quinn

Publication Date: March 1, 2021

Publisher:  Montlake

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Amazon First Reads.  All opinions are my own.

Meghan Quinn’s new novel, The Wedding Game is one of the most charming and entertaining romances I’ve read in a long time.  I laughed, I cried, and I honestly loved every single character in the book. Okay, well two of them I loved to hate, but you know what I mean!

Set in New York City, the story follows Luna Rossi, a self-professed jack of all trades when it comes to crafting. There’s pretty much nothing Luna can’t do when it comes to crafts and she even has her own very popular social media accounts where she offers tips and tricks to others who share her passion for all things crafty.  About the only thing Luna loves more than crafts is her brother, Cohen, so when she learns that a DIY reality TV contest called The Wedding Game is coming to NYC and is seeking contestants, she takes it upon herself to sign her brother and his fiancé up.  Luna lives to make sure the people she loves are happy and so can’t resist the idea of giving her brother and the love of his life a perfect wedding day. Plus the grand prize of a NYC penthouse apartment for whoever designs the best wedding doesn’t hurt either.  With the Queen of Crafts in their corner, how can they lose?

The Wedding Game also follows Alec, an attorney who, like Luna, has a brother, Thad, who is about to get married.  Unlike Luna though, Alec is not especially close to his brother and has no interest in his wedding plans.  Alec and Thad used to be incredibly close, but have drifted apart in recent years.  Thad sees the ad for The Wedding Game and begs Alec to do it with him and his fiancé.  For Thad, it’s a great opportunity to get his family started off on the right foot, but even better, it’s a chance for he and Alec to reconnect. Alec reluctantly agrees and it’s off to the races.

The bulk of the story focuses on the contest itself and an unexpectedly fierce rivalry that develops between Luna and Alec.  Oh my goodness, you guys!  I don’t want to give away any spoilers but these two have such intense chemistry from their very first hostile encounter.  It was hard to tell if they were going to kill each other or rip each other’s clothes off, haha! I thoroughly enjoyed every scene they had together and some of their banter truly had me laughing out loud.  The evolution of their relationship had me captivated more and more with each turn of the page and before long, I was rooting for them to have a happy ending of their own.

It wasn’t even just the relationship between Luna and Alec that had me so invested in The Wedding Game either. Honestly it was all of the relationships. Yes, this is a sexy, steamy enemies-to-lovers romance with a hilarious reality TV show as its backdrop, but it’s also a beautiful and heartwarming story about love, family, and forgiveness that left me with a big smile on my face.  4.5 STARS 

 

Reviews: THE PROJECT and THE UNWILLING

 

I know I said last week that we would be trying to do Thriller Thursday a couple of times a month, but even though I’ve had hardly any thriller review books for the past few months, somehow I ended up with two of them with February 2nd publication dates.  So I’ll be sharing those two ARC reviews today and Sharon will be back next week to share even more thrillers with you.  Thanks so much to all who gave her such a warm welcome last week. It was much appreciated. 🙂

 

Reviews:  THE PROJECT and THE UNWILLINGThe Project Goodreads

Author:  Courtney Summers

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

Publisher:  Wednesday Books

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

Nineteen year old Lo Denham has been alone for most of her life.  Her parents died in a car accident when she was younger and her older sister, Bea, chose to abandon Lo to become a member of a special group called the Unity Project, a group known for their religious background and for their community outreach efforts.  Lo is suspicious about the Project.  Why would joining such a group make her sister choose to cut all ties with the only family she has left?  Lo becomes obsessed with learning as much as she can about the Project. As an aspiring writer, it is Lo’s goal to write an exposé on what she thinks the Project is…a cult.  When she meets and interviews the members of the Project and the founder, however, Lo gets way more than she bargained for and it becomes clear she’s in over her head in her pursuit of the truth.

I don’t really want to say anything else about the plot itself because I think following Lo’s journey and seeing it unfold without spoilers is the best way to fully appreciate it.  The Project is also hard to classify but it’s not exactly what I would consider a thriller.  There is definitely an element of mystery to it, but by and large, the story is an exploration of just how easy it is to get lured in by a cult.  It explores how a persuasive cult leader can get under your skin, by giving you precisely what you need emotionally and by making you feel seen.  This aspect of the book hit me hard because it’s so relevant today with groups like Q Anon.  You wonder how in the world someone can fall for something like that, but with The Project, Courtney Summers shows just how vulnerable we all can be.  The Project is a dark read and a sad, heartbreaking one at times, but a powerful read just the same.  4 STARS

 

Reviews:  THE PROJECT and THE UNWILLINGThe Unwilling Goodreads

Author: John Hart

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

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

I’m a huge fan of John Hart’s novels.  I love them because even though they’re thrillers, they’re always so much more than that.  The Unwilling is the sixth book I’ve read from Hart, and yes, it’s a thriller, but it’s also a coming of age story, as well as a story about a family torn apart by war.

Set during the Vietnam War, The Unwilling follows the French family.  They’ve lost two sons to the war, Robert, who was actually killed in action and Jason, who turned to heroin and ended up in prison.  Their youngest son, Gibby, is all Mr. and Mrs. French have left, and they are terrified of losing him too.  When Jason gets out of prison, they’re determined to keep him away from Gibby.  Gibby can’t resist the allure of hanging out with his big brother though and so he sneaks out to see Jason and to meet up with some girls.  When one of the girls turned up dead soon after and Jason is named as the prime suspect, both Gibby and Jason find themselves knee deep in a bad situation that could cost them both their lives.

I loved so many things about this book!  First, I just became so attached to the French family.  It was so heartbreaking to think of all the losses they have suffered and their grief is just so palpable throughout the story.  I was especially heartbroken for the father.  As a police detective, he’s in an impossible spot. He wants to believe his son is innocent but has to admit that he’s not sure, primarily because of his son’s past misdeeds.  He loves Jason but he is also desperate to protect what’s left of his family.

I also really adored Gibby.  Much of the story comes to us from Gibby’s perspective and it is through him that we get the coming of age element in the story.  Gibby is torn between not wanting to upset his parents and wanting to break free from this sheltered bubble they have him living in.  He wants to have a relationship with his brother, he wants to date girls, he just wants to grow up and is frustrated at every turn by his parents.  I was really rooting for Gibby to come into his own and was really impressed by his growth as the story progressed, especially when he decides he’s going to prove his brother is innocent. I admired his determination, loyalty, and bravery.

The thriller aspect of the story as it relates to the murder is amazing too. I don’t want to give anything away with respect to that, but wow, what a dark and twisted tale it is.  Also, be forewarned that Hart’s descriptions of the violent acts in the novel are vivid and gruesome.  I know I won’t be forgetting the images I read about anytime soon!

If you’re interested in a riveting thriller as well as a heartbreaking story about the effects of war on a family, definitely check out John Hart’s The Unwilling. 4.5 STARS.

Reviews: GLIMPSED and JOINT CUSTODY

 

Happy New Year, everyone! Hard to believe it’s 2021 already but here we are. I had a lovely break, quiet and relaxing, and was able to get a lot of reading done.  Today I’m sharing my thoughts on two rom-coms that are coming out this month, Glimpsed and Joint Custody.

Reviews:  GLIMPSED and JOINT CUSTODYGlimpsed Goodreads

Author: G. F. Miller

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

Publisher:  Simon and Schuster for Young Readers

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

 

If you follow my blog, you know that I love a good fairytale retelling. When I read that G.F. Miller’s new novel Glimpsed is a modern-day Cinderella retelling from the perspective of the Fairy Godmother, I knew I had to read it. Charity is a high school student with an unusual and magical gift – she can glimpse a person’s deepest desires and can make their dreams come true.  Making people’s wishes come true fills Charity with a sense of joy and purpose, that is, until one of her wish fulfillments ends in disaster.  This causes Charity to question everything she has ever done – Is she really helping people or is she setting them up for failure and unhappiness in the long-term?  Her feelings of self-doubt aren’t helped at all when she is confronted by Noah, a boy in her class, who says he knows what Charity does and threatens to expose her to her classmates because she ruined his life by making the girl he liked fall in love with someone else.

I really enjoyed this modern spin on the Cinderella story and especially that it focused on the Fairy Godmother who is so firmly in the background of the original tale.  I also loved the exploration of whether or not granting a person’s wishes actually leads to a happily ever after.  It adds so much more depth to this beloved character who never once questions that granting a wish could have ramifications that she hasn’t considered.  I also really liked that even though it’s technically a retelling, Glimpsed still has a unique and fresh feel to it. It’s not just a rehashing of the story we already know.

Charity and Noah are also a huge draw for me. Their relationship starts out in such an antagonistic yet entertaining way. Even though Noah is blackmailing Charity, it soon becomes clear that he’s really just a softie and a sci-fi geek to boot. In short, he’s adorable and even though she kind of wants to strangle him, Charity soon finds herself thinking of him as a friend and then wonders if they could be more than friends.  Is a Fairy Godmother allowed to have a happy ending of her own?  If you want to know the answer to that question, you’ll definitely want to check out Glimpsed4 STARS

 

Reviews:  GLIMPSED and JOINT CUSTODYJoint Custody Goodreads

Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted and Jackie Logsted

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

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

 

If you’re a dog lover, you’re going to want to check out Joint Custody, the new novel from Lauren Baratz-Logsted and Jackie Logsted.  It follows Gatz, a mischievous border collie who is none too pleased when his owners break up.  Gatz knows they’re perfect for each other, and of course, the perfect owners for him so he decides to take matters into his own paws and get them back together.

And when I say it follows Gatz, the story really follows Gatz.  We see everything from his perspective and we are fully in his head as he plots and schemes to get his owners back together.  It’s a really fun read too as we get Gatz’s inner thoughts as he orchestrates ways to bring his owners in proximity to one another, to remind them that they belong together. It gets downright hilarious at times too as Gatz seeks to sabotage any dates his owners go on with other people.  He’s just not having it, haha.

Because we are getting the story from the perspective of a dog, we don’t get a lot of in depth information about the humans in the book.  The owners are The Man and The Woman, and when one of them goes on a date, the date is New Man, New Woman, etc.  That took a little getting used to at first, but once I settled in, I thoroughly enjoyed the overall story.

If you love dogs and/or enjoy books like A Dog’s Purpose, Joint Custody is a book that will warm your heart and put a smile on your face.  3.5 STARS