{Book Review}: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐⭐ / 5 stars 

This one has been on my TBR List for years – now I am glad to have it checked off – what a beautifully written story! I finished earlier today and am still thinking about it. It’s WWII era in France and Marie Laure lives in Paris with her father (who works for the Museum of Natural History as a locksmith). She is blind – and her father has always helped her try to be as independent as possible and she is ever curious and strong-willed. Soon, Paris is occupied by the Nazis and she flees to Saint. Malo, a walled city in France where her great Uncle lives. Her father may or may not be safekeeping the prized gem for the museum – which further endangers both their lives. The book also includes the story of Werner, a young German orphan, who is exceptionally brilliant at fixing radios and other devices – ends up rising in the ranks of the Hitler Youth and army. The heartbreaking story of Werner and his friendship with Frederick really had me tearing up – I loved the weaving of all the tiny details that somehow weaves both their lives to finally make sense at the end. Some parts were extremely slow and almost at a standstill where I was not sure where the story really needed it – but I really enjoyed this and highly recommend it to those who love WWII historical fiction like the Nightingale.

{Book Review}: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐️⭐⭐ / 5 stars

I loved Circe – so when I saw Ariadne – I was excited to read this. And I was not disappointed in the least. Jennifer Saint writes with such captivating detail, in a non-intimidating way for you to be enthralled by the Ancient Greek Gods and their mythology. Particularly focusing on Ariadne and Phaedra, sisters and daughters to King Minos and Pasiphae of Crete. The book is a duo POV – from both Ariadne & Phaedra. Every year, Athenians have to sacrifice their 14 young sons and daughters to the labyrinth and the Minotaur on Crete, as a punishment for losing their war with Crete a few years before. Backstory: The minotaur is son to Queen Pasiphae who laid with a sacred bull years ago. Theseus arrives with the sacrificed children from Athens – who Ariadne helps in the maze and she quickly lusts after thinking they will be married when he takes her back to Athens. In a constant theme in this world of mythology, women are blamed and cast aside, treated as objects even though they themselves are heroes. Theseus leaves her exiled on the island of Naxos alone for years – where she meets Dionysus, a god of wine and drink. 

I loved this book! I was not familiar with the tale of Ariadne so glad to dive in without any bias. At first, I thought her to be just a bored princess, wanting to do something, anything to cause excitement like falling in “love” with Theseus after meeting him for 5 minutes, and leaving her whole family and homeland for a stranger. However, her real tale starts on the island of Naxos through her pain and finding love/ trust in someone else she should not be. Also, the tale of Phaedra and her story was heartbreaking, a great addition to the story of Ariadne. I highly recommend it for anyone that loves Circe and interested in ancient Greek mythology. 

Thank you to Flatiron books and Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!

US Pub Date: May 4, 2021

{Book Review}: Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐️⭐ / 5 stars

This is a duo POV romance novel about Alfie Mack  and Alice Gunnersley, hospital “roommates” at St.Francis’s Hospital in London. They sleep next to each other every night but do not know what the other looks like due to the curtain divide between them. Alice had been in a horrific fire and traumatized for anyone outside of medical personnel to see her true face. Alfie was in a car accident that claimed the lives of his best friends – and his one leg. At first, Alice kept to herself but after a few weeks, she warmed up to Alfie’s jokes and warm personality. Over time, their close friendship develops into something more and it’s touching to read about their healing and growth during such a difficult time. There were parts that were slow, but it helped with the vibe of the hospital and the length of time it takes to actually recover. Also glad the romance was not forced and that it took time for it to blossom – as they both had to heal from their own depression and anxiety on their own terms. 

Thank you to Gallery Books and Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!

US Pub Date: May 4, 2021

{Book Review}: It Had To Be You by Georgia Clark

My Review:⭐️⭐.5 / 5 stars

I love how cute this cover is – lively and colorful. This follows the story of many different couples all connected to Liv and Savannah. Liv and her husband Eliot owned a wedding planning business in Brooklyn – until the day he died of a heart attack and left his half of the business to his girlfriend/mistress Savannah. Savannah moves from Kentucky to Brooklyn to take on the business with Liv, who is depressed after losing her husband and finding out about his affair. The book also revolves around the other couples such as Darlene and Zack, both musicians who perform at weddings, but he needs his inheritance. Of course, he has to pretend to date Darlene to do it. My favorite is Zia and Clay – the waitress/server at the wedding who dates the big movie star. However, there were so many different couples in their own romantic comedy cliches  in this short book that I really did not feel anything for them. The great thing about this book was the diversity of couples: middle aged (Sam and Liv), interracial (Zach/Darlene, Clay/Zia), and other LBGT+ couples as well – but it was maybe too much to fit into the story. 

Thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!

US Pub Date: May 4, 2021

{Book Review}: The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐ / 5 stars 

Thea Moltram is having the worst month – she was laid off from her job and her husband of 20 years is leaving her for her friend Susanna. In her 40s, she is at a loss of where she needs to be in her life. Feeling hurt, betrayed, and lonely, she finds her escape in a small town in Scotland. Her uncle Andrew had sadly passed away and she conveniently inherited his home and collection of first edition books. After meeting the local bookseller Edward (to sell off her uncle’s books) , she also gets a job there as a sales clerk while she is living in town. Also learning that Edward used to be a Lord until he gave it all up to his younger brother, Charles, Lord Hollinshaw. The two brothers have famously not gotten along since their teens, each going after other’s wives/ex gfs as a way to hurt the other’s feelings. 

The story was cute and I wish this town really existed! I loved that story was about a middle aged couple trying to find love again – and having more complex problems in their relationship. However, I found the dialogue could have been more witty. Sometimes, Thea’s inner dialogue was annoying and she was probably the most oblivious one in the book. I also found it hard to see how she could fully trust Edward after knowing he readily steals his brother’s gfs/wives because he simply could. I wanted to like Edward more, but he had so many red flags.

Thank you to Ballantine Books and Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review! 

US Pub Date: May 4, 2021 on paperback!

{Book Review}: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno Garcia

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐⭐ / 5 stars 

As a huge fan of Gods of Jade and Shad0w, I was so excited to read this re-released novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. From other  reviews, it is a bit different from her other novel Mexican Gothic which I did not love as much as her GOJAS. First off, I love the cover art! The colors are just beautiful! Also, the writing is so captivating and hooks you in immediately.  Nina has come to Loisail (a fictional city similar to Paris)  for her first Grand Season to stay with her cousin and his wife Valerie, who is to coach her on how to behave in polite society. She needed to fit in with the “beautiful ones.” However, Nina is aloof, clumsy, and outspoken – the opposite of what society women are supposed to be like. On top of that, she collects beetles and practices her telekinetic ability, which is frowned upon. She meets Hector at a ball – who she has been a fan of for his magic/telekinesis shows and immediately falls head over heels. Hector has a big secret – and Nina soon discovers the past between Valerie and Hector. 

I really loved this way more than I thought I would. Hector reminds me of a Gatsby who would find his way from rags to riches without familial help in order to be with the one he loves. Just as Daisy was kind of terrible in her own way, Valerie is such a great character to hate. She is vile, cold, and manipulative in every way – and poor Nina. I was so sad for her in the beginning and rooted for her and Hector through the end. I highly recommend – such a intriguing read!

Thank you to Tor Books and Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review! 

US Pub Date: This week – April 27, 2021!

{Book Review}: The Other Side of the Door by Nicci French

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐ / 5 stars 

This is a re-released thriller from husband/wife duo Nicci French, originally published in 2010. Bonnie Graham discovers a dead body at her boyfriend’s flat and instead of notifying the authorities she ropes in help of her best friend Sonia to help dispose of the body. The story goes back and forth between her POV before and after the discovery of the body. She is a music teacher at a local school who spends the summer in London practicing with an amateur group of musicians to play at her friend Danielle’s upcoming wedding. However, many different secrets are revealed over the course of the summer including secret lovers, violent affairs, and rivalries. The book has such an interesting twist and thrilling start, but immediately lags a few times throughout. The characters are not likeable, so you don’t feel any empathy for them as they are going through all these events. Even though the twist in the story really surprised me, the ultimate ending was unfortunately lackluster.

Thank you to William Morrow and Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review! 

US Pub Date: April 27, 2021!

{Book Review}: A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer Armentrout

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐⭐.5 / 5 stars 

I fell in love with the first book, Blood and Ash, and have been trying to read the sequel this week to coincide with the 3rd book coming out this week. This one did not disappoint! Normally I would chide a 600 + page book that would keep reiterating the same things but this series is the exception. I could not get enough of Casteel and Poppy – and Kieran. This book takes place directly after the events of the last book where Poppy is held hostage (kind of) where she is to marry Casteel, the dark one and heir to the Atlantia throne. The Atlantians do not trust Poppy as they believe she is part of the Ascended and view her growing powers as suspicious and a threat. As Poppy and Casteel journey to find trust in each other after all the lies and deception, she discovers other hidden secrets about him and his family as well as other memories from her childhood regarding her parents. The dialogue and angst was perfection and the love scenes were fire! I just got the 3rd book, Crown of Gilded Bones, in the mail and cannot wait to dive in.

{Book Review}: Namesake by Adrienne Young

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐⭐.5 / 5 stars 

I loved the first book, Fable, that came out last year so I was ecstatic when my husband bought me the kindle version of the sequel, Namesake. This takes place directly after the events of the last book where Fable is kidnapped onto her father’s archnemesis’s ship as a pawn to negotiate with Holland, a notorious gem trader from Bastien. On the ship, Fable discovers secrets about her family as well as someone from her past that has betrayed her. In addition, it seems her mother had many secrets of her own that not even her father, Saint, knew. 

Everytime Saint and Fable have any moments together, tears just start welling up in my eyes. Their strained relationship really pulls on the heart strings. As much as I loved Fable with West, this book focused more on her and her own history with her family and the other crew members of the Marigold. I really loved this seafaring world that Adrienne Young created and I am utterly sad that this was only a duology.

{Book Review}: The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐⭐ / 5 stars 

It is 2008 and Obama has just been elected president – Ruth Tuttle, a Yale-educated engineer is celebrating with her husband Xavier and friends- hoping this new era will bring about much social change. Ruth has been keeping a big secret from her past from her husband who now thinks they are ready for a child: she had a baby at the age of 17 – and her grandparents and older brother made sure the baby was adopted. She could never shake the emptiness of her baby that she was forced to leave after all these years. In order to move forward, she needs to go back to her hometown in  Indiana and confront her family about where her son is. After over 10 years, she finds the town the same as she had left it – burdened with open racism, vast unemployment, and no hope for change. She finds dead ends at first trying to find out the truth about her son but as she continues to dig, she finds more secrets about her family and what really happened. On top of that, Ruth befriends a young white boy named Midnight / Patrick,  who reminds her of approximately what her son’s age would be. 

This gave me all the feels. Ruth’s friendship with Midnight really tugged on her heartstrings, but Corey/Midnight’s friendship really had me going for the tissue box towards the end. Nancy Johnson did a phenomenal job describing this town and the locals – I felt like I was there and felt the deep sadness of Ruth’s loss and cycle of abandonment. All of the racial tensions throughout the book was sobering to read as it sadly continues to this day, supposedly over 10 years after this era of change in the book. I would highly recommend this!

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