Thursday, December 31, 2020

Book Review: You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson


Goodreads Overview:

Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay -- Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz's plans come crashing down . . . until she's reminded of her school's scholarship for prom king and queen. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She's smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

Jacque's Review:

I chose this book because Reese Witherspoon selected it for her first YA book club selection. I love Reese, but I don't read a lot of adult books besides mysteries and thrillers, so her adult book club selections never really appealed to me. Her first YA selection on the other hand was AWESOME.

Liz Lighty is valedictorian material. Book Nerds aren't typically in the running for prom queen, but at her school it isn't all about looks and popularity. Grades and charity work are also part of the equation. These categories may get her into the competition, but she is really going to have to up her game if she is going to win the popular vote. 

She has never considered herself popular. She is a minority and doesn't come from a wealthy family. She doesn't have the fancy clothes and works a part-time job to help save money for college. She never would have considered running for prom queen if the ultimate prize weren't a college scholarship, which she desperately needs to attend Pennington College and fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor.

Liz makes the initial cut, but she has a lot of work to do if she is going to be crowned queen. She does a lot of soul searching and realizes what is really important to her. She is true to herself and allows her personality to shine throughout the process. Once she stops hiding the truth and trying to be someone she isn't, everything begins to change for her. 

This was a highly entertaining and inspiring book. High school can be hard for anyone, but for those who don't fit the cookie cutter mold, it can be especially difficult. Liz did not allow anything to hold her back and used her differences to her advantage. Her small town may not have been ready to embrace these radical ideas, but it was time for a change.

I absolutely loved Reese's first YA book selection and look forward to reading the others.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Book Review: Love, Almost by Haley Doyle

Goodreads Summary:

Chloe is deliriously in love for the very first time. But when Jack, her boyfriend of five months, is killed in a tragic accident, she is left reeling. Their relationship was amazing – but it never really had the chance to get started. Grieving but determined, Chloe decides to live life for the both of them and makes her way through the list of things they’d planned to do together – this time on her own.

Tee's Review:

Falling in love quickly, Chloe and Jack are together just a short five months before a tragic accident takes Jacks' life and Chloe is left to grieve him without the understanding of the people around her understanding. If there is one thing I know about grieving it is that no two people grieve a like, and this is what is baffling to the people around Chloe. How could she be having so much grief for a person she barely knew.  The dynamic of this was interesting, especially on Jack's parents' part, who barely knew Chloe and certainly had no idea how close she and Jack were.

Love Almost is a heartbreaker of a read, so be sure to have tissue handy. I was prepared for sadness but not to the extent I actually felt it. Chloe's grief is raw and honest and if you have ever felt the hard loss of a loved one, it could be a trigger for someone. You travel with her on a journey of what could have been, how she imagines things would have been if Jack were still there,  and then you watch as she realizes hope and that her life isn't over just because Jack's is and that it is ok for her to move on and live her life.

Love Almost is a great read, but I would not necessarily call it a true romance, to me, it felt more like a book of struggles, recovery, and change. It is a quick read, that is if you can read through the tears you shed while you read. If you are a fan of PS I Love You or just tearjerkers in general this book is a must-read. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Book Review: Five Total Strangers by Natalie D Richards

Goodreads Summary:

When Mira flies home to spend Christmas with her mother in Pittsburgh, a record-breaking blizzard results in a canceled layover. Desperate to get to her grief-ridden mother in the wake of a family death, Mira hitches a ride with a group of friendly college kids who were on her initial flight.

As the drive progresses and weather conditions become more treacherous, Mira realizes that the four other passengers she's stuck in the car with don't actually know one another.

Soon, they're not just dealing with heavy snowfall and ice-slick roads, but the fact that somebody will stop at nothing to ensure their trip ends in a deadly disaster

Tee's Review:

Imagine wanting to get home so badly that you are willing to do almost anything to get there.  This is the decision that high school student Mia makes as she realizes she is stranded in the Philly airport. All planes have been grounded due to an approaching blizzard and she will not make it home to spend Christmas with her mother who needs her.

Coming home from San Diego, where she lives with her father and attends a prestigious art high school, she is stuck in Philly. On the plane, she set next to college school Harper and they hit it off, Harper also not wanting to be stuck in the airport rents the last SUV in the rental stall and invites Mia to ride with her and her three friends, they will drop Mia off where she needs to go and all will be well. What can go wrong right?

Mia agrees to the ride, even though her gut feeling is screaming not to. As the trip takes off and they travel further along the road, they take an unexpected route through the mountains to avoid the storm, instead, they run straight into it. Not only are the roads icy and treacherous, but strange things start happening in the car, things are missing, and no one is confessing to the crimes. Mia learns that none of the passengers in the car knew each other as she thought, and each one of them seems to be hiding something and are a bit shady.

Five Total Strangers has more twists and turns in it than the icy roads that the car is traveling. You are pulled in with the suspense and it holds you there as you try to figure out what is happening. It is a quick read, you won’t want to put it down, you want to continue reading so you can get to the end. 

The author does a great job of giving you a sense of dread. That is the best way I can describe how I felt as I read through the book. I dreaded what may or may not happen, and there were so many things that could have happened in the course of the book. This is a great read for a snowy winter's day when you are stuck in the house. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Book Review: Love Song For Skeptics by Christina Pishiris

 Goodreads Summary:

Zoë Frixos gets the whole love song thing. Truly, she does. As an editor at a major music magazine in London, it's part of her job description. But love? Let's just say Zoë's been a bit off-beat in that department. After falling hard for her best friend, Simon, at thirteen and missing every chance to tell him how she felt before he left town, Zoë came to one grand conclusion: Love stinks.

Twenty years later, Simon is returning to London, newly single and as charming as ever, and Zoë vows to take her second chance. But Zoë's got other problems now: In order to save her magazine from closure, she has to land the biggest interview of her career with a notoriously elusive rock idol. There's just one problem: Nick, the arrogant publicist who seems determined to stop the story and ruin Zoë's life.

With her brother's big(ish) fat(ish) Greek wedding on the horizon, Zoë begins to wonder if her first love is the right love. In the wake of a life-changing choice, Zoë must decide if she's right to be skeptical about love, or if it's time to change her tune...

Tee's Review:

Zoe has a job many people would consider perfect, she is an editor of reSound, a music publication. She spends her time hanging around concerts and interviewing musicians, but the magazine is in a slump and she needs to find something to revive the magazine and up the readership, or she and the rest of her crew will lose their jobs.

In walks Nick Jones, the arrogant PR man to the extremely popular Boy Band Hands Down. Zoe has already had a run-in with their lead singer and it did not end well, and she feels that having a pop-sounding boyband will ruin the credibility of the magazine. What she really wants is an interview with the reclusive singer Marcie Tyler, who has been her musical idol for years, and has just seemed to drop out of the music scene.  This one interview would be a live saver for the magazine and Nick is the person who can possibly make this happen, unfortunately, he wants her to interview Hands Down and put them on the cover.

But Nick isn’t Zoe’s only problem, there is also Simon, her childhood friend who moved back to American when they were teenagers. Zoe has always had a mad crush on Simon, and they have kept in touch over the years. Now in their 30’s he is divorced and moving back to London, and Zoe is hoping that their time has finally come.

Being a music blogger, I really enjoyed Love Songs For Skeptics and was surprised that this was Christina Pishiris' debut book. It is a heartwarming story, that centers around music. The characters are relatable, though you may find yourself not liking all of them. I find that the best books you can read are books that make you feel, and I certainly felt Zoe’s frustration on many things. Each chapter, which is not overly long, long chapters are a BIG pet peeve of mine, is titled with a name of a song that fits with the action going on in the chapter, and also makes a heck of a playlist!

Love Song For Skeptics provides the reader with humor, two hot guys, interesting side stories, and the hard choices that come with life. There is plenty in the book to keep anyone entertained, especially if you are a music fan or love rom-coms.

** This book was provided to me for review from Sourcebook **

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Book Review: Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs


Goodreads Overview:

The adventure that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and continued in Hollow City comes to a thrilling conclusion with Library of Souls. As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children.

They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all. Like its predecessors, Library of Souls blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

Jacque's Review:

The original overview for this book implies this is the final book in a trilogy. The story picks up pretty much where the previous book left off. Miss. Peregrine and the other Ymbrynes have been captured by Wights along with some of the peculiar children.  Jacob, Emma, and a few others who managed to escape must now rescue them before life as they know it is lost forever. Without Ymbrynes to manage the loops, peculiars are not safe from their enemies. In addition, if they remain outside of a loop for too long, they will begin to age. Most of the peculiars were friends of Jacob's grandfather, but still look like children because of the loop's ability to freeze time. They are immortal as long as they remain inside of a loop. Even a couple of consecutive days in the "real world" could cause them to age and die.

While I did enjoy the pictures that drive the plot of this stories, I did not feel like this book was as fast paced and as engaging as the previous two. There were a lot of detailed descriptions of the setting, which is dreary and bleak most of the time. The lengthy battles were overdone and often caused me to lose interest. I did enjoy the premise behind the Library of Souls and how Jacob's ability made him the "librarian". I was happy with how everything played out and felt like there was a definitive ending to the series. The struggles the peculiar have endured for years appeared to be behind them and we are left with as close to a happily ever after as I thought we could get. But now there are 3 more books in the series!!!

It looks like the next book is set in America instead of England and the peculiars are going to give life in Jacob's world a try. I'm not sure I am up for an additional 3 books, but the 4th book is actually getting pretty good review and is averaging over 4 stars on Goodreads. I think I will take a break from the series, but will probably give the fourth book a try just to see how things play out. I do enjoy the characters and if the story line has a faster pace, I will likely enjoy it more than I did book 3.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Book Review: The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis

Goodreads Summary: 

From the dramatic redbrick facade to the sweeping staircase dripping with art, the Chelsea Hotel has long been New York City's creative oasis for the many artists, writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, and poets who have called it home—a scene playwright Hazel Riley and actress Maxine Mead are determined to use to their advantage. Yet they soon discover that the greatest obstacle to putting up a show on Broadway has nothing to do with their art, and everything to do with politics. A Red scare is sweeping across America, and Senator Joseph McCarthy has started a witch hunt for Communists, with those in the entertainment industry in the crosshairs. As the pressure builds to name names, it is more than Hazel and Maxine's Broadway dreams that may suffer as they grapple with the terrible consequences, but also their livelihood, their friendship, and even their freedom.

Spanning from the 1940s to the 1960s, The Chelsea Girls deftly pulls back the curtain on the desperate political pressures of McCarthyism, the complicated bonds of female friendship, and the siren call of the uninhibited Chelsea Hotel.

Tee's Review:

I have always been fascinated with the Chelsea Hotel, there is so much history there from musicians and poets who lived there to the death of Nancy Spungen supposedly by her boyfriend Sid Vicious.

The new book Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis deals with the iconic hotel in the ’50s when Maxine Mead, an actress, and Hazel Riley, a playwright meet up again at the hotel. They had met on a USO tour during WWII. McCarthyism was at its height in the entertainment industry during the ’50s and it finds its way into Fiona and Maxine’s life.

I loved the characters in Chelsea Girls, Maxine and Hazel are both authentic and relatable as were most of the characters in the story. The glamour of New York and the theater is written beautifully, as well as the entirety of the hotel, which seems like just another character in the story.

This historical novel makes me wish even more, that I could have experienced the iconic Chelsea in its prime, but it also gave me a glimpse into a period of history I know very little about. Chelsea Hotel is a must-read if you like historical novels or New York.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Book Review: Mrs Claus and The Santaland Slayings by Liz Ireland

Goodreads Summary:

t's the first Christmas in Santaland for April Claus--but it may also be her last unless she can uncover a villain with a killer Christmas wish. . .

Love is full of surprises--though few compare to realizing that you're marrying the real-life Santa. April Claus dearly loves her new husband, Nick, but adjusting to life in the North Pole is not all sugarplums and candy canes. Especially when a cantankerous elf named Giblet Hollyberry is killed--felled by a black widow spider in his stocking--shortly after publicly arguing with Nick.

Christmastown is hardly a hotbed of crime, aside from mishaps caused by too much eggnog, but April disagrees with Constable Crinkle's verdict of accidental death. As April sets out to find the culprit, it'll mean putting the future of Christmas on the line--and hoping her own name isn't on a lethal naughty list 

Tee's Review

For all those that thought Santa wasn’t real…think again. He is alive and well, living in Christmastown in a big castle with his family and his new wife April.  April and Nick, that is the present Santa’s name, have been married for three months, and she is still getting used to her role and duties as Mrs. Claus when the unthinkable happens. 


Someone has murdered one of Santa’s elves. Yes, there are elves in this book, it is about Santa, so you’d expect a few elves right? There are also talking reindeer, some who are still playing games, and moving talking snowmen, some hundreds of years old, because it never gets above freezing in Christmasland.

To everyone's horror, an old snowman is also murdered. How do you murder a snowman you ask? Well….use your imagination.  And who do you think Jake Frost, no not Jack, but Jake, Jack is a distant relation, the detective is thinking murdered the two? Santa himself. So April sets out on her own mission to clear her husband's name.

Mrs. Claus and The Santaland Slayings is cute, quirky, and fun. The world-building was great, I felt like I was walking through the board game Candyland on a snowy day, the description was colorful and festive, and yep cold, it is the North Pole after all. There were a lot of characters, and sometimes that seemed to slow me down, trying to figure out which elf was which with their names like Jingles, Juniper, etc… but for the most part, the story was a fast easy read. 

The mystery is well thought out, and has several twists and turns as April questions the people of Christmastown, and gets some of their darkest secrets out in the open. Yep. Even Christmastown seems to have a dark side. The characters range from grieving widows to clumsy reindeer and they all have entertaining factors to them. 

If you are looking for a Christmas book with a bit of fantasy and some murder thrown in, who would have thought you could have all three in one book, then grab your cocoa or eggnog, pull a warm fuzzy blanket around you, and open Mrs. Claus and The Santaland Slayings, it brings on the Christmas magic in a new magical murderous way.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Cover Reveal: Debbie Macomber " It's Better This Way "


After divorce shatters her family, one woman's struggle to pick up the pieces finally leads to a new beginning--but is the past truly behind her? #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber explores the powerful intersections of love and family in this poignant novel.


It's been nearly six years since Julia Jones had her heart broken. After her husband became involved with another woman, she did everything she could to save their marriage, to no avail. Their two daughters continue to stand by Julia in the wake of their father's behavior--and they've had a tough time getting along with the "other woman" who became their stepmother. Distraught after selling the family home, Julia moved into a condominium complex that offers the warmth and charm of a fresh start. Now, having settled into her new community and sold her successful interior design business, she's embraced a fulfilling new life, one that doesn't seem to need a man in it. Her beloved father's trusty saying is ringing truer than ever: It's better this way.


But when Julia meets a handsome new resident in the building's exercise room, she can't help but be drawn to him. Heath Johnson is a welcome change from the men she's encountered on the occasional--mostly disastrous--dates her sister has eagerly planned for her over the years. As she and Heath, a divorcé himself, begin to grow close, their friendship blossoms into a love neither of them had expected. However, they soon realize that combining families, even with four adult children, presents inevitable challenges.


When a dramatic revelation threatens the happiness they've found, Julia and Heath must reconcile their love for their children with their love for each other. If they can't, their bright future together may be nothing but a dream.

 You can pre-order It's Better This Way here 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Book Review: The Mistletoe Trap by Cindi Madsen

Goodreads Summary: 
From the moment Julie sees her best friend, Gavin, in the airport, it’s like no time at all has gone by instead of months and months. No matter how long they’ve been apart, their relationship has always been steady, comfortable, and decidedly just friends. Even though their meddling parents have hung what seems like unlimited amounts of mistletoe everywhere she goes this holiday season, Julie knows some things will never change. 

Gavin is well-aware his family’s wanted him and Julie to get together since forever, even though he’s been friend-zoned since they could talk—and he’s been happy to play that role. After all, as the new starting quarterback for the San Antonio Mustangs, he’s got enough on his plate without adding romance to the mix. 

But between playing elves in the holiday bazaar to nights spent one-on-one watching rom-coms or soaking in their town’s hot springs, suddenly the “reverse parent trap” they’ve fallen into is actually starting to work. But this could be one scheme where letting themselves get trapped might be way too dangerous.

Tee's Review:

Julie who is a Pathologist living in Arizona has been friends with Gavin, a pro football player in Texas since they were kids, their parents are best friends and they have spent holidays and vacations together.  When the two go home to Colorado for the holidays their parents take this time to finally get the two together.

Gavin has never been eager to jump into a relationship with Julie, afraid it will ruin the close friendship they already have, to him it is not worth losing. Julie needs to prove to herself she is not boring so she has Gavin fix her up with a friend, but when Gavin sets up the date for Julie, he realizes that maybe his feelings go a bit deeper than just friendship.

The book is a quick read, the family is funny as they try ways to navigate  Gavin and Julie toward a relationship other than friendship.  Julie and Gavin are both very likable, and you do find yourself rooting for them. They have great chemistry between them in whatever situation they are in. The relationship is not a hurried one, it builds gradually, but there were times I had an issue with that, I wanted them together sooner! There is also plenty of steaminess in the book, but nothing that verges toward vulgar.

If you are a fan of sports romances, or Christmas movies and reads,  you will enjoy The Mistletoe Trap, it is a fun romance with just the right amount of hotness!

Friday, October 30, 2020

Book Review: Unnatural Exposure by Patricia Cornwell


Jacque's Review:

Unnatural Exposure is the eighth book in the Kay Scarpetta series. There are currently 25 books in the series, so it is a major undertaking if you plan on reading them all.  I started this series several years ago along with the Stephanie Plum and Women's Murder Club series because I can't resist a good murder mystery, but I have never felt compelled to sit down and read them all straight through. You can read one or two books a year from these series and easily pick up where you left off. There is some character development and personal relationships evolve, but each case or story is independent. I read them in order, but I don't think it is completely necessary.

In this installment Kay, Virginia's Chief Medical Examiner, is investigating some cases that appear to be connected to five serial murders that took place in Ireland several years ago. When an additional body turns up with similar, but several strikingly different characteristics, she believes they are now dealing with a copycat. 

In addition, the most recent body is covered with what appears to be a smallpox like infection. After further investigation, it isn't quite smallpox, but a variation of the disease that we do not have a vaccination for. When the copycat killer stats contacting Kay directly via email and eventually in a chat room, Kay is determined to lure the perpetrator into making a mistake that allows the FBI to trace the connection and find the killer.

Kay's niece Lucy, who works as an IT expert for the FBI, is once again instrumental in solving the case. I always find these books amusing because of the archaic computer technology, which was state of the art at the time. In this case the book was published in 1997, which isn't THAT long ago in my opinion, but light years away in terms of technological advancements. AOL with a dial up connection, pagers, and car phones, are just a few of the high tech gadgets mentioned in this book. I remember when these things were a big deal, but kids today wouldn't have the first clue as to what she is talking about. My son even refers to when I was growing up as "the olden days," because in his eyes we lived in the stone age compared to kids today.

Overall, this was another excellent addition to the series. If you enjoy murder mysteries, I would recommend giving this series a try. Just be aware that they are somewhat graphic and may not be for everyone.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Book Review: Bone Crier's Moon by Kathryn Purdie


Jacque's Review:

Bone Crier's Moon was the April Owlcrate selection. I was a little leery when I first read the description, but I loved this book. I have heard all of the negativity about the animal cruelty, but it wasn't a significant part of the story and I personally did not find it to be offensive. Every culture has its own rituals. The animal sacrifices required to become a farrier are just part of their customs and beliefs that have been passed down for generations.

Here is a picture of everything that came in the April box. The owl pin is a perfect representation of this book since a snow owl had a significant presence in the story as did the phases of the moon. I am looking forward to completing the Harry Potter puzzle now that the weather is getting cold and we are all stuck in COVID isolation. A tote bag can always come in handy for trips to the library and the bracelet is surprisingly cute and practical. The only thing I didn't really care for is the wood moon phase banner. I don't really have a place for it and decided to put it my little free library. So far, it is still out there and hasn't drawn any interest even from the children in the neighborhood. 

Ailesse is the daughter of the current matriarch or leader of the Bone Criers. She is one of the strongest members of their group and it is assumed she will eventually take over for her mother. All she has to do is complete her rite of passage, which involves luring and killing her true love. 

Bastien has had it out for the Bone Criers since his father was murdered by one of them when he was a boy. He is working with a pair of siblings who also lost their father. They have been researching the history of the Bone Criers and find Ailesse during her rite of passage. They finally have their chance at revenge, but things don't quite go as planned.

Ailesse and Bastien believe they are cursed by the spell between a Bone Crier and her amoure. Once they are past trying to kill each other and their friendship begins to flourish, they try to find a way to break the curse. They are also plagued by a bunch of loose spirits that weren't ferried the night of her failed rite of passage.

Sabine is Ailesse's best friend. She refuses to believe Ailesse is dead even though her mother says she is. She is determined to help her friend, but things become more complicated as the story progresses. It becomes clear that the Bone Criers provide a valuable service to society even if the means to the end is unfathomable. There appears to be a sliver of hope for Ailesse and Bastien at the end of this story, but it is at the expense of another character. 

This was a fast paced and highly entertaining book. I probably never would have read it if it weren't for Owlcrate. They do an amazing job with their book selections and this once certainly did not disappoint. I can't wait to see how things will play out in the next installment, but unfortunately I will have to wait until next March for the release of Bone Crier's Dawn. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Book Review: Unrivaled by Alyson Noel


Goodreads Overview:

Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life.

But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.

She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.

That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.

Jacque's Review:

I picked up a copy of this book at BEA 2016.  It finally made it to the top of my TBR list because I was looking for a book that starts with U for the A-Z reading challenge this year.  

This book was surprisingly good. The owner of several night clubs in L.A. decides to host a contest to help promote his clubs. Layla desperately needs the money to pay for college, but she is far from the night club sort of person. In fact, she runs a celebrity gossip blog that thrives off of celebrity drama. Trying to make friends with these same celebrities and lure them to her club isn't going to be easy.

Tommy is a talented musician and the illegitimate son of the night club owner. He is using this opportunity to get closer to his dad, but he doesn't want to use his connection as an advantage. He needs the money to help launch his music career, but I believe he is more interested in earning his father's respect.

Aster is the privileged daughter of a wealthy L.A. family. She lives a very sheltered life that her parents have planned out for her. She wants to become an actress and live her own life. She believes the connections and money she could make by winning the contest could provide the break she needs to get her foot in the doors of Hollywood. 

The contest awards points to the promoter that lures not only the largest volume of guests, but the highest quality as well. There is a list of celebrities they are supposed to target with Madison Brooks being the top prize. They all connect with Madison in some form before she is discovered missing. Now they are at the top of the list of suspects and need to work together to uncover what really happened to Madison Brooks.

We learn throughout the story that Madison isn't exactly the person she has led the public to believe she is. She has a past she is trying to hide, but we have no idea what it could be. I really think uncovering her true identity will solve the mystery of her disappearance. 

This was a fast paced and highly entertaining beginning of the series. I loved all of the characters and can't wait to see what happens next in Blacklist. This is a trilogy with all 3 books currently available, so there is no need to wait between books. This is a huge advantage to not starting the series when Unrivaled was first released.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Book Review: The Flip Side by James Bailey

Goodreads Summary: 
To coin a phrase, Josh is suffering a quarter-life crisis. He just broke up with his long-term girlfriend, lost his job, and moved back home with his parents (shudder). Welcome to rock bottom in Bristol. As Josh starts questioning all his life choices, he has a mad thought: Maybe he would just be better flipping a coin. After all, careful planning has landed him homeless, jobless, and single.

What starts as a joke soon becomes serious and Josh decides to start putting his faith in the capriciousness of currency. He doesn’t have anything to lose.

But when the chance of a lifetime and the girl of his dreams are on the line, will the coin guide him to a rich love life or leave him flat broke?

Tee's Review:

He has planned it all, proposing to his longtime girlfriend on the London Eye, has the ring, is down on his knee, and does she say yes? Nope, she turns Josh down, so naturally, he walks away from the relationship both heartbroken and embarrassed. But that wasn’t Josh’s only problem, he also worked for her dad in his hotel’s, so naturally, he lost his job and his apartment along with his girlfriend, and unfortunately finds himself back home living with his parents. He also realizes he is not good at making decisions so he decides to flip a coin for the next year for every decision he has to make. 

While in London watching a friend run a marathon, he sneaks into a museum where he meets the girl of his dreams, but as they are in the crowd outside making their way to watch the runners, he loses her in the crowd. He doesn’t know her name or really anything else about her, he only knows that she lives out of the country and works in an English bookstore close to a museum that has one of the five Sunflower paintings by Van Gogh, so she becomes “ Sunflower Girl “ and he is determined to find her.  So with the coins approval, and some prize money from a trivia contest him and his friends won,  he sets out on an adventure across Europe to find her. His friends even make an Instagram account to help him along the way.

This is James Bailey’s debut novel and it is a great introduction. The thing I liked most about the book was the flip on characters. So many books have the heartbroken girl as the main character. Well, we all know that even the boys occasionally get their heartbroken and it was nice to see that point of view for once. The writing was fantastic, very engaging, and I was completely blown away by the humor in the book, so much so that I found myself more than once laughing out loud at the misadventures Josh got into along the way. 

All the characters, from Josh, to his friends, to his family, Sunflower girl, even the odd cast of characters he meets along the way of his adventure are delightful and warm. The Flip Side is a heartwarming story of strong friendships and determination. You will laugh, and you will cry along the way, this book most definitely explores any and every emotion you can imagine in its pages.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Book Review: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig


Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe, there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig's enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

Tee's Review: 

While the midnight library stands Nora, you will be preserved from death. Now, you have to decide how you want to live. “

Nora Seed has had a rough 27 hours, her cat got ran over, she has lost her job, her brother is speaking to her, her best friend will not text her back, but the ex-fiancé she left at the alter is drunk texting her and the one person she gives piano lessons to has decided he no longer wants to play the piano. Feeling alone and depressed she takes a hand full of pills to put herself out of her misery. But Nora can’t even die properly, instead, she ends up somewhere in between life and death in of all places, a library.

The library isn’t a regular library, it is a library of regrets and choices. She is guided by her High School Librarian, and given the chance to relive parts of her life, to right the wrongs she might have done, and to be happy. If she is happy she will continue in that life until her natural death, if not she will find herself back in the library with another chance to try another book in her former life.

The Midnight Library is a heartbreaking book, with Nora feeling that life is no longer worth sticking around for. Matt Haig's writing is both beautiful and brilliant as you travel with Nora while she tries to navigate her former choices and rectify certain regrets she made in her lifetime, and also learns to live and embrace life again.

I loved the entire concept of the book. The idea of a library of your life absolutely fascinated me. Haig's writing kept me engaged and reading long into the night. And Nora, I think many of us will see ourselves in her at certain points throughout her life, as we have all had regrets and felt we may have made the wrong choices.

This was my first book by Matt Haig but his imaginative storytelling makes sure it will not be my last. The Midnight Library is a must-read for everyone.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Book Review: Most Likely to Succeed by Jennifer Echols


Goodreads Overview:

As vice president of Student Council, Kaye knows the importance of keeping order. Not only in school, but in her personal life. Which is why she and her boyfriend, Aidan, already have their lives mapped out: attend Columbia University together, pursue banking careers, and eventually get married. Everything Kaye has accomplished in high school—student government, cheerleading, stellar grades—has been in preparation for that future.

To his entire class, Sawyer is an irreverent bad boy. His antics on the field as school mascot and his love of partying have earned him total slacker status. But while he and Kaye appear to be opposites on every level, fate—and their friends—keep conspiring to throw them together. Perhaps the seniors see the simmering attraction Kaye and Sawyer are unwilling to acknowledge to themselves…

As the year unfolds, Kaye begins to realize her ideal life is not what she thought. And Sawyer decides it’s finally time to let down the facade and show everyone who he really is. Is a relationship between them most likely to succeed—or will it be their favorite mistake?

Jacque's Review:

This is the third and final book in the Superlatives series. The books are companion novels that focus on different main characters, but they all take place within the same school year. There is plenty of interaction between the main characters from the other books, so the reader can get updates on the all their favorite characters.

Kaye is the classic overachiever who has her life all planned out. Her mother came from a rough neighborhood and is now a bank executive. She has extremely high expectations for her daughter and has her on a tight leash. She didn't want Kaye to be a cheerleader, but Kaye was able to convince her she needed another extra curricular for her college applications. It is the one thing she actually enjoys and it allows her to spend time with Sawyer, who her mother does not approve of.

Sawyer is secretly a great student with excellent test scores, but he comes across as a partying class clown. He does an amazing job as the school mascot, but it is more than just a fun position to him. It is a way for him to express his true personality. He is constantly judged and labeled by his father's past mistakes. He is a completely different person than his father, but it is hard to tell that to a small town population that assumes the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

This was a highly entertaining conclusion to the series. It takes Kaye a long time to realize her life plans may not bring her the happiness she always believed they would. She needs to stand up for herself and take some risks that are way outside of her comfort zone, but the reward is definitely worth the risk. Sawyer also needs to accept the fact that he can't do everything on his own. There is nothing wrong with accepting help from your friends. He also needs to learn to express himself outside of his costume. 

The entire school knows Kaye and Sawyer are the perfect couple, but will they be able to work through their personal demons to finally achieve happiness together?

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Five Great Gothic Literature Books For You To Read During The Spooky Season

Let's talk about Gothic Literature. It is October after all, and we like things a bit more spooky this time of the year. So, what exactly is Gothic Literature?  Well, it is a genre that grew out of the Romantic literary movement in the 18th century, mostly in Europe. In 1764  Horace Walpole wrote a book titled The Castle Of Otranto, this book is credited as being the founding novel of the genre.

What constitutes a book to be Gothic Lit? Well, it must have a few common things...first... the setting. You can’t have a gothic story without a gloomy big manor house or castle that is in some stage of decay. Often the location or the atmosphere surrounding the house is one of the major stars of the story. Even better? The house is situated somewhere in the middle of an isolated moor, as in Wuthering Heights. The story will have a mix of pleasure and terror with some very intense and strong emotions. There is usually a damsel in distress that will on occasion fall in love with the strange character that owns the manor house, but always, she is going to feel a sense of doom, think about Jane Eyre at Thornfield Hall, where she falls in love with her mysterious employer, Edward Fairfax Rochester.

Following Gothic Literature is Gothic Horror, these two can easily meld together as so many of the elements are the same, in fact, you can talk to some people about the two and they will tell you they are the same genre. There are two trains of thought on how gothic horror actually came about. Some credit Edgar Allan Poe, he took gothic literature and applied his fascination with fear into it. The other thought is a more common one and credits the genre to the three-day stay of Mary Shelley and her husband Percy Bysshe Shelly at Villa Diodati, the home of Lord Byron and John Polidori in Switzerland. The story goes that after Byron read the guest a story he challenged them all to create their own story. Out of this weekend, we were gifted Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, one of the great gothic horror stories to be written. Location and feelings of dread are all present in the gothic horror story just as they are in the Literature, however, they go a step further and add in monsters, or something supernatural, and in many cases blood and gore

So are you ready to jump into some great gothic literature to read this spooky season? Well here is our top five picks for you to start with

Mary Shelley " Frankenstein ( 1818 )

Victor Frankenstein attempts to play God by bringing corpses back to life. One of the different and compelling thing about Frankenstein is that the monster actually has feelings and humanity to it. This takes you from being scared of it to feelings of sorrow for it.

Charlotte Bronte " Jane Eyre " ( 1847 )

As I said before, it is the setting of Jane Eyre that is one of its shining stars. Strange attics, winding dark corridors, this house has it all. Plus the book is written in first person, giving it the feel of the character set in front of you telling you the horrors that befell her. We also have romance in this story when Jane develops feeling for Edward Rochester, the owner of the manor.

Bram Stoker " Dracula " ( 1897 )

The King of all Vampire stories that followed. Probably one of the most famous  Gothic novel. It includes a spooky castle, a mysterious figure, several in fact, romance, pretty much everything you need to make a great gothic story.

Shirley Jackson " The Haunting Of Hill House " ( 1959 )

The masterpiece of haunted house books that gathers four strangers, each with some psychic ability into a house. The story shows that the real horror isn’t the house itself but the mind.

Oscar Wilde " Pictures of Dorian Gray " 1890

Probably one of my favorite gothic stories. Dorian is painted by Basil Hallward who is obsessed with Grays beauty. Gray realizes that his beauty will soon fade as will his lavish lifestyle so he sells his soul and instead of him aging, the portrait does. A great story on the evils of excess.

But don’t stop with just these five if you find you enjoy the genre, Gothic has so much to offer, from classics to gothic romances that were published from the 1960s to the early 1990s by authors such as Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Phyllis Whitney to newer ones, such as 2017’s The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry and the recently published Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. There is something for all of us in this genre. Happy reading!