Monday, August 29, 2022

Book Review: A Dreadful Splendor by BR Myers

In Victorian London, Genevieve Timmons poses as a spiritualist to swindle wealthy mourners--until one misstep lands her in a jail cell awaiting the noose. Then a stranger arrives to make her a peculiar offer. The Lord he serves, Mr. Pemberton, has been inconsolable since the tragic death of his beautiful bride-to-be. If Genevieve can perform a séance persuasive enough to bring the young Lord peace, she will win her freedom.

Soothing a grieving nobleman should be easy for someone of Genevieve's skill, but when she arrives at the grand Somerset Park estate, Mr. Pemberton is not the heartbroken lover she expected. The surly--yet exceedingly handsome--gentleman is certain that his fiancée was murdered, even though there is no evidence. Only a confession can bring justice now, and Mr. Pemberton decides Genevieve will help him get it. With his knowledge of the household and her talent for illusion, they can stage a haunting so convincing it will coax the killer into the light. However, when frightful incidents befall the manor, Genevieve realizes her tricks aren't required after all. She may be a fake, but Somerset's ghost could be all too real...

A Dreadful Splendor is a wickedly whimsical brew of mystery, spooky thrills, and intoxicating romance that makes for an irresistibly fun and page-turning read.

I will start by saying that I would not consider this so much a gothic book as I would a period mystery. Gothic romance, mystery, whatever, it is one of my favorite genres, so in the end, I was a bit disappointed that I didn't really get what I thought I was going into.

With that being said, the writing, especially toward the end of the book was wonderful. The Victorian setting did give the feel, ever so slightly of gothic, however, the book got much better when I pushed the word out of my mind. I actually loved the haunting atmosphere of the story and the writer certainly kept me guessing who the killer actually was.

There is a slow build romance that takes place in the book as well. I did not feel that the two love interests had much chemistry between them, but I do appreciate that Myers gave us a slow build instead of insta-love. There is nothing I dislike more in a book than insta-love. I want the drama, the tension...

There were times I felt that the story was a bit slow and during those times I caught my mind wandering off to trivial things. I think what really kept me reading and pushing through the thing that I did not like was Myers's very vivid descriptions throughout the book.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Book Review: Every Summer After by Carley Fortune


They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.

Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually, that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past. 

Told over the course of six years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping nostalgic look at love and the people and choices that mark us forever


GUYS...if ever there was a book to read this summer THIS IS IT...yes, I know it has gotten a lot of hype...but in this case, BELIEVE the hype!

It stuns me that Every Summer After is Carley Fortune's debut, she tells a story as well or better as many seasoned writers.

Set in a lake community in Canada, the story is told in dual timelines about 12 years apart, past and present. Beginning with Percy and her family occupying a cottage on the lake for 6 summers, living next door to the Florek family. Percy and youngest brother Sam, start out as friends but build up to a relationship before breaking up that last summer. Oh there are some major feels in this book when you go through their problems and their mistakes with them, but you will also cheer them along in the present day.

It is a quick read, mainly because you will not want to put it down, but the story holds your interest with plenty of family issues such as grief and parental loss, struggling relationships, both friendships and lovers, the struggles of growing up, and of course forgiveness.

The characters in the book are flawed and they make some stupid mistakes like we all do growing up, but they grow up and deal with them like adults do, and no matter what, they stay true to themselves and you seem to always root for them despite what is going on. They are young in much of the book, which kind of grows with them, so at times where you will feel like you are reading a YA, but the present will slip in and remind you that you are not.

Every Summer After is full of washed-out summer nostalgia that will have you remembering your first summer crush. I loved this book so much that I am sure I have told everyone I know to read if you haven't, I am telling you also! And y'all can I get a hell yeah on how beautiful Carley Fortune wrote the character of Sam?... Book boyfriend crush material right there!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Audio Book Review: Stay Awake by Megan Goldin


Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a taxi with no idea where she is or how she got there. When she’s dropped off at the door of her brownstone, a stranger answers―a stranger who now lives in her apartment and forces her out in the cold. She reaches for her phone to call for help, only to discover it’s missing, and in its place is a bloodstained knife. That’s when she sees that her hands are covered in black pen, scribbled messages like graffiti on her skin: STAY AWAKE.

Two years ago, Liv was living with her best friend, dating a new man, and thriving as a successful writer for a trendy magazine. Now, she’s lost and disoriented in a New York City that looks nothing like what she remembers. Catching a glimpse of the local news, she’s horrified to see reports of a crime scene where the victim’s blood has been used to scrawl a message across a window, the same message that’s inked on her hands. What did she do last night? And why does she remember nothing from the past two years? Liv finds herself on the run for a crime she doesn’t remember committing as she tries to piece together the fragments of her life. But there’s someone who does know exactly what she did, and they’ll do anything to make her forget―permanently.


30-year-old New Yorker Liv Reese has no memory when she wakes up in a cab, so she heads home only to find strangers living in her brownstone, to make matters worse she discovers a blood-stained knife in her pocket and the words " Stay Awake " written all over her.

In the beginning, I found Stay Awake a bit confusing and thought maybe I might have missed something as I was listening and working, but I soon found my bearings with it and found the story entertaining and thrilling. The story is told by Liv in two timelines, the present and also the past which takes place two years before.

There is a lot of action in this book to keep your attention, however, to me, the middle got a bit bogged down in the storytelling and dragged a bit. It was really interesting to see how Liv slowly began figuring the clues out and what was going on. 

I have seen several people say that they easily figured the ending out, but not me. I thought I had it figured out and then Goldin threw in a twist that surprised me.

Thriller readers will enjoy Stay Awake, especially if you enjoy Goldins previous book Night Swim. I personally thought Stay Awake was a bit better.

I listened to the audio and found it engaging. Imogene Church and January LaVoy, the narrators gave a great performance and brought it to life for me.

Thanks to Netgalley and MacMillian Audio for the advanced audio

Book Review : Meant to Be by Emily Giffin

The Kingsley family is practically American royalty, beloved for their military heroics, political service, and unmatched elegance. When Joseph S. Kingsley III is born in 1960, he inherits the weight of that legacy. Growing up with all the Kingsley looks and charisma, Joe should have no problem taking up the mantle after his father’s untimely death. But he is also a little bit reckless, and can’t seem to figure out how to channel the expectations of an entire country.

No one ever expected anything of Cate, on the other hand. She, too, grew up in a single-parent household—just her and her mom scraping by in their small apartment. As a teenager, though, Cate is discovered for her looks. Modeling may be her only ticket out of the cycle of disappointment that her mother has always inhabited. Before too long, her face is everywhere, though she is always aware that she’d be a pariah in her social circles if anyone knew her true story.

When Joe and Cate’s paths cross, their connection is instant. What remains to be seen is whether their relationship will survive the glare of the spotlight that follows Joe everywhere. And just as they find themselves in the make-or-break moment, the tragedy that seems to run in Joe’s family right alongside all that privilege will repeat itself.

In a beautifully written novel that recaptures a gilded moment in American history, Emily Giffin tells a story of a love that may or may not have the power to transcend circumstances that seem arrayed against it... and the difficulty of finding your way to the place you belong


It has been a while since I have picked up an Emily Griffin book. I enjoyed her books Something Borrowed and Something Blue, but then seemed to lose track of her, that is until I was searching Amazon for a new audiobook and come across Meant To Be. I knew nothing about the book going into it, and that it was new and sounded decent, so I jumped in.

The first thing I noticed was that the story seemed to somewhat mirror the relationship of John F Kennedy Jr and Carolyn Bessette. I grew up in a huge Kennedy family, everyone in my family was a fan of all the Kennedy's so naturally, I knew a bit about them. I also was a huge fan of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, I thought she was elegant, the perfect wife for JFK Jr, who I was also a fan of, and loved reading George every month. Also, as a lover of fashion, I thought Carolyn Bessette had fantastic taste in clothes and loved that she loved Yohji Yamamoto, one of my favorites.

Griffin did a great job keeping me entertained with this story. While Joseph’s family background def mirrored the Kennedys, Cate’s family was nothing like Carolyn’s. She came from a lower-class family with one parent, and that played heavily into the story. I like both of the characters, which isn’t usually the case with me reading a romance. I won’t lie, I think the similarities in the story with the real-life romance, helped me quickly zoom through the book, it was something I really enjoyed and I loved seeing the ways she veered off from real life to make it her own story.

I think if you are a reader of Kennedy books you would really enjoy this, even if you basically know the story, and if you know absolutely nothing about JFKJr and Carolyn Bessette, you will enjoy just a great romance. 

Luckily for Joe and Cate, Emily Griffin gave them a much happier ending than what JFKJr and Carolyn got, and I have always felt, that would have been the way RL would have went for those two.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Book Review: Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt


After Tova Sullivan's husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she's been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn't dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors--until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova's son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it's too late.


Y'all my heart is bursting with love for this new book. So many feels on this one!

Remarkably Bright Creatures is about Tova Sullivan a 70-year-old woman who lost her son 30 years ago and recently lost her husband. She takes a job as a night shift cleaner at the Sowell Bay Aquarium so she will have something to do to keep her busy.

Tova forms a friendship with Marcellus, a giant pacific octopus who, when the book begins is on his 1299 day of captivity in the aquarium.

This is such a creative, heartfelt story with characters you will fall in love with. Tova is determined to carry on with her life despite her loss and enjoys her cleaning job at the aquarium, it helps pass a lot of would-be empty and lonely hours. Author Shelby Van Pelt did a wonderful job of installing sadness into Tova's character without making her depressing and miserable.

Marcellus the aging octopus steals the show in this story in my opinion. He gives Tova life and reason without speaking a word to her. I might have thought this interaction was a bit overdone, the book is fiction so..., but a few weeks ago I watched a Netflix documentary called My Octopus Teacher and it saw how highly intelligent these creatures are, and they are capable of forming attachments to humans. Marcus may not speak verbally to Tova but he gets his point across and in the book he does have a voice.

There is also Cameron, who is a bit lost in life and searching for a father that he never knew. He ends up at the aquarium working after a failed search led him to the area.

I don't want to go into any greater detail, but I will tell you that all the characters and the story will tug at your heart, but at the same time make you smile.

My Opinion...

I won't lie, I am a huge fan of aquariums. I love the ocean and any creatures that live there. An Aquarium has always been a place of joy for me, being able to see these magnificent creatures up close amazes me. When I finished Remarkably Bright Creatures it got me thinking, especially about Marcellus's POV in the story. It made me question keeping these creatures in captivity. For the first time, someone has given one of these creatures a voice and it has really made me think a bit differently about things.

Please read or listen to this book, it could be one of the best beach reads of your summer.