Blog Tour: The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

Book Cover

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Date of publication: October 1st, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Children’s Fiction

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received: Publisher

Trigger Warnings: None


Goodreads Synopsis:

The new face of big evil is a little . . . small.

Dastardly deeds aren’t exactly the first things that come to mind when one hears the name “Clementine,” but as the sole heir of the infamous Dark Lord Elithor, twelve-year-old Clementine Morcerous has been groomed since birth to be the best (worst?) Evil Overlord she can be. But everything changes the day the Dark Lord Elithor is cursed by a mysterious rival.

Now, Clementine must not only search for a way to break the curse, but also take on the full responsibilities of the Dark Lord. As Clementine forms her first friendships, discovers more about her own magic than she ever dared to explore, and is called upon to break her father’s code of good and evil, she starts to question the very life she’s been fighting for. What if the Dark Lord Clementine doesn’t want to be dark after all?


Review:

I am always on the lookout for books that my 13-year-old can read. My son is a voracious reader and will read anything that I give him. So, when I saw The Dark Lord Clementine’s blurb, the book caught my interest. I thought to myself: “My son would like this, but I need to read the book first.” I am glad that I did because The Dark Lord Clementine was a great read!!

The Dark Lord Clementine is a story about a girl named Clementine. She lives in a dilapidated castle with her Dark Lord father. One day, Clementine notices her father is missing his nose. That is when she finds out that the Whittle Witch has cursed him. Clementine takes it upon herself to try and find a cure for the curse. She also tries to assume the Dark Lord duties that her father cannot do. With the Whittle Witch waiting to take over the castle, Clementine is running out of time. Can she save her father?

The plotline for The Dark Lord Clementine was evenly paced. The flow of the book was perfect. It wasn’t too fast or too slow. There was no lag in the book or dropped plotlines either, which I enjoyed.

I loved Clementine. She was a timid little girl at the beginning of the book. But as the book went on, I could see her character growth. By the end of the book, she became this confident young woman. I loved it!!

I did feel bad for Clementine. She didn’t have any friends. Well, human friends. She did have the nightmares and the black sheep for company. But other than that, nothing. She longed for friends, even if she wouldn’t admit it to herself. Hiding in the shadows and watching the villagers play said so much. So, when Sebastian and then Darka befriended her, I was happy. Clementine needed it.

I didn’t care for Darka at the beginning of the book. I wouldn’t say I liked that she befriended Clementine to gain favor and hunt in the woods around the castle. I didn’t particularly appreciate that she was hunting unicorns. But I liked that her story had more depth to it. When it was revealed, I started to pity her. But it was Darka’s actions at the end of the book that made me love her!!!

I loved the humor in the book. The Gricken is the most notable one. When Clementine was younger, she tried to turn a frog into a chicken. Unfortunately (and hilariously), the spell backfired, and she turned her family grimoire into it. If she wants to learn a spell, she has to wait for the Gricken to lay an egg. There is a hilarious scene where Clementine pleads with the Gricken to lay an egg. I laughed so hard; I had tears in my eyes.

The end of The Dark Lord Clementine was perfect. I am not going to get into it because of major spoilers. I will say that what Clementine did was brave. The way the book ended made me wonder if there was going to be a book 2.

Blog Tour: Fearless (Less Than Zero: Book 3) by Kaylene Winter

Fearless (Less Than Zero, #3)

Publisher: Rockstar Romance LLC

Date of Publication: March 17th, 2021

Genre: Romance

Series: Less Than Zero

Restless—Book 0.5

Endless: Ty & Zoey—Book 1

Limitless: Jace & Alex—Book 2

Fearless: Connor & Ronni—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received: For Blog Tour from coordinator

Trigger Warning: Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault (implied in one case), Alcoholism, Drug Use (talked about)


Goodreads Synopsis:

Family is everything, I protect mine with my life..

Connor McGloughlin had it all, a great family, a college scholarship and music.
Tragedy forced him to grow up too fast.
When his life finally is on track, Ronni Miller appears like a dream.
Kindred spirits in the most unlikely of circumstances.
There’s only one thing in the way—
Her dark past he’s determined to protect her from.

When your innocence is stolen, trust is a precious gift..

Actress Ronni Miller tasted fame at a young age.
But her path to stardom was riddled with tragedy.
She never imagined falling for Connor McGloughlin, a rogue, Irish rock star.
The thing is? Ronni’s got revenge on her mind.
Regardless of the risk or the consequences—
Or losing the one thing in her life that makes her feel alive.

Connor has only ever asked Ronni for one thing: her heart.
But when her bravery is couched in lies?
She risks losing the man who would do anything for her.
Will she realize being fearless means trusting true love?


First Line:

“Fuck my life!” Byron Angel, the pampered second-bit actor screeched just before shoving his chips over to me.

Fearless by Kaylene Winters

Review

When I read the blurb for Fearless, I knew that this was a book that I wanted to read. I decided that I would look past that it was book 3 in the Less Than Zero series. That is how much the blurb hooked me into reading the book. I figured that if I liked Fearless, I can go back and read the first two books (actually three because of the prequel). And I was right on all counts!!

Fearless is a medium-paced book in both storyline and pacing. With these types of books, I have come to expect a fast-paced plotline/storyline. So, I was surprised when Fearless started at a medium pace and kept it up for the entire book. I enjoyed it. It allowed me to digest what was going on (and a lot was going on initially).

Fearless has dual storylines (Connor and Ronni’s). Usually, I’m not too fond of it when there is more than one storyline. But in this case, and considering what Ronni was doing/had gone through, it was needed. To try and condense everything to one storyline wouldn’t have had the impact it did.

I thought the author did a fantastic job showing how toxic Hollywood was (and still is). I got chills when I read about Ronni’s time on the TV show and how it affected her. I also liked that the author showed that men could be forced into the same #MeToo situations as women. I never gave that much thought until I read this book. Then I remembered Corey Feldman and his claims about the same things happening in Fearless, and I began to wonder. How many times is the “casting couch” used for men and women to get parts? How many times are teenagers (and adults) forced to do things they usually wouldn’t do with producers/directors to get juicier parts? And how many of those people are forced out of the business/blackballed/labeled difficult because they refused or had parents that said: “No Fucking Way?” (like Ronni’s mom). Just food for thought.

The author also highlighted something else that I have rarely heard of—being a beard. Being a beard means that a straight woman will date a closeted gay man to convince people/keep up the appearance that the man is straight. Ronni was a beard, and she was a beard with a mission. She was collecting evidence against one of the TV producers whose show she was in when she was a teenager. The men she dated were victims of him. It was very compelling to read.

Connor’s backstory wasn’t as traumatic as Ronni’s, but it was pretty sad. His father had a horrible car crash when Connor was in high school and soon spiraled into alcoholism with a side of gambling addiction. Connor ended up dropping out of high school to run the family business. He also learned how to play poker to recover the money his father lost. His outlet was the band. The road to fame was gradual for him (it was several years before the band hit it big), and he dealt with a lot of verbal abuse from his father. It was sad to read, and I could emphasize Connor’s frustration.

Connor and Ronni’s love story didn’t get off to a great start. They met at a concert, there were sparks, and then he took off (thinking she would follow). She didn’t and thought he was a player. It wasn’t until she and her friend hitched a ride to Australia with the band that they got to know each other. That is where their relationship began. The author didn’t end the book after their initial hook-up. Nope, instead, the book kept going for several years before everything blew up. Ronni and Connor were together for 3-4 (maybe more) years by the time things went down.

For those of you who like hot sex scenes, Connor and Ronni’s were insanely hot. I loved it!! They were like bunnies every time they got together—days and days of sex. My only complaint was that Connor and Ronni were going bareback very soon into their relationship. And they didn’t get tested. Why would I be bothered? Because Connor turned into a man whore after his longtime girlfriend dumped him. He slept his way across Europe (implied). Other than that, I was all in!!

The author wonderfully wrote the main storyline (see above). Saying that I wouldn’t have been as patient as Connor was with Ronni while she was bearding. I also understood why he did what he did. But, saying that, I was surprised at the turn that the storyline took.

I will say that the secondary characters were terrific in Fearless. Ronni had such a great support group, and Connor’s bandmates were incredible. They made this book so much more interesting to read.

Fearless can be read as a stand-alone book, even though it is book 3 in the series. There are references to previous books and characters, but nothing made me go “Uh” or “WTF.” It made me want to read the previous books and see what their stories were.

There were a couple of things that I didn’t like about Fearless. First, I wouldn’t say I liked how the book began. I was left lost in the first couple of chapters. It isn’t until almost the end of the book that the first couple of chapters make sense. Secondly, I thought the ending was typical, which was disappointing. Ronni and Connor were anything but ordinary and to have that sort of conclusion was “eh.


Fearless was an emotional, well-written romance. The romance was excellent, and I loved that the author jumped into current events. The medium-paced storyline complemented the story.

I would recommend Fearless for anyone over the age of 21. There is graphic sex. There is violence. There are scenes of the aftermath of sexual abuse. There is talk of a suicide. There is talk of drug use. There are graphic examples of alcohol abuse.


AUTHOR BIO:

When she was only 15, Kaylene Winter wrote her first rocker romance novel starring a fictionalized version of herself, her friends and their gorgeous rocker boyfriends. After living her own rockstar life as a band manager, music promoter and mover and shaker in Seattle during the early 1990’s, Kaylene became a digital media legal strategist helping bring movies, television and music online. Throughout her busy career, Kaylene lost herself in romance novels across all genres inspiring her to realize her life-long dream to be a published author. She lives in Seattle with her amazing husband and dog. She loves to travel, throw lavish dinner parties and support charitable causes supporting arts and animals.


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Hawthorn Book Reviews  >> Review
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Hidden Fury (Annie Fitch Mysteries: Book 2) by Marie Flanigan

Hidden Fury (Annie Fitch Mysteries Book 2)
Hidden Fury by Marie Flanigan

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

March 2nd, 2021

Genre: Romance, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Series: Annie Fitch Mysteries

Exposed Fury—Book 1 (Review Here)

Hidden Fury—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Format Read: unedited ARC

Received: from Author for honest review

Trigger Warnings: Mild violence, talk of past child abuse, speculation of incest/rape


Amazon Synopsis:

As a former cop turned private investigator, Annie Fitch hopes to never be in the line of fire again, so she’s expanded her business to include installing security systems. She’s thrilled to be hired by Preston Farr, a farmer with a vandalism problem on his family’s historic apple orchard and farm.

Preston’s roots in the community run deep. His family has held the same property in Leesburg, Virginia, since the 1700s. The two get to know each other over the course of the job. When Preston asks her out after the work is done, she accepts. After all, Annie’s on-again, off-again love affair with her childhood best friend, Ford, is currently off. Why should she mope until he decides it’s on again?

What she intended to be a fun, casual romp with Preston turns serious quickly when Annie’s newly installed security cameras record startling footage. Family secrets begin to unravel, echoing over two hundred years of heartache and violence.


First Line:

They say when you’re dying, you see a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel, but when I was dying, I didn’t see that.

Hidden Fury by Marie Flanigan

My Review:

I like a good mystery. I like it when the mystery I am reading sucks me in and keeps me on edge for the entire book. I also like it when the characters are relatable. Sometimes, when I read a mystery, the characters are a little over the top. While in some cases, it is what the book needs, in other cases, it is a distraction. Fortunately, for Hidden Fury, I was kept on edge, and the characters were relatable.

Hidden Fury is the 2nd book in the Annie Fitch Mystery series. It takes place several months after the events of Exposed Fury. Annie, a PI, has expanded her business to include installing security systems. One of her first customers is Preston Farr, the owner of a historic orchard. His business is being vandalized, and he wants to find out who it is. Annie and Preston have an immediate connection and start a romantic relationship shortly after the system is installed. But, there is more going on at Preston’s orchard than just vandalism. After a skeleton is found in an abandoned, historic church on Preston’s property, Annie is compelled to solve the mystery of who it was. Will she solve the mystery? Will her relationship with Preston survive the truth?

The plotline for Hidden Fury was medium-paced which was fine with me. I like medium-paced plotlines with mysteries. It gives the plotline time to evolve (and in this case, it did) and for me to become engrossed in the book.

There is one main storyline with several secondary storylines in Hidden Fury. The primary and secondary storylines were well written. What I enjoyed is when the main storyline ended (when Annie caught who was vandalizing Preston’s farm and why), the author then had the storyline for the church become the main storyline. I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed how the author did it!!

There were a couple of twists in the plotlines. One was revealed in the middle of the book. I can safely say with that twist; I saw it coming. The other twist I saw coming but was stilled surprised (and saddened) when it was revealed.

The characters in Hidden Fury were well written and had a depth to them. Annie, by far, was my favorite. I was a little disappointed that her brother and Ford weren’t featured in this book.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Preston. He came across as a very indecisive man. I also wouldn’t have doubted the story that my great-uncle was telling. But, I can understand why he acted the way he acted. He was a decent person outside of the drama. I hope that Annie and his relationship are still ongoing in book 3 (if there is one).

As I mentioned above, I thought the mystery was well written. The author did throw some red herrings out to try, and they did distract me, but in the end, I figured out both. I still enjoyed the lead-up to both reveals.

The end of Hidden Fury was terrific. The author wrapped up the storyline and plotline. She also left some wiggle room for a book 3.


Hidden Fury is a well-written mystery. Even though I was able to figure out both mysteries, I enjoyed the lead-up to the reveals. It had an excellent medium-paced storyline.

I would recommend Hidden Fury to anyone over the age of 21. There are flashbacks to how Annie got her brain injury. There is also a mention of child abuse, insect, rape resulting in pregnancy, murder, racism, and a church’s desecration. There are sex scenes but nothing explicit.

Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy: Book 1) by Laura Sebastian

Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy, #1)

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Date of Publication: April 24th 2018

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

Series: Ash Princess Trilogy

Ash Princess-Book 1

Lady Smoke-Book 2

Ember Queen-Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | AbeBoooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | Audible

Format read: eBook

Got Book From: Library (via OverDrive)

Trigger Warning: Violence, child abuse (one very graphic scene towards the end of the book)

Goodreads Synopsis:

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.


First Line:

The last person who called me by my true name was my mother, with her dying breath.

Ash Princess by laura sebastian

My Initial First Impressions of Ash Princess

Ash Princess has been on my radar for a while. I had requested it from NetGalley before it was published and got declined. I was pretty irritated by that since I had been reading posts from other bloggers about how good it was. Then, a couple of months ago, a lightbulb went off in my head. Why don’t I use the LIBRARY and see if they have it through Overdrive? So, that’s what I did, and after a month’s hold, I was able to get my digital fingers on Ash Princess.

I started Ash Princess by crying. Yes, crying. I sobbed my way through the prologue and the first few chapters. What Theodosia was forced to go through broke my heart. It also made me want to jump into the book and beat the living out of the Theryn and the Kaiser. When Theodosia was forced to kill her father while he was singing her a freaking lullaby, I lost it. I had to put my Kindle down and let myself cry it out.

I was suspect at Cress and Theo’s friendship from the beginning. Yes, I was that cynical person who couldn’t quite believe that the Kaiser’s executioner allowed his daughter to be besties with the deposed Queen of the land they had just taken over. My suspicions were somewhat confirmed when Cress became jealous when the Prinz started paying attention to Theodosia.

Speaking of the Prinz (or Soren), I couldn’t help but be cynical over his and Theo’s relationship evolved. He watched her being abused (whipped and beaten). He must have known of his father’s plans for Theodosia. Heck, I knew about them from the beginning. The Kaiser wasn’t subtle. Even the Kaiserina knew….smh. To have a romance, all of a sudden blossom between Soren and Theodosia, didn’t feel right to me. I mean, I knew it had to happen, just like I knew that there was going to be a triangle (Blaise, Theodosia, and Soren). It doesn’t mean that I had to like it.

Blaise, Heron, and Art showing up towards the end of the first half of the book was interesting. I say interesting because they were all escaped slaves they were all marked by the mines in some way. They were also dedicated to overthrowing the Kaiser and restoring Theo to her rightful place as Queen. I wouldn’t say I liked Art’s attitude towards Theo during this part of the book. She seemed to think that Theo lived this pampered life while her countrymen toiled. It annoyed me that Art would talk to her Queen that way.

The first half of Ash Princess flew by for me. The author did a great job of keeping my attention to the plot. There was no needless subplots or secondary characters cluttering things up, which I enjoyed.


Mid-book Impressions

As much as I loved the first half of Ash Princess, I thought the middle of the book was a little boring. I understand that the groundwork had to be laid for Theo and her group’s plan to work. It still bored me. I stopped reading the book for a couple of days because I got bored. But, once I got over that small bump, the book did pick up speed.

Theo and her group had a well thought out plan that Theo kept waffling on. Kill the Theryn, Cress, and Soren. Theo was OK with killing the Theryn. I mean, he was the one who slit her mother’s throat while her six-year-old self watched. But killing Cress, who was innocent, and Soren, who she was falling for, seemed like overkill.

Cress and Theo’s friendship did falter in the middle of the book. I was expecting it, primarily since Theo was tasked with killing the Theryn and Cress. But it still hurt to read. Cress was an innocent, and in Theo’s mind, shouldn’t be touched. I will say, though, I liked the 180 that Cress did towards the end of the book’s middle. But even then, Cress was looking out for Theo.

I was a little iffy on Soren and Theo’s romance. It was too sudden (like I said above). To go from him being apathetic to loving her within a couple of weeks made me go “meh.” It screamed of Instalove. Honestly, I thought that Theo was too emotionally damaged (from the abuse) even to form those kinds of attachments. But she did. That night on Soren’s boat was sweet, and it did show a different side of Soren then what I expected.

Blaise, Heron, and Art’s characters became a little more fleshed out. I loved Heron. He was a gentle giant who was a badass. I did feel bad when he explained his backstory. To lose his love to mine madness made my heart hurt. Art was still a raving bitch, but even that was explained. I felt that there was more to her character than what the author was letting on.


End of Book Impressions:

The end of Ash Princess was not what I thought it was going to be. A couple of twists in the plotline made me go “Huh” and “No way.” The author did an excellent job of wrapping up plotlines and setting new ones in motion.

I will warn you all that there is a very graphic scene where the Theryn whips Theo in front of the Kaiser and his court. It was a brutal scene to read. I was crying by the end of it. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Theo was ready to do whatever she could to free her people.

Cress and Theo’s friendship took a sudden and drastic turn at the end of the book. I did not blame Cress or Theo for how they felt. I mean, Theo did try to kill Cress, and instead, something else happened. I do think that if Theo acted differently instead of rubbing what happened in Cress’s face, maybe things would have been different? Who knows. All I know is that Theo’s actions created Cress, and Theo will have to do something about her.

I will say that Soren did come through for Theo after she was imprisoned. I figured that Blaise, Heron, and Art would be the ones to rescue her. So when Soren appeared, I was surprised. I wasn’t surprised at who Theo let loose in the dungeons, nor was I surprised at what was said to her. And I wasn’t surprised when Theo did what she did after the escape.

There was one twist in the plot that was left for last. I was taken by surprise, as was Theo. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it was like for her to have that surprise sprung on her. Poor Art did try to tell her but was always cut off.

Like I said above, individual storylines were wrapped up, and new ones were started at the end of the book. There was enough not written for me to want to read book 2. I need to see what will happen to Theo, Soren, and everyone else in the book.


My Overall Thoughts on Ash Princess

I enjoyed reading Ash Princess. It was a fast read with complex characters. Theo was incredibly strong, and she was lucky to have people who were willing to help her. Some scenes made me uncomfortable (the implied rape of Art and the death of her younger brother was one of them). I didn’t get Theo and Soren’s sudden romantic relationship, but I got why the author had it happen so suddenly.

I would recommend Ash Princess to anyone over the age of 21. There is violence, implied rape, slavery, and child abuse (implied and otherwise).

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians by [Jones, Stephen Graham]

3 Stars

Publisher: Gallery Pocket Books, Gallery/Saga Press

Date of publication: May 19th, 2020

Genre: Horror

Where you can find The Only Good Indians: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

The creeping horror of Paul Tremblay meets Tommy Orange’s There There in a dark novel of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.


First Line:

The headline for Richard Boss Ribs would be Indian Man Killed in Dispute Outside Bar.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

My Review:

I was surprised when the publisher granted my wish on NetGalley for this book. I wished for it based on the cover (the side view of the elk) and the blurb. I was looking for a book that would scare me. While The Only Good Indians did scare me, in certain parts of the book, it also bored me.

The Only Good Indians plotline had two paces. It went between going fast and slow. I wished that it had stayed either fast or slow. The constant slowing down of the plotline made it hard to read. I did like that there were no dropped characters or storylines.

The characters in The Only Good Indians were well written. I did have a problem connecting with the characters. I can pinpoint why I couldn’t connect with them.

I loved the main plotline in The Only Good Indians. I loved that the author used Native American folklore and wove it into the plotline. I liked the build-up to the final encounter was well written. But, I do wish that there was a glossary at the end of the book. It would have helped with some of the Native American terms used in the book.

The horror angle of the book was well written. I did think that it was drawn out towards the end of the book.

The end of The Only Good Indians was interesting. I get that the cycle had to come full circle. I also wasn’t prepared for who Denorah’s stepfather was.


I would give The Only Good Indian an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I am on the fence if I would reread The Only Good Indian. I am on the fence if I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

In Her Shadow by Kristin Miller

In Her Shadow: A Novel by [Miller, Kristin]

3.5 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: April 21st, 2020

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Women’s Fiction

Where you can find In Her Shadow: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

A pregnant young woman becomes obsessed with the disappearance of her lover’s wife–only to discover that she may be headed for the same fate–from New York Times bestselling author Kristin Miller.

Once his secretary, Colleen is now pregnant with Michael’s baby. When he brings her to his opulent estate, Ravenwood, she is abruptly thrust into a life of luxury she’s never known. But Colleen finds the immense house suffused with the memory of Michael’s beautiful wife, Joanna, who left months ago and who haunts her imagination. It quickly becomes apparent that there is little room for a new mistress of this house: The staff greets her with hostility, and there are entire wings and corridors from which she is prohibited to enter.

Then bones are unearthed in the grove across the street.

When Michael falls under the suspicion of the detectives investigating the case, the soon-to-be mother of his child finds herself hurled deeper into her boyfriend’s dark past–a past that threatens to upend all her dreams. But the terrifying secrets lurking in the shadows of Ravenwood pale in comparison to the drastic measures Colleen will take to stake a claim to her new life.

Inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, In Her Shadow is the chilling story of one woman’s desperate desire to be loved and the ghosts that get in her way–but only if she lets them.


First Line:

“Help.”

In Her Shadow by Kristin Miller

My Review:

When I read the blurb for In Her Shadow, I was intrigued. Seeing the comparisons to Rebecca caught my interest right away. The blurb deepened my interest in the book. It sounded perfect for me. Then I read it. While I liked some parts of the book, there were other parts that I didn’t like. Those parts did factor in my rating of the review.

In Her Shadow had a fast plotline, which I liked. The book takes place within a week of Colleen moving into Michael’s house, Ravenwood. There were no dropped characters and, more importantly, no dropped storylines. The flow of the book was ok. Because the book had several different POV’s (always in 3rd person), the flow did get interrupted. I felt that if the author kept to Colleen, Michael, and maybe Joanna’s POV, the book would have had a better flow to it. I did not need to read about the detective, Michael’s friends, the cook, or the maid’s POV.

I liked, and felt terrible, for Colleen during the first half of In Her Shadow. She was thrust into a world that she did not know about. She had to deal with a staff that treated her like she was invisible. Adding to that, she was pregnant, and it was high risk. I didn’t blame her for feeling that she was overshadowed in the first days there. I also didn’t blame her for becoming obsessed with Joanna and her legacy. But, saying that, I wasn’t expecting what she found out.

I didn’t like Michael. From the beginning, he came across as skeevy. I had my doubts about him from the start. I mean, who moves on less than a month after his wife disappears? And then gets his new girlfriend pregnant? That was a huge WTF for several people in the book and me. But, as skeevy as he was, I didn’t quite believe that he killed Joanna. He was a coward and a bit of a wuss, but he didn’t spark that “I’m a killer” vibe to me.

The secondary characters most definitely made the book. From the police detective to Joanna’s best frenemy to Michael’s best friend, those characters breathed life into the book when it needed it.

The mystery angle of the book (Joanna’s disappearance) was well written, but it held no mystery for me. I was able to guess what happened to her before the author got there. I also guessed certain specific details that occurred before they happened (if that makes sense).

The thriller angle of the book was very well written. The author was able to keep me on my toes during those scenes.

The end of In Her Shadow was intense. Considering the prologue, I was expecting the book to end a certain way. I was not expecting what happened to happen. But, as I mentioned in the above paragraph, there was a huge plot twist that took me by surprise. I was not expecting what was revealed. I also was not expecting the final chapter or the countdown. Does that mean another book is in the works?


I would give In Her Shadow an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread In Her Shadow. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Shorefall (Founders: Book 2) by Robert Jackson Bennett

5 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Ray

Date of publication: April 21st, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Founders

Foundryside—Book 1 (Review Here)

Shorefall—Book 2

Where you can find Shorefall: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

The upstart firm Foundryside is struggling to make it. Orso Igancio and his star employee, former thief Sancia Grado, are accomplishing brilliant things with scriving, the magical art of encoding sentience into everyday objects, but it’s not enough. The massive merchant houses of Tevanne won’t tolerate competition, and they’re willing to do anything to crush Foundryside.

But even the merchant houses of Tevanne might have met their match. An immensely powerful and deadly entity has been resurrected in the shadows of Tevanne, one that’s not interested in wealth or trade routes: a hierophant, one of the ancient practitioners of scriving. And he has a great fascination for Foundryside, and its employees – especially Sancia.

Now Sancia and the rest of Foundryside must race to combat this new menace, which means understanding the origins of scriving itself – before the hierophant burns Tevanne to the ground.


First Line:

“The gates are just ahead,” said Gregor.

Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett

My Review:

I was pretty pumped when I got the email from Del Ray/Random House asking if I wanted to review Shorefall. I had loved Foundryside and was wondering when the next book was going to be published. So, it was a no brainer what my answer was going to be.

Shorefall is the 2nd book in the Founders trilogy. I would highly recommend reading Foundryside first. You would better understand the world, the houses, Sanica, and everything else in the book.

Shorefall takes place three years after the events of Foundryside, and Orso, Sanica, Berenice, and Gregor have founded their scriving business. They have become a sort of Robin Hood to the poor but they give out scrives instead of money. After an excursion to steal one of the remaining Houses lexicons, Sanica is contacted by Valeria. Valeria has a warning. Her Maker is coming, and he is getting ready to destroy Tevanne. Sanica and her crew must prepare to fight Valeria’s Maker. But are they prepared for the toll it will take upon the group? And with the lines between good and evil blurred, will Sanica make the right choice?

Shorefall’s plotline was fast-paced. Seeing that this book takes place within a week or so of Valeria’s Maker arriving in Tevanne, there were no dropped plotlines or characters. The writing flowed beautifully when the book had to change from Sanica. There was no awkwardness either. That alone made me love the book.

It did take me some time to read Shorefall. But, and I want to stress this, it wasn’t because the book was awful and I was putting it off. Nope, it was the complete opposite. I slowed down my reading pace so I could savor this book. The writing, the language, the characters were beautifully written.

I can’t get much into the storyline or characters of Shorefall without giving away spoilers. I will say this; the characters blossomed in this book. And the storyline was fantastic. The details that the author thought to include was terrific.

I will touch upon Clef, Valeria, and Valeria’s Maker. There is a massive twist in the plot that I didn’t see coming that involves them. Looking back, it makes total sense. But when I was reading it, I was shocked. I ended up putting my Kindle down and saying, “No freaking way.

The end of Shorefall made me cry. Again, I can’t say why, but it does involve Orso and Gregor. My heart broke into smithereens during those scenes. With the way the book ended, I am not sure what is going to happen and now will be impatiently waiting for the final book!!


I would give Shorefall an Older Teen rating. There are mentions of sexual situations (no details). There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread Shorefall. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

The New Husband by D.J. Palmer

The New Husband by [Palmer, D.J.]

3 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of Publication: April 14th, 2020

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Where you can find The New Husband: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you know them.

Nina Garrity learned that the hard way after discovering that her missing husband, Glen, had been leading a double life with another woman. But Glen’s gone–presumably drowned while fishing on his boat–so she can’t confront him about the affair or any of his other misdeeds. A year and a half after the accident, Nina considers herself a widow, even though the police never found a body. Following a chance encounter with Simon Fitch, a teacher from her daughter Maggie’s middle school, Nina finds love again and has hopes of putting her shattered life back together.

Simon, a widower still grieving the suicide of his first wife, has found his dream girl in Nina. His charm and affections help break through to a heart hardened by betrayal. Nina’s teenage son, Connor, embraces Simon as the father he wishes his dad could have been, but Maggie sees a far darker side to this new man in their lives. Even Nina’s good friends wonder if Simon is supremely devoted–or dangerously possessive.

But Nina is committed, not only to her soon-to-be new husband but also to resuming her former career as a social worker. Before she can move forward, however, Nina must first clear her conscience that she’s not making another terrible choice in a man. In doing so, she will uncover the shocking truth: the greatest danger to her, and her children, are the lies people tell themselves.


First Line:

It was a chilly predawn morning when Anthony Strauss eased Sweet Caroline, his seventeen-foot Boston Whaler, from the trailer into the water so dark it was indistinguishable from the sky.

The New Husband by D.J. Palmer

My Review:

I am going to be in the minority for this review, but I wasn’t a fan of The New Husband. I love psychological thrillers. Honestly, I can’t read enough of them. While The New Husband hit all the markers for what I like in psychological thrillers, it fell flat.

The New Husband’s plotline was medium paced. The author did attempt to ramp up the speed at the end, but it didn’t quite get there. There was a significant amount of lag towards the end of the book. The author did try to get the book back on track, but it didn’t quite get there. There weren’t dropped storylines or characters.

Except for Maggie and Ben, I found the characters in The New Husband fell flat. I had no connection with Nina or Simon. Their interactions annoyed me. Nina came across as too needy and desperate to keep her man. I mean, that whole hair cutting scene and the follow up when she went to get it touched up, made me roll my eyes. Simon and Maggie’s interactions were scary, but what scared me more was Nina’s total disregard for what Maggie was telling her. I wanted to reach in the book and tell Nina that no man should come before her kid. But, then again, Nina did learn that the hard way.

I do wish that the author labeled who the chapters belonged to. The first time that I read Maggie’s chapters (from her POV), I was confused. I had no idea that it was Maggie until I reread the first few paragraphs in that chapter. I don’t particularly appreciate having to do that.

With my complaining about the characters, I did think that the thriller angle of the book was well written. It also kept this book from being a lower rating than what it was. The author did keep me guessing about Simon and his intentions. She also kept me guessing about Glen.

There was a massive twist in Glen’s plotline that made me drop my jaw and say “No way” when I read it. Of course, there was a smaller twist towards the end of the book, but it didn’t pack the punch that the first one did.

The storyline with Nina looking into Simon’s past was fascinating. I liked seeing a pattern emerge from what she found out. I also liked how the author connected Simon’s history to the future.

The end of The New Husband was interesting. I say interesting because of who wrote it and to where it was written. I liked the update, but I can’t say that it surprised me.


I would give The New Husband an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I am on the fence if I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I am on the fence if I would reread The New Husband. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

Truths I Never Told You: A Novel by [Rimmer, Kelly]

5 Stars

Publisher: Harlequin – Graydon House Books (US & Graydon), Graydon House

Date of Publication: April 14th, 2020

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Where you can find Truths I Never Told You: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

From the bestselling author of The Things We Cannot Say comes a poignant novel about the fault in memories and the lies that can bond a family together—or tear it apart.

With her father recently moved to a care facility for his worsening dementia, Beth Walsh volunteers to clear out the family home and is surprised to discover the door to her childhood playroom padlocked. She’s even more shocked at what’s behind it—a hoarder’s mess of her father’s paintings, mounds of discarded papers and miscellaneous junk in the otherwise fastidiously tidy house.

As she picks through the clutter, she finds a loose journal entry in what appears to be her late mother’s handwriting. Beth and her siblings grew up believing their mother died in a car accident when they were little more than toddlers, but this note suggests something much darker. Beth soon pieces together a disturbing portrait of a woman suffering from postpartum depression and a husband who bears little resemblance to the loving father Beth and her siblings know. With a newborn of her own and struggling with motherhood, Beth finds there may be more tying her and her mother together than she ever suspected.

Exploring the expectations society places on women of every generation, Kelly Rimmer explores the profound struggles two women unwittingly share across the decades set within an engrossing family mystery that may unravel everything they believed to be true.


First Line:

I am alone in a crowded family these days, and that’s the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced.

Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

My Review:

I am not going to lie. Truths I Never Told You is a book that you need to read with a box of Kleenex nearby. That was something I wish I knew before I started reading it.

Truths I Never Told You is split into three povs. Grace, Beth, and Maryanne. Grace’s POV was hard to read. Her mental anguish was clear to see. It hurt me to see her not able to take care of her children or herself. When she did try to get help, she was told to suck it up. The decision she made in the middle of the book was a necessary one. Beth’s POV was just as hard to read as Grace’s was. Her anguish at not connecting with Noah and having to put her father in hospice was palpable. Maryanne, on the other hand, was this vibrant, over the top woman who breathed new light into the book. Her POV helped highlight how little rights women had back in the ’50s and ’60s. It also showed that a mother isn’t necessarily the one who birthed you.

The author did a fantastic job of highlighting what women’s rights were like back in the ’50s and ’60s. I had no issue imagining a woman with severe postpartum depression being forced into electroshock therapy or, as Grace was told, to snap out of it. I was horrified at how little help she had. I understood why Grace did in the middle of the book and why she contacted Maryanne to help her.

Beth’s experiences in the late 1990s were much better than Grace’s. But the stigma of having a mental illness hung over her head kept her from seeking help. Unfortunately, that still is the case these days. But, I was glad to see that Beth had a support system. She had siblings, a husband, and a mother in law who cared about her mental health.

Maryanne was the real MVP in this book. She didn’t get her own POV until the last half of the book. The author did a fantastic job of showing how she did what she thought was right and the fallout of that. Her scenes with Beth at the end of the book was poignant and heartbreaking.

The mystery angle of the story was well written. It was written around Beth’s father’s dementia and illness. That meant that I had a kernel of doubt about what happened until Beth unearthed the trunk. That scene blew it out of the book for me. The ring, the death certificate, the picture were all explained. And that meant even more tears on my end.

The end of Truths I Never Told You was well written. The author brought all the storylines (Beth, Grace, and Maryanne) together. I loved seeing everyone and how they healed from Patrick’s death and what was uncovered in Beth’s investigation.


I would give Truths I Never Told You an Adult rating. There is no sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Truths I Never Told You. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe

A Hundred Suns by [Tanabe, Karin]

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: April 7th, 2020

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction

Where you can find A Hundred Suns: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

An evocative historical novel set in 1930’s Indochine, about the American wife of a Michelin heir who journeys to the French colony in the name of family fortune, and the glamorous, tumultuous world she finds herself in—and the truth she may be running from.

On a humid afternoon in 1933, American Jessie Lesage steps off a boat from Paris and onto the shores of Vietnam. Accompanying her French husband Victor, an heir to the Michelin rubber fortune, she’s certain that their new life is full of promise, for while the rest of the world is sinking into economic depression, Indochine is gold for the Michelins. Jessie knows that their vast plantations near Saigon are the key to the family’s prosperity, and while they have been marred in scandal, she needs them to succeed for her husband’s sake—and to ensure that her trail of secrets stays hidden in the past.

Jessie dives into the glamorous colonial world, where money is king and morals are brushed aside, and meets Marcelle de Fabry, a spellbinding French woman with a moneyed Indochinese lover, the silk tycoon Khoi Nguyen. Descending on Jessie’s world like a hurricane, Marcelle proves to be an exuberant guide to ex-pat life. But hidden beneath her vivacious exterior is a fierce desire to put the colony back in the hands of its people, starting with the Michelin plantations, fueled by a terrible wrong committed against her and Khoi’s loved ones in Paris.

Yet it doesn’t take long for the sun-drenched days and champagne-soaked nights to catch up with Jessie. With an increasingly fractured mind, her affection for Indochine falters. And as a fiery political struggle builds around her, Jessie begins to wonder what’s real in a friendship that she suspects may be nothing but a house of cards.

Motivated by love, driven by ambition, and seeking self-preservation at all costs, Jessie and Marcelle each toe the line between friend and foe, ethics and excess. Cast against the stylish backdrop of 1930s Indochine, in a time and place defined by contrasts and convictions, A Hundred Suns is historical fiction at its lush, suspenseful best.


First Line:

The house of a hundred suns.

A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe

My Review:

When I saw that A Hundred Suns was based in 1930’s French-occupied Vietnam, I was intrigued. I haven’t read a book about that period that A Hundred Suns took place in. I have also been intrigued by Vietnam. To my recollection, I haven’t read any books that take place in Vietnam. That was a huge reason why I decided to read the book.

A Hundred Suns did start slowly and stayed slow for the first 60% of the book. I got that the author had to lay Marcelle and Jessie’s backstories, but it seemed a bit dragged out. Once the scene at the train station happened, though, the book sped up. The last 40% of the book flew by. I wish that the first part of it did.

There was a small amount of lag in the events before Jessie’s unfortunate incident at the train station. It only lasted about a chapter, and the author was able to get the book back on track. Other than that small lag, the writing flowed beautifully, even with two separate POVs (Jessie and Marcelle). The author was able to switch back and forth between their characters seamlessly. I loved it!!

I liked Jessie. She did come across as conniving at the beginning of the book. I mean, she convinced her husband to move to Vietnam. But, as I got to know her character, I could see how strong she was. Her strength was apparent in the last half of the book.

Marcelle was my favorite in the book. She was deliciously devious and pulled off her plan perfectly. Even when Khoi was having issues with what was going on, Marcelle didn’t. She was willing to do anything to get revenge. And oh boy, did she ever. I did feel bad for her, though. Blinded by her hatred, she let it overcome her. She also failed to see that Jessie had nothing to do with what was going on in the plantations. To her, Jessie was the more available of the two options.

I didn’t like Khoi or Victor. Khoi was an enabler. He talked a good game, but when push came to shove, he wasn’t behind Marcelle when she wanted to go to the next step. He kept switching back and forth, and it drove me batty. I didn’t like Victor because he knew what was going on at the plantations, and he contributed to it!!

I thought that the use of Vietnamese (or Indochinese) and French language added an extra oomph to the plotline. As much as I liked it, I do wish that there was a glossary to explain specific terms. I ended up having to use Google Translate a lot to understand so of the words.

I do want to give a small warning. There is drug use (opium smoking) detailed in the book. I did like that the author chose to show how casual people were about smoking opium back then. But there might be people who are triggered by it. There is also a scene from when Jessie visits one of the Michelin plantations, where she witnesses pretty gruesome torture. I like to think that I am immune to stuff like that, and that made me pause while reading.

The end of A Hundred Suns was terrific. As I said, the book took off in that last 40% of the book. I am not going to get into it, but I will say that Marcelle and Khoi got what they deserved.


I would give A Hundred Suns an Adult rating. There is sex. There is mild language. There is mild violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread A Hundred Suns. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**