The Last Heir to Blackwood Library by. Hester Fox | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: The Last Heir to Blackwood Library

Author: Hester Fox

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 4/4/23

Publisher: Graydon House

Categories: Historical Fantasy, Mystery, Alchemy, Gothic

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Graydon House for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

In postWorld War I England, a young woman inherits a mysterious library and must untangle its powerful secrets

With the stroke of a pen, twenty-three-year-old Ivy Radcliffe becomes Lady Hayworth, owner of a sprawling estate on the Yorkshire moors. Ivy has never heard of Blackwood Abbey, or of the ancient bloodline from which she’s descended. With nothing to keep her in London since losing her brother in the Great War, she warily makes her way to her new home.

The abbey is foreboding, the servants reserved and suspicious. But there is a treasure waiting behind locked doors: a magnificent library. Despite cryptic warnings from the staff, Ivy feels irresistibly drawn to its dusty shelves, where familiar works mingle with strange, esoteric texts. And she senses something else in the library too, a presence that seems to have a will of its own.  

Rumors swirl in the village about the abbey’s previous owners, about ghosts and curses, and an enigmatic manuscript at the center of it all. And as events grow more sinister, it will be up to Ivy to uncover the library’s mysteries in order to reclaim her own story—before it vanishes forever.

Content Warning: holding someone against their will

I am always intrigued by books by Hester Fox, so I requested this one right away. Here is what I thought:

+ The writing is lush and engaging. I could envision Ivy going to Yorkshire to live in this haunted, old abbey. There were moments the story gave me the chills and creeps. It had all the gothic vibes I was expecting from this author.

+ I like the twist in the story because it was totally unexpected. There is a sentient, evil library – which I thought was pretty cool. I was afraid for Ivy because even I didn’t know what was going on until it was explained, but I could sympathize and feel her confusion and terror when certain things start happening to her.

+~ Ivy is an unreliable narrator which is fascinating and frustrating at the same time. By the middle of the book, I was so irritated with her decision making! There is an explanation to her behavior but you have to keep reading.

~ Though this is a quick read, there is so much information withheld from Ivy it was very frustrating. I just was wishing someone would tell her something to help her out. I just kept judging her and saying she was very naive but there is more to the story that I can’t reveal.

~ There were some parts to the story that felt disjointed. The romance didn’t quite work for me, it could have, but the way the story is written – it just didn’t work for me. And after the explanation about the Abbey’s library – everything felt rushed from then on to the end. I wish there were more creepy scenes, and more incidents with the library books!

Tropes: sentient library

Why you should read it:

  • you like gothic, historical fantasy
  • the atmosphere of the Abbey, the library, the writing is engaging
  • Ivy is an unreliable narrator

Why you might not want to read it:

  • some parts of the story is rushed, romance didn’t work for me

My Thoughts:

I’m always picking up a Hester Fox book because I know the gothic vibes will be there. I love how her writing captures a setting, in this case, Yorkshire and the Abbey. I love the creepy vibes and wish it were creepier! I enjoyed the twist in the story about the library and wish there were more instances where we got to see the library in action. The romance didn’t work for me and I do think the ending was rushed but I still found it entertaining.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

BLOG TOUR} A Lullaby for Witches by. Hester Fox | ARC Review ⭐️⭐️⭐️

ARC Review | The Widow of Pale Harbor ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Nevermore Bookstore by. Kerrigan Bryne and Cynthia St. Aubin | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Nevermore Bookstore (Townsend Harbor, #1)

Author: Kerrigan Byrne & Cynthia St. Aubin

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 363

Publication Date: 3/28/23

Publisher: Oliver Heber Books

Categories: Romance, Contemporary, Mystery, Dark Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Oliver Heber Books for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Cadence “Cady” Bloomquist knows two things for sure: First, shelving books at her shop, Nevermore Bookstore, totally counts as cardio. Second, staying late every Thursday night to take a certain mysterious customer’s order is not the same as waiting by the phone for some man.


Until the calls with the man who identifies himself only as “Fox” last for hours, and become the highlight of her week. Which leaves her to wonder, if his jagged velvet voice can kindle her fire over the phone, what sort of alchemy might it inspire if they met in person?

There’s nothing Roman Fawkes wants more than the brilliant, beautiful bookstore owner, but Roman Fawkes knows it can never happen. Secreted in his mountain hideaway high above sleepy little Townsend Harbor, his hermit’s existence shields him–and those around him–from the pain of his past.


Until one of their weekly calls is interrupted by a break-in, and Fawkes is powerless to protect the woman who has become his one link to the world. Orchestrating a trap for the fool who dared harm her, Fawkes finds himself not just ensnared, but beguiled by her. Now so close to Cady, he discovers she’s fallen for “Fox”, and yet he’s unable to reveal her heart’s desire is closer than she thinks.

Can Fawkes resist the temptation to get between Cady’s covers, knowing they’ll never have a happily ever after?

Content Warning: PTSD, torture scenes in a memory

What caught my eye for this book was the cover and title. I’d say this is one of those instances where the cover made me think this would be a rom-com. Here’s what I thought:

+ Yes there are fun, light-hearted moments in this book but that’s mostly with Cady. She has ankylosing spondylitis and suffers from the pain of it but despite that she’s a sunshine girl. Cady is positive and living life. Whereas her romantic interest, Fox, is the opposite. Grumpy? YES. But with so much baggage, trauma, and suffers from major PTSD. His character threw me off in the beginning and I was wondering if this was a paranormal romance and he was a werewolf or something! Boy, was I wrong, but Fox is almost feral in this book. But opposites attract in this one and there is no shortage of chemistry between them.

+ I love the small town and how Cady runs a bookstore. She and Fox actually bond because of their love of books. But I love Cady’s friends Gemma, Myrtle, and Vee, they were all so funny together.

+ The romance between Cady and Fox was really heart melting after all the kinks they had to iron out. And it was a lot – it’s heavy, because of Fox’s PTSD. But I like that Cady fought to keep this guy, there is something beautiful about fighting for love. I like that these two people, strangers over the phone really, are each fighting their own battles and in the end decide they want to fight together. Also their sex scenes are steamy and hot!

~ This is a dark romance because Fox goes through some bad stuff and he dreams about it. I really couldn’t figure him out in the first part of the book, I couldn’t understand what the deal was with him. He’s a hermit in the woods, he seems like he’s on the verge of going out of his head – hence why I thought maybe he was a werewolf and this was a paranormal romance! There isn’t anything wrong with him dealing with PTSD, I just wasn’t expecting how hard he would deal with it. I really felt for him.

~ Because of the way they meet, and Fox is basically some guy in the woods – when he does come to be around Cady to protect her, it comes off a little suspect, like he’s stalking her. He doesn’t disclose who he is because he’s not good for her, but he sticks around a few days to make sure she is okay. He even watches her through binoculars so if that bothers you then this story isn’t for you.

~ The mystery part in this book I think didn’t flow as well for me? I was invested in Cady and Fox and the mystery of who HE is. But some things were happening at the bookstore that I felt like wasn’t something pushed to the forefront of the story. So by the time it’s dealt with at the end, it’s just some loose end that needs to be tied up and it is taken care of nicely.

Tropes: small town, sunshine girl/grumpy broken guy

Why you should read it:

  • set in a small town, at a bookstore owned by a sunshine girl with an autoimmune disease
  • fun secondary characters – Cady’s best friends
  • Cady and Fox’s romance – and how they try to help themselves and one another by the end of the book

Why you might not want to read it:

  • it’s darker than the cartoonish cover lets on! I liked the spotlight on Fox’s PTSD but it’s not a light-hearted read – I think it was trying to toe the line between light-hearted and dark. It worked for me but may not work for everyone.

My Thoughts:

After the initial rocky start of the book (mostly because Fox), I think I fell in love with Cady and Fox – especially when the truth comes out. Cady’s life in her small town, her book store and her close knit friends was perfect for her and her personality. Fox fit his surroundings also, because he really was on the edge of giving up, and he was going to give up in the woods but I didn’t know that until later. So like Cady, I didn’t understand him, until he let his guard down. But I loved the two of them together and glad they have a happy ending. The story is like a balance between light-hearted and dark romance and I enjoyed it. It looks like this is going to be a series so I hope the next love story is Gemma’s or Ethan’s? I look forward to reading more from this duo.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon

Play the Fool by. Lina Chern | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Play the Fool

Author: Lina Chern

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 3/28/23

Publisher: Bantam

Categories: Mystery, Contemporary, Fiction

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Bantam for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

A cynical tarot card reader seeks to uncover the truth about her friend’s mysterious death in this delightfully clever whodunit.

For Katie True, a keen gut and quick wit are just tools of the trade. After a failed attempt at adulting in Chicago, she’s back in the suburbs living a bit too close to her overbearing parents, jumping from one dead-end job to the next, and flipping through her tarot deck for guidance. Then along comes Marley.

Mysterious, worldly, and comfortable in her own skin, Marley takes a job at the mall where Katie peddles Russian tchotchkes. The two just get each other. Marley doesn’t try to fix Katie’s life or pretend to be someone she’s not, and Katie thinks that with Marley’s friendship she just might make it through this rough patch after all. So one day, having been encouraged by Marley to practice soothsaying, Katie reads tarot for someone who stumbles into her shop. But when she sneaks a glance at his phone, she finds more than just clairvoyant intel. She finds a photo. Of Marley. With a gunshot wound to the head.

The bottom falls out of Katie’s world. Her best friend is dead? Who killed her? She quickly realizes there are some things her tarot cards can’t foresee, and she must put her razor-sharp instincts to the ultimate test. But the truth has deadly consequences, and Katie’s recklessness lands her in the crossfire of a threat she never saw coming. Now Katie must use her street smarts and her inner Strength card to solve Marley’s murder–or risk losing everything.

Content Warning: violence

I’m not a big fan of mystery books – it’s usually a hit or miss for me because if the story is slow and drags I will lose interest fast. But I wanted to take a chance on this one because of the cool cover and the whole tarot card reading. Here is what I thought:

+ I was pleasantly surprised with how much this story captured my attention. Katie is an under achiever and so good at it but I didn’t really feel sorry for her because she was quirky, she still tried to live on her own even if it was a dump, she loves her brother a lot (I love Owen!) and I love their connection and she was genuinely nice to people even if she sort of knew how to lie to them when card reading.

+ I like when Katie tries to find her friend’s killer and befriends a cop who has a past – he’s hard to read which is not normal for her, but I like their friendship a lot. Is there a romance brewing between them? I don’t know because it stays in the friend zone but I like that they get to know each other and have great banter. They need one another but the romance and feelings are not the focus in this book.

+ I enjoyed the twists in the story. I went along for the ride and was really interested to know how Marley (the dead friend) died and how everything fit in the puzzle. I was entertained until the very end!

~ Katie is kind of lost, she goes from job to job and she is a tarot reader but the story only has her do one major reading. I kind of wanted to see her do more because I find tarot reading fascinating and just wanted to see more of it in the story. I liked how she read people in her mind upon meeting them though.

~ Katie herself isn’t a cop but after the “bad guys” first start following her and warning her – I would have thought they (Jaime and the cops) would be more vigilant about protecting her. Also I was wondering why if the bad guys were so bad, they just didn’t kidnap Katie and rip that necklace off her. She wore on her person for awhile – so I thought those guys showed a lot of restraint and was expecting them to do worse to her.

Why you should read it:

  • entertaining whodunit story about an under-achiever who gets caught in the middle of a bad situation
  • love Katie’s relationship with Owen and her growing friendship with Jamie
  • fun twist and turns

Why you might not want to read it:

  • I like it because it was fun for me but I’m not usually a mystery lover. Most mysteries that people love – I find boring, so my judgment of this book might be way off for someone who already loves reading mysteries. Basically – take my review with a grain of salt if you are a die-hard mystery fan.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this one more than I thought I would! I love Katie’s quirky, chaotic, messy character, even though her living conditions stressed me out. I love her relationship with her brother Owen and her growing relationship with Jamie, the cop with a traumatic past. And overall I had fun trying to guess who killed Marley and seeing where the story went – which was into a place I didn’t even expect. My minor issues with the book only came with me wanting more tarot reading in the story since Katie is a tarot reader. Other than that I thought for someone who doesn’t love mysteries, this was a fun read.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Immortality: A Love Story by. Dana Schwartz | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Immortality: A Love Story (#2)

Author: Dana Schwartz

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 2/28/23

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Gothic, Romance, Mystery

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Wednesday Books for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Hazel Sinnett is alone and half-convinced the events of the year before—the immortality, Beecham’s vial—were a figment of her imagination. She doesn’t even know whether Jack is alive or dead. All she can really do now is treat patients and maintain Hawthornden Castle as it starts to decay around her.

When saving a life leads to her arrest, Hazel seems doomed to rot in prison until a message intervenes: She has been specifically requested to be the personal physician of Princess Charlotte, the sickly daughter of King George IV. Soon Hazel is dragged into the glamor and romance of a court where everyone has something to hide, especially the enigmatic, brilliant members of a social club known as the Companions to the Death.

As Hazel’s work entangles her more and more with the British court, she realizes that her own future as a surgeon isn’t the only thing at stake. Malicious forces are at work in the monarchy, and Hazel may be the only one capable of setting things right.

Immortality: A Love Story is the eagerly anticipated sequel to Dana Schwartz’s bestselling gothic romance, Anatomy: A Love Story.

Content Warning: surgery, medical scenes, misogyny

I definitely had to read this sequel because the way the first book Anatomy ended was in need of some serious closure! The closure happens in this book. This is what I thought:

+ The book covers for this series are one of my favorites of all time. It’s so cool!

I like being back in Hazel Sinnett’s world as she works as a doctor and helping those that need. This time she is trying to publish a book all about medicine but life hasn’t been easy for her. But I love all the medical stuff, which seems gory but not in a horror way. I found all of it fascinating!

+ What I enjoyed so much about the first book was the gothic vibes and the historical fiction aspects of the book. There is no gothic vibes in this one because it’s set at the royal palace but I did enjoy the historical parts once more especially in reference to the royals and the immortals. I thought the secret society of immortals was kind of cool though one particular character is not very likable.

+ I’m glad Hazel and Jack got some closure – I was waiting for it since book one!

~ While I’m glad there was closure for Hazel and Jack, he only appeared almost 200 pages into the story. And the book is only 289 pages. So…I wish we got to see Jack earlier? Although it was cool to see Hazel living her life, missing him and thinking maybe she could move on. I just wish we got more of him in the book.

~ This is a quick read but I think the new things brought up in this book, the immortals, the villain, and maybe undoing the tincture just didn’t feel solid. It felt like it was thrown in to make the story longer and then it ends. I think some of this could have been added to book one or developed more to make a three book series. Or maybe this could have been a novella? I’m not sure but it didn’t seem to connect to book one as easily.

Why you should read it:

  • you want some closure if you read the first book Anatomy
  • you like medical fiction, especially historical fiction where a woman doctor is rare

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into the gory medical stuff
  • it gives closure but the story feels like multiple separate ones at times

My Thoughts:

I love the covers for this series – they really are amazing! I really enjoyed Anatomy but I think Immortality falls a bit short of my expectations. I got the closure I wanted for Hazel and Jack but definitely not in the way I expected. I did enjoy being back in Hazel’s world of practicing medicine and see her so passionate about it. I like the time period it’s set in and having her be around the English royals. Overall, it’s entertaining an entertaining read if you like medical historical fiction.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Anatomy: A Love Story by. Dana Schwartz | ARC Review ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Where Darkness Blooms by. Andrea Hannah | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Title: Where Darkness Blooms

Author: Andrea Hannah

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 2/21/23

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery, LGBT+, Horror, Magical Realism

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Wednesday Books for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Andrea Hannah’s Where Darkness Blooms is a supernatural thriller about an eerie town where the sunflowers whisper secrets and the land hungers for blood.

The town of Bishop is known for exactly two things: recurring windstorms and an endless field of sunflowers that stretches farther than the eye can see. And women—missing women. So when three more women disappear one stormy night, no one in Bishop is surprised. The case is closed and their daughters are left in their dusty shared house with the shattered pieces of their lives. Until the wind kicks up a terrible secret at their mothers’ much-delayed memorial.

With secrets come the lies each of the girls is forced to confront. After caring for the other girls, Delilah would like to move on with her boyfriend, Bennett, but she can’t bear his touch. Whitney has already lost both her mother and her girlfriend, Eleanor, and now her only solace is an old weathervane that seems to whisper to her. Jude, Whitney’s twin sister, would rather ignore it all, but the wind kicks up her secret too: the summer fling she had with Delilah’s boyfriend. And more than anything, Bo wants answers and she wants them now. Something happened to their mothers and the townsfolk know what it was. She’s sure of it.

Bishop has always been a strange town. But what the girls don’t know is that Bishop was founded on blood—and now it craves theirs.

Content Warning: rape, violence

I wanted to read something creepy and look at this cover – it’s totally creepy. This is what I thought of the story:

+ I like the four different main characters. Four girls, who’s mothers are gone/missing or dead – the town assumes they are dead. So these four girls: Bo, Whitney, Jude and Delilah all live together and basically are trying to move on with their lives. They had distinct personalities and their lives are intertwined with certain events that culminated at a bon fire party. There is a big mystery in this story and these girls are the ones trying to figure out what is going on. I like the feminism theme in the story

+ The town of Bishop is strange. Women and girls go missing or end up dead every few months – but why? There is no “hospital” even though one of the girls had to be brought to one. There are the Harding boys who seem like they are the popular boys in school who can get whatever they want, but what they is to mess with these girls. There are these random storms or tornados but they are in a small town so that doesn’t seem totally mysterious…or is it? And what’s with the sunflowers?

~ A few things didn’t work for me – I was thrown into the story and left to figure things out. And it took me awhile to care about what was going on in this town. All I knew was that the boys were awful and two of the girls were in love with one of these awful boys, and that sucked. I knew right away this town was killing it’s women, but why? And why didn’t anyone else in town care about missing women?

~ I’ve read a few books similar to this but I don’t think I enjoyed the execution of this one. Everything is a big mystery but it didn’t creep me out as much as I wanted it to and it had all the potential to do so. I didn’t know what the connection was to the tornados, sunflowers and missing women and when the mystery is revealed I wasn’t super surprised. I wanted to know more about the town and get a better feel for the people, even the villains. I just wanted more from the story and I wanted to be spooked. Sunflower fields and a strange, small town with missing women has such a big potential to scare me, but this didn’t.

Why you should read it:

  • you like lite-horror and magical realism
  • the feminism message in the story

Why you might not want to read it:

  • didn’t scare me enough
  • slow start

My Thoughts:

This one didn’t work for me. I liked the concept and I like the creepy town, and the sunflowers fields, but it wasn’t as scary as I was expecting. I also feel like the story just didn’t flow easily. The bright spot for me in the story is the one about the girls working together to figure out why the women were going missing. The girls survive what is coming for them together, which is awesome, especially because it is such a dark story.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Black Queen by. Jumata Emill | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: The Black Queen

Author: Jumata Emill

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 1/31/23

Publisher: Writers House

Categories: Contemporary, Murder Mystery, Suspense, LGBT+

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Writers House for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Nova Albright was going to be the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High—but now she’s dead. Murdered on coronation night. Fans of One of Us Is Lying and The Other Black Girl will love this unputdownable thriller.

Nova Albright, the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High, is dead. Murdered the night of her coronation, her body found the next morning in the old slave cemetery she spent her weekends rehabilitating.

Tinsley McArthur was supposed to be queen. Not only is she beautiful, wealthy, and white, it’s her legacy—her grandmother, her mother, and even her sister wore the crown before her. Everyone in Lovett knows Tinsley would do anything to carry on the McArthur tradition.

No one is more certain of that than Duchess Simmons, Nova’s best friend. Duchess’s father is the first Black police captain in Lovett. For Duchess, Nova’s crown was more than just a win for Nova. It was a win for all the Black kids. Now her best friend is dead, and her father won’t fact the fact that the main suspect is right in front of him. Duchess is convinced that Tinsley killed Nova—and that Tinsley is privileged enough to think she can get away with it. But Duchess’s father seems to be doing what he always does: fall behind the blue line. Which means that the white girl is going to walk.

Duchess is determined to prove Tinsley’s guilt. And to do that, she’ll have to get close to her.

But Tinsley has an agenda, too.

Everyone loved Nova. And sometimes, love is exactly what gets you killed.

Content Warning: racism, mention of child sexual abuse, violence, inappropriate relationship between student/teacher

I thought the synopsis for this book was very intriguing and I was in the mood for a murder mystery so this was great. This is what I thought:

+ I like the dual perspective of this story. There is Duchess who is Nova’s best friend and who gives us a lot of insight into her after Nova is murdered. On the other end is Tinsley, who is the popular girl vying for Homecoming Queen against Nova. There is animosity between Nova and Tinsley before Nova is murdered and Tinsley is the number one suspect.

+ Duchess has an interesting history with Tinsley but I like how they work together to figure out who really killed Nova. They aren’t exactly friends but I like that they both come to an understanding. Now Duchess and Nova are best friends and we see that in the beginning – but did Duchess really know Nova’s secrets? I found it interesting how the investigation into Nova’s death exposes some things about their friendship that Duchess has to face.

+ There are some heavy themes throughout the story such as child sexual abuse, family secrets, the undercurrents of racism happening with another murder case happening in town, but I thought it was interesting how it was woven into the story. Tinsley is white, privileged and said hateful things about Nova to Nova’s face and to others making her suspect number one. But I did like that she eventually open her eyes to some things, and wants to make an effort to change.

+ I let this story take me for a ride. I had lots of suspicions and of course one of them is the killer, but I think the story got better and better the more each secret was revealed. There are a lot of clues throughout the story, but I still like how we get to examine all the different suspects.

~ Tinsley is an unlikable character but she’s also interesting. She’s basically trying to clear her name but then finds out some secrets and has to figure out what it means for her. If you think she’s going to change much – you’ll be disappointed. But I also think it’s realistic and at least she brings up wanting to learn by the end. She was not going to change overnight.

Why you should read it:

  • you like murder mysteries
  • it’s dark and twisty and touches on racial issues in a southern town

Why you might not want to read it:

  • might be a bit predictable – but I thought it was fun examining all the suspects
  • Tinsley is not very likable

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this one especially in the second half of the book where there are twists in the story. I think the characters were done well, especially Tinsley (who is very unlikable) and Duchess, and how despite their differences they both help one another to help solve Nova’s murder. I like that there were a lot of suspicious characters in this story and it had a dramatic ending. I definitely want to read more from this debut author!

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Pandora by. Susan Stokes-Chapman| ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Pandora

Author: Susan Stokes-Chapman

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 416

Publication Date: 1/17/23

Publisher: Harper Perennial

Categories: Greek Mythology, Historical Fiction, Romance, Mystery

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Harper Perennial for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Steeped in mystery and rich in imagination, an exhilarating historical novel set in Georgian London where the discovery of a mysterious ancient Greek vase sets in motion conspiracies, revelations, and romance.

London, 1799. Dora Blake, an aspiring jewelry artist, lives with her odious uncle atop her late parents’ once-famed shop of antiquities. After a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, her uncle begins to act suspiciously, keeping the vase locked in the store’s basement, away from prying eyes–including Dora’s. Intrigued by her uncle’s peculiar behavior, Dora turns to young, ambitious antiquarian scholar Edward Lawrence who eagerly agrees to help. Edward believes the ancient vase is the key that will unlock his academic future; Dora sees it as a chance to establish her own name.

But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth, she comes to understand that some doors are locked and some mysteries are buried for a reason, while others are closer to the surface than they appear.

A story of myth and mystery, secrets and deception, fate and hope, Pandora is an enchanting work of historical fiction as captivating and evocative as The Song of Achilles, The Essex Serpent, and The Miniaturist.

Content Warning:

I love the cover of this book and was intrigued about the Greek mythology aspect of this book. Here’s what I thought:

+ I really enjoyed the setting and time this book takes place, which is 1799 England. Dora works for her uncle who sells antiquities – if they are genuine is another question. But Dora is a young woman, relying on her uncle but wants independence. But back then a woman surviving without a man was fairly unheard of it. I like that we see Dora find some power of her own!

+ The Greek mythology is fascinating and I like that the mystery around the pithos or vase that is at the certain of the story. It’s a mystery, it’s a curse, whatever it is Dora’s uncle Hezekiah is strangely attached to it and keeping it secret.

+ There is a mix of interesting characters in this book. Edward who is an aspiring antiquarian who befriends Dora, there is romance between them, but the both of them try and figure out the mystery with the pithos and Dora’s uncle.

~ It took me awhile to get into the story. It’s not that it’s slow but I think the characters weren’t engaging me. I felt no connection to them.

Why you should read it:

  • you like Greek mythology and Georgian England
  • there is mystery and romance

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into historical fiction or Greek mythology

My Thoughts:

I think this was fairly entertaining even if I didn’t connect to the characters. It was an okay read for me but I definitely recommend this one for readers who enjoy mystery, historical fiction, and Greek mythology!

Book Links:

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Belladonna by. Adalyn Grace | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Belladonna (#1)

Format: ebook (own)

Author: Adalyn Grace

Pages: 416

Publication Date: 8/29/22

Categories: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult, New Adult, Gothic, Mystery, Paranormal

New York Times bestselling author Adalyn Grace brings to life a highly romantic, Gothic-infused world of wealth, desire, and betrayal.

Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her well-being—and each has met an untimely end. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy. Its patriarch mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she was poisoned, Signa realizes that the family she depends on could be in grave danger and enlists the help of a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.

However, Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he’s made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful—and more irresistible—than she ever dared imagine.

Content Warning: poisoning, illness, death, grief

I have finally read the book everyone is talking about and I feel like the hype is well deserved. Here’s what I thought:

+ This book has a little bit of everything! Romance, mystery and gothic vibes and all of it worked so well together. Usually mysteries can be too slow for me, but I was totally engaged in this story. There are a few twists in this story that was so good – it makes me wonder what book two will bring!

+ Signa is no wilting flower – she’s been basically been passed off from relative to relative all her life. I love that she is optimistic even with Death always near her. I like how she helps her cousin even though she barely knows her. She’s not afraid when most people would be. And I love Death too – I mean, what a gentleman and so unexpected! Who knew he could be such a romantic figure. But I love how he isn’t an evil entity because really what is life without death? They have great chemistry and their love story is sweet and romantic.

+ A mystery always needs a good cast of characters to make us keep guessing and though I had my suspicions who was the villain, I still wasn’t spot on with my assessment. I love the paranormal aspect of the story and how Signa can see spirits. It really had everything I want in a gothic mystery and I actually wish I read this near Halloween!

+ This could have been a standalone book with how questions were answered at the end but I love the twist in the end! Glad we will get a sequel.

Tropes: Death is a character, a girl who cannot die

Spice Level: 🌶🌶

Why you should read it:

  • it’s a dark fantasy with Death as a character, ghosts, mystery, gothic vibes and romance
  • the mystery about what is happening at Thorn Grove kept me on my toes
  • the romance between Death and Signa

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into Death falling in love? lol

My Thoughts:

I waited to read this one because I wanted the hype to die down and go in with lower expectations and I’m glad I waited. I fell in love with this story about Signa and Death. The dark tones, mystery, ghosts and gothic vibes were captivating and kept me engaged with the story. The romance between Signa and Death I thought was unexpectedly sweet and romantic. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel!

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A Wilderness of Stars by. Shea Ernshaw | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: A Wilderness of Stars

Author: Shea Ernshaw

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 11/29/22

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Categories: Dystopian, Sci-fi, Romance, Young Adult

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

An illness cursing the land forces a teen girl astronomer to venture across the wilderness in search of the stars’ message that will, hopefully, save them all.

If magic lives anywhere, it’s in the stars…

Vega has lived in the valley her whole life—forbidden by her mother to leave the safety of its borders because of the unknown threats waiting for her in the wilds beyond. But after her mother dies, and Vega sees the fabled twin stars in the sky, it’s an omen she can no longer ignore, forcing her to leave the protective boundaries of the valley. But the outside world turns out to be much more terrifying than Vega could have imagined. People are gravely sick—they lose their eyesight and their hearing, just before they lose their lives.

What Vega keeps to herself is that she is the Last Astronomer—a title carried from generation to generation—and she is the only one who carries the knowledge of the stars. Knowledge that could hold the key to the cure. And so when locals spot the tattoo on Vega’s neck in the shape of a constellation—the mark of an astronomer—chaos erupts as the threats her mother warned her about become all too real.

Fearing for her life, Vega is rescued by a girl named Cricket who leads her to Noah, a boy marked by his own mysterious tattoos. On the run from the men who are hunting her, Vega, Cricket, and Noah set out across the plains in search of the cure the stars speak of. But as the lines between friend and protector begin to blur, Vega must decide whether to safeguard the sacred knowledge of the astronomer. Or if she will risk everything to try to save them all.

Content Warning: death or a parent, death, sickness, violence

I’ve read two other books by this author and always loved her atmospheric writing. This book is way different than those books I read and here’s what I thought:

+ Atmospheric writing and mysterious world building. For some reason I thought this took place in the past…far into the past when settlers came to America. Think dirt roads, saloons, tonics, etc…I thought this story was set in the wild west! The story is raw and gritty, the people are sick with consumption and dying and it seems like a tough place to live. So this is a western, dystopian, sci-fi book and I loved the whole mix of it!

+ I say this is sci-fi but only at the ending and I can’t say much without revealing things about the story.

+~ Vega is the chosen one. She holds a secret and she needs to get to her final destination to do something (no one knows what, even the reader). She’s very mysterious and determined to get to where she is going. But because she has been so sheltered and only taught astronomy – she doesn’t know much about surviving in the wild until it’s time for her to go and find the Architect. She frustrated me at times – especially because she was rash in her decisions and because she’s the chosen one, everyone around her dies because of her. I was getting annoyed with that by the ending.

+~ The romance is pretty passionate and insta-love. Vega and Noah are like a fated romance which works for me because they are living in the end of days and desperate times – why not fall in love and kiss a boy before you die, right? I was all for it…but that ending! It saddened me.

~+ I’m all for mystery but 3/4ths into the book I just wanted to know what the heck the Astronomer and Architect needed to do to save everyone. I was over the mystery and wanted information. Everything is so vague until the end. I will say I read this book quick though because I was curious to know what was causing the people to be sick and why Vega was so special. I did like the reveal at the end, I thought that was a cool reveal. I just didn’t like how things ended between Vega and Noah.

Tropes: chosen one, insta-love

Why you should read it:

  • the story is atmospheric and mysterious with a good reveal
  • Vega and Noah falling in love before the world ends

Why you might not want to read it:

  • the mystery takes too long and you might be bored and tired by the time everything is explained
  • Vega is the chosen one and everyone dies around her

My Thoughts:

I had to process my thoughts on this book a lot because when I realized it was a western/dystopian story and the big reveal at the end, the feeling I had was I really enjoyed the book. Then my mind picked apart the things I could have done without like how long the mystery and vague information went on in the book and how Vega got on my nerves because she is the chosen one and protected and everyone is going to die and sacrifice themselves around her. I also loved the ending because of the reveal but I was so sad about Noah…so my feelings are all over the place about this book but I’m glad I read it. Overall, I’m going to say I did enjoy it more than disliked especially the ending when things started to make sense.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Nothing More to Tell by. Karen M. McManus | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Nothing More to Tell

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Author: Karen M. McManus

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 8/29/22

Categories: Young Adult, Thriller, Murder Mystery, Romance, Crime

True crime can leave a false trail.

Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favourite teacher. The case was never solved, but she’s sure that the three kids who found Mr. Larkin’s body know more than they’re telling, especially her ex-best friend Tripp Talbot. He’s definitely hiding something.

When Brynn gets an internship working on a popular true-crime show, she decides to investigate what really happened that day in the woods. But the further she dives into the past, the more secrets she finds.

Four years ago someone got away with murder. Now it’s time to uncover the truth . . .

Content Warning: neglectful parent, murder scene description, underage drinking

I’ve read one book from this author and enjoyed it. I’ve been meaning to read more so I decided to borrow this one and enjoyed it! Here’s what I thought:

+ The story flows so well and I could not figure who the murderer was yet had all my suspicions! I like many of the twists the story took, it really kept me on my toes and engaged. I read this in one sitting.

+ I like Brynn and Tripp a lot. They used to be friends, until Tripp pushed her away. Brynn moved away and is now back in Sturgis. Clearly Tripp had the biggest crush on her when they were kids, but it’s cute to see her like him now as they are older. I liked them together and though the romance takes a back seat, I did like that it was there because I’m a romance lover.

+ I thought the whole cast was great and had their roles to play. I love Brynn’s younger sister who actually helped Brynn kind of solve this murder mystery.

~ My major issue with the book is the ending. It didn’t seem like a totally shut case for who they suspected the murderer to be. I know the story was pulled in so many directions which left me guessing as to who really committed the crime, but even the ending didn’t give us solid evidence or a confession of the crime. This story may bug me…unless they turn it into a series. I want closure! lol

~ This is supposedly set in a private school and though it mentions the division between elite and dregs…not much comes out of that. It doesn’t show much division between the kids. So I’d say it didn’t really give off those vibes.

Tropes: childhood friends to enemies to lovers

Spice Level:

Why you should read it:

  • kept me on my toes, it’s fun, engaging and entertaining – read it in one sitting
  • Brynn and Tripp’s little romance was cute in the midst of the murder mystery

Why you might not want to read it:

  • ending felt a little anti-climatic, is it going to be a series? 🤔

My Thoughts:

I’m glad I read this one, it kept me on the toes to the very end! I just wish the ending evidence around the supposedly killer was more concrete – it was left a bit open I think. So I’m not sure if there will be a spin off? It would be cool to see Brynn’s sister have her own story because that girl was on it and helping Brynn figure stuff out. Overall, I enjoyed this book!

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Cousins | Book Review ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️