*Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review*
I really went back and forth between weather or not to post this because it is a two star review. BUT I want to be honest about the books I am reading, the only time I won’t post is when I DNF. So, I am going to do this review a bit different than usual.
Likes: I really liked the world building, the cover, and most of the story. I loved reading about the struggling islanders turned slaves and their conquerors, the Fjern. I am all about those powerful uprising stories and couldn’t wait to dig into this, especially because it takes place in a fantasy world where there they have certain krafts (AKA: powers/ abilities). The magic was really cool to read about too. I loved the added mystery/ plot twist that happens midway through the book.
Dislikes: Here’s the kicker… I HATED the MC. And the whole book is from her POV. She is in a position of power but she is a native islander. She thinks she is “helping” her people and she thinks she is a good person because she feels guilt for mistreating her SLAVES. That’s right. In her solo selfish life goal of vengeance against the Fjern for killing her family, she uses her own people to HER agenda. Killing them, betraying them, enslaving them, ordering them to have sex with her. It’s disgusting. She literally is no better than the Fjern. She’s a really awful person. At one point there was an innocent Fjern and she was hated just as much. She didn’t even do anything or think anything horrible (MC can read minds) and yet the MC was like, well you’re Fjern so you’re bad. Stupid. Another thing I disliked was the word ‘hate’ was literally used almost every. Single. Page. I get it. Sigourney hates them they hate her and her people hate her. You can still get your point across without using the same word over and over and over again.
Final Thoughts: I went into this book thinking it was going to be about a young woman who leads her people to an epic uprising. No. Not it. So, while I liked the ending quite a lot, I couldn’t rate it more than 2 stars purely for the word ‘hate’ every page and for the awful MC.
*Amazon link is my affiliate link*
*Sign is from Bookish Signs. Code: Lauren10 I loved the way it matched the book cover!*
I am SUPER excited to feature Meant to Be Yours by Susan Mallery today on my blog! When I was a teenager, a friend and I had it all planned out that we were going to be wedding planners together. That did not work out but it is still so fun to think about. So when I saw the synopsis for this, I knew I wanted to feature it and hopefully soon read it! Plus that cover is GORGEOUS!
“It might just be okay,” wedding coordinator Renee Grothen murmured softly to herself as she surveyed the wedding reception. She wouldn’t risk admitting everything had turned out as planned until the last guest had left, but four and a half hours in, things were going really well.
Jim and Monica Martinez were a sweet couple with a fun firefighter theme for their big day. There was a long tradition of firefighters on both sides of the family and plenty of cute touches in the wedding and reception.
Monica’s dress laced up the back and instead of white ribbon to cinch her gown, she’d used bright red. The centerpieces were ceramic boot vases painted to look like firefighter boots, filled with red, orange and yellow flowers. There was even a walk-through fountain at one end of the reception area, created with fire hoses, a pump and a lot of engineering.
Renee walked around the perimeter of the indoor reception space, looking for problems. So far, so good, she thought with cautious optimism. The cake had been cut, the bar service was about to end and the tone of the party had faded from raucous to comfortably tired—exactly as it should. With a little luck, things would wrap up on time and without a crisis. This was Monica and Jim’s day—Renee wanted it to be as perfect as possible. While she always took care of her clients, she tended to unleash her mother bear instincts for her special couples and Monica and Jim certainly qualified.
She spotted Pallas Mitchell, her boss, walking toward her. It was nearly ten on a Saturday night and Pallas, a pretty brunette only recently returned from maternity leave, yawned widely. When she spotted Renee she held up her hands, palms up.
“What can I say? I’ve been home with an infant. These wild late-night hours are going to take some getting used to.”
“No one’s judging,” Renee told her. “As I said at seven, at eight and again at nine, go home. I can handle this. You’re barely back and you need to give yourself time to adjust to the schedule.”
“You’ve been running things for nearly six months. You need a break.”
In truth, Renee was a little ragged around the edges, but she’d loved handling Weddings Out of the Box while Pallas had been gone. She’d enjoyed the challenges each unique wedding presented and watching all the details fall into place on the big day.
“I had lots of help,” Renee pointed out. “Hiring college students on summer break was a good idea.” And what they’d lacked in experience, they’d made up for in energy and enthusiasm.
“Now that I’m back, things can return to normal,” Pallas said, covering another yawn.
“Go home,” Renee urged. “Please. I can handle things here. I promise.”
“Okay. I will. Thanks. Don’t you dare come in tomorrow.” Pallas’s voice was firm. “For once, we don’t have a Sunday wedding. Enjoy the break.”
“I will.” Renee would probably pop in to do a little paperwork, but she wouldn’t stay long. “Are you coming to The Boardroom on Monday night?”
In a wedding destination town, the rhythms of the residents were determined by weekend weddings. Happily Inc’s workweek started on Wednesdays as the businesses geared up for the dozens of nuptials that occurred in multiple venues. Which meant the town’s Friday night was actually on Monday.
The Boardroom, a local bar, hosted game nights on Mondays. Board games ruled and tournaments were heated and fun as friends crushed each other at everything from Candy Land to Risk.
Pallas shook her head. “I’ll admit to being a bit of a worrier. When we went a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t stop thinking about Ryan. He’s only five months old. It’s too soon to leave him at night.”
Renee held in a smile. “Sure. I get that.”
“I know you don’t, but thank you for pretending. Have fun for me, too. Oh, Jasper’s back, so tell him hi, if you think of it.”
Jasper was back? Renee hadn’t heard. She liked knowing he’d returned from his big book tour. Not for any reason in particular, she amended hastily. Sure, he was nice, but there were a lot of nice guys in the world. There was just something about Jasper. Maybe it was because in addition to being good-looking and just a little dangerous, he wasn’t a forever kind of guy.
“I saw that!” Pallas grinned. “I totally saw that. You did the predatory smile thing I was never good at. You want to use him for sex! Did I know this?” She stomped her foot. “Did this happen while I was on maternity leave? What else went on while I was off having a baby?”
Renee laughed. “You’re reading way too much into my smile. I’m happy he’s home from his book tour. That’s all.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Jasper and I are not involved. I doubt we’ve had more than a three-sentence conversation.”
Not that it took many sentences to ask Your place or mine? And while the description of predatory was nice, it gave her too much credit. Would she stalk him and pounce? Not even on her best day. Would she say yes if the man asked? She smiled again. Oh, yeah, she would. Definitely. Okay, probably. If she was feeling brave. Because while she worked her butt off to give her couples their perfect happily-ever-after day, she knew it was never going to happen for her. Those who could—did. Those who couldn’t became wedding planners.
Avoiding relationships might be the smart choice, but it was also a lonely one. She knew Jasper was into the long-term, monogamous, not-serious kind of thing and she was pretty sure she could handle that. Assuming she was his type and he was interested. They could have some laughs, lots of sex and walk away completely unscathed in the heart department. Where was the bad?
“There’s something going on and you can’t convince me otherwise,” Pallas said. “You have depths. I’m very impressed. Okay, use Jasper and then tell me the details because hey, he’s got to be great.” She yawned again. “I’m such a lightweight. I’m leaving now.”
“Good night. Hug Ryan for me.”
“You know I will.”
Pallas walked out of the reception hall. Renee continued to circle the space, looking for any forgotten handbags or phones, and noting how long it would take the cleaning service to return the huge room to order. Doing her job and not thinking about the fact that Jasper was back—that was her.
A loud whoop got her attention. She turned and saw three teenaged guys running through the fountain at the far end of the big, open room. Each of them jumped, trying to touch the arc of water dancing overhead.
The younger brother, she thought as she made her way toward them. And his friends. No doubt they were bored after so many hours with not very much to do. Regardless, she was not going to have them disrupt the reception when it was so close to being over.
As she approached the running, jumping teens, she saw both sets of parents, along with the bride and groom, still dancing. They swayed in time with the music, oblivious to the fountain and the idiots messing with it. Then several things happened at once.
The younger brother started an extra long run toward the fountain. Jim let go of Monica and spun her out the length of their arms. Monica bumped her mom, who stumbled a little. Dad grabbed Mom, moving all of them closer to the fountain and the younger brother running, who had to swerve suddenly to avoid them. As he swerved, he lost his balance and slipped, tumbling into the fountain mechanism. One of the hoses broke free, wiggling and spraying water everywhere.
Renee saw it all happening and knew there was no way she was going to allow her beautiful bride to get soaked. She lunged for the hose, caught it and held it tightly against her chest as the bride’s father rushed to turn off the water to the hose. It took only seconds, but by then the entire fountain had spilled over and Renee was drenched, shivering and had water up her nose even as she wondered if she looked half as ridiculous as she felt.
The new Mrs. Martinez hurried over. “Renee, are you all right?” She turned on her brother. “How could you? This is a wedding, not a water park.”
Aware that end-of-wedding exhaustion could easily lead to emotions spiraling out of control, Renee quickly faked a smile.
“Monica, it’s fine. Don’t worry. Keeping you and the rest of the wedding party dry was my only concern.” She glanced at the water draining onto the floor and realized part of the fountain was still pumping out water. That couldn’t be good. If she couldn’t get everything turned off, she was going to have to call in one of those companies that took care of disasters like flooding. “Really. It’s no problem.”
“You’re dripping and the water’s rising. My dad went to find the main shutoff.”
Renee wrung out her hair and hoped her makeup wasn’t too badly smudged. Then she realized the water level in the reception hall was indeed climbing and hoped Monica’s father found the shutoff soon.
She was just about to go help him when he returned.
“All turned off.” He glanced at the mini flood. “Sorry about this.”
“It’s fine,” Renee lied, her tone soothing, because that was part of her job. To pretend all was well even when they needed to be figuring out how to build an ark.
The rest of the guests were heading out. Nothing like the threat of an unexpected flood to get people moving, she thought, trying to find the humor in the situation.
“I’m so sorry,” Monica told her as she held her dress out of the water and slipped out of her shoes.
“Don’t be. You had a wonderful wedding and reception. Why don’t you and Jim start gathering your things? I have a spare set of clothes in my office. I’ll get changed, then help you make sure you have everything.”
As she spoke, she noticed the water seemed to have settled at about the six- or seven-inch level. Yup, she was going to have to call someone. No doubt she would be here all night. Oh, joy.
“I’m really sorry,” Jim said. “We thought we’d planned for every contingency.” He glared at his new brother-in-law. “Except for stupid.” He turned back to her. “Let us know the cost of cleanup. We’ll pay for it.”
“Thank you. I think the deposit should take care of it but I’ll let you know if there’s a problem. Now if you’ll let me go get changed, I’ll be back with you in ten minutes.”
Renee slipped out of her shoes and walked through the ankle-deep water. When she reached her office upstairs, she carefully closed the door behind her before undressing, then slipped on jeans and a T-shirt. Not exactly professional, but she wasn’t going to worry about that right now. Before she returned to her bride and groom, she looked up the local disaster cleaning service. The number was in her files, but wasn’t one she had had to use before.
They picked up on the first ring.
“Happily Inc CleanUp. This is Hilde. How can I help you?”
“Hi. I’m Renee Grothen at Weddings Out of the Box. We had a firefighter wedding tonight with a big fountain. There was an accident with one of the hoses and now our main reception hall is flooded.”
There was a pause. “Um, did you say firefighter wedding? Never mind. How much water?”
“About six inches.”
“That’s a lot.”
“It was a big fountain.”
“Give us thirty minutes and we’ll be there.”
Renee hung up, gave herself a second to catch her breath, then headed back to deal with the bride, the groom, the flood and anything else that might happen tonight. Because with a wedding, it was always something.
SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—40 million copies of her books have sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live. Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as mom.
I actually almost rated this higher BUT I don’t think this will ever be a reread for me. Another BUT, I freaking loved this book. It is like Alien + 28 Days Later. I want this to be a movie. I would watch the crap out of this. I read to be entertained and I was not disappointed.
Characters: This was told in multiple POV while still having basically two main characters. Thea is very analytical and practical. When they answer the distress signal she is like, um, no. But she has no choice since she is just an intern and has to listen to her bosses. She almost always keeps a clear head without being heartless. Coen is super mysterious. I can’t say much about him without giving spoilers, but he was super interesting to read about! Poor kid did everything he could to survive and save those around him. The secondary characters were all pretty well rounded out. You even feel for them at some points. Except Dylan. I HATED her.
Plot: Scientists who respond to a distress signal from a planet that’s basically blacklisted by the equivalent of the UN, is bound to turn out all right, right? They come across all of the secret base members dead. And yet they still search for what happened. Chaos ensues. People die, people live, the dead live, mysteries are solved, more mysteries happen, crazy escape plans go awry. Read this.
Final Thoughts: My heart was beating so fast at some points! I listened to this on audible and I could not stop listening. I would literally stare at nothing sometimes listening and zoning out within the story. It really sucks you in! I will definitely be reading the next one within the next few months!
This week was a Halloween Freebie so I thought I’d give some book recommendations! These are for, if you are like me, the scaredy cat. You don’t like to read horror or scary books so you reach for other types instead. I actually have a wide variety of genres here because that’s what I like! Some of these I have read and some are on my TBR that I wanted to get to but didn’t. (Clicking on the books takes you to Goodreads)
#1 The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring
I am actually currently reading this one and while it’s creepy it’s definitely not scary. At least, I don’t find it so. It’s just weird. There’s a haunted boarding school, ghosts, a missing girl, some weird time warp stuff, and a teacher trying to figure it all out.
#2 Contagion (Contagion, #1) by Erin Bowman
I just finished this one a couple weeks ago and LOVED it. I listened to it on audible and could not stop. This is a sci-fi that is a mix between Alien and 28 Days Later. Sort of Zombies in space. Scientists respond to a distress signal in deep space, and when they get there everyone is dead… or so it seems.
#3 Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Took a turn in genres. I have read most of the Sherlock stories and love them! They are perfect for this time of year! Plus there are a ton of gorgeous editions out there!
#4 A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1) by Deanna Raybourn
I am obsessed with this historical mystery series! Veronica and Stoker solving mysteries including some about them, is sooooo good! Also, the tension between them is on fire. Just sayin’.
#5 The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett
I really liked this take on Vlad the Impaler (AKA Dracula). Perfect for Halloween! It’s short and fun.
*Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!*
I honestly struggled between 3 and 4 stars for this one. I thought 3 because it was kind of easy to put it down. It wasn’t one where I was like, “I need to know what happens or I’ll die!” type of book. BUT when I was reading it, it was really unique and I really enjoyed it so I thought maybe 4 stars. So guess what, it ended up in the middle.
Characters. I really liked the characters. Rakel was a likable mix of wanting to save her family and being really stubborn. She was also kind of goofy which I liked. Ash was our brooding, tortured, love interest with a secret. It was a bit typical BUT I still liked it. They matched well together I think. And it was a slow burn so that was nice too. But then again it didn’t have a lot of tension or fire. It could have just as easily ended up being they were just good friends.
Plot/ World. I actually loved that the plot revolved around scents. This book was a candle makers dream. I loved that the author was so descriptive in what things smelled like. It made the book come more alive because of it. And the fact that your station could be higher because of your finer sense of smell and if you could make scents was so interesting! I also liked Ash’s secret. You could kind of see it coming but it was a bit bigger than I realized it was going to be. And I didn’t see a certain minor plot twist coming. I was looking in another direction, if that makes sense. I really enjoyed the adventure! Ash and Rakel go all up and down their lands looking for ingredients for a cure for the Prince! I liked the different trials they had to face to get each cure. There were also quite a few fantasy creatures in this book that I am all for!! Adventure at it’s finest!
Final Thoughts. Major cliff-hanger ending!! I definitely want to read book two and can’t wait to find out what happens to all of the characters! Also, if you are a cover-buyer, go ahead and add this to your list of must buys!
*Once Upon A Time sign is from Bookish Signs and More! Code: Lauren10 to save! I couldn’t resist putting this in my photo!*
*Amazon link is my affiliate link*
*Usual warning of content: This is something I put on my blog for parents specifically. Just putting the different themes or topics represented in the book.*
CONTENT: Mention of child abuse, abuse of the sick, their religion, drug abuse, mention of a couple characters being LGBTQ, forming strong relationships, sacrificing for what is right, strong mental health representation, death, disease, blood and gore.
I am so excited to feature Beyond the Moon by Catherine Taylor today on my blog and on my Instagram! This sounds really good. I love historical fiction mixed with romance and I think everyone is a sucker for time travel! It has really good reviews on Goodreads too! Check out the author on her Instagram for more info!
*Amazon link is my affiliate link. I earn a commission from them.*
“Down The TBR Hole is a meme that revolves around cleansing your TBR of all those books you’re never going to read and sort through it all to know what’s actually on there.
Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!
It works like this:
Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
Order on ascending date added.
Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
Read the synopses of the books
Decide: keep it or should it go?”
At the end of my last TBR Hole post I ended with 1148 books on my TBR. I now have 1149. I’m actually getting better believe it or not! That means I only added a few books to my TBR in almost a month! Sure I knocked some out and replaced them with new books but still. Progress. I usually post 10 books here so let’s get started. (Clicking on the pictures brings you to Goodreads).
#1 Castle in the Air (Howl’s Moving Castle, #2) by Diana Wynne Jones
I still plan on reading this! I LOVED Howl’s moving castle. The book and movie!
#2 Lonesome Dove (#1) by Larry McMurtry
I’m honestly going back and forth on this one. I’ve heard nothing but good things BUT it’s not my genre of choice and it’s like, 900 pages long. On the other hand I love western movies so maybe I would like this.
KEEP (for now)
#3 Inkspell (Inkworld, #2) by Cornelia Funke
I honestly do not know why I have not read this yet. I have reread Inkheart 3 times now and yet never get to book 2. Not only are these covers extremely gorgeous but I LOVED Inkheart!
#4 Atonement Child by Francine Rivers
I really need to get back into read her books. I LOVED her books in my early 20s. She just speaks to my soul, you know?
#5 Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
These were so cute when I was a teen! I kind of want to keep it. It just seems so nostalgic now.
#6 The Simarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien
No questions asked here.
#7 The Winter Witch (Shadow Chronicles, #1) by Paula Brackston
This still sounds super interesting.
#8 I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies, #1) by Pittacus Lore
I’m going back and forth on this one. I wanted to read this when the movie came out but that obviously didn’t happen. I sort of want to try it out but I don’t feel like I’m going to love it.
#9 Eve (Eve, #1) by Anna Carey
I like dystopians but I’m really not feeling this one.
#10 Winter’s Child: A Retelling of the Snow Queen (Once Upon A Time) by Cameron Dokey
I don’t know why I want to keep this. I think again, for nostalgic purposes.
Okay, I only got rid of one. Yikes. That leaves me at 1148 books on my TBR. I might go though a few more pages and see if I can’t whittle it down some! Are any of these on your TBR?