2019 Reads, Advance Review Copies (ARCs), Book Reviews

Because You’re Mine by Rea Frey

Because You're Mine

Title: Because You’re Mine
Author: Rea Frey
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: August 6th, 2019
Page Count: 400
Format: Electronc ARC provided by NetGalley
ISBN: 9781250166449

My Rating: 4 Stars

Author Website | Amazon | GoodReads

 

 

It’s not that I have a kind-of love-hate relationship with this book, exactly…but I do have some issues, I guess. Do I have strong feelings about this book? Definitely. Did I enjoy reading this book? Mostly, yes. Were there some (potentially glaring) issues for me? Well, yeah. And I’ll get to those.

But my main takeaway is this: even though this book had some potentially big issues in my mind, I still really enjoyed the journey. And for me, that’s often the most important thing in shaping my overall feelings and impression of a book. This book gave me all the things I need to make me love a book: good writing, likeable characters, action, emotion, plot twists, secrets galore, and a plot that kept me guessing and never wanting to put it down.

Single mother Lee needs a break. Her on-the-spectrum son, Mason, is a wonderful kid, but what mother (especially a single one) can’t use a little time away every now and again? Lee’s best friend, Grace, convinces her to go on a weekend girls’ get-away with her and their other two friends, while handsome tutor, Noah, watches Mason. Within 48 hours, someone is dead (SPOILERS – it’s not Mason. I’m sorry, but this was stressing me out before I read the book and want to put some minds at ease).

The book alternates between three points-of-view (POV) (Lee, Grace, and Noah). It also alternates between multiple time periods – in the first half of the book, the chapters alternate between present day, and “one week before the fall.” In the second half of the book, the chapters alternate between present day and “the past.”

What did I love about this book?

Really good writing. Entertaining plot. Suspense, mystery, heartache, betrayal. And So. Many. Secrets. Each of our three main characters carry secrets that shape the events of this book, for better or (usually) worse. Some reveals were kind of predictable, and some were more surprising.

Surprisingly for me, I actually really liked all of the characters – this is unusual for me, especially in some of the books I’ve been reading lately. I genuinely found the characters to all be likable, despite (or maybe because of) their quirks. And they are all so well fleshed out. We’re given enough time in each of their narratives to really feel like we’re getting to know them.

Ok, so why did I start this review off saying that I have a kind-of love-hate relationship with this book. What didn’t I like about it?

The ending was a HUGE (like, super huge) out-of-left-field, couldn’t-have-guessed-that, never-saw-that-coming twist. And you know what? Generally speaking, I’m okay with that. I’ve seen people complain about that before, saying it’s lazy writing, there should have been SOME kind of clues leading up to that. And I don’t always agree. HEAR ME OUT. If the story isn’t being told in the POV of the character who shocks us, isn’t it understandable that we wouldn’t have seen it coming? If we are in the POV of a character who is being shocked by something or someone, clearly they didn’t see it coming, so why should we?

My problem with this book is that we ARE given the POV of the character who shocks us (too spoilery?) Granted, I should probably go back and re-read that character’s chapters to double-check, but from what I remembered, the character’s thoughts contradicted the surprise ending, so there is no way we could have guessed it. Which makes for a great surprise, I guess, but seems unfair in a way. I get that you want to keep things a surprise so we can’t see them thinking evil, nefarious, spoilery things, but then either don’t give us their POV at all, or don’t give us contradictory thoughts. These are the character’s personal, inner thoughts – they shouldn’t be contradictory to what we’re told the character was really feeling and thinking in the end. Again, I should go back and re-read those chapters to see if this was really the case, but I honestly had no inkling that anything was off with this character.

The other thing that was hard for me (and this is just a personal opinion) was Mason. He’s a 7 year old boy and has to be told a pretty hard truth. The scene is emotional, and heart breaking, and honestly, I held the book kind of at an angle while reading it because I thought it might be easier if I couldn’t really see the words super easily. It did not make it any easier. It’s not a bad thing about the book – just something that was really hard for me to read.

So, did I have some issues with this book? Yes. Did it detract from my overall enjoyment or opinion of the book? Actually, no. This is one of those books that I’ve been thinking about a LOT since finishing. The author, I think, did an amazing job of really making you feel strong emotions: love, hope, betrayal, regret, heartbreak….so many things. And, even though I may not have been totally on board with the twist ending, it didn’t take away from the fact that I really enjoyed the journey of this book. To me, that is the hallmark of a really good writer. I will definitely be checking out her previous book, and will keep an eye out for her future works.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Griffin for providing me with a free advance review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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2019 Reads, Advance Review Copies (ARCs), Book Reviews

The Marked Prince by M. A. Grant

TMP

Title: The Marked Prince
Author: M. A. Grant
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: August 5th, 2019
Page Count: 305
Format: Electronic ARC provided by NetGalley
ISBN: 9781488054136

My Rating: 5 Stars

Author Website | Amazon | GoodReads

 

 

“I will kneel for you. Only you, from this moment until my last.”

If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would. In a heartbeat. IN A HEARTBEAT. ALL the freaking stars for this book! The truly funny thing about all of this is that after reading it’s predecessor, Prince of Air and Darkness (PAD) (read my full review here), I was So In Love with Roark and Finny and their love story, that I thought there was No Way I could possibly buy into any other love stories in this universe. Boy oh boy was I Wrong.

This about sums up my emotional evolution while reading this book:

Me before starting The Marked Prince: I hope I can get into this book, but I’m honestly worried I won’t like them as much a I liked Finny and Roark.

Me about 96% into The Marked Prince: OMG Roark, stop being such a self-righteous ass and LEAVE THEM ALONE!!!! My babies Seb and Slaine need some space!!!

I won’t say too much about the plot itself, because it’s all one big, massive, mind-blowing spoiler. Long story short – Sebastian (who we don’t really get to know too well in PAD), is more or less forced to return to the Seelie Court on a secret undercover mission to retrieve Roark’s traitorous older brother, Slaine. Upon his arrival, he discovers an Unseelie slave, Duine, who is being mercilessly tortured by Sebastian’s truly awful cousin, Aoife. Sebastian convinces his uncle (Aoife’s father) to turn Duine over to him to be his personal manservant. As Duine helps Sebastian navigate court life, and Sebastian attempts to show Duine that not all Seelie Fae are terrible monsters, it becomes clear that both men are not who they at first appeared to be.

This book….This Book. I’ve put off writing this review because I was so overwhelmed with how much I loved it, and how much it made me feel – I was worried (and still am) that I wouldn’t be able to do it justice or put it all into words.

So, if you couldn’t tell, I ended up (more than) buying into the love story in this book. Do I like this pair better than Roark and Finny? It’s hard to say, but maybe? I loved these two characters, and I loved how much I felt like they needed each other. It’s probably best to not compare them because both couples are glorious in their own way. But there was just something special about Sebastian. He is such a good, kind, open, honest person…it’s hard not to totally fall in love with him.

We learn so much in this book, so many secrets, so much backstory. About Sebastian, Slaine, the driving forces behind the imbalance in magic between the courts…we even learn some new (and super shocking) things about Roark. I felt like this book did a great job answering some of the questions I had from PAD, and really fleshing out the story in a cohesive way. It’s tone is very different from PAD, though – this book gets a bit darker and grittier. And our main characters are actually separated for good portion of the book (which is such a heart-breaking section of the book but so necessary – we see just how connected these two have become, just how much they need each other).

His call echoes into my bones, and I obey because he’s my prince, my king, the only man I ever wish to kneel before and he’s here, waiting for me. “Seb,” I whisper, and the leaves stretch toward me. “I’ve come back.”

I’m excited and nervous for the next installment. I’m no longer worried in the least that I won’t completely fall for the new love story (Kieran and Lugh). I know I will. I’m nervous, however, to see how the impending Civil War between the Courts plays out. I have my fingers crossed that we won’t lose any of the characters we’ve come to love, but what’s an epic story without some loss? All I know is I will for sure have the tissues on hand when I start reading The Iron Crown (out early 2020).

Thank you to NetGalley and Carina Press for providing me with a free advance review copy (ARC) in exchange for an honest review. And a HUGE thank you to author M. A. Grant who actually personally granted me access to the ARC!

2019 Reads, Advance Review Copies (ARCs), Book Reviews

Prince of Air and Darkness by M. A. Grant

Prince of Air and Darkness

Title: Prince of Air and Darkness (The Darkest Court #1)
Author: M. A. Grant
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: February 25th, 2019
Page Count: 310
Format: Electronic ARC provided by NetGalley
ASIN: B07GB7WD2G

My Rating: 5 Stars

Author Website | Amazon | GoodReads

 

 


The only human student at Mather’s School of Magick, Phineas (Finny) Smith has a target on his back. Born with the rare ability to tap into unlimited magick, he finds both Faerie Courts want his allegiance—and will do anything to get it.

They don’t realize he can’t levitate a feather, much less defend the Faerie Realm as it slips into civil war.

Unseelie Prince Roark Lyne, Phineas’s roommate—and self-proclaimed arch nemesis—is beautiful and brave and a pain in the ass. Phineas can’t begin to sort through their six years of sexual tension masquerading as mutual dislike. But Roark is also the only one able to help Finn tame his magick.

Trusting Roark’s mysterious motives may be foolish; not accepting his temporary protection would be deadly.

Caught in the middle of the impending war, Phineas and Roark forge a dangerous alliance. And as the walls between them crumble, Phineas realizes that Roark isn’t the monster he’d imagined. But their growing intimacy threatens to expose a secret that could either turn the tide of the war…or destroy them both.


I loved EVERYTHING about this book. Everything. I need more Roark and Finny in my life. *sigh*

This was an excellent pseudo enemies-to-lovers tale that was done very well. I say “pseudo” because you don’t ever get the feeling that they are really, truly enemies. They are two (desperately adorable) idiots pining for each other while thinking the other one hates them.

The only ‘complaint’ I have is that the author assumes you are well versed in magical universes, so there is little to no explanation of magical terms (such as Seelie, Unseelie, hob, redcap). As this was pretty much the first book in the magic genre that I’ve read, I had to do a lot of googling.

Boy, was it worth it!

Other than that, I absolutely ADORED this book and these characters. The author did such a good job of making you really root for this couple and really care about them. It made my heart ache with how much Roark was willing to sacrifice for Finny, and what lengths he was willing to go to for him. (The same is true of Finny in regards to Roark, too!).

I don’t want to say too much, but this is part of Harlequin’s Carina Press line, which promises a Happily Ever After/Happily For Now. And with this book, we definitely get what we were promised.

5 very enthusiastic stars from this happy reader.

In related and very exciting news, the second book in The Darkest Court trilogy, The Marked Prince, comes out August 5th! I’ve actually already read an early copy and SPOILERS it’s ah-mazing!

Just as a side note – if you are a visual person like me, you may always be wondering what these characters would look like. I believe the handsome fellow on the cover is meant to be Roark, and I’m very ok with that. However, I was also watching a music video for a group called 2Cellos (the song was Thunderstruck if you are interested in checking it out WHICH I RECOMMEND), and instantly, they were Roark and Finny and I can’t unsee it.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Books/Carina Press for providing me with a free advance review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

General

Still here!

Well, it’s been a little while since I posted or did anything with my site. I’d had hopes of posting more frequently, but life’s been a little busy. Isn’t that always the case? But I’m still here, still reading, and still intending to make something of this blog!

I’m also behind in reviewing books I’ve recently finished. Current titles that need reviewing include: The Maiden; Red, White and Royal Blue; Two Like Me and You; and The Marked Prince. I’m hoping to get caught up on those soon, but I have so many ARCs that I need to get through that I might just try to make headway getting some reading done, then write my reviews. I know – it’s better to do the reviews while the books are fresh in my mind, but it is what it is.

I’ve stopped requesting/accepting ARCs for now until I’m a little bit more caught up because it’s starting to feel more stressful than enjoyable. I’ve also been really feeling the itch to write, but just don’t have the time right now. So, maybe I’ll get caught up on some of my current titles, then take a break to do some writing. I think that would make me feel good.

I’ve just been feeling…I don’t know. I guess kind of chaotic lately. My house needs cleaning and organizing and that’s a big part of my stress. My 4 year old has so, so many little toys (McDonald’s toys, Kinder Egg toys, junk like that) and it’s honestly overwhelming me. I can’t throw anything away because he immediately asks for the missing toy. So I think I’m just going to start throwing it all in storage bins around the house.

So, things I’ll be working on this summer: getting caught up on ARCs and reviews, writing, and cleaning/organizing the house. And, hopefully, some blogging!

In other (book related!) news, I signed up for several book subscription boxes. I’ve seen so many, but never tried them, so here I go! I’m trying Bookish Box, Owl Crate, Fairy Loot (UK based one), and The Book Hookup (quarterly one). I plan to do unboxing posts of each, then an overall comparison post, so stay tuned!

I think that’s all for now. Oh! It’s Pride Month! 🏳️‍🌈 I’m hoping to get a post in about my favorite LGBT books, but I’m not sure I’ll make it by the end of June. Here’s hoping!

Until next time, fellow readers. Read on!

2019 Reads, Advance Review Copies (ARCs), Book Reviews

Cat + Nat’s Mom Truths by Catherine Belknap and Natalie Telfer

Cat and Nat's Mom TruthsTitle: Cat + Nat’s Mom Truths
Author: Catherine Belknap and Natalie Telfer
Publisher: Harmony/Penguin Canada
Publication Date: March 12th, 2019
Page Count: 224
Format: Electronic ARC provided by NetGalley
ISBN: 9780525574910

My Rating: 5 Stars

Author Website | Amazon |GoodReads

 

 

 


GoodReads Summary: Hilarious best friends Cat and Nat created a massive online community of moms by sharing their ultra-real and just a bit R-rated dispatches from the mom trenches. From what not to eat a few days postpartum (chicken wings) to the most effective ways to dodge post-partum sex, Cat & Nat’s Mom Truths shares everything no one will tell you about having kids.

Mixing memoir, humor, and advice, Cat and Nat tell never-before-told stories about the stress, guilt, joy, and laundry (oh the laundry!) of being a mom in their first book. With seven kids between them and millions of fans on social media, they get real about the parts of parenting that somehow don’t make the Instagram feed. Sharing their outrageous humor, fearless myth-busting, and genuine comfort on every page, they walk you from pregnancy to the toddler years and beyond. And they dole out ridiculously honest advice, like what you think you need at the hospital when you have your first baby (lip gloss) versus what you actually need (hemorrhoid pillow), and how worried you should really be about germs (less than you are). Fearless crusaders against the perfection myth and all the gluten-free, sugar-free baking it entails, Cat and Nat assure you that you’re already doing a great job, making this an essential companion for moms everywhere.


I loved, loved, LOVED this book!! As a toddler Mom, everything in this book was so incredibly relatable. It was funny, honest (sometimes brutally so!), moving, and best of all – encouraging!

At times I was tearing up because…IT WASN’T JUST ME! I wasn’t the only one who felt alone and isolated in those early days. I wasn’t the only one staring at the clock, breathing a sigh of relief when I (FINALLY) heard the garage door opening, meaning my husband was home. I wasn’t the only one feeling like I might not make it.

As the mother of only one child right now, I worried I wouldn’t be able to relate to everything the ladies talk about since they have 7 kids between them. But I never felt “left out” of any of the topics.

Each chapter is a stand-alone vignette written by either Cat or Nat (with a couple of co-written chapters). They talk about everything from meeting their husbands, to their birth stories, to sex after having a child, to difficult childhood behaviors, and so much more.

I would highly recommend this book to new mothers, mothers of older (or even grown!) children looking to think back on the joy/misery/hilarity of those early days, or expecting mothers. Really, I think anyone would enjoy this book.

What an entertaining, enlightening, empowering, enchanting, encouraging (go me, for this alliteration!), honest, hopeful book! Definitely 5 Stars for this mama! Here’s hoping they do a sequel some day about being the Mom of teenagers, because down the road I’m sure it’s book I’ll need!

Thank you to NetGally and Penguin Canada/Harmony for providing me with a free advance review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

2019 Reads, Advance Review Copies (ARCs), Book Reviews

The Night Before by Wendy Walker

The Night Before

Title: The Night Before
Author: Wendy Walker
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: May 14th, 2019
Page Count: 320
Format: Electronic ARC provided by NetGalley
ISBN: 9781250198679

My Rating: 4 Stars

Author Website | Amazon | GoodReads

 

 

 


Laura Lauchner, following a bad break-up, moves back home to stay with her sister and brother-in-law while she mends her broken heart and tries to start over. Once home, however, dark secrets from her past resurface and begin to haunt her, reminding her why she left her small hometown in the first place.

Johnathan Fields is the handsome divorcée Laura meets through an online dating website. But is he really who he says he is? When Laura does not return after their date, her sister (Rosie), brother-in-law (Joe), and childhood friend (Gabe) begin a hunt to find her, and the more they dig, the more secrets are unearthed and questions arise.


 

I REALLY enjoyed this one! Fast-paced and full of lots of great twists, this book kept me hooked (and guessing!) from the first page – I didn’t want to put it down! It’s one that I would have loved to read in one sitting if I’d been able.

The story is told in alternating points-of-view (POV’s): Rosie’s (third person) as she searches for Laura (present day), and Laura’s (first person) as she takes us through every step of the date (the night before). I don’t always enjoy alternative POVs, but in this book, it worked. I loved gleaning bits of information from both characters at different times, each piece helping to bring the picture together in more focus.

This was intense and gripping – as I said, I had a hard time putting this one down! There were so many twists and turns that it always kept me guessing. While some things I was able to figure out or come close to guessing, other things took me quite by surprise. I feel like the author did a great job of slowly revealing things in a logical way, so that when you finally realize what’s going on, it makes perfect sense. The story, for me, didn’t feel forced, rushed, or sloppily thrown together – it felt cohesive, clever, and well thought out.

My only negative was that it took me awhile to get used to Laura’s “voice.” She is very neurotic and obsessively overanalyzes everything (about herself and others). It made my head spin at first, but I eventually acclimated to it. And it’s not without reason that she is the way she is.

Overall, excellent book! One of the better mystery/thrillers I’ve read! I would highly recommend this to lovers of the genre!

*Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a free advance review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.*

General

Trying Not to Wallow

Is anyone else out there wallowing? Anyone else in a funk and just having trouble getting out of it? That’s where I’ve been (on and off) for awhile now. I’ve been in a mood that I just can’t fully shake. And when I get like this, I wallow. Despite all the advice to just stop thinking about it, just move on, just get into a better mood, just…. The list goes on.

The other problem is that when I’m in a funk (for whatever reason) I think back to things in the past (I’m talking YEARS in the past), things I wish I’d said or done differently, things I wish others had said or done differently. I know it’s pointless and futile, and just perpetuating The Mood. But it’s a difficult habit/behavior to stop.

Anyone else feel me on this?

Anyway – I (finally) finished The Maiden by Jude Deveraux last night! It’s a relatively short book, and should be easy reading, but it took me a whopping 20 days to read it! That’s probably partly due to the fact that it’s not really my genre, so I wasn’t burning to pick it up every day. Full review of that book (as well as the rest of the Velvet series) to come!

In an effort to get out of the aforementioned funk and shake off The Mood, I’m starting a new book today: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. I’m super excited about this one! I’ve heard nothing but good buzz, and I have a feeling it’s just what I need right now.

I hope you all have a great weekend! Cheers!