“American Royals” by Katharine McGee(American Royals #1) What if America had a royal family? When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the… More
“Lost Boy” by Chanda Hahn
(Neverwood Chronicles #2)
After nearly losing Wendy, Peter returns her to her family but fears she may not be safe from Hook. Torn between protecting Wendy and leading the lost boys, he must decide to fulfill his duty or follow his heart. Wendy awakens in her bedroom, clothes stained in blood, with no memories of Peter or Neverland. She struggles to return to her normal life with shadows plaguing her during the day. With Hook closing in on the lost boys’ hideout, Peter faces a betrayer from within the ranks of Neverwood. The final battle is on the horizon, and the secret to victory lies with the shadows, but only one can hear their voice, the Lost Girl.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Lost Girl, so I was really looking forward to reading the next one in line. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed.
I was really engaged in Wendy’s story in the first book; however, following her in Lost Boy was awful. She somehow turned from a likeable character to bordering on insufferable. She was whiney and makes terrible choices, because apparently that’s what happens when you lose your memory for a second time. It seemed like this book really turned on most of the characters. Peter becomes annoyingly possessive of Wendy and Wendy goes out of her way to make Peter jealous because I guess that’s what you do if you’re an independent woman? My favorite character, Jax, also takes a bit of a turn. There was a bit of a love triangle in the first book, but that is somehow completely forgotten in the second book. Jax still has feelings for Wendy, but Wendy is now entirely focused on Peter. #TeamJax
The storyline gets a bit repetitive – Wendy gets into a sticky situation and refuses to listen to Peter, Wendy almost gets attacked or kidnapped, lost boys save the day, etc. However, we did get a peek behind the curtains of the new Neverland that Hook is running and get to meet a few new characters who are at Neverland. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot that moved the plot along. It felt like we moved backwards quite a bit after Wendy “panned” (died and came back to life with no memories). I do have to say that the last few chapters of the book moved a bit quicker and I will definitely be reading the final book in the trilogy very soon. I have high hopes for the third book.
Again, I have the same complaints I had about the first book. It’s very juvenile (even for it being a YA novel). In the first book it just felt like a bit immature on the story side, but this book felt like very juvenile writing. It caused quite a few eye rolls for me. Also, there were so many spelling errors and grammatical errors in this one (even more than the first book) that I definitely think this author needs to fire their editor and hire someone else.
Rating: 3/5 (I considered rating it a 2.5, but was feeling generous as I did enjoy some parts of it and am looking forward to the third book.)
Have you read this series? What did you think?
“Lost Girl” by Chanda Hahn
(Neverwood Chronicles #1)
Wendy doesn’t remember anything about Neverland—or the experiments done on her there as a child. Seven years later, all she wants is a normal life, but shape-shifting shadows plague her dreams and turn her life into a waking nightmare. When the shadows attack at a football game and a boy disappears right in front of her, she realizes these wraith-like shadows are real. They’re not just haunting—they’re hunting. A mysterious boy named Peter, his foul-mouthed sidekick, and a band of misfit boys intervene before Wendy faces a similar fate. But can they trust Wendy enough to take her to Neverwood Academy and reveal all of their hidden secrets when she’s hiding a secret of her own, or will the dreaded Red Skulls find her and drag her back to Neverland?
I absolutely love story re-tellings, so this caught my eye right away. I was sucked into the story right from the very start and flew through the pages. The author weaved in elements of Peter Pan without making it feel like the same story.
Wendy is a normal teenage girl – she’s a beautiful cheerleader who adores her adopted family. The only catch? She’s being plagued by shadows that haunt her night and day, oh, and she can’t seem to remember anything before she was found by her adopted family. So maybe not so normal?
The story opens at Neverland, a secret hospital that has been testing on children and turning them into mutants. Think tiny X-Men. The planned use of the children is never quite clear – it seemed to be described as a military type use. Neverland is run by the Red Skulls, a militant group run by the terrifying Captain Hook. Patients at Neverland hope to never be taken by the Red Skulls, because those taken never seem to return. Young Wendy is a patient at Neverland who is plagued by shadows. Their purpose, good or bad, is unknown, but they create nightmares for poor Wendy. The only thing keeping her going is another patient who she calls “Boy” (aka Peter). When a fire breaks out at Neverland, Wendy and some of the other patients barely escape with their lives. Unfortunately, Wendy gets separated and is assumed to be dead. Fast forward 7 years. Wendy and Peter are reunited when the shadows attack and Peter is there to save Wendy. Wendy, devoid of any past memories, must learn to trust Peter if she wants to survive.
There is a lot going on in this book. There are a lot of characters and a lot of moving parts. I really liked the fact that the author took pieces of the Peter Pan story and transformed them into something new and different. It’s very unlike the original and it definitely kept me interested. There is a bit of love triangle, which I love, between Wendy, Peter, and a lost boy named Jax. I thought the author weaved it in well, without the triangle being the main focus of the book. All of your favorite Peter Pan characters are there, just transformed. Tink is a sassy computer hacker with a swearing problem. Smee is turned into a doctor at Neverland who helps the children as best as she can. They are interesting transformations that made the book even more fun.
The only downfall to this book was that it was a little too juvenile. I know, I know… it’s a YA novel, but it leaned a little to the immature side. Tink is a big swearer (I guess), but swears were too adult to put in the book so instead there is a little machine that covers all of Tink’s swearing with a tinking sound (thus the name Tink). It seemed pretty silly. If swearing felt inappropriate to the author, she could have just found another way to make Tink a more aggressive character. My only other complaint was that there were typos and grammatical errors which should have easily been caught by an editor. However, I am able to look over the flaws because I really enjoyed this book. It held my interest and put a smile on my face.
Have you read this series? What were your thoughts?
“Burying the Honeysuckle Girls” by Emily Carpenter
Althea Bell is still heartbroken by her mother’s tragic, premature death—and tormented by the last, frantic words she whispered into young Althea’s ear: Wait for her. For the honeysuckle girl. She’ll find you, I think, but if she doesn’t, you find her.
Adrift ever since, Althea is now fresh out of rehab and returning to her family home in Mobile, Alabama, determined to reconnect with her estranged, ailing father. While Althea doesn’t expect him, or her politically ambitious brother, to welcome her with open arms, she’s not prepared for the chilling revelation of a grim, long-buried family secret. Fragile and desperate, Althea escapes with an old flame to uncover the truth about her lineage. Drawn deeper into her ancestors’ lives, Althea begins to unearth their disturbing history…and the part she’s meant to play in it.
I have loved every book I’ve read by Emily Carpenter… unfortunately, this is the exception. This is actually Carpenter’s first book and there will soon be a spin-off to it. I went out of order in reading her books and I’m glad I did. If I had read this book first, I don’t think I would have read any of her other ones and that would have been a shame.
Althea is a frustrating character. Newly sober and determined to solve the mystery of the women of her family on her own, she sets off on a journey that is interesting, but mostly confusing and frustrating. Carpenter was trying to cover way too much in this book – mental health, racism, politics, religion, women’s rights. It was TOO MUCH. I wished she had taken one topic and really went with it. Instead we have a hodgepodge of topics that didn’t make a cohesive story. It was like she threw in bits of every hot button issues to make the story more interesting, but it ended up taking away from the overall plot.
Here’s a short break down of all of the topics:
First we have the issue of mental illness. Althea’s female ancestral line has a dark history of being forced into asylums for schizophrenia. Do they really suffer from mental illness or are men locking these women up for their own political and personal gain?
Then we have a whole side plot of certain male ancestors of Althea’s being involved in the KKK and the disappearance of a black man in the 60s.
Then we have a side plot of the time Althea was sexually abused by her drug dealer, but he has connections to her mother and her mother’s death. Oh and did I mention Althea’s substance abuse issues?
Then we have the lack of women’s rights in the early 1900s. Althea’s ancestor, Jin, deals with a controlling husband who doesn’t like the fact that his wife makes a popular honeysuckle wine.
Then we have a traveling pastor and his wife who perform “miracles.”
Having all of these issues combined into one story made it confusing and unrealistic.
The book is told in alternating chapters between Althea and her great-great grandmother, Jin. I truly enjoyed the Jin chapters and found her story very compelling. Carpenter lost me with Althea’s story.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Leave a comment below.
“They All Fall Down” by Rachel Howzell Hall
Delighted by a surprise invitation, Miriam Macy sails off to a luxurious private island off the coast of Mexico, with six strangers—an ex-cop, a chef, a financial advisor, a nurse, a lawyer, a young widow. Surrounded by miles of open water in the gloriously green Sea of Cortez, Miriam is shocked to discover that she and the rest of her companions have been brought to the remote island under false pretenses—and all seven strangers harbor a secret. Danger lurks in the lush forest and in the halls and bedrooms of the lonely mansion. Sporadic cell-phone coverage and miles of ocean keeps the group trapped in paradise. And strange accidents keep them suspicious of each other, as one by one . .
They all fall down.
They All Fall Down was a different take on And Then They Were None by Agatha Christie, which I still have yet to read despite having now read two new versions. I know, I know… I need to read it. I will, I promise!
Anytime a classic is touched, readers can get very up in arms about it. This was no exception. I enjoyed the book, but others did not.
The main character, Miriam, is a completely awful person and you feel absolutely no sympathy for her. I will say that it took a bit of time for me to get into the story and I wasn’t really fully in until someone died. At that point, I was pretty sucked in.
The writing wasn’t my favorite. It felt kind of choppy and I didn’t particularly like the weird clothing sells that Miriam made up in her head. It felt a little too odd for me. However, I kept reading. I wanted to know what happened and I kept flipping through the pages. That is what you hope for in a book.
I hated the characters. They were all awful people and you could understand why they were all there on this island. The story was a mix of And Then They Were None and the movie Seven, which is about the seven deadly sins. I found this combination very intriguing and I enjoyed guessing which person belonged to which sin.
I actually enjoyed the ending as well. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it worked for me. It felt fitting. My husband would disagree. While I enjoyed this book, my husband did not and according to reviews I’ve read he is not alone in his opinion.
This book isn’t for everyone. I wouldn’t say I loved it or that it was particularly good, but it kept me reading and that’s really all I can ask for.
Rating: 4/5 (Thinking back on my rating I would probably rate it a 3.5, but I’ll leave it as a 4 since that’s how I felt when I finished it.)
Did you read this book? What did you think?
“Relic” by Gretchen McNeil
For Annie Kramer, the summer before college is bittersweet—both a last hurrah of freedom and the last days she’ll spend with her boyfriend, Jack, before they head off to different colleges. So she and her friends plan one final adventure: a houseboating trip on Shasta Lake, complete with booze, romance, and an off-limits exploration of the notorious Bull Valley Mine. The legends of mysterious lights and missing persons on Shasta Lake have been a staple of sleepovers and campouts since Annie was a kid. Full of decrepit bridges that lead to nowhere, railroad tunnels that disappear into the mountains, and terrifying stories of unexplained deaths and bodies that were never recovered, Bull Valley Mine is notorious and frightening—perfect for an epic conclusion to their high school lives. The trip is fun and light—at first. But when a deranged stranger stumbles upon their campsite, spouting terrifying warnings and pleas for help, it’s clear that everyone is in danger. And when their exploration of the mine goes horribly wrong, Annie and her friends quickly discover that the menace of Bull Valley Mine doesn’t stay at Shasta Lake—it follows them home. As one by one her friends fall victim to this mysterious and violent force, Annie must do whatever it takes to discover the ancient secrets of the mine and save her friends . . . if she’s not already too late.
I am a fan of Gretchen McNeil and thought the plot to this book sounded interesting. I am a sucker for thriller/horror/suspense YA novels. This was no exception. I got sucked into the book pretty quickly on.
Annie, although a bit basic, was a likable character. The whole cast of characters were exactly what you’d expect from a teen scary movie – the good girl (Annie), the uptight girl, the loveable bad boy, the trouble makers, the bitch, and the siblings. And what happens in scary movies when this group boat to an island to party for the weekend and explore an off-limits mine? Nothing good of course.
This book is a decent suspense with a supernatural element mixed in, which made for an interesting read. Did I mention there is also cannibalism? You know, just to keep things fresh. The twist was predictable, but the read was enjoyable. This is absolutely the type of book I would have loved as a teen and definitely would have watched had it been a movie (heck, who am I kidding? I would still watch it now!). Although this wasn’t the best book I have read by Gretchen McNeil, it was still decent and I would still recommend it. If you like “scary” YA novels (note: it’s not actually scary) that will make you nostalgic for the teen horror movies you watched as a kid, then this one might be a fun read for you.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
“After Nightfall” by A.J. Banner
Beware of friends with secrets…
Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff. Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.
This was a decent mystery with twists and turns – some predictable, but others not. I made many predictions throughout the book, but I didn’t see the ending coming. I always appreciate a blindside.
Lauren and Marissa were childhood friends who had a falling out. After years apart, they begin to rebuild a relationship. But is it a friendship that is worth rebuilding? Marissa invites Lauren and Lauren’s husband, Jensen, to her engagement party, but things quickly go awry. Lauren flirts relentlessly with Marissa’s fiancé, Nathan, and Nathan’s daughter from a previous marriage, Anna, is visibly distraught when the engagement is announced. Soon the evening falls apart and ends in the death of Lauren, who falls to her death from the cliff by Nathan’s house. Was it suicide? Was it an accident? Was it murder? Thus begins the investigation into what happened after nightfall (see what I did there).
The story was engaging and kept me interested. I enjoyed the characters and the slow reveal of each characters’ secrets. It was well-paced and Banner did a nice job of building a simmering suspense. You felt like you couldn’t trust anyone in this book and the final reveal was a shock. I found it very enjoyable.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Leave a comment below.
“The Next Big Thing” by Johanna Edwards
Kat Larson figured she had nothing to lose by becoming a contestant on the new reality show From Fat to Fabulous-except maybe a few dozen pounds. Then she’d finally be able to arrange a face-to-face meeting with Nick, the British hunk she met online, who still thinks she’s a size four. She’d finally be confident and graceful and thin-and there’s that big cash prize, too, to pay for all those slinky new clothes she’d need. She’d finally have the perfect life.
I am always drawn to books that have a plus size character because I have struggled with my weight my entire life. When I read the description of this book I thought it sounded like a fun read so I decided to give a whirl.
Kat is a pretty surface level character. I wanted to like her more than I did. She is completely in love with her British, online boyfriend she’s never met in the several years they’ve been dating. Kat initially lied to him and claimed she was a size 4 when she was really a size 18, even going so far as to alter photos of herself to appear smaller than she is. This is beyond crazy. Nick is a complete asshole. He is shallow and goes on and on about how he could never date someone bigger than a size 4. I’m not sure what Kat sees in him to be honest. With Nick pressuring Kat to meet face-to-face or risk a breakup, Kat takes a drastic step and applies to be on a reality weight loss show. Lucky for her, she is cast and her weight loss journey begins.
Here’s the thing, this book is cheese… pure cheese. Yes, it might deal a tiny bit with weight issues, but mostly it’s about a very delusional girl trying to lose weight for someone she’s never even met. Kat is beyond delusional. She thinks she can just magically lose all this weight and Nick will never know the difference and life will be all rainbows and butterflies with him. At one point she even thinks Nick is going to propose to her – HE’S NEVER EVEN MET HER IN PERSON!!! But I digress…
The reality show bit is kind of fun. Some of the women on the show are awful and you feel a bit bad for Kat at certain points (no spoilers). The thing I really did like most was the storyline with Jagger, the host of the show. I thought he was interesting and I would have loved him to be in the book more. He was really what kept me reading.
This was a quick read and enjoyable enough to plug through it. I didn’t like how it ended, however. It felt very abrupt – like the author wasn’t sure how to end it so just kind of stopped. It was disappointing.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
“Lies That Bind Us” by Andrew Hart
Jan needs this. She’s flying to Crete to reunite with friends she met there five years ago and relive an idyllic vacation. Basking in the warmth of the sun, the azure sea, and the aura of antiquity, she can once again pretend—for a little while—that she belongs. Her ex-boyfriend Marcus will be among them, but even he doesn’t know the secrets she keeps hidden behind a veil of lies. None of them really know her, and that’s only part of the problem. Then again, how well does she know them? When Jan awakens in utter darkness, chained to a wall, a manacle around her wrist, her echoing screams only give her a sense of how small her cell is. As she desperately tries to reconstruct what happened and determine who is holding her prisoner, dread covers despair like a hand clamped over her mouth. Because, like the Minotaur in the labyrinth in Greek myth, her captor will be coming back for her, and all the lies will catch up to her…
This book was very hit and miss for me. I enjoyed some aspects of it and it was interesting enough to keep me reading, but some of it was kind of a turn off and a little over the top.
I was really drawn to this book because of the setting. I absolutely adore Greece and really enjoyed Crete when I traveled there. The perfect setting can really make a book. For this book, I would say the setting absolutely helped the story. They also mixed in some Greek mythology which added an element of creepiness.
Jan is completely unlikeable. I think she was meant to be that way, but she is an unreliable character. She is a pathological liar and you can never really be sure what she’s saying is true or false. All of the other characters were unfortunately unlikable as well.
The book switches back and forth between the reunion vacation they are all on and Jan being locked up in a small cell. This is the most interesting aspect. You want to know why she’s chained to the wall. What does she know that put her in danger? Who’s after her? Could one of her beautiful and glamorous “friends” be behind this?
Overall the story fell a bit flat for me. It was a fine read. It went quick enough and I was interested enough to keep reading, but it was really just ok. Nothing spectacular.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Leave a comment below.
“The Retreat” by Mark Edwards
Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive. Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events. When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?
This book was equal parts spooky and suspenseful. Set in the small town of Beddmarr, the novel explores the local folklore of The Red Widow. The Red Widow reminded me of childhood myths such a Bloody Mary or the Boogeyman. Don’t even get me started on how terrifying Bloody Mary was to a 1st grader. But I digress. The Red Widow is a witch that demands a child sacrifice every 35 years. If a child is not given to her then she will place a curse on the small Welsh town. Is it fact or fiction? Lucas does not believe in The Red Widow, but as he begins to investigate the disappearance of Lily he is no longer sure what to believe. He is unable to explain some of the eerie things that begin to happen. When the puzzle he is trying to solve is linked to a little girl who goes missing 35 years prior to Lily, he can no longer deny that there is some sort of Red Widow connection. Could the Red Widow be behind the disappearances?
Not a fan of the supernatural? No need to fear, there is always a reasonable explanation. I enjoyed how Edwards was able to blend supernatural elements, but make them explainable. I promise this doesn’t give anything away. It’s also a testament to what can happen when people believe strongly in something. Would people be willing to sacrifice a child to appease a witch and avoid a town curse? You’ll have to read it to find out.
The book was entertaining, engaging, and just the right amount of spooky. The characters were likable and decently developed. Julia and Lucas mesh well together as characters. The plot was well thought out and despite some aspects being a bit far-fetched, it was really fun.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Leave a comment below.
“Darkness and Grace” by Kathryn Schleich
Even the strongest of families aren’t immune to malice, betrayal, and deceit. Supportive, loving, and affluent, the Pierson family is delighted to celebrate the marriage of sensitive middle son Paul Pierson and his wife, Pamela. Everyone rejoices that Paul has finally recovered from the tragic loss of his beloved first wife and looks forward to Paul and Pamela’s new life together. But just as family members are celebrating his happiness, they start noticing that his beautiful bride may not be what she seems. As the strain between siblings and spouses worsens, the Piersons discover that neither their money nor their considerable influence can keep the family safe from one woman’s malicious intent. When the true nature of this family member is revealed, each of the Piersons is confronted with the quandary of human conduct and moral responsibility.
This book was originally published in 2007 under a pseudonym with the title Shades of Darkness, Shades of Grace and is a work of fiction inspired by true events.
I was really surprised at this book. It was not at all what I was expecting. It was a work of fiction that read more like a sort of memoir, which for me felt kind of confusing. This sort of writing style is not my jam. I know other people enjoy this style, but it’s just not for me. Because of that reason, this book fell flat for me.
Schleich is very descriptive, which has pluses and negatives. The plus was that you really got to know the characters in depth. The negative was that at times there were so many unnecessary details and descriptions that it bordered on boring. Again, just my opinion – I know there are others who really enjoy a very descriptive and side-detailed book.
The book is about a very tight-knit Midwestern family who find out that Pamela, a woman marrying into the Pierson family, has malicious intents hidden inside the façade she puts on. As the Piersons are pulled farther into Pamela’s web of deceit, a battle within the family begins. Siblings who have always been tight, start to fight with each other. Paul, Pamela’s husband, spins into darkness with his siblings as his only hope for digging him out. It really shows that no matter how close a family is, there are always going to be outside factors that can cause cracks in the group. The deeper Pamela digs her way in, the more the cracks widen.
This book is set in Minnesota, which was fun for me since I am a born and raised Minnesotan. It was fun to hear of places I knew/been to. For those that are not from here, these parts might be a bit too detailed. Schleich is trying to set the scene every time the characters go somewhere or do something, but the amount of detail she goes into seemed unnecessary to me. I found myself skimming a lot of those parts. I will say that the story at the core of this book is interesting. It did start out slow and I was not sure that it would be interesting, but the last 1/3 of the book hooked me. It gets pretty crazy! Also, it ends with a huge twist I absolutely did not see coming. I enjoy twists, and definitely give props for the creativity. Again, it still felt disjointed for me because it read as a memoir, but the ending read as fiction to me. It just didn’t flow quite right for me.
I tried to find information on the true story behind the book, but sadly I was not able to piece anything together. If anyone has any insight, hit me up! Haha. I love true crime, so I am super intrigued by what really happened.
Overall, the book was fine. It just wasn’t my style. I could absolutely see a different reader really enjoying it though.
A huge thank you to Book Publicity Services for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. You can check out more information about Kathryn Schleich and her other works by visiting her website at kathrynscleich.com.
Are you going to read this book? Let me know in the comments.