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Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) – Janet Evanovich

Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 12, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Cozy Mystery
Date Completed: November 18, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25)

Stephanie Plum's career has taken more wrong turns than a student driver on the Jersey Turnpike, and her love life is a hopeless tangle. In order to save someone dear to her, she'll have to straighten things out in Twisted Twenty-Six the latest, novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.

Grandma Mazur is a widow...again. This time her marriage lasted a whole 45 minutes. The unlucky groom was one Jimmy Rosolli, local gangster, lothario (senior division) and heart attack waiting to happen...well, the waiting's over.

It's a sad day, but if she can't have Jimmy at least Grandma can have all the attention she wants as the dutiful widow. But some kinds of attention are not welcomed, particularly when Jimmy's former "business partners" are convinced that his widow is keeping the keys to their financial success for herself.

As someone who has spent an entire career finding bad guys, a set of missing keys should be no challenge for Stephanie Plum. Problem is, the facts are as twisted as a boardwalk pretzel with mustard.

bookreview1

Wow, it’s kind of crazy that I’ve read twenty-six Stephanie Plum books! There have been the good, the bad, and the ugly, but I’m really happy that we’re finally circling back around to “the good” again. For a long while there, the books were just getting too silly and over-the-top and they became really not enjoyable. TWISTED TWENTY-SIX went back to some Stephanie Plum roots, focusing more on the family with grandma hijinks and good old-fashioned Jersey mobster threats. (What weird thing to say but if you know the series, it all makes sense.)

One thing I really enjoyed about TWISTED TWENTY-SIX is that we got back to a little character development, which was great! For comedic/cozy mysteries, that’s not always a focus, especially is comedy is more of the goal, but after spending 26 books with Stephanie, it was really nice to see her trying to decide what she wants to do with her life. We’ve watched as she met Ranger, starting seeing Joe, and started working for Vinnie with the bail bonds office, all of which were pretty much supposed to be temporary. I liked that Stephanie questioned what she really wanted to do as a career because it’s been mentioned throughout the series that she doesn’t want to do bail bonds enforcement forever but she never really seriously put that question out there.

I also liked the question of what she wanted out of a romantic aspect in her life as well. We finally address the Morelli/Ranger situation a little bit more, acknowledging that Stephanie doesn’t want to get married (which is cool) but that she does kind of want to settle down and be monogamous and have a nice, happy life. I thought it was great to see a little bit more of Stephanie’s inner monologue when it comes to being an adult and making the big decisions because that really helps push the character side of the books forward, which was been stagnant and kind of boring for so long.

Plot-wise, I think I could have used a little bit more suspense or mystery. These audiobooks go quickly so the story kind of sweeps by but I wanted to be just a bit more engaged and maybe have had the mystery go a little deeper. There were a couple nice reveals at the end which I enjoyed.

These books are easy and fun and I’m so happy they’re starting to get back to their roots. I know I’d keep reading them but this one made me more excited to keep on trucking with the series as it continues!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Character development. This book really got me back into the characters! I’m so glad that we got to see a bit more personality from Stephanie again in this book and it makes me want to keep up my interest in these characters’ journeys.
Left Me Wanting More: Mystery. I could have done with just a tad more mystery to really keep me interested and engaged in this one.

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you haven’t read the series and are looking for something fun and easy, they’re really light and fun! The middle of the series gets kind of wacky so bonus if you enjoy that kind of stuff and if you’re not into silly, then avoid it all together.

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BOOKS LIKE TWISTED TWENTY-SIX

             

The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) – Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) – Samantha ShannonTitle: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon
Publishing Info: August 20, 2013 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Purchased
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Date Completed: December 1, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant - and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine into the world of fiction. It also introduces Samantha Shannon, an extraordinary young writer with huge ambition and a teeming imagination, who has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

bookreview1

THE BONE SEASON is an incredibly interesting book and it’s also very complicated. I had first started to read this via audio a few years ago and the audiobook narrator was just sooooo boring that I ended up returning it and I never came back to continue on until now. I’m definitely glad that I read this one and Samantha Shannon sure packed in a whole lot of new and exciting information!

The world-building was incredibly interesting and EXTREMELY detailed. So much so that it was a little hard to sort everything out in my head, even with a full chart in the front of all of the abilities. There were just a lot of new names with seven different abilities PLUS the whole concept of being a voyant in the first place and what the aether meant, and then all of the subcategories on top of it, and THEN being in a future world set in London with a whole SECRET world and another race of beings AND monsters. Whew. It’s a lot. It was all so, so interesting but it was just a looooot of information so my biggest hang-up while reading the book was that I just couldn’t dang remember it all. I had to get a grip on all of these new things and top that off with the fact that I wasn’t expecting the book to take place where it did and take the direction it did, so it was just a lot for my brain to try to understand. Good, but complicated.

I… didn’t love the romance. I saw it coming, was hoping it wouldn’t be the case, and that was still the case anyway. I just don’t get the romance trope, which is apparently a thing, where the guy is an immortal who falls in love with a teenage or young girl. Ummm, why? I get that the girl is always the special thing but still. Someone who’s hundreds of years old being attracted to a young girl and vice versa… that’s not sexy. I actually DID like Warden and he has that mysterious appeal buuuuut. It’s not sexy to be a million years old (dramatic, but you know). =

This book didn’t leave me with a WOW feeling but I really do want to see where it’s going and what happens next. I was kind of hoping for more things to unfold in THE BONE SEASON, to be honest. There’s a lot of set-up and it’s enjoyable and I like Paige, but also I think more reveals could have happened here to pull the reader in more and get some more of that wow factor. I guess it probably also doesn’t help that I read this book coming off a Mistborn re-read where things are just so well-structured and I love how those reveals are timed.

I definitely want to continue on in this series and I do have a pull to it. I wish more had happened to connect me in a few more ways, but it was still an enjoyable read and I never felt bored or like there was a lull. Things were still always happening even if it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Separate fantasy worlds. This wasn’t quite a portal world but it was a similar-type feel! There was a significant separation between reality and fantasy (with a little bit of overlap) and it was interesting!
Left Me Wanting More: Separation. I wish the fantasy part had been saved for a second book, or on the contrary, I wish it had been introduced more gradually. It was just a bit too abrupt for me to go from mostly reality to full-on fantasy.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It’s a really fun concept and I actually liked the character chemistry and relationships! I would say after spending time away from the book, I’m still not sure I really feel drawn to read the sequel, though.

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BOOKS LIKE THE BONE SEASON

             

The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1) – Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1) – Lyssa Kay AdamsTitle: The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1) by Lyssa Kay Adams
Publishing Info: November 5, 2019 by Penguin, Berkley
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Date Completed: November 22, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

The first rule of book club:
You don't talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott's marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville's top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it'll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

bookreview1

I thought this was going to be a super cute and funny read and heard so many people raving about it but I had some significant problems with this book.

I had a little trouble with the overall tone of the book, going from rom-com to a more serious feel. I get that rom-coms can’t be all funny, all the time, but there were points of hilarity with the men reading and getting council from romance novels, including their banter about all of that stuff, to super serious things like divorce. Just the tone of the conversations and relationships seemed to ebb a little too far one way and then the other for me, mostly because I was hoping for more rom-com since that’s what I tend to gravitate to when I’m reading adult contemporary. That’s a total personal opinion and not really where my issues lie.

I had a huuuuge problem with Gavin and Thea’s relationship and to be honest, I really didn’t like Thea. Their marriage begins to visibly fall apart when Gavin finds out that he hasn’t been satisfying Thea in bed, basically since the start of their marriage, and I’m sorry, they’ve been married for three years and she’s been FAKING IT for THREE YEARS? Oh hell no. Sorry, girl. That’s totally your problem and your fault. Speak up! That’s what a relationship is. You tell your partner what you want or what to do and then surprise surprise, things can actually get fixed. That problem was as simple as communicating with Gavin and she didn’t do that for three years. The book kind of made it seem like a lot of these issues were Gavin’s fault and I totally agree, he had work to do to open up lines of communication too, but for that to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and the main point of the book, I just hated it. Does this happen in real life? I’m sure it does. But it reeeeally bothered me that this was something that she could have spoken up about years ago and it wouldn’t have been an issue, so I don’t know how that fact is put on Gavin.

I also really didn’t like Liv and how protective she was of Thea. I can’t remember if she knew the whole story (I don’t think she did) but Thea is an adult and Liv should be there to support her, not to constantly throw insults and jabs at Gavin, whether he deserved them or not. It’s hard enough to go through relationship problems or a divorce, but Thea needs to figure things out on her own. Sisters should be able to talk it out and Liv can offer advice or her opinions but she was just so mean. It was super immature and I think she needed more insight or perspective on the situation. I really would have liked to see Thea tell her to cool it on the bashing but she only cared about it when it was in front of the kids.

I also really hated how much Thea changed to become a baseball wife. There was a mention of her wearing old band t-shirts and Chucks and then she changed to become all pastel and soft for the baseball wife image. Ummm dude, isn’t this 2019? I don’t think you have to conform to a stereotype to be a baseball wife. I think people prefer to see people being themselves versus a stereotype nowadays and *gasp* band t-shirts and shoes that are so common that many 30-year-olds still wear!?! How WILD. I’m sure tooooons of sig others of athletes rock the alt-life or just dress however they feel. Just because you’re not pink and pastel doesn’t mean you can’t be put-together for public appearances, and that’s what drove me nuts.

Okay, now the nice stuff. I thought the concept of the Bromance Book Club was super cute and funny. They made some nice jokes about guys reading romance and I loved how some of the guys actually ended up liking the books and appreciating the stories. I also really liked how Gavin’s stutter was brought into the story. It showed a lot of different aspects of what he deals with, from bullying when he was younger to bullying still when he’s an adult, how people treat him or think he was thinking slowly just because he couldn’t get the words out, how much people understood it and appreciated him for who he was. It was just really great to see that incorporated into the story and how much it shaped Gavin’s character and even his relationship with Thea.

Despite all of my gripes about why they were separating, I also liked the “getting back together” story. Sometimes relationships aren’t meant to be and divorce may be the best thing. I liked that this showed that there are also times when you can communicate and work on a relationship to see if you do love each other and want to save it. I liked seeing the reality of going to the uncomfortable places to see if a relationship is something worth repairing and a couple who really does love each other but didn’t know how to grow together as the relationship grew.

I didn’t realize this was a series, so finding out now, will I continue? Probably. I’m interested to see what the author does with the next book (I’m assuming maybe Mack? Another character’s relationship?) and I’d like to see if I get along with a different relationship a little better.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Romances with established couples. Usually I go for the falling-in-love books. Give me a good rom-com, meet cute, all that good stuff! I don’t love reading about relationships falling apart but it was a nice structure for this second-chance romance!
Left Me Wanting More: Communication. The lack of communication drove me nuts. This couple would have been a lot better off if either of them shared even a little bit.

Addiction Rating
Try it

Lots of my friends straight-up five-star loved this book. It didn’t quite work for me in some aspects but I also did enjoy it and I look forward to reading the next one!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB

             

No Judgments (Little Bridge Island #1) – Meg Cabot

No Judgments (Little Bridge Island #1) – Meg CabotTitle: No Judgments (Little Bridge Island #1) by Meg Cabot
Publishing Info: September 24, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Date Completed: September 17, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Size 12 and Ready to Rock (Heather Wells #4), The Bride Wore Size 12 (Heather Wells #5), The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries #1)

The storm of the century is about to hit Little Bridge Island, Florida—and it’s sending waves crashing through Sabrina “Bree” Beckham’s love life…

When a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island—as well as its connection to the mainland—twenty-five-year-old Bree Beckham isn’t worried . . . at first. She’s already escaped one storm—her emotionally abusive ex—so a hurricane seems like it will be a piece of cake.

But animal-loving Bree does become alarmed when she realizes how many islanders have been cut off from their beloved pets. Now it’s up to her to save as many of Little Bridge’s cats and dogs as she can . . . but to do so, she’s going to need help—help she has no choice but to accept from her boss’s sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, the Mermaid Café’s most notorious heartbreaker.

But when Bree starts falling for Drew, just as Little Bridge’s power is restored and her penitent ex shows up, she has to ask herself if her island fling was only a result of the stormy weather, or if it could last during clear skies too.

bookreview1

Meg Cabot was one of the authors that got me back into reading all those years ago and so her books always hold a special place in my heart! It’s been a long time since I’ve read a new one and I was so excited to read NO JUDGMENTS!

It was so much fun to be back in the world of Meg Cabot’s writing again! She always has such a fun feel with the perfect mix of sass and goofy and NO JUDGMENTS was no exception! It was such an easy read with some great things to ground it as well and I especially enjoyed the setting of the little island in the Florida Keys too. I haven’t been to the Keys but I could just so clearly picture it and I loved the little island feel, including all of its residents!

I did enjoy the romance aspect of it and I thought Sabrina and Drew had some great chemistry! I think there could have been a little bit more somewhere because while I fully enjoyed it, I didn’t quite love it. I think Bree was just a little too stubborn at times, which can bother me, and there were moments where I felt the hate-to-love was a little too drawn out and I was ready to get to the romance part.

I have to admit, I was expecting just a bit more from this book. Maybe I built it up too much in my head because I love Meg Cabot so much and her contemporary novels always sit well with me but I felt like it took a long time to get to a few different plot points. I think it was about halfway through when we finally go to why it’s called “NO JUDGMENTS” and I wished it had been introduced sooner. Ultimately what didn’t do it for me were the characters. I kind of felt like the island had more personality than the characters did and I wanted so much more backstory from them. They had good histories and I would have loved to see more of that in their every day encounters. Drew did have some good family moments but those were kind of more about than family than they were about him and I found some of the island residents more interesting than our main characters at times.

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Kept Me Hooked On: A nostalgic author for me. I love being able to keep reading an author who got me back into reading, and that will always be special for me!
Left Me Wanting More: Character development. I just needed more from the main characters. They were just a little flat and having some more well-rounded characters could have made the book that much better for me

Addiction Rating
Try it

Even though it wasn’t my favorite book of Meg Cabot’s, I still found to it to be a fun, easy romantic read. If you like her adult contemporary books, I’d still recommend it and say it’s worth the read!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE TENTH GIRL

             

The Swallows – Lisa Lutz

The Swallows – Lisa LutzTitle: The Swallows by Lisa Lutz
Publishing Info: August 13, 2013 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: August 16, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Passenger

A new teacher at a New England prep school ignites a gender war--with deadly consequences--in a provocative novel from the bestselling author of The Passenger and the Spellman Files series.

What do you love? What do you hate? What do you want?

It starts with this simple writing prompt from Alex Witt, Stonebridge Academy's new creative writing teacher. When the students' answers raise disturbing questions of their own, Ms. Witt knows there's more going on the school than the faculty wants to see. She soon learns about The Ten--the students at the top of the school's social hierarchy--as well as their connection to something called The Darkroom.

Ms. Witt can't remain a passive observer. She finds the few girls who've started to question the school's "boys will be boys" attitude and incites a resistance that quickly becomes a movement. But just as it gains momentum, she also attracts the attention of an unknown enemy who knows a little too much about her--including what brought her to Stonebridge in the first place.

Meanwhile, Gemma, a defiant senior, has been plotting her attack for years, waiting for the right moment. Shy loner Norman hates his role in the Darkroom, but can't find the courage to fight back until he makes an unlikely alliance. And then there's Finn Ford, an English teacher with a shady reputation who keeps one eye on his literary ambitions and one on Ms. Witt.

As the school's secrets begin to trickle out, a boys-versus-girls skirmish turns into an all-out war, with deeply personal--and potentially fatal--consequences for everyone involved. Lisa Lutz's blistering, timely tale shows us what can happen when silence wins out over decency for too long--and why the scariest threat of all might be the idea that sooner or later, girls will be girls.

bookreview1

I first found Lisa Lutz with her Spellman Files series and absolutely loved the tone, funny family, and easy mysteries. I know she’s written a few different works and not all of them share the same tone, but I think I excepted something much different from THE SWALLOWS. That being said, that’s not the cause for my rating because I’m happy to read different styles from the same authors, but I just didn’t like the way this book was put together and I don’t think that the structure did the topic as much justice as it could have.

The book is presented as a mystery/thriller, but it doesn’t really get too thrilling until the very end of the book (like the last couple chapters) so those few chapters are the reason I’m throwing a half star in there instead of just rating it two stars. The book deals largely with a secret contest and website held by the boys at the school, rating the girls on their sexual performance and having them unwittingly play a part in this school-wide “contest”. It is off-putting and gross, and yes it’s supposed to be, but I hated how the first half of this book just basically kept going over the details and adding more to the concept, leaving the justice and revenge until the end of the book. I sat their feeling incredibly disgusted and bad for all of these girls while they uncovered the secret of the contest and how terrible all of these boys were. It seemed like overkill to keep developing the concept of the contest and describing the message board when we could have spent more time developing the female characters and getting them ready for their moment of empowerment, and it really felt like a lot of time wasted by giving this contest way more attention than it deserved. It wasn’t just a big reveal or anything, the reader knows about it almost the whole time, so I wanted to see more empowerment on the female side much earlier.

There were also a lot of erroneous things in the book that didn’t really make much of a difference. The weird cottage Alex Witt stayed in didn’t really play a big role. There wasn’t really a reason why this was set in 2009 other than to look back on the occasion but there was no flash forward to 2019 or anything, so that was kind of pointless as well. Alex’s romantic involvements with various characters were irrelevant. A side character’s relationship with her mother I guess tied in at the very end and was supposed to “explain” some of her actions, but I think it was entirely unnecessary and threw in random bits of “mystery” to keep the readers wondering. Lisa Lutz is primarily a mystery/thriller writer in various tones and forms, but the beginning wasn’t much of a mystery or a thriller and read more like general fiction. The tone very much switched in the action towards the end to a chilling thriller-type feel with escalating events and some remorseless acts so it was just kind of a jumble of too many things overall.

I mostly just didn’t enjoy reading this book while I was reading it. It came together at the very end but I wished the rest of the book was like the ending. It really didn’t feel cohesive in so many ways and I just really disliked the structure.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Empowerment. I liked seeing the female characters take matters into their own hands and fighting back against the injustices throughout the book.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot movement. For a book that’s supposed to be empowering, I felt like way too much time was spent dwelling on the oppressive and bad parts, giving them too much power and attention. I wanted to see the plot move forward much sooner to get us into the more empowering moments and actually seeing these girls and women making their stand.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

I’m sure some people will enjoy it but I just was far too annoyed, frustrated, and even disgusted to think about recommending it. This one was not for me and I don’t think I’d recommend it to my friends.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE SWALLOWS

             

Mini-Review: Providence – Caroline Kepnes

Mini-Review: Providence – Caroline KepnesTitle: Providence by Caroline Kepnes
Publishing Info: June 19, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: October 10, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: You (You #1), Hidden Bodies (You #2)

A propulsive new thriller about the obsessive nature of love when an intensifying relationship between best friends is disrupted by a kidnapping.

Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other, though they can never find the words to tell one another the depth of their feelings. When Jon is finally ready to confess his feelings, he's suddenly kidnapped by his substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity.

Mourning the disappearance of Jon and facing the reality he may never return, Chloe tries to navigate the rites of entering young adulthood and "fit in" with the popular crowd, but thoughts of Jon are never far away.

When Jon finally escapes, he discovers he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to protect Chloe and find the answers to his new identity—but he's soon being tracked by a detective who is fascinated by a series of vigilante killings that appear connected.

Whisking us on a journey through New England and crashing these characters' lives together in the most unexpected ways, Kepnes explores the complex relationship between love and identity, unrequited passion and obsession, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two.

bookreview1

I knew this was part sci-fi going into it but I still didn’t quite click with PROVIDENCE like I had hoped… and it wasn’t even because of the presence of that element itself. It was more how it was incorporated for sure. YOU was so creepy because the madness was 100% Joe and this was sort of something that was inflicted upon Jon so it took away some of the creep factor.

With all of Kepnes’ books, it didn’t quite feel cohesive but there was an addictive sort of quality and I wasn’t as into PROVIDENCE. I had a little pause in the middle where I didn’t feel the jump to get back in, but it was easy to continue with the audio and good audiobook narrators.

It was definitely an interesting story and Caroline Kepnes always does a great job at pushing that character emotion (or sometimes lack thereof) forward and there were some really nice suspenseful moments in PROVIDENCE that I appreciated. I’ll always be looking forward to more of her books but I think I like the more psychological aspect of YOU more than I did the sci-fi element of PROVIDENCE.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Caroline Kepnes. I’m definitely interested in picking up whatever Kepnes writes! It was exciting to read something outside of the “YOU world”.
Left Me Wanting More: Twists? Things were revealed but I also didn’t feel that shocked or surprised like I was hoping.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It’s a curious little story and it definitely has an addicting quality to it but I also didn’t totally love it.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE PROVIDENCE

             

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) – Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) – Deborah HarknessTitle: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness
Publishing Info: February 8, 2011 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Vampires
Date Completed: September 21, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

bookreview1

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES was not what I thought it would be. Diana, the main character, is a witch but she’s a badass historian and is determined to earn her achievements in life her own way and not just by using magic for everything. For that reason (and of course, other reasons that we learn later), she avoids using any magic whenever possible. Things get complicated (naturally) in part because the urban fantasy world of A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES also includes vampires and demons and the three different supernatural species don’t really play nicely together. Diana meets vampire Matthew Clairmont on the day that all hell starts breaking loose (of course, the two are connected in many ways) and there we have our love interest as well.

So why didn’t A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES work for me? I basically felt like I was reading the entire Twilight Saga wrapped up in one book and made for adults. Granted, I haven’t read a lot of vampire books so any parallel reminds me of Twilight but there was sooooo much stuff and constant reminders that I just couldn’t shake it. I don’t know if this is one of those things where I don’t read a lot of vampire books and this is just common vampire lore but I first read about these plot lines in Twilight or what, but either way, I just felt like they really mirrored each other in a lot of ways. Just the fact that there was such a prominent vampire story line at all really bothered me. I was hoping this would be a lot witchier in terms of magic and plot, but bother were more focused on the vampire/non-vampire interactions and we spend way more time learning about vampire history and behavior than we do about the witch culture and coven history.

I also just felt like this book should have been WAY shorter. There were several long passages about things that could have been included in some world-building moments (like a scene about vampires going hunting where Diana is watching and Matthew isn’t even there) and many conclusions could have been brought about sooner. There were also a lot of secrets in this book (fair) but so many were brought up in a way where it was presented to Diana and people just flat out refused to tell her anything for no good reason. Matthew was way too overprotective for my tastes and it started to bother me. Diana was such a strong personality before she met Matthew, determined to earn everything herself and not skate by on magic, and then once Matthew is in the picture, there are a lot of inconsistencies where she wants him to do all the protecting for her and won’t try to start using her magic while still maintaining that she’s a strong personality who won’t take no for an answer. I had a hard time with the ways she fell apart and the instalove (and INSTA MARRIAGE ew) that just didn’t feel natural in this book. Things just really didn’t feel like they unfolded naturally and I was missing those good world-building chunks to explore this world and felt like there was far too much romance too quickly when we’ve two more books ahead of us.

I just really didn’t like the pacing at all and that beautiful mystery and tension from the first few chapters quickly dissipated, leaving a romance that I just wasn’t feeling in its intended intensity. I’m not sure if I’ll continue the series because of how it ended, adding in yet another supernatural concept when it could have been so beautifully focused on the witchcraft side of things. Pushing that to the side made it feel like it should have been Matthew’s story instead of Diana’s, and I get why it is Diana’s but I wanted to see much more of HER history start to unfold. It was there but there was just far too much vampire in this novel for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Witchy books. I love witchy novels and it was fun to see another witchy concept.
Left Me Wanting More: Consistency. I just hated how Diana didn’t feel like the same character that she was in the beginning. I hated that she became weak and needed saving once a man came into the picture.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

This one didn’t really work for me, but SO many people do love it. I would say maybe check with some other trusted reviewers, or just take the plunge and give it a try! I thought for sure this would be a hit and things just felt apart.

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BOOKS LIKE A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES

             

Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1) – Brian McClellan

Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1) – Brian McClellanTitle: Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan
Publishing Info: April 16, 2013 by Orbit, Hachette
Source: Used bookstore
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: August 20, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.

It's a bloody business overthrowing a king...
Field Marshal Tamas' coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas's supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved...
Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should...

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets?

bookreview1

I took my time listening to this book, in part because it was longer than the short YA books I’ve been reading and in part because it just didn’t quite grab me. With a blurb from Brandon Sanderson and an interesting magic system, I thought I’d be all about it but the characters were just missing something that didn’t quite bring the book alive for me.

It started off a little quickly, alternating between a few character POVs before really establishing the world and starting with an uprising. It was hard to tell who I was supposed to be rooting for (although with any good book, it’s not always so clear cut between hero and villain, as happened here) but it felt a but abrupt to start things off with so much action and some small info-dumps, a lot involving these characters. I had a hard time getting a hold of the three main male characters for a while because while listening, their names aren’t THAT similar but I guess it was enough that I had to really think about who was who.

I never really got into the story like I wanted to. The motives are political, which is usually what the conflict is in a fantasy story like this, but it just seemed a little cold and I never felt that passion that would really launch me into the book. I had my sympathies and there were a few characters who got some good quips but so many of these characters were just so stoic that it really didn’t have me in love with any of them.

I did want to finish, and I did so slowly, but I’m not sure if I’d pick up the second book in the series. It was left on a bit of a cliffhanger and while I am curious, I’m not sure if I’d get into the second book any more than I did this one. I think it would be easier to jump back in, now knowing the characters, the plot, and where things might be headed, but I’m not sure if I have the motivation for it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: New adult fantasy with different magic systems. I picked this book up to try some new adult fantasy novels and I thought this magic system was neat! I definitely wanted to learn more about it as I was reading and it was just interesting to see such a unique world.
Left Me Wanting More: Passion. I never quite got emotionally involved in this book. I felt like the characters were all a little too serious or their motives a little too cold. They did have plenty of passion for their causes but somehow I just never really connected to them like I wanted to. I think I just need more snark in my fantasy haha!

Addiction Rating
Consider it

While I don’t know if I’ll continue the series, it definitely was a unique concept with a fun magic system! I would definitely love to learn more but I don’t know if I feel that connection enough to continue one. If you’re looking for new fantasy series, it may be worth checking out!

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BOOKS LIKE PROMISE OF BLOOD

             

Mini-Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) – Seanan McGuire

Mini-Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) – Seanan McGuireTitle: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) by Seanan McGuire
Publishing Info: January 9, 2018 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Date Completed: July 17, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

If she can't find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests...

A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.

Warning: May contain nuts.

bookreview1

This was the book with the most action and forward motion, I think. The first book did have its own murder mystery but the characters actually went on a quest here and we got to see a few different worlds which was so exciting! Seeing the worlds is one of the things I enjoy the most because I just love exploring new worlds and all the world-building! I also really appreciate how Seanan McGuire already designed explanations to be in the book with the characters mapping each world as nonsense/logical and virtue/wicked to really give the whole concept a structure. I also loved that Tor created a full list and a graphic of all of the known portal worlds! That’s definitely the kind of thing that hooks me into a book, especially this one.

I had a lot of fun getting to know more of the characters here and pushing the plot forward even more! I felt like more characters came together, or maybe it just felt like it since it’s the third book and I’m getting to know how they’re all starting to intertwine. This was definitely the book that I appreciated most so far and I think knowing more characters and worlds allowed me to fall deeper into the these worlds, especially considering these stories are so short!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Portal worlds! We got to see a few different doors in this book and I loved it!!
Left Me Wanting More: Pages. I really do enjoy the length of these and how short they are but I was really enjoying this story!!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This has been a fun series so far and I enjoy this book a lot! I’m definitely looking forward to continuing on and getting to know more characters and their stories.

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BOOKS LIKE BENEATH THE SUGAR SKY

             

The Big Kahuna (Fox and O’Hare #6) – Janet Evanovich & Peter Evanovich

The Big Kahuna (Fox and O’Hare #6) – Janet Evanovich & Peter EvanovichTitle: The Big Kahuna (Fox & O'Hare #6) by Janet Evanovich, Peter Evanovich
Publishing Info: May 7, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: May 9, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25), Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26)

A stoner, an Instagram model, a Czech oligarch, and a missing unicorn. Nick Fox and Kate O'Hare have their work cut out for them in their weirdest, wildest adventure yet in this latest entry in the New York Times bestselling series by Janet and Peter Evanovich.

Straight arrow FBI Agent Kate O'Hare always plays by the rules. Charming Con Man Nicholas Fox makes them up as he goes along. She thinks he's nothing but a scoundrel. He thinks she just needs to lighten up. They're working together to tackle the out-of-bounds cases ordinary FBI agents can't touch. And, their relationship? Well, there hasn't been so much explosive chemistry since Nitro was introduced to Glycerin.
Next on the docket: The mysterious disappearance of the Silicon Valley billionaire, known as the Big Kahuna. Kate's been assigned to find him but no one seems particularly keen on helping. His twenty-six year old adult actress wife-turned Instagram model wife and his shady Czech business partner are more interested in gaining control of his company. For that they need a dead body not a living Kahuna.
The only lead they have is the Kahuna's drop-out son, who's living the dream in Hawaii - if your dream is starting your day with the perfect wave and ending it with a big bowl of weed. To get close to the Kahuna's son, Kate and Nick go undercover as a married couple in the big wave, bohemian, surfer community of Paia, Maui. Living a laid back, hippy-dippy lifestyle isn't exactly in Kate's wheelhouse, but the only thing more horrifying is setting up house with Nick Fox, even if he does look pretty gnarly on a longboard. If they don't catch a break soon, waves aren't the only thing she's going to be shredding (or bedding).

bookreview1

This was a really disappointing installment in this series. I felt like it totally reverted to Stephanie Plum-type humor and lost of of the clever heist elements. While I enjoy Stephanie Plum for what it is, I enjoyed the Fox & O’Hare books so much more.

This was the first book without Lee Goldberg (instead substituting Peter Evanovich) and while I haven’t read any Lee Goldberg books, it really did seem to affect the whole tone of this book. I don’t know if that’s the actual factor of the change but it really does seem like it. Everything turned so incredibly goofy with the new characters and adventure. It was not clever and it was not intriguing.

I also didn’t realize what else it was missing until I read other reviews but I realized that we were missing the fun crew that we’ve seen in the other books! Willie and Boyd were nowhere to be seen and the lack of crew really takes away from the concept of a heist/con book. Also, what in the heck happened to the cliffhanger at the end of book five!? At first I thought maybe I just missed something but that was confirmed by reading other reviews as well. It seemed to just move on and also somehow take a step back with Kate and Nick’s relationship. It was all just very messy.

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Kept Me Hooked On: This series, I guess. I loved the first five books. I’m hoping this was just a fluke and there will be something better on the horizon.
Left Me Wanting More: Heists! Crew! Everything! This was so disappointing. I still enjoyed the book enough but it just felt like a totally different author writing this book.

Addiction Rating
Read it, I guess

This was such a blah installment but if it leads us to the next book where it gets better, then it’s worth it.

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BOOKS LIKE THE BIG KAHUNA