Book Review: Bad Girl Reputation by Elle Kennedy

Bad Girl Reputation book in front of romance book shelf with a mug that says "Reading Is Sexy"

59808289Title: Bad Girl Reputation
Author: Elle Kennedy
Series: Avalon Bay #2
Genre: Romance
Date of Publication:  October 4, 2022
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin


Synopsis

When former bad girl Genevieve West returns home for her mother’s funeral, she’s prepared to keep her distance from her ex-boyfriend, Evan Hartley. Their history is rife with turbulence. And passion. A heck of a lot of passion… which she’s trying desperately to forget.

But it’s impossible not to run into Evan in the small coastal town where they once ran wild. And the moment she sees her gorgeous ex again, it’s clear to Gen that Evan is still as unruly, sexy, and irresistible as ever. This time around, however, she’s resolved to walk a new path. No more partying. No more foolish mistakes. Her plan is to temporarily remain in town to help her father run his business, but the second he finds somebody else, she’s out of there.

Evan has other ideas. He knows they can be good together, but he just has to convince Genevieve of that, even if it means turning over a new leaf himself. But can a bad reputation ever truly be shed? Do second chances really work? Genevieve and Evan are about to find out.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Bad Girl Reputation is the second in the Avalon Bay series, and we get to see Mac and Cooper from the first book, living out their happy ever after. That said, you really don’t have to have read the first book to understand this one. I love book series that nicely manage that balance of providing a treat for those who’ve read the previous books, but not giving the newcomers serious FOMO or confusion.

While I enjoyed this book, in the beginning it does feel a lot like I was dropped into the middle of a story. It didn’t feel like the beginning. Evan and Gen have been on again, off again since they were freshmen in high school. It’s clear to pretty much everyone that they’re endgame. But about a year ago, Gen left town without even saying goodbye. To say that Evan was devastated to be losing his best friend and girlfriend is an understatement. But now, a year later, Gen comes back for her mother’s funeral and to help her father out with his company. 

The reason she left is explained fairly early on. I won’t spoil it here, but essentially she’d hit (what she viewed as) rock bottom, and she needed to clean up her life. She thought that the only way she could do that was to leave her life and her “bad girl reputation” behind. She and Evan are bad influences on each other. But she’s missed him just as much as he missed her. 

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Book Review: Mistakes Were Made by Meryl Wilsner

Mistakes Were Made book on an iPad on a wooden background with white roses, an open book, and a purple notebook

59808269Title: Mistakes Were Made
Author: Meryl Wilsner
Genre: Romance, LGBTQ+
Date of Publication:  October 11, 2022
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin


Synopsis

From the critically acclaimed author of Something To Talk About comes a sharp and sexy rom-com about a college senior who accidentally hooks up with her best friend’s mom.

When Cassie Klein goes to an off-campus bar to escape her school’s Family Weekend, she isn’t looking for a hookup—it just happens. Buying a drink for a stranger turns into what should be an uncomplicated, amazing one-night stand. But then the next morning rolls around and her friend drags her along to meet her mom—the hot, older woman Cassie slept with.

Erin Bennett came to Family Weekend to get closer to her daughter, not have a one-night stand with a college senior. In her defense, she hadn’t known Cassie was a student when they’d met. To make things worse, Erin’s daughter brings Cassie to breakfast the next morning. And despite Erin’s better judgement—how could sleeping with your daughter’s friend be anything but bad?—she and Cassie get along in the day just as well as they did last night.

What should have been a one-time fling quickly proves impossible to ignore, and soon Cassie and Erin are sneaking around. Worst of all, they start to realize they have something real. But is being honest about the love between them worth the cost? 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

I usually don’t like the one night stand trope, but because I enjoyed the first book by this author, Something to Talk About, I figured I’d give this book a chance. I did think that Something to Talk About was a little too much of a slow burn, and I wished that the book had had at least another hundred pages after they got together. With Mistakes Were Made, however, the “action” starts almost immediately. This book was spicy hot jalapeños right from the get go. That said, something about this hit perfectly and I fell in love with the story and the characters. I ended up loving this book even more than the first (despite being a self-proclaimed slow-burn fan). 

Erin and Cassie are completely swoonworthy, and their taboo romance gave me all the feels. The book is quite angsty, as they’re both worried about what will happen if Erin’s daughter, Parker–who’s Cassie’s best friend–finds out that they’ve been hooking up. While this is an age-gap romance because Erin is almost forty, both characters are flawed and have some growing up to do. Erin is recently divorced, and she’s finding out that it’s okay to sometimes put herself first. Cassie came out of a three-year relationship where she was cheated on, and she has a hard time trusting others and admitting her feelings. 

Another thing I love about this book is that both the heroines are intelligent and ambitious. Erin is a doctor and she’s working on getting the funding for a free clinic. Cassie is graduating soon and applying for grad school–where she’s going into astronautics or aeronautics (she isn’t sure; she just knows that she wants to make things go fast). There are so many delightfully cute scenes and running inside jokes in this book, and I just ate them all up. 

I can’t wait to read the next book that Wilsner cooks up! This is a definite five-star read from me.

Mistakes Were Made book on an iPad

*Thank you to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for the ebook to review*

Five stars

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Lingering by Chris Coppel

Lingering book surrounded by a black skull, green candle, red roses, and a black crow figurine

lingering webTitle: Lingering
Author: Chris Coppel
Genre: Horror
Date of Publication: June 28, 2022
Publisher: Cranthorpe Millner Publishers


Synopsis

The woods looked dark and ominous. Between the trees, where the darkness was blacker than black, dozens of slanted yellow eyes flicked open and stared back towards the house. They weren’t the eyes of anything human…

When Paul and Christy purchase Croft House, they are both looking forward to a new start. Christy’s abusive father is dying and she is ready to put the past well and truly behind her. But the house has other ideas. They soon realise there is something in the house, something that’s trying to communicate with them.

In their fear, they ask a local psychic to remove this entity. And in so doing, release something far, far worse.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Lingering is a haunted house story that’s perfect for spooky season! It tells the story of a couple, Christy and Paul, who buy a new house for a steal (which is always a red flag in these types of books!). Just before they’re to move in, Christy’s estranged father suffers from a stroke. She has to stay with him at her childhood house and help him rehabilitate. This was one of my favourite parts of the book, because the horror was not at all supernatural, but so well executed. I absolutely love books that blend supernatural horror with real-life horrors, because there’s something to frighten everyone. In this book, not only is her father suffering the dire consequences of a stroke at that age, but we’re given flashbacks to when Christy was younger and he abused her. I absolutely loved her inner turmoil at being back at her home and facing an impossible temptation… for revenge. 

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Book Review: Dead Flip by Sarah Farizan

Dead flip book surrounded by 80s funko pops, 80s movies, and a blue lit candle

Dead Flip WebTitle: Dead Flip
Author: Sarah Farizan
Genre: Horror, Young Adult, LGBT
Date of Publication:  August 30, 2022
Publisher: Algonquin Young Reader 


Synopsis

Edge-of-your-seat YA horror perfect for fans of Stranger Things

Growing up, Cori, Maz, and Sam were inseparable best friends, sharing their love for Halloween, arcade games, and one another. Now it’s 1992, Sam has been missing for five years, and Cori and Maz aren’t speaking anymore. How could they be, when Cori is sure Sam is dead and Maz thinks he may have been kidnapped by a supernatural pinball machine?

These days, all Maz wants to do is party, buy CDs at Sam Goody, and run away from his past. Meanwhile, Cori is a homecoming queen, hiding her abiding love of horror movies and her queer self under the bubblegum veneer of a high school queen bee. But when Sam returns—still twelve years old while his best friends are now seventeen—Maz and Cori are thrown back together to solve the mystery of what really happened to Sam the night he went missing. Beneath the surface of that mystery lurk secrets the friends never told one another, then and now. And Sam’s is the darkest of all . . .

Award-winning author of If You Could Be Mine and Here to Stay Sara Farizan delivers edge-of-your-seat terror as well as her trademark referential humor, witty narration, and insightful characters.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Dead Flip is a nostalgic young adult horror novel that gives off Stranger Things meets The Goonies vibes. 

While the novel is targetted for young adults, the book is chock full of references to pop culture in the 80s and 90s, which an older audience can appreciate. 

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Book Review: The Flaws of Gravity by Stephanie Caye

The Flaws of Gravity book surrounded by a silver column, white roses, and a blue candle

Flaws of Gravity book coverTitle: The Flaws of Gravity
Author: Stephanie Caye
Genre:  Fantasy
Date of Publication:  March 31, 2022
Publisher: SC Smith


Synopsis

Faeries lie.

That’s what the Consilium told Jude when they recruited her into a supernatural cold war against the Court. It’s what her friend Aubrie said too, convincing her to search for illicit magic under their noses.

But he’s half-Faerie like her. And since honesty’s never exactly been Jude’s strong suit either, she probably should have listened. Might have saved her the pain of his betrayal, not to mention a trip to the ICU.

When a shady group of Faeries co-opts her to help them stop Aubrie from taking control of both the human and Faerie worlds, Jude’s tentatively game. Ruining the man who double-crossed her sounds good in theory. Problem is, joining up with these alleged otherworldly allies could condemn humanity to life under a curly-toed boot instead.

Everybody wants to rule the world. Jude just wants some premium tequila shots on a warm, sandy beach in the vicinity of “The Hell Away from This Mess.”

That’s a lie—she’d settle for the cheap stuff. 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

The Flaws of Gravity starts off with a punch (quite literally), and doesn’t let up on the action until the very last pages. If you’re a fan of action adventure in your urban fantasy novels, then this is the book for you! 

Caye has come up with a unique idea, and the execution is quite flawless. She’s created a unique interpretation of the world of Faeries, and the reader is parceled out information on a need to know basis. There’s no information dumping, and the background information is nicely paced out among the action. 

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Book Review: Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson

Book cover surrounded by a stack of books, a red candle, a red rose, and a black raven figurine

59722215._SX318_Title: Love in theTime of Serial Killers
Author: Alicia Thompson
Genre: Romance
Date of Publication: August 1, 2022
Publisher:  Jove Books


Synopsis

Turns out that reading nothing but true crime isn’t exactly conducive to modern dating—and one woman is going to have to learn how to give love a chance when she’s used to suspecting the worst.

PhD candidate Phoebe Walsh has always been obsessed with true crime. She’s even analyzing the genre in her dissertation—if she can manage to finish writing it. It’s hard to find the time while she spends the summer in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home, dealing with her obnoxiously good-natured younger brother, and grappling with the complicated feelings of mourning a father she hadn’t had a relationship with for years.

It doesn’t help that she’s low-key convinced that her new neighbor, Sam Dennings, is a serial killer (he may dress business casual by day, but at night he’s clearly up to something). It’s not long before Phoebe realizes that Sam might be something much scarier—a genuinely nice guy who can pierce her armor to reach her vulnerable heart. 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Love in the Time of Serial Killers is a slow-paced romance with a unique premise. Phoebe temporarily moves back home into her father’s house to clear it out and put it up for sale after his death. 

She’s a thirty-year-old PhD student who is doing her dissertation on true crime. To say that she’s obsessed with true crime and lets it bleed into her day-to-day life would be an understatement. The instant she moves back, she becomes convinced that her handsome neighbour, Sam, is hiding something nefarious. The truth is that he’s just a shy, elementary school music teacher who made the mistake of moving into the house next to her father’s. 

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Book Review: The Undead Truth of Us by Britney S. Lewis

56651317Title: The Undead Truth of Us
Author: Britney S. Lewis
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date of Publication:  August 9, 2022
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion


Synopsis

Death was everywhere. They all stared at me, bumping into one another and slowly coming forward.

Sixteen-year-old Zharie Young is absolutely certain her mother morphed into a zombie before her untimely death, but she can’t seem to figure out why. Why her mother died, why her aunt doesn’t want her around, why all her dreams seem suddenly, hopelessly out of reach. And why, ever since that day, she’s been seeing zombies everywhere.

Then Bo moves into her apartment building―tall, skateboard in hand, freckles like stars, and an undeniable charm. Z wants nothing to do with him, but when he transforms into a half zombie right before her eyes, something feels different. He contradicts everything she thought she knew about monsters, and she can’t help but wonder if getting to know him might unlock the answers to her mother’s death.

As Zharie sifts through what’s real and what’s magic, she discovers a new truth about the world: Love can literally change you―for good or for dead.

In this surrealist journey of grief, fear, and hope, Britney S. Lewis’s debut novel explores love, zombies, and everything in between in an intoxicating amalgam of the real and the fantastic. 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

The Undead Truth of Us is a literary young adult novel about a girl who sees people around her transforming into zombies. She witnessed her mother transform into a zombie shortly before she passed away, and now she sometimes sees rotting corpses on the streets. But she’s the only person who sees them as anything other than ordinary human beings.

The metaphor, unfortunately, is a tad too heavy handed. I’m a huge fan of literature and films that use paranormal elements to represent real-life struggles and themes, but usually they can be appreciated on multiple levels. The horror movie, Ginger Snaps, for example, can be enjoyed on the surface level of a pre-teen girl transforming into a werewolf, but it can also be appreciated as a feminist commentary on puberty and growing up. In this book, however, it’s clear right off the bat that people aren’t actually becoming “zombies”, which takes the pleasure out of searching for a hidden meaning in this type of narrative. The meaning and themes reach out of the book to slap you in the face. 

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Book Review: Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

Stay Awake book surrounded by black binoculars, a neon crescent moon, and a candle

58724748Title: Stay Awake 
Author: Megan Goldin
Genre: Thriller
Date of Publication: August 9, 2022
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Griffin


Synopsis

Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a taxi with no idea where she is or how she got there. When she’s dropped off at the door of her brownstone, a stranger answers―a stranger who now lives in her apartment and forces her out in the cold. She reaches for her phone to call for help, only to discover it’s missing, and in its place is a bloodstained knife. That’s when she sees that her hands are covered in black pen, scribbled messages like graffiti on her skin: STAY AWAKE.

Two years ago, Liv was living with her best friend, dating a new man, and thriving as a successful writer for a trendy magazine. Now, she’s lost and disoriented in a New York City that looks nothing like what she remembers. Catching a glimpse of the local news, she’s horrified to see reports of a crime scene where the victim’s blood has been used to scrawl a message across a window, the same message that’s inked on her hands. What did she do last night? And why does she remember nothing from the past two years? Liv finds herself on the run for a crime she doesn’t remember committing as she tries to piece together the fragments of her life. But there’s someone who does know exactly what she did, and they’ll do anything to make her forget―permanently.

In the vein of SJ Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Christopher Nolan’s cult classic Memento, Megan Goldin’s Stay Awake is an electrifying novel that plays with memory and murder. 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Megan Goldin does it again! Her third thriller is definitely her best, and it just might end up being my favourite thriller of the year! 

I started this book and could not put it down until I was finished. I wouldn’t have been able to let it go, even if you tried to wrench it from my cold, dead fingers. 

This book is such an original spin on the amnesia trope. Nothing that the heroine, Liv, sees or remembers can be trusted. She suffers from short-term memory loss. Every time she sleeps, her brain resets, and her most recent memory is something that happened over two years ago. And trust me, a lot can happen in two years.

The book has a unique narrative style. We have a present day timeline told by Liv in first person, but we also have a timeline of the events that happened to her two years ago. The first flashback came upon me as a reader so suddenly, that I was almost confused, and it felt disjointed, but it kind of perfectly fits with how an amnesiac would be feeling. On top of all of this, we have the third person point of view of detectives investigating the present-day murder, hot on her trail. But did Liv kill that man? Who was he to her? If only she could remember…

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Book Review: I Will Kill You by Halo Scot

I WIll Kill YouTitle: I Will Kill You
Author: Halo Scot
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Horror
Date of Publication: August 8, 2022
Publisher:  Self-published


Synopsis

Corporate America: a psychopath’s wet dream. It’s Alex Osman’s playground.

Meet Alex. Alex is a single father. Alex is a psychopath. In public, he is a legend. In private, he is a madman. After losing his wife, he loses himself, drowning in crime to support his motherless kids. With the help of his imaginary friend, Bob (aka you, the reader), Alex rules Manhattan’s white-collar underworld, afraid to love again after crippling loss.

Then along comes Emma. Emma is a genius. Emma is dangerous. She sees something she shouldn’t, and Alex lets her live. Alex lets no one live. A game of cat and mouse escalates between them as threats and desire intertwine. After a safe life, Emma wants adventure, and Alex is a hurricane.

Then along comes a job. This job is a risk. This job is freedom. It pushes Alex to vicious extremes, but it could secure his kids’ futures. Everything he does, he does for them. Everyone he kills, he kills for them. Alex wants out, but he belongs in. Sin has teeth. Crime doesn’t commit itself, and freedom demands sacrifice.

Bob, you can’t trust Alex. He lies to everyone, including himself. His story is not what it seems.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

I Will Kill You is a dark psychological thriller that verges on horror on more than one occasion. Laced with a dark sense of humour, this is the story of a psychopath working in corporate America. The plot seems straightforward at first, but it quickly veers into unique and disturbing directions.

The book is told primarily from the first-person point of view of Alessandro “Alex” Osman, a psychopath. One of the strengths of the story is his narration. The writing style  reminds me of the TV show Dexter, as Alex is addressing the audience directly with wry commentary about the human condition. The book is a little slow to start, as the narration takes up a good chunk of the first few chapters, but the pacing later picks up speed, taking us through a story that rapidly devolves into unsettling content. There are a few other POV scenes provided throughout the book, but they weren’t quite as riveting as Alex’s, and they were mostly interesting, except for a few that were fortunately not particularly lengthy and provided additional information to support the twists as they were revealed later on.

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Book Review: Wild is the Witch by Rachel Griffin

Wild is the Witch book surrounded by a brown feature, pine cones, beige flowers, and vials of rock salt

58920677Title: Wild is the Witch
Author: Rachel Griffin
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Date of Publication:  August 2, 2022
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire


Synopsis

When eighteen-year-old witch Iris Gray accidentally enacts a curse that could have dire consequences, she must team up with a boy who hates witches to make sure her magic isn’t unleashed on the world.

Iris Gray knows witches aren’t welcome in most towns. When she was forced to leave her last home, she left behind a father who was no longer willing to start over. And while the Witches’ Council was lenient in their punishment, Iris knows they’re keeping tabs on her. Now settled in Washington, Iris never lets anyone see who she really is; instead, she vents her frustrations by writing curses she never intends to cast. Otherwise, she spends her days at the wildlife refuge which would be the perfect job if not for Pike Alder, the witch-hating aspiring ornithologist who interns with them.

Iris concocts the perfect curse for Pike: one that will turn him into a witch. But just as she’s about to dispel it, a bird swoops down and steals the curse before flying away. If the bird dies, the curse will be unleashed―and the bird is a powerful amplifier, and unleashing the curse would turn not just Pike, but everyone in the region, into a witch.

New witches have no idea how to control their magic and the consequences would be dire. And the Witches’ Council does not look kindly on multiple offenses; if they found out, Iris could be stripped of her magic for good. Iris begs Pike to help her track the bird, and they set out on a trek through the Pacific Northwest looking for a single bird that could destroy everything. 

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Wild is the Witch is a hauntingly beautiful standalone novel by Rachel Griffin, author of The Nature of Witches

Griffin is a fabulous storyteller. Every word that she writes seems to leap off the page and form electrifying imagery and realistically flawed characters. The way that she weaves magic and worldbuilding into the narrative is phenomenal, and I never felt like I was being lectured to, which is a difficult feat for many fantasy writers. The way that magic works in this world is quite unique and fascinating, but never overly complex. I genuinely hope that Griffin writes another book set in this dynamic fantasy world! 

This book is an enemies-to-lovers fantasy. While it’s not solely a romance, the romance plays a huge part in the plot and the narrative. Pike is an intern at Iris’s mother’s refuge, and he’s constantly annoying Iris. He’s arrogant, a little lazy, and worst of all–he has it out for witches. So, as a form of therapy, Iris curses him, but the curse doesn’t get destroyed like she’d planned–it’s transferred into an owl. Now, she must catch that owl and remove the curse before it’s released. She ventures on a hike with Pike in order to catch the owl and remove the curse, all while ensuring that he never finds out that she’s a witch–or that she cursed him. 

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