Book Review: Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

Think of all the darkest vengefests you’ve enjoyed in literature and film and you have the experience that is Foul is Fair, the latest novel by Hannah Capin.

MacBeth, Heathers, Mean Girls, Kill Bill, and AHS: Coven have all been used to describe elements and the tone of this new book, and they are all appropriately used.

Jade and her friends have fabled teen lives, they’re the “it” girls and the world is at their feet—until a group of boys from a wealthy prep school make the mistake of assaulting Jade. Now, Jade has sworn to get vengeance, and nobody will stand in her way.

Foul is Fair is a dark, unflinching journey into manipulation and vengeance. Capin’s writing is raw and intense, drawing you along and daring you to turn away while taunting you to turn another page. This is one of those books that is both horrifying and fantastic at the same time, and destined to create quite a buzz.

*I received a copy of Foul is Fair from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Book Review: Beneath the Ashes (The Calderwood Cases #2) by Dea Poirier

Fresh off the investigation into her sister’s death, detective Claire Calderwood is called to investigate a murder in a nearby community. A girl’s body has been found tied to the bed of a hotel room, covered in ashes. Without witnesses, and with few clues, Claire must figure out who killed this girl while dealing with her own memories and the realization that her boyfriend, Noah, has been keeping secrets about his own past.

And then another girl is found, and another. Now, faced with a serial killer, Claire has to find out how the three girls, text messages from a burner cell phone, and GPS coordinates tie them all together while under pressure from the local police and a very irate hospital CEO to find the killer.

In her follow up to Next Girl to Die, author Dea Poirier has expertly crafted another thrilling who-done-it. The story line is fast paced and with just as much intensity as book one. Claire is someone you can just identify with, she isn’t perfect, but she’s exactly the person her past has molded her into. While characters in some books seem to act just to advance the plot line, Claire is consistent and genuine. Poirier has also done an amazing job of bringing the details of Maine to life so that the setting acts as another character, helping to bring a stark, harsh richness to an already chilling story. The crime and resolution is just as satisfying as I’d hoped (no spoilers from me!).

Beneath the Ashes will be released November 19, 2019.

While you wait for it’s release, you can get your copy of Next Girl to Die (The Calderwood Cases #1) from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

You can also read my interview with author Dea Poirier here

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Book Review: Pretty Guilty Women by Gina Lamanna

At the rehearsal for a wedding at a fabulous Californian resort a man is dead and four different women insist that they alone are responsible.  

Each woman’s story is alternated with a police interrogation in which Detective Ramone tries to sort through the confusing and contradictory accounts that each woman claim’s is the truth.

I was hooked on Pretty Guilty Women from the opening chapter, it was suspenseful and creepy. That feeling lessened a bit as I waited for the story to progress, but the pacing was good, and it held my interest throughout. I wasn’t completely surprised at the revelation of “who dunnit”, but it didn’t lessen the enjoyment of the book for me.

*I received a copy of Pretty Guilty Women from NetGalley and Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review

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Book Review: Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

Kammani is a healer, a skill she learned from her father who was banished into a life of poverty after failing to save the son of a ruler. Now the ruler is dying and, according to tradition, the three most beautiful girls have been chosen for the ultimate honor of accompanying him in the tomb—and the afterlife. One of the girls is Kammani’s sister.

Now Kammani will be challenged at every turn as she desperately tries to challenge tradition and her own skills to save her sister.

Gravemaidens is a dark, intense, pulse-pounding story. The supporting characters are well-developed, the setting is vibrant and rich. There were a few plot developments that I found to be a bit convenient, but it didn’t really distract me from the pace and enjoyment of the story. I’m looking forward to the next book!

*I received a copy of Gravemaidens from NetGalley and Random House Children’s in exchange for an honest review

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Book Review: A Life Without Living (The Strega Series #1) by S.C. Alban

Kate is married to a man who is handsome and sexy, though he’s also a bit controlling. She also has very vivid dreams that she’s trying to get to—and help—the man she loves, but that man isn’t her husband, and her husband may not even be who she thinks he is.

Giovanni (Gio) has been cursed with immortality. He uses every day of his life to find and save a woman he’s watched die numerous times, the woman he loves. But now there’s a timeline, it’s his last chance to save her, if only he can find her in time.

As the two plot lines converge, Kate and Gio are drawn together by factors that have been in play for generations and may drive them apart forever.

A Life Without Living is definitely outside of my usual reading habits, but I found the writing engaging and the storyline interesting and intriguing. I can’t wait for book 2!

*I received a copy of A Life Without Living from NetGalley and Foster Embry Publishing in exchange for an honest review

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Book Review: The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets by Molly Fader

The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets is a novel about the beautiful, imperfect ties that bind families together.

Delia is struggling. She’s trying to maintain it all with a rebellious teenage daughter and a demanding infant. If that weren’t enough to deal with, she is feeling increasingly isolated from her husband, dealing with the stress of her family’s charter business, and her elderly mother is ailing and in need of more care.

Delia’s sister Lindy, on the other hand, left town seventeen years ago to live her life in the city and has never looked back…until now. When she gets a call about their mother, Lindy returns for her first look at the people her mother and sister have become.

The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets opens with a heavy sense of the isolation Delia has lived with. A traumatic event seventeen years ago—that drove Lindy away and strained the family relationships—is slowly revealed throughout the book. Molly Fader has done an amazing job with capturing the dynamics of siblings who love each other, but are still dealing with the hurt of the past.

This is a deep and heart wrenching book, but also a lovely tale of sisters and the strength and love that bind a family together.

*I received a copy of The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets from NetGalley and Graydon House in exchange for an honest review

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Book Review: Storm and Fury (The Harbinger #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Storm and Fury is a spinoff of the Lux series (Edited– this is a spinoff to Dark Elements). As a disclaimer, I have not (yet!) read the Lux series, so my review is based entirely on this book.

The world: It’s like ours, but gargoyles (you know, the stone statues!) came off their ledges several years ago and are now protecting humanity from demons (oh, yeah, they also walk the earth). The shape-shifting gargoyles—called Wardens—live in protected communities.

The characters: Trinity is half-human and half something-else who has grown up behind the protected walls of a Warden community. Though she’s slowly going blind, Trinity has the strength and fighting ability far beyond what most of the Wardens think her capable of—and that is part of Trinity’s secret. Misha is a Warden who is bonded to Trinity and serves as her protector. Peanut is a ghost that serves as a side-kick of sorts to Trinity (oh, yeah, she can see ghosts as well!). Zayne is a Warden from the DC area, who has arrived with news about an increasing danger to humans and Wardens.

The storyline: Trinity is an eighteen-year old living in a protected West Virginia community in which very few people actually know why they’re protecting her—or what she really is. She is fierce and a true badass, but she is also slowly going blind. Also, she’s a teenaged girl who dreams of leaving her protected life and experiencing the world. Two Wardens arrive from the DC area, one of which is Zayne, and Trinity eavesdrops on a conversation they have with the lead Warden in Trinity’s community. Something has been killing demons and Wardens. Trinity and Zayne have an immediate connection, as if pulled together by fate. After an attack, when a Warden is taken, Trinity joins Zayne when he returns to DC, where she actually meets demons, as well as witches, and develops a new, and surprising view of the world while trying to discover who—or what—is threatening the world. 

I found the opening of Storm and Fury to be a bit slow. The build up is slow, but once the action begins, it really does move along quite quickly and I was truly caught up in the action. Trinity is smart, sassy/snarky and a real badass. I wasn’t sure about Zayne at first, he seemed like he might be a creep trying to be charming, but I warmed to him pretty quickly. Storm and Fury ends with a hell of a cliffhanger, which leaves me anxious for book 2.

*I received a copy of Storm and Fury from NetGalley and Inkyard Press/Harlequin Teen in exchange for an honest review

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Book Review: The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

   My plan this morning was to skim the first chapter of The Scent Keeper, by Erica Bauermeister, just to get a feel for it. Five hours later, I’ve finished the book and I’m still spell-bound.

   Emmaline and her father live alone on island, surrounded by all the wonders of nature. In their cabin, her father stores small vials, the smells of a thousand memories bottled and sealed in an effort to preserve them forever. But as the scents begin to fade, and Emmaline’s curiosity pushes her farther from her father’s rules, everything she’s known is at risk.

   Through a series of tragic events Emmaline finds herself in the harsh, noisy “real world” where her understanding of smells is the only thing she has to help navigate the new town, school, and relationships she lacked on the island. And beyond it all is the lingering mystery of who Emmaline really is and where she came from.

   The Scent Keeper is a beautifully written, lyrical story that pulls at your heart and engages your senses. The emotions and descriptions are so vivid that you will feel the heartache and smell the scents. It’s a mesmerizing and enchanting journey of self-discovery and self-awareness. All I can say is, just wow. Great writing and a great book.

*I received a copy of The Scent Keeper from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.  

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Book Review: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

     One of the stories from history that has always intrigued me (and so many other people) is that of the Romanov family, particularly Anastasia. So much mystery still surrounds the last hours and minutes of her life, as well as her death. And so many theories have been entertained. In Romanov author Nadine Brandes offers her own creative imaginings about the life and death of young Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov. This novel is historical fiction, but with an imaginative bit of magic thrown into the mix.

   The strongest part of the novel, in my opinion, was the relationship between Nastya and her family. It was the one aspect in which I felt a strong emotional connection with the storyline. The family relationship felt loving, intense and authentic. Unfortunately, the rest of the novel felt emotionally distant to me, I didn’t feel a connection to the characters or action outside of that.

   There were some historical inaccuracies (perhaps creative stretching of facts to meet a storytelling goal?) and some things that were glossed over that could have used more attention and flushing out for a stronger storyline.  The inconsistencies in the novel as well as the historical inconsistencies were a bit distracting.

   Another thing that could have used more details was the world-building—especially the magic. It felt unformed and underwhelming.

   All-in-all Romanov was a decent read, an entertaining re-imaging of history, but it wasn’t as great as I’d hoped.

*I received a copy of Romanov from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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Book Review: Baby of the Family by Maura Roosevelt


Baby of the Family is a novel about the once influential Whitby family.

Roger Whitby, the four times married family patriarch, has died after squandering a majority of his wealth. He’s left what remains of his estate to his youngest (adopted) son, Nick, the son of his fourth wife. Nick is a young man who has been struggling to find a purpose in his life. As his father is dying, Nick becomes involved in an act of political activism, and then goes missing.

Brooke, Roger’s daughter from his second marriage, is dealing with her own issues. She’s pregnant by a man she doesn’t love, afraid to admit to the love she has for Allie, and her house—the one thing she has from her dad—has just become part of Nick’s inheritance. Brooke doesn’t even really know Nick and has no idea if she’ll be forced out of the house. She’s barely able to get by on her nursing job, and the thought of having to add rent or a mortgage to her financial plan—in addition to the cost of having a baby—has left her unsure of the right decisions.

Roger’s daughter Shelley is living with her mother in the New York apartment Roger walked out of years ago. Her mom has left after descending into a years-long cycle of depression. Desperate for income, Shelley takes a job with a very peculiar man, and ends up in a complex relationship with him.

Told from the point of view of these three Whitby children, each abandoned and let down by their father, it explores the complex relationships between children and their parents. It’s really about finding and being yourself, despite your familial relations.

It was hard to identify with the characters (for obvious reasons—the lack of my own family fortune), but they were interesting enough to keep me reading. Baby of the Family wasn’t a novel that drew me in and kept me on the edge of my seat, but I was passively interested enough to continue reading to find out what happens to each of the characters.

*I received an ARC of Baby of the Family from Netgalley and Dutton Books in exchange for an honest review

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