BOOK REVIEW: The Swap by Robyn Harding

Today’s post is going to take a look at Robyn Harding’s The Swap. This book was released June 23, 2020 so it’s out there for those of you interested in thrillers to pick up! I received an eARC of The Swap from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Swap takes place on an isolated island in the Pacific Northwest and focuses on a few quite toxic relationships between main character, and sullen teenager, Swallow (Low for short) Morrison, the pottery teacher she idolizes, Freya Light, and her boss, Jamie. The book also follows, to a somewhat lesser extent, Freya and Jamie’s husbands.

Low is the daughter of a polyamorous couple. While this makes her a bit of an outsider, the lifestyle is accepted on the island. As well as regular partner swapping among couples on the island. One day at school, Low sees this beautiful woman pinning an advertisement to the bulletin board–an ad offering pottery classes at Freya’s home.

Freya had been an Instagram influencer, until her professional hockey player husband accidentally paralyzed another player on the ice. They moved to the island for a bit more privacy to get away from the limelight. In her loneliness, Freya becomes quick friends with Low, and shares some of her secrets with her. Low sees herself as the center of Freya’s world–until Jamie enters the picture.

Jamie and her husband desperately want to have a baby, but cannot conceive. They moved to the island in hopes of getting over losing out on an adoption. Being of a similar age, Freya and Jamie become the closest of friends going to lunches, getting drinks, and Low is left out.

After a couples’ night drinking some special mushroom tea, Freya and Jamie swap husbands for the evening, without the other knowing. But what happens when Freya becomes pregnant? She hates children, doesn’t read parenting books, and in general doesn’t prepare for the coming child. Both Freya and Low are concerned, though for their own selfish reasons, for the safety of the baby, and everyone manipulates each other to reach their own desires.

The Swap was an interesting book to pick up. It went places I never thought it would go. I thought I had it figured out several times but I didn’t! I’d recommend this to anyone that likes a story with twists and turns.

Happy reading πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: Cabin 1 by Amanda McKinney.

This post is going to take a look at Cabin 1 written by Amanda McKinney. It is the first book in a 3 book spin-off series (Steele Shadows Security) to McKinney’s Berry Springs series. It was originally published in September 2019, and the Kindle edition came out December 2019. I received an eARC copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cabin 1 introduces the reader to Niki Avery, a local, young prosecutor who is attacked while driving home from a yoga retreat. Two men run her Jeep off the road and attempt to sexually assault her, but in self-defense Niki is able to fight back, and kills one of her attackers. While the other one runs to his truck to grab a gun to kill Niki, she is able to escape and a chase through the dense woods of Berry Springs.

Niki runs and runs until she can’t anymore, but what she doesn’t realize, is that she’s run onto the Steele family’s property. The family of 4 former marine brothers head out onto the mountain in search of whatever, or whoever set off the security alarm.

Gage Steele finds her. Although at the beginning of the night he had only wanted to drink whiskey all night, and find a woman to take his mind off the fact that it is the one year anniversary of his father’s death, he also wants to treat this woman right. He helps her get cleaned up, and becomes overwhelmingly protective of her.

Niki is assigned to Cabin 1, and Gage is assigned to be her security detail until they can end the threat to her life. Through their time together they become increasingly attracted to each other, and they build an intense relationship with lots of steamy scenes.

I really enjoyed this action packed romance novel and I will definitely be taking up the rest of this spin-off series, as well as keeping an eye out for the Berry Springs series by McKinney. I hope you’ll pick up a copy yourself!

Happy reading πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: The Brideship Wife by Leslie Howard.

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Today we will be jumping back in time looking at The Brideship Wife written by Leslie Howard. I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was released today May 5, 2020–so all of you can go find a copy for yourselves now!

When this book popped up in NetGalley to request I was very excited because so much of the historical fiction genre focuses on the World War II era, so I have been trying to request some books outside of that era.

Charlotte is our main character, and we meet her in 1862, while her elder sister Harriet is trying her hardest to find a good match for Charlotte. But those efforts go awry, and finally Charlotte’s last option is to sail from England, all the way to the British Columbia colony on one of the brideships. Historically these ships brought unmarried, poor, disadvantaged women to the colony in hopes for a better life of more marriage and work opportunities.

This book does a good job of demonstrating what social etiquette was like during this time period, while also allowing our heroine to defy those norms. It was refreshing seeing a well-born young woman who understands working hard. Harriet is banished to British Columbia with her sister, as punishment from her husband. For most of the trip she was still concerned with Charlotte marrying well, not really making a plan for creating a living. It seemed much more realistic, or at the very least more relatable, to show Charlotte finding a position and fumbling her way through making money to support herself.

I also thought it was very interesting to see the effects of laudanum addiction amongst the rich. I have read other books in the past that briefly mentioned rich women taking laudanum for their nerves, but they didn’t really convey an understanding of addiction like Howard illustrates in The Brideship Wife. In general, I loved that the characters weren’t just handed a happily-ever-after.

All-in-all I really enjoyed reading this book, and I’ll definitely be checking out others written by Howard.

Happy reading πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier.

Today I’ll be taking a look at Little Secrets written by Jennifer Hillier. I received an eARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was released on April 21st–and is an excellent option for readers out there looking for lots of twists and turns.

This book focuses on Marin Machado, a celebrity hairstylist, who just a little over a year ago, had it all. But just before Christmas time her eight year old son was kidnapped. Now 16 months later, she’s still avoiding the grieving process, and not moving on. Her husband Derek, a wealthy CEO, has moved on to an affair with 24 year old McKenzie (Kenzie) Li.

Marin is still moving through the world in a deep depression. She’s already attempted suicide, and is clear in her stance that if she ever learns her son Sebastian has been dead this whole time, she will successfully end her life.

Her best friend Sal, who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend with a lot of issues, checks in on her daily to make sure she is still alive.

The private investigator that Marin hired to search for her son after the FBI gave up turns up information on Derek’s affair with Kenzie and turns it over to Marin. And for once, instead of feeling empty, Marin is enraged. Sal tells her that he knows someone who can fix her problem, but can she go through with murder?

The majority of this book alternates between Marin and Kenzie’s points of view, and the further you get into the book the more twists and turns there are.

But will anyone leave this book with a happy ending? I think you should take the time to find out.

Happy reading πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey.

Let’s take a look at Feels Like Falling written by Kristy Woodson Harvey. I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Its release date is April 28, 2020, and I encourage all of you looking for a beachy escape with a strong female lead, pick up a copy.

Now, don’t get me wrong–when we first encounter our main characters Gray Howard and Diana Harrington, their lives are in various stats of disarray. Gray is about to turn 35, is a mother to an 8 year old, going through divorce, recently lost her mother to cancer, and has a sister who is married to an extremist “preacher.” Diana is a 40 year old living in her car, lost her photo lab job “because of” Gray, and still hasn’t gotten over the one who got away 22 years earlier.

That’s a lot of baggage to fix in one book! But Feels Like Falling does it well. I thought that the story was well paced, mixing worries and self reflection, with fun, light romance. I loved how the two main characters become indispensable in the lives of each other–they become the family they need.

I enjoyed every bit the author gave. I became conflicted in the character’s pain, I enjoyed the sarcasm and sass in their personalities, and was happy with the ending. If you’re looking for a book that will give you all the feels–this is a great choice!

Happy reading πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: A Spy With Scruples by Gary Dickson

This post is going to take a look at A Spy with Scruples written by Gary Dickson. It is the sequel to An Improbable Pairing, and was released in March 2020. I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book picks up right where the last one left off. While the happy couple, Scott Stoddard, and the former Countess de Rovere are honeymooning, Scott receives word to report for testing that may revise his draft status for the Vietnam War. Apparently he did too well on the test and now the CIA wants him to work for them, and he has no choice. Work for them, or get drafted.

A Spy with Scruples focuses much more on what is going on with Scott, than DesirΓ©e. In the last book, I was impressed that a male author, writing about a romantic relationship would write about such a strong willed woman during the early 1960s, when she was brought up with a certain decorum of how she should act. This book back tracks all of that. She’s now the typical pregnant wife that takes the back seat. We see Scott starting to make decisions to get them back to their carefree lifestyle.

Readers watch as he manipulates the press in multiple countries, and even the CIA, in hopes of getting out of service, without ending up drafted or dead. The book was a decent read, but I was quite disappointed in the drastic change between the style of the first book and the second. I’d be interested to see how this relationship may change, if there were to be a third book now that their lives have returned to a calm state.

I’d be interested in hearing what any of you have thought about this book.

Happy reading πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: An Improbable Pairing by Gary Dickson

This post is going to take a look at An Improbably Pairing by Gary Dickson. I received an eARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was released January 8, 2019–so if you’re into stories about improbable romance, galavanting across Europe and the 1960s, I suggest you find yourself a copy and read on!

It’s been quite a while since I have read a book with a male protagonist so this was a nice change. Our main man is Scott Stoddard, a 21-year-old traveling from America to Switzerland, where he will attend graduate school in 1963. While aboard the ship he meets the Countess of Rovere, the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. And not just him–everyone seems to desire her.

They reunite at a social event she is hosting and it becomes quite clear that he is not the only one with a romantic interest. Scott and the Countess soon begin a passionate love affair, going against the advice of all friends and family. He is a student, and she is older, he is an American, she is European, he’s from the upper middle class, while she is aristocratic. The differences between the two are brought up constantly as challenges they likely won’t be able to beat.

Readers will be submerged into a lifestyle most only find in books. I thought it was a decent read, about an era I usually don’t cover. I hope those of you that pick up this book get as sucked into the time period as I did.

Happy reading πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: The Better Liar by Tanen Jones

Today’s post is going to dive into The Better Liar by Tanen Jones. I received an eARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was released on January 14, 2020 and I definitely recommend you go pick this one up. (Even if that means virtually right now!)

This story is told through three points of view, alternating between Robin Voigt, her sister Leslie, and Mary. It starts through Robin’s point of view–and…she’s dead.

After being introduced to the thoughts of a dead character, we turn to Leslie, who becomes the main voice, finding her dead sister and quickly thinking through her options. She had gone looking for her sister who had run away almost a decade earlier now that their father died. In his will he left a stipulation that both sisters must be present for either of them to receive the money left to them in the will. A nice $50,000 each. How can Leslie get that money now, without having to dispute through probate?

Easy. She walks away from the body, which has a fake ID on it. Nobody will know she’s been there. And even more convenient, a stranger named Mary is found near her car. They become acquainted with each other and Leslie asks Mary to pretend to be Robin in order to get the money.

Everybody lies in this book–but who is the better liar? I really enjoyed this book and the twists and turns that Jones wrote make sense and are satisfying to the reader. I hope to read more from this author in the future.

Happy reading πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell

This post is going to focus on The Perfect Mother by Caroline Mitchell. I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The book was released on January 14, 2020 so those of you into thrillers can already go find it!

Mitchell has created a story with a very short cast list. The main character is Roz, a poor, pregnant Irish girl. Then we have her best friend, her friend’s boyfriend and parents, and the celebrity couple looking to adopt Roz’s baby once it is born.

Roz flies to New York to meet the hopeful parents to be, Sheridan, and Daniel. She doesn’t know the identity of who she is meeting because of the identity protection behind the elite adoption site she has chosen to work with. Little does Roz know that Sheridan has figured out her password, and made it appear that they are no longer interested.

After spending almost her entire pregnancy locked up in their basement apartment, Roz still has some fight in her. It also turns out that her best friend back home has been working the case on her own as well.

But boy did this book have its twists and turns. Some of them I saw coming miles away and others I didn’t even notice until after the fact. This book was rated fairly well on Goodreads with a 4.17 rating as of this writing, but I gave it only 2 stars. It was too difficult to get through how certain characters were written. I had such a strong dislike for Sheridan, find her pretty unbelievable that I almost DNF’d the book completely. I also wasn’t a fan of finding out who the baby’s father is. I had almost returned to liking the book, and then found out who the father was, and I returned to not caring for it.

Have any of you read this book and thought differently?

Happy Reading πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: The Serpent’s Shadow (the Graphic Novel) by Rick Riordan; adapted by Orpheus Collar

This review will center on the third, and last graphic novel adaptation of The Serpent’s Shadow, the epic finale to Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles trilogy. The graphic novels were adapted by Orpheus Collar, and this book was released in 2017.

The Serpent’s Shadow is the darkest of the three books in both subject matter and art. The coloring reminds me of Jafar, with a lot of reds and blacks. In this book we find the Kane siblings attempting to turn Apophis’s shadow into a weapon against him. All of the side groups are divided against each other, and whether or not they support the Kanes’ mission in this story. And in all of this the stakes have never been greater, as Apophis is after the entire world, and wants to pitch it into darkness.

This was an excellent addition to the series, though I found Sadie a bit annoying in this one. Why does she have the be the annoying character that just wants one normal night, and not her brother? Why do we need to have a weird love triangle in her plot line, but not her brother? Her brother has his love interest, but he remains focused on the mission. I think I would have enjoyed this even more if Riordan hadn’t chosen to stick with gender stereotypes here of which genders come off as strong vs. weak.

I can’t wait to read the full length novels. I wonder if they will change my perception of the stories at all?

Happy reading πŸ™‚