Posted in 2020

June 2020 Wrap Up

Mini Half-Year Wrap Up

My first wrap up post! I would love to say that 2020 has been a slow reading year, but in fact, I’ve been going through books faster than I ever have, even if my monthly goals seem miniscule compared to many’s. I finished 2 books in January (“Heat Lightning” and “Rough Country”), had a massive slump all of February through March, came back around and picked up 2 books in April (“The Burning Room” and “Bad Blood”), 3 in May (“Field of Prey”, “Reaper Drone Strike”, and “The Day She Came Back”), and another 3 in June. For someone like me, with a full time job, way too many hobbies, and not enough time, 3 books a month is a huge achievement! 🥳

Now, as July begins and we have half a year left to go, I can proudly say that I am finally at the half-point of my Goodreads goal of 20 books this year (which is a big mighty goal considering last year I struggled to meet my 9 book goal.) I am even happier to find out that, after staring at my Goodreads meter bar, for a better part of a few months, telling me I was 3 books behind my schedule, I’ve finally caught up to “You’re on track!”

Books I Read

I read a total of three books last month. Two of the books (“Bernice Takes a Plunge” and “Mad River”) took up the least of my time with both books being roughly 2-3 days each while “Sorry I Missed You” took a little longer. I think I honestly could have easily fit in a fourth book somewhere, but then I discovered Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen on the Nintendo Switch (OMG, it’s such an amazingly underrated game) that gaming consumed the rest of what should have been my reading time 😓

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Book Cover from Goodreads.

Bernice Takes A Plunge ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
By: Ann Harth

The first book I read for the month actually was provided to me for free, in exchange for a fair and honest review. A publisher messaged (DM? PM?) me on Twitter asking if I was interested in reviewing a book. As I typically review adult books, I didn’t want to review a book that was geared towards a younger audience only for someone to click on the next suggested post and find a review for a cop/agent chasing down a mass murderer 😓 Instead, I still read and reviewed this but wrote the review out on Goodreads and then tweeted the review out.

This book is a middle grade book and man does the writing bring me back to my childhood. It was an enjoyable and lovely read and it was so cute?? I grew up on Geronimo Stilton, Magic Tree House, and all sorts of fun books. I think, just for the moment of reading this, I had a nostalgic twinge in my tummy. The story is about a young girl who is wildly curious, intelligent, and tries to find mysteries and cases where others may not notice. Constantly getting herself into a bit of trouble by being a good citizen, Bernice is a little detective in the making and an aspiring writer herself, taking inspiration out of anything! I think that was the most enjoyable thing about this book; a little girl who was saw amazement and ideas in everything and turned them into stories. It’s what I did as a kid and it was lovely to get to read it in the form of a book and character.

I loved this book and had a lot of fun reading it. It was a bit of a breather to read a children’s mystery book after reading adult mysteries for so long. You know that in a children’s mystery, most of the time things will always work out. No deaths, no murder, nothing graphic.

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Book Cover from Goodreads.

Sorry I Missed You ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
By: Suzy Krause

This was the second book I picked up from Netgalley after I thoroughly enjoyed my first NG pick. As I was floating between having just finished “The Day She Came Back” and no new book lined up yet, I figured it couldn’t hurt to wander back over to NG and pick up an another book (and my ratio).

Sorry I Missed You is a book revolving around three strangers, all of whom had been ghosted by someone close to them, coming to live under the same roof together (by coincidence; they didn’t set this up). When a letter arrives in their shared mailbox, half mangled and claiming they were sorry to have missed [them], each lady was skeptical to believe the letter was for them…but holding high hopes for a possible closure to their pain and sudden abandonment. It was a nice story about three very incompatible strangers as they try to get to the bottom of who sent the letter by setting up camp at the destination: the cafe Paper Cup…on a daily basis. It was a solid read and interesting enough (there was an actual ghost 👻 subplot!). Quirky as promised, the only thing that mildly irked me (and might just have peeved only me) was the coonnstannnt fighting between the three (mostly between Sunna and Maude). It grated on me. However…that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the actual book. All the characters were nicely written and each had their own little backgrounds. The way each woman grew because of each other was the biggest gem of the book.

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Book Cover from Goodreads.

Mad River ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
By: John Sandford

So here’s a funny story. I saw tons of readers reading multiple books at once and I though “Imma try that!” I initially started this book around June 2nd (around the same time as “Sorry I Missed You”) read the first chapter (about 13 pages) and then dropped it for the longest time because as it turns out…I can’t focus on two books :’) I picked it back up immediately after finishing everything I had on hand and promptly inhaled this book in 3 days (though, having started the book on June 26th, I did have a moment of worry if I was going to make it by the end of the month).

Mad River is another installation in the Virgil Flowers series, the spin-off series of Sandford’s main series, the Lucas Davenport [Prey] Series. Most people seem to enjoy the Prey books more than the Flowers, but for me it’s the opposite, though I think it might just boil down to which book was your first introduction to the Minnesota BCA books. Virgil’s story was the first Sandford book I picked up and so I guess I just have a bias to Virg.

I literally picked this book up for no reason other than “I’m reading the next book in the series.” I already read 1-5 (and out of order, I also read 11) so this was logically the next book up. The summary didn’t even appeal to me; a Bonnie and Clyde story revolving around kids gone wild? Sounded predictable. This time, Virgil already knows who the criminals at hand are; they are just a slippy bunch with the advantage of the vast Minnesota countryside to run and hide in. There was still a mystery to solve in Mad River as there’s a subplot (that connects to the main plot) where Virgil does have to do some digging and investigating, but the main focus were on the runaway trio. A good solid read.

Review Links

Bernice Takes A Plunge by Ann Harth

Sorry I Missed You by Suzy Krause

Mad River by John Sandford

Posted in Currently Reading

Currently Reading [07.05.2020]

I was ordering something from Amazon a few days ago and finally decided to try out this Amazon Prime thing that the site kept nagging me about. Lo and behold it comes with reading benefits, though different than the Kindle Unlimited that I also see all over the site.

I ended up with two new books on my Kindle (one of which included audio which I didn’t realize until I fired up my phone Kindle app). With the book mail that I received a few days ago, this month I have three TBR/Currently Reading books and I hope that I could complete at least one of them during today’s long car ride. Seeing as I easily get “see-sick” the audio book should come quite in handy!

The Family Journal

The Family Journal
Book Cover from Goodreads.

Book Name: The Family Journal
Series: [Standalone] Book N/A
Author: Carolyn Brown
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle
Obtained: Purchased
Pages: 296
Genre: Romance, Fiction, Contemporary
Start Date: 07.02.2020
End Date: 07.08.2020

I didn’t realize that this was a romance when I first picked it up. All I got from the summary was how fed up a newly divorced single mother is with her teenage kids and that she needed to move back to her childhood home where she can spend more quality time with her children, hoping to improve their behavior. Somewhere between “aww family bonding” and Lily (the mother) finding an old family journal, I managed to miss the line, “The house comes with Mack Cooper, high school teacher and handsome longtime renter.” It has been a long time since I’ve read a romance as it’s my least favorite genre [of all time]. However, so far, it’s not so bad so far. I’m hoping to enjoy the book as the blurb sounded interesting enough and it’s pretty short read.

An Invisible Client

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Book Cover from Goodreads.

Book Name: An Invisible Client
Series: [Standalone] Book # N/A
Author: Victor Methos
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Comes with audio)
Obtained: Purchased
Pages: 240
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Legal Thriller
Start Date: 07.02.2020
End Date: Currently Reading

I was scrolling through the Amazon “Read Now for Free” list that came with Amazon Prime (called Prime Reading) and came across this one before I even saw “The Family Journal.” It sounded interesting enough and I can’t recall ever having read any legal thrillers before (though I have watched legal dramas before namely “Suits”). Being even shorter than “The Family Journal,” I’m hoping this will be a fun and quick read. The biggest surprise, though, was that when I went to open the Kindle book, there was an audio option. I’ll be listening to this on the road during today’s car trip.

The Eye of the World

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Book Cover from Goodreads
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Most of the Mass Market Books I’ve seen had the [left] cover, but mine came having the Kindle edition [light blue above] cover art instead

Book Name: The Eye of the World
Series: The Wheel of Time Book # 1
Author: Robert Jordan
Publisher: TOR Books
Book Type: Physical > Paperback > Mass Market
Obtained: Purchased
Pages: 814
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Fantasy > Epic Fantasy, Fantasy > High Fantasy
Start Date: 07.04.2020
End Date: Currently Reading

I spent the better part of the last week deciding on what book I should get more as my first book mail [in a long time]. I was on a book mail self-ban because I couldn’t stand having to move all those books when we move houses…but…I really really missed having book mail…

The decision was between “The Thousand Names,” “The Way of Kings,” or “The Eye of The World.” I spent 90% of the time flipping between the two series latter series and ended up with “The Eye of the World.” I heard so much about this book, have passed it in bookstores several times, and have yet to actually pick it up. The deciding factor to try it out came after I finished writing my Tacticians Inspired TBR post a little while back and now…it’s arrived. It’s here. In my hands. It’s so cute…like a little blue brick :’) Out of the three, I’m most excited to dig into this one.

Posted in 2020

2020 Book Reviews and Wrap Ups List

List of Book Reviews by Title (Alphabetized)

A

Awakened by James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth

B

C

D

E

F

Field of Prey by John Sandford

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

Mad River by John Sandford

N

O

P

Q

R

Reaper: Drone Strike by Nicholas Irving and A.J. Tata

S

Sorry I Missed You by Suze Krause

T

The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse

U

V

W

X

Y

Z

List of Monthly Wrap Ups (By Month)

January
February
March
April
May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Posted in 2020

Mad River [Book Review]

Mad River (Virgil Flowers, #6)
Cover from Goodreads. For the link to Mad River’s GR page, click >HERE<

Content warning: Rape, implied sexual content, death, violence and graphic content

Book Name: Mad River
Series: Virgil Flowers Book # 6
Author: John Sandford
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle
Obtained: Amazon
Pages: 418
Genre: Fiction > Mystery > Crime, Thriller
Start Date: 06.03.2020, Restarted reading on 06.26.2020
End Date: 06.28.2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Summary:

Bonnie and Clyde, they thought. And what’s-his-name, the sidekick. Three teenagers with dead-end lives, chips on their shoulders, and guns. The first person they killed was a woman during a robbery. The second was incidental. Simply in the way. Then, hell, why not keep on going?

It’s not until Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers steps onto the Shinder murder scene that the clues begin to come together. As their crime spree cuts a swath through rural Minnesota, it’s a growing army of cops who join Virgil in trying to run them down. But even Virgil doesn’t realize what’s about to happen next.

Thoughts and Review:

Virgil isn’t even a few hours out of vacation and Davenport is already calling in about a bad one; two deaths, a man and his wife, along with two more on Friday night over in Bigham for a total of 4 deaths and he needs to get over there and investigate them immediately. A few hours later, mostly sober from his night out at the bar, discussing musicians, he finally heads out.

Another thrilling book, though not much of a mystery this time around. Sandford has a signature of sorts to reveal the bad guys to us readers early on via their own POV chapters. Sometimes we, the readers, already know who the criminal is (though the cops do not) but this time, Virgil is able to quickly confirm the murderer’s identities and instead of a “who’s the bad guy” it’s a mad chase. In this book, Virgil and the local sheriff spend their time trying to track down the trio rather than spend a good chunk guessing who might be behind all of this.

In Mad River, we have ourselves a fictional Bonnie and Clyde (and another character) going on a killing spree through the Minnesota countryside. It starts off with a single murder, a bank robbery gone wrong. The killing of Agatha was a little strange as Agatha had been hit and was already down on the ground and the trio couldn’t be identified as they had their flashlights pointed at the two women’s faces. Thus, Agatha’s death seemed pretty unnecessary, but as the story expands, we get to see a larger role involved in her murder. On their way to their getaway car, they gun down another victim, Emmett Williams and steals his car (seeing as their own junk car didn’t ignite). It had started off as a burglary but ended up in two deaths resulting in the trio going on the run.

Virgil arrives to investigate the 4 deaths, starting with the husband and wife, Mr. Welsh and Mrs. Welsh, and eventually moving to Agatha and Emmett. In a small town where everyone knows everyone the fingers quickly point to the Jimmy and Becky; infamous troublemakers back in high school. Everybody in town knew Becky for her good looks, Jimmy for being the biggest bully in school, and both for not being the brightest kids around, while who Tom was was a mystery to most folks.

With no solid reason or evidence to convict the three, Virgil turns to try and find them as leads…but nobody can find them. Not much blind guessing is needed, however as everywhere they stop to steal money or supplies leaves behind a new body. With every body comes one or two missing vehicles, each of which is broadcasted to the world, hoping someone would spot them and report them in. When one of the trio calls Virgil and confessing themselves to be the one of the three responsible for all the shootings, they finally have solid confirmation that the three kids are behind the killings and it turns into a chase and duck hunt to get to the Jimmy Sharp, Becky Welsh, and Tom McCall before they get to someone else. As the search drags on, more and more people are killed as the three search for food, money, weapons, and whatever tools they can get on hand to aid their escape. It’s after a bank robbery gone wrong, where an officer is shot and killed, that the three realize how deeply in trouble they are and how bleak their future now looks. Now wanted fugitives, their chances at escaping alive becomes slimmer and slimmer.

All the while, Virgil digs deeper into Agatha’s death and starts to suspect more to behind her death than just a robbery gone wrong. Towards the middle, the book splits off between chasing Beck and Jimmy and Virgil investigating the circumstances behind Agatha’s murder with both cases being a thrill to follow.

The deaths in this book are pretty gritty, especially the ending scene (what horrifying imagery). Shaking away their first murder, they start to get used to all the killing. Raising a gun at another person becomes almost easy. They were already wanted by everyone everywhere, what was one more body for a pack of pills right? They aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, as noted multiple times throughout the book. They make dumb decisions and leave trails of easy evidence behind them. These were aimless kids with unfortunate backgrounds growing up to be young adults who dreamed big but didn’t have the necessary tools to push them in the right direction. Instead, they make one bad decision after another only to fall deeper and deeper into the crime. Of course, it’s no excuse for what they did.

He remembered a bumper sticker he’d seen in St. Paul that said: “Remember: Half the People Are Below Average.” That, he thought, was probably the key to Jimmy Sharp and Becky Welsh. They were below average, and God had made them that way. There was no way that they were ever going to be anything but that; they could watch all the above-average people they wanted, on television, driving around in big cars and making enormous amounts of money out of nothing . . . or just working at the post office, or going to trade school to be plumbers or carpenters. They’d never be able to do that. They were condemned from birth to a life of hard times and trouble. If people were to tell the truth about Becky, her only route to a condition even resembling prosperity would be to sell herself for sex. That was all she had. The problem with that, morality aside, was that she probably wasn’t bright enough to make the most of selling herself. As for Jimmy—Jimmy had no chance at all. Abused as a child, neglected in school, he probably couldn’t drive a nail. Or generate the ambition to do it.


– Sandford, John. Mad River (A Virgil Flowers Novel, Book 6) (pp. 352-353). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
[[On Virgil Flowers pondering about God, life, and unfair circumstances that might have been one of the causes on why Becky and Jimmy turned out to be the way they are.]]

Virgil, being the son of a Presbyterian minister, has a moral code far stronger than Sheriff Duke (who I started to hate more and more, and who I honestly loathed by the end) and, though he had a few other reasons for doing so, he did his very best to try and bring Becky, Jimmy, and Tom in alive. He’s constantly pondering about God, often thinking about him before he drifts off to sleep at night. Throughout this book, he thinks a lot about God and why people like Jimmy and Becky exist/turn out the way they are now, why they kill people at random, and why people are killed at random. He ponders about if God is a universal computer who is subject to bugs and glitches. He wonders about how, no matter how hard they try, Becky and Jimmy simply weren’t meant to be anything more than below average.

“What part could they have in God’s plan? Were they simply put here to kill people at random, because, for some people, people needed to be killed at random?”

– Sandford, John. Mad River (A Virgil Flowers Novel, Book 6) (p. 352). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

It took me about 3 days to gobble up this book…like I do with all of John’s books. A fantastic thriller where you get to see Virgil chasing the slippery trio only to find their victims instead (as it turns out there are plenty of places to hide in the vast Minnesota countryside). The cops are getting frustrated, Virgil is getting frustrated and very desperate to reach them before the others, civilians are worried and locking up, guarding doors with their guns, the media is in a piranha frenzy (when are they not), and the Governor and BCA staff are getting frustrated and are starting to take heat for not putting an end to this in a timely matter.

It was a great read and I can’t wait to grab book 7. So far, Virgil and Sandford has yet to disappoint me. I loved reading this and easily finished the book. This time though, the ending left a bit of bitterness in my mouth that I can’t fully describe. I felt both unsatisfied and very satisfied at the same time. Happy but also very upset (for how both cases ended). ​It’s the wallowing sad and empty feeling that stems from knowing that, because of the circumstances (and a certain a**hat) this was the best ending you could have possibly gotten.

Posted in 2020

Sorry I Missed You [Book Review]

Link to this book’s GR right >HERE<

Book Name: Sorry I Missed You
Series: Standalone Book # N/A
Author: Suzy Krause
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Doc) > ARC
Obtained: Netgalley > Read Now
Pages: 330
Genre: Fiction > Womens Fiction > Chick Lit, Contemporary
Start Date: 06.04.2020
End Date: 06.25.2020

Disclaimer: I received a free e-book copy of “Sorry I Missed You” from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are of my own.

Netgalley Summary:

A poignant and heartwarming novel about friendship, ghosting, and searching for answers to life’s mysteries.

When Mackenzie, Sunna, and Maude move into a converted rental house, they are strangers with only one thing in common—important people in their lives have “ghosted” them. Mackenzie’s sister, Sunna’s best friend, and Maude’s fiancé—all gone with no explanation.

So when a mangled, near-indecipherable letter arrives in their shared mailbox—hinting at long-awaited answers—each tenant assumes it’s for her. The mismatched trio decides to stake out the coffee shop named in the letter—the only clue they have—and in the process, a bizarre kinship forms. But the more they learn about each other, the more questions (and suspicions) they begin to have. All the while, creepy sounds and strange happenings around the property suggest that the ghosts from their pasts might not be all that’s haunting them…

Will any of the housemates find the closure they are looking for? Or are some doors meant to remain closed?
Quirky, humorous, and utterly original, Sorry I Missed You is the perfect read for anyone who has ever felt haunted by their past (or by anything else).

It’s a bittersweet concoction about life lessons and friendships. Three women looking for their closure…and only one letter…

Thoughts and Review

The story starts off with three woman and their “ghosting” stories; Maude is an older woman who was ghosted after her wedding day where she was left at the altar; her fiancé and husband-to-be had apparently decided to drown his fears of the marriage in a sea of alcohol and never contacted her back afterwards! The last time Mackenzie ever saw her sister, Tanya, was when she was sneaking out of a window, the night after their birthday party, to see her secret boyfriend and was never heard from again. Sunna was ghosted by her ex-best friend, a huge internet and social media influencer, Brett Zaleschuck. The two had been in an argument ending with Brett calling Sunna jealous and Sunna calling the other fake. Sunna had expected the relationship to continue, because even best friends can fight and make up, but this time…it would be their last fight as, after a few awkward hangouts and meetups (after the fight), Brett finally stopped showing up to their coffee dates and just like that…years of friendship…gone.

Larry is the homeowner of a “house he can’t live in,” after inheriting it from his late aunt with a long list of things he could not do in the house such as playing certain music or planting flowers in the front yard or go into the attic. There were simply too many rules for him to live by and, with one of the rules being he can’t sell the house either, Larry had no choice but to rent the entire house out. Being one of the POVs, he too plays a major part of the story, though the main focus of the story are on Maude, Mackenzie, and Sunna. Three women, from three different walks of life, with vastly different backgrounds, personalities, and view of the life around them (Maude is fascinated that Sunna’s phone has “A Google,” flashlight, and can make calls), all total strangers, now living under the same roof.  

They move into the house together on different floors, Maude to the top floor, Sunna to the ground floor, and Mackenzie to the basement floor, and are immediately off to a rocky start with their personalities clashing and arguments immediately breaking out (literally…on their first meeting). When a mangled and barely legible letter arrives stating that the sender was sorry they’d missed them and asking to meet up again soon, each woman is hopeful it is for them, their missing relationship returning to explain themselves for their abrupt deserting of the other. Answering the call, the three set up camp at the designated location from the letter, Paper Cup, a café next to a Crematorium. And they go, every single day, religiously, hoping that the sender is that someone they each have in mind and hoping to get their closures at last.

All the while, creepy sounds and strange things are happening in their new home. Things disappear only to appear elsewhere, things go missing, food is stolen right out the fridge, and sounds can be heard; the sound of people stomping and furniture moving around. Ghosts perhaps?

This book is a quirky book for sure; a strange mixture of emotions, mysteries, friendship/romance, and…ghosts? While there were a few moments that made me smile, I didn’t find the book particularly humorous. It was almost angering, actually. The start of each of their mini stories in the background chapter made me feel terribly bad for them. Sunna had lost a best friend, someone like family, Maude was left at the altar, and Mackenzie’s sister was never seen again! However, they just kept arguing with each other, almost at any opportunity, and even as a reader I was starting to get that out-of-body-tired-of-your shit feeling. On the three’s first meeting together, at the mailbox, they already start arguing and Sunna and Maude are just snapping at each other. Maude just can’t seem to say something not mean (intentional or not) and Sunna just seems to enjoy provoking Maude into anger or into another fight. It gets frustrating and tiring at times and makes you feel for poor Mackenzie, who is the acting mediator, while having to stew in her own troubles and secrets. It gets annoying when you just want everyone to calm down and act like mature adults and move on with their day (and the story). It’s almost like they need to fight each other (and most of the bickering is between Sunna and Maude). It just gets tiring and you keep wondering, “What are you fighting about this time.” However, despite their flaws, I still didn’t particularly hate any of them. You get a sad feeling from each of the women as they seem to struggle with their past coming back to haunt them without any answers other than “to wait for someone in a coffee shop.” You even begin to see where all of their emotions and hurt comes from.

The best part of the book are the individual growths. As they very slowly come to tolerate each other, bonded together by this letter, they start to understand the others; tongues are bitten as they try not to fight, ears open to understanding, and personalities are shifted as they try to learn from each other, learn how to live in the same house together without the fighting. By the end, everyone is helping one another with their well needed closures, even if they don’t necessarily end well and happy.

I love the generational gap between the three. Mackenzie is a college student, Sunna is an adult, and Maude is an older woman. Things get lost between the three’s conversation constantly such as Sunna wondering who even reads the newspaper anymore, the existence and use of payphones, and Maude arguing that she is perfectly fine without the need of technology all the while getting frustrated constantly at not understanding what’s going on or what the conversation is about. It truly shows how fast things can change in a single human lifespan and the lightning need to adapt to the evolving world as Maude is left behind in the dust of new technology and terminologies, “‘Influencers?'”

This book has an enjoyable skim across different genres (and, look, Mysteries too!) You have a bit of romance, the base of Maude’s story, and you have a bit of mystery with the house ghosts, disappearing belongings, art gallery bomb threats, and the disappearance of Mackenzie’s sister. I actually had to go back and double check the genre on NG when I read Mackenzie’s initial backstory because it did not, at all, sounded like a “ghosting” and very much felt like a missing persons case.

You learn a lot through the three (four with Larry) characters and their problems. After all, the cast touches upon a great deal of issues during different stages in life. You have Mackenzie’s current struggles as a young adult; it’s the first time she’s free away from her parents and her being a college student with a job that she hates blended with pieces of her past struggles and trauma as a teenager. You have Sunna being an adult who watches Maude with a mixture of anger and worry as she wonders if, with her being friendless and partnerless, she too might grow up to be like Maude…bitter and mean…angry at life and people. You have the heartbroken Maude who, if you look past her constant fits and random bursts of crying, is an older woman who finally found a partner only to be left stood up on her wedding day. Afterwards, she sees the world in a different way. Richard’s abandonment changed her and she begins to see every big and small flaw in herself, adding them to her list of “maybe this is why Richard left me…”  

The book touches on a few other issues as well such as anxiety, social media, and differences in [music] genres through the times. You have people, who used to belong to a certain group of music fans, watching the days go by as you no longer feel like you belong anywhere anymore. Your old crowd and friends have disbanded and you’re “too old” for the new younger audience; the music is just not the same music that you once knew. The world is evolving in many ways including the expanded use of social media as more and more people become obsessed with perfecting their online images of themselves. People like Brett, who put up an online personality for a blog, a fun project for the two of them [Sunna] to “change the world” only to eventually be swallowed up by her persona, acting like there is always a camera following her. It reflects in the way she begins to talk to her friends, the way she acts, even off of social media, and even down to the type of friends Brett picks (or leaves in Sunna’s case). The author [through Sunna] also goes to explain to Mackenzie and Maude (and thus the reader) what social disease is: where privileged influencers dispense wisdom as a way to pick up their own egos while making their audience feel like they are doing it for them.

This was a nice read showing the progress from stranger to friendship between three woman of three different backgrounds. It’s cute at times, cringey at times (I’m talking about second-hand embarrassment, not the book itself), and there are parts that make my heart cry. It’s a nice bit of refreshment in a world full of books where characters become “instant friends”, though I have nothing against those. It’s different. You see people who start off almost completely intolerable of the other person and the sole reason they stick together is because of a torn letter that says to meet at a coffee shop. It’s a story full of ups and downs, hopes and disappointments, plenty of arguments and witty banter, and plenty of love, friendship, and hard learned lessons. It’s a bittersweet concoction about the issues and troubles of life mixed with the sweet nectar of newfound friendships and trust.

Thank you for the read 💐

Posted in 2020

TBR List: Tactician Inspired

I knew this day was going to come eventually! A game inspired (or rather a fanfiction inspired) TBR list!

A few weeks ago, I had just finished reading a fanfiction for the game: Fire Emblem Rekka No Ken (Blazing Sword). It’s a game I never got to physically play and so, through words, I let Fanfiction and Ao3 authors guide and take me through the story, settings, and characters; an immersion into a game that I’ve never even touched! (I’ll admit, visuals-wise, for games I’ve never played, Youtube playthroughs and “Let’s Plays” were the MVP 😎)

I love fanfictions because I get to live through the things I’ve never got to experience and for things I have read/watched/played, it just helps bring it to life! Game plots are amazing on their own (sometimes) but when someone takes the dialogue and expands it into a full retelling, everything just feels so real!

Well the one I read was phenomenal and I loved it to bits and pieces. If you’re interested, the link to the fanfiction is right here: (Love, Life, and Peril by LiamReyas).

However, it ended abruptly and it’s been a long time (last updated 3 years ago). I finished feeling empty and sad (and I totally understand if stories become “DNF’d” by their authors or are on hiatus). Maybe I needed closure or maybe I just craved for books that gave off the same feelings as the fic, but I ended up on a Googling spree.

The player/avatar of Blazing Sword is the group’s tactician. He had limited customization (name, birth month, and gender but no face), was never physically playable and you couldn’t control him as a fighter the same way you could control the other units, but he represented you as you moved your units around the stage map. After all, you are the tactician behind the Gameboy screen; who was to fight who, who needed healing, who needed to retreat to the back line, which units are meant to go up front, etc. By the end, the fanfic put me in the mood for tactics/strategy/small army/newfound family/genius protagonists (or side characters) books.

And so…cue the Googling spree. Here are a few books I ran into that I ended up shelving as TBR or To-Read on Goodreads. Some series had books I have previously heard of or even read myself!

((If you have any books fitting the descriptions…do let me know!!))

The Shadow Campaigns Series by Django Wexler


(Goodreads Link to the first book)

The Thousand Names (The Shadow Campaigns, #1)

During my search across a few Reddit posts, Goodreads lists, and other question sites this was one of the most recommended series. While he is not the main protagonist, he is an important and major supporting character and essential to the books; our genius tactician here is Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich!

GR Summary:

Enter an epic fantasy world that echoes with the thunder of muskets and the clang of steel—but where the real battle is against a subtle and sinister magic….

Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of one of the Vordanai empire’s colonial garrisons, was resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost. But that was before a rebellion upended his life. And once the powder smoke settled, he was left in charge of a demoralized force clinging tenuously to a small fortress at the edge of the desert.

To flee from her past, Winter Ihernglass masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. But when chance sees her promoted to command, she must win the hearts of her men and lead them into battle against impossible odds.

The fates of both these soldiers and all the men they lead depend on the newly arrived Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, who has been sent by the ailing king to restore order. His military genius seems to know no bounds, and under his command, Marcus and Winter can feel the tide turning. But their allegiance will be tested as they begin to suspect that the enigmatic Janus’s ambitions extend beyond the battlefield and into the realm of the supernatural—a realm with the power to ignite a meteoric rise, reshape the known world, and change the lives of everyone in its path.

Powder Mage Series by Brian McClellan

(Goodreads Link to the first book)

Promise of Blood (Powder Mage, #1)

The first book, Promise of Blood (book 1), is actually a book I’ve read in my 2nd (1st?) year of college. It was a fantastic book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The plot slips away from my memories so I’d have to reread this book if I wanted to get back into the series, but I loved the first book and their characters were written very well. The plot was an interesting mix of fantasy, technology, and sci-fi (gunpowder). Our tactician in this book is Field Marshall Tamas!

GR Summary:

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? 

The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan

(Goodreads Link to the first book)

The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, #1)

Here’s a book I admit to have “judged by the cover”! While I’ve never actually heard of anyone talking about this series, I have passed by the entire set, sitting on the shelves of Barnes and Nobles, oh so countless many times! I had always taken a look at the cover, went “Eh. Looks like some dated 1990s Dungeons and Dragons RPG game” and put it back on the shelf (which is hilarious because I have had R.A. Salvatore’s Homeland book on my Kindle, still TBR, for the longest time ever and one of the listed genres for the book on GR was literally “Dungeons and Dragons” so I don’t know what was my actual reason for not liking the cover to this book was as the Homeland purchase had been based off of how much I loved one of his other books…which was also a Dungeons and Dragons book!) The mentioned “tactician that fits the bill” in this series was mostly Matrim Cauthon but someone had debated that Rodel was a better fit? Of course, I’d have to read it myself to judge. So…WOT series…I’m sorry I judged you on your cover 🥺 I must give you a try!

GR Summary:

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Runner Ups and Relative Similarities [To What I’m Looking For]

The above three books are the top three series I am hoping to get into at least in the near future of this year. However, I have a couple of other TBR books and series that I added to my GR shelf as books that are relatively near what I was looking for; two of which I have read and one that is already on my Kindle (and has been sitting there for a while…)

Master and Commander of the Aubrey & Maturin Series by Patrick O’Brian

GR Summary: As the Royal Navy takes part in the wars against Napoleonic France, young Jack Aubrey receives his first command, the small, old, and slow HMS Sophie. Accompanied by his eccentric new friend, the physician and naturalist Stephen Maturin, Aubrey does battle with the naval hierarchy, with his own tendency to make social blunders, and with the challenges of forging an effective crew — before ultimately taking on enemy ships in a vivid, intricately detailed series of sea battles.

The Lies of Locke Lamora of the Gentleman Bastard Series by Scott Lynch [Book 1 Read](Not really for the tactics per say but just crazy schemes and crazy adventures in general. I loved book one.)

GR Summary: An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly. Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game—or die trying.

The Red Knight of The Traitor Son Cycle Series by Miles Cameron

GR Summary: Twenty eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild.

Twenty eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern’s jaws snap shut on your helmet in the hot stink of battle, and the beast starts to rip the head from your shoulders. But if standing and fighting is hard, leading a company of men – or worse, a company of mercenaries – against the smart, deadly creatures of the Wild is even harder.

It takes all the advantages of birth, training, and the luck of the devil to do it.

The Red Knight has all three, he has youth on his side, and he’s determined to turn a profit. So when he hires his company out to protect an Abbess and her nunnery, it’s just another job. The abby is rich, the nuns are pretty and the monster preying on them is nothing he can’t deal with.

Only it’s not just a job. It’s going to be a war… 

Gardens of the Moon of the Malazan Book of the Fallen Series by Steven Erikson
(This is a book I’ve had on my Kindle for forever. I chose it for its genre [fantasy] and I believe the first time I came across it was in Barnes and Nobles too. I keep meaning to start it, but I’ve read that it’s overwhelmingly complex and tons of names are thrown at you so I’ve been pushing it off with the excuse of “It’s intimidating” but I do mean to get to it…eventually.)

GR Summary: The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…

Conceived and written on a panoramic scale, Gardens of the Moon is epic fantasy of the highest order–an enthralling adventure by an outstanding new voice. 

The Black Company of The Chronicles of the Black Company Series by Glen Cook (Read?? But I can’t recall the plot at all??)
(I read through this book to the end, but for some very odd reason, I couldn’t make much sense of it. Technically…I finished this book, but I didn’t process it? Much of my time spent with it felt like those textbooks you read once, blindly regurgitate during the exam, and promptly forgot the context. However, people keep referring back to this book for being a father of sorts to the Grim/Dark Fantasy subgenre so I mean to revisit this book or maybe purchase the physical book as sometimes I process paper better than Kindle. It deserves a reread.)

GR Summary: Some feel the Lady, newly risen from centuries in thrall, stands between humankind and evil. Some feel she is evil itself. The hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must, burying their doubts with their dead. Until the prophesy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more. There must be a way for the Black Company to find her… So begins one of the greatest fantasy epics of our age—Glen Cook’s Chronicles of the Black Company.

Disclaimer: All of the above pictures are found on and from their [book’s] Goodreads page.

Posted in Currently Reading

Currently Reading [06.10.2020]

Mad River: Virgil Flowers Series

Book Name: Mad River
Series: Virgil Flowers Book # 6
Author: John Sandford
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle
Obtained: Amazon
Pages: 418
Genre: Fiction > Mystery > Crime, Thriller
Start Date: 06.03.2020
End Date: 06.28.2020

Continuing on with the Virgil Flowers Series, my next VF book is book 6: Mad River! I believe there are now 12 books in the Virgil Flowers series and sitting on the 6th book, I’m getting nervous. I am slowly running out of books in my favorite series. Sure, it’s still ongoing (to my knowledge), but once I’m current and on book 12, it’ll be a waiting game to get my hands on the next book. It’ll be like waiting on the next manga chapter update but even longer (Demon Slayer is oooveerr *sob*)!

I didn’t pick this book up for any special reason other than continuing on in the series. There never needs to be any sort of excuse for me to pick up a VF book. Sometimes, picking up a Virgil book is even a treat for finishing up books I don’t want to finish! In fact, if I run out of books and can’t figure out my next read it’s my default series to go to. Virgil has yet to fail me in the 6 books I’ve read so far (I’ve read 1-5 & 11) so I’m expecting another great read up ahead!

Sorry I Missed You

Book Name: Sorry I Missed You
Series: Standalone Book # N/A
Author: Suzy Krause
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Doc) > ARC
Obtained: Netgalley > Read Now
Pages: 330
Genre: Fiction > Womens Fiction > Chick Lit, Contemporary
Start Date: 06.04.2020
End Date: 06.25.2020

My next book is a read I picked up from Netgalley. This time, I was simply scrolling and hoping to come across a good random read. My last womens fiction left a fantastic impression after I finally broke out of my usual tiny list of favorite genres. I wanted to give this genre another go and eventually landed myself with this book, “Sorry I Missed You.”

Three women move into a rental home and they all have something in common, they have all been ghosted by someone important to them: Sunna’s best friend, Mauve’s fiancé, and Mackenzie’s sister. All up and disappeared without an explanation.

I honestly thought this was a mystery at first but the cover was orange, colorful, and cute and it was listed as a quirky and humorous book. I don’t know…when descriptions read “gone with no explanation” I immediately get a “missing person” vibes. But since it’s supposed to be humorous (with a side of ghost too!), I guess I can breath a sigh of relief that its not as scary as I make it out to be. Who knows. I just can’t wait to dig in.

Posted in 2020

Behind The Blogger Tag

I was tagged by Nikki Swift Reads a couple of weeks back. I keep meaning to do and post this but I guess with quarantine starting to wind down, my to-do list is getting longer and my free time is getting shorter 😱. I finally took a moment to go through and get this in. Thank you Nikki for the tag! Sorry for the wait hahaha. I had a lot of fun doing this!

Rules:
  🐧 Thank the person who nominated you
  🐧 Answer all the questions down below
  🐧 Pingback to the creator: Ellyn @ Allonsythornraxx
  🐧 Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about, to do this tag

Why did you start blogging? & Why have you kept blogging?

Long Answer: During the C19 quarantine/lockdown, I was inspired by people’s “quarantine projects.” People were starting their own baking pages and online businesses. Some people were learning how to code or learn new languages. Motivated, with a side order of boredom, a book blog just sounded right (and fun) at the time and allowed me to practice writing reviews too. As a [ex?]fanfic writer, I used to love any comments left on my stories. I figured that maybe authors would love feedback and reviews just as much as I loved kudos and comments, ya? I just wasn’t any good at writing reviews (I was all over the place) so a blog was the perfect place to practice.

Short Answer: Boredom 😃

Will I keep blogging? I enjoy writing reviews for my blog because it’s a place where I can just blab and dump my feelings (rather than grab some poor soul and ramble about this AMAZING book I just read).
I am anticipating that, post-quarantine, my free time will dwindle back to (what feels like) nothing. However, when working from home, my lunch breaks are spent with family where I would chat away the hour. Back in the office, my lunch breaks were spent on reading so I can only hope that, with my return to the office, I will start powering through my “Currently Reading” books again.

What is your favorite type of blog post to write?

My favorite type of blog post are reviews! Though…I guess I haven’t written enough posts just yet to deviant away from currently reading or book review posts. I love writing for the book tag posts as well! Getting tagged feels so special. It always brings a smile to my face when I get tagged (like thank you so much for remembering me 😭)
I love book reviews so much because by the time I’m done with a book, I’m staring blankly at the wall with my mouth wide open like 😱 “What just happened?!?” After sorting my thoughts out and picking up the pieces of my brain back up, I love hammering out a post where I can basically fan girl over a good book.

What are your top three favorite blog posts you wrote?

As a new[ish] blog, I haven’t written much just yet, but my top three favorite blog posts are:

My first book tag: Would You Rather Book Tag

My first book review [current reads] book review: Field of Prey [Book Review]

and My first ARC [post blog-inception] book review: Reaper: Drone Strike [Review]

What are some of your favorite things to do to relax?

Does napping count? I love to read when winding down. I take notes when reading books for reviews (and for those huge fantasy series with endless names) so I can’t really relax when reading those kind of books. So when I am reading for relaxation, I like to read smaller leisure reads; things like fanfictions and ao3 fics, especially the 60+ chapter ones, are my favorite leisure reads! I even found a way to import it to my Kindle!
I enjoy a good gaming session as well.

What are three of your favorite things?

  1. Ducks. I don’t know why I love ducks so much.
  2. Medical Documentaries (Such as the Ambulance (British Doc) or Temple Street Children’s hospital. I always end up crying every episode. I love watching Youtuber Chubbyemu as well! I occasionally watch surgery videos for no reason.
  3. Games. I am waiting for the Harvest Moon: Mineral Town remake to release next month!!

What are your proudest blogging moments?

> I am very proud of hitting 100 followers.
> Starting my blog.
> Breaking out of my shell to interact with the blogging community.

What are your hobbies outside of blogging?

I enjoy playing video games and reading. I also love to write shorts (but I could never write a book). Recently, I have been learning how to play the Kalimba and I’m (vveerryy slowly) working my way through the Big Fish & Begonia song tabs.

Describe your personality in three words

Excitable

Intense

Empathetic

What are your top three pet peeves?

  1. Assuming things when you were not present to witness.
  2. Chewing with your mouth open.
  3. A couple or a group slowly walking and taking the entire sidewalk.

What’s something your followers don’t know about you?

I only started to use emojis (more) in these last few months. Typing them out was so much faster than scrolling through the sea of yellow emojis just to find the one. I still can’t find the happy tear emoji though :’)

I Tag:
Delaney over at Book Lovers Lifting and Crushing

Pamela over at The Picky Bookworm

Vee over at Vee Reading

Cass over at Bookish Cass

Leona over at An Antidote for Boredom

Posted in 2020

The Day She Came Back [Book Review]

Disclaimer: I received a free ebook copy of this book [NetGalley] in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are of my own.
Content Warning: This book has mentions of death, drug use and addiction, and implied/mentions of sex.

Book Name: The Day She Came Back
Series: Standalone Book #: N/A
Author: Amanda Prowse
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Expected Publication Date: July 7th, 2020
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Doc) > ARC
Obtained: “Read Now” on Netgalley
Pages: 306
Genre: Fiction > Women’s Fiction
Start Date: 05.20.2020
End Date: 05.31.2020

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summary [Source: Goodreads]

When her loving, free-spirited grandmother Primrose passes away, Victoria is bereft, yet resilient—she has survived tragedy before. But even her strength is tested when a mysterious woman attends Prim’s funeral and claims to be the mother Victoria thought was dead.

As the two women get to know each other and Victoria begins to learn more about her past, it becomes clear that her beloved grandmother had been keeping life-changing secrets from her. Desperate for answers, she still struggles to trust anyone to tell her the truth.

To live a full and happy life, Victoria knows she must not only uncover the truth, but find a way to forgive her family. But after so many years, is trusting them even possible? 

Summary Review:

Thoughts

Oh phew. It’s over. So where do I even begin with this book?

First thing first. I cried 18 times. I counted. I’m very serious. I cried multiple times in the first chapter and then I cried again finishing this book off. And of course, I cried throughout the entire book.

This is my first NetGalley book. I was seeing a bunch of NetGalley posts floating around book Twitter that I just needed to try it. Seeing as I started out with a feedback ratio of 0%, I figured to look for a “read now” book first (I’m pretty sure my requests wouldn’t have been approved anyways 😂 )

What Attracted Me / Expanded Plot

I was going through NetGalley and honestly (having no Currently Reading books for days) I was getting antsy and ready to pick anything up. However, I didn’t want to force my way into a book that I would potentially hate just for a free read…and eventually came across this book (as someone whose favorite colors are yellow and orange I’m pretty sure the lure was the bright yellow covers.

I mostly picked this one up because of the other feedbacks left behind on the site. Literally just that. Sure, the cover was pretty cute (lovely sunflower colors shaded by the lonely feeling of an empty chair: presumably Prim’s favorite chair), the title intriguing, and the summary drawing me in, but the cherry on top were the other feedbacks. “Beautifully written story” was listed in almost every review. And when your favorite books are murder crime thrillers, you don’t get much of a chance for “beautiful story.”

This story is about a young woman in England (The town of Epsom in Surrey, England to be exact). 18 year old Victoria goes out with her friend for a day out and returns in the afternoon to see that her grandmother has passed away, sitting in her favorite place, the Garden Room and her whole world is turned upside down. Primrose, Prim, is Victoria’s only remaining family, having lost her father, before she was even born, and her mother, shortly afterwards, both to drugs. Victoria has never met either of them.

Her next few days, she spends broken and numb, with no clue what to do next. She was young adult, new to the world, and not yet ready to go through the process of losing Prim; the lawyers, the funeral, things like what to do with the house now that she was a “young woman of means.” She knew that this day would eventually come, but not so soon…It’s an overwhelming feeling, and Amanda makes you feel that through the page.

Daksha, Victoria’s best friend, is there to comfort and be with her through this immensely tough time and eventually, the long dreaded day of Prim’s funeral arrives. It is after the funeral that Victoria meets a woman who claims to be Victoria’s mother. Having her world shattered with the loss of Prim, she’s not ready to deal with this revelation. Here, before her, was the woman that she thought, that she had been told her whole life, to be dead, very much alive. Every holiday and every birthday that she has ever spent, missing and mourning the woman she never met, Victoria feels nothing but betrayed to, lied to, and deceived; her whole life an utter lie by those she was closest too.

Naturally, she is skeptical at first, but Victoria gives this strange woman a chance. Knowing that if she were to refuse to accept what the woman says, she may forever regret it. She wanted the truth, to get to the bottom of this, and to do that, she would have to give the woman a try.

Expanded Review

This book is, as the others say, an amazing and beautifully written story. This is the story of three women. It is the story of Victoria and the two generations of women who created, cared, and loved her deeply. It is the story of tremendous sacrifice and heartbreak; A desperate mother who watched her daughter succumb to the disease of drug addiction, unable to tear her free from its grasp, and another mother who had to forfeit her daughter, even as her soul cried in agony of the separation, because she knew it would have given her the best chance at a healthy and happy life, not like of her own.

This is the first time I’ve read an Amanda Prowse book. It’s the first time in a long time that I picked up a non-thriller or fantasy book. It’s a book that talks about things that are just too hard to voice and things that nobody wants to talk about. I’ve read death. Trust me, mystery thrillers mean there are plenty of death (and in the most gruesome ways). Those authors, in their own way, portray those deaths in as horrifying of a visual as it can get, and yet this is new to me.

Prim’s death was the reason I couldn’t move on in this book for a good two days. Her death, Victoria’s nightmare, is everyone’s nightmare. Having returned from a great afternoon out and having bumped into the boy of her dreams, she comes home in great spirits. In vivid details, we watch as her life is shattered into pieces. How Victoria finds her grandmother’s body shook me hard. Because it’s just so real. It is utterly and terrifyingly real. To come home from an ordinary day, to find your loved one gone. Blue tinged lips…lifeless eyes and cold body…ears that no longer listen as you plead for them to return. To walk out promising your grandmother you’d bring back snacks only to return knowing she never was able to take that one last bite, wondering if you’d had completed that quick task for them before rushing out the door. None of their cooking ever again. None of the small things like their smell, the noise of them walking around the house. It’s shocking. It’s overwhelming. For Victoria and for the reader.

We all have that loved one, be it family or friend, that we know we will eventually lose. We don’t know when…we don’t know how and it’s something that we try to push off to the back of our minds. I think I spent a good day staring at my own parents. Death is inevitable. It will always be there, the promised end. You realize there is a very real possibility that one day you might be the one to discover your deceased loved one’s body. It just never hit me on how it would happen.

The rest of the book was stellar and amazing, but it was that first chapter that was just…extra hard for me to get over. It really shook me and reminded me of things I simply never wanted to think about, and Amanda does a brilliant job in portraying the same exact thoughts in our main character here. Being that it was her grandmother who raised her, she realized this day was bound to come, but for her and for Prim, it came just too soon.

The book was phenomenal and tackled many different topics. It discusses loss of a love one, self-confidence and insecurities and being deceived, living what feels like a lie and having what you’ve only known, ever, come unraveling around you…You read about drugs, the effects of heroin and addiction… there are tears, there is love…so so much love. We watch Victoria learn to forgive, learn to discover themselves, to heal, forge friendships and relationships, in rediscovering betrayal, and learning to move on. We watch the love between best friends, who are there for you through thick and thin, and the sacrifices of a beautiful family to make sure an innocent little girl grows up to be loved, happy, and healthy.

And as Victoria gets to know the mum she never got a chance to meet, she grows so much as a person. From what feels like the inability to trust ever again to someone who is able to forgive and give second chances. With the help of many wonderful people, she pushes through past the grief of loss and being lied to to get to know her mother. Even if it’s at an arms distance, they share tears and slowly begin to connect through the nostalgic bridge that each experience on their own to meet at the middle and eventually move on to walk together.

This was an amazing and beautifully written book. I can’t argue with that. I cried so many times throughout this book. Amanda’s writing is just…beautiful. Enchanting? She picks words that crafts and embeds magic woven into each sentence, bringing the story to life. You feel the loss that Victoria experiences. Her tears, her fears, her being overwhelmed at being suddenly thrust into unfamiliar surroundings. Amanda makes it so that you experience loneliness. The first days alone in the house without Prim…the cold emptiness of the hallways, being in a large house all alone. The first time Victoria tries to turn around to her beloved granny for help or a shoulder to lean on and finding nothing but spirits and memories.

An absolutely beautiful story 5 / 5.

Posted in Uncategorized

05.29.2020

It’s a warm cozy evening.


Winter is in full swing as wind howls outside, whipping specks of loose snow up and into a mural of crystals. Dusk has already fallen and curtains drawn as you settled down into the amber colored armchair by the fire. Your friend, Jackie, tosses a new piece into the fireplace before falling back into his own chair, ready for another round of Tetris on his phone. Nothing else to do when there’s no wifi or service around. Miriam has returned from the kitchen with a plate of chocolate covered pretzels and three mugs of hot chocolate. As she too drops into an empty chair, ready again for the book she left off at page 177.

Snap. Suddenly, something has crackled…and it’s not the fireplace. Looking up, neither of your two friends seemed to have noticed. In fact, they seem frozen; eyes unblinking…limbs unmoving, still staring off peacefully in their last seated positions.
Snap. You hear it again. This time louder…closer…behind you… What do you do next?