From Blood and Ash – Jennifer L. Armentrout

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published March 30th 2020

A Maiden…

Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

A Duty…

The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.

A Kingdom…

Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.


Ok well, I wasn’t expecting to start my year off with a read like this, but I did. I decided I wanted to get myself to try and read one book a week. And damn it, I read this book like I was getting paid to do it. I finished it SO QUICKLY. I couldn’t put it down. I have been asked to read Jennifer L. Armentrout books for a while, and none of them really spoke to me (SORRY JLA!) but this one, after reading this I would roam the earth recommending this author to people.

I felt like this book was like seeing an old friend after being apart for a long time. It just felt like the right read, and it was somehow reading a favorite book I had set aside for a very long time. The writing was so smooth, approachable, and just the flow of everything worked and felt familiar, it made it so easy for me to get lost in this book for hours on end. And I know sometimes reading a book you have to read it at the right time to really strike a good rapport with a book, let alone a 600+ page book that’s you’re first read of 2021 coming out of a slump. 

There are a few small things I have to get off my chest though…as much as I’d hate to. I was getting a bit antsy at the beginning of this book to really get moving with some sort of catalyst. It took a while to really get things moving plot wise, and as much as I love how strong Poppy is, witty Hawke is, loving Tawny and protective Vikter are, there’s only so much of that content I could absorb. I also felt like it got a bit repetitive with all the Maiden stuff and what it was like being the Maiden day to day and the sneaking out. I was beginning to get bored, and then BAM! COMING IN WWITH THE SECOND ACT. The book really rose to the occasion of a stellar read at about 25% I’d say. So if you’re struggling with this read I BEG YOU to tough it out and wait because it’s so worth it. 

My small tiny other piece that kind of made me go “oh bummer” was, I’m not sure if I just have really good deduction skills or figuring out plot twists, but I knew it all along. I won’t spoil, but I knew the twist the whole time. Not sure if it was supposed to be that obvious, but I figured it out and it made the reveal really anti-climactic for me. But that’s not to say that it wasn’t a great plot twist. But it just was a bummer that I had already put the clues together to figure it out so early on. 

Everything else in this book really worked for me. The romance was steamy and amazing (probably some of my favorite steamy scenes I’ve read from an author) and I just loved the progression of Poppy and Hawke’s relationship through the book. I loved Poppy as a main character. A strong-willed, strong bodied, smart woman suppressed to be this quiet, submissive “chosen one”, and as much as that can sometimes be a trope, I feel like JLA wrote Poppy so wonderfully that it didn’t feel like an over done trope or that I’ve read about this character a million times. And I loved that. Poppy felt like such a unique character to me (and I might have some bias towards the name as I’ve always wanted to name a daughter, if I have one Penelope). 

I also feel like I’ve never read anything like Armentrout’s writing before. It felt lyrical, heart-felt, and just some overall strong writing. I literally would feel my heart clench or my stomach drop, and just FELT while reading this which is the best sign of great writing, truly, and the fact that I haven’t had a book do that in a while, I appreciate it so much. This book had almost everything I’ve been looking for in a book and I’m so glad I picked it up. And I want to thank JLA for taking the time to really make an amazing book, I wasn’t expecting it at all. 

On to “A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire”! 

4.75/5 Stars

The Bromance Book Club – Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
Published November 5, 2019

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

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

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

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


I had such high hopes coming into this book, it didn’t sound like any other romance I’d ever read before, so I was really excited to read this. I was hoping that it would be well written, have good pacing, and just keep me hooked. And to be quite honest, it 1,000% delivered.

I was really excited to start reading a book about a married couple. I don’t think there’s enough romance or at least romance that intrigues me enough to pick up that starts with married couples. I’m married with a kid so I feel like I really connected with this book. Especially with some of the struggles that Gavin and Thea went through.  I also absolutely adored the way that Gavin’s teammates and other friends showed up for him especially since he seemed like the wallflower or quiet one of the group, being that myself, I know I don’t open up to many people so it’s hard for friends to notice when something is wrong or how to help in a difficult situation.

Bringing in the book club as a “manual” to help Gavin win back Thea I thought was SUCH a brilliant idea. And I loved the little excerpts of “Courting the Countess” I thought it was a really good way to set up new stages of the book. And I was always looking forward to seeing how Gavin took the book in terms of bringing it to life and how it translated to working back towards a solid relationship with Thea.

I feel like being connected to this book in terms of being a married woman and having the fear of hitting a real hard spot at some point in our relationship (mind you, my husband and I have been married happily for 3 almost 4 wonderful years) just made me connect so hard with what was going on. And made me want to read more and more just to make sure Gavin and Thea ended up working out. I was truly rooting for them.

In the end The Bromance Book Club was pretty addicting, had some really sweet moments, and things that were so real that I feel like I ended up appreciating it more than I would other romances. It was a pretty quick read for me due to just being sucked in. But I have to say, this was probably a top 10 for 2020.

5/5 Stars

Review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

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Expected publication: August 4th 2020

In this new thriller from the author of The Escape Room, a podcast host covering a controversial trial in a small town becomes obsessed with a brutal crime that took place there years before.

After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?


Even though I liked this book, it didn’t live up to the expectations I had from the extreme positive reviews I’ve seen. I was expecting to love this book so much but it didn’t steal my heart like I thought it would.
I really liked the plot, it was well written in my opinion. Especially since it focuses on such a serious crime, I personally felt like it was handled well by the author. Obviously, if you’re triggered by the subject of rape, this isn’t the book for you. It is a difficult subject to read about, I had to take some time away from it at times, but it was sensitively handled by the author.
I liked the characters, I just wasn’t extremely invested in them. I didn’t feel super connected. I also wasn’t super connected to the story. I couldn’t get invested and I felt like because the chapters jumped from different perspectives, I never had time to settle into the story.
Overall, The Night Swim was a good read but not my favorite. I would’ve liked it more if there was only one perspective but I know that’s just a personal preference. If you like thrillers and mysteries, you might really enjoy this book.

Review: Mayhem by Estelle Laure

Mayhem by Estelle Laure

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Mayhem Brayburn and her mother are on the run, not away from home, but back to it: Santa Maria, California, a beach town that looks like paradise, like carnival rides and street food and bikinis under the hot sun.

It’s where Mayhem has always wanted to be. It’s where generations of Brayburns have lived and thrived, and she has never understood what made her mother leave Santa Maria in favor of the arms of her abusive stepfather.

But when she befriends her aunt’s foster kids and they take her to their hideout, decades of secrets unravel, and Mayhem is thrust into a world of chaotic magic, a serial killer’s mind, and finally, even the answers to her own past.


Set in 1987, MAYHEM is a mashup of The Lost Boys and The Craft with a bit of the Manson family thrown in for good measure. It’s original, compelling, and a little bit rock-’n’-roll, and reading it will leave you feeling deliciously wicked.

I loved the idea of this book more than the actual book. It sounded amazing but the execution could have been better. The writing style was beautiful, I loved it. The descriptions were so wonderfully written and creates such a lush visualization of the characters and settings.
I’ve never seen The Craft or The Lost Boys but I’ve seen multiple reviews saying it borderline copies The Lost Boys at various points, which if that’s the case, I’m not a fan of direct copying someone else’s work.
The biggest downfall I found was how slow this book is. If the pace was quicker, I’m sure I would have loved it but I just didn’t have the patience for the dragging pace of the plot. I also thought the last half of the book changed it tone rather quickly and felt like a different person was writing the story. The characters started acting completely differently and it felt so disjointed from the first half of the book.
I wish there was a better build up to the action, that it wasn’t forced into the last half of the book. And even though there was an attempt at speeding up the pace, it still felt slow to me.

An advance copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

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Expected publication: July 7th 2020
Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She’s always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election?
Duke Crenshaw is do done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band’s first paying gig tonight.
Only problem? Duke can’t vote.
When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn’t spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right. And that’s how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva’s missing cat), it’s clear that there’s more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.
Romantic and triumphant, The Voting Booth is proof that you can’t sit around waiting for the world to change? But some things are just meant to be.


This book is everything I want from a Young Adult contemporary book and more. It’s absolutely fantastic in every single way.
I’ve been having a hard time really loving YA books the past few years, struggling to find many YA books as enjoyable as I once did. I’ve been starting each YA book with high hopes but often finishing the book disappointed. That was not the case with The Voting Booth. It caught my attention right away and I read the whole book in just a day. It was surprisingly a quick read and I never wanted it to end. From the characters to the plot, this book was wonderful.
Both of the main characters were so well written and very likable. I loved the diversity so much and the unique plot really made this book such a one of a kind read. I’ve loved seeing so much added diversity in YA the past couple of years and The Voting Booth brings so much to the YA genre.
I honestly can’t think of anything negative about this book. I enjoyed it so much and this is definitely one of my favorite books of 2020.

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Review: The Circus Rose by Betsy Cornwell

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Expected publication: June 16th 2020

A queer retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” in which teenage twins battle evil religious extremists to save their loves and their circus family.

Twins Rosie and Ivory have grown up at their ringmaster mother’s knee, and after years on the road, they’re returning to Port End, the closest place to home they know. Yet something has changed in the bustling city: fundamentalist flyers paper the walls and preachers fill the squares, warning of shadows falling over the land. The circus prepares a triumphant homecoming show, full of lights and spectacle that could chase away even the darkest shadow. But during Rosie’s tightrope act, disaster strikes.

In this lush, sensuous novel interwoven with themes of social justice and found family, it’s up to Ivory and her magician love—with the help of a dancing bear—to track down an evil priest and save their circus family before it’s too late


I read Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell years ago when it was first released and I loved it so much. I hadn’t gotten around to picking up her other releases but when I seen the synopsis for The Circus Rose, I knew I had to read it and I was so excited.
I loved the writing style so much. It was beautiful and the alternating styles of the chapters, one character’s perspective is written in poetry, was really interesting. I didn’t love the poetry chapters but they were very unique.
The one thing that I feel really holds this book back is how aimlessly the plot wanders and nothing really happens throughout the book. I honestly couldn’t tell you what the actual plot is because there isn’t one. The writing style and the fun atmosphere of the setting gives this book life but the complete lack of plot drags it down.

Review: The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

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Expected publication: June 9th 2020 

Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.

Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.

When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”

Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?

As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her. 


This book has given me so many different feelings. I feel so conflicted about a few aspects of the plot but overall, it’s a pretty great read.
I wasn’t a fan of the main character, Tabitha from the beginning. I disliked her the entire book and is probably one of the dumbest main characters I’ve ever read about. That being said, I doubt the entire plot would have been even remotely possible if the main character wasn’t so gullible and dumb. It was often tedious to read from Tabitha’s perspective but it wasn’t bad enough that I wanted to quit reading.
I also was not a fan of Connor, obviously. From the the very beginning, we know him as a cheater and he blames his behavior on his wife, toxically painting Nina as the villain, thats she’s responsible for his terrible behavior and cheating ways. There more about him that I hate but tom keep the review spoiler free, I won’t go into detail.
The choices him and Tabitha make individually and together are incredibly terrible and stupid but also made the book pretty engaging, similar to the way reality tv shows are engaging.
I really enjoyed reading from Nina’s perspective. She was more interesting than Tabitha and Connor put together and I wish more of the book was from her perspective.
The plot twists were interesting and mildly surprising. The characters do lead you believe you know what happened and it’s pretty impossible to not make the obvious assumptions.
The pace was actually really good, I was very impressed. It wasn’t slow and I didn’t think anything was rushed, even at the end. I read the whole book pretty quickly and I even looked forward to reading each time I picked the book up.
Overall, very impressive read. I didn’t enjoy the main characters but that didn’t take away anything from the reading experience. I really enjoyed Nina’s perspective and the overall plot and pace was wonderful. I really enjoyed this book and since I read this as a digital copy, I look forward to the release so I can pick up a physical copy.

Review: The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

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Expected publication: June 2nd 2020

Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.

In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.


I’ve been craving a Young Adult fantasy novel thats actually original and has great world building for so long and The Court of Miracles has supplied the solution. With a little bit of a slow start, I was worried this was going to be equipped with long, drawn out plot that was going to take a turn into boring. The plot does pick up though and its worth the slow beginning.
The writing style is my favorite part about The Court of Miracles. It’s beautifully written and makes this book stand out from the mass of YA fantasy out there.
There’s a wonderful cast of characters and even though I never became deeply invested in the characters, I really enjoyed them. I really loved the main character and, in my opinion, she makes this book stand out so much.
If you’re not much into romance being forced into every single book, The Court of Miracles is for you. I really appreciated how there wasn’t much in this book and what little there is, isn’t unnecessarily forced into the plot.

Review: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

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Expected publication: May 5th 2020

A desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial daughter find a connection on the high seas in a rich, riveting fantasy set in a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic.

Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.

Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself. Deftly entwining swashbuckling action and Asian folklore in a land dominated by an imperial class, Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s inventive debut novel conjures a diverse cast of characters seeking mastery over their fates while searching for answers to big questions about identity, equality, and love. 


This book is SO GOOD. I wasn’t expecting it to be amazing as it is and I’m blown away.
The diversity, the representation, the plot, the characters, everything about this book is 10/10.
I did assume from the cover that this was middle grade, which it is definitely not. This book isn’t slow at all and the action starts right away, which I loved. It’s fast paced without being rushed and the plot is so engaging, I would being reading for hours and never get bored.
I loved the characters so much. I enjoyed the diversity and representation so much. I can’t remember the last time I read a diverse fantasy YA book thatI enjoyed so much.
The writing was wonderful and the concept was fantastic. I honestly have nothing negative to say about this book, I enjoyed it so much. It’s been such a long time since I’ve loved a YA book so much and The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is everything I needed from a YA book and more. I highly recommend picking up a copy.

Review: Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

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From the author of Jar of Hearts, a mother driven to the edge by the disappearance of her son learns her husband is having an affair with the woman who might have kidnapped him.
Four hundred and eighty seconds. That’s how long it took for someone to steal Marin Machado’s four-year-old son.

Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They’re admired in their community and are a loving family. Up until the day Sebastian is taken.

A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. The only thing keeping her going is the unlikely chance that one day Sebastian reappears. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding him, she discovers that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman.

Kenzie Li is an artist and grad student—Instagram famous—and up to her eyeballs in debt. She knows Derek is married. She also knows he’s rich, and dating him comes with perks: help with bills, trips away, expensive gifts. He isn’t her first rich boyfriend, but she finds herself hoping he’ll be the last. She’s falling for him—and that was never part of the plan.

Discovery of the affair sparks Marin back to life. She’s lost her son; she’s not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix. But as she sets a plan in motion, another revelation surfaces. Derek’s lover might know what happened to their son. And so might Derek. 

This is my first book by Jennifer Hillier and it definitely won’t be my last. I absolutely loved Little Secrets. From the first chapter, I was invested and I never wanted to put this book down. I read it in less than 24 hours because it was such a great read.
It wasn’t necessarily packed with action but it wasn’t slow and it was very entertaining and engaging. The pacing was great and the plot twists were unexpected but not outlandish and over the top. The whole plot was written with direction and purpose.
I thought the main character was wonderfully written and flawed enough that she wasn’t plain and boring.
Overall, absolutely fantastic read. I loved everything about it and I’m still in awe at how well written the plot was. I’ve read so many thrillers with poorly executed plot twists and outlandish surprises that don’t make sense. Little Secrets is one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read and it’s definitely one of my favorite books of 2020.