Category Archives: NetGalley Review

Book Review: Watching from the Dark by Gytha Lodge

Random House
TBP Feb 25th, 2020
352 Pages

Aidan Poole logs on to his laptop late at night to Skype his girlfriend, Zoe. To his horror, he realizes that there is someone else in her flat. Aidan can only listen to the sounds of a violent struggle taking place in the bathroom—and then the sound of silence. He is desperate to find out if Zoe is okay. But then why is he so hesitant to call the police?

When Aidan’s cryptic messages finally reach them, Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens and his team take the case—and discover the body. They soon find that no one has a bad word to say about Zoe, a big hearted young artist at the center of a curious web of waifs and strays, each relying on her for support, each hiding dark secrets and buried resentments. Has one of her so-called “friends” been driven to murder? Or does Aidan have the biggest secret of them all?- Goodreads

Creepy. . . is probably the best word I can describe this book after I was finished, which was late in the evening.

It was a good read despite the creepy vibe I got from reading it. I think what made it creepy for me is the fact that it is told from alternate viewpoints including Zoe. Reading the last days of a woman you just saw murdered and reading it from her pov, was tough to read.

The pace of the novel was great. It is a classic who done it novel and there are so many options of who can do it. But here was my issue with this book, every single person (minus the detectives) were problematic, selfish and down right horrible to Zoe and she became who she was at the end by not only the killer’s action but those she held dear to her as well.

The author left a lot of openings for who could have done it and there were twists throughout the book. However, it was very clear that the author just didn’t know what to do with those characters and their development. After everything was said and done no one (but the killer) was held accountable for their any of their actions and it was disappointing to see.

This is what caused the book to go from a 5 to a 3.

Something I would like to note is that I did not read the first book and at no point did I feel I needed to. Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens and his team were fantastic detectives and it would have been nice to see the author add more development on them. Their own personal lives were mentioned but nothing too deep, which is fine as the focus was the case. I feel that if you are going to talk about it make sure you back up what you say so there could be a reason why it was mentioned.

Would I say this book is predictable? Some. The author, as I mentioned, adds a lot of different paths where the ending can go but you aren’t exactly surprised at the end but what does surprises you is the how. Seriously, there are a few wow moments and all I could think about is “its not the destination, its the journey.”

Overall, very good read.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

Disney Hyperion
Published Jan 7th 2020
327 Pages

When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide.

Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…- Goodreads

This book promises a lot. Adventure, thrills, romance, and suspense. However, this read did not deliver on any of those promises.

Amaya started off strong but the moment she got off the debtor ship, she became the most annoying, selfish, surprisingly entitled human being within this book and every time she spoke all I heard was a whinny brat that was getting a different chance at things but allowed her emotions to ruin everything. It was like she didn’t learn anything from being on a debtor ship and it was disappointing.

The other disappointing part of this novel was the adventure. It was for the most part non-existent. I am trying not to use the word boring to describe this book but in all honesty, I can’t avoid it. Nothing in this book kept me wanting to read the book. I finished it because I had the dnf guilt going on.

I would also like to point out that the romance was predictable at every step of the novel. The love interest lacked so much personality and was truly just as much of a brat as Amaya but with much more well intentions.

Overall, I couldn’t find anything I enjoyed about this book and that is unfortunate. This is not to say that you (the reader) may not find this book enjoyable but it was not in the least what I wanted and expected.

1 Pickle

Book Review: The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin

Inkshares
Published: July 16th 2019
300 Pages

Seycia’s father told her this story as a child — a story of the most holy place in the Underworld, The Forest of Laida, where all souls go to rest before embarking on a new life. But Seycia’s father is dead now, and his killer has put a target on her back.

After being chosen for her village’s human sacrifice ritual, Seycia is transported to the Underworld and must join forces with Haben, the demon to whom she was sacrificed, to protect the family she left behind from beyond the grave. In this story of love, survival, and what it means to be human, Seycia and Haben discover that the Underworld is riddled with secrets that can only be unlocked through complete trust and devotion, not only to their mission, but also to one another. – Goodreads

*sigh*

*sigh*

*LE SIGH*

I had high expectations of this book. I am thinking some of the creepiest sentences, settings and characters are going to come out of this book but instead I got a punk ass demon who doesn’t have a backbone and a main character who is completely full of herself, that when I hear her voice in my head, all I hear is a grown woman whining about how she is the chosen one and you are not.

But let’s start off about what I liked, which was the setting. Although not creepy at all, the imagery was very clear. It completely draws the reader in and is filled with promises of the worst evil to come. But that didn’t happen.

As the imagery is the only thing I fully enjoyed about this book, I have to stress that the author wanted these demons to be humans that have simply lost there way and forgot who they were and who they could have been. This took the creepy-ness way out of the book.

Seycia AND her brother are just uninteresting whinny and the most unfortunate batch of heroes that world has to offer. The book is told through both their point of views, so you get a little break within tone. However, while Seycia is the I am not going to think things fully through because I am the great one, her brother is the I am too scared to do anything on my own and need all the help I can get AND STILL and still whine about it. 

I loved the idea of there being a tree that allows people to come back to life and that I fully supported Seycia’s mission to protect her family. But you can’t talk about the Underworld and everyone is pretty much human. 

This book wasn’t for me. But going through Goodreads, I see it is for a lot of other reads. Would I recommend this? I honestly don’t think I would even knowing that there are some readers who would enjoy it.

1 Pickle

 

Book Review: Resurrection Girls by Ava Morgyn

AW Teen
Published Oct. 1, 2019
272 Pages

Olivia Foster hasn’t felt alive since her little brother drowned in the backyard pool three years ago. Then Kara Hallas moves in across the street with her mother and grandmother, and Olivia is immediately drawn to these three generations of women.

Kara is particularly intoxicating, so much so that Olivia not only comes to accept Kara’s morbid habit of writing to men on death row, she helps her do it. They sign their letters as the Resurrection Girls.

But as Kara’s friendship pulls Olivia out of the dark fog she’s been living in, Olivia realizes that a different kind of darkness taints the otherwise lively Hallas women—an impulse that is strange, magical, and possibly deadly. –Goodreads
I am starting this book review off with the rating, which is 2 Pickles. This book was a hard pill to swallow because of a lot of things. Olivia isn’t grieving the lost of her brother. She acknowledges that he is gone but just like her parents, she isn’t dealing with what she is feeling. Kara comes along and offers Olivia a way out of her emotions until she has no choice but to start opening.
Here is my issue with this book. It uses Kara and her family as a clutch for why Olivia makes bad decisions. It isn’t fair to Kara. Kara isn’t a stable character not even in the least and she has a whole lot that she is dealing with, however, I can’t find it in me to say Olivia did this or is this because of Kara.
Not every family is going to be like our own and I think the author plays upon that as way to compare what should be the normal family. Olivia does things for an reaction not just because Kara has a persuasive personality.
Other than this, the book was boring. Not even writing to death row inmates add any form of intensity to the novel. It is just as a clutch with no real backing/substance. Because the book is boring. There is no real character development and even the grief seems brushed over, which is unfortunate.
Things wrapped up too easily, after everything that happened, the ending was too perfectly happy and we are good now.
I gave this book 2 Pickles as opposed to 1 because it can be good. Shoot it can be great. But it needs work.

Book Review: Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin

Crown Books for Young Readers
TBP Jan. 20th 2020
352 Pages

Everyone expected the king’s daughter would inherit the throne. No one expected me.

It shouldn’t even be possible. I’m Nameless, a class of citizens so disrespected, we don’t even get names. Heck, dozens of us have been going missing for months and no one seems to care.

But there’s no denying the tattoo emblazoned on my arm. I am queen. In a palace where the corridors are more dangerous the streets, though, how could I possibly rule? And what will become of the Nameless if I don’t?- Goodreads

I liked this book. It was a good read. It kept me invested from beginning to end.

I loved the world building of the novel. But I wanted more of that world. It was very the rich is getting richer and abusing the poor while the poor is getting poorer and abusing each other. The divide was very clear, the picture of peasants and grayness was very visible and greatly appreciated that.

What caused me to give this book 3 Pickles (spoiler I know), was the Nameless that became Queen. She was good at being Nameless but when her title changed she didn’t know how to the play the game. This frustrated me because at several points she realizes that being royal is a game that needs to be played and instead of self-improving and getting hip to the game, she just didn’t and did more complaining as if she didn’t have the power to change things. It was a frustrating circle to read because she saw it and acknowledged it and then did nothing.

There was some character development but not enough for me to bump up my rating.

I wish the author added more about the magic, the history of the city and more history about the Nameless Queen. We find out information but it didn’t completely satisfying. Yes, there will always be questions especially if a book is a series. However, it would have been great to have more development on the world.

Overall, I would recommend this book. I am pretty it is a series, which the way it ended it made sense. But it didn’t need to be a series As previously mentioned,

3 Pickles 

Book Review: Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Ink Road
TBP March 10th, 2020
384 Pages

Harley Milano has dreamed of being a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her soul that she could be up there herself one day.

After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion and collaboration. But at the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.- Goodreads

I loved this book but Harley needed her ass kicked. Let me explain, her feelings were valid. What she did was completely wrong, she was spoiled and self-centered. There is no way around it and there was character development but then there wasn’t. Acknowledging what you did wrong and still getting what you want without an actual consequences doesn’t work in my eyes. Because what did she actually learn?

Harley was a great character to read. I loved her drive. In regards to the circus she knew what she was talking about and what she was doing. Everything else she didn’t know what she was doing.

What I loved most was the circus. I am not a circus person and this is the first book I have read surrounding the circus that made me see the magic (and the shade). What Harley feels when performing, when watching performances was really inspiring to read and it was the most beautiful part of the book.

There is romance within this novel and I liked it. The romantic interest had depth and he was cute and his story. . . made sense and worked with everything happening in the book and he worked with Harley. That was the most important part. He worked with Harley and not against her.

The pace of the novel was great. But the author touches upon mental health issues but doesn’t dip into it. I am not exactly sure about why but it would have been good to see some form of insight. Towards the end of the novel there were some things that happened that would have been great to have more insight on. The author was a bit too vague when it came to what I believe is mental health issues.

And more on a personal note, there is another relationship that Harley has within this novel and how it goes down really bothered me on a personal level. I shall leave it at that because that is the best I can do without spoilers lol.

Overall, love this book and would recommend it.

4 Pickles

Book Review: A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison

Inkyard Press TBP Jan. 7th 2020 448 Pages

When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love.

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the wealthy coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares and the feeling of not belonging. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the rough streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything, much less how the rest of his life will play out.

Golden girl Nandy Smith has spent most of her life building the pristine image that it takes to fit in when it comes to her hometown Pacific Hills where image is everything. After learning that her parents are taking in a troubled teen boy, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames.

Now with Trice living under the same roof, the wall between their bedrooms feels as thin as the line between love and hate. Beneath the angst, their growing attraction won’t be denied. Through time, Trice brings Nandy out of her shell, and Nandy attempts to melt the ice that’s taken Trice’s heart and being. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.- Goodreads

Jumping right into this, I can see why there is a lot of love with this book. Although I didn’t love it, I can see the love there.

My first impression of this book once I finished it was . . . it was boring. The story of the boy coming from questionable past and environment meeting the rich girl from a completely different world is nothing new. This book didn’t bring anything new to this trope. This does not mean it wasn’t an entertaining read because it was for the most part.

Nandy and Trice were good enough characters to keep the book going. But there wasn’t enough development for me to be convinced of their romance but also and most importantly to like them. I did feel there was actual growth and both Nandy’s and Trice’s turnaround was too fast to be believable. There was no build up.

This is not to say that the book was rushed because it wasn’t. There wasn’t enough depth into the book and that is why I didn’t love this novel.

It was cute but it was boring and overall predictable. Yes, I know those words are harsh but to be fair, I know there are plenty of people that will love this book. I just don’t happen to be one of them.

I liked the fact that this book is a young adult romance that stars Black characters. It highlighted two types of families, touched on ancestry and adoption. It also touched on class and focused on social status. I liked these parts of the novel. Just wish the characters had more life to them and those points I mentioned above weren’t fillers.

Overall, when I sat and thought about it. This book has a very specific target group and it isn’t Black women or people in general. It was basic and didnt deliver the romance.

2 Pickles

Book Review: Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

Harper Voyager
Published Sept. 17th, 2019
448 Pages

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom.

But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.- Goodreads

Let us take a moment to enjoy this beautiful cover. I love everything about it and give mess a fantasy mess that I didn’t know I needed.

However, the book itself was just okay. I loved reading Captain Eva. The fact that she is Hispanic, Spanish is very part of her world i.e. the language, the name of her ship and even references to foods, I loved reading how causal she was. What I mean is it didn’t feel forced. Eva wasn’t trying to prove her heritage, didn’t have someone question her, she was being herself as natural as that is. This book is #ownvoices and that is clear and I am all for it.

I loved the space setting of this book. The author did a great job building this world. Although there could be more backstory, she did really well panting a very clear picture of where the world is now.;

The idea that she has to go into a world she really doesn’t want part of to save her sister is a good hook. But there was nothing really good on. Yes, the jobs were odd and dangerous and just getting more stressful by the moment but they didn’t provide the excitement that you would think would come from doing a dangerous job. There was a lot of do the job go back to the ship and about half way through the book, I was over it. It left me wanting more/wanting something better and scratching my head to what was going to happen next.

The other thing that I scratched my head about was the romance. It felt more like two people wanting to get laid than a actual romance. It didn’t develop as it should and it was a second part to whole saving the sister thing, which is what it should have been but it didn’t feel real.

Overall, the book was slow. It has a lot of potential within the characters and within the setting. I felt that with more development it could be perfect.

2 Pickles

Book Review: Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Knopf Books for Young Readers
TBP Oct. 29, 2019
288 Pages

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too. 

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on..- Goodreads

What I loved about this book is that it touches upon well focuses upon a topic that is rarely discussed. Children who are born with HIV do not really get a chance to tell their story. The only person that I can think of IRL prior reading this book is Hydeia Broadbent. I feel like this book was inspired by her.

This book is a great conversation starter and it is full of information, strength and some adorableness.

Simone is such a cutie. For a 17 year old, she is one of those girls that hold onto her innocence for dear life. It makes absolute sense why she is pretty sheltered; like she has HIV and has had it her whole life. It just gets too much as you keep reading the book. Like the author lays it on pretty thick. But she was genuine and I love the fact that the author was able to convey this.

The romance within this novel is A+. Miles and how he initiated their dating had the biggest smile on my face. Their emotions aren’t teenagers who are high on hormones. There is development in their relationship, its tested and there is value in Simone and Miles as more than just a couple. I thought it was great.

Here is what I didn’t like about the book. It was predictable. From the moment, Simone received the note, the reader or at least already knew what was going to happen. It really was not hard to figure out.

That was really the only thing about this book that I couldn’t get past . . . oh I lied. I hated the fact that Simone’s parents did not have any boundaries. What grown as man is going in to the GYN appointment with their 17 year old daughter? Like I get it, it was her first time going HOWEVER, there are several lines crossed by those parents and I was not feeling it.

Overall, a good read. I would recommend it.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Marrow Charm by Kristin Jacques

The Parliament House
TBP Oct. 1, 2019

Azure ‘Azzy’ Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground from the overwhelming dangers of the surface. But Below is no safer than Above.

Magic borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities, a sickness that doesn’t merely kill, but creates aberrations from the stricken: people twisted by magic into something dark, dangerous, and powerful. It is an existence of fear and constant dread. When Azzy’s brother, Armin, is infected and cast out into the Above, she sets out after him, determined to be there for him no matter what he becomes.

The world Above is full of monsters, both wild and cunning, some more human than Azzy was led to believe. Armin is captured and bound for the Auction block of Avergard, a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. To reach him, Azzy must brave the perils of the Above and the chaotic life forms created by the Gate. To reach him, she must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world.

And Azzy must reach him, before Armin’s new power is used to open the Gate once more. -Goodreads

This is going to be a short review because I actually didn’t care for Azzy or Armin. More Azzy than anything. She did a lot of whining and a lot back and forth and did things without much thoughts.

For life underground, she really didn’t try to know more or achieve more. She just went though the motions until her life was disturbed and then there was a problem. Normally, I wouldn’t exactly have an issue with this but I do because she worked under a apothecary but didn’t really have the motivation or drive to learn things on her own. It was a bit disappointing to read.

However, there was something that I liked about this book and that was the magic and the setting. The author has skill in sucking you into the world and keeping you there. Not to say I would live in that world because its messed up but one of the aspects I like was a side character Azzy meets. But Azzy shows a lack of understanding, care and investment because this character could have done wonders for Azzy like real wonders but Azzy doesn’t think that far ahead.

I digress on this short review. I can see why people love it so much but I wasn’t exactly thrilled with it and I was bored.

Overall,

2 Pickles