Audiobook Review – They Went Left


So… I like WWII historical fiction, and the premise of a sister searching for her brother after the war seemed like an intriguing premise. But this one didn’t quite work for me in a lot of ways. The writing was beautiful, the reality of surviving the Holocaust was intense, and the historical accuracies were all pluses. But, I hate to say, I wasn’t a fan of the main character, Zofia. She is single-minded, abrupt, and rather self-centered in a way that was a little difficult to connect with. And while the message of this book seems to be finding hope after so much darkness, I found the ending to be… well… depressing.

So, not really my cup of tea, but if you like historical fiction and don’t mind sad endings, this could be for you! 

⭐⭐⭐½  

The world’s sad enough – no sad endings for me please!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – Broken (After the Plague #1)


After the Plague is a dual POV story that follows Yorke (a returning soldier) and Frankie (an artist) as they navigate the very beginnings of a plague-brought apocalypse. The writing flows well, the characters are likable, and the apocalyptic details feel real and hit close to home. My biggest critique is that this very short book doesn’t feel complete. It really reads like part one of a bigger novel. And while there may be action and romance in the sequels, I didn’t find as much of it here as I would’ve liked to hook me into book 2. However, the introduction of Beast and Auden was cute, and I have a feeling a future found family might be in order once the two MCs meet up.

So if you’re looking for a post-apocalyptic read and are committed to reading more than just the first one, I’d say definitely give it a look!

⭐⭐⭐¾

Tula in the seemingly apocalyptic mess that is the play room.

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Small Favors


There was so much I liked about this book! It’s set in Amity Falls, a small-town of ambiguous timeline or country, though I would roughly call it 1800s pioneer-like, that has a history of monsters in the woods.

If you have ever seen M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village – it feels a LOT like that. People start seeing things in the woods, and disturbing things start to crop up (mutated animals, blighted crops, unexplained occurrences.)

And then of course the main character, Ellery, also starts to fall for a handsome young man that is new to the town (although I will say the romance is very light). The writing is beautiful as the tension steadily rises throughout, putting the slow in slow burn.

But for all that build up, I have to say, I thought we stumbled a little at the end, and the ending was neither was explosive nor as satisfying as I was hoping. Also, Sam just about drove me mad. Still, I liked Ellery and Whittaker, and I’ve now put another one of Erin A. Craig’s on my TBR, so I’d totally recommend for anyone looking for slow-build, creepy paranormal.

⭐⭐⭐⭐¼

Thumbs up for this one! Definitely enjoyed the read!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – The Rose Code


I’m a big fan of Ken Follett historical fiction and WWII novels, so I can’t help but feel like this book should’ve held my attention more than it did.

It details three women who go to work as codebreakers in Bletchley Park in England in WWII. The story is spliced between them during their time at Bletchley, and them a few years after the War ended… in which they are rather miserable.

Initially the work is freeing for them, each in their own way, and they become close friends. However, as they go on, the story really goes into the sacrifices they have to make to keep their secrets… which ends up tearing them apart and leaving them all with their own invisible wounds.

While the book ends on a positive note, I still thought it was kind of a downer. Specifically there’s an event that happens in the middle that I really just couldn’t get over. (Feel free to Twitter DM me if you want the full rant.)

The author’s notes at the end of where the direct inspiration came from was super interesting, but overall, I thought the book was a bit too long and too slow for my taste. But if you want heavily researched historical fiction about the women of Bletchley Park, than I recommend you give it a look!

Watch out for about the 60% mark though… it’s a doozy.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

My sad, pouty face at 60%. If you know, you know.

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – The Night She Disappeared


The Night She Disappears follows three POVs: Tallulah (a 19yo mother, who mysteriously goes missing along with her boyfriend), her mother, and a mystery novelist who’s just moved to the area.

While the premise was interesting—couple disappears with out a trace—and there were a few little twists and turns I didn’t expect, I had a hard time falling in love with the characters. Particularly, I found Tallulah’s passiveness rather frustrating, and overall I found the tension just a little low. I’m not sure if that’s because it seemed overlong, or because the sense of danger wasn’t really there.

If you’re looking for a solid mystery in the English countryside that takes it time, it might be worth a look.

⭐⭐⭐½

Hmm… do I fear a reading slump coming on?! Surely not!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – A Deadly Education


Okay… this book was interesting. I loved Uprooted, and also enjoyed Spinning Silver, so I was certainly excited to read another by Novik.

And, I definitely think some readers would love it. But it’s told in first person (which usually I don’t mind one away or another about this), but about 60% of the book really just feels like El telling us about the school in a simultaneously angry and matter-of-fact manner.

The school and the magic system are fascinating, don’t get me wrong, but… the plot itself and the characters both felt rather lacking to me. With such high stakes, the premise felt RIPE for intensity, danger, and some level of angst… but El is so matter-of-fact about everything, it just felt a little flat.

While the relationship between her and her classmates develops naturally, the relationship between she and Orion feels decidedly lukewarm, as does my feelings towards their characters in general.

The premise was awesome, the world-building fantastic and the audiobook was well-performed, but I guess El’s intensely pragmatic narrative just didn’t really work for me. But it might work for you! If you’re interested in a dark school of magic with high stakes, I’d check it out!

I might pick up the sequel if I see the audiobook in the library one day, but I don’t think I’ll be pining for it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read on, my friends!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – Beneath Her Skin


Beneath her Skin by C.S. Porter follows Kes Morris, a hardened homicide detective called to a small seaside town to investigate a disturbing murder. This a fast-paced murder mystery that hits all the right beats. It’s a gripping story, tugging you along as the time clicks down on the clock with an underlying sense of creepiness laced in with every scene.

Kes’s take on getting into the killer’s head is really interesting, and the intensity increases right up to a satisfyingly finale. Although the murders are definitely disturbing, I wouldn’t classify them as exceedingly gory or gritty, which is about right on my level. The descriptions, setting, and atmosphere of a small town living in the shadow of killer were vivid and drew me right in to the scenes. While I couldn’t predict the plot twists, they felt really natural and were well-executed. . Kes is a smart and no-nonsense character, but I wish I’d gotten to see a little more of the side characters.

Overall, this was a quick read that I definitely enjoyed, and would totally recommend to crime thriller fans! (Content Warning: Child Abuse.) Thanks so much to the publisher for the free review copy.

⭐⭐⭐⭐1⁄2

Tula looks satisfied to me, don’t you think?

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – If I Never Met You


So, I was expecting a fun romcom about fake dating, and I don’t think this book was exactly what I was looking for. If I Never Met You follows Laurie after her boyfriend (an coworker) of 18 years breaks up with her for someone else, and she decides to fake date the office player to make him jealous. The love interest doesn’t really show up until like 30% in, and the book mostly focuses on the Laurie getting over her 18-year-long relationship, rather than really falling for her fake-boyfriend. Though I liked the two main characters well enough, their relationship feels extremely platonic, and then suddenly at the very end it’s super serious. It held my attention though, so if you’re looking for a tale of break-up recovery and friendship with a sprinkle of romance, this might be for you. Oh also, for those curious: I’d rate it R for language, but the romance scenes are fade to black.

⭐⭐⭐¾

Bring us your silly, tropey goodness!

Thanks for reading!

NYC Midnight Challenge Entry: Nothing Good Happens After Midnight

Nothing Good Happens after midnight

April 2022 (Round One)
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Word: Think
Action: Borrowing a Tool
Time Constraint: 24 hours
Length: 100 words

The doorbell rings again as I stumble through my dark apartment. Bleary-eyed, I open the door to find Nate in a dripping windbreaker.

Weird, I didn’t hear the rain.

“Dude, it’s three a.m.” I squeeze my temples, barely able to think after our boozy night. “Weren’t you staying at Mia’s? Did you fight?”

His gaze darkens. “Dylan, we’re friends, right?”

“Yeah.” I stifle a yawn. “You can crash on the—”

“I need to borrow something.”

My skin prickles in the balmy night. “What?”

“A shovel.”

My eyes finally focus, and I realize it’s not rain on his jacket.

It’s blood.

JUDGe’s Feedback

This one placed third in my group and got me to the next round! The feedback is below!

WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY

{2195}  The word choice in this is precise, each description carrying weight to further the story. Moving plot onward using conversation can be challenging but it’s done effectively here.

{1936}  This story had me riveted. The first line shows us the urgency of the doorbell as it’s clearly not the first time it’s rung. The dripping windbreaker and the fact that it’s not raining – again, eerie clues that something is not quite right.

{2230}  What a compelling read! I must say, I love this title — very clever, and it offers great foreshadowing as to what kind of events may unfold. I like how descriptive this story is; I could easily envision this playing out in my head while I read it, almost like a scene from a spooky short film. It’s very visual, and that reveal at the end is great: the jacket was wet with blood, and not from the rain.  

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK

{2195}  Suspense thrives on what is left unsaid, and in this case I might prefer to leave out the last two words and leave the reader’s mind to figure out. Instead of using italics for thought, it may do double duty to have Dylan, for example, look up the cloudless sky and also let the reader make that inference.  

{1936}  I honestly don’t think that last line is needed (the age-old “show don’t tell” rule). Possibly consider ending it with the line just before it (“My eyes finally focus, and I realize it’s not rain on his jacket”). Trust the readers to draw their own grisly conclusion.  

{2230}  While I love this clever use of the prompts — particularly, “borrowing a tool” — perhaps there could be a quick line buttoning everything up at the end. Maybe something almost comedic, like: “And, uh, mind if I use your washer, too?” (Referring to his blood-soaked clothes.) Also, any chance there could be some foreshadowing earlier on? I like Dylan’s dialogue; however, instead of asking if there had been a fight last night, perhaps he could experience a brief flashback revealing that there in fact was one. It could all come flooding back to him. This is just some food for thought — excellent work on this story!

Hey, why’d you redesign your covers?

So the big news this week is that I got my Odriel’s Heirs and Idriel’s Children covers redesigned! And so many people have asked me why, I figured I’d write a post about it (mostly because I’m too tired tonight to do anything else productive. 😂)

So when I first was looking for a cover designer for Odriel’s Heirs, I’d never commissioned art of ANY kind before, and at the time, I thought Odriel’s Heirs would be the only book I ever wrote. (Seven books later, let’s all laugh together. 🤣)

So, I wanted something that could double as both character art and a cover. And although Dominique Wesson did a fabulous job of capturing the characters… based on anonymous feedback from NetGalley, the original cover designs were getting somewhere around a C-. Ouch. And to add to that, my BookBub deal requests kept getting rejected, and I suspected it had to do with the covers.

Fast forward to 2022, and the original cover designer is crazy busy and almost impossible to schedule, and I’m no longer a huge fan of seeing the character’s faces on the cover. I’d rather give the reader more flexibility to imagine the characters and commission character art separately, like the wonderful pieces by @stephydrawsart_ below. (But if you ever want to make my LIFE, I adore fanart.)

Anyways… Of course, I wanted all of the covers to match, so I briefly considered trying to get a character art cover similar to my first too… but then I saw Fay Lane’s work and totally fell in love.

And now here we are! I’m also hoping that the new covers will expand my audience, and I can still use the original covers as marketing or promotional tools. Maybe one day, I’ll shell out for a character art cover of Time’s Orphan so I can have two complete sets. But for now, I’m so thrilled with the new look and can’t wait to see them all in print together before too long!

The new paperbacks of Odriel’s & Idriel’s are now available on Amazon, and I’m hoping to release Time’s Orphan advance review copies in the fall!

As always, thanks for reading!