I picked up The Future Bride by J.G MacLeod as the winner of my little free library contest when it totally hooked me with the tagline, “For adventure. For love. For kilts. (And strong gin)” and I absolutely love when a book is exactly what I think it’s going to be.
This is like a lighter, more fun Highlander. Brigid is a spunky, present-day barista (with martial arts skills) thrown into old Scotland, and she does not back down from the rough and tumble highlander life. The story moves really fast and I couldn’t believe I inhaled it in two days! I liked the interactions between
Brigid and Ferghus and found the portrayal of the old Scottish Gaelic language and culture really interesting. My only real critique was that I wish Brigid had been a little smarter/stronger in the final act. Overall though, really enjoyed this fun, romantic read and would totally recommend for anyone looking for a romcom twist on Highlander!
The Controlled by P.J. Willett follows a group of teachers and students in a bleak dystopian school after a human experiment goes terribly wrong. And, boy, is this book bleak. I’m all for dystopian shenanigans but these characters are absolutely a product of their horrible environment, and they are *rough*!
The story unfolds the fateful day from the perspectives of several of the main characters. Each one has their flaws and brutal backstory of surviving in this world in which the education system is now corporately controlled and has completely devolved. This book definitely has a message to convey, and it doesn’t hold any punches as it leans into a, at times, amusingly over-the-top caricature of a school under-siege by its mind-controlled-gone-wrong students. This dark narrative was wholly unique and definitely held my attention, but without anyone to truly root for, I didn’t feel super invested in the characters’ fates. However, if you’re looking for a twisted near-future dystopian that serves as an intense reflection on modern trends, I’d definitely give it a look!
Thanks so much to the publisher for the free ebook!
Face the Music by M.L. East definitely ups the ante from A Trick of the Spotlight in so many ways! In Face the Music, we now get four more POVs (Ryo, Namgi, Mino, and Jaeyoon) and a whopping 171 more pages full of intense K-Pop drama that’s so hard to put down!
This book picks up right where the last one left off, with Kit in an almost impossible situation… and I hate to say it, but it doesn’t really get better for her. With the new POVs, there’s even more relationship drama, and we definitely get to know more about Vortex and its group dynamics. The stakes are higher here as Ryo’s controlling, gangster-like family gets involved, and Vortex is definitely on edge.
My only real critique is that I feel like Kit was almost a minor character in this sequel, and I liked her so much in book one! Hers was still my favorite POV, but I definitely felt like she was kind of sidelined here, and I wish we’d gotten to see more of her.
That said, this book still has that addicting, tear-through-the-pages feel of the first book, and I would totally recommend it to readers looking for juicy K-Pop drama.
R.I.P. Viola Winkle by E.P. Stavs is described as Rip Van Winkle x Beauty & the Beast x Celtic Fantasy, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen comp titles that match a book so well!
After reading may of E.P. Stavs’ other books, I did not hesitate to grab up this ARC and was definitely not disappointed. Every time Stavs’ writing style immediately pulls me in with smart dialogue, quick pacing, and strong plot flow.
The characters were all likable, and I really liked the feel of Ethan’s gothic home and the strong found-family vibes. Viola was fun and quirky as a 1950s librarian in a new world, and I loved her interactions with the 21st century child that was Sylvie. Red of course was my favorite, and I loved the conflict between him and Viola. The Buinnean family in general was also just an interesting Celtic addition to the mix!
Overall, I totally recommend this one to fans of a contemporary fairy-tale like romance that leaves you with the warm fuzzies of a happy ending and a well-told story.
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!
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.
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.
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.