Nights into Nightmares by Travis Conte

View on Amazon
  • Published: December 5, 2019
  • Genre: Paranormal Romance
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 57
  • Rating: 3 stars

Where Even Angels Fear to Tread

Seeking closure for the tragic death of her mortal lover, the angel called Rain journeys to the one place in the universe she hates most: the Underworld. The graveyard of the universe. Where all dead things go: creatures, objects, worlds, memories. A vast realm of decay that draws in the fallen and holds them forever. Only the mad or the desperate would ever dare venture its nightmarish depths…but that’s exactly where Rain must go for answers.

Every agonizing step is a struggle to move forward and confront the truth. Rain battles the unquiet dead, her own inner demons, and even more terrible things. The Underworld itself hungers for her light. Not even an angel is safe from its corrupting grasp. As her body withers and her mind begins to fail, can her poisoned spirit endure the horrors that seek to shatter it?

If Rain falters, the Underworld will also be her tomb.

In the beginning of this short story, the reader meets Rain; she is grieving the loss of her mortal lover Jessica. In order to obtain answers to her untimely death, Rain decides to venture into the place she is most afraid of: the Underworld. However, there is a cost that Rain will pay if she wanders too long: she will be trapped there.

This was such a quick read; at less than sixty pages total, I was able to binge this one in a single sitting! Paranormal romance is a genre that I’m not well-read in, but Conte created a story that didn’t conform to the typical love story between a mortal and supernatural being. Conte allowed his plot to focus solely on the bond shared between his two female characters and how grief seemed to separate them, yet ultimately brought them together once more.

I recommend this one if you’re a fan of paranormal romance, if you’re a fan of short stories, or if you’re a fan of Kindle Unlimited books as this one is now available on their service!

*I was gifted a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Rose Petals by Sara McCoy

Purchase here
  • Published: April 27, 2019 by ShootingStar Publishing
  • Genre: Poetry
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 98
  • Rating: 3 stars

This transparent collection of poetry explores themes of grief and loss, the beauty of nature, self compassion, and the power of returning to your true self. With sensitivity and compassion, the author dares to express the heart’s deepest desire for relationship and love.

McCoy’s literary piece is broken into three categories: the loss, the longing, and the return. In each of these categories, there are numerous corresponding poems. As I was reading, I found myself connected to quite a few of the author’s poems and thought I’d share bits of each with you.

my grandma doesn’t remember my name

her memory unravels a little each year

like a faded tapestry

slowly fraying and coming undone at the seams

a poem titled “memories.”

This poem resonated with me because I have personally lost two grandparents who battled with Alzheimer’s disease.

autumn is a gentle friend

taking you by the hand to mend

your sorrows with a peaceful walk

through golden leaves with beauty dressed

and shows your heart the way to the rest

a poem titled “seasons.”

Autumn is my favorite season and reading the author’s portrayal for this particular season connected with me. It’s the time of change and can be difficult to do, but with change comes amazing opportunities.

when blended and swirled together

we create an entirely new shade

light and dark, strong and subtle

we are one, and yet entirely separate

a poem titled “two colors, one palette.”

It is always suggested to find a partner who shares your same interests as to avoid potential conflicts, but I have never been that type of girl. I’m a strong believer in opposites attract and this poem sums up how those relationships can work out for the better.

McCoy’s poetic piece is a quick read that readers everywhere will want to check out. If you end up loving this particular title, then you may want to look into other writings of hers from her website.

*I was given a free copy of this book via the author in exchange for an honest review.

Daughters of the Steppes by Brooks Carver

  • Published by Prairie Sky Press
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • Rating: 3 stars

This book conveys the stories of some of the most talented, brave, and resourceful women of their generation, the only female air force to appear in combat. It is told through the journal of a young innocent girl from the Russian Steppes. They battled the deadly German Luftwaffe in the skies over Russia, so join them on their missions by night above the dangerous killing fields of that era. Many of them sacrificed their lives while becoming the highest decorated regiment in the Soviet Union.
They were legends in the making. The many young women who lost their lives during those years left behind a legacy that far outlived them. Even though the Russian officials hid their exploits for many years, the glasnost era of the 1980’s brought their story into the shining light of history. Even in death, the Night Witches skill and bravery immortalized their contribution to victory on the Eastern Front.

I must confess that prior to reading this book, I was unaware of women performing military duties. I had always learned in school history courses of the women being the ones overseeing the home-fronts while their male counterparts were away in combat, so I was surprised to discover there was a navigation school during those days for women! Carver does a magnificent job at exposing this unheard part of women’s history; the author is able to achieve this status by combining retellings from a female navigator’s diary and war photos.

During the introduction, the author addresses the fact that the story is being shared via the diary of a young woman named Mariya, whose diary was discovered by Diederich Brandt who went on to translate it from Russian to English. Brandt’s son falls into possession of this prized treasure after the death of his father and relays its contents to Carver’s readers.

Readers will get to know Mariya as they follow her piloting journey; they will learn about the staggering amount of night missions the regimen participates in, the blossoming friendships among the ladies of the team, and the leading women in this line of work. Along these stories are photos from World War II and helps puts into perspective the events being described.

This is a nonfiction read like no other and those who enjoy this genre will want to pick up this book!

The author runs his own publishing house, which you can find the address for below:

Prairie Sky Press

118 Poplar Street

Canton, IL, 61520

*I was given a free copy of this book via the author in exchange for an honest review.

Shortcake by Lucy Watson

View on Goodreads
  • Published: September 19, 2019 by Lucy Watson Books
  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Pages: 390
  • Rating: 4 stars

Things Emelia Anderson would rather do than share a house with Benjamin Crawford:

1) Get strapped to a chair in a restaurant full of loud-chewers.

2) Parachute into the Australian Outback armed with only a blowdart.

3) Live her best life as an ice road trucker in the Alaskan Tundra.

Benjamin Crawford thinks Emelia conned his dying grandmother into leaving her half of an estate worth millions, so let’s just say he’s not her biggest fan either. Not even close.

Now they have to live together for the next thirty days while renovating the family home. Or the estate will transfer to the one person Ben hates more than Emelia, and she’ll have to move back to the one place she wants to forget more than Ben.

Did I mention Ben look likes man-candy and smells like testosterone? Not that Emelia notices. She spends a lot of time not noticing things about Ben.

Romantic comedies would have to be the category that I least read, let alone review. However, after a fellow bookstagrammer named Angela pushed for the ladies in her book club to read this title I decided I would take the plunge and see if it was worthy of all the hype.

The plot kicks off with Emelia’s patient, Rose, passing away and bringing about the unpleasant welcome of her grandson, Ben. After the funeral, Emelia and Ben are brought together to discuss the terms of his grandmother’s will; as it turns out, she had decided to split her estate between the two! However, this choice comes with its own conditions: they must live in the home together for an entire month AND renovate the house and have it deemed worthy. If the duo fails to achieve both of these, the estate will no longer be theirs.

Will the pair be able to put aside their differences and succeed at maintaining their control of Rose’s estate, or will they fail and lose everything? Readers will want to know what the answer to that question turns out to be and will not want to miss out on the beautiful way the author concludes their story!

*I was given a free copy of this book via the author in exchange for an honest review.

Final Girls by Riley Sager

View on Amazon
  • Published: July 11, 2017 by Dutton
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 352
  • Rating: 5 stars

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls: Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
 
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
 
That is until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit; and Sam, the second Final Girl, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

This is the second novel that I have read by Sager, the first being Lock Every Door. I found myself to be in the minority for that title, but decided to give him another chance and this time around, he did not disappoint! Sager manages to throw all the elements into this thriller: a sole survivor of a massacre, an unexpected visitor, and jaw-dropping reveals!

Quincy and a group of her friends take a vacation to Pine Cottage, a location that is out in the wilderness with spotty cell signal. The group finds themselves throwing a party and inviting a guy named Joe Hannen; a guy that they have only recently been introduced to and who strikes Quincy as odd. Her reasons for being suspicious prove wise when Hannen decides to go on a killing spree later that night and murder all her friends, leaving her wounded but still alive.

Flash forward to ten years later, Quincy refuses to try recalling any memories about that night’s events as she does not want to be associated with the title “Final Girl.” She just wants to live her life outside of the public eye and has succeeded in doing so, but that changes when the first “Final Girl” Lisa is discovered dead from a suspected suicide and Quincy is paid an unexpected visit from the second one, Samantha shortly after. Samantha quickly wears out her welcome, but Quincy finds herself in a position where she is being blackmailed and Samantha is the one calling shots.

Quincy sets out on a mission to uncover some type of dirt in a bid to use against Samantha and remove her from life once and for all, but she ends up uncovering way more than information on her visitor. This thriller had me convinced that I knew the killer’s identity and I felt I was right until the end when things took a turn and left my mind blown!

I highly recommend this thriller for those who enjoyed AHS: 1984, as this read definitely gave me those vibes.

And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

View on Amazon
  • Published: November 1, 2016 by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Edition: Audiobook
  • Time length: 1 hour and 9 minutes
  • Rating: 4 stars

Grandpa and Noah are sitting on a bench in a square that keeps getting smaller every day. The square is strange but also familiar, full of the odds and ends that have made up their lives: Grandpa’s work desk, the stuffed dragon that Grandpa once gave to Noah, the sweet-smelling hyacinths that Grandma loved to grow in her garden.

As they wait together on the bench, they tell jokes and discuss their shared love of mathematics. Grandpa recalls what it was like to fall in love with his wife, what it was like to lose her. She’s as real to him now as the first day he met her, but he dreads the day when he won’t remember her.

Sometimes Grandpa sits on the bench next to Ted, Noah’s father – Ted who never liked math, prefers writing and playing guitar, and has waited his entire life for his father to have time for him, to accept him. But in their love of Noah, they have found a common bond.

Grandpa, Grandma, Ted, and Noah all meet here, in this peculiar space that is growing dimmer and more confusing all the time. And here is where they will learn to say good-bye, the scent of hyacinths in the air, nothing to fear.

Ted, Noah’s father, and his father did not have a close relationship as he was growing up, but he is thankful for the opposite when it comes to the bond between his father and his son, Noah. Backman quickly sweeps readers into the folds of this familial tie and will have them engaged until the very end.

This was my first book by this author and it definitely will not be the last! Do not let the time length of this one fool you; this story packs a lot of heart! The author captures the deterioration involving Alzheimer’s perfectly, which is a disease that hits close to home for me as I have lost two grandparents that battled with this infliction. I highly recommend giving this one a read!

Oddball in 3G by Marc Berlin

Trigger Warnings: This novel discusses the following topics that may be difficult for some readers: mental health, physical abuse, profanity, violence.

View on Amazon
  • Published: September 19, 2019 by Black Rose Writing
  • Genre: Psychological Thriller
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 207
  • Rating: 3 stars

Robert Krieger’s life is quickly falling apart.

He’s been fired from his job, split with his sexy girlfriend, and has a controlling overbearing mother he feels obligated to call at least once a week. As a result, he’s developed a distressing anxiety disorder.

Robert lends money to an acquaintance across the hall in his building, a small-time drug dealer named Skids. When Skids is later assaulted by enforcers working for an inner-city drug gang, the Dragons, he hands Robert a package to hold for him until he either asks for it back, or dies.

Lonely but determined to find a new girlfriend, while jogging one morning Robert meets the beautiful and willowy Lindsay Marriott, whom he awkwardly begins to romance. Not long afterward, he finds himself in a bloody one-man war with the Dragons, who believe Robert possesses money Skids owes them.

Robert is soon juggling an increasing array of anxiety-heightening issues, which together conspire to wreak havoc on his fragile sanity.

I have read quite a few psychological thrillers where the author establishes some unreliable narrators, but Mr. Berlin’s character of Robert takes the cake! The author begins the story by introducing a quote from Norman Bates, which should have alerted me of the events that would soon unfold.

As the synopsis indicates, the main character struggles with his mental health; I, personally, struggle with anxiety and found Robert to be someone I quickly resonated with. Readers will constantly see him battling with his mental thoughts and trying to overcome them through weekly therapy sessions and daily medications.

As one might expect from someone who is anxious in nature, Robert is socially awkward and finds it hard to establish long-term relationships with other individuals. Readers will notice these complications when introduced to Skids, his next-door neighbor of several months who frequently borrows money from him despite having no other contact, and Lindsay, a woman he runs into by accident and quickly develops feelings for.

Until the halfway mark, this book is a very slow-burn which is not normally something I enjoy; I honestly felt like I would be rating this one as a solid two-stars, but events took a turn and was non-stop action until the end! As I do not give away spoilers in my reviews, it makes it hard to express why this book is worth the read but I urge you to give a chance because you won’t be disappointed.

*I’d like to thank the author for reaching out to me and gifting me a free copy in exchange for a honest review.

Red Hail by Jamie Killen

Trigger Warnings: This novel contains the following content that may be sensitive to certain readers: abortion, slight violence.

Purchase on Amazon
  • Published: January 21, 2020 by Red Adept Publishing, LLC
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 206
  • Rating: 3 stars

Professor Colin Ayres has spent years researching the strange story of Galina, Arizona, a sleepy border town ripped apart by violence and paranoia after the outbreak of a mysterious illness in 1960. Colin is certain the Galina Incident was simply a case of mass hysteria. But when his partner, Alonzo, starts exhibiting strange symptoms, Colin is shocked to realize they are the same as those that emerged in Galina decades ago.

As Alonzo’s condition worsens, Colin scrambles to piece together what really happened during that terrible summer in the past. He uncovers a story of murder, corruption, and fanaticism. The deeper he digs, the more he becomes convinced that what happened in Galina wasn’t mass hysteria after all.

When others start to develop the same eerie symptoms, Colin must confront the possibility that someone—or something—is driving the plague. Guided by rumors of a person who found a way to stop the plague in the sixties, Colin races to find answers before the disease destroys Alonzo and everyone else it touches.

Red Hail is a novel that is broken down into two timelines with two different set of main characters. In 1960, the readers are introduced to Anza, a sixteen year old girl; Dove, a former ward nurse; and Father Santiago, a priest. After a hail storm paints their town red, strange things begin to happen to almost all the citizens in their small town of Galina; with officials chalking it up to mass hysteria, these three set out on a mission to uncover the real reason behind the incidents.

Flash forward to present time in 2020, readers are introduced to Colin, a man who has done an extensive amount of research on Galina’s illnesses and until recently believed in the mass hysteria theory; Alonzo, his significant other who has family ties to Galina; and Sonia, a young mother who is experiencing the same symptoms as Alonzo. Together the three of them pursue leads to finally solve the decades long case and not only save themselves, but others in the future.

This novel is a quick read that will have you hooked until the very end; the author does a wonderful job at writing something scientific, but with enough dark mystery that it will be a hit for any reader that does not normally read from this genre. I will definitely be reading more of Killen’s work!

* I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Glass Half Full by Katia Rose

  • Publication date: January 8, 2020
  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Rating: 3 stars

You win some, you lose some.

Back at home with half a college degree after the fiasco of the century sent her packing, it’s safe to say that Renee Nyobé is losing some. She’s a hot mess, and not the cute kind. No, if hot messes had categories, hers would be ‘littering the stairs of the metro station with your sweaty underwear because you were too busy rushing to the job interview you’re already late for to zip up your yoga bag.’

A job—any job—is just what she needs to get her life back on track, and it might as well be at Montreal’s most famous dive bar, Taverne Toulouse.

Dylan Trottard is winning some. As Taverne Toulouse’s new manager, he’s got one rule for himself: don’t screw up. Following that rule gets a lot harder when the woman he’s spent the past three years trying to forget starts working behind the bar.
They were never supposed to want each other, and they sure as hell aren’t supposed to want each other now. She’s the girl that got away before he even had her, and he’s the guy she didn’t think would ever give her a second glance.

Now they can’t keep their eyes off one another, and the stakes are even higher than before. There’s a lot to lose, but as the pull between them gets harder and harder to ignore, Renee and Dylan start asking how much winning is worth.

Those who follow my blog are probably aware of the fact that romance is the least likely genre to find me reading, but I have been making more of an effort to embrace more titles in this particular category. Although this book is the second in a series by the author, each book can be read as a standalone. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I became invested in the budding relationship between the two main characters: Dylan and Renee; both individuals have flaws that readers can relate to and keep them rooting for a happy ending for the duo.

Renee is a twenty-one year old woman who finds herself back at home after her overseas education was cut short due to her suffering a mental breakdown. Even though it has been months since her incident, her family still feels the need to treat her like a fragile human-being. While trying to adjust to living life with anxiety and a different outcome of the life she had pictured for herself, Renee decides to apply for a job at a local dive bar. Unbeknownst to her, the newly promoted manager is someone from her past.

Dylan is a twenty-something year old who readers find has been recently promoted to manager at the dive bar that he has been working at for quite some time. When Renee comes walking through the doors, he cannot help but be taken on a journey through the past when he was crushing on her in their poetry group. Even though this is a second chance at being an item, he feels conflicted to pursue anything as he is hiding a secret that he seems unable to truly forgive himself for.

Over the course of the novel, readers see the characters work through their own personal struggles and find themselves drawn closer to one another. I read this book rather quickly and already wish it was time for the release of book three! Trust me, you will want to go ahead and preorder this one!

I was provided an advanced reader’s copy of this book via the author in exchange for an honest review.

With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

  • Published: May 7, 2019 by HarperTeen
  • Genre: Young Adult
  • Edition: E-book
  • Pages: 395
  • Rating: 5 stars

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

With 2019 quickly coming to an end and not having a five star read since September, I was worried that I would not be able to discover another one in time. I was delighted when my library hold came in for this title as I had heard great things about this book and I can happily report that it did not disappoint! The author does a wonderful job at demonstrating how one can overcome obstacles, pursue dreams, and take time for things that matter.

Emoni, the story’s strong female lead, is a teenager who has had the odds stacked against her since she became pregnant during her freshmen year of high school. With a child of her own while still a child herself, she fought hard to stay at her current school instead of being placed in an alternative one intended for other expectant mothers; she also made the decision to attend summer school to catch up on her missing credits and obtained a job to help cover the expenses of raising her child.

Emoni has always loved cooking and enjoys adding her own personal twist to every dish she prepares; it is one of the things I loved about her character while reading this book. She aspires to become a chef who owns her own restaurant one day, so it is no surprise that she quickly hops on the opportunity to attend a culinary arts course when it becomes available at her school. She struggles to accept her decision to join the class as she knows that it will cut into her studying and job hours, but is soon reassured by her loved ones that this is a great decision on her end.

Towards the end of the novel, the readers start to see the female character take control of her life and really start focusing on things that matter; she starts applying to several colleges, she starts trusting her baby’s father with more responsibilities that in return helps lighten her load, and she plans a trip to visit her relatives over the summer.

I highly recommend others to read this book when given the chance; I can almost guarantee that you won’t be disappointed! Despite finishing this book a couple days ago, I’m still thinking about the plot and wanting more of Emoni’s story!