Review: And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall

Author: Rachel Howzell Hall
Publisher: Forge Books
Released: September 22nd, 2020
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Abuse, stalking, animal death

3 1/2 kitties

I received a copy of And Now She’s Gone in exchange for a fair and honest review.

And Now She’s Gone is the latest thriller to hit the shelves, one that’s willing to delve into lives full of secrets, fears, and the determination to keep on going.

Grayson Sykes just got her first solo case as a private investigator, and it’s to find a woman who has gone missing. A woman, who by all appearances doesn’t want to be found. Yet there’s more to this story, and this case, than meets the eye.

Isabel Lincoln has been missing for months, with and yet it’s only now that her boyfriend has reached out for professional help finding her. Her disappearance is full of twists and turns, which Gray will have to dig through in order to find the truth of what actually happened – as opposed to the story that those involves would rather it become.

“Everyone lies. Everyone leaves something out of the narrative…There were big secrets everywhere.”

Warnings: And Now She’s Gone covers some heavy subjects, mainly those of abuse and stalking. There is also mention of an animal dying, but it is in the past (though it does come up a couple of times).

And Now She’s Gone is arguably the most intriguing and unique mystery/thriller I’ve read in quite some time. I honestly had no idea which way the story was going to twist at any given point, as there were just so many threads up in the air.

That being said, I did have a little bit of trouble getting into this story, despite being truly excited for it. I think the biggest problem is that we essentially started in the middle of a story. Gray has a huge history to contend with (which is slowly revealed over the course of the novel), and now she’s dealing with her first case – and it’s a big one.

That’s a lot to take in, right from the start. Throw in all of the hints and allusions to something even bigger going on, and it can get kind of intimidating. Gray’s massive personality did help to bring the whole thing home though, so there is that.

I was well and truly hooked by the end though, I just had to see how this missing person’s case actually unfolded. Everything about Isabel was so complex and shrouded in mystery, so naturally the solution was going to be anything but easy.

I do love that Isabel’s story had some interesting mirroring elements going on, bringing parts of Gray’s story to life. Which admittedly probably didn’t need much help, since her past was clearly not content to stay where it belonged.

All things considered, I enjoyed And Now She’s Gone. I almost wish that it was part of a series, because I really would love to see how this character progressed with even more time available to her. Either way, I love how human this story ended up feeling.

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Review: Living With Mochi by Gemma Gene

Author: Gemma Gene
Artist: Gemma Gene
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Released: April 6th, 2021
Received: Edelweiss

Living With Mochi is the latest adorable addition to Gemma Gene’s publications. If you love animals, especially quirky little pugs like Mochi, then this is the graphic novel for you.

Living With Mochi is full of illustrations (created by the one and only Gemma Gene) that will feel amazingly familiar for many pet parents. Who hasn’t coddled their pet, put up with their whims, and overall put their happiness above their own?

The vignettes that Gemma Gene captured here are so beautiful. They’re also hilarious in ways that are well-suited to a pug named Mochi. On more than one occasion, I burst out laughing or found myself sagely nodding along with decisions made.

Gemma Gene’s artwork is perfect for these slice-of-life comics. They’re quirky in every way that Mochi is, and that cannot be stated enough. While the overall concept of many of these comics had me laughing, it was the execution of it all that had me roaring with laughter.

This may be the story of a very personable pet, but it is also a very human story. We all crave connections, and that is something portrayed so beautifully within these pages. Though I’m probably a little bit biased here, being a crazy cat lady, erm, animal lover. It’s one of the many reasons why I will always jump at the chance to read anything created by Gemma Gene. She just gets me.

Thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Review: Gwenpool, The Unbelievable Vol. 1: Believe It

Author: Christopher Hastings
Artists: Danilo Beyruth, Gurihiru
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Released: November 29th, 2016
Received: Own
Issues: Gwenpool 0-4

Gwenpool, The Unbelievable is one of my all favorite series of all time. That’s why I’m reading Gwenpool, The Unbelievable Vol. 1: Believe It for what must be at least the fifth time (if not more, seriously guys, I love this series).

Gwen Poole used to be just like us. A comic book fan living a fairly common (and kind of dull) life. Then one day, she finally got her wish. She found herself thrown into the world of Earth-616. Aka, the world where all of our heroes exist.

From that moment on, she has been a source of comedy, and more than her fair share of chaos. After all, her greatest talent in a world full of superheroes is her innate and comic-fueled knowledge of who they are, how they operate, and any other secrets that might have leaked onto the pages. Thus she became, Gwenpool.

Words cannot describe how much I love this series. More accurately, I adore Gwenpool, and I especially adore the start of her own standalone series, Gwenpool, The Unbelievable Vol. 1: Believe It. It’s quirky, fun, chaotic, and gave Marvel (through Christopher Hastings) a chance to throw some commentary from the die-hard fans out into the world.

Gwen’s whole concept is kind of unique and funny, actually. She’s a massive comic fan, and thus entered the world knowing all there is to know about the heroes that typically grace our pages. For a time, that was her only gift in a world full of superheroes.

Yet she still managed to make herself stand out. Granted, she didn’t always do so in the best of ways, but that just made her series all the more entertaining. Especially when combined with commentary about Batroc or Doctor Strange (spoiler alert: she totally digs that Sorcerer Supreme).

To be fair, Christopher Hastings does have a talent for writing the absurd in a way that is both believable, and absolutely hilarious. So far, I’ve loved every foray of his into Marvel, and would strongly recommend for fans to keep an eye on his work.

The artists, Danilo Beyruth and Gurihiru, managed to make the original design of Gwenpool super cute and endearing. That’s no mean feat, and something I think they should get loads more credit for. I’ll confess I don’t always adore the way she’s portrayed when showing up in other series (sorry, not sorry).

Long story short: Gwenpool is one of my favorite series, and thus this is the start to one of my absolute favorites. I can’t recommend it enough, and hope you enjoy it at least half as much as I do.

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Comic Book Roundup

Word of the Nerd:

Darkhawk Heart of Hawk #1 – Read HERE

Thor #14 – Coming Soon

Thor and Loki Double Trouble #2 – Coming Soon

Monkeys Fighting Robots:

Star Trek The Next Generation: The Gift – Read HERE

Jules Verne’s Lighthouse #1 – Read HERE

Quirky Cat’s Comics:

Darkhawk Heart of Hawk #1 – Read HERE

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Review: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Author: Hafsa Faizal
Series: Sands of Arawiya #1
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released: May 14th, 2019
Received: Own
Warnings: Assassins, misogyny

I hate myself for taking so long to sit down and read We Hunt the Flame. Has it really been sitting on my shelf for nearly TWO YEARS?! Yes, yes it has. Considering how much I loved this book, I consider that such a shame.

Zafira is the Hunter – and in lands that were more accepting, she would be known as the Huntress. That is not to be, even when she’s the only one who can dare enter the magic forest and hope to come out alive.

Then there’s the Prince of Death, a literal prince and assassin all in one. Nasir terrifies all around, with one notable exception. His father. Now Nasir has been ordered to go after the Hunter, use him to track down a priceless treasure, and then eliminate him.

“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”

Words cannot describe how much I loved We Hunt the Flame. It was everything that I could have asked for – and so much more. This book may be almost five hundred pages – but it went by in the blink of an eye.

Well, thankfully, not quite so literally. But I did read it over the course of two nights, and what an experience it was! My only regret is that I didn’t plan ahead and have We Free the Stars sitting on a shelf waiting to be read next.

Zafira and Nasir make for freaking fantastic opposing characters. It takes a while before they meet, but I enjoyed the switch in perspectives even before then. Both stories are heartbreaking for very different reasons.

I think it took me about two (?) chapters to get sucked into the plot. But once I did? Yeah, it was thoroughly stuck in my brain. I’m still wondering what will happen next or how they’re going to complete the next mission (I’m trying to be vague here, to avoid spoilers).

“Be as victorious as the name I have given you, and bring the desert to its knees.”

So yes: in case it wasn’t obvious, I loved We Hunt the Flame. It is going on my list of favorite young adult novels. And I will be picking up We Free the Stars once my book budget allows (I’ve been veeery bad lately).

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Review: Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

Author: Charlie Jane Anders
Series: Universal Expansion #1
Publisher: Tor Teen
Released: April 13th, 2021
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

Charlie Jane Anders is back! This time with a new YA series. Victories Greater Than Death is the first novel in the Universal Expansion series, and I, for one, could not be more excited about it. Okay, the fact that it promises to be perfect for Doctor Who and Star Wars fans didn’t hurt my excitement any.

Her whole life, Tina knew that she was meant for something more. Literally. She wasn’t born on earth but is instead a human and cloned version of a famous alien commander. One day, she’s destined to step into her shoes and take over the role of commander.

So, no pressure, right? Even knowing that the moment would come, it was still hard to believe it’s all really happening. That Tina is being whisked away to join in with a war against a great evil in the universe.

“My whole life has been leading up to this, and I can’t stand the waiting.”

First of all, can I just say that I absolutely love the purple cover for Victories Greater Than Death? It’s absolutely stunning, and you guys know that I’m a sucker for a pretty book. Naturally, I had high expectations for this novel, having loved Charlie Jane Anders’ previous works.

I was not disappointed. This is Charlie Jane Anders’ first foray into YA, and clearly, it is a good fit. The story and scale are epic, the characters are numerous and diverse, and the aesthetic of the world is fascinating.

The world (universe?) is massive, with dozens of aliens filling the pages. Everyone felt unique, and I love the way they all seemed to address themselves. The cast of characters is admittedly quite large, and while there were a few times where I found myself confused (not a huge task, if we’re being honest here), overall. I really enjoyed following their different journeys.

“There are victories greater than death. I might not live to see justice done, but I can see it coming.”

Many of the secondary characters were such a delight to read about. No offense to Tina, she was the driving force behind the plot, and I respected her role there. However, Rachel stole the show on more than one occasion. So did Elza, for that matter. I loved her sense of humor so much.

“I’m a billion miles from home, under a new sky.”

This is a novel that space loving readers are going to enjoy. It’s so open and approachable, making it a great read for any age. The message within Victories Greater Than Death is a powerful one, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next installment of the series.

Thanks to Tor Teen and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Blog Tour & Review: The Deadening by Kerry Peresta

Stay tuned below for a review, contest and excerpt of The Deadening!

Author: Kerry Peresta
Series: Olivia Callahan Suspense #1
Publisher: Level Best Books
Released: February 23rd, 2021
Received: Blog Tour
Warnings: Amnesia, assault

4 kitties

The Deadening is the start to a brand new series, Olivia Callahan Suspense, written by Kerry Peresta.

Olivia Callahan’s life had been neat and orderly. Or at least, that’s what she’s been told. Those memories were lost when she was attacked. One day in a hospital, she woke up having no idea what happened to her or even who she was.

She survived, and she will persevere. Getting her life back is going to be a battle, much like the fight for her life and her health. Olivia is more than up for the task and all of the challenges it will bring with it.

“Something soft and warm lay beneath his palms. His breathing sped up. He looked down, but it was too dark to see.”

It has been a hot minute since I had time to read a psychological suspense novel that made The Deadening a refreshing (and terrifying) read for me! Now, I know that a lot of the description may make The Deadening sound like a typical thriller, but trust me! It is anything but.

This is an intense read, right from the start. Even the prologue is enthralling, hinting at the battle that is on the horizon for Olivia Callahan. Overall, I loved her perspective and the unique take on everything she went through.

I think what I loved the most about The Deadening is that Kerry Peresta really embraced this thriller’s psychological aspect. Meaning that while there aren’t really any dramatic chases or battles, it preys on the anxiety lying in wait in all our minds. In that sense, it was excellently written!

The secondary character introduced was a bit of a surprise for me (his name doesn’t come up in the description, for example), but I think his inclusion helped flesh out the story even more. While I think I would have enjoyed it regardless, that did add a nice touch.

Long story short, I enjoyed The Deadening, and I legit can’t wait to see what will happen in the next installment of the series. No, really, I have no idea, and that is pretty exciting for me.

Thanks to Level Best Books for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Buy The Deadening: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Find Kelly Peresta : Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Click HERE to enter the contest!

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Review: Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found by Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi

Authors: Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Released: February 16th, 2021
Received: Review Request

I received a copy of Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found is a new middle grad novel, one that hopes to open up a world of imagination and magic to a younger audience. It’s written by Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi, the pseudonyms for Craig Phillips and Harold Hayes, Jr.

Kingston has always loved magic. Even when it was that very love that took away his father. You see, one moment he was there, on the stage. The next he was gone. Yet Kingston still feels a connection there, and a hope that his father will come back, one day.

Now that Kingston is back in Echo City, the hunt for his father – and all of his secrets – is about to begin in earnest. However, even Kingston’s imagination wouldn’t have been able to predict everything he’s about to discover.

“She looks at me with that side-eye and headshake like, look at this kid.

Nuts like his father.”

Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found is a fun and fast-paced read, one that I think (and hope) a lot of young readers will enjoy. Especially those that love adventure, magic, and any combination of the two.

I honestly adored the focus on Kingston and his missing father. It single-handedly added such a human element, while still carrying such a strong air of intrigue and mystery. It takes a while for the full story to become revealed, and that just further adds to the mystery of it all.

Likewise, the blurring of the lines between real and magical was brilliantly done. One moment Kingston is grounded in the real world. In Brooklyn. The next, he’s off in another realm. Or he’s in a stranger border between the two. It was enchanting, on every level.

This is a novel that starts out slow, taking the time to introduce the characters, plot, and all the conflict found within. But it quickly picks up the pace, until the readers are in the middle of a whirlwind adventure. Personally, that is the perfect order of pacing in my mind, and it made for an ideal experience here.

Ultimately, I really can’t recommend Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found enough, especially for any readers looking to try something new and different. Bonus points for making a read that both adults and younger readers can enjoy here (though the focus, naturally, is on a younger audience).

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Review: The Push by Ashley Audrain

Author: Ashley Audrain
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Released: January 5th, 2021
Received: Own (BOTM)
Warnings: Postpartum depression, paranoia, abuse, infant death, neglect, suicide

3 kitties

The Push is Ashely Audrain’s debut novel, and it’s a novel that I’ve been hearing so many positive things about. It’s a psychological drama with tense family moments all throughout, and has resonated with many readers, from the sounds of it.

Blythe Conner didn’t have what one would call a dream mother, when she was growing up. She made a promise to herself that she would do better with her own baby, Violet. Only…there’s something wrong.

With Violet that is, not with Blythe. She can see that there’s something wrong, even if nobody else believes her. Her belief about this hidden truth is confirmed with the birth of her second child, Sam. He’s perfect, and she doesn’t get that same sense of wrongness from him.

Blythe’s journey through motherhood is far from simple, and far from over. As she has many trials in store for her.

“I’ve come here to give this to you. This is my side of the story.”

The Push was not exactly what I had been expecting, if I’m being completely honest. It was fascinating on some levels, and very well written. But I did not find that emotional connection that many other readers have mentioned in their reviews.

I hate it when I pick up a book, expecting to love it, and I don’t. I wanted to love The Push. I went into it with high expectations, and I simply wasn’t blown away by it. Maybe it’s the subject matter that was explored.

On that note: Content (and spoiler) warning: The Push explores many concepts and tropes, from postpartum depression to paranoia and abuse. Also depicted are scenes involving infant death, neglect, suicide, and a crumbling marriage. So not exactly a light read, by any means.

For me, I think the biggest problem is that the entirety of The Push revolves around the Bad Seed trope. It’s far from being my favorite trope, and thus I just couldn’t get into this narrative, no matter how intriguingly it is written.

Normally I love domestic suspense/psychological thrillers, so you can imagine my disappointment here. I think that’s the main reason I’m going with a three star rating, as opposed to something slightly higher. Still, I feel like I’m missing something for not loving this novel – as everyone else seems to have adored it. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

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Review: Crush by Tracy Wolff

Author: Tracy Wolff
Series: Crave #2
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Released: September 29th, 2020
Received: Own

Finally! I finally sat down to read the highly anticipated sequel to Crave, Crush. Written by Tracy Wolff, this is a novel I’ve been hearing so much about, and finally I can stop dodging all those spoilers out there.

It’s been four months since Grace turned into stone in an effort to save Jaxon. Now she’s back…only nothing feels quite right. Perhaps because she has no memory of the months she’s lost, or any understanding of her new powers.

Okay, the fact that Hudson is sharing the same mental space as her probably ranks high up on the list of things that don’t feel right. This is a man that everyone has been telling her to fear. The man who tried to take Jaxon from her.

Now, Grace must once again fight for her life, though this time around she’s going to be making waves. As she’s not content to let those around her save the day. She’s not going to let them pay that price.

“Sometimes life hands you more than a new hand of cards to play—it hands you a whole new deck, maybe even a whole new game.”

Wow. Crush was one heck of a whirlwind read! It’s one of those books that is going to through you onto an emotional roller coaster as you read, and dump one surprising ending on you before it’s all said and done.

Much like Crave, come to think of it. Good to know that there’s a pattern here. Oh! Speaking of patterns, once again we have a lovely cover here! And it looks like Covet (the third novel in the series) is equally as striking.

I think the thing I loved the most about this book is the glimpse into the larger world. The way the politics works outside of Katmere Academy, and the true weight of the stakes that Grace and her friends are facing.

It certainly worked to add a decent amount of tension into the mix. As did Hudson, for that matter. I know fans are either going to love or hate his character, and with good reason on both fronts. Personally, I’m happy that his character added yet another layer of complications into the mix. Not just on the romance front, but in terms of what is actually happening in the world of vamp politics.

Ironically, I think just about the only thing I didn’t really enjoy in this read was the sporting event (s). I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t get into it. Wait, it might be that I’m not into spectating sports, which tainted my appreciation here.

Otherwise though, Crush was a seriously solid read, and I’m officially dying to see what happens in Covet. Also! More good news, I thought that Crave was going to be a trilogy, but it looks like there’s going to be at least four books in the series, with the fourth one being titled Court. Now that is a book I’m looking forward to reading!

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