Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Return by Nicholas Sparks

Title: The Return
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: September 29, 2020

In the romantic tradition of Dear John and The Lucky One, #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with the story of an injured Navy doctor -- and two women whose secrets will change the course of his life.

Trevor Benson never intended to move back to New Bern, NC. But when a mortar blast outside the hospital where he worked as an orthopedic surgeon sent him home from Afghanistan with devastating injuries, the dilapidated cabin he inherited from his grandfather seemed as good a place to regroup as any.

Tending to his grandfather's beloved beehives while gearing up for a second stint in medical school, Trevor isn't prepared to fall in love with a local . . . and yet, from their very first encounter, his connection with Natalie Masterson can't be ignored. But even as she seems to reciprocate his feelings, she remains frustratingly distant, making Trevor wonder what she's hiding.

Further complicating his stay in New Bern is the presence of a sullen teenage girl, Callie, who lives in the trailer park down the road from his grandfather's cabin. Claiming to be 19, she works at the local sundries store and keeps to herself. When he discovers she was once befriended by his grandfather, Trevor hopes Callie can shed light on the mysterious circumstances of his grandfather's death, but she offers few clues -- until a crisis triggers a race that will uncover the true nature of Callie's past, one more intertwined with the elderly man's passing than Trevor could ever have anticipated.

In his quest to unravel Natalie and Callie's secrets, Trevor will learn the true meaning of love and forgiveness . . . and that in life, to move forward, we must often return to the place where it all began.

The book centers around Trevor Benson, a Navy doctor. 

During a tour in Afghanistan, Trevor suffered multiple injuries, including losing a few fingers terminating his career as an orthopedic surgeon. He is suffering from PTSD but he's in therapy to help him deal with it. 

Trevor recently lost his grandfather whom he loved and while waiting to begin his second residency as a psychiatrist, he moves back to his grandfather's town in North Carolina. Here he meets two women. 

One is a young girl by the name of Callie. No one really knows much about her except that she works at a local store and lives in a trailer park close to Trevor grandparent's property. Yet, Trevor believes she knew her grandfather and he cared for her. 

The other woman is Natalie Masterson. She is a local sheriff and someone Trevor starts developing feelings for. 

I wish I could say that I loved this romance but I just can't. The insta-love killed it for me. They met a couple of times and Trevor was in love with Natalie already. 

Now, the mystery surrounding who Callie  is and why it was important to find out was much more interesting to me. 

I loved learning about beehives. Keeping bees alive is primal to our survival. So I was very interested in them.

I also thought the PTSD angle was important since so many live with it and The Return gives you some idea on how those affected by it can be treated.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Grand Central Pub in exchange for an honest review.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Villains #1

Title: Vicious
Series: Villains #1
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: September 24, 2013

A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn't automatically lead to heroism and a time when allegiances are called into question.

The question is: In a world of EO's (Extra Ordinaries), Is the person trying to eradicate them the HERO and the person seeking revenge the EVIL one?

Who's right? 

I’m inclined to believe that the one collecting strays is the least wicked one.

So how are EO's made?

This is what Eli and Victor are trying to find out.

Eliot Cardale (later on Eli Ever) and Victor Vale are college roommates and although they look like friends, jealousy, selfishness, and ambition separates them. This only gets worse once becoming an EO is on the plate. A race to be one and to outsmart the other one commences. Then a death and a betrayal will lead to ten years in prison with revenge as the only fuel through time. 

Well, I like Victor Hale. There I said it. Does he make terrible mistakes? Yes. Yet, he has Mitch, Sydney and Dol on his side. That has to count for something. 

Eli was never the one I was rooting for. His self-righteousness and arrogance was a turn-off. 

Serena was scary. Her power was a dangerous one. So was Sidney's for that matter.

Mitch was great. He cared for Victor and Sidney. A good guy with very bad luck.

Onto the next one soon.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Monday, October 12, 2020

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Title: In a Holidaze
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: October 6, 2020

One Christmas wish, two brothers, and a lifetime of hope are on the line for hapless Maelyn Jones in In a Holidaze, the quintessential holiday romantic novel by Christina Lauren, the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays. 

Let's start by saying that one of my favorite movies is Groundhog day. (Bill Murray dying many times until becoming a selfless version of himself is too much fun to forget). It's a movie I can rewatch over and over and still enjoy.  I didn’t read the blurb so I didn’t know that In A Holidaze was loosely based on it.

So what happens when you have been in love with Andrew since the age of thirteen but make a mistake and kiss his brother, Theo on December 25th instead?  Naturally, you wish for a chance to find some happiness and erase the last few days, right? Wishful thinking...maybe for us plain humans but for Maelyn Jones this exactly what happens. She revisits the beginning of her Christmas holiday to find out what makes her happy. A Christmas full of family and friends. Maelyn's parents and her college friends have been meeting for Christmas since she can remember. It's a tradition that everyone makes time for.

Maelyn has been in love with Andrew since she was thirteen but she has never told him how she feels. Everyone has assumed Maelyn and Theo who are both twenty-six will be an item someday. Regardless of what they want, this time she is going to go for it. What does she have to lose since she probably will end up redoing the day anyway?

This was a fun, heartwarming story. I love the traditions they had of meeting at the cabin playing games throughout the days. It was quite endearing. Even Maelyn's parents who were now divorced, still continue with the tradition. 

I didn't like Theo on the first version and thought Andrew took things too lightly. I love Benny in all the versions and the pet names with Mae were all too cute. 

Kisses, debating about white chocolate vs real chocolate (of course dark chocolate. I'm a chocolate purist), a torn sweater, snowball fights are all reasons why I liked this book, and why Christina Lauren's duo is a success for me.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Gallery Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Unfaithful by Natalie Barelli

Title: Unfaithful
Author: Natalie Barelli
Publisher: Bookouture
Release Date: November 27, 2020

“Thank you,” I say sweetly when she tells me I’m lucky to have such a beautiful family. But I want to tell her it’s not just luck. A family is like a fortress you have to defend all the time. You can’t relax because there’s always someone looking for a breach, always someone trying to get in. Someone just like her…

When I arrive unannounced at my husband’s studio in need of a shoulder to cry on after hearing that my best student, Alex, has died, I see a pair of wineglasses drying by the sink and my deepest fear is confirmed: my husband is having an affair.

Most women would fall to their knees in tears and throw him out of the house—but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Instead, I go home and cook a healthy dinner for our children, walk the dog and unload the dishwasher without complaint. I will make him see that I’m still the woman he married; attractive, successful, the glue that holds our perfect family together. I need this marriage to work to protect a terrible secret of my own, something that would destroy everything I’ve already sacrificed so much for.

But when the police arrive at my door asking questions about Alex’s death that I can’t answer, and threatening text messages start appearing on my phone, I know that someone close has been watching me very carefully.

The truth is, there are three people in my marriage, but only one of them is deadly… 

Wow just wow!! Nail-bitting and suspenseful in the best way possible!

What a ride!  Thank you so much Natalie Barelli for writing this dark thriller. 

I devoured this book in one sitting. From the first page, I knew it was going to be good. Then I started getting worried about how the author was going to end the tale. I was thinking there was no way I was going to be surprised by it. 


I could feel my adrenaline surging through my veins the closer I got to the end. I was having palpitations with every twist and new discovery. Where is a beta blocker when you need one? 

Sorry, I seem to be digressing. 

Unfaithful....The name of the book fits perfectly. There is a marriage. There is a betrayal but there is so much more happening around the life of Anna Sanchez. 

Let’s meet her. 

Anna Sanchez is a married woman. She has two kids she adores and a husband she is obsessed with. She's also a math professor and is helping Alex with his thesis. A thesis that can change her life and his. Then Alex dies and she also finds out her husband is cheating. 

Does she give up or fight for her family?

Read it now to find out.

Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Bookouture via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Title: The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides
Publisher: Celadon Books
Release Date: February 5th 2019 

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him....

I know a good twist when I see one, and this one was outstanding!

Alicia Berenson is accused of shooting her husband Gabriel and killing him. No one knows why she does this or why she becomes mute after it. Was she unstable before she shot him? Or did someone else do the deed and she became so traumatized by the experience that she was not able to speak again?

This is exactly what psychotherapist Theo Faber wants to know. He has waited six years for the opportunity to work with Alicia. He applies for a job at the Grove, the place were Alicia is a patient and thankfully, he gets it. He begins right away trying to get Alicia to open up to him. Theo hopes he can help her although everyone thinks it's a waste of time. Many have tried and they have all have failed. 

Can Theo be the one to break the cycle?

The Silent Patient was everything I thought it was going to be for me. A page-turner, good writing, interesting characters, and an end with a good twist. 

Did I see it coming? My answer is a resounding yes. Yet, in a way, it took me completely by surprise. Hard to explain without spoilers. 

I do hope to see this one on the big screen. It would be fun to watch Alicia and Theo's battle of wits.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Happily This Christmas: A Novel by Susan Mallery
Happily Inc #6

Title: Happily This Christma
Series: Happily Inc #6
Author: Susan Mallery
Publisher: HQN Books
Release Date: September 29, 2020

Susan Mallery, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fool’s Gold romances, proves there’s no place like Happily Inc for the holidays…

There’s no place like Happily Inc for the holidays…

Wynn Beauchene has a thriving business, a great kid and a mildly embarrassing crush on the guy next door—local cop Garrick McCabe. She’s a strong, independent woman who can’t help dreaming what-if about a man she barely knows. Until he needs her help…

Garrick’s pregnant daughter will be home for Christmas, and his house needs a woman’s touch. Garrick and his little girl were tight once and he’s hoping a small-town Christmas will bring her back to him. But thawing his daughter’s frosty attitude will take more than a few twinkle lights. Maybe sharing the holiday with Wynn and her son will remind her of the joy of family.

As the season works its magic on these wounded souls, Wynn realizes it’s time to stop punishing herself for a painful secret, while Garrick remains haunted by the ghosts of past mistakes. Will he allow Wynn to open the only gift she truly wants—his heart?

Happily This Christmas is the sixth book in the Happily Inc series. However, this is the first book in this series that I have read. I believe you can still enjoy it despite not recognizing the other characters.

Wynn Beauchene is a single mother. Her son is fourteen. Lately, she has been thinking that it might be a good time to start dating again. The last time she dated was before she conceived her son. Her sexy cop neighbor fits the bill and she might need to finally make a move to get his attention. Just as she is thinking of this, her doorbell rings and Mr. Cop is at her front door. 

GarrickMcCabe is in need of help, his very pregnant estranged daughter is coming to stay with him and he wants to make his house homier. Enlisting the help of Wynn is a no-brainer. More so, once he starts getting to know her, he begins thinking that they could make a good couple. Her humor, her relationship with her son, her dedication to her work are all things he admires in her. It doesn't hurt that he also likes the way she looks.

Can Garrick patch the problems with his daughter? Do Garrick and Wynn want to take the next step to become more? Well, maybe the Christmas spirit can help this couple.

This is a perfect romance to read during the Christmas season!

Susan Mallery's novels are always charming and sweet. They are set in small towns. Every time I read one of her books, I think how lovely it would be to live in a small town where everyone knows each other and people are helpful to their neighbors. Of course, who knows if this type of town actually does exist. I hope it does.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by HQN via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

Title: Spoiler Alert
Author: Olivia Dade
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: October 6, 2020

Olivia Dade bursts onto the scene in this delightfully fun romantic comedy set in the world of fanfiction, in which a devoted fan goes on an unexpected date with her celebrity crush, who’s secretly posting fanfiction of his own. 

Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. While the world knows him as Aeneas, the star of the biggest show on TV, Gods of the Gates, he's known to fanfiction readers as Book!AeneasWouldNever, an anonymous and popular poster. Marcus can get out his own frustrations with his character through his stories, especially the ones that feature the internet’s favorite couple to ship, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone ever found out about his online persona, he’d be fired. Immediately.

April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s hidden her fanfiction and cosplay hobby from her “real life” for years—but not anymore. When she decides to post her latest Lavinia creation on Twitter, her photo goes viral. Trolls and supporters alike are commenting on her plus-size take, but when Marcus, one half of her OTP, sees her pic and asks her out on a date to spite her critics, she realizes life is really stranger than fanfiction.

Even though their first date is a disaster, Marcus quickly realizes that he wants much more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. And when he discovers she’s actually Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to hide from her.

With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely canceled?

Super cute! That's all Folks.

I read Spoiler Alert in one sitting. Marcus and April were awesome together.

Marcus Caster-Rupp is an actor who has been playing the famous Aeneas in the Gods of Gates series. Over the last few years, Marcus has become increasingly disappointed with the current writers of the show. He writes fanfic under the name Book!AeneasWouldNever as an outlet for his frustration with the scripts. No one can know he is doing this or he can lose it all. He keeps this a secret from everyone including from her beta reader, Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, someone he has come to believe as a friend. The other secret Marcus is keeping is that he is not just a pretty face and body. Beyond his toned muscles and exercise routine, he is a smart man. In addition. even though his acting career has had it's up and downs, he loves his craft and he takes pride in immersing in any character he is filming.
April Whittier is a plus-sized woman who has accepted her body the way it is. Also, she has come to the decision of stopping any fat-shaming thrown her way. April, who works as a geologist, is also a huge Lavinia/Gods of Gates fan. She enjoys cosplay and she's popular as a fanfic writer using her pen name Unapologetic Lavinia Stan for all things Aeneas and Lavinia's OTP. 

One night on Twitter, she decides to post a picture of herself wearing her latest Lavinia's costume. Immediately responses are coming in. Some are nice and some are nasty. She was sort of expecting those. What she was definitely not expecting was for Marcus to defend her from the Troll and invite her out. Accepting the invitation is almost a no-brainer.

But what is going to happen when she realizes Marcus and Book!AeneasWouldNever is the same person? And, can she handle the paparazzi?


Truly enjoyable! I like how the author developed their romance. I was happy with both characters. Love their interaction as their fanfic handles. I also like the short notes before each chapter. I wish Lavinia and Aeneas were part of a real book. No doubt I would have read it if it was. 

Spoiler Alert deals with a lot of different topics including fat-shaming, learning disability, books vs TV, fanfic fandom, and more.

One more thing before I finish my review. Does anyone want more Alex and Lauren? 

I know I do.  Say there is a book 2 on the horizon, please!

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Avon via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan
Powder Mage #1

Title: Promise of Blood
Series: Powder Mage #1
Author: Brian McClellan
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: April 16, 2013

The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.

It's a bloody business overthrowing a king...

Field Marshal Tamas' coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas's supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved...
Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should...

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets?

My husband recommended the Powder Mage trilogy. He said it was fun and interesting. He wasn't wrong. I ended up turning the pages with a speed comparable to Chef's cooking (you have to read it to get the joke). 

Main characters:

*Field Marshal Tamas. Tamas has recently ended the monarchy. He has started a coup that ended with the monarchy under the guillotine. Why? because the aristocracy has taken everything from the commoners and Tamas was done with the King running the city dry.

*Taniel, a powder mage who is also Tamas's estranged son.  He has the power to hit with a bullet anyone from a long distance.

*Adamat, a cop who is now an investigator. His Knack is a perfect memory. He is told by Tamas to dig into the curse the Kabal mentioned before dying.

*Nila, A woman who has protected the last monarch alive. A five-year-old child.

*Ka-poel, a savage woman who despite being mute can make Taniel understand what she is saying and who seem to have quite interesting powers.

*Laura,  Taniel's ex-girlfriend, who cheated just before he was going to give her a ring. 

*Chef: hmm. I'll keep quiet on him. 

The Magic:

Privileged: Sorcerers with huge amounts of power who wear special gloves and each finger can use a different element.

A powder mage: When a powder mage snort powder they developed abilities, shooting accurately is one of them. Both Taniel and Tamas are powder mages.

A person with a Knack: Someone like Adamat who's knack is as a perfect memory.

A person who negates magic: A privilege's power can be annulled by certain people.

Ka-poel: Some type of sorcery but not like a privilege. I'm still not sure about the scale of her powers.

I enjoyed this one. There is some humor in between the action. Plenty of intrigue and there are many traitors surrounded Tamas and Taniel. 

I'm going to say that my favorite character so far is Ka-poel. 

I will read the second book in this trilogy soon.

Cliffhanger: Kind of.

4/5 Fangs

Don't Look for Me by Wendy Walker

Title: Don't Look for Me
Author: Wendy Walker
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: September 15, 2020

One night, Molly Clarke walked away from her life.
She doesn't want to be found.

Or at least, that's the story.

The car abandoned miles from home.

The note found at a nearby hotel.

The shattered family that couldn’t be put back together.

They called it a “walk away.”

It happens all the time.

Women disappear, desperate to leave their lives behind and start over.

But is that what really happened to Molly Clarke?

Well, That Was Fun! It had one hell of a twist!

A page-turner for sure. Beware that if you are like me, once you start this thriller, you won't be able to put it away. So don't start it at night unless you are ok with having many sleepless hours ahead of you.

The beginning was so sad. A mother, Molly Clarke, is immersed in grief after the loss of her child five years earlier. Her daughter was killed by a car. A car Molly was driving. 

How awful it had to be, to be the one who took her life? A life full of promise that will never materialize. Of course, Molly blames herself and she thinks her remaining two children, Nicole and Evan, and her husband, John, blame her too. Her home life imploded after the accident and no amount of counseling was able to help them. Each is suffering and acting out in their own way.

After having a horrible day and driving at night during a storm, Molly stops for gas, and then she disappears. A couple of days after her mysterious disappearance, a letter is found in a hotel room. In it, Molly writes that she doesn't want to be found. To please don't look for her.

Nicole can't believe her mother would walk away from them. She believes foul play may be at hand and when she gets a new lead pointing her to the town of Hastings, she knows she has to find out the truth. As horrible as it may be.

Wendy Walker knows how to write a good story. I empathized with both Molly and Nic's characters. They were both in so much pain. The accident was devastating. No wonder the whole family was so lost.

Don't Look for Me had a very creepy feeling almost to the end. It was perfect for an October read. 

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs