Hollywood Hustle by Jon Lindstrom

Book Summary: Winston Greene, a has-been film star, wakes one morning to find his six-year-old granddaughter at his bedside—traumatized, unattended, and gripping onto a thumb drive. She comes bearing video proof that her mother, Win’s troubled adult daughter, has been kidnapped by a murderous gang demanding all his “movie money” for her safe return. But what they don’t know is…his movie money is long gone. Unable to go to the police for fear the kidnappers will make good on their promise to kill his daughter, Winston turns to two close friends—a legendary Hollywood stuntman and a disgraced former LAPD detective. There’s no easy way out for Winston or his daughter—the gang is violent and willing to do anything to get the money they’re after, and Winston begins to realize that to get his daughter back, he’ll have to beat the kidnappers at their own game.

This book was a little slow getting started, but in all fairness, I think it had more to do with a reading slump than with the book itself. Once I reached the halfway point, I was not able to put it down. The main character is a deeply flawed but decent man who is trying to save his daughter from kidnappers. The villains of the story are all out for themselves, even if it is at the cost of the partners in the kidnapping plot. The story was not overly complicated but had enough twists and action to keep things interesting.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in modern day action thrillers.

Thanks to LibraryThing, Jon Lindstrom, and Crooked Lane Books for providing a complimentary copy of this book in hopes that I will leave my unbiased review. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and the above review is simply my opinion of the book.

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The American Queen by Vanessa Miller

Book Summary: In 1869 a kingdom rose in the South. And Louella was its queen. Over the twenty-four years she’s been enslaved on the Montgomery Plantation, Louella learned to feel one hate. Hate for the man who sold her mother. Hate for the overseer who left her daddy to hang from a noose. Hate so powerful there’s no room in her heart for love, not even for the honorable Reverend William, whom she likes and respects enough to marry. But when William finally listens to Louella’s pleas and leads the formerly enslaved people out of their plantation, Louella begins to replace her hate with hope. Hope that they will find a place where they can live free from fear. Hope that despite her many unanswered prayers, she can learn to trust for new miracles. Soon, William and Louella become the appointed king and queen of their self-proclaimed Kingdom of the Happy Land. And though they are still surrounded by opposition, they continue to share a message of joy and goodness—and fight for the freedom and dignity of all. Transformative and breathtakingly honest, The American Queen shares the unsung true history of a kingdom built as a refuge for the courageous people who dared to dream of a different way of life.

This book is based on the incredibly true story of former slaves coming together after the Civil War to create a community in North and South Carolina. This book follows the life of Louella Montgomery, a former slave desperate to leave the Montgomery plantation. In the area, there are many former slaves working as sharecroppers for their former slave owners. However, when the former owners cheated them out of their wages and land, a group of former slaves banded together and traveled to their new home in the Carolinas. Through a lot of hard work and with the assistance of a friendly face, the group was able to purchase acres of land for themselves. They pooled their resources and called their community “The Kingdom of the Happy Land” with the motto “All for one, and one for all”. Under the leadership of Louella and William (her husband), the group thrives and they later name William and Louella Montgomery King and Queen of Happy Land.

I loved this book. It is well researched, as referenced in the Author’s Note, and full of so much interesting information regarding this period in our history. The book delivers on the promise that with every turn of the page, readers would be transported back in time. Louella, the main character, shows growth as time progresses, moving from a life a powerless young woman consumed by hate to that of a matriarch filled with hope for her people. It is a story of perseverance, despite the hardships that were presented to former slaves. This is excellent historical fiction and I highly recommended it.

Thanks to NetGalley, Vanessa Miller, and Thomas Nelson for providing a complimentary copy of this book in hopes that I will leave my unbiased review. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and the above review is simply my opinion of the book.

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

The Future by Naomi Alderman

The Future—as the richest people on the planet have discovered—is where the money is. The Future is a few billionaires leading the world to destruction while safeguarding their own survival with secret lavish bunkers. The Future is private weather, technological prophecy and highly deniable weapons.

The Future is a handful of friends—the daughter of a cult leader, a non-binary hacker, an ousted Silicon Valley visionary, the concerned wife of a dangerous CEO, and an internet-famous survivalist—hatching a daring plan. It could be the greatest heist ever. Or the cataclysmic end of civilization.

Imagine that the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, and Google were all so rich that they created secret bunkers around the world. The bunkers are large enough for themselves and a small group of individuals close to them, all in preparation for a possible end to civilization as we know it. Knowing that they could be safe at the end of the world, would those CEOs let the world spiral out of control, or would they use their vast resources to help save the planet for all? What about those that know they have a safe space in the bunker – would they try to influence the CEOs to save the world?

The first half of the book is largely character introduction and backstory, along with some philosophical discussions and biblical stories. The pace was a little slow for me, but about midway through the book the pace of the story accelerates, and things get much more interesting. There are some plot twists in the last third of the book that nicely fill in the earlier gaps in the story and make the overall premise more believable.

Thanks to NetGalley, Naomi Alderman, and Simon & Schuster for providing a complimentary copy of this book in hopes that I will leave my unbiased review. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and the above review is simply my opinion of the book.

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

What the River Knows by Isabel Ibanez

It is the nineteenth century and Inez Olivera is part of the upper society of Buenos Aries. She has everything a girl might want, except for the one thing she yearns the most: her globetrotting parents—who leave her in the care of her aunt and two cousins.

When Inez receives word of the death of her parents, Inez inherits their massive fortune and a mysterious guardian, an archeologist in Egypt. When her guardian does not provide details on her parents, Inez sails to Cairo, bringing her sketch pads and a golden ring her father sent to her for safekeeping. Upon her arrival in Egypt, the magic tethered to the ring pulls her down a path where she soon discovers there’s more to her parent’s fate than what her guardian led her to believe.

With her guardian’s handsome assistant thwarting her at every turn, Inez must rely on ancient magic to uncover the truth about her parent’s disappearance—or risk becoming a pawn in a larger game that may kill her.

This is such a beautifully written book. It is a unique historical fiction book with elements of fantasy and is filled with magic, mystery, secrets, lies, betrayal, slow burn romance, and unexpected twists. Ibanez’s ability to immerse the reader in the setting is wonderful – I felt like I was walking through a Cairo market or an archaeological dig. I thought I had the mystery figured out about 2/3 of the way through the book, but Ibanez pulled out a cliffhanger that changed everything. My only complaint is that the story started off a bit slow, but Ibanez’s descriptive imagery and the discussion of Egypt’s history and mythology kept me interested. By the second half, the story picked up the pace, becoming more action-packed, so be patient and you will be rewarded. This book managed to feel unique as a historical fantasy read. This book is the first part of a duology, and I am very eager to read the second part.

Thanks to NetGalley, Isabel Ibanez, and St. Martin’s Press for providing a complimentary copy of this book in hopes that I will leave my unbiased review. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and the above review is simply my opinion of the book.

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

The Ways of Wayward Witches by Evelyn King

Queen Mara, who led the Witches of Britain to victory during the Blood Massacre of 1888, must once again face her old enemy as well as a group of rebels with seemingly no motive. Queen Mara is ready to retire and wants to pass the baton on to her only living heir, Lumen, who doesn’t want to be Queen.

Lumen must claim the title of Heir to the Blood Crown when she turns twenty-one in a few short weeks. She is determined to spend her last moments of freedom having fun, but fate has a different idea. Lumen is caught up in a mystery that will rewrite history, shed light on the recent attacks on Witches, and send her on a path to discover the true culprit behind her parents’ murders.

From the book description, I assumed this would be an adult fantasy. However, it reads more like a young adult novel, or perhaps new adult because there are some explicit scenes. The romance was a little too back and forth for me, although others may not find it as annoying as I did at times. I did enjoy King’s worldbuilding and it is clear she put a lot of thought into it. The first part of the book is a bit slow as King creates the setting for what is to come, but it is worth it. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes new adult fantasy romance books.

Thanks to BookSirens, Evelyn King, and Black Cat Press for providing a complimentary copy of this book in hopes that I will leave my unbiased review. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and the above review is simply my opinion of the book.

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐.5

Godhunter by Isobel Lynn

Bryony Moss didn’t plan to become a god, but accidents happen, and giving up immortality once you have it is easier said than done. Convinced her life is in danger, she infiltrates the crew of the infamous Black Armada with plans to dispatch their godhunter before she is discovered. But all her plans begin to unravel as soon as she learns the truth. To top it off, she seems to be falling for the flagship’s navigator, a kind but isolated giant named Michael.

Godhunter was a wonderful book. The world was interesting because it feels like it takes place in the past, but it is actually set in the “post-apocalyptic” future after a plaque kills off a large portion of humanity. I liked the character of Bryony but wished the story included more about her back story and her transition into a god. I enjoyed the found family aspect of Bryony’s time on the Black Armada. The chemistry between Bryony and Michael was well written and endearing. A large part of the story is about Bryony as she struggles with her status as a god, her immortality, and the morality of doing away with the godhunter.

The book ties up in a way that doesn’t leave you on a cliffhanger, but with enough open questions that makes you eager for the sequel. The storyline is different and exciting. I loved all the characters. Overall, this is a great first installment in a new series.

Thanks to BookSirens, Isobel Lynn, and Attic Wall Books for providing a complimentary copy of this book in hopes that I will leave my unbiased review. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and the above review is simply my opinion of the book.

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

For the first time, Britney Spears reveals her journey from small-town Louisiana to superstardom to a questionable conservatorship. In doing so, she shows the strength at her core that helped her survive situations that we could never fully understand.

This book is on the short side. It feels a little convoluted and rather superficial. Do not go into this book expecting Britney to provide an in-depth analysis of her life. To me, it is like reading the writings of a teenager or young woman – there is a certain level of immaturity in the writing. And that is OK, if you don’t go into this book with super high expectations of the writing. What you do hear about are the horrible things that happened to Britney at the hands of her own family. If even half of the stories are true, it is incredible that Britney is still hanging on to her sanity. I only hope that one day she can heal from the trauma of being betrayed over and over again by the people that are supposed to love you.

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐.75

House Aretoli by K. M. Butler

Caught up in a rebellion on Venice’s territory of Crete, Niccolo Aretoli returns as a hero after saving the governor’s life and evacuating the loyal citizenry. Yet despite his new fame, not all is well in Venice. While he was away, Niccolo’s beloved Rosalia entered an arranged marriage with Niccolo’s brother Flavio, to safeguard her family from ruin. And that is not the only problem in House Aretoli. From brothel to Senate, through marriage and loss, the sons and daughters of House Aretoli struggle against spies, treachery, and assassination. Chased on land and sea by enemies and betrayed by his closest allies, Niccolo must overcome a conspiracy that threatens his survival, the lives of his family, and the very existence of the republic itself.

This book started off slowly but stick with it – it’s worth it. I don’t put spoilers in my reviews, but there is one life-changing event in the story that starts the fast progression of the plot. I loved reading about the family dynamics within House Aretoli and how things change as jealousy and political intrigue take over. The story is beautifully written and filled with action and suspense. I definitely can see this book as an epic movie or sweeping mini-series. I highly recommend this book to anyone that likes historical fiction.

Thanks to LibraryThing, K.M. Butler, and Fawkes Press for providing a complimentary copy of this book in hopes that I will leave my unbiased review. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and the above review is simply my opinion of the book.

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Above the Fold by Corrina Lawsen

Trisha Connell is a crime reporter in 1980s New York City. She is relentless, confrontational, and honest. She charges into the story of a sensational theft at an art museum, she discovers a murdered guard is someone she knew, a former foster kid who was adopted and supposed to be living a good life. She finds an ally in Edmund Grayson, a security expert assigned to the museum, who’s driven by his own guilt in failing to stop the murder. Chasing the story puts Trisha in danger and it will take all her street skills to survive.

This book had me hooked from the start. I found it difficult to put down. The characters are likeable, and I would love to learn more about them. The romance was a big part of the book, but it was not the sole focus of the book. I enjoyed the mystery, and the book was action-packed. This is supposed to be the first book in the Trisha and Grayson mystery series, and I can’t wait for the next mystery.

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

The Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose

I thought I would love this book, based on the highly rated reviews on Amazon. I found the character of the husband-murder suspect annoying, to say the least. His mother Elenor never has a positive thing to say about anyone other than her son. Why the husband, on trial for the murder of his mistress, would agree to have his wife defend him is beyond me. It didn’t make sense that the sheriff allowed the attorney for the defendant to be a part of the murder investigation. The ending was not surprising. Did I hate this book? No I wouldn’t say that. However, it took me way too long to get through this book. It just was not a good book.  

Star Rating: ⭐⭐1/2