The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

Part of my childhood was where the Blair Witch Project was filmed, so when I saw this book was advertised to dabble in it’s features, I was intrigued!

Thank you Minotaur Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened. But there will be no turning back. Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice: They are not alone. They’re looking for the truth…But what if it finds them first? 

I absolutely loved the creepy, eerie tones throughout this story. The author did an excellent job at keeping the atmosphere to match exactly what I predicted this story to read like. If you don’t like a horror suspense story, this may not be for you. On the other hand, the ending was not believable. It seemed way out of left field and lead to some disappointment. It’s imaginative, but I wanted something more, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. In all, I’m still super drawn the the documentary setting trying to solve a mystery. You don’t see that often!

3.5/5 Stars

National Geographic’s Who’s Who In The Bible

I’m honored to participate in the TLC Book Tour for National Geographic’s Who’s Who In The Bible!

Thank you TLC Book Tours and National Geographic for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Written by best-selling author Jean-Pierre Isbouts, Who’s Who in the Bible is the ultimate reference guide to the men and women in the Bible, featuring more than 2,000 entries spanning Genesis to Revelation. From the author of In the Footsteps of Jesus and The Biblical World comes a vibrant family reference that brings to life the fascinating characters of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. From the fall of Adam and Eve to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, the key events of the Bible are expressed through the lives of hundreds of people. Told through exquisite art and artifacts, intriguing sidebars, and unique family tree features, this illuminating volume tells the stories of Biblical characters and highlights their greater meaning for mankind. Illustrated with lavish color photography and exquisite historical artwork, this reference runs chronologically, with each person listed by order of appearance.

This book is absolutely stunning. It’s a must-have for any home library! You don’t have to be a theologian to appreciate this historical gem. It’s jam-packed with incredible content from more than just the books of the bible. It has such a rich history spread throughout and incredible artwork. Honestly, any historian, artist, or spiritual person would come to adore and appreciate every page in this book. I loved being able to do a bible study on my own and use this resource to learn more background than what my bible study was able to provide for me. This comes highly recommended!

5/5 Stars

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay

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I’m excited to check out and share today’s new debut thriller!

Thank you Minotaur Books for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: After a late night of partying, NYU student Matt Pine returns to his dorm room to devastating news: nearly his entire family—his mom, his dad, his little brother and sister—have been found dead from an apparent gas leak while vacationing in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI and State Department seem far less certain—and they won’t tell Matt why. The tragedy makes headlines everywhere because this isn’t the first time the Pine family has been thrust into the media spotlight. Matt’s older brother, Danny—currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his teenage girlfriend Charlotte—was the subject of a viral true crime documentary suggesting that Danny was wrongfully convicted. Though the country has rallied behind Danny, Matt holds a secret about his brother that he’s never told anyone: the night Charlotte was killed Matt saw something that makes him believe his brother is guilty of the crime. When Matt returns to his small hometown to bury his parents and siblings, he’s faced with a hostile community that was villainized by the documentary, a frenzied media, and memories he’d hoped to leave behind forever. Now, as the deaths in Mexico appear increasingly suspicious and connected to Danny’s case, Matt must unearth the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison—putting his own life in peril—and forcing him to confront his every last fear.

This is a dark and twisty thriller that will you have you biting your nails late at night! This story is told from multiple perspectives and different timelines, and I didn’t love it. Those who have been reading my reviews for awhile know that about me, and authors really have to be perfect at executing it for me to be okay with it. Besides that, the red herrings in the book were so entertaining to follow, I felt like an FBI agent trying to piece the puzzle together myself! An enjoyable read, and I will certainly be reading the next book by this author.

4/5 Stars

An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn

I keep telling myself I’m not a fan of historical fiction, yet lately they seem to be the only books I’m reading!

Thank you Berkley for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: January 1889. As the newest member of the Curiosity Club—an elite society of brilliant, intrepid women—Veronica Speedwell is excited to put her many skills to good use. As she assembles a memorial exhibition for pioneering mountain climber Alice Baker-Greene, Veronica discovers evidence that the recent death was not a tragic climbing accident but murder. Veronica and her natural historian beau, Stoker, tell the patron of the exhibit, Princess Gisela of Alpenwald, of their findings. With Europe on the verge of war, Gisela’s chancellor, Count von Rechstein, does not want to make waves—and before Veronica and Stoker can figure out their next move, the princess disappears. Having noted Veronica’s resemblance to the princess, von Rechstein begs her to pose as Gisela for the sake of the peace treaty that brought the princess to England. Veronica reluctantly agrees to the scheme. She and Stoker must work together to keep the treaty intact while navigating unwelcome advances, assassination attempts, and Veronica’s own family—the royalty who has never claimed her.

This is the sixth book in the series, but my first one to read. I was a bit nervous that I would feel lost reading this book so far into the series, but it was no big deal whatsoever. There were a few moments that seemed to reference previous books, but it didn’t break my attention to the main plot. The chemistry between the characters is beautifully written. This book reads like a movie, and part of me wish this was one! Or, at least, a television series. I’ve heard even better things about the previous books, so now I must go check them out!

4/5 Stars

Everything After by Jill Santopolo

I love Jill’s books so much. They leave you with so many happy tears. This is one of my most anticipated reads this year and it’s finally in my hands. I’m fan-girling over here!

Thank you Putnam for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Emily has come a long way since she lost her two passions fifteen years ago: music, and Rob. She’s a psychologist at NYU who helps troubled college students like the one she once was. Together with her caring doctor husband, Ezra, she has a beautiful life. They’re happy. They hope to start a family. But when a tragic event in Emily’s present too closely echoes her past, and parts of her story that she’d hoped never to share come to light, her perfect life is suddenly upturned. Then Emily hears a song on the radio about the woman who got away. The melody and voice are hauntingly familiar. Could it be? As Emily’s past passions come roaring back into her life, she’ll find herself asking: Who is she meant to be? Who is she meant to love?

YUP. This is EXACTLY what I wanted it to be, and everything more. First love stories are my guilty pleasure. This is one of my most favorite stories yet! ALL the feels! The characters are just so real and raw – you can’t help but feel like you are Emily yourself! I wish I could read this all over again for the first time.

5/5 Stars

Thrivers by Michele Borba

I teach high school students for a living. It’s amazing to hear their personal stories of hardship and daily struggles that they go through, on top of trying to get good grades in school and sometimes work an almost full-time job! It blows my mind! They come to me and think it will all amount to nothing, when little do they know their hard work and caring hearts are doing more than they think!

Thank you Putnam for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Thrivers are different: they flourish in our fast-paced, digital-driven, often uncertain world. Why? Dr. Borba combed scientific studies on resilience, spoke to dozens of researchers/experts in the field and interviewed more than 100 young people from all walks of life, and she found something surprising: the difference between those who struggle and those who succeed comes down not to grades or test scores, but to seven character traits that set Thrivers apart (and set them up for happiness and greater accomplishment later in life). These traits–confidence, empathy, self-control, integrity, curiosity, perseverance, and optimism–will allow kids to roll with the punches and succeed in life. And the even better news: these traits can be taught to children at any age…in fact, parents and educations must do so. In Thrivers, Dr. Borba offers practical, actionable ways to develop these traits in children from preschool through high school, showing how to teach kids how to cope today so they can thrive tomorrow.

I tend to get a little nervous when I see books that have steps to success, but this one read different than the others. As a high school teacher by trade, I greatly appreciate the hard work and research that Dr. Borba put into this book to show how impactful life lessons are on children and how they can shape us to be more successful than we can ever imagine. This is a truly eye-opening read for anyone with children in their life, but especially for parents and educators. This one will make you think.

4/5 Stars

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

I’m not one to pick up historical fiction novels often, but I loved Patti’s novel on Becoming Mrs. Lewis (yes, referencing CS Lewis’ wife), so naturally I had to read this as well!

Thank you Berkley for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: When Savannah’s history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she’s shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can’t resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking. Everly’s research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaski together, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who was never found, along with her child. These aristocratic women were part of Savannah’s society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving.

As someone who loves Savannah and grew up in Baltimore (the two cities the boat was traveling between), I felt it was destiny to want to learn more about what happened. This was such a beautifully written and extremely captivating story. There is a dual-timeline in this story flashing between the past and present, and I really wanted to spend more time in that past more than anything. The characters were extremely well developed in both story-lines, I can’t complain much! What an awesome read!

4.5/5 Stars

The Ghost Variations by Kevin Brockmeier

How do you feel about short stories? I used to devour them when I was in high school. A Perfect Day for Bananafish by JD Salinger and The Fat Girl by Andre Dubus were my first short stories I fell in love with. Yes, I’m weird. It was the psychology of those stories that captured my attention and had me thinking about them for years to come. A book on short stories about ghosts? Now, that’s my kind of book!

Thank you Knopf Doubleday Publishing for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Ghost stories tap into our most primal emotions as they encourage us to confront the timeless question: What comes after death? Here, in tales that are by turn scary, funny, philosophic, and touching, you’ll find that question sharpened, split, reconsidered–and met with a multitude of answers. A spirit who is fated to spend eternity reliving the exact moment she lost her chance at love, ghostly trees that haunt the occupant of a wooden house, specters that snatch anyone who steps into the shadows, and parakeets that serve as mouthpieces for the dead: these are just a few of the characters in this extraordinary compendium of one hundred ghost stories. Kevin Brockmeier’s fiction has always explored the space between the fantastical and the everyday with profundity and poignancy. As in his previous books, The Ghost Variations discovers new ways of looking at who we are and what matters to us, exploring how mysterious, sad, strange, and comical it is to be alive–or, as it happens, not to be.

This was such a refreshing read. I really looked forward to picking this up whenever I had a free minute to read a short story. The stories are really short, so it’s one of those books that’s really fun to come back to and get lost in it for a moment. If you love ghost stories or stories about what it means to be human, you will love this book. It will leave you tearful and joyful in all the best ways possible.

5/5 Stars

In The Quick by Kate Hope Day

Contemporary Fiction meets a touch of Sci-fi? Let’s see how this one turns out!

Thank you Random House for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: June is a brilliant but difficult girl with a gift for mechanical invention, who leaves home to begin a grueling astronaut training program. Six years later, she has gained a coveted post as an engineer on a space station, but is haunted by the mystery of Inquiry, a revolutionary spacecraft powered by her beloved late uncle’s fuel cells. The spacecraft went missing when June was twelve years old, and while the rest of the world has forgotten them, June alone has evidence that makes her believe the crew is still alive. She seeks out James, her uncle’s former protégée, also brilliant, also difficult, who has been trying to discover why Inquiry’s fuel cells failed. James and June forge an intense intellectual bond that becomes an electric attraction. But the love that develops between them as they work to solve the fuel cell’s fatal flaw threatens to destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to create–and any chance of bringing the Inquiry crew home alive.

Can we just talk about how gorgeous the cover is? I give mad props to the design team because this cover is so gorgeous, I want to hang it up on my wall! The premise of this book was also stellar. The execution was just okay for me. I think it was way too far fetched to have the scientific smarts that June had when she was twelve years old. It just didn’t sit right with me for most of the book thinking back on it. The book had been advertised as similar to The Martian, and I feel like it was far from it. I think if you enjoy contemporary coming of age stories and want to dabble in the world of science fiction, this book is for you.

2.5/5 Stars

Too Good To Be True by Carola Lovering

I was obsessed with Carola’s first novel Tell Me Lies, and still think about it ’till this day. Needless to say, I could not wait to read this one!

Thank you St Martin’s Press for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review. I ended up buying my own copy!

Synopsis: Skye Starling is overjoyed when her boyfriend, Burke Michaels, proposes after a whirlwind courtship. Though Skye seems to have the world at her fingertips―she’s smart, beautiful, and from a well-off family―she’s also battled crippling OCD ever since her mother’s death when she was eleven, and her romantic relationships have suffered as a result. But now Burke―handsome, older, and more emotionally mature than any man she’s met before―says he wants her. Forever. Except, Burke isn’t who he claims to be. And interspersed letters to his therapist reveal the truth: he’s happily married, and using Skye for his own, deceptive ends. In a third perspective, set thirty years earlier, a scrappy seventeen-year-old named Heather is determined to end things with Burke, a local bad boy, and make a better life for herself in New York City. But can her adolescent love stay firmly in her past―or will he find his way into her future? On a collision course she doesn’t see coming, Skye throws herself into wedding planning, as Burke’s scheme grows ever more twisted. But of course, even the best laid plans can go astray. And just when you think you know where this story is going, you’ll discover that there’s more than one way to spin the truth.

I went into this book knowing it was going to be awesome just because I loved Carola’s writing in her first novel. This, of course, did not disappoint. I think what made this book even better was that she tricked me in the suspenseful twist! I didn’t think she could, but she nailed this genre! I don’t want to go too much into detail about this just because I think it’s even better if you go in on reading this one blindly. I highly recommend it!

5/5 Stars