No Gods No Monsters | Cadwell Turnwell | Book Review

No Gods No Monsters is the first book in the new convergence saga by Cadwell Turner. It is an urban fantasy that is focused on the modern day issues of police brutality, sexuality, and bigotry. It is a beautifully written adventure that made sure the reader is paying attention and kept on their toes. However, there is mention of physical abuse, drug abuse, and police mishandling of mental health so it might not be for every reader.

There are several characters in No Gods No Monsters but each is slowly introduced with their own story and reason for being included in the book. These characters each are diverse with varying backgrounds, gender expressions, and sexuality. These characteristics also lead to the explanation of the creatures which the characters evolve into. They have been able to keep these characteristics under wraps but when a episode of deadly police brutality it forced everything to the surface revealing an entire world of monsters and gods.

The episode of police brutality is recorded via body cam and winds up in the hands of the victims sister. When she watches it for the first time, she uncovers exactly what her brother had been up to during their time apart. Their relationship has been broken due to family trauma and drug abuse. At first, she has a hard time believing it is actually her brother especially when a wolf like creature first appears and is so angry and distraught. She becomes determined to figure out exactly what happened and is introduced to a whole new underground world.

The characters are so inclusive and have created their own individual familial units. I really loved how these units were formed and the underground world as a whole. It take the concept of otherness and fighting bigotry and oppression to a new unique level. The connections between these characters felt so heartfelt as are their decisions to safely take a stand and make a change. It is beautifully written and is such a good mixture of fantasy and science fiction elements.

So many elements and components within No Gods No Monsters are honestly hard to explain. I mean, it is just so multi-layered things and I think are better to be experienced as an unsuspecting reader. I think that is what I think that is what made reading this so exciting for me ; and I want others to experience it the same way. I can’t wait to see where author Cadwell Turnbull takes this story and these characters next. I’m looking forward to delving deeper into the world of gods and monsters.

Rating: 5 Stars

Like Cats and Dogs | Kate McMurray | Book Review

Like Cats and Dogs is the first book in the new Whitman Street Cat Café series by Kate McMurray. It is a romantic comedy set in a small town that has a cat café. The cat café is located right next door to the local vet office. When the new vet Caleb comes to town, he meets the café owner Lauren. Their initial interaction shows chemistry but it quickly goes down hill from there. They have differing opinions on animal care and continually rub each other the wrong way. Yet the more time they spend together, the more obvious their chemistry and attraction becomes.

I love a good hate to love troupe especially of there is snarky witty banter. It has been even leveled though and does not go overboard for me. By overboard, I mean turning into a mean spirited debate and sadly that’s what this thus banter occasionally turned into. It felt like became more about personal attacks than banner. Also, many of these were rooted in miscommunication and immaturity of the characters.

I had a hard time connecting with the characters especially with their immaturity. Neither one wants a public relationship due to their past yet both have trouble not being with each other. There was a push-pull dynamic which did lead to some cute moments but also frustrated me as a reader. I just wanted them to get their stuff together!

The real saving grace of this scenario was the location. First, the cat café sounded adorable and some place I would want to go and visit. Especially since it was located in Brooklyn. I love visiting NYC and am sad I haven’t been in well over a year due to the current pandemic. I also liked the idea of the café being right next to a vet office where they can recieve care. And the fact that there are contractors trying to buy out the café and vets office felt very realistic given the ever changing environment of Brooklyn.

Overall, Like Cats and Dogs is a quick read but does not have very much depth. The characters did drive me crazy but they also created use moments together and within the community. I also liked the community that was formed and would be willing to visit it again. Maybe Caleb and Lauren will have matured a little bit the next time I see them.

Rating: 3 Stars

The Siren | Katherine St. John | Audiobook Review

Why did I read The Siren?

The Siren came to my attention via Twitter or Instagram and was described as a rollercoaster of a story. I was intrigued and decided to borrow the audiobook so that I could check it out for myself. I was looking for a book that would provide a change of pace for me and keep me on the edge of my seat. Also, The Siren sounded like a soap opera to me filled with secrets, deception, and romance and I’ll admit I can’t resist a good soap opera storyline.

What’s the story here?

The Siren brings together a group of Hollywood stars who are working together in the Carribean. They are filming the next blockbuster The Siren, a sultry script that often mirrors what is going on off screen. This cast of characters have a history together – some of which are known – some or which are unknown – and there are so many secrets between all of them. Of course, secrets have a way of coming out especially when one finds themselves trapped on a Carribean Island with the eye of a hurricane. No one is safe from this storm.

How did I like The Siren?

Wow. This was a soap opera and rollercoaster all mixed into one. It is non-stop from beginning to end and just when you think you understand, another curve ball is thrown your way. These characters are a bit of a mess, each for varying reasons, and there is alot that goes on while on this island that helps you understand why each of them is the way that they are. Secrets always have a way of coming out even when you thought you had buried them deep in the sand. The Siren also contains some scenes which may be upsetting to some readers. These scenes include physical violence, language, and drugging/sexual assault. I just wanted to forward some readers that this may not be as much of an escape thriller as advertised.

How’s the narration?

The narration is told in three different distinct voices who each bring excellent vocal skills to the story and bring it to life. Although the story flashes back and forth between past and present day, it was easy to follow. And it may start out with a bit of a slow burn and feel a little long at 13 hrs but trust me before you know it you are completely captivated and wanting to know more about these characters. I would recommend The Siren to anyone who enjoys rollercoasters of stories or Hollywood stories. This is an escapist thriller that would be good to read during any season as you will be transported to the Carribean island.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Audiobook review template courtesy of Good Books and Good Wine

The Witch’s Heart | Genevieve Gornichec | Book Review

The Witch’s Heart is a beautiful debut filled with Norse Mythology and a testament to the strength and devotion of a mother’s love. I picked this up at my local library when the cover caught my eye and the tag line “Men die. Gods die. She lives.” caught my eye and I’m so glad I did. This story was not just a retelling of Mythology, it is a moving new idea of it. It brings a modern approach that also humanized these characters who are often viewed as so much above the rest.

The Witchs Heart is the tale of Angroboda, a banned witch who survived a burning by the Norse Gods and is now living in solitude. It is her complex tale of love, strength, and sacrifice. She is a complex heroine who completely stole my heart. She is uncompromising in her values and her approach to her life but is also tender and loving. Angroboda is a character that is complicated but is the heart of the story with her relationships and the decisions she has to make.

The writing for these characters is so rich and vivid. The “big” moments that happen through out are well crafted and keep those pages turning. It was a heartbreaking and beautiful pictures of this woman whose existence has been fated in such a negative manner but continues to push ahead and try and find happiness in her friends, children, and magic. I honestly cannot compliment Genevieve Gornichec enough for her approach to this story and for the way that it was written.

I will admit that my Norse mythology is slightly limited. I’ve seen some of the Marvel books and movies but honestly have never been as fully invested as others. This is why I appreciated how approachable the story was as it felt familiar and yet opened me up to new possibilities. These characters were Gods, witches, and shapeshifters but they also felt human and real to me.

The Witchs Heart is a book that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys Norse mythology or wants a good introduction to these stories and characters. It would also be a good fit for fantasy readers in general or those who enjoy a good story with humane characters. And yes overall this review is basically alot of words and descriptions telling you that you should read this book.

Rating: 5 Stars

When Sparks Fly | Helena Hunting | Book Review

When Sparks Fly is the newest contemporary romance written by Helena Hunting. Believe it or not, it is actually the first book that I have read by her. I have heard her name often, and even have a couple of her previous books on my shelf but, for some reason have never picked them up. Well, I’m certainly glad that I decided to pick this one because it was a great introduction to her writing style and has me wanting to read more

When Sparks Fly is a best friends turned lovers type of scenario. I love those kinds of books especially when they are done right. In this case, Avery Spark and Declan McCormick are the two characters in question. They have been best friends since college and are currently roommates. The idea of romance has never crossed their minds but, suddenly they find themselves in a closer proximity than they ever expected. This brings up many questions and could change their dynamic forever.

Avery is a sweet girl but, she is very guarded. Her last relationship did not end well and since then she hasn’t really been able to commit to anything except for her work at her family’s event hotel. She is also emotionally traumatized from her parents death when she was eleven. They died in a car accident and when she winds up in a car accident herself, it brings up alot of emotions which she had thought she had resolved. Plus, she is normally very independent and does not like be helped with anything. So to be dependent on Declan is very hard for her.

Declan is in such denial about his feelings for Avery that he puts his emotions into everything else. He is a major playboy. In fact, this is the reason that Avery winds up in the car accident in the first place. Or so he blamed himself. If he had been more available, maybe the tragic event wouldn’t have happened. So when she needs someone to help her twenty-four seven, he is quick to volunteer. Only is is hard to keep those feelings hidden under the surface when they are so close together.

The switch from best friends to lovers does not happen over night for Avery and Declan. There is some strong build up first which I appreciated. And when things start to get complicated, they actually take a step back. There are so many factors that go into this dynamic and if this doesn’t work out it does not affect only them. I really liked the way that their relationship was built up. You could tell it was based on friendship and respect and that they were not afraid to call each other on their stuff. Also, they had chemistry together.

When Sparks Fly really was a wonderful introduction to Helena Hunting. I look forward to reading more from her soon. I’m also curious if she will be continuing with this and turning it into a series. Avery has two sisters who are single, plus Declan has a couple of buddies who are single I believe. Will we be able to see all them get their happily ever after?

Rating: 4 Stars

**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Settings

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Top Ten Tuesday is held by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl
Today’s topic is
Favorite Book Settings

Here We Go!

  1. Small Towns ~ I love small town stories. Everyone knows everyone and everything is interconnected and interacts together. Small town romances are the best!
  2. Tropical Island ~ Being transported to a tropical island is always a dreamy experience. I love descriptions of the ocean, beaches, and tropical drinks.
  3. Snowy Mountains ~ I’m not very adventurous when it comes to skiing or snowboarding but, I do enjoy the idea of being in a cozy cabin in front of a warm fire while the snow is falling slowly outside.
  4. Bookshop/Library ~ I love when a character either goes to the library often, works in a bookstore, or even owns a bookstore. It would be my dream to be trapped in a bookstore or library.
  5. Space ~ Some of the most memorable reads have been set in space. It is so much fun imagining it or dreaming about traveling to the various planets.
  6. Old Buildings/Castles ~ Old buildings and castles are the perfect set up for a historical romance and/or historical fiction. I love imagining the various rooms and staircases and possible hidden passages.
  7. Road Trips ~ Road trip stories are always fun and I enjoy going to the various location in the book. Road trip stories are also usually filled with shenanigans too.
  8. Fictional Worlds ~ There is nothing like a book with good world building. I love getting lost in these fictional places that often feel so real.
  9. Paris ~ Books that are set in Paris are normally so beautifully written and fun to imagine. I would love to be able to visit there one day.
  10. Australia ~ Australia is one of my dream travel locations so I love reading books that are set there.

So, these are some of my favorite book settings.
Do you also have some of these?
What are you favorite book settings?

Alien Nation | Sofija Stefanovic | Book Review

Alien Nation: A Celebration of Immigration from the Stage to the Page is an anthology of 36 true stories of immigration. There is a wide variety of voices, backgrounds, and visions. The one common thread is the desire to belong within America and the sense that no matter how hard an immigrant tries, they may never be able to accomplish this.

The voices of these stories are so strong. Their stories are group thematically into seven sections which I felt helped better organize the anthology. The stories are filled with humor, strength, trauma, and emotion. There is no one voice that is similar to another. The diversity within this anthology is strong and helps break down immigrants into less monolithic groups and instead treats them as individuals.

The individuals who tell their story within this anthology are so courageous. I was deeply humbled by reading their stories and learning about their struggles and their victories. So many of these types of stories are never told and this is a shame. They really are the foundation of America as a country no matter how many people try to deny it. It was also obvious to me that there were alot of mixed emotions that were being brought forth by the election of the 45th president of the United States.

Alien Nation has 36 stories that are important and bring something forward that we can reflect on. Some of the stories are more upbeat and filled with joy while some of the stories are a bit more critical and heartbreaking. I enjoyed reading all of them and would recommend that others give themselves the same opportunity. It definitely gives you a new perspective regarding our ever growing and changing nation.

Rating: 4 Stars

**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

My Best Friend’s Wedding | Tilly Tennant | Book Review

My Best Friend’s Wedding is set during the holiday season but I wouldn’t exactly call it a Christmas book. The main focus is a wedding that occurs on Christmas Eve and the events that happen before and afterwards. The story occurs over the span of three days and forever changes the lives of all the characters involved.

Libby is the chief bridesmaid for her best friend Willow’s wedding. And with this comes alot of responsibility and distraction. Libby is grateful for the distraction as she recently had a bad breakup with her fiancé’ after she discovers him cheating on her with her cousin. She is also still recovering from the loss of her baby. So any distractions are appreciated for this resilient yet vulnerable character.

Enter Noah. Noah is a friend of the groom, Tomas and there is an immediate attraction between him and Libby. One of those stealing glances across the room types of chemistry. Once the wedding party and guests find themselves snowed in at the inn, it sets up the perfect opportunity to get to know each other better.

Of course within getting to know each other there are still secrets that are hard to reveal. Libby doesn’t like talking about her ex Rufus especially when he shows up as a guest as the wedding claiming to be a friend of the bride and room. Noah is originally from England like Libby but now lives in California. He has returned home for the wedding but is secretive about his home life. The chemistry and dynamic between the two characters has a way of making these secrets easy to ignore but of course secrets always have a way of coming out.

The premise of My Best Friend’s Wedding was such a wonderful idea. Snowed in with a handsome stranger? Almost sounds like the start of Hallmark movie! Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for it to feel slightly repetitive. I enjoyed some of the preparation for the wedding but, felt that too much length was spent on the descriptions of the snow and being stuck in the wedding venue. Trust me, I understand that they were snowed in. I also wished that the character of Libby had been drawn out a little more. I feel like there could have been more depth to her and less self induced pity party. She was so wishy washy with Noah and while I understand given her recent history, it still drove me crazy. I think I was just brunt out in regards to snow and wedding descriptions.

My Best Friends Wedding takes place over such a short period of time but is a sweet story. Although there were some aspects that I didn’t fully find captivating, it was an easy story to follow. It ended too abruptly for me as well. I think details could have been better fleshed out especially with the secrets that were dropped. All in all, if you’re looking for a book you can get lost in for a bit, I think this might be the one.

Rating: 3 Stars

*I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

It All Comes Back To You | Farah Naz Rishi | Book Review

It All Comes Back To You is a messy tale of secrets and second chances. Kiran Noorani and Deen Malik had secretly dated three years ago and were just starting to trust and fall in love when Deen ghosted Kiran. There had been a sudden incident that he was unable to disclose and in order to protect his family, he moved away with them. That was the last time they had seen each other until now as their older siblings are dating and falling in love.

Alot has happened in the three years sine Kiran and Deen last saw each other. And when they come face to face, it is explosive. Neither of them wants their secret past revealed and are determined to protect their siblings. Deen is excited that his older brother has found a girl that makes him so happy. In contrast, Kiran is concerned for her sister and thinks that the romance is moving too fast and that there are many red flags. Thus begins the push-pull dynamic between the two characters are they fight to protect their siblings.

The push pull dynamic is rooted in conflict. Deen wants to protect his brother and keep their secret in the past. Kiran wants whatever secrets are there to be revealed in order to protect her sister. Protecting her sister was a promise that was made to her mother as she was dying. She comes up with a plan to force any secrets to come out. She doesn’t anticipate the push back from Deen nor the attraction that is still present. The walls that she built after he left her were strong but were they strong enough to within the attraction?

These opposing forces are the energy moves the story forward. They are forces filled with mistakes, grudges, grief, and so many unsaid feelings. The unsaid feelings bueyed the connection between the two characters bother in person as well as online in an unknown chat friendship. I did not fully feel the connection between Deen and Kiran and that made it difficult to believe in the tension. It forced a disconnect with her mas a reader which was honestly hard to resolve.

Both Deen and Kiran are mess characters whose walls cannot fully protect them from their vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities help push forward their character arcs and themes. Themes included familial responsibilities, goals and visions, faith and religion, and grief and burden. These characters are flawed and feel authentically written. Even though I didn’t necessarily believe in the chemistry in their chemistry I still felt their pain, joy, and anguish. I felt their connection to their siblings and how they only wanted what was best for them.

It All Comes Back To You is a diverse read featuring Muslim Pakistani characters. These characters are beautiful and messy and have the flair for the dramatic. It is a coming of age story that will make the reader smile, laugh, and cringe with the characters. It is a story that is full of heart and set up for the possibility of second chances and will be enjoyable for any audience who enjoys YA coming of age stories.

Rating: 4 Stars

*I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Not Your Average Hot Guy | Gwenda Bond | Book Review

Not Your Average Hot Guy is the first book in Gwenda Bond’s new series featuring a battle between heaven and hell. It is a paranormal romantic comedy filled with quirky characters and a touch of romance as the fate of the world is being determined. It took me a bit to get into this story but, I kept pushing and I’m glad I did. Those last few chapters kept me on the edge of my seat.

The main characters in Not Your Average Hot Guy are Callie (human) and Luke (demon) who meet when Luke is summoned by a cult at Callie’s family escape room business. Their initial encounter is far from pleasant. Callie believes that she is being tricked in some type of practical joke and Luke is lying about his true identity. Luke is not only just a demon – he is the Prince of Hell and the son of the Devil himself!

The character Callie is a bit quirky. She is smart and enjoys creating puzzles for the escape rooms. She loves a good challenge which includes figuring how how to stop the apocalypse from happening. She is loyal to her friends and family and hates being betrayed. She also has an adorable dog whom I was worried about through out the book. Thankfully nothing happened to him!

Luke is the son of the devil and he is struggling with is identity. He really doesn’t how to follow in his father’s footsteps nor if he is sure if he wants to. He is a demon with a possibly good soul and it scares the hell out of him. And when he meets Callie he feels attracted, attached, and challenged in a way that was not expected.

Callie and Luke were attracted to each other from their initial meeting. Of course, the circumstances are far from perfect for them. On the surface, they are polar opposites but there is also their connection. At the beginning, I felt that the connection was kind of forced but as the story progressed it started feeling more believable. Intense circumstances do sometimes lead to intense connections and the circumstances for Callie and Luke were very intense. There were lies, secrets, magic powers, and fights. There were also alot of fun pop culture quips which I found enjoyable and though it gave the main characters and side characters more personality.

As Not Your Average Hot Guy is the first book in this series, I look forward to getting to know Callie, Luke, and the other characters better. I feel like there is alot of potential based on the ending. I hope Callie and Luke’s relationship is expanded upon and that there are more adventures together. I want more of the comedic magical moments that were part of the first story. I hope Gwenda Bond does not disappointment me!

Rating: 4 Stars

*I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

A. A. MacConnell

When you write drabbles, you relieve the pressure of the epic novel expanding in your head.

The Calico Books

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