Book Reviews

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“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”

– James Baldwin
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  • Book Review — Nobody Puts Romcoms In The Corner by Kathryn Freeman

    I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from Netgalley and One More Chapter. This has not impacted my rating and this review is voluntary.

    • Genre: Romane
    • Published by: One More Chapter
    • Publish date: February 10, 2023
    • Number of pages: 400 pages
    • Author’s website:
    • Support local! Buy the book on BookShop!

    Sally is a classic romantic and Harry is a classic cynic, but when a drunken bet leads the new flatmates to (badly) recreate ‘the lift’ from Dirty Dancing, and the video goes viral (#EpicRomcomReenactmentFailure), they both realise there’s potential financial benefit in blundering their way through the romcom lexicon for their suddenly vast social media following.

    Now, as Harry and Sally bring major romcom moments to new life – including recreating that classic diner scene – their faking it turns to making…out and suddenly they’re living a real life romcom of their own! But like all the greatest love stories, the road to happily ever after is paved with unexpected challenges for this hero and heroine…

    Rating: 4/5

    Ah such a cute lil romance! A novel that takes all the best parts from some of the most classic romance/comdedy movies is perfect for anyone wanting a fast-paced, gushy, happily ever after.

    This follows your classic trope of close proximity and if you’re into that this one is for you.

    I compiled a list of all the rom-coms listed in the book!

    Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to know!

  • Book Review — How I’ll Kill You by Ren DeStefano

    I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group. This has not impacted my rating and this review is voluntary.

    Your next stay-up-all-night thriller, about identical triplets who have a nasty habit of killing their boyfriends, and what happens when the youngest commits their worst crime yet: falling in love with her mark.

    Make him want you.
    Make him love you.
    Make him dead.

    Sissy has an…interesting family. Always the careful one, always the cautious one, she has handled the cleanup while her serial killer sisters have carved a path of carnage across the U.S. Now, as they arrive in the Arizona heat, Sissy must step up and embrace the family pastime of making a man fall in love and then murdering him. Her first target? A young widower named Edison–and their mutual attraction is instant. While their relationship progresses, and most couples would be thinking about picking out china patterns and moving in together, Sissy’s family is reminding her to think about picking out burial sites and moving on.

    But then something happens that Sissy never anticipated: She begins to feel protective of Edison, and then, before she can help it, she’s fallen in love. But the clock is ticking, and her sisters are growing restless. It becomes clear that the gravesite she chooses will hide a body no matter what happens; but if she betrays her family, will it be hers?

    via Goodreads

    Rating: 3/5

    This was an interesting take on the profile of serial killers. Instead of a lone male, we have female triplets: Iris, Moody, and Sissy. These are not their real names as the author likes to constantly remind us.

    Narrated by Sissy, we learn that her sisters have murdered in the past and Sissy has helped dispose of the body, cleaned up the crime scene, and due to this has aided them to remain undetected. It has turned into a sort of game, where there’s a list of rules to murder and get away with it including a timeline and choosing the right victim.

    This book was certainly entertaining and I loved the twisted sister dynamics between the triplets. Where it fell short for me was the lack of character development for Iris and Moody, but this made sense for where we enter into their lives. The author did give us a little glimpse into each girl’s upbringing as orphans in the system and there is a little commentary on nature vs. nurture for how serial killers come to be.

    I really loved the idea of sisterhood in a thriller and personally didn’t care for the romance. I felt the focus should have been one or the other but having both left not enough development for either.

    Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to know!

  • Book Review — The Rainbow Room by Claire Ishi Ayetoro

    I received an advance review copy for free from Book Sirens, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

    • Genre: Short Story, Novella, Suspense
    • Published by: Equal Age
    • Publish date: December 2, 2022
    • Number of pages: 160 pages
    • Author’s website:
    • Support local! Buy the book on BookShop!

    An adult short story from Claire Ishi Ayetoro.

    No bad deed goes unpunished.

    When Jack Taylor wakes in a mysterious white room, this cryptic message greets him from a TV monitor. The door closes when he tries to leave. He has just 35 minutes to solve the riddle behind his captivity.

    This is the Rainbow Room.

    Blue for the way you blew my mind. Green for the gifts you gave me. Each color hides a sinister clue. But the price for failure is high… and with every wrong guess, the penalty grows more severe.

    Jack has no idea how he got here. The room offers him no escape. All he knows is that he’s screwed over a lot of people in his life… and now, the consequences have finally caught up to him.

    Step into a thrilling psychological novella that takes readers on a puzzling journey with no shortage of twists and turns. This short and punchy read is an unforgettable experience that’s perfect for fans of imaginative books that really make you think.

    Rating: 2/5

    I think the premise of this novelette is intriguing. Jack wakes up in a room that’s almost completely bare with the exception of a few items. A message pops up on screen, a riddle. Slowly, Jack learns that not working to solve the riddle has consequences as each color of the rainbow progresses the narative.

    This is a fast-paced read that you can finish in one sitting. It’s suspenseful. I think it could do with some editing and more explanation between the room color changes. I did like the concept but wish it was fleshed out more.

    Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to know!

  • Book Review — Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes with Robin Gaby Fisher

    I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from Netgalley and Celadon Books. This has not impacted my rating and this review is voluntary.

    • Genre: True Crime, Memoir
    • Published by: Celadon Books
    • Publish date: April 26, 2022
    • Number of pages: 288 pages
    • Support local! Buy the book on BookShop!

    In 2018, Paul Holes retired as a cold case investigator after spending more than twenty-seven years working in Contra Costa County, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Paul specialized in cold case and serial predator crimes, lending his expertise to notable cases, including the murder of Laci Peterson and the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard. Most prominently, Paul’s career culminated with his identification of the Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo, the most notorious and cunning serial predator in U.S. history.

    This memoir is a reflection of Paul Holes’ stunning career helping catch criminals and how his personal life was impacted by his dedication to crime-solving.

    Rating: 5/5

    Paul Holes is someone I learned about after reading Michelle McNamara’s book “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer”. Since then, I’ve learned more and more about the cases he’s helped solve and that list is extensive! This man is dedicated to his work and it’s easy to idolize someone like him. I found that this book humanizes him.

    Holes gives an inside view of his mind. As expected, dark thoughts reside there from years of getting into the minds of killers in order to catch them and the horrible things he saw every day, but we also see his brilliance in making connections that his years of experience facilitate and just plain old gut/intuition bring. We also learn about his obsessive nature with getting caught up in a crime, his anxiety, and how these put a strain on his family relationships.

    Unlike other “celebrity” memoirs (and by that, I mean memoirs written by non-writers or journalists) this was well-organized and well-written. This probably was aided by editing from Robin Gaby Fisher. I found this really paid off! Celebrity memoirs can be very hard to read despite an interesting premise because the writing is so bad. This book is not that.

    I truly appreciated Holes’ candor and wow–what an incredible career to read about!

    Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to know!

  • Book Review — Good Grief: On Loving Pets, Here and Hereafter by E.B. Bartels

    I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from Netgalley and Mariner Books. This has not impacted my rating and this review is voluntary.

    • Genre: Non-Fiction
    • Published by: Mariner Books
    • Publish date: Aug 2, 2022
    • Number of pages: 272 pages
    • Author’s website:
    • Support local! Find this book on!

    An unexpected, poignant, and personal account of loving and losing pets, exploring the singular bonds we have with our companion animals, and how to grieve them once they’ve passed.

    E.B. Bartels has had a lot of pets—dogs, birds, fish, tortoises. As varied a bunch as they are, they’ve taught her one universal truth: to own a pet is to love a pet, and to own a pet is also—with rare exception—to lose that pet in time.

    But while we have codified traditions to mark the passing of our fellow humans, most cultures don’t have the same for pets. Bartels takes us from Massachusetts to Japan, from ancient Egypt to the modern era, in search of the good pet death. We meet veterinarians, archaeologists, ministers, and more, offering an idiosyncratic, inspiring array of rituals—from the traditional (scattering ashes, commissioning a portrait), to the grand (funereal processions, mausoleums), to the unexpected (taxidermy, cloning). The central lesson: there is no best practice when it comes to mourning your pet, except to care for them in death as you did in life, and find the space to participate in their end as fully as you can.

    Punctuated by wry, bighearted accounts of Bartels’s own pets and their deaths, Good Grief is a cathartic companion through loving and losing our animal family.

    Rating: 5/5

    A collection of essays–each one titled with a witty alliteration, elegantly meanders through E.B.’s personal experiences with pet grief and robustly researched examples of the way people grieve the loss of pets throughout history. I learned so much about the unique (and all valid) ways people deal with such a great loss– from various ceremonies enacted to honor a pet to some way of creating keepsakes as a remembrance. At the heart of this book, we see just how very real losing a pet is the same as losing any family member. As E.B. points out, losing a pet is often the first time we experience grief.

    Your heart will ache and feel full from the stories told in this book! Anyone who has lost a pet will find comfort in these stories. I highly recommend this!

    • Well-researched! I’m sure this book barely scratches the surface of the myriad of ways people around the world grieve their pets, but you get a variety of insights from all over the globe.
    • The way E.B intersperses her own experiences with pet grief with her research and others’ experiences is well done. Rather than distracting from the non-fiction, the parts that are memoir supplement and add empathy.
    • Bonus stars for the pictures of E.B.’s pets!

    Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to know!

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