Category: Review (Page 1 of 258)

BOOK REVIEW: Every Time You Go Away by Abigail Johnson

BOOK REVIEW: Every Time You Go Away by Abigail JohnsonEvery Time You Go Away by Abigail Johnson
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


Eight years ago, Ethan and Rebecca met, two troublemaking kids sharing secrets and first kisses in a tree house, until Ethan’s mom returned to take him away. Each and every visit, his only goodbye was a flower on Rebecca’s windowsill.

Four years ago, Ethan left for the last time to take care of his mother, who has struggled with addiction his whole life.

Two years ago, Rebecca was in a car accident that killed her father. She’s been learning to navigate life as a wheelchair user ever since.

Now, they discover if their hardships have torn them apart…or will bring them closer than ever.


Every Time You Go Away was emotionally powerful and a story I won’t ever forget. It was laced with joy and heartache. And was not only about finding yourself, but of forgiveness, forging your own path, and repairing the pieces inside you and the relationships around you too. It is a must read for those that love young adult.

“You used to come every few months. Why didn’t you come back?” And then, in a smaller voice that bleeds with hurt, “Ethan, I waited for you.”

That first chapter was set in the past, and it pulled me right in.  The relationship Rebecca had with her parents as a little kid was complicated and also delicate. That summer while she was bored in her room, and her mom was working, she watched as a boy got dropped off at his grandparents’ house next door. His name was Ethan and his mom was leaving him. The first time of what would be many. Rebecca witnessed Ethan’s whole world explode. And this set the tone for the book. Each moment felt so real, like I was watching a movie. From there we got to alternate between Ethan and Rebecca in the present. With a few chapters in the past, scattered here and there. And our time with Ethan and Rebecca stole the breath from my lungs.

As suddenly as he’d shown up in my life, he’d be gone just as quickly.
And he never said goodbye.

When we jumped into the present, it had been years since Rebecca and Ethan had seen each other. And while they were hesitant at first, the core of their relationship was still there and strong. They had this unbreakable bond that was beautiful. Yet so much had changed. Ethan had grown, and seemed even more jaded. Rebecca was more withdrawn, yet she radiated this beautiful resilience and now used a wheelchair to get around. Both of their lives were so different since the last time they had seen each other years ago. So while they rekindled their friendship so easily, there were still moments were it felt like they were oceans apart from each other. And it left my heart aching.

It’s gonna hurt when I leave her. It’s already there, that feeling like I can’t take a deep enough breath, but what else can I do?

Ethan gutted me. His mother suffered from substance abuse, and he felt as though he had to fight her battles. To protect her from abusive boyfriends and keep her from overdosing. But over the years, his mom would send him to his grandparents. So she could temporarily fix herself. And yet again he found himself at his grandparents’ house. I loved how careful they were around him. How much they wanted to help, even though Ethan wanted no part of it. Ethan was strong willed, determined, and had such a huge heart. I hoped they would help him when his world exploded again. But then there was also Rebecca. And she too was someone who was always there for him too.

I lift a hand from the pool and watch water drip back down into tiny, dissipating ripples on the surface, then let my hand drop with a much more satisfying splash. “I never used to feel like I was just watching my life go by, but that’s all I do now. I barely make ripples, let alone a splash.”

Rebecca’s relationship with her mom hurt. Her mom could be so cold and distant, and she always seemed to keep Rebecca at arm’s length since the accident. Well, if she was even around. The accident had killed Rebecca’s father and she was now in a wheelchair learning to navigate her new world. So it pained me to hear Rebecca’s thoughts about her mom. How she just wanted to have her mom show she cared about her. It cut so deep. And while Ethan was Rebecca’s best friend, she also struggled with him too. He was who she confided in, had fun with, and could simply just be. Yet he proved time and again that he could be gone in the blink of an eye. When his mom came back, he left. So opening to him, since her life had changed so much, was hard. How can you let your whole soul be shown to someone who could just disappear from your life that next day?

He inhales deeply and holds my gaze like a lifeline. “I know better than most people that the real scars, the deep ones, are always on the inside.”
His words pierce through me like an arrow, right where I never want anyone to see. I feel my eyes threaten to well up but blinking fast will only betray that fact, so I try and brush his words -his stare – off.

Rebecca and Ethan both had so much on their shoulders. And they both scarified pieces of themselves, because of others. It was important for them to please others, to make their lives easier. Yet it was at the expense of themselves, and what they wanted. So I loved watching them both grow from that first page to the last. That they both needed to figure out how to fight for what they wanted in life. Because I knew that whenever that happened, I would be so proud of them! I also loved the lighter moments too. That those were filled with laughter and smiles. We got to watch how deeply they cared for one another. And while their transition from friends to more was extremely slow burn, the sexual tension between them was done so well. You could feel it all the way through this story.

“You always acted like you were glad when she came back,” she says softly.
“Yeah, I was. ‘Cause she always came back clean. But I never wanted to go with her. I wanted her to stay with me.” I look away. It feels cowardly but I can’t stare at her face when I add, “So I could stay with you.”

This story ended with beautiful conversations, growth, hope, and finding your happiness. I loved seeing paths open for both of them. Yet, Rebecca and Ethan’s story was extremely emotional and made me cry multiple times. And there were two different twists that I didn’t see coming, they knocked me to the ground. So if you’re looking for a young adult story that is character driven and focuses on personal growth and friendship, then this is your book! While there was romance, it just took a little longer to get there then I’m used to. But it made my heart happy. I closed this book smiling and I can’t wait to discover more books by Abigail Johnson! She is an extremely powerful writer that will invoke all of your emotions.  It was impossible to put down this book!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BOOK REVIEW: Start Us Up (Park Avenue Promise #1) by Lexi Blake

BOOK REVIEW: Start Us Up (Park Avenue Promise #1) by Lexi BlakeStart Us Up by Lexi Blake
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


Three young women make a pact in high school—
to always be friends and to one day make it big in Manhattan.

She’s a high-tech boss who lost it all…

Ivy Jensen was the darling of the tech world, right up until her company fell apart completely after she trusted the wrong person. Her reputation in tatters, she finds herself back in the tiny apartment she grew up in, living with her mom. When a group of angel investors offer her a meeting, she knows she has to come up with the new big idea or her career is over.

He’s an up and coming coder…

Heath Marino has always been fascinated with writing code. He’s worked on a dozen games and apps and is considered one of the industry’s more eccentric talents. But now he’s back in New York to spend time with his grandmother. She was known as one of the city’s greatest matchmakers, and he wants to know why. Surely there’s some kind of code in his grandmother’s methods, and he’s going to find them.

When Ivy meets Heath it’s instant attraction, but she’s got a career to get back to and he just might be her on-ramp. It could be a perfect partnership or absolute heartbreak.


Start Us Up was an adult romance that was a wonderful blend of family, friendship, love and finding yourself. Ivy had been successful, but let her boyfriend destroy her business in the tech world out in California. Back home in New York, and living with her mom, she was trying to find herself again. What her next project would be. How she could fix her name. And how to find happiness again. She had two best friends from childhood that she was still close with, and a struggling relationship with her mother. This book dove deeply into the relationships in Ivy’s life. And with strong found family vibes, I enjoyed reading this story.

I realize I’ve spent the last year so focused on getting back to the top that I haven’t let myself want anything else.
I want him. I want everything he can give me.

My favorite person in this story was Heath. From their first interaction, I was intrigued by him. He was kind, caring, patient, and when Ivy decided to go into business with him, I loved their negotiations. But the moment I realized how much I loved him was when he stepped in to protect Ivy. And sneak a dog a little goodie to make her like him haha. Ivy and Heath had a lot in common. They both worked in the tech world, were loving people and fascinated in the AI project they were working on together. Also they both didn’t want to fail their families. On top of Heath, I liked Ivy. She was so relatable and easy to click with. Together, they felt like the perfect match.

He leans forward and kisses my forehead, the gesture making my heart squeeze.
“I…I’ve given you every reason to push me away.”
He winks. “And still I didn’t. And that’s why you should speciously consider door number three.”

The side characters in this book were definitely shining stars. Between Heath’s grandma and roommate who I both loved. To Ivy’s best friends who felt so real. To even Cece and Ivy’s mom. They rounded out the story so wonderfully. But I did struggle with two things. While tech fascinates me, those parts about work felt dull. And there was almost too much talk about feelings. Yet while there were some lags in this story, at the base of it was wonderful friendships, and a love story that had a little bit of steam. This was an interesting book to discuss with my book club, and I am interested in trying another book by Lexi Blake!

BOOK REVIEW: Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood

BOOK REVIEW: Check & Mate by Ali HazelwoodCheck & Mate by Ali Hazelwood
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


Mallory Greenleaf is done with chess. Every move counts nowadays; after the sport led to the destruction of her family four years earlier, Mallory’s focus is on her mom, her sisters, and the dead-end job that keeps the lights on. That is, until she begrudgingly agrees to play in one last charity tournament and inadvertently wipes the board with notorious “Kingkiller” Nolan Sawyer: current world champion and reigning Bad Boy of chess.

Nolan’s loss to an unknown rook-ie shocks everyone. What’s even more confusing? His desire to cross pawns again. What kind of gambit is Nolan playing? The smart move would be to walk away. Resign. Game over. But Mallory’s victory opens the door to sorely needed cash-prizes and despite everything, she can’t help feeling drawn to the enigmatic strategist....

As she rockets up the ranks, Mallory struggles to keep her family safely separated from the game that wrecked it in the first place. And as her love for the sport she so desperately wanted to hate begins to rekindle, Mallory quickly realizes that the games aren’t only on the board, the spotlight is brighter than she imagined, and the competition can be fierce (-ly attractive. And intelligent…and infuriating…)


It pains me to say that I struggled to find anything to love within these pages….besides Nolan. If the characters would have been older, I would have labeled this Women’s Fiction on Goodreads. Sigh. So here are the top three reasons I struggled with this book……

“You’re not being fair to either of us,” he says calmly. Maybe he’s right, but I’m past caring.

Nolan, the romantic interest, was barely a side character….
I adored Nolan.  The tiny bit of time we got to spend with him in this book made me realize he was kind, thoughtful, caring and understanding.  Unfortunately time would fly by and we wouldn’t see or hear from him.  Three weeks here.  Two months there.  Etc.  We barely got to see, let alone spend time with Nolan.  And it felt like we spent less time with him than side characters in so many other countless stories.  That’s why this book gave me strong Women’s Fiction vibes, other than the ages were all wrong. 

“Ah. I’ve seen your press conference, by the way. Nice job making it look like you totally despise him even when he said nothing but super- nice things about you.”
“I didn’t.”
“Yes, you did,” Darcy and Sabrina say in chorus, without tearing their eyes from the TV.

I didn’t like Mallory….
From page 10 and her slamming gluten sensitivity, I was hoping that that was just a weird fluke with me not liking what she was saying or how she acted.  Yet I never found that connection to her, or the ability to like her.  Even though she helped her family and was financially responsible for her mom and two younger sisters.  Yes she gave up her dreams, but her words, actions and lack thereof made me just not like her.  She ran away from situations.  She lied to others.  She could be so harsh.  And when others helped her, she lacked the simple common decency to say thank you.  And there was a situation at the end of Chapter 17 that just left an ick factor and a bad taste in my mouth towards her.  Granted she is 18, but there are so many YA books where the character is immature or has qualities about them I don’t like in the beginning of the story.  Yet they show growth as the story progresses, and by the end of the book I am so proud of how far they have come!  Yet by page 263 she took a step.  And then by page 334 she seemed to to grow a little.  But at those points it felt like it was too little too late, and also not enough.

“He’s cute,” Mom whispers while I’m loading the dishwasher.
“Cole Sprouse?”
I huff. It doesn’t come out as indignant as I’d like. “No, he’s not.”
“And he seems to have great taste.” “Because he ate a stomach- pumping amount of your meat loaf?”
“Mostly that. Only secondarily because he doesn’t seem to be able to look away from my most oblivious daughter.”

The naming was just too much….
I read to escape reality.  And while reality can bleed a little into the pages for me, I prefer not to have political people or pop references throughout a book.  A few I have no problems ignoring.  But when they’re in almost every single chapter and multiple times within that chapter, I just can’t anymore.  By page 25 we already heard Obama, Harry Styles, and I’m forgetting what else.  And it continued that way till the end.  But here’s the thing, I need a break from the real world at times *cries*.  And this book definitively didn’t allow me to have that.

So what did I love besides Nolan?  I loved Nolan’s friends.  And Oz.  Especially on page 281!  That scene right there had me clapping my hands for Oz!  Also, for me this book was NA.  It’s set in the summer after she graduated High School, and her friend was leaving for college.  And then it followed her life through what would have been her first year of college, if she would have accepted.  For me, that’s NA.  So yup.  This one definitely didn’t work out for me.

BOOK REVIEW: A Crown This Cold and Heavy (Kingdom of Lies #3) by Stacia Stark

BOOK REVIEW: A Crown This Cold and Heavy (Kingdom of Lies #3) by Stacia StarkA Crown This Cold and Heavy (Kingdom of Lies #3)
by Stacia Stark
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads


The unimaginable has happened,
And none of our lives will ever be the same.

Surrounded by enemies, I've never been further from my crown...

Or closer to death.

Amidst a betrayal we couldn't have anticipated, I'll do whatever it takes to find my way back to Lorian – before his fury lays waste to this continent.

Alliances are being forged and broken, our enemies are unifying, and Regner’s spiders are closer than ever before.

We have only one chance to prevent him from attaining god-like powers and enslaving every human, fae, and hybrid across the four kingdoms.

Meanwhile, the human king believes I’m trapped here, yearning for my death, and waiting for Lorian to save me.

But Regner hasn’t yet realized that I'll stop at nothing to free my people.

And he's the one who should be afraid of me.


A Crown This Cold and Heavy was laced with death, secrets, friendship, torture, lies and love. This was an emotionally powerful book that took this series to new heights. Prophecies lay in wait that were soul shattering. The torture will rob you of your breath. Alliances were formed that were smile inducing, yet will leave you feeling angsty. And plans were created that were terrifying because every single thing could go wrong and blow up in their faces. This book, from that first page to the last, consumed my every waking thought and kept me in the palm of its hand!

“You don’t let this break you.”

A Crown This Cold and Heavy started with a few pages that had the most fabulous recap of the second book, A Kingdom This Cursed and Empty! I wish all books in a series would do this! Starting the story, those first few pages were rough. Prisca was held prisoner. And the torture she faced was beyond horrific. It created this fog that made me terrified of what could happen. There was no limits to what could be done. It chilled me to to the bones. Yet we watched as Prisca was brave, powerful and would not yield. She showed us she was a true leader. Someone you could look up to. So even though she drowned in her grief, she still fought fiercely and he watched her succeed. She made moves, plans, and alliances that would help her people. She surrounded herself with those that would fight beside her. And I loved how blood thirsty she could be at times. She was fierce and showed us time and again what a true queen should be!

I screamed and screamed. The horror was torn from my lungs, burning up my throat.

If you haven’t heard me say this before, know that Lorian was the ultimate book boyfriend. He stood by Prisca’s side. He wanted what was best for her. Not only would he help her fight every step of the way. But at the same point, he knew she had to make her own waves. And as he watched her do just that, his love sihned bright. So the relationship and love between Prisca and Lorian is one of my favorites. I love that they are adults. That yes they fight and struggle, but they also know how to talk and work it out. I have so much respect for them. And I loved that their moments together were steamy, seductive and beautifully intimate. Also when something was revealed, it explained so much back to that first book, I couldn’t stop smiling and screaming with joy!

I couldn’t fall apart here. I had to lead. We had to make plans.
Lorian tightened his arms around me, and I took a deep breath. Then another.

We also got other people’s POVs again. And as someone who usually only wants to hear from the hero and heroine, I was obsessed with the other POV’s we got! Here are some of my thoughts on those…..


The amusement drained from his face. It wasn’t real amusement anyway. “What do you want?”
It was my turn to smile. “I want chaos.”

She became my favorite side character. She made me laugh. She was so cunning and smart. And I loved that she pushed herself to try her hardest. To accomplish what goal was set in front of her. Yet, she didn’t think she had any friends. She never did. Yet as she worked with this group that surrounded Lorian and Prisca, it was impossible not for anything to be formed. Even if it was just plain old respect. But I loved watching her and Prisca interact and it always warmed my heart.


Demos had only ever seen me as yet another person to keep alive. I was a promise he’d made to his sister.
And most days, I was fine with that.
Today…today, it ached.

I was obsessed with her relationship with Demos, Prisca’s brother. Since she was first locked in the cell next to his back in the first book. They have come so far. And I loved how we got to share moments like Demos remembering what Asinia had told him. They became so much more than just Prisca’s best friend and brother. I was rooting for them! So out of all the side character’s POV’s, I was most emotional with them. Not only did they go through horrific battles, but there were times when it felt like I couldn’t breathe until I was back with them. Just like my scenes with Priscan and Lorian. Asinia and Demos also made me sob. For pages I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. And my lips are zipped for why!


*The Queen

She was so tricky and played her part so beautifully. I never thought she could be this woman, underneath the facade she wore. Not only was I beyond fascinated by her, but I was also terrified with what she could want down the road. Because she let us in. We got to know her all of her thoughts and plans. But even still, she was someone that will leave you guessing and always thinking about in the back of your mind.

I couldn’t speak. The tears I couldn’t shed were drowning me, and I was gasping for breath.
But there was something I had to say. A promise I had to keep.

I know I haven’t talked about what happens as this story unfolds, but I can’t say much since there are way too many spoilers. Just know that there were scenes that created guilt that festered in those we love. It was impossible not to shed tears when truths were told. And also tears for those we love that were put in horrific situations. So the pain at times was gut wrenching, when death seeped into the pages. There was also emotional and beautiful sacrifices. And battles that will rob you of your breath. Yet there was also so many moments filled laughter and love. The friendships were everything. The romance was sensual and steamy. And this book had the perfect mix of heart and angst! And be emotionally prepared because this book ends on a cliffhanger! If you thought the last one was challenging, you haven’t seen anything yet! A Crown This Cold and Heavy has a heart stopping ending that will leave you gasping for more!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BOOK REVIEW: Never Met a Duke Like You (Taming of the Dukes #2) by Amalie Howard

BOOK REVIEW: Never Met a Duke Like You (Taming of the Dukes #2) by Amalie HowardNever Met a Duke Like You (Taming of the Dukes #2)
by Amalie Howard
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


Clueless meets Bridgerton in this spicy opposites-attract Regency romance from “a must-read author” (Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author).

Lady Vesper Lyndhurst is beautiful, clever, and popular. Afforded every luxury as a duke’s daughter, she fills her days with friends, intrigues, and a self-professed knack for matchmaking. She may have sworn off love for herself, but she is rather excellent at arranging it.

Faced with an insolvent estate, the Duke of Greydon has no choice but to return to England in a final attempt to revive his family’s fortunes. He’s been gone for years, happy to have escaped his mother and the petty circles of the ton. To his dismay, not much has changed, including the beautiful and vexing heiress next door.

But when an accident of fate traps the friends-turned-enemies in an attic together, the explosive attraction between them becomes impossible to ignore and even harder to resist. They are total opposites and their lives don’t align in the slightest, but fate, the ultimate matchmaker, appears to have other plans . . .


Never Met a Duke Like You was a historical romance meets Clueless.  With a little bit of enemies to lovers mixed with friends to lovers, this book was an easy read.  My absolute favorite thing were the ties to the movie Clueless, and looking for those moments here and there within the pages.

“Every damsel dreams of being rescued from a tower by a handsome knight, only in my case, said knight is in the same snare as the damsel.”
He glanced at her, breath faltering on an unexpected hitch. “You think I’m handsome?”

As childhood friends and neighbors, Aspen had ruined Vesper’s idea of them being together at her coming out. He had been her first love and best friend.  So when he scorned her, Vesper never forgave him.  Getting to see pieces of their past throughout the story, I saw that Vesper missed her friend.  As he grew up, and since he was two years older than her, he became cold. And their friendship stopped.  Yet after not seeing one another for seven years, they found themselves stuck in the attic together.  Alone. 

Had he been so very wrong about her all along?

Getting to hear both of their thoughts, I was shocked listening to Aspen.  He thought Vesper was cold and vain, like his mother.  Yet he had no problems toying with her, and he could be absolutely hilarious. So their banter and jabs were so much fun and impossible not to smile when they were going back and forth. And his history is definitely one that will pull on hearts.  There was a reason he had walls, and they were so hard to break down.  Yet he could also be mean to Vesper at times, like belittling her for being so prim and proper. Plus he assumed wrong time and again when it came to Vesper.  Just like Aspen, Vesper felt so alone. Even though she had a wonderful group of friends. But I loved how prim and proper Vesper was. And with her having a heart of gold, it led this story in a heartwarming way.

He canted his head. “Do you always do what’s required of you?”
“Usually,” she said, stiffening at the slight tone of mockery.
He stared at her for such a prolonged moment that Vesper felt the back of neck start to sweat. “I see you, Viper,” he said softly. “The real you underneath all those rules and regulations.”

The connections to Clueless?!  They were what pulled me along and left me hunting for little moments here and there!  Now I need to preface that with this book doesn’t give the same types of vibes that Clueless does.  There is a darker element to this story, and the friendships didn’t vibe the same.  Yet I loved that we got some scenes that were similar to the movie. And when characters in this book acted similar to the characters in the movie too.  Here are some I caught…..

*Aspen could be so serious like Josh! 
*Vesper was obsessed with match making like Cher.  One of the stories reminded me of her trying to have her two teachers fall in love.
*Vesper was wrong about a lot of things, just like Cher.
*When Aspen accuses Vesper of just being concerned about being pretty and going to parties, it reminded me of more moments like when Josh accused Cher with just being concerned about directions to the mall. 
*It felt like Judith was most definitely Tai. 
*I struggled figuring out Deonne though, maybe it was Effie or her brother?  Idk. 
*There was something similar to when Cher was highlighting for her dad. 
*Vesper’s dad gave me vibes of Cher’s dad.

Your Grace,” she said, lifting her wineglass and sipping. “You have to stop this, Greydon. This possessive, prevailing male performance when you have no right to be this way. I am not yours to command.”
“You should be.”
He had no idea where the growled words had come from—somewhere deep and raw and primal. Fuck.

The ending gave us a wonderful happily ever after, and things were set in motion for future books with side characters. There was definitely steam within the pages, but some things like tickling weren’t for me. And an outcome with a character, oh how I wanted there to be harsher consequences. But that’s just me and my difficult heart haha. Yet Vesper and Aspen were given fabulous ending that will warm your hearts!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

« Older posts

© 2023

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑